Hawaii 2010

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

They have an app for that

As we drove from LA to Phx today I watched the blue moon rise over the mountains in all its beauty. We watched Aladdin the Musical in the Hyperion Theatre this year and the Genie, who is always updating his slapstick comments, told Aladdin that he could not raise the dead, but hear that Apple had an app for that.

Thankfully, there is only one application that raises the dead, faith in Christ, and I say good by to 2009 and Hello to 2010 with a continue joy in serving our good and beautiful God.

The Garmin is an amazing travel tool, she piped up and said severe traffic ahead, and she was right, 5.2 miles of creeping along, but she had no solutions. I like the trip summary that even shows you how many minutes you stopped for food and necessities. JTs Iphone was a wizard. He had an app where users are uploading the wait times and problems in the park from moment to moment. Our phones kept us connected and reconnecting everywhere. It really is a whole new world of communication.

McDonalds really has healthy food choices if you choose them.

The Kia Sedona was a true driving pleasure, decent mileage, comfort and safety, and plenty of room for baggage and a family of six.

Disney does a lovely job of handling way too many people, and when it rained those six dollar parkas showed up instantly and saved the day. They add serendipity's all day, like the moment when a light show began on the wall of Its a Small World, and then snow.

The Toy Story Soldiers drive around in an army jeep and put on a drum show.

The Characters are so sweet and kind and loving to the little kids.

The Abraham Lincoln Audio Animation is very inspiring, as are the themes that Disney practices in his recognition of achievement.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Disney in the rain

Well now that was an experience. A steady misty drizzle pretty much all day. It thinned the crowds a bit, but those of us who parted with a chuck of change for a three day pass are not about to let the weather dampen the fun. Lots of slipping and looking for dry places to sit, but our Disney Christmas 2009 was a great family time together. We made lots of memories. Rode lots of rides. Saw lots of beautiful thematic touches to the park, and the ever present spirit of Walt, who believed in hard work and America to make your dreams come true. We heard lots of great Christmas hymns woven into the music, and felt the kindness, goodwill, consideration and friendliness of most all those working for and attending the park, and oh, America desperately needs to go on a diet. No offense, but its a real problem for many many folks. Now to get back to the gym.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Maxed Out Disney Day 2

I am so glad we came to see another seasons decorations at Disneyland. We will never ever do it again. Tonight every muscle in my body aches from 12 plus more hours of dodging bodies in massive crowds. We had a major Mickey River show break down, but the things they have added like snow are enchanting. I tasted it and hoped it was not toxic, kind of soapy actually.

Hour long waits for the Matterhorn and Soaring Over California, it was, in spite of it all, a great vacation experience.

Today's pics show the snowy soap all over Miss Laura, and an idea of the crowd from my Riverboat Ride.

No More Room

Well, that about says it all as to the tone and tenor of Disney Day 1. People everywhere, long waits for everything, including the wee wee place. But the decorations are done with such pizzaz and a so beautiful. Lights everywhere. We just took it all in stride and enjoyed everything. The kids actually had to walk back during the Car ride because some teens caused a mishap, but they got fastpasses into Indian Jones. More later.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back at Disney

Six of us drove 432 miles today after church to arrive safely with the help of my Garmin Nuvi GPS. Amazing and helpful, she told us where to turn and how to get back after rest stops, and how far we had left and estimated arrival time and a trip summary at the end.

We were trying to come up with names, since we heard that many begin to speak back at this lady. Our favorites were Roada, Sacajatripa, and my personal, Streetitute, you pay for it and she takes you where you want to go.

We arrived in time to walk and shop in the Disney Village and see the Christmas lights, and hear some wonderful street musicians playing to the walking crowds. Three marathon days of Disney fun ahead. Opens at 8, closes at 12. Whoopee.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

One generation shall follow another

The bottom picture was taken of Eddie M and his two and our two oldest kids, 1984
This is Eddie, Jill, Christy and her three kids today 2009. We all began college together and became even closer when Eddie taught in the same town I pastored, and when we moved back to Jackson, our kids were playmates. So sweet to renew this friendship in Arizona as Christys husband is an AZ/Mexico border guard living in Tucson.

