Hawaii 2010

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As I went down to the river to pray

My good friend Larry invited family and friends to his son's backyard pool to be baptized. It is an ancient Christian practice of spiritually identifying with the death of Christ, being raised again in Christ and being purified by His sacrificial love. I always feel deeply honored to be part of this covenant obedience. I see the reasons and convictions behind infant baptism and did many as a denominational pastor. I see the reasons and convictions behind believers baptism by immersion and have practiced this far more in the last fifteen years of my ministry.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Things to Do in the financial crisis

Live below your means. Consider saving at least 10% of your annual income. Before long, you’ll have a nice cushion that will help soften the blow if the unexpected happens.

Buy adequate insurance. There’s no need to expose yourself to a major loss if you can insure the potential loss for a relatively small amount.

Invest regularly. No one can predict whether the market will go up or down tomorrow, let alone next year. By investing regularly, you establish a discipline that may help smooth out some of the fluctuations.

Don’t stress out over things you can’t control. We can’t control if there will be a thunderstorm tomorrow any more than we can control whether or not the $700 billion bailout package will be successful. What we can do though, is be proactive in preparing ourselves for whatever outcome may occur.

Focus on what’s most important in life. We’re all given a certain amount of time on this earth and it’s in our best interest to use that time wisely. Spending time with your family, your friends, and helping others may help you stay sane in a sometimes crazy world.

Borrowed from the Cambridge Financial Newsletter by Bob Korljan in Phoenix, AZ

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Things Not to Do in the Financial Crisis

Do Not Bail Out- It turns paper losses into real ones- stay the course

Do Not Stop Saving- Dollar cost averaging works and will continue to work

Do Not Speculate- trying to make a quick buck when things are down usually costs you

Do Not Take on New Debt- economic downturns are times for conserving

Do Not Stop Living- be frugal, postpone when you can repairs, but you must live.

Do not let worry and fear master your emotions and hopefulness.

The first five of these are borrowed from Consumer Reports, the last is the advice I am taking spiritually. God is with us.

Friday, September 26, 2008


National Security, Financial Security, Personal Security, Spiritual Security. For me the last shall be first. If God is for me who can be against me....if He spared not His only son, will He not freely give us all things, nothing shall seperate us from the love of God in Christ. I rest securely on these and many other facets of the good news for all men.

I live in a gated community...not a persoanl goal but it has saved me from the fearful stream of salesmen, magazine subscriptions and home invasion cruisers.

I still remember the year we had enough money in savings not to go under if we got fired. I wish I could say it was my savvy saving but it was Laura's mothers estate. And it made a great deal of difference, and we have saved monthly and diligently over the years and I am very concerned about the economy and about poor decisions and greed destroying our efforts to retire with dignity. This is a huge issue, but I realize how many around the world have never had the blessings and opportunities we have enjoy.

I was chilled listening to Iran's Leader predict our "empires" downfall. God in whom I put my trust, you can slay me and I will serve you, you can allow us to taste the bitterness of our foolish ways, but please preserve this nation. Please hear our prayers, please give us wisdom and courage for the facing of these days. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I bought my first Picasso today!

Forty bucks including shipping from I sell Pens. Link below Here is my daughters blog who is trying to teach me how to add links for interest on my blog. http://meltnaz.blogspot.com/ My daughter has an intertaining and meaningful blog about loving her husband, her kids, ie. my grandkids, about her faith and life and dealing with MS. Read it.

Anyway, this all started when I was reminded of the beauty of writing with fountian pens by Scott McKnight at Jesus Creed. So a few weeks ago I bought a cheap calligraphy Shaeffer from Barnes and Nobles and used it to sign my Birthday and Anniversary cards and enjoyed it.

So, I found a distributor of pens here in Mesa and ordered what is apparently a Chinese made pen that features the work of Picasso. I am excited and worried that this could turn out to be a hobby that requires me to keep buying more expensive fountian pens like my Irish Whistle habit!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Families

The Internet has allowed me to peek into many worlds. I enjoy tracking peoples experience in their church bodies. The amazing thing is that there are so many Christian groups that gather around so many different issues to find their meaning and purpose and to practice the purity of the church as they believe it.

Just today I visited some old friends websites whose delight is a full orbed liturgical worship combined with Covenant Theology with a heavy dose of Paul's New

Another guy was attending his denominational pastors conference and was name dropping about all the powerful speakers and subjects and had a picture of a filled auditorium and stories of happy reunions with friends.....and I knew none of the names or books or people. This is his religious world, and it has a big following, and I am pretty sure I have never felt the slightest desire to check out there churches and I don't know why. Someone obviously has.

Yesterday it was a mega church in Singapore that preaches a comprehesive and radical grace emphasizing the completed work of Christ and positional righteousness. They are having space problems seating the 18,000 plus that come for weekly worship.

