31 December 2010

Adiós, 2010

It's been a long year that went by all too quickly. Time is so strange. "Seems like forever ago... yet just like yesterday..."

I think my favorite new word from this year is "nontroversy." The drama, both in the media & in the lives of those around me, is too often sad & petty. Grow up, folks.

In 2011, let's work to swallow our pride, humble ourselves, & love. Not some nebulous, feel-good "love" that looks good on a résumé. Love Is A Verb.

Okay, that video is awful. Awesomely awful. Apologies. YouTube is a scary place sometimes.

Seriously, though, I do believe with all my being that God is love, Gospel love is serious business, & that Jesus Christ came to seek & save. If you've never given it a look, do so. Don't buy what others have told you, see for yourself. If it's been awhile & you're a bit rusty, look again. If you seek, you will find.

felix sit annus novus

K, love you, bye.

[mccracken]

07 November 2010

Finished Music Project

A couple of months ago I set out to meticulously organize my music collection. Today, I finished. It was a gruelling ordeal.
  1. Fix grammar, spelling, and syntax in file names.
  2. Convert files (.mp3, .m4a, .flaac, etc.) to .ogg (Ogg Vorbis).
  3. Save a 500x500 cover art image in each album's folder.
  4. Edit the ID3 tags in the files to have correct information.
I have it synced across my laptop, my wife's laptop, our Gigabeat, and an external hard drive. Feels good. Feels really good.

K, love you, bye.

[mccracken]

24 October 2010

Nullifying Tradition

I was privileged to hear the lead sherpa at Pinnacle share from his heart and from Matthew 15 and Isaiah 59 this morning. (You should serious click on those last two links. The NET Bible is amazing.) I came away wanting to tear down traditions.

I'm not talking about what generally comes to mind in this arena. This isn't simply about old versus new, change just for the sake of change, or even about trying to "stay relevant." Our traditions come in many forms and the traditions we need to rid ourselves of are any that we have constructed that push people away and separate us from fully experiencing God together.

I've grown up in Christian community, in one form or another, all of my life. And I'm still anxious and uncomfortable any time I visit a new church for the first time. I can't imagine what it's like for an "outsider." Someone who is hurting, lonely, marginalized, and searching.

Church should be a safe place! Dammit, it should be the safest place! My prayer is that we would do everything we can to tear down any socio-economic, ethnic, racial, cultural, spatial, or religious barriers that we've erected that are keeping us from inhabiting the safest place for people to come just as they are.

Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur.

K, love you, bye.

[mccracken]

26 September 2010

Say "No!" To Commitment!


“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one. -- Matt 5.33-37

I saw this emblazoned on a billboard advertisement today: "Say 'No!' To Commitment!" It was in reference to mobile phone contracts. As soon as I saw it, I laughed and shook my head. I don't really have any strong feelings about mobile phone contracts. I was shaking my head because it seemed to speak to much more.

Politicians, corporations, the media, churches, family members, friends, and me. We all make promises. And we all fall short of them. (Some more often than others.) And it can be really frustrating. It's easy to become bitter and cynical, to not trust anyone or expect anything from them. But I don't want to be that way. Do you? Let's do what we can to instill trust in those we know. Let's be known for honesty and integrity.

I've made more than a few selfish, foolish choices. I've hurt people, both knowingly and through ignorance. And I hate that. It makes me sick to my stomach. I'm sorry.

K, love you, bye.

[mccracken]

11 September 2010

Burn Brauts, Not Books

I woke up this morning, made a cup of coffee, and perused the interwebs only to find a disturbing headline which read Amarillo Man Plans To Burn Quran. In the story, the man named a time and a place. Shortly thereafter, a Facebook trend started amongst some friends of mine. The plan was to show up at Sam Houston Park before the folks who were intent on burning books and make sure all of the grills were occupied. No free grills meant no way to burn a book legally at a public park, it was hoped.

Unfortunately, the plan didn't come together quite as hoped. I guess punks, hippies, and liberals, God bless 'em, aren't the most prompt. Fortunately, though, it still ended well. From what I could tell, the book burning proponents numbered three. On the other hand, there were more than two hundred folks in opposition to this foolish act. Law enforcement and media personnel were in place.

A Quran was placed on a grill. Immediately, several people walked up to it and, without a word, placed their hands over the grill and the Quran. The flustered antagonist turned to speak to the media. That's when a kid grabbed the Quran, hopped on his skateboard, and rode away.

