Feeding of the 5,000

I’m preaching this Sunday at SAFMC from Matthew 14:13-21. If you’ve ever wondered what Jesus is like, this is a great passage. He’s compassionate, self-sacrificing and powerful. He meets us in our scarcity and brings His abundance. He is so outside our world, yet participates in such a practical way, seen in the beautiful dichotomy between miraculous healing and the hospitality of serving dinner.

More on that Sunday.

But here’s my question: do you see the miracle in the feeding of the 5,000? A few loaves and fishes become dinner with leftovers for a rather large crowd. For most, the miracle is in the divine multiplication of bread and fish, as if God somehow made it so that cutting bread in half would result in four halves, etc. But for some, the miracle is that people decided to get their secret stash of food out and share, but only after seeing the compassion of Jesus on the people.

In one hand, the miracle is God and God alone, and a literal multiplication of food.

in the other hand, the miracle is the response of the people being less selfish and actually sharing the food they were hoarding for themselves.

What do you think? A literal, miraculous multiplication of bread and fish? Or, was it the miracle of humans being less self-centered?

I’m really interested to hear what you think. You’ll help this pastor (points to self) in sermon preparation.
Thanks for commenting here or on Facebook.

Jeep JK-8 Conversion Kit

Not since the last run of the Comanche circa 1992 has a Jeep enthusiast been able to buy a pickup Jeep. It’s now possible to buy a Wrangler and then buy a conversion kit to turn it into a pickup. Like most Jeep accessories, the price is such that you’ll need to open a line of credit and then hide it from your wife. Of course I’m kidding! That never happens!

Let me add this up, just so I feel like we’re all on the same page:

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: $25,545
Conversion Kit: $5,995
Tax: $1,892
Total Before Dealer Incentive: $33,432
Dealer Incentive: $I need to check with our sales manager
You: What?
Dealer Incentive: $Well, the conversion kit has to be shipped from another state…
You: Okay
Dealer Incentive: $o it’s $ettled! You agree! Shipping is 400%
You: 400% of what? The deal we made?
Dealer Incentive: No, 400% of MSRP!
You: Can I have my signature back?

This fictional account is just that: a fictional account. However, it just goes to show you how long it will take me to save my pennies and get a Jeep JK and her glorious conversion kit. Besides, just because it costs money doesn’t mean I don’t want one! Then again, utilities are kinda cool to have around the house.

I might be better off to juxtapose the JK-8 to the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8. In this case, you truly have a Wrangler/Renegade front and a pickup rear. Behold:

The only jeep that requires Thompson's Water Seal

You can pick up one of these babies for around $10K. If carburetors aren’t your thing, you could easily toss a new engine in for $2K, and, while you’re at it, toss in a new transmission, transfer case, drive shafts, etc. You’ll still be one step ahead of those expensive conversion kits. Plus, you’ll get really good at applying and re-applying Bondo.

One factor that must be considered is that of child seats. You may be comfortable behind the wheel of your Scrambler, but where does the family sit? In the back? What is this, South Carolina?!? Friend, you need the CJ8 conversion kit, available in only 43 of our 50 states. See below:

and this one's for sale

That conversion kit might set you back a bit, but that way, you’ll be able to make everyone comfortable. Take it from the children’s allowance. What? You don’t pay them enough? Then give them a raise! Do I need to figure out all of your parenting for you? $200/wk per child will suffice.

We had a Jeep Wrangler for a while, which made a lot of sense, provided you could just not consider finances. Oh, I miss it. And I fully understand why someone would put down the big bucks to get into Jeepin’, but that’s outside my reachin’ right now. I’d like to think that streets paved with gold will be no problem for my JK-8, where environmentalists will finally be at peace and gas prices will be $0. And 0/10ths. Oh. Happy day.

r adam davidson once rode in a Jeep Scrambler that someone drove into a lake, making him jump out and get his shoes wet.

Discussion for Small Groups:
1. Talk about a time where you heard someone refer to a vehicle as a “Jeep” when it wasn’t: Suzuik Sidekick, Ford Explorer, etc.

