Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Bloggers love Moleskine', you hear folks bragging about them all the time. My first try was a small planner that was....too small. Last year I had the week at a glance and the ink was so pale I almost went blind trying to read it. This year they must have read my mind because the ink is darker, and the larger five by 8 is handy for me. I have the week at a glance on the left with a blank page for notes on the right.
The way my week goes I just have three or four things to do each day so I do not need an hourly type planner. I use it also for a bit of a diary, food record, and expense tracker. I wish I were the kind of guy who could use something electronic. I had a palm pilot that I lost within six months. When I misplace my planner I can go without it for too long. I also love the writing pads and use them for recording ideas.
Happy and Blessed New Year!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Jim is not your normal Harley rider, he is an engineer, a father of 9 children, and a lover of God. He owns a 15 passenger van for major driving, an Aveo for ferrying his kids to work and meetings, and this is his work transportation and major hobby
He really enjoys riding this thing, he takes long rides on Saturdays with the local Harley riders Christian fellowship, he keeps it clean and shiny. I did not personally care for the high rider handle bars but Jim swears they are comfortable and safe, although a few local policeman have pulled him over to disagree.
Every kid in America dreams of owning a motorcycle, its a way of life for my good buddy, and I hope and pray for his safety while he lives out his passion.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Almost half the year we go to Floridino's Italian Restaurant to enjoy the large special. It ranks right up there with the best pizza I have ever eaten. The sausage, perreroni, veggies, just the right moisture, not dry but hold together if you decide to lift it. Always delivered hot. Click the photo and you will feel like going out for pizza.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Watched The Polar Express 3D with the grandkids. It works pretty well. Same issues as in the 50s and 60s and Disney world, a bit of eyestrain and the need to work at not focusing on any image while watching the screen to see the depth. I did not, in honesty make it through the movie, but it had more to do with the corny story and odd animation of the Polar Express that the special effects.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
My wife talked me into going to the Mall on the fourth largest shopping day of the year, and seeing the Movie Australia. We had to park a 20 minute walk away. The crowds were enormous. I watched people for a long time and marveled at the diversity of humanity, every age, shape, size and ethnic origin passed by my perch.
Several observations. 1]Teens are very needy of approval, and they dress oddly to identify with each other. 2]As a nation we are getting fatter 3] guys wearing their pants halfway down their rear ends looks stupid 4]We are a nation that dresses very informally 5] Families are beautiful. Fathers who love and protect their kids, and moms who are so caring and thoughtful at the mall impress me.6] Most people are trying to enjoy life and being at the mall with friends is a big time for fun.
7] Since I left my phone at home and lost Laura, I was very lonely and isolated waiting for her.
I saw Ice T, the former gangsta rapper and present TV actor and his entourage/family. Folks were grabbing their cameras and cell phones to take pictures. I had to ask who he was.
Australia started slowly, but finally grabbed me. It was a nice mixture of history and story interwoven with messages of unity and hope and of course, three deserving heroic characters finding and protecting each other. Great Scenery, great action, longish but enjoyable, and the bad guy gets it in the end. The historic use of the original release of The Wizard of Oz and its proximity to Pearl Harbor were stunning.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I had the Christmas spirit big time this year....less Scroogish than in years past, due largely to daily infusions of beautiful Christmas music. This year I added Josh Groban and Faith Hill Christmas Albums to join the hall of fame I alread own. Bing Crosy, Nat King Cole, Manheim Steamroller, Micheal W Smith, Celine Dion, etc. A large selection of Celtic Christmas albums as well.
I have often marked generational change by the observation that the car radio brought most of the folks my age accessibility and the growth of radio followed the mobility we gained from autos. I have never lost my love of music. I have a boom box like the one caracatured above sitting in my office and have owned many tiny transitor radios in my life. But the Ipod has given me portability, flexibility, choosability, and expandability. I am totally sold on the idea, not to mention books on tape, video sermons, podcasts and my one portable movie, "The Princess Bride" Its...inconceivable.....!
Don't judge us for this, but we have three Ipod players, all Altec Lansings....not Bose lest you think we are too wasteful and extravangant. Lauras Classroom, home and my office. The Ipod goes in my manpurse, camera bag, and boom......music.