I'm not making this up.

The small gang of book burning enthusiasts appeared confused and then annoyed. They looked around at the cheering crowd for a few seconds, got into their vehicles, and drove away. I was mostly just relieved that everything had progressed peacefully. The kid on the skateboard showed back up and gave the Quran to some folks from the Islamic center. It was something to behold.

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Luke 6.27-36

K, love you, bye.

[mccracken]

23 August 2010

Learning From Fractures & Ruptures

The "true" description of God seems to lie always just beyond the reach of our grasp. The final "word" is always frustratingly elusive, dwelling just beyond the horizon of our thought, and the conflicting images that we encounter within the Bible continually remind us that the source of this living work is not captured in our pretty observations. In acknowledging this, the believer testifies to the Scriptures as infused with a presence that dwells both in the midst and in excess of the text, a some(no)thing that cannot be contained within the narrative but that makes its presence felt in the fractures and ruptures within it. The words of the text, like Christ, are wounded. -- Peter Rollins, The Fidelity Of Betrayal, p. 50

I've often heard people say things like, "God is so much bigger than we can comprehend." I've said it myself plenty of times. But I think I always had an unspoken addendum of "but I have God pretty much figured out." Mr. Rollins, via the book mentioned above, is helping me to understand more and more just how little I understand and I highly recommend following up on some of his wise words.

K, love you, bye.

[mccracken]

08 August 2010

Peregrinations

One does not begin a 16 hour road trip without the proper snackage.

:D

[mccracken]

12 July 2010

Glorious Multifariousness!


We live in such an amazing, diverse world. Watching Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel, I really have to suppress my envy. What a job! "Hey, Tony. We need you to trek across the globe while observing and experiencing the seemingly infinite variety of cultures, cuisines, and creativity you find. Think you can handle that?" :::jealous:::

I really do believe that the diversity and creativity we see in the world around us is a glimpse of the nature of our Creator. I don't think God is terribly interested in monotony. If He were, I imagine we'd all live on a planet that looked like Mars, eat nothing but Spam straight out of the tin, have only Enya to listen to, and all wear GAP clothing.

"This most beautiful system [the universe] could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." ~ Sir Isaac Newton

[mccracken]

24 June 2010

No Place For It


Cynicism.

One of my strongest weaknesses. (Huh?)

A good friend told me a couple of years ago that there was no place for cynicism in the Kingdom.

"Oh? My snarky, sardonic banter won't draw people to Christ. Hmm..."

Lord have mercy on me, your foolish δοῦλος...

[mccracken]

17 June 2010

Daddys Through Space & Time

I was just browsing the BBC News section for the United Kingdom, as I often do, when I came across this article. It's about "The Myth Of They Tyrannical Father." I knew exactly what they were getting at just from the title. Thanks largely to fiction via books, TV, movies, video games, and such, fathers of yore are overwhelmingly portrayed as cold and emotionally detached (while modern day fathers are largely shown to be bumbling morons).

Lame.

I'm usually annoyed by overarching, broad generalizations. "I hate cats. They're evil." No, just like dogs, some are really cool and some you want to see how far you can punt. "Christians are all hypocrites." Yeah? Well... yeah. And if you want to follow Christ, you can add one more hypocrite to our numbers. (Please do!) We've all heard stereotypes turn racist and prejudicial. It's not a pretty sight. Don't buy into that junk.

Fathers' Day is coming up and I want to say "Thank You" to honorable fathers everywhere.

My dad. I call him "Pops" because he's old school. The life lessons I've learned from him are priceless treasures. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

I suspect that most fathers through all of human history have been loving. I greive for those who were not. And ultimately, I'm drawn to our Heavenly Father.

[mccracken]

15 June 2010

Productivity



Between the FIFA World Cup 2010 and crap like Senor Gif, it's a wonder I ever get any work accomplished....

[mccracken]

22 May 2010

Thank You Interwebs Overlord!

(Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.)

My, oh, my. However did we get along before Facebook. Laugh now people, but I'm beginning to think that a Skynet type singularity is going to get us before the zombie apocalypse.

[mccracken]

17 May 2010

Last Minute, Questionable Decisions That Remind One Of Being Back In College


We spent this weekend back in the Great State Of Texas in and around the city of Forth Worth. The primary purpose was to attend the graduation of my good friend Sain Asraf from medical school. Dude's a doctor now. For reals.


Hanging out with Sain has been great. We're heading back to OKC today. Originally, we were going to head back yesterday. But as we were getting ready to load the car up and skeedaddle I checked my phone's calendar to get an idea of what this week would look like. As I did so, I noticed that I had something down for Sunday night, 16 May 2010. I was taken aback. No idea what it could be.

"Living Sacrifice, 20:00 @ Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth?! I'm in Fort Worth! What time is is? 19:00?!"

And off we were. Doctor Sain Asraf, a friend from Sain's undergraduate days, my wife, and I decided in a moment of debatable clear-headedness to rush to a heavy metal concert. The venue was filthy and smelly. The crowd made me feel old. But seeing a band that I've loved for over a decade for the first time in over five years was an experiene I'll treasure for years to come.

[mccracken]

12 May 2010

When We Think We're Alone


There was a knock on the door here at my in-laws house a few minutes ago. I assumed it was someone soliciting work. And I was correct.

Due to the hardcore storms we had two days ago, the neighborhoods are swarming with various folks pitching their services to repair your roof, replace glass, deal with your insurance company, etc. Having already dealt with a couple of these folks, I decided to check the peep hole on the front door and seeing a stranger with a clipboard, declined to answer the door. The gent seemed bored and fidgety. He knocked on the door, rang the doorbell, knocked again, and finally stuck a business card in the door frame. He turned to leave, but apparently forgot something on his card, turned back, wrote something on it and replaced it. Looking despondent, he moved on to the next house.

I'm sure we'd all be terribly embarrassed to see video of ourselves when we are alone. We do goofy things when we think no one is looking. Goofy, and often entertaining.

[mccracken]

28 April 2010

24 April 2010

On Being Shown Up By Old Ladies

I'm trying to be intentional about exercising and living a less sedentary lifestyle. I've been using a TotalGym as well as walking to the park, around it, and back to the house. It's the walk around the park that is most humbling. I make sure that I use the TotalGym when no one else is around.

I can't really run or jog due to a bum knee. So I try to walk as briskly as I can. And every morning at the park I get passed by these two, tiny, white haired ladies.

:::sigh:::

I think a Wii Fit is what the doctor has ordered. Right? Hmm...

[mccracken]

20 April 2010

Praise For Creation And Providence

I sing the mighty power of God,
that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God's command,
and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed,
wherever I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky.

There's not a plant or flower below,
but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee
is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be,
Thou, God art present there.

~Isaac Watts

06 April 2010


View Larger Map

Spent yesterday at Venice Beach. It was so good to be back in the ocean. I hadn't been in years. I didn't want to leave. The vastness, power, and beauty can be overwhelming. What a wonderful Maker...

[mccracken]

02 April 2010

Using Ubuntu Lucid Lynx Beta 1

(Click on image for larger version.)

As usual, I'm finding a Linux beta release to be brilliant and stable, much more so than a final release of a proprietary OS.

;-)

[mccracken]

25 March 2010

A Bird? A Plane?

I was just walking outside when I saw something strange in the sky. It was coming towards me but too distant to quite make out. I waited a few moments and it became clear that it was a single-engine plane with a banner behind it. "Cool!" I thought. Don't see that too often. "I wonder what it is? A marriage proposal? Something exciting, for sure!?"

It was a *%$@#+!? McDonald's advert.

Bah.

[mccracken]

22 March 2010

What Goes Up...

(Click on image to see full size version.)

Welp. I dropped my laptop. The batteries (A & B, above) shot out a foot or so from the rest of the wreckage. The little plastic buttons that hold the batteries are nowhere to be found (C & D, above). A bit of gaff tape fixed 'er right up (E, F, & G, above). Not bad for an eight-year-old Dell Latitude C610, eh? :-)

[mccracken]

20 March 2010

Sharing Is Caring

Spent last night hanging out at the beach.


View Larger Map

For a guy that grew up on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle, "hanging out at the beach" is quite new; I reckon I could sit in the sand, listening to the waves lapping up, just about forever.

I was invited to come by a couple that lives at the beach. Every Friday night they lay down some blankets, put out all kinds of drums, make grilled cheese sandwiches, and just love on anyone that stops. We were visited by families, teenagers, homeless guys, and folks in various stages of intoxication. The drumming skills were... more than just a bit rough and the sandwiches were... probably not what you'd consider gourmet.

But no one seemed to notice or care.

[mccracken]

14 March 2010

Yet Another Paradigm Shift

I'm fairly dense. Those who know me will confirm this. There's much that God had taught me in the past that I'd forgotten. Or possibly chosen to ignore? I dunno. Either way, I was acting like a fool.

I was trying to make God fit into the philosophies that I'd grown fond of, those that appealed to me. And when I couldn't reconcile the God of Scripture with my all-too-reasonable and well-thought-out worldview, I despaired. Surely I couldn't be wrong in my logic and reasonings?!

What had really happened to me was bigger than just doubts. I'd grown to always start with the premise of suspicion in regards to my Creator. (We all do, on some level.) I held God as guilty until proven innocent. I didn't really trust Him at all.

If you have time, give these two videos a watch. They're about an hour long, all together. It's my friend Andrew Olsen introducing some healthy ways to re-examine how we relate to and understand God. It's a breath of fresh air.

I have to agree with Teresa of Avila when she said, "The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too." And what a journey!? We're only as alone as we choose to be.

[mccracken]

10 March 2010

Elive 2.0

(Click on image for full version.)

This is on my Dell Latitude C610 PIII laptop, circa 2002. And it's sooo slick! Go download the image, burn it, and try it as a Live CD without having to make any changes to your system.

^__^

[mccracken]

07 March 2010

Dual Purpose Nostalgia


I borrowed a bicycle yesterday and rode it around town for half an hour. It was excruciating. And a helluva lot of fun. I think it was the first time I'd been on a bike in close to a decade, I'm embarrassed to say.

When I was a kid, I went everywhere on my bike. I remember riding it to and from elementary school, riding all over the neighborhood, down to Medi-Park, all over "the fields" (we lived on the western edge of town back then), and basically as far as my parents would let me. Though we did have a few crises, which went very much like what Brian Regan hilariously describes here. ;-)

Riding bikes as a kid was never about exercise, though I'm sure that element was present. It just never crossed my mind at the time. Now, my primary reason to get on a bike was exercise, until I started riding around. Then I found it to be blissful nostalgia. Great memories of times when the world was a much smaller, simpler place.

[mccracken]

04 March 2010

Contentment


I often find great joy in simple things:
  • a good font
  • restringing a guitar
  • crisp, cool water
  • the smell of books
  • sharing a meal
  • wind chimes in the distance
  • driving with no destination
  • being still
....

[mccracken]

03 March 2010

TrueFaced

I've just started this book with the other folks in my COAT group. So far, it's nothing completely new to me, but it's been a great reminder that we are too often concerned with keeping up appearances (our pride) rather than just being who we were created to be. It's natural, nearly expected, that we put on nice masks in various contexts. We have to make sure people will accept us, like us, and maybe even be impressed by us. And God too.

Instinctively, our reactions are guilt and hurt when they should be forgiveness and compassion. We put our masks on, pretending to be something that our experience denies. No matter how well intentioned we are, we will always inevitably come off as proud, pitied, and even pathetically deluded to how easily others see through our façade.

Luckily, by God's grace, we need not worry about masks at all! But will we, as followers of Christ, choose the path of ruthless trust? Or the path of trying to please?

[mccracken]

24 February 2010

For Now We See Through A Glass, Darkly

I've been meaning to update this for a long time now.

If you're not aware, Meg and I are now homeless.

;-)

Well, itinerant is more like it, I suppose. The last three years, while we lived in Amarillo, job #1 was for us to get our student loans paid off. We finished that up in September and began the journey which we are now on.

We left our jobs at the end of January and flew to England for the first two weeks of February to spend time with the Duncans. Those two weeks flew by entirely too quickly. We visited a number of towns and villages, mainly in the East Midlands of England, searching for a place to live, love, and serve. We're still not certain exactly what our ministry will look like, but we're continuing to search and pray.

Back in the USA, Meg and I have been making our way to Fort Myers, Florida, where we will be undertaking the New Mission Systems International COAT program. We're very excited about becoming NMSI affiliates. There'll be much more on that front soon.

In the last two weeks we've spent time in Fort Worth, San Antonio, and New Orleans. Lots of time in the car. And still a good 12+ hours to go 'til Fort Myers. Whew.

Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated and we'd love to hear from you. We'd be honored to have you partner with us in our ministry efforts. If you are interested in supporting us, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Much Love.

[mccracken]

806.683.1752
ryan.m.mccracken AT gmail DOT com

03 January 2010

Welcome To The World Of Tomorrow!


Well. It's 2010. And still no flying cars.

Meh.

[mccracken]

P. S. -- I really am quite excited about what's in store for us. ;-)