Tommorrow we are off to California for three days of Winter Mickey Mouse. I will keep in touch while at the park.

From Open House to Doghouse

What an interesting Christmas day. No piles of wrapping paper, no kids playing with toys, and the one kid playing with the one toy got himself in a pickle. Like a thoughtless child he went Wii Bowling with a beverage in his hand, and put a serious stain on Laurs's brand new chair. I feel really bad.

We enjoyed having folks from church drop by, and today we look forward to Eddie and Jill and Christie's kids stopping by.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Taking no chances

Merry Christmas everyone. We are home alone. Yesterday we spread some Reindeer food given by one of Laura's students. Attended our Christmas Eve service last night.

The Wii is opened and installed, though the grandkids are up the mountain with J.T.s side of the family. I am learning to bowl and golf.

Santa bought us a Garmin Navi, so I can have another woman to tell me where I need to go. I love the electronic age.

Laura is preparing for an afternoon open house. Packing for Aneheim trip Sunday afternoon. Enjoy your life, your family, your blessings today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The joy of Zoo Lights

Phoenix Zoo has been putting on this of this extravaganza of lights for many years. This was our first time to go. There were at least 30 or 40 thousand people walking around and enjoying the sights of some superb decorations. Very creative, with a finale of computerized trees dancing to the Trans Siberian Orchestra. A cool night for our area, but the two for one deal had a huge crowd waiting to get in at 8pm as we were leaving. I took my tripod which allowed me to use the shutter priority to get some nice shots at 1/4 of a second. It was fun.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Joy of Long Friendships

This picture was taken before I met Michale, during her high school years. We met when she was home from college, and had a bit to do with her meeting her husband Steve. Visits home, facebook, email have kept us linking in our lives and faith for many decades. Have a great Christmas and New Year, Steve and Michale, passel of beautiful grown up children, and Sharon.

Is the posting of a gum chewing teenager who is now a respected business women, homeschooler, and great person constitute abuse of friendship????? I hope not.

The Snapshot project

A priceless orange faded moment after I cleaned my new set of irons and cradled my first born as she faded for the evening. That's what photography is all about. Thanks for taking that one wifey.

A kiss at the house party after the wedding. What a treasure she is.

It took me five days and many sessions of grabbing a handful of pictures and placing them on the scanner, but I am done. After culling the "what on earth is that" pictures and the duplicates and realizing that my photo bin also contained memorabilia such as cub scout bear claws and my high school basketball letter, I finally scanned about 1200 bits and pieces of our past. I thought there would be more, but with the scanned slides of last year, there is a pretty good walk through a simple pastor's life.

It also reveals priorities that are unmistakable, pretty much the same ones I struggle with day to day in being faithful and fulfilled. 1. My wife as the greatest and easiest treasure to neglect in life 2. Raising kids 3. Doing ministry 4. hobbies and interests. Thankfully the kid part in mostly through except hoping and praying every day their lives are going well, and trips and visits.

The pictures have been rubber banded and placed in a smaller container as a backup to this digital record, and now with Picasa to help I will further catalogue into the various dates and places as time permits.

The memory is a fascinating thing, I see events and places and instantly can remember the details and faces of the many youth groups I led and outings we enjoyed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Full of Christmas Song today

I had a bit of a coughing night. I usually listen to some Ipod music to mask the noice in my head as I go to sleep and last night 90 songs passed before I dozed off, and today I placed it on an Ipod player during work, carried it to the gym, and am going to see if I can listen to all 15 albums before I go to sleep, assuring myself that my junior high self is alive and well in accomplishing silly goals for fun. Thats 215 songs, and, yes, it was a pleasure to have on in the backgroud all day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The joy of Flute and Strings Sunday

The calming interpretive power of flute and strings brought rich expression to the hymns of Christmas and the special music of our combined choir. I am rich and full of the savor of Christ and praying that it will continue to waft everywhere in this troubled world.