One regret, a long constant presence of tinnitus that competes with my listening pleasure. Any one got a cure?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
There is a cemetary across from my neighborhood. It has what has to be one of the worlds largest Sun Dials. I went in today to meditate for a few moments, and take a few photos. I was coming out of the chapel one day and met one of my parishioners from the church I used to serve visiting her husbands crypt in the wall out front. Today I noticed that she had joined him there last June, at the age of 86.
I wish each of you a Merry Christmas as I take tomorrow off from posting with a reminder that time is a gift, each moment a reality to be cherished. Those silent graves testify to lives lived, memories shared, and an end to their journey in this flesh. I watched as an attractive young blond sat in front of a marker in the Veterans Section. It was her grandparents grave. I checked....hoping she was not a widow of our current war.
I plucked some grass from John Washingtons grave. He and I sat next to each other in the Choir until he died almost three years ago. I inherited his inability to organize my choir music. We would be singing for two minutes before John could open his music. He gave his life to the Army, education, and to his love for music. As the only black man in the choir he often teased us white folks for our lack of rhythm. I am thankful his cemetary is not John's final resting place, but around a table fellowshipping with the redeemed. Merry Christmas to all.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I like our simple decorations, and the simpler Christmas we are having as a result of being careful with our money this year. I loved having all my Christmas songs on a playlist. I love paying more attention to Advent and the Christian calendar this year. I love believing Christmas peace is a declaration, not an offer. I love my two little lights in the windows that flicker like candles, my faith flickers but God's love and light is steady and strong.
Monday, December 22, 2008
When your photography becomes useful to a friend, the satisfaction is real. Ray and Harriet are proud of their new second home and wanted friends and family to see it. The 18 degree wide angle was so great for capturing the view from their back yard.
I took enough for them to chose the light and view they liked, and their daughter took the image from their computer and had them printed with a view of the front of the home as well. You friends from elsewhere can see why we enjoy living in Sun Lakes and those with golf course views are so pleased. I live on a cul-de-sac and have a view of every single sunrise directly out my bedroom sliding door. That's enough for me.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
One of our missionary friends spent two days with us. Reynato was in the states to help with a family wedding and touch base with other former teens of his twenty years of youth ministry. He has spent time in Brooklyn, Chicago and LA. Last evening he was speaking to his wife face to face using Yahoo and I was struck at the vast changes that the world has undergone.
Sitting in my office in Sun Lakes with a Philipino raised speaking English and chatting with his wife in their native lanquage on Yahoo video chat. He mentioned how connected the immigrants from the Phillapines are and how many come here to earn enough money to help their extended family back home. He also spoke of the immediate effects of the downturn on their small manufacting and assembly plants.
He loves his island, his people and working with the teens in his country. I hope to visit there some day and see his world firsthand.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Bernard L. Madoff was a Jewish Investor in NYC. His life and lifestyle with mulitmillionaire friends seeking to protect and advance the excess money they earned is something I cannot fathom or imagine. If I had all my financial eggs in his basket I am wondering how I would feel to know my future had been stolen in terms of money.
Weeks ago, I had my own frustrations out with a sermon that referenced an old song I learned in college. "Theres a dead skunk in the middle of the road.....stinken' to high heaven....". A lot of people must have had their conscience yelling at them when this whole thing got rocky. I wonder exactly when Madoff went from well respected money manager to crook and thief. Did he lie to himself, or just not care? I have always wondered about the compensation to stock brokers and investors. They make us 7 to 12 percent and they make millions each year? How does that work?
