Hawaii 2010

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Come Fly With Me

More flying than usual this summer. Phx to New Orleans, Phx to Denver, Phx to Indianapolis. All round trips of course. I think the shoe bomber should have to pay for the indignity of the shoe removal. The amazing thing about flying is how far you can go. Four hours to Indianapolis would take four days of hard driving. I miss the food flights. We need to make this industry succeed in providing affordable travel, safe travel, competitive travel. I am so pround of Hawaiian Airlines for emerging from bankruptcy. I hope we continue to be able to visit those Islands cheaply in the future.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cherish the Ladies Concert Report

Cherish The Ladies performed in Scottsdale tonight. Led by flutist/whistler Joanie Madden this group has been together 20 years, has over ten CDs, and plays some of the best Irish Traditional music you could wish to hear.

The Arts Center is closed this year so we were in a venue nearby that had about 400 seats, and mine were 15 ft from Joanie, eye level. We heard a number of her own creations, and enjoyed very talented step dancers throughout the evening. The Irish soloist sang mostly sad melodies with a hauntingly beautiful voice. The reels and jigs lifted up the crowd who claped and joined in on several choruses.

Joanie's boisterous humor and introductions, explanations, and teasing kept everyone laughing. The Scotch pianist spoke with such a heavy accent that Joanie teased her and she replied, they understand me Joanie, Im in Scotts.....dale. Funny.

There were a few boo boos which added to the authenticity, and she made the whistle truly sing. A beginner like myself can see the potential of this powerful and simple instrument. I could not tell the whistle maker, it was dark with polished silver joints and a long fipple. She played mostly high D and some G or F whistles.

Two and one half hours with a fifteen minute break, each artist had her moment to shine on a number of songs, the lovely guitarist Mary Coogan was celebrating her fiftieth birthday.

Laura and I completely enjoyed it, and were invited to come to Fibber McGees on Sunday to play along with the local irish trad lovers. I have been playing over a year and I am still pretty bad, but I am ready to start playing with others. If they get to your area you should go and enjoy this.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going Uptown with a proper English Gentleman

Allen and Heidi live outside London. He works for the Indianapolis Ford Plant as an engineer helping resolve problems in the London Ford Plant. We played chauffeur in Daras Huge F 150 Truck. It was delightful beyond words. Allen has an insatiable interest in life and engages everyone in conversation to learn more. Heidi is the perfect complement of wisdom and practicality that eccentric and bookish men need. We loved comparing customs and political views and sensing the struggles and disintegration of English culture through their experiences. They love to travel, take walking vacations, and are as I write out in the west touring Vegas, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon with the Amlungs. They feel like family now.

We spent two hours in Indys center city, which we shared with 50,000 FFA teens from all over the US. They were a polite group by in large and gave me hope for the future that farm kids and small town values still exist. We enjoyed a dog halloween event, and of course, I bragged about my relationship to the former govenor of the State, Thomas A Hendricks, whose statue bore a resemblance, at least in my kooky mind. As always you can click the photos for a larger view...so you can see the Devil's Dog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sweet Cousin Sherry

Back Row: Tom, Millie, Dara, Sarah
Bottom: Laura, Sherry

I remember my Uncle Tom and Aunt Millie as the coolest folks. Tom had stories of serving as a fire marshal at the Indy 500 and pulling men from crashed vehicles. Millie was my mom's youngest sister and Dad loved to tease and flirt with her.

Sherry stayed close and when she met Dara invited me to come from Jackson MS to Indianapolis for the wedding in 1981. I saw the pictures shortly after this shot was taken. The exact same Pulpit Robe was in my suitcase this time around. Over the years Sherry and Dara stopped by our ministry homes, while Dara spent 30 years in the same Ford plant, overseeing brake assemblies and steering columns for many. many vehicles. Sherry raised her twins, encourage Tim's talent in piano and Sarahs dancing and performing in the Band Precision Dance Squad.

