Hawaii 2010

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to the Future

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

Passing on Traditions

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Early Christmas for both of us.

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.

The Day I became an adult

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

Perfect love casts out fear

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

Judgment and Grace

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

Its the end of the world as we know it

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

Eschatological Absurdity

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

The Return of the Novel

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

The Singing TV Guy

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

2008 is slip, sliding away

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

And then they go home.....

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

Congratulations, President Obama

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

Then the Bubble Burst

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

Wetbacks and Dutchmen, Oh NO!

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

They Came Back to Serve

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

Islands in the Ocean

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

Mandatory Integration

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.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

MI double S I double S I double P I

One of the most painful moves with my fathers work life was being uprooted from small town Alabama to State Capital Jackson, Mississippi, shortly before the 10th grade. The connections, the sports reputation I had been building, the freindships were gone in an instant as I jumped in the 62 Pontiac to move due west to the tune of the then #1 hit song by the Rolling Stones, "I can't get no, Satisfaction".

Lost in the halls of a big school, too late to try out for football, suddenly rather outclassed in basketball in this school, I had a lonely year, riding a bus to school, feeling a bit lost. The Civil Rights movement had seen some ugly incidents in Selma and Philadelphia MS, but it passed me by, except when I realized that they shut down all the city run swimming pools the summer I moved to avoid segregated swimming. All around the city neighborhood swim clubs with local membership began to spring up, and I began the avocation that would mark my life for the next eight years, being a lifeguard and water safety instructor. In a large town the racial barriers still existed, but there were large distances between the white and black side of town, so I felt more isolated from racial interaction in Mississippi in those first years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change is good

One of the deep and abiding memories of my youth is the move from upstate New York to southern Alabama over the holidays of my fifth grade year. The climate, the lifestyle, the culture were all radical changes for me. The four years I lived there were rich and joyful, but I saw the realities of segregation on the Cenntenial of the fighting of the Civil War. Two sides of town, two school districts, two shopping areas, white diners, white swimming pools, white little league and sports, white bowling alleys, white bands, white friends, and of course...white churches.

Racial slurs, racial jokes, racial hatred, combined with a strange affection for the black maids who served in our homes and helped raise us. We borrowed Ula to help mom with the wash and she may have been my first black acquaintance. She had developed a subservient manner that was charming and enabled her to serve as a racial bridge.

We slipped easily into this lifesytle, but even then, something bothered me deeply about it. It would be in that Jr. High and in that home I would witness the assasination of President Kennedy and the harsh entrance into a spiritual shift into an adult world that would include questioning the core values of segregation. Even then I knew this needed to change.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Blessing and pain of Hospice

Another sweet Saint nears the Kingdom as I write. Cinderella (yep, her real name) is dying in the 97th year of life. I sat with her in Hospice today where every effort to keep her comfortable during the dying process is being made.

I prayed and spoke to her and thanked her for all the love she has lavished on our church and community, and then I asked God to take her. This is never a prayer God answers on my terms, and I think and often share that the heart and lungs are organs that function without our permission and are not turned off or on at will. There strength that got her to this age is the strength that makes her final breathes hard to predict or hasten.

Her family has been so loving and supportive. It is not always an easy thing to be present when someone is nearing the end of life. .

Monday, November 3, 2008

Music for the sheer joy of it

I enjoyed the Weekly Fast Session at Fibber McGee's. I knew these happened all over the world. Groups who buy their own instruments and practice alone in order to get together for no pay and little praise just to enjoy the tradition and magic of Irish Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, Spratheys, and Airs.

You become a part of tradition, of music written by untrained musicians, gathering in pubs and parlors over the centuries to provide entertainment and dance for just the family, the neighborhood. I love this music because it is so accessible. I could probably never perform in a jazz combo and definitely not a symphony, and just barely the praise band at Church, but with some discipline you can drum, strum, blow, and enjoy. Now, Irish fiddlers and pipers, they pass down an instrument that takes a life time to master, and those simple tunes have some of the most intricate and beutiful blend of rhythm and variations you could ever hope for.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Election week is finally here

You know that commercial where everone is going to work with their number under their arm? It's supposed to represent people's retirement goals, or their actual dollars saved so far??? I am not sure which. I would be embarrassed to carry mine around publicly. But with it's recent bashing I am left curiously numb about the results of this election. When your retirement funds dissapear in a month, you begin to feel that no election can damage your future as much as this financial perfect storm.

I resent the fear mongering about the future some Christian leaders are doing. The more our culture abandons traditional values, the more important it will be for me to hold on to my faith and values. I voted pro-life and pro-strong defense. After watching the documentary Obession, Radical Islams hatred of the West, I agreed with Charles Krauthammer, who said, "the economy goes up and down, but we have a barbarian at the gate that needs to be resisted".

If my candidate loses, I will pray for and support the elected president. Really, I will, from my heart, and I will fight for the things I believe in by living and teaching them.