Money is power, they say. Lack of money will be a new teacher for so many in this period of our national life. My heart breaks for the charities and non profits affected by this loss. There are so many illusions in life. Things we think will keep us safe and secure have become vapor. We are all waiting and watching to see how this will play out in the year ahead. I told my friend Jim that I am glad he has a three acre back yard in Queen Creek. I asked if I could plant a 40x40 garden so we can have vegetables to eat. A sharecropper??? Lord, teach me my lessons. Deepen my hunger for things that cannot be seen but are real...for the Living God...and for our daily bread....and for the true spirit of Christmas.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Laura and I watched our new DVD of Mama Mia tonight. We loved the play and the movie experience. When you grow up listening to ABBA hits as a background to your own life and then they do something so colorful and human and uplifting and fun as this, it is wonderful to own it at home. The story line is about a single mom, and it is quite charming how the songs ABBA composed and sang over their career fit so well into this fantasy. A girl finding her father, a woman finding lost love, and my favorite star...that enchanting Greek Island. The Winner takes it all. Next time through we play the sing a long option.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
They call it the Mississippi Saxaphone, a soulful, jazzy, bluesy sound from a harmonic folk instrument. I love folk instruments. Playing my fipple flutes is a daily joy even if it is only a tune or a moment. So I bought a How to Play Harmonica CD and Book from a book outlet. My only regret is that I struggle with every instrument I have ever played to get past mediocrity. Its still fun. For me, garages are for keeping your cars and extra junk, and too provide a great hollow sound chamber for playing your instruments.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Apostle Paul's use of the Adam/Christ connection in Romans runs counter to our Western individual way of thinking. Most of the Christian world has rejected or severely modified the bondage of man's will and replaced it with a free will that over emphasizes man's decision making capacity and minimizes Christ drawing us to the Father.
Paul was so convinced of this link that it became the principle motivation for our ministry of reconciliation. II Cor. 5:14 "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." This inclusive language enables us to minister to broken people without the evangelistic pressure we feel is necessary for us to be faithful.
No wonder we get such phoney and shallow decisions and such pride and exclusionary ministry.
Oddly, the good news that sets men free often entangles them in an old covenant paradigm as they begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Because God loved you when you were a sinner, you receive Him and the power of transformation. Then, instead of passing the love to other sinners, you begin to dispise them for their bondage and believe they are cut off from God's love because they behave badly. Spiritual pride begins to repel those whom God desires to attract. The good news becomes only an offer and God's tranforming presence becomes your badge of achievement. For you, God loves those who love Him, which is exactly the thing Jesus came to reverse in the gospel.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The Internet Monk is a blog I enjoy. A lifelong frustrated Southern Baptist, his wife of 30 years has converted to Catholicism. It has been difficult for him, as he has shared with his blogging audience. He recently mentioned that most Catholics just accept the teachings of the church without much questioning. They have a massive catechism that lays out the church position on all major and minor issues of faith and life.
Protestants on the other hand have inherited a varied set of tensions which one is left to accept or refine if he or she is so inclined. This fluid structure of theology leads to diversity and dissagreeent, but to the possibility that their are better ways to tell the story of the gospel to our generation.
Being of inquisitive mind, I have tested all things and held fast to that which is true, at least to the degree that I am able to discern. All the things that need balanced between law and gospel, justice and mercy, time and eternity...are juxtiposing nicely. Some tensions and unanswered questions obviously will remain, but I love walking in love and living in a spirit of reconciliation. This place is a place of peace....hope I can live here for a while.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Last evening after a night out with friends I attached the camera to the tripod to try to lasso the moon. It was the fullest of the year and I waited as the clouds were too thick for an appearance. I took some reflections of lights around my street and walk a few streets I normally drive without thinking. Though I failed to get a good shot I slipped into a quiet peace as I observed God's consistent infrastructure. The clouds lit by the moon and the moon playing dress up with the clouds was so beautiful. The earth is full of His glory. The Heavens declare His handiwork.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I laughed, and joined in the celebration, but there was an uneasy feeling that I am trying to discern. Am I just being a fuddy duddy or was the huge presentation doing more to enculturate the church to make it acceptable to unbelievers?
It took 18 years but I finally took 56 friends to the Christmas Extravaganza at Phoenix First Assembly of God last evening. It was their 29th year. Human Christmas tree, lasar lights, shadow posing, camels, tiger, zebra, elephant, 40 person full orchestra, singing, dancing, rap, hip hop dancing, Miley Cyrus and Jonas brothers clones, six flying angels at a time, comedy, many many dancing children, two high flying sheet climbing acrobatic performers, an offering and an altar call, a story to hold it all together, an loud and unruly rabble of people filling the huge auditorium. When worship becomes entertainment we begin to have problems. I forgot to mention flying beds, drum solos with the drummer suspended halway to the ceiling, tons of dry ice effects, dogs doing tricks, .....and me.....a little bewildered at the cast of 600 and the 1500 it takes to put this on.....and the pinnacle of attractional theology making me wander if anyone will want to come sing hymns and hear preaching after all this??????????