The modest ranch home in Wanamaker saw the addition of two large family rooms so their house was the place for the teens to gather. Dara has the most fun loving and warm personality I have ever met, and that's not whistling dixie to affirm. They lived and worked and worshiped and played in the same community Sherry was born in. I have had the moving around kind of life and I have some real envy for their rootedness. The kids thrived in that atmosphere, Tim is a concert quality pianist who is working toward being a CPA, Sarah is an environmental engineer, who will join Adam in Norvolk Va, as he is an officer in the U.S. Navy stationed aboard the U.S.S. Winston Churchill. Even the one division in the family, the Indiana U. and Purdue rivalry has added to the spice that makes this such a wonderful family. Thank you Dara and Sherry for welcoming us back so warmly.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Wonderful Weekend

My mother came from a family of seven brothers and sisters, and we were close when all the cousins were growing up in the 50s and 60s, Sherry's Mother is my Mothers youngest sister and the last of two surviving family members. When I officiated Sherry's Wedding in 1981 she married into Dara's family of nine. They have lived in Franklin Township all their lives so this wedding was all about family.

Everything was well planned, from my initial time meeting with Sarah and Adam, to the practice, the dinner in a local winery, the formal wedding, and a wonderful reception that was overflowing with joy and dancing. As a desert dweller the fall leaves and brisk weather were refreshing. I will post more about this weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah and Adam Oct. 25, 2008

Taking a few days off to fly to Indianapolis Indiana to officiate at the wedding of Sarah and Adam. Fifty years ago Sarah's mother Sherry and I played at the kids table while our parent's celebrated holidays with the family. Twenty five years ago I officiated at Sherry and Dara's Wedding. Its the circle of life, its generational blessing, its thrilling to be a part of a family.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

People get ready......

To be a Christian today is to have been exposed to end time prophecy. My heritage, the same one that gave a fairly legalistic spin to the Sabbath, had a broad view of the return of Christ. It differed from premillenialism, and actually was named because of the belief that there is no future millennial period, that we are, in fact living in the time between Christ's coming and final return. There would be no observable signs before His return.

This view was challenged big time when Hal Lindsey published an immensely popular book in 1970 entitled "The Late Great Planet Earth" The premise, you know, was that the world would end in an Armageddon conflict within a generation from the taking of the Land by Israel in 1948, there would be a "catching away of believers" and then the Anti-Christ would appear. It was classic premillenial theology applied to the headlines of the cold war and the rise of Russia and China.

Since this is not a theology blog per say, just let me share that this topic created along with the political unrest, assassinations, and ugly war, a feeling that pervaded the youthful Christian world I had begun to inhabit. My teachers, however, seemed to take the whole thing quite casually and with explanations that were not so sensational but were quite helpful. I also realized that there was a bit of censorship going on when I tried to schedule the documentary that followed the book in our campus theater and was discouraged from showing it.

The first point I make is that this time I was firmly convinced my teachers were right and I refused to participate in the "pack your bags, the end is near" thinking.
I saw a lot of evangelism fueled by urgency, too many people giving up dreams because Christ was near, a lot of apprehension and unhealthy thinking, which saw bad news about international relations as good news because it agreed with Lindsey's teaching. As each date that Lindsey said "could very well be the year" my skepticism rose and I was thankful to be A-Millennial, whether I really understood it or not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free to rest, free to play

Dear blog readers, I have brought up this Sabbath issue over the last few posts to share with you the struggles of living together as Christians. We all have scruples of some sort. Do we drink wine or beer? Do we dance? Play cards? In a confessional church when a scruple is raised to the level of an article of faith then everyone has to obey or at least explain why he does not to those who oversee the faith and practice of the church. As things went on in that fellowship, almost every minister stated an exemption to this particular teaching, to the point that the church should really have reexamined her understanding of this rather narrow Scottish point of view.

From this came my own willingness to "be always reforming according to our understanding of the word". Be willing to reexamine a practice or a teaching. Be willing to listen to anothers point of view. I used to tease my teetotling friends by asking them how they felt about being the weaker brother in the issue of drinking, and they mostly thought they were the stronger brother for thier convictions.

This helped me when it came to dealing with the second huge point of contrarian opinion that popped us in my ministry. Which I will deal with in the next few posts, shall we call it..........Left Behind.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

May we find our Rest in You

I stayed in that fellowship of churches for twenty years. I never did sports on Sunday after that one incident, although it extended to TV sports for many strict sabbatarians.I never encountered as strict a strain of the scruple in other churches, although friends of that original group tried to block my candidacy in other churches in the area.

It made me really sensitive to law/grace issues and legalism issues in the various places I served and in the hearts of many unhappy Christians. I still love that passage in Acts where the disciples say that we should not burden the gentiles coming to Christ with practices that neither we nor our fathers were able to bare or something to that effect.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Problem with Scruples

When a person has religious scruples such as strict Sunday Sabbath Keeping. It provides a way to express devotion to God by hallowing a day of the seven as did Israel in the Old Covenant. I mostly kept myself from offending these folks in my first pastoral ministry until I got caught between a rock and a hard place, needing to finish a tennis tournament on a Sunday Afternoon with the husband of said strict wife and family.