I wove my interet in photography through my message, asking people what was the primary picture in their mind when they think of God and the gospel. Is it angry sin counting condemnation like Job's so called friends, or is it the welcoming, forgiving spirit of the Christ, whose incarnation announced fully God's intention to reconcile the world to Himself. A great portrait is being made through the church as the image of God in the world, upholding the family honor, and living together the family values, and showing the family likeness in our words and deeds. Merry Christmas week to all.

I told them that now all my old prints are online I can prove that my children loved each other when they were growing up, and here is some proof. Cute, Cute, Cute!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two Special Weeks

That bad Santa is me!!!! The year I served as PTA president at my kids elementary school. They were on to me the minute I entered each classroom, the deep voice was always a give away.

I love the way our year ends. Laura is home for a two week vacation and very much settles into her previous homemaker role. Meetings at Church are on a break except for Sunday Worship. My able office assistant is with her grand kids in Hershey PA, and I am filled up with Christmas songs, memories churned up by scanning our life in photos, and being grateful for people I have known and loved, for the constant sense of grace I walk in, and for the spices of life, beauty, creativity, peace and good will.

Our tree has no gifts...well, one really nice one...because our gift to our two grand kids and their parents is a Christmas trip to Disney Land. They really decorate the park differently each season and this is the only one we have not experienced. I know some of you think Disney is Goofy, but for some reason, we just let the magic change us. We buy into the nostalgia of a happy past that drove Walt to create so many movies and memories for us. We let the stories of Pinocchio and Peter Pan bring back the joys of childhood as we see the wonder and laughter of our children's children. We love the walk back and forth to the hotel, we love McDonald's breakfasts, we even love eating at that huge and less than clean Denny's outside the main gate, where we rest our walk weary bones. Camera's in hand, I will make more memories for those decades ahead when age closes my frontiers. Until then, we are off and running.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Embracing Others in your world

This is a picture of me starting a new ministry with two pastors and two elders. I looked healthy but I was a bit of a wreck emotionally during that time.

Every conversation you have is a window into another persons world that you get to experience. Lunch with a man deeply rooted in Washington State, giving a ride to a friend explaining life in a small southern town, listening about a church life that is different than yours. Watching a slide show of a medical mission trip to the mountains of Nepal which shows the dress, the diseases, and the poverty of children who are still able to laugh with glee when batting around a crude ball.

I marvel God can take all this vast humanity in His heart, and hear the heart languages of people as different and yet as similar as every human being on this earth. Listening to vocabulary in a language foreign to you and common to massive groups of people and wondering why they call an orange...... naranja?????

We all end up plopping ourselves down somewhere and living out our lives day by day, but how interesting, how enlivening it is to be listening and learning from everything and everyone around you. Not trying to push everything into your understanding, but expanding your understanding as your knowledge of reality grows. Its called living in relationship, and God longs for it, and so do we.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The joy of technology

Today I bought a Canoscan 100 Lide Color scanner to take all those thousands of snapshots sitting in a huge plastic container and giving them back to my family through the digitizing process. They are scanning beautifully.

The kids would occasionally rifle through them, but I have not looked at them for years. Now, I will be able to organize them into years or places or events. Beware, anyone from my past..... you are fair game for the blog now! Can't wait to show Michale F at a high school retreat.

The nature of scanning, like fitting several pictures in at once, makes many of them come out up side down and sideways. If any of your know how to change the orientation of pictures in the uploading process in blogger I would appreciate a note. It is amazing that a picture taken with a simpler camera and them scanned can pick up the detail like this helicopter flight over Kauai on our 25th Anniversary.

The joy of learning

Kansas Bob had some great quotes on life long learning over at his blog. One of my goals for 2010 is to get the two years of high school Spanish out of the moth balls and get conversational with the language.

Why, to build bridges of respect of the huge Hispanic population here in Arizona, and to speak with the families we desire to help in our mission work in Mexico.

I really am too cheap to buy Rosetta Stone, so I bought a 30 dollar knock off in Costco that practices the same method of immersion language study with pictures, words, games and repetition. Nine disks must be mastered and muchas gracias for your encouragement in this modest goal. Now that I have an una pasporte, I can be in Porta Penasco in four hours.

I also have my good buddy Larry who speaks Spanish through his family heritage who will help me with sentence structure and flow once I relearn some vocabulary.