This open flow of information in the form of purpose statements, picturs, articles defending the reasons for their emphasis is fascinating to me because the possibility of the best of these movements learning from each other is encouraging, and the ability of folks to break away from unhealthy movements is probably aided by this as well.

I know this, I am not whistling dixie, that I long to believe the best good news that there is, and I am not convinced we have heard the story told with enough insight to bring transformation to people in all nations, with other backgrouds and religions. Christ is the hope of the world, but His people are the visible connection to the watching world. I am too far along for do overs or church shopping, but when I learn a truth I can bring it into my own experience and my own body of friends, at least I hope I can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Large Cars were good

One year ago in August I lost my Chrysler 300M to a fender bender...totaled! I am over it, and we are in a saving mode for its replacement, driving a Chevy Aveo which is on Consumer Reports List of cars not to buy, and a gift vehicle....a 1992 Acura Vigor which was only produced for two years before it lost its vigor, and it has 237,000 miles on it. Impressive. Still reliable and fun to drive, though it asks for premium gas.

So I am thinking I will go with the end of the year shopping when super desparation sales are sometimes occuring. But the real question for me is....will I ever drive a large vehicle again. I loved the SUVs I rented for trips this summer, right up until I filled up the cars at the $80-$120 range.

Today I saw two tiny electric cars with the rear end eight inches behind the seat. Not for me. I want room, leg room and head room and storage room and golf bags room. If I had hundreds of readers, I would ask for suggestions, but my blog is still small. Any suggestions? I am not adverse to gently used cars, its really better on the purse.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Approaching campaign overload

I am not sure I can make it fourty plus more days until the election. I may have to fast from TV and Radio and read War and Peace or watch Lost Seasons 1,2,3. OOOPS, I am already doing that.

Something about the instantaneousness of the claim-counter claim, accusation, misstatement, finger pointing self righteousness of it is beginning to make me spiritually sick. And I am not even hoping for the rapture.

I am hoping for the Kingdom of God to exert influence on this process through whomever will stop playing games. I know this is all important but when you have watched a dozen or so congresses and this will be my ninth president the rhetoric of elect us and all will be great begins to sound hollow. And to top it all off, somebody is using free enterprise and government deregulation to cheat honest savers out of thier retirement dollars and homes and make themselves rich on OPM and it stinks.

I think this is my first rant?!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Target World Music Grants

Thanks to the Target Corporation for funding a wonderful series of Concerts here in Pheonix. There have been four in the last two weeks. In addition to the Celtic evening there was an African instument show with the Kronos Quartet and a Chinese solo artist and then today. We were able to join about 1000 folks in the Orpheum Theatre for a wonderful performance by Hapa, a Pan Polynesian music group from Maui Hawaii. The group of four consisted of a gourd player who was master of ceremonies and played the Hawaiin Gourd and did Hawaiian Chants, a native hawaiian who played 12string guitar and 8 string base and sang harmonies with a slack key guitarist. The fourth was an award winning hulu dancer. They have composed and arranged many of the songs with a fusion of styles which retained the original Hawaiian feeling. Once again we were moved by the story telling power of the different traditions we heard this weekend.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Natalie MacMaster...Wow and Double Wow

I capped off my day of travel with a concert I will never forget.

Laura and I enjoyed a transforming musical evening with Natalie MacMaster and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. She is a fiddler and step dancer who learned her craft from her uncle in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. Thoughout the evening she shared about the preservation of the Scottish traditional music in "New Scottland".

Irish music was strongly represented with a piccillo standing in the for penny whistle, she played jigs, airs, strathspeys, O'Carolans Concerto. Polkas, Waltzes, and lots of medleys.
She travels with her mom who cares for her two little kids. At four and 1/2 months pregnant I wonder how much long she can step dance. It was lively and intense. People were clapping along and the foot stomping music just created joy in your heart. Some of her new CDs have explored fusing many traditions together like jazz.

She demonstrated how close classical and traditional forms are by playing and interwoven duet with the concert first violinist.....Bach and Devils Dream. When she played alone and with her pianist, a lifelong Cape Breton friend, it was as powerful as when the whole symphony backed her.

The two halfs of the show were begun with the Suite from Far and Away and Lord of the Dance.

See her perform when you can, sample her music. Transporting........really!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not Very Adventurous

It has taken me over 18 years to finally venture across the border to Mexico. Today, in keeping with my personal pledge to make my day off interesting, I joined the masses who are Mexican Drug Runners. Yep, its legal. You drive to Mexico and save on drug costs. For many retirees, this becomes a serious matter of financial survival as some of the medicines they neeed are not covered by medicare.