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Two recent books have expanded my understanding of the Gospel. Kevin Beck has written This Book Will Change Your World, about the worldview of transmillenial theology. Very excellent. A fellow Seminary grad named Baxter Kruger wrote The Great Dance, about Trinitarian Theology. I met Kevin this summer and felt a deep kinship to his understanding of the gospel and life.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This is an example of a secular themed Christmas decorated home not far from us. There is even a full sized dancing and singing Santa in the driveway. The tree at the top is new this year. Its truly amazing to see and I make no judgments on the motivations of folks to undertake this level of entertainment. Click on the picture to enjoy the detail. My new camera did an awesome job of catching these images.
Monday, December 8, 2008
We enjoyed two days celebrating Shannons birthday. We watched Prince Caspian, collected the last six state quarters from friends, enjoyed the Chandler Symphony Christmas concert featuring the Christmas portion of Handels Messiah. I am so moved by the music of Europe three centuries ago. What level of beauty they reached in the praise of God! I am also impressed by the level of composing talent in this mostly volunteer orchestra, and the talented musicians who learn so much music each year and play for the joy of performing. Our Worship service was especially blessed with great music and a Signing performance of Silent Night. Shannon used her Birthday money for a journal, a cross necklace,and the classic of my youth, the Etch A Sketch. I loved mine.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
My sixth annual Sun Lakes Golf Tournament was Thursday. It is fun to play a scramble with friends, each person is able to make an occasional contribution and no one can sink the team. We were a par machine with enough birdies to win until we fell apart at the end.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I promise not to make this a photo hobby blog but this is my new toy and I share things that happen to me every day. I checked out the luggability factor on the zoom lense that came with my kit. Having a zoom changes the way you approach photography. The picture above in the kids play area was taken from 25 ft, versus the 5 ft you would use to take a regular shot. It allows eves dropping for shots like this cute kiddo. It was heavy to carry but not too bad with the comfortable next strap.
I also purchased UV lenses to protect the glass, and had the information screen protected with a plastic film that is being used to protect IPods and phone screens.
The Mall was crowded with shoppers, I am sure most have scaled down the cost of gifts to be careful, but folks here in the East Valley are buying things, and that is good.
I watched a show tonight about the Reagan elections and it sounded like a tape of the same rhetoric we heard the last two years, taxes, national defense, economic stimulus ideas. This is life, we face challenges. Many of those who will gather for church tommorow were young when Pearl Harbor changed the world, some still living responded to the call as young men and women. I salute them and the way our nation responded to that challenge.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I brought my new Canon Digital SLR to the golf course to continue my learning curve and just took a few shots. This was the first with the longer zoom lense. I love the focus points that tell you what areas of the picture will be sharp. The great thing about the hobby is that you start looking to compose pictures with your free moments, you think angles, light, texture, color. I wish I had thought more about how to score in golf. Just Kidding. It was another beautiful day in Arizona.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I have owned three digital cameras since film died. The first was a 200 dollar 3 megapixel Gateway. Three years ago I purchased a Konica/Minolta 6 megapixel digital zoom, and my enjoyment of photography has risen to the point where I carry my camera bag as a man purse, with my medicine and testing kit and extra pens and notebook. I take 2000 pictures a year or there about.
Today I got my third, an early Christmas gift, a Canon 12 megapixel digital slr called the EOS XSi This hobby is ramped up for me, and I get a kick out of recording the church events as well. It has two zooms, and although it is still called entry level, this camera has serious capacity. Time will tell if my photography takes a step up.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I am sure you have seen Billy, the dude with the dark dyed beard who hawks various products on TV. He has this high loud, extremely irritating tone and voice that grates against my nerves and causes me to look for the remote. I wander if sales by irritation is part of the pitch.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
High 70s today, people walking and playing golf. It takes a little work to get in the Christmas mood here. I had several years where I just was tired of Christmas, but once again, placing our fifteen Christmas Albums on the IPod and shuffling through them helps so much. I have Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole for golden oldies, Manhiem Steam Roller and some awesome classical for instrumental, and I love Celin Dion, Josh Groban, Faith Hill for the pop stars doing Christmas, and Micheal W Smith, Edens Bridge, Twila Paris for the Christian artists, with a sprikle of Celtic Christmas with the Chieftans and other various artists.