I only wish more of my learning goals in music, language, and theology, could get past that huge rock called mediocrity, and get closer to that vast harbor called adequacy, even if I never land in the island of competency. Mi casu, su casa.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The joy of knowing that God is love

We are finishing our series on the wisdom books. Job was hard to teach. Too long and obtuse. But the thing I got was that Job's friends were engaged in a long and unprofitable discussion of who God is and what kind of character He has towards sinners.

It struck me that almost every conflict I have had with fellow Christians has been over the same issue, more or less. The hyper Calvinist's I met when I moved here did not want anyone in their little church who had a less than enlightened view of God.

The futurist rapture ready crowd ten years ago were looking for a rock to hide under to escape the soon coming wrath Beam me out of here, Jesus. I know I am painting a bit of a caricature, but allow me please, I am making a point.

Mean while I am carrying my own baggage through these mini conflicts, trying to get along with everyone and trying to understand myself how the Gospel of Jesus Christ meshes with the "sinners in the hand of an angry God" scenario of my education.

I guess the way God helped me understand it the last twenty years was to put "pastor in the hands of angry church leaders" and see what I would learn.

So, I get a little bit frustrated with it all and determined with my own reading and reflection to answer the question for myself. Who is God? and What is the Gospel?

Its there, but its easy to miss. The verses to defend other views are there too.

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sin against them. Folks, that is a scripture verse I just quoted. God is at peace with sinful humanity, and in fact, loves them enough to get them home to Him. He is not stirring the soup of an eternal torment oven, He is seeking the lost. The broken people in this broken world need to hear and see His love in action. They need a message greater that the sin counting friends of Job.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer suffered unto death in the hatred that was Hitler, but the theology of Bonhoeffer is what we need. I am indebted to Marc Vanderslays for digging up this quote, and I pass it to you as a costly Christmas gift of truth.

In the [physical] body of Jesus Christ, God is united with humankind, all humanity is accepted by God, and the world is reconciled to God. In the body of Jesus Christ, God took on the sin of the world and bore it. There is no part of the world, no matter how lost, no matter how godless, that has not been accepted by God in Jesus Christ and reconciled to God. Whoever perceives the body of Jesus Christ in faith can no longer speak of the world as if it were lost, as if it were separated from God; they can no longer separate themselves in clerical pride from the world. The world belongs to Christ.

…in the body of Christ [i.e. the church] all humanity is accepted, included, and borne, and that the church-community of believers is to make known to the world by word and life. This means not being separated from the world, but calling the world into the community of the body of Christ to which the world in truth already belongs…. The church-community is separated from the world only by this: it believes in the reality of being accepted by God–a reality that belongs to the whole world–and in affirming this as valid for itself it witnesses that it is valid for the entire world. (Ethics, p. 66-68)

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 14, 2009

The joy of a Christmas tradition

Bob and Fran hosted an open house yesterday. We discovered Fran loves Christmas decorating and has been building one of those turn of the century miniature towns for many years. The joy of unpacking and setting up the town and adding pieces is part of making the celebration of the Christchild for her. Sharing this tradtion was a blessing for us. Doube click on the pictures to enjoy the detail.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The joy of children playing

Yesterday a large group was picnicing at Tumbleweed Park, which is one of the joys of living in the desert...December picnics....and they trucked in some artificial snow for the kids to enjoy. I went over and snaped around 30 shots hoping to catch that look of joy on the faces of children who are having a rare experience.

They had some plastic snowball makers. In my day we had to make them by hand, and our hands froze.....and....we....loved it. Yeah!!

It did bring to mind those three magic years in upstate New York when snow was a joyful experience for this 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The joy of mall watching

Grand Daughter was here to spend some of her birthday money so we spent three hours at the Mall. It is one of the few places where you can observe the current state of humanity and culture.

I sat outside the Apple Store for 30 minutes and watched people pass by. You have the ever present junior high kids, for whom the mall is their sophisticated baby sitter. They move like swarms, all dressed alike trying to be cool, all following the cutest or the tallest. Its a comfort to know some things never change, except the styles, we all did this with our pumping testosterone and desire to be accepted.