I went to Algodones, which means Cotton, right across the California border about 8 miles west of Yuma AZ. There is a huge parking lot, and four of five blocks of total free enterprise zone adorned with bright Mexican colors. You can get dental and vision care, pharmacy, liquiors, leather goods, and more decorative nic nacs and jewelry that you can shake a stick at. I could have bought a marble chess set and board for 25 bucks. Everything is negotiable, but the harrassment of the sales people was off putting to me on this first visit.

I bought some antifugul medicine, some Alleve, a leather belt, and a Mexican version of Baileys Irish Creme, called Reyes hispanic cafe ole??.....I made all that up except for the Reyes part.

When you leave you talk to one of three border agents. During the winter it can takes hours to get out with your stuff. I was told I could not return without a passport, a new law taking effect the first day of 2009. My friends the Alvarezs got a haircut for 4 dollars and a pedicure for 14, respectively. We had a really great mexican with some wonderful spanish redition of Elvis greatest hits. Its a multicultural world.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Listening and Playing are both good

My previous post revealed my amazement about Ginny Owens. As I reflect upon it....it is more about the level of excellence rather than her blindness. I have a bit of envy that she is really excellent at her craft. That she has help producing something that people desire to listen to over and over and to pay for.

My oft repeated comment about my own efforts to play instruments goes like this...."I have achieved an astouding level of mediocrity". But, for me, it does not matter. I love music. I listen when I am driving, shopping, walking. I enjoy playing whistles and guitars, fifteen minutes a day minimum, to get better. I am not planning a career, I am practicing an enjoyable passion, and it makes me feel creative and alive, mediocre or not.

Last week I sat down with three musicians, all talented, and we had a session of praise and hymn playing. I was able to find the melodies, and occasionaly to play above and below them in harmony. It was so much fun. Not a perfect expression, not an expression for selling or saving, but a moment of using this universal language to express our feelings of love to God, and his willingness to appreciate the efforts of the mediocre masses. In my ears and God's eyes, maybe it was well done and excellent.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Walking by faith, not by sight

You lose track of people when you move far away. I asked my friend Jill about a little blind girl I knew. When I was in high school I dated a girl whose parents were blind. My girlfriends brother married a preachers daughter and their child was blind. I remember thinking how unfair that was to send this affliction into a second generation. Whatever happened to that little girl? Jill looked at me quizzically....."you don't know about Ginny Owens??" "Nope". She has had a very successful career as a Contemparary Christian author and singer. She plays piano and guitar and her songs proclaim a relationship with God that trusts Him in spite of her blindness.

Ginny sings on Micheal W. Smiths record label and I just listened to her Best of Album today and was deeply impressed with her lyrics and voice, and realized I have heard her duet song entitled "Remember Me" on K-Love.

She came from a singing family, but God has used her to reach the generation that came along after me. Most of all, I realized again that I have bought into a subtle form of prosperity gospel that says God kind of owes us a healthy life and no serious handicaps. His ways are not our ways.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not Name Dropping

So much of my seminary training involved being warned why some author was wrong and why I should not read or listen to them. So I never read the book. Over the years I have realized that we do not melt or explode by reading widely and allowing ourselves to be challenged by differing points of view. This last week I met and listened to Brian McClaren speak about his book Everything Must Change. I read the New Kind of Christian Trilogy years ago and in all honesty he set me on a journey of renewal and refreshment that have been life changing. I hope you are not the kind of person who asked someone if they should like or dislike someone without hearing them.

Brian McClaren and his body of work in the emerging movement is important, helpful, and serious. He is a man of humility and hope who is willing to reexamine the way church has been functioning and willing to look for better answers to the problems we face in this world in which we are now global in connection and consequence.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hiking in Colorado

I enjoy playing the fipple flute, the tin whistle, the Irish whistle. Whatever you call it it is fun to learn hymns and Irish tunes. Praise Whistlers Abroad has posts of people playing when they travel and here is my second such picture, the first in a prayer garden in Phoenix is on my intro page. Thoughts and prayers for the long recovery of those flooded out by Ike.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Back from Colorado Springs

What a beautiful city! I enjoyed the historic Glen Eyrie Castle that was the setting for the conference I attended. We hiked to a waterfall, and enjoy Garden of the Gods.
I felt the altitude and lack of oxygen and walking was much more difficult. It was a grand experience.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Off to Colorado Springs

I will be staying at Glen Eyrie, the Retreat Center owned by Navigators ministry for the next four days, listening to speakers, hiking around the grounds and enjoying whatever weather they have. We broke 100 again today for the 100th plus time this summer. I am excited to meet Brian McClaren, whose trilogy of novels several years ago broke new ground in helping the church to emerge into something we hope will act and look more like the Lord's Kingdom. I will enjoy taking pictures and sharing them with you when I return.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Time and Eternity

I have a part of my psyche that developed an interest in the metaphysical early in life. I was always thinking about and asking questions about those bigger and deeper issues of life and death as a very young person.

I have used what tools I have as a minister to find and study resources that delve into the relationship of time to eternity and followed others who made these subjects part of their intellectual and scholarly discipline. This would include then, on a popular level, the enjoyment of TV and movies that deal with time travel and time shifting as well. H.G. Wells The Time Machine, Back to the Future Series,
and, and, as we now know.......Lost, the TV series.

I watched the first season over the last week late at night, a guilty pleasure, to prepare for what will probably be the last season. I did not see all that first year or remember all the shows I had seen. It was fascinating to watch the plot and character development and to see little hints being dropped even in those early shows. Sawyers second book he reads is "A Wrinkle in Time" which explores the tesseract.

Living forever is metaphysically a tricky thing, and all these artistic attempts at questioning the manner and process are fun and fascinating. I just stay grounded in the knowledge that the One who was and is and is to come has the plan securely figured out, and as I age and play the back nine of life, I am part of that plan.
Lost will be interesting this year and the many loose threads begin to come together to what I hope will be a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Orleans is unique

The Cresent City played a large role in our lives when we were "whistling dixie". This summer we walked the historic streets of the French Quarter on my 58th Birthday. We entered the courtyard of the St. Louis Hotel where we spent a night or two on our honeymoon 33 years ago. The city now has become the symbol for finger pointing and the recent attempt by the Republicans to atone for their sins committed during Katrina.

This whole political thing which says "if we were in charge, such and such would never have happened, so elect us and those things will never happen". Last time the cities poor assumed they would be safe and they were tragically wrong. This time they left and it was largely a non event. What will they do next time? No one knows.
The republicans have done proper due diligence in respecting this potential storm.

Government will stumble on, people will move back, rebuild in safe and not so safe places. New Orleans developed on the banks of the river and I hope my children and grandchildren can observe the unique history and architecture and ambiance of this place. Coffe at DuMondes, Bourbon Street, cajun music, jazz. Its rich and poor living in close quarters. It is unique.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Digging in the Dirt

Peter Gabriel, has a song on the Secret World Live CD, (an awesome CD, by the way) entitled Digging in the Dirt. "I've been diggin in the dirt,To find the places I got hurt, to open up the places I got hurt".

The third estate,the news media, during a political year find it necessary to dig in the dirt of candidates and their families past in an effort to color our perceptions. Its a game we all play to build ourselves up at the expense of others, and, as Steve Brown used to say, it comes out of a pit and smells like smoke. Scandal mongering, tearing good people down, innuendo, gossip, half truths.

The danger comes from our tempation to twist those facts into the worst possible sordid story. So they are diggin for the sermons of the pastor of Sarah Palin's Church to find right wing stuff. Most of us grow through our mess ups and mistakes, and we revisit them for healing, but when others dig in your dirt, you can be sure it is to create further damage. I don't like it in either party.

It is way too easy to slip into the dirt diggin mode and wallow in it. I want my speech to be full of grace and building people up. It is hard, it is needed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pudgy Preacher

Here is a picture of me welcoming Matthew during one of his leaves from service. This is me fairly ballooned up close to the 250 range. I know there are a lot more significant problems in the nation and the world, but I really applaud people like Dr. Oz and many other diet, nutrition and excercise professionals in the world who are pleading with people like Matthew and I to treat our bodies with more care. If this is your problem I deeply identify with you and know God still loves us. We just need to keep moving in the direction of health.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

There are moments when parental pride and American patriotism blend. A graduation from any of our Armed Services Basic Training is something to behold. The parades, the dress drills, the pinning of the emblems, the bands. Matt paid a price to get ready to be a Marine and I know and believe he can put himself back under this regimen when he gets motivated. These pictures were taken in August of 2001, just a few weeks before our world changed

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Destroyers....One Extinct

My middle son called from the hospital yesterday. He had an incident at work where he felt ill and began sweating profusely. He is being tested for diabetes or a heart attack. He and I have similar body types while my other two take after my wifes slender side of the family. He is Twenty Nine.

He joined the Marines after High School by getting into their fat camp. They bring overweight and out of shape kids into the Marines and give them 12 weeks of Physical Training before they begin basic training. We will be ever grateful to the Marines for making a man out of our son.

He did his four years including combat in Afghanistan and we are proud of his service. When he left the Marines he said he just could'nt maintain the weight.
Now, four years later he has gained a lot of weight because of this thing in the minds of overeaters, this sick relationship with food we have, and......fast food.
The fast food industry and the restaurant industry in general with their huge portions, Yeh, Im talking to you Cheese Cake Factory!!...have not helped our fat nation of young adults deal with obesity.

Matthew just got his wakeup call. I am hoping and praying he makes the deep and hard changes before heart disease revokes his warranty.