The fruit of that transgression led to a type of religious shunning that stings me to this day. Years after I left that church I ran into a young lady who said, Why on earth did those families hate you so much, Pastor Don???

Its a long story, I said, and changed the subject. I have always taught that nine of the ten commandments are restated as moral priniciples in the gospel, and thus become the law of Christ expressed in love and indwelling power, but the sabbath is fulfilled in Christ for we do not labor for His approval but rest in His completed work and enjoy an eternal and moment by moment rest in Him. Good stuff I think.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Developing Contrarian Views

Have you ever thought or studied through an issue or a truth and arrived at a different conclusion than the majority of your circle of fellowship? If its a small thing you practice your conviction with some degree of caution. I attended a Seminary where Sabbath Keeping was a conviction. Though it was fuzzy they frowned on Newspaper reading, use of Restaurants, and anything fun, like picnics and throwing frisbees. They had a great verse from Isaiah to defend the idea of giving up delights on one day of the week for the glory of God.

I studied the matter a lot and disagreed with the teaching. I used to hit my 8 iron all over the campus field and watch people peek at me from their blinds in the married student apartments.

It was the beginning of a life of contrarian conflicts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cherish the Ladies

Just purchased tickets to hear Cherish the Ladies in Scottsdale. Joanie Madden is the premier flute/whistle player in the Irish tradition in the world in the opinion of many, and her group of ladies make music that lifts the spirits and transcends culture. I listened to "New Day Dawning" last night during my walk. This is my second CD from this group. I am thrilled to see them in person.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I previewed the documentary Obsession-Radical Islams War against the West today and was chilled by the hatred and violence I saw. This is serious and whomever takes the leadership of our country needs to have plans to respond to this threat.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A God instigated salvation

From Athanasuius On the Incarnation

"He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire."

I am so weary of our Evangelical emphasis on personal decision, as though we opened heavens gates by our own power and belief. This is beautiful.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Old truths needed in these new times

My studies meander through streams of historic truth, and from time to time I stop by a clear pool of truth and drink deeply to be refreshed spiritually.

I was blessed to discover or rediscover the Perichoresis teaching thank to Dr. Baxter Kruger perichoresis.org

The word has the implication of a mutual dance, and speaks of Incarnational Trinitarian truth of the kind that was defended by Athanasius when he defended the trinity against arianism.

It emphasized the incarnation of Christ as a loving saving act far more important than the brief shout out we give at Christmas. God taking flesh was saving all flesh, honoring all flesh, dying for all flesh, and raising all flesh from the dead.

I ordered and read The Great Dance-The Christian Vision Revisited and was blessed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Grieving the dashing of the American Dream

This has been a shocking two weeks. At first I denied what was happening, then I got angry at what was happening, and now I am dealing with the reality of what happened.
We consistently placed what meager extra money we had in mutual funds invested in many companies in the American Stock Market, believing as we had been told that this was the best way to get money from the present to the future to prepare for retirement. Now we find the sad truth that hedge fund managers have crept into the American Dream and and turned it into a very high stakes gambling operation. Laura and I are grieving, and it has been painful.

Because we are Christians we have of course been asking ourselves what God is up too in allowing this to happen at this time. Many resort to the time honored prophetic hope....Come Lord Jesus....and echo His soon coming rescue. My problem with that is that I have studied the scriptures and feel with all gentle sincerity, that this is not a rescue rapture scenario. This is a deal with it, scenario.

My job causes me to descend into the valley of the shadow of death with families. This week I sat near the casket of a man who had a full rich loving life, and for the final two years was dibilitated with a stroke which brought a dependence that I know he hated. It was a long and difficult two years for him and his family.

Are we in America and the rest of the world faced with a long and debilitating struggle? The valley of the shadow of death is real, and it is scary and dark and sometimes very hopeless and painful. Will the death of the American dream be that way?

I have worked, studied and and believed and taught that Jesus Christ and the Gospel take away the fear of death, and know I must work, study and believe that the presence of God in Christ can really transform my moment to moment response to the grief of the loss of security, the loss of trust in government and financial institutions. Which is it? Maranatha? or Deal with it?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not a normal Fall

In Arizona, as seasonal folks are watching leaves turn, we are watching winter grass grow, in preparation of the busiest active time of the year, when everyone comes for a break from the cold. Most of our golf courses close to reseed. Ocotillo Resort has 27 holes and so keeps 18 in play during this transition. The beauty of the fragile winter rye, the slighty cooler weather, (it was 95 degrees)and the beautiful homes in the area are all very enjoyable to photograph. I remarked to my partner though that most of us are so used to staying indoors that when the weather changes still very few are enjoying those beautiful back yards that face the golf course. It was a beautiful day. Heres a personal confession, when I see beautiful luxury homes, I sense and believe they are peaceful and impervious to troubles. I am pretty sure I am believing a lie. I love luxury homes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Not my Mega Church

It's hard not to appreciate success. There are three mega churches within five square miles of my home. Each reached this stage of church growth through different methods. This church targeted this growing area and had a large advertising campaign. On opening day they gave every family a ballon and they inserted the church address and their name. The farthest helium flight that called back won a trip for the finder and the ballon owner. They had a thousand at that service. Now they have built this new sanctuary with a coffee bar and all the bells and whistles.
I think one of those ballons made in to south carolina!

I am really impressed by the late afternoon and evening worship that attracts so many who enjoy relaxing on Sunday Mornings. When they desire to grow they have a day with a sports or movie star. When Jesus visited it was standing room only all day. Jim Caveziel is the real thing, well...not really Jesus, but as close as you get.

There has been a lot of ink generated on the long term impact of this model of church growth. When I came here to plant churches we thought about faithfulness and discipleship. So much has changed in the attractional model. Its not for me, and meanwhile, I feel a tiny twinge of envy when I pass, and I probably shouln't, I just don't have the energy to keep something that huge running smoothly, even with a mega staff and mega voluteers and mega music and mega programs and mega coffee......an so on.....You have any thoughts or experience in Mega Church?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jack's To Do List Just Got Longer

Our friend and handyman/painter Jack has finished three rooms of five of the 1100 sq ft of popcorn removal project. While he is attending other business we demolished the decorative mirror, which Laura thought made our living room look like a house of prostitution. Line up babes, take your pick mister?????? So after hours of picking up broken glass we are hoping Jack will reclaim this wall, its out of our league.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bye, Bye Mirror on the Wall

As much as we watch home improvement TV you would think someone would show an easy way to remove decorative mirrors. Laura has never been fond of the mirror you see reflected in this picture and it is stuck on the wall with massive globs of stickum and weighs several hundred pounds.......so we covered it with a tarp and banged away until it was reduced to huge piles of shards, which we are still picking up. Inch by Inch home improvment is a cinch.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moving to a position of trust

Have you read Greg Boyd's The Myth of a Christian Nation? I remember being surprised when I heard about a huge part of a megachurch pastors congregation leaving after a series of sermons. He is a brilliant thinker whose views represent a far deeper tradition that that which currently holds conservative Christians together. Check out his website. I am challenged by his blog insights and share his passion for getting to the core of theodicy and the problem of God's character in the old and new covenant. www.gregboyd.com

With this void of wisdom and the slip sliding away of our economy I found myself moving more closely to his vision of the Christian standing between party passions and sharing a kingdom trust no matter the outcome of elections.

If our retirement planning has become a replacement for our trust in God as provider, and admittedly I am not sure how you discern such a thing, but if we have relied more on the analysis of returns than constantly believing God will sustain us no matter what happens......then in my heart and mind that means I quit grousing and obsessing and cursing Barney Frank and company and go on about my daily life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Joy????? of Home Improvement

Our 1989 Sun Lakes Ranch has been owned by us for five years. We have painted every interior room, the exterior, taken down a large mirror over the fireplace, and this week we are having the popcorn ceiling removed. It always starts interesting conversations....what's wrong with it?....whose idea was it to make this stuff popular anyway.

It is a huge job for a two man crew. Tape, drape, water, scrape. Allow it to dry overnight, clean up, finish up, mud the cracks and dips.....Drape again and spray the new texture, a more acceptable orange peel, then clean up the over spray, and then two coats of ceiling flat.

In the near future.....we are removing the wet bar, which I guess was considered an essential feature of an active retirement community, but for us it holds an old stereo. So we will recapture 12 square ft of living space for our great room.

Then, the biggy, new tile or wood floors and a new kitchen...not this year.