The families, still the bedrock of the world, still mostly led in things domestic by the women with the men reluctantly in tow.

Signs of change, another huge jewelry story going out of business. Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but groceries keep her going from week to week.

God loves this humanity, and I mostly do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The joy of accomplishment

All day yesterday I basked in the joy of completing a task. When you have an attractional event and you sell tickets you spend a lot of time hoping the things you did to advertise work.

Then there are the issues of meeting the expectations of the musicians who are coming a long way to perform. You do not want to fail your promises to them.

When it all works and the musicians enjoy the crowd and the crowd enjoys the performance you feel the joy of accomplishing a goal.

The folks who discipline themselves to play music are driven by the muses, by creativity, by hard work. I was with Craicmore for set up and break down, four hours and over two hours packing. One of the guys said that the playing is free, the packing is the hard part, and I agree.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The joy of Celtic Music

Well, after months of planning and advertising we filled our auditorium and had such a joyful night of music with Craicmore, a contemporary Celtic group. Centered around the stories of the Celtic Yuletide Celebration. Every member of the band are multi talented and Dave Champagne played the whistle, the Irish Flute, the Bohemn Flute, the Bagpipes, the Celtic Harp, and the Illian Pipes, all masterfully.

We had sing a longs and clap a longs, and even a demonstration of the didgeridoo.

Fun, Fun, Joyful fun

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The joy of looking for answers

At the core of my life has been the relationship I have with God by faith. But it has always worked itself out through questions. There has always been a gentle dialogue in my mind and heart as I react to the events of each day. Storehouses of questions I am thinking through, breakthroughs that lift me to other questions. The always present limitations of my own intelligence or lack therof.

Interacting with books that join me in questioning and searching has been a deep well of joy. The good ones and the mediocre ones, they are a chorus of friends.

This week it is Mike Mason's The Gospel According to Job that helps with my reading of Job. Bently Hart's The Doors of the Sea, took me in different and deeper paths than I have walked in seeking the answer to God's silence in suffering.

I have reached the point where I do not need to prove anything to myself or others about such issues. I just enjoy the interaction between mind and heart and the furniture that creates my worldview.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The joy of knowing WWII Vets

Loren and Gert and preparing to celebrate another wedding anniversary, their 68th, on December 25. After Pearl Harbor Lauren hurried to enlist and they hurried to get hitched before he shipped. I am incredibly honored to know more than a handful of these veterans as their number shrink to the inevitable passing of a great generation.

I join with all citizens to remember Pearl Harbor Day and thank God for the leadership, troops, and the honored dead in that great war.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The joy of owning your first home

In 1990 we became homeowners. I was 40 years old. After living in two church owned properties and a couple of rentals we got a down payment gift from Laura's wonderful mother and bought a completed spec home in a completed neighborhood. 1760 sq ft four bedrooms with a great room and a separate living/dining room. We loved it. Brand new, never lived in. A nice roomy hall connecting the bedrooms.

This pic was taken yesterday. It became a rental after we sold it and is showing some wear, and the unfortunate result of me deciding to top off the tree I planted for some strange reason. It stopped going up and went sideways. the kids walked to elementary and junior high, we could walk to a drugstore and other shopping. Even though we had to rent it out for our brief stay in Tucson, (I don't want to talk about it), we came back and did whatever it took to stay in the house until things improved and we were able to sell it for a tidy profit after seven years.

The tax breaks and appreciation set us on the way to one of the great possibilities of financial security.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The joy of eating out

Every town in America has its favorite local deli's and restaurants. It a large town you have many choices, and the great ones rise to the top and require waiting for a table, as happened today when we drove to Gibert for our grandaughters 10th Birthday party.

Flancers is primarily a sandwich shoppe with cute names for thier entrees like Moon over My Hammy, and our favorite, It's About Thyme, a chicken sandwich on chibata bread with mushrooms, cheese and a thyme sauce that is delicious.

Across the Street Lulu's Tacos and been a staple for Gilbert for over 20 years.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Are you one of us?