2. Think about how sad it is that sometimes people don’t ever let their Jeep see mud, which is certainly their natural habitat. Talk about how you would trade even your newer Chevy Malibu for your neighbor’s diamond-plated, freshly waxed YJ, followed by detailed descriptions about how you would destroy it.

3. Remember what kind of flowers your wife likes? Yeah. That’ll come in handy.

Another Inspiring Weight Loss Story

I came across a great story on cnn.com about a guy named Jamil who went from 313 to 185 by exercising at night. He and I have a few parallels in our journey of descending from the 300 club.

First, Jamil realized that he needed to lose weight after seeing pictures of himself. For Jamil, it was a trip to Hawaii. For me, it was hosting a local rock and/or roll concert. I saw these pictures and thought “great Caesar’s ghost — I had no idea I looked like that!” This expression is particularly meaningful because I was eating a Caesar salad — my second that day — when I said it.

By age 29 I weighed 318 pounds, at least according to a bathroom scale that technically can’t exceed 300. When you weigh that much, you realize that most of the world, including our old bathroom scale, is designed for people who weigh less than 300, and, in many cases, less than 250 pounds. Look at the warning labels on ladders (up to 300!) or even bar stools (up to 225!). Look at the requirements for skydiving (up to 250, otherwise huge splat!).

I knew I needed to lose weight but was unsure about how to do it. Exercise & eat right: Thanks, motivational poster! But what do I do? Try to run? Am I too big to run? Do I lift weights? If I lift weights, am I not doing enough to lose weight? What do I not eat? Can Sour Cream & Onion chips really be that bad for you? It was then that someone told me about a program that I’ve blogged about before called “LoseIt”. Simple, functional and actually kind of elegant, this iPhone software for calorie counting leads to results. This is not a paid endorsement. Yet.

Once I started counting calories, I learned how to eat. If I down a few Bavarian Creme donuts, at 250 calories each, not only have I used up 500 food cals, I also have the sadness of being hungry in an hour and not being able to eat until lunch, which will now be a confetti sized piece of turkey. Behavior modification is painful and effective.
At the same time, I was walking, which eventually became running. It is amazing what kind of difference is made by actually moving. But here’s another parallel between Jamil and I: I would also walk/run at night. I still remember the first time that I actually jogged 2 miles. It was a big deal. It was also at like 11:30pm, mostly because I didn’t want people to see a huge guy trying to do something that came so easily for people who were normal sized and could use a step ladder without filling out a release. I didn’t want to be seen because I, too, was pulling a Subway Jared. It just seemed kinda shameful.

But baby, look at me now!

No, actually, look at me like 3 months ago, before going through my Mom’s death and eating every casserole and cookie that people brought to us to help ease the pain and fill the void. I’m up a good 20 pounds after losing 50+, but I know how to make it go away again. Another thing I learned is that our bodies are desperate to get back to the shape they once had. Also, Sun Chips may look like corrugated pulp, but that’s because pulp tastes good if you’re really hungry.

We’re going on a cruise this coming weekend and I’m a bit nervous. Not because of recent news stories where Russian cruise ships have capsized in the Baltic, or even because of an event last year where a cruise ship got stuck at sea and served its passengers old pop tarts until they could be rescued. Listen: I’ve seen Titanic, and the tragedy happens because Rose and Leonardo weren’t smart enough to do hourly rotations on the floating plank. My nervousness comes from the fact that your ticket price includes a literal 24/7 all you can eat buffet. “And the food is good, Adam” say my friends. They know what I like. “If you want like 3 steaks, just ask for it and the have to bring it to you!” While I’m happy to stick it to the man and get my money’s worth and a whole lot more, I’m not excited about the reports of people who have gained 15 pounds while on a single cruise. Then again, this only serves to substantiate the legend of truly unlimited food, which I thought only existed on TV and in Heaven.

“Rest assured” said one friend “that there’s plenty of places on board for exercise.” I’m told that the cruise ships have all the elements of being healthy: a weight room, which is right next to the pizza restaurant. A running track that circles the food court. Elliptical machines are pushed up to the steam table so that you don’t have the inconvenience of having to walk to the other side of the boat for scallops. Working out will be a piece of cake, ________________________*

And this is where Jamil’s story inspires me. It’s not cool to have the biggest shirt, knowing that the reason they had to get XXXL is because of you. I’ve been there. To public school, that is. Let’s just say that my High School wasn’t optimized for musicians who sit in the back row and crack jokes. Social status aside, it’s just better to be in better shape. You feel better. Your clothes fit better. Your outlook on life is better. Key word: better. Old key word: butter.

There’s nothing worse than having resolve without results. I have the resolve. I want good results. I also request that the ship not sink. Thank you.

r adam davidson once at four hard-shell tacos in one sitting. He was five years old.

* complete this thought and get a prize.
PS: Here’s the picture that scared me into eating better —

does anyone need chipotle?

So, If You See a Big Purple Suitcase at a Pawn Shop near Columbus, Ohio…

We chose valet parking because the other option didn’t seem so great, which was leaving our vehicle parked on a dimly lit downtown street and adding money to the meter every few hours. Twenty bucks is a hefty sum just to drive your car ’round back and park it, but we were buying peace of mind and some level of assurance that our vacation stuff would be safe during our overnight stay in Columbus. Emily and I wanted some good rest before we continued our journey to beautiful Palm Coast, Florida, home of my sister and brother* and temperatures that are even cooler than it is back home in Michigan.

SMASH (sparkle, sparkle).

Unlock door, open glove box. Remove contents. Open center console. Remove contents. Ooooh: big luggage. Get that one. Now let’s go.
That was so easy!

Thieves bashed our rear passenger window and took Emily’s luggage. I say it was her luggage because 1) it’s purple and 2) it had all of her clothes inside. Stolen.

All of this took place while we were sleeping, blissfully ignorant and dreaming about, oh, I don’t know, a sunny beach in Florida. We woke up, packed our backpacks (thinking that a convoy of 8 bags from the lobby to the 10th floor wouldn’t be necessary). Down the stairs we went, checking out and ready to go. Valet parking saw our tag and headed to the secret lair where our truck was stored for the night.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, sir, but… there was a break-in to your vehicle.”
Shocked, I asked for clarification. How did he know there was a break in? He said that the shattered glass was their first clue.
We went to the valet parking garage, which was not the fortress of security that we had imagined. Just a parking deck in downtown Columbus, easily accessible from every side. No cameras. No fencing. Well, maybe fencing of Emily’s clothes, but that’s it.
Here’s what we saw:

If the back window looks especially clean, that’s because it is. Cleaned and scrubbed with so much passion that it just shattered and took the form of pebbles resting peacefully on our running board. Inside, more pebbles of tinted window in and on everything — seat pockets, cup holders, even the luggage they left behind.

What they took was a 700 gallon (or so) travel suitcase, the kind with wheels and a telescoping handle. It was also the kind that had all of Emily’s stuff in it, which is in the process of being replaced. The window, too, is now replaced, and looks strange because 1) it’s newer, so the tinting is darker and 2) it’s not a garbage bag.

A phone call to insurance revealed that we won’t quite reach our deductible. A phone call to the valet parking company revealed that they don’t return phone calls. I’m not too worried about getting it all sorted out because these things usually find their own groove. Emily, on the other hand, is bummed because she had some outfits given to her by my mom in the stolen luggage. I had some underwear in there, too, which makes me wonder just what it was like to get this huge case back from the poorly guarded downtown lot, only to find that its full of women’s clothes and special order boxers. “Wait — these aren’t iPods!” one might exclaim. He’s right. Oh, he’s right.

I figure this happened to us because we were Michigan fans in Ohio State territory. Perhaps it was Jim Tressel. We can’t be sure.


* My sister and brother-in-law; I do not have two siblings that are intermarried.

Adam Davidson is known for telling stories about his losses at the expense of Ohio State University.

Gold: the New Bling

With the monetary crisis in both the United States and Europe, all those pirates are really saying “I told you so, arrrrr!” All those places that set up shop in the strip mall to pay top dollar for your gold are now wearing your watches, thank you. The idea? Return to the “gold standard” as a replacement for other currencies like, say, the American dollar. If gold becomes the new international monetary standard, what happens to…

  • The Dollar Menu at your favorite and/or most convenient fast food joint? Will we be paying 2 bits to get a double cheeseburger?
  • Family Dollar ? Is it now Family Gold Shavings Equaling What We Knew as a Dollar? That’s too long for most marquees.
  • The Olympics? Will we give the bronze, silver and dollar medals?
  • Sayings like “that fella is a day late and 1/7th of an ounce short” or “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today, so long as I can find a place that will exchange these worthless dollar bills for gold coins”?
  • I am simply raising important questions that deserve answers.

    Watch (your rate double) Instantly!

    Netflix, we’ve had a rich relationship. I pay you money. You send me DVD’s and data at a perfect bit rate. You provided streaming movies and TV shows about an unfortunate British man with distracting eyebrows and I consumed. I provided money for you to buy ice cream, server space, etc. and you consumed.

    It was a match made in heaven and everyone seemed happy.


    You demanded more money — twice as much — without warning.
    Without upping the ante and making it so that I could also stream an 80’s TV show about two unlikely cousins just trying to make it in Chicago.
    Without asking me about it.

    Netflix, you must have assumed that I would be okay with this. I’m not. Bad form! (to quote “Hook”, a movie that is not available for streaming).

    So, since you’re doubling the membership price out of nowhere, here are my demands, effective now:

    1. Flip the switch that makes it so I can stream Perfect Strangers and Family Matters. No more waiting for the DVD.
    2. Flip another switch that creates a made for TV movie where the cast from Perfect Strangers bump into the cast from Family Matters and go on an adventure. They all live in Chicago, so this scenario is more than plausible.
    3. Flip the switch that makes it so that I can watch all of these movies in my glasses. I’m so tired of laptops and iPhones.

    Too much to ask? I don’t think so. You made the first move, Netflix.

    You have 24 hours.

    Sam AND his Club

    I don’t like to tote this, but it turns out that I’m part of a fairly elite club that allows a single person to buy enough of something — be it chocolate chips, asparagus, or a palette of Whirlpool ovens — to prepare food for an entire army. And with the aforementioned ingredients, those cookies would be absolutely disgusting. But fortified with protein. And iron. From the ovens. And how can I accomplish such a feat, without a permit? Oh, I have a permit. Well, more of a membership. To Sam’s Club.

    The basic premise behind Sam’s is that you need 14 times more of something than you initially planned. Everything, even avocados, is sold in bulk and/or discounted. Need a retention pond? No problem — here’s six of them. A dunderhead husband might look at his lovely wife and say “Oh, we can get six retention ponds and save 11%.” The wife will say “But we only need one retention pond, dear.” And he will reply “but then we don’t get the discount, dear, his vocal italics suggesting veiled irritation. “We can just put the other retention ponds behind the shed and get them out as we need them!” as if suggesting that her supposed lack of wisdom is outshining his cunning spendthriftery. Sure, it sounds absurd, but I have personally witnessed at least one exchange in the aisles of Sam’s club that looked remarkably similar to this little transcript. I may have even participated in one with Emily. But I can say with great assurance that we’re never going to run out of retention ponds at our house. Ever.

    Turn right. After a relaxing drive down the boulevard and a playful wave at the pallet of geese, you slowly work your way around the Sam’s Club gas station, where gas, too, is to be bought at a discount, especially if you need 100 or more gallons. This is the only way that Winnebago drivers can afford their enormous wheeled chateaus.

    I am always amazed at the control mechanisms in place at Sam’s Club. To drive into its mighty complex is to witness an example of suburban planning and the resulting bulky sprawl. Lines and arrows, painted in bulk on the surface of the parking lot, keep us on the straight and narrow, carefully maneuvering our high capacity vehicles to be parked and prepared to convoy your wares back home. D’oh! You forgot your palette jack and gantry crane at home!

    After stepping out of your car, you have a moment to behold the wailing wall of Sam’s Club, where the warehouse theme is king. False factory windows and expressionless facades give you the special sense that you are entering a world totally separate from those terrible stores where they sell individual bottles of pancake syrup. Only one bottle? Only 12 ounces? Unbelievable!

    As you walk up to the door (which opens automatically, your majesty) you are greeted by a kind yet stern Samcurity guard who happily yet forcefully requests to see your membership card. DO NOT try to circumvent the Samcurity guard! I’ve only seen the top of the handle, but I’m fairly certain that she’s got a tazer gun. “I forgot” is a really hard phrase to scream while you’re being electrocuted. It is certainly not the first saying that comes to mind.

    Provided that you’ve exhibited your club membership card, you’re now part of the bulk shopping elite. From the jewelry counter, one can see strawberries, TV’s, trees, fireworks, legal pads and wrapping paper (it’s never too early). Realizing that these items don’t carry themselves, you endeavor to find a loose shopping cart. You’ll never find one in the store proper; it’s time to go out to the breezeway and get your CART:

    C- Cart
    A- Adorned (with)
    R- Ridiculous
    T- Tires

    The carts are huge, mammoth even, since the cart must be able to transport the merch. Wide enough for two toddlers to sit side by side, these plus size wire mesh cages are begging to be filled with bulk toner, a queen size mattress and watermelons. Your kids still have room to play a regulation game of rugby in their spacious seats. Yes, even the carts are bulk sized!

    After procuring your cart, which included another flash of your membership card to the Samcurity guard, the shopping begins. You’re not shopping at a regular store. You’re shopping the same way that the owners of a regular store would shop. That’s why you can buy “vendor pack” candy product, excellent for “C Stores”. It doesn’t take long to figure out that a C-Store is a convenience store, the abbreviated code acting as a fog to the mind of the customer. Once you realize that you’re paying a sucker’s price at the C-Store for Skittles, you’ll have a momentary breakdown — right there in the three-lane aisle. “I can’t believe I was paying more than 47.3 cents per unit! That’s the last time I go to the airport C-Store for Skittles!” This is a common exclamation heard in Sam’s Club stores across the country.

    You fill your cart with 7 bowling-ball sized bags of Skittles, packed in an even larger shipping crate that has zero charm. There are no colorful rainbows or fun pictures of candy, but rather a dull corrugated cardboard box with block printing: “SKITTLE PRODUCT”. No worries: you’re shopping like the shopkeeper, and you’ve passed the savings right on to you.

    After shoving your kids out of the way so that you can manage to get a 55 gallon drum of cola firmly planted on your cart (can you give me a push, ma’am?), your senses kick in as your sensibilities are dulled. Is that some kind of sausage that I smell? Are those water crackers I hear being broken into bite-sized pieces? Do I hear paper cups being spread across a stainless steel surface? Yes. Yes, yes, and yes. There are samples. Suddenly, your cart isn’t so heavy, in part because you’re making your 17 month old walk after you realized that he was taking up precious cart real estate. This is one of the only moments in your journey to Sam’s where you will actually run, since your nose is making promises, your taste buds demand results, and your legs — crazy legs — are subservient to your five senses.

    She’s wearing a green apron and a very non stylish hat that functions first as a hair collector, which is good because she’s dividing salmon into 2 inch portions and jamming them into paper cups that look like little petrified coffee filters. A toothpick impales the fish, which has gone from swimming happily in Seattle to providing you with 3 grahams of protein so that you have the sustenance to continue your bulk shopping in Jackson, Michigan. Thank you, gill. And thank you, apron lady. Or should I say apron ladies, for they are many! Take a stroll, take some delicious grapes, some hot pocket chunks, and a dixie cup of Member’s Mark Juice. Forget you, lunch! Oh, and get some food for the kids since they are far less afraid to cry in public than they should be.

    Since you can’t get the taste of the Member’s Mark juice to leave your palette (in your mouth), you decide that it’s good enough to spend a few bucks on, so you get your own palette (of wood) and wedge it on to your third cart. “Three carts is enough” says you, now making your way to the checkouts. You will soon see why they give you food right before you leave.

    It’s because you have to undo everything you’ve just done, namely, loading cases of shrimp and crates of, well, smaller crates, back out of your cart and on to the conveyer belt. Fortunately, you’ve had a good 10 minutes standing in line to devise your custom bulk unloading strategy. And then its smooth sailing from there as they do the good work of loading your newly purchased items into bags, bags designed specifically for the purpose of easy loading from store to car, from car to house. Oh, the convenience of bags!

    You fool.

    “Paper or plastic?” is one question that will never, ever, ever be raised at Sam’s Club. Their bags are your bare hands. Your hands are their bags. Sometimes you can snag a cardboard box or two that they’ve emptied, but those boxes are usually only 40% boxes, in that they are missing significant sections of box wall and box floor, both of which are vital for holding your merch in place. But that doesn’t matter because you’ve been asked for some ID, specifically, your membership ID, which, upon being scanned, tells the cashier everything about you. Your name. Your membership status. And… well, that’s probably it, but still, they didn’t know that before the swipe, right? The computer displays your name for all to see:


    I wish the computer would analyze my purchase history and come up with a snappy nickname like


    Obviously, the computer would need to have some pretty advanced algorithms to pull off that kind of embarrassing analysis. Scan after glorious scan, it must be able to make some kind of educated guess about your living, eating, driving and even sleeping habits. But that doesn’t matter, since you are now reaping the benefits of membership, having saved dozens of dollars because you bought thousands of something.

    Once everything has been loaded back into your cart, you must now walk the Sam’s gauntlet, a a dangerous and unnerving path to egress. Cigarettes are kept in a chain-link prison. Tires are stacked as a mighty vulcan fortress. Why would you need to buy 10 tires? It’s too many for even two times around your car, but not nearly enough for your 18-wheeler. You keep walking the gauntlet. Dirty looks abound, since you are clearly feeling confident enough to steal something because you “deserve” a little extra because of that “embarrassing” moment at the register involving the fact that you may have “bought” your membership form a membership scalper “outside”. Oh, they know how you work. And you’ll be checked out — again — once you get in line to leave. That’s right: there’s even a line for the exit.

    “Hello” you say to the kind older Samcurity guard stationed at the exit, equipped with a sharp highlighter, her hand extended in full expectation that you will provide her with the proper documentation to be excused to the parking lot. You were given this document, printed on two sides, upon my leaving the altercation at the cash register where you tried to put a 40-pack of Ammonia in a box marked “Clorox”. She is looking at your receipt, then looking at your cart.
    Looking at your receipt, then looking at your cart.
    Cart again, just to change it up.
    A look into your eyes and you am given the pink (or yellow, or orange) flag to leave, in the form of a highlighter swipe across my receipt, ensuring that I am authorized to depart because I have rightly paid for everything in my carts. I’m glad they do this. It probably discourages people from stealing tires while someone else sidetracks the “ungreeter” during the exit interview. I know that I’ve considered such a caper at least a time or two. I am more than willing to endure a full cart scan and guilty-until-proven-innocent pat down before I leave. After all, this is an elite club where TSA guards come to be trained.

    Your membership card gets you in to the building. An impossible to counterfeit highlighter swipe gets you out.

    Incidentally, who is the highlighter on the receipt for? No one will see your receipt again, right? Me thinks they’re going to put a check-out guard shack at the entrance. After loading the trunk of your car, carefully putting the giant bag of skittles next to the sharpest part of the jack, you clutch your marked receipt as your lifeline, knowing that if the guy at the shack doesn’t see that pink line that starts out fat and then becomes kinda skinny (the way Mildred always draws it), you won’t be released from the compound. But that’s okay. It keeps the only marginally serious shopper away from your treasure trove. Failure to comply will result in you seeing firsthand why they call it Sam’s Club. Hint: it’s made of rough-sewn wood and leaves a member’s mark.

    You’re driving home, feeling especially victorious because you just pulled one over on ol’ Sam. He didn’t even see you coming! The sound of skittles rolling around in your trunk reminds you that maybe you should’ve also bought some garbage bags or a 4-pack of Shop Vacs.

    The author means nothing bad by this and hopes that they won’t revoke his membership. -Ed.