Monday, December 1, 2008
This year our smallish family was minus one son, who celebrated with friends in NYC. We also took a hammer, carefully, to the wall to wall mirror that came with our 1989 ranch type home. Laura thought it dated the home. Now its gone and the room does feel cosier.
We enjoyed Turkey and Corn bread dressing, homemade apple sauce, broccoli and raisen salad, shoe peg corn, and yams covered with pecans. Delicious, and a quiet afternoon with discussion and a nap.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
So, the story as I heard it goes like this....he was 23, she was 17 when she knocked on the door of his place looking for someone. He pursued her for a couple of years, they had a four year marriage. After the divorce she remarried and had two kids but he never remarried. They kept in touch, he convinced her to move from the cold of Ohio to California. He stood with the oldest girl at her wedding now that mom was divorced......
And Friday, after 30 years apart they got married, this time, as I warned them, till death do them part. It was a heartwarming experience for me, it really was love at first sight for Bud.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Our Children and grandchildren watch and question why we hallow one day over another. We kept our grand kids from Wednesday to Friday and hopefully filled our time with creating a memory of two of Thanksgiving. In the absence of our artistic youngest son who always decorated the tree, the grans did it this year. Of course, the electronics that fill our lives remained a part of it. Our three year old was online on an educational site and printed a coloring sheet while we were out of the room. A three year old? knowing how to print documents????? Of course he is my grandson.....and...duh.....the son of an IT computer expert.
Now, back to dieting for at least two weeks
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I will not post for the rest of the week to enjoy the Holy Day. As I go in and out of hospitals and malls this past week everthing seems normal. But it is not, and I am still wandering where this financial sunami is going to stop and how many its going to drown, and what lifestyles we will have in the near and far future. I am committed to trust, and to the goodness of the Lord, but pray for the healing of our land.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 24, 2008
I have mentioned before how the Ipod I got for Christmas last year ranks right up there with the greatest gift I have ever enjoyed. It made music assessible at all and odd times for me. It made walking more enjoyable, waiting in the doctors office or mall for Laura more entertaining. Worship times and meditation times enhanced by music.
This year we both want to spend less...duh!...but we both had specific desires. So we began looking and both got our major present early. Laura had always desired a simple diamond necklace, which she found. I have wanted to move up to digital SLR photography after three plus years enjoying my Konica/Minolta Dimage camera. Since Minolta and Konica no longer exist. I went with the Canon XSi 12 megapixel EOS with a short and long zoom lens. Since I enjoy capturing the moments of the church life as well as vacations and nature, needless to say I am excited.
Most folks probably do not have a specific day when they realized that the carefree comic book and bicycle life turns into adult reflection and response. Biblically the Jewish faith had a Bar Mitzvah at 13. That was the age for me, but the Day was November 22, 1963 when Camelot collapsed with the sound of gunfire in Dallas Texas.
Though this year marks 45 years from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy I still remember the deep distress I felt that day. I came home from school after being scolded by the teachers table for bringing what must have been spurious news to their table and took by box of pictures of the first family I had purchased at the New York Worlds Fair that summer and looked through those hopeful and beautiful pictures.
On that day I realized there was evil in the world, and that it would attempt to intervene in world affairs with death and violence. It would separate a leader from his wife and children and from his nation.
Years later I would join the many who really desired to know how wide that circle of evil was that day. I still wander, and I am not gullible.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Long story shortened but not left behind. I have discovered that I should not fear the future or predict doom with every downtown in world affairs, the stock market or the other parties victory.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Life has become so completely sweet and precious inspite of having a less than perfect ticker. I am free to trust, even if I complain on occasion. I am free to read a novel. Like the Shack, which at one time would have made me angry but now made me thank God for his courage to picture and try to communicate the God of relationship and ultimate triumph over evil, and more recently, Gilead, the pulitzer prize winning novel about three generations of small town Iowa preachers that was so filled with spiritual insight and phrases that were so beautiful I had to stop reading.
It's good to be reading for enjoyment again. God is Love
Friday, November 21, 2008
Once the idea of first century fulfillment of many of the judgment passages began to resonate I further quetioned this idea so prominent in western Christianity, that God is very angry and Jesus is returning to settle scores. Gradually my studies expanded into a quest for a deeper or fresher or clearer understanding of who God is and what exactly is this good news Jesus brought.
The great thing about subject studies is that you go from one book to another or one article to another as people recommend studies or books to read. You feel that you are being led from one stepping stone to another. The retribution passages fit into the transition between old and new covenants, which as Hebrews says "is growing old and about to pass away" ie, still in effect during the writing and living of that firt generation of believers. I began to see just how complete our salvation is and how gracious and loving God is. The deep studies were changing me from the inside out.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Ok, I did like the tone of my last comment because the purpose of this is not to convince you to change your view, but more to explain the joy of being consumed by the challenge of testing what you believe. If the end result is just to be less dogmatic and more cautious in areas where confusion and controversy can hinder fellowship.
My pain comes from the reality that a good many families decided not to stay through the building program as a result of my questioning this impending date and the theology upon which it stands. I will try not to bore the reader with rehearsing that.
Q. What's wrong with you Don, don't you want to go be with Jesus? A. Yes, at the end of a long useful and joyful life, Lord willing. Q. Does'nt the Bible tell us to say Maranatha? A. Yes, and in Hebrews the author promises that this rescue will come very shortly, in just a little while, to releave the first century church from Jewish persecution. Jesus said it would occure before all the apostles had died. Matthew 16:28
So, for the next three years I studied different forms of fulfilled or covenant eschatology, in both the forms that continue to believe the world will end in its present form and those who do not. It was deeply satisfying to a searching mind. It forced me to question the kind of western "wooden" literalism that produced the rapture views, and so many ideas and passages in the bible made for sense.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It is not easy to build a new sanctuary that costs near a million dollars when many in the congregation are preparing for the immanent rapture of the church. You are thinking future and they are thinking Armageddon. The popular success of the Left Behind Novels created a blanket that has spread over my three decade ministry. Hal Lindsey published "The Late Great Planet Earth" in 1970 and this strange teaching has spread confusion throughout most of the evangelical scene. Every prediction contained that strange blend of certainty and the creation of an out option. Lindsey's favorite phrase was "The 19??'s could very well be the last we ever see. The date would come and go and eager Christians would promptly forget the failed promise and accept the next scenario.
So, for the rapture ready Christian bad news in the world is good news for the soon return of Christ to destroy the wicked and enthrone the righteous. This teaching really emphasized the general failure of the gospel proclamation and continually proclaimed the unfaithfulness that would characterize the last days.
I don't need to go on about this, you've been there if you've had a pulse. You may still be polishing up your expectations if you were raised with this view. I was not, and in 1999 I get pretty fed up and decided to study the issue for myself. From that point on I attempted to became a late blooming ex spurt on the history and development of views relating to the return of Christ. There was always a list of books I was reading during my study time and late in the evenings, and when I found an interesting theory I would restudy the appropriate New Testament documents as well. It was an exciting time for me to have healthy doubt and a hungry mind.
I was pretty much convinced that Y2K computer crashes "probably would not occur" he said, leaving himself apology room if he woke up one day "left behind" The thought of an entertaining novel just went by the wayside as I searched for a consistent set of beliefs on the eschaton. I was not even wanting to be another wise ass know it all, I just believed their were better views than the kookiness I was reading, and maybe better than the reactionary views of my own denomination.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This is my journey. It may be totally different than yours. I grew up reading and graduated from adolescent reading to novels in the eighth grade. I took enough credits in English Literature to have a double major in College. I was asked to teach my senior english class when the professor was gone. (I remember wearing a houndtooth jacket and carry an umbrella the way Dr. Durret did.) I loved a great epic by James Michner, I loved John Irving. I loved Walker Percy. I read lots of great novels.
What I am saying is that I enjoyed all kinds of literature, the classics, the latest spy novel, the bestseller....and then I quit. 10 years ago. Suddenly, my interest in reading novels just dissappeared.I was 49 because it was 1999, I told you being born on the half decade mark helped. I had reached a state of confusion as a Pastor/teacher. Popular Christianity in the American west, which I had been experiencing for a decade now, since I quit whistling dixie in 89, had brought me to the place of confusion.
I took a break from Novels and popular literature to go on a personal quest. Today I will begin a short series on that journey, which ended recently and allowed me to weep with joy upon reading two novels. Both of the novels bespeak the resting place I have emerged upon.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Mike Chamberlin entertained our group at the Fall Dinner tonight. Mike moved here in 88 to anchor Channel 3 News with Heidi Fogelsong. I have great memories of watching and learning about the valley through that news team. And now he has retired and travels with guitar and a very lovely voice to sing great songs and hymns. If you are looking for a great evening book Mike. A genuine talent with a great sense of humor and a solid testimony of his faith. He is the author of a beautiful Christmas song entitle "The Whisper" that he performed that is breathtaking.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
When you are born on a decade year, in my case 1950, you can gage your aging quit accurately, Born on July 13, about half the year I am younger than the year and the last half I am the same age as the year, plus 50 that is. Trust me, it helps when one tries to remember one's age.
Though some things seemed interminable, like the election campaign, the year itself seemed to zip by. Now that we have two stations running 24 hour Christmas music I will have to go through this season inundated with seasonal silliness, though very little about the present crisis makes me want to dream about what toys I want. ie. the only difference between the men and the boys is the size of their toys.
Someone I respect mentioned that we spend most of our time remembering the past and talking about it, and we should spend more time thinking for and preparing for the future. I have been trying that on for size and it fits, though living in the moment has been a greater need for me.
I have decided to preach pastorally for this last seven Sundays No financial worry issues, no political fallout issues, just reminders of God's pastoral goodness, His care, His faithfulness, mostly from 2 Timothy. Paul' letters to Timothy have taken on a deeper meaning to me in recent years, as the church is beginning to pass into younger leaders hands. I have watched a lot of people die in my six years in a senior community. It certainly helps me to appreciate health, while I know that I am in a collapsable tent.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Several months a year, for several years, we spend Friday evenings with some dear friends who, when they find a good thing, stick with it. We have come to enjoy the Shangrila Restaurant very much. Wonderful authentic Chinese dishes, and Bill, the pianist, who plays show tunes so beautifully. We love the family of servers who are all Asian, and even laughing about the silly message in the fortune cookies.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Having a couple of young grandchildren is something very special. I have friends who have been overwhelmed with the sheer numbers of grand kids, but with just two you can focus and enjoy.
Shannon spent Friday Evening Thru Monday Morning with us. They had a school festival, we capped Friday with a performance of the Chandler Syphony Orchestra, and a Pancake Fundraiser after church and Pizza at night. Ben came Sunday for Church and most of the afternoon. We talk, we play, we watch movies, they root through our knicknack drawer and beg to take the games and toys we keep here home, which we discourage. Shannon and I have a huge collection of magnetic rocks that entertain us all the time. Magnetism is to me a great mystery and visible proof of the power of unseen forces. Sticky Rocks.....highly creative collectables.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
As I draw the mini history of my little life to a close on this issue, let me say that I developed a sensitivity to minority relationships, and hope for educational and job equality, and a sense of progress that though the issues that divide Americans are very deep and significant, the race issue did not prevent an election of a president who is not caucasian.
Someone commented on the Huxtable Effect as having a role to play in changing relationships. I think the list is large, not only Bill Cosby, the Denzel Washington, and a host of excellent actors, Colin Powell and Conda Lisa Rice in polics, more sports heros than I could ever list, especially Tiger Woods. I believe Jesus Christ came to make us one humanity.....red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
So, I graduated Seminary with 8 years of multicultural and inter-racial relationships, albiet in the contest of Christian Education. I began my life as a pastor in small town Mississippi in Crystal Springs. About 5000 good folks and two or three onery cusses, as the southern hometown signs often said.
And, instantly, the only relationship I had with blacks was with the cleaning maid at the Church, Johnnie Mae Johnson. From the early sixties to the mid seventies, and my life was once again segregated for all practical purposes.
I would later analyse that for the first time since going to College, I was back in the world that was the old south. I had four years in an evangelical bubble called Christian College, and three years in a evangelical and reformed bubble called seminary, and now I was back in Mississippi, where the social revolution that was the civil rights movement had very little effect on the way of life in small towns in the south.
I sort of understood it though, for the education and poverty levels in that area were severe. I visited Johnie Mae in her home and they had no heat but a fireplace and the coals from the fire literally rolled out to the floor. She had me preach in her church once, and I had another cultural shock. I was about to preach and I said, "Let us pray" in my typically Presbyterian manner, and suddenly the whole church took me up on the offer and began to pray in a beautiful spiritual cacophany of sound.
Monday, November 10, 2008
During those precious college years I traveled to South Texas to pick up a friend and return to school. During the weekend I heard a number of disparging remarks about Mexicans, and I realized that racism was a regional issue, not just an issue in the south. So, you have a majority race who is bothered by another race for economic or border and migration issues, or language or physical differences, and you despise and belittle them for sport and to build your own sense of dominance. It's a game we should not be playing.
The next stage of this personal walk through my experience with race was in Seminary, where we had Asians, Phillipinos, Africans, and strangest of all, a large group of Dutch Americans from Souix City, Iowa, who followed a beloved professor to the deep south. Once again our commitment to Christ brought harmony in our learning process, but our cultural differences were interesting. The Koreans were awesome ping pong players, but they thought the presence of pool tables was a scandal. No christian should play that game. Some were concerned with the American practice of coffee drinking, and of course the dutch, paled skinned, and of the opinion that if you ain't dutch, you ain't much. They were very clannish at first but blended fairly well with the rest of us Calvinists after a bit.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Today in worship we combined a patriotic theme with Veteran's Day. I spoke about the great gift that military veterans are to their community when they return from serving.
Micheal McClanathan is one of my favorite pipers here in the valley. He is about 6ft 3 and I love the hair. Ironically we were playing golf at the Duke in Maracopa County on Friday and encountered another piper preparing no doubt for his weekend committments.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
This is my 100th post, yeah, consistency.
My conversion to Christ caused a beachhead to form in my heart and mind, the place where a Christ centered direction could form that would begin to break those drifting patterns of the world's ocean of conformity that pushed me to and fro aimlessly.
I entered those Islands regularly, places where the air is different because people are following a leader who cares and loves. I began attending church, hanging around with Christians, and finally choosing to live in a place because of me, not because of my father's work. It was the time for that kind of decision.
I entered the Island of Belhaven College, a little oasis of God's Kingdom, began attending classes while I lived at home that first year. There I met a young black women there to study piano and learn to be a Christian educator. There was a friendly relationship with a person of color for the first time in my life, and not the banter of a subservient maid, but two humans relating about life. Shortly an involvement with Intervarsity would bring me into contact with more Christians discussing faith interracialy. I would find myself more and more in agreement with the defining speech of Martin Luther Kings life, hoping for a time when a person would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
Change is what Jesus brought to this broken world, a change that would value human life by living unconditional and sacrificial love. Wherever two or three gather their is an island of Kingdom grace established where change can take place. I still believe that after forty years of faith.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I was one of many who started a new school in town in 67,and it was the year they started mandatory desegregation. We had five or six brave lonely kids who came to be part of Callaway High School. I am ashamed to say that by that time I was so indoctrinated by the south that I made no effort to meet those kids. I was not mean,just drifted with the crowds desire to register our protest by not being friendly. Sometimes change takes a long time. Ironically, the school and neighborhood is almost all black forty years later.
The one thing mandatory desegregation could never prevent was white flight, and the town farther out around Jackson began to grow. Today, downtown Jackson is a shell of its former self and all the movie theatres, car dealerships, and new shopping centers are in places like Madison/Ridgland, and Pearl, and Clinton. We would find out later that the tranformation really took place in the younger grades, where kids had not been taught to hate. My daughter would grow up in a different world. So the change did in fact take politics and exposure to change attitude long held in the south.
All this would change for me, and it was not legislation, or the civil rights movement, it was conversion to faith in Christ that opened the door to inter-racial friendships. More on that tommorrow.
P.S. Cinderella died Thursday Morning, We attended the new season of the Chandler Symphony Orchestra tonight. They are all volunteer and wonderfully talented.