There is a particular syndrome among Christians that affected my life way more that it should have. When you have a particular theology like Reformed Theology there quickly develop gradations in said faith. You can be therefore, Totally Reformed, or normally reformed. You can belong to camps within camps, such as being a Van Tillian presuppositionalist or an evidentiary apologist.

I, the area of church growth the reformed folks have always been sensitive to those willing to use innovative methods to increase the size of your flock. Then myriads of little things become issues, like which hymns are appropriate for morning service versus more informal services.

The Church I came to serve came from a merger with a small denomination called the RPCES. They had their own set of historical issues and shibboleths.

Very quickly after we settled in I realized that a couple of leaders did not trust me anddid not like my personality, gifts, and perspectives. I had violated some of those things I mentioned. It went sour quickly and I realized I was in trouble within four months. These guys were Pharisaical picky and real smart a.....lecks. If I said left they said right. What should have been a pleasant transition and acceptance by a loving group of people degenerated into gossip groups and accusations and tensions.

No pastor deserves that short a honeymoon, and when a crisis occurred morally in one of those leaders, I was already so nervous that trying to be a leader with those dynamics was difficult. I had several opportunities to let the bad blood leave, but chose instead to try to make the differences work, and it sunk me, as the non involved began to leave just because of the fuss.

I cannot change that four years, only learn from it, be changed by it, and forgive the principal players from the heart. Ultimately it changed my thinking about theology and so many other things that I can truly say good came from it.

Those were pre digital years and I took very few pictures during that period.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A good walk enhanced

Year round golf was indeed a draw for me. Golf was a gift of God for me. My first used clubs were a gift from Rev. Engel when I was 13. I would bang balls around the empty lots and forests around my home. Then a few lessons, and with the beginning of my full time ministry the game became my weekly opportunity for fresh air, self competion, and some really great golf friendships.

Our annual church Tournament was today, and we enjoyed the crisp weather and good commraderie of the scramble.

There are as many courses per population here as in the greatest golf meccas of the world. Every type, every budget. We joke, we tease, we laugh, we boast, we make excuses, all in good fun. And every now and then a good shot thrills our hearts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Hassles of a fast growing city

For years Gilbert, Henderson NV, and a few other places swapped being named the fastest growing cities in the nation. Each year there were two elementary schools, and one Jr high opened and a new high school every three years. The desert kept disappearing to the east and south. The Highway extended to Alma School when we arrived and very shortly nine more exits where they built the next major mall, Superstition Springs. We enjoyed the opening of that whole area, and now it is showing serious aging signs.

Things you don't expect are the constant upgrading of infrastructure, we never had a season without detours for road widening, and when the streets would get four lanes, people started speeding and killing each other all over town.

I was not prepared for the effects of high walls around the sub divisions. Each lot was divided by a six ft wall, and it made for non existent neighborliness. In our first home we listened to people playing and swimming on all sides and never got to know anyone except those on either side and across the street.

I was not prepared for totally horizontal and vertical streets, a total grid, and even when you began to know the street you could not remember the corner your office or store was on. We still struggle with this.

I was not prepared for the winter inversion. We are surrounded by mountains and the smog gets trapped under the canopy and at times it is as bad as LA.

However, my dream of big city life was totally rewarded. Golf Tournaments to watch, big time stars like Neil Diamond, Bocelli, Buble. Huge Broadway Plays like Phantom and Lion King and Les Miserables. Mountains and Lakes, The Grand Canyon, and San Diego just five hours away. The shirtsleeve weather 10 months of the year.

And the lie, the big lie we all keep passing on......"ITS A DRY HEAT"

The four year man scores 20

My family of origin were mobile before it was a national trend. Dad and Mom left Indianapolis when I was a wee lad of three, before memory started. During the 16 years that followed we lived four years in Louisville Kentucky, Bardstown community, four years in Oneonta New York, Four years in Troy, Alabama, and Four years in Jackson Mississippi. They would finish with five years in Houston, Texas, Five years in Gulfport Mississippi, and the final years in Pensacola, Florida. We were rolling stones who gathered no moss.

For years I would get restless after four years of anything and wondered why. I spent four years at Belhaven College, Jackson, MS, four years at Reformed Seminary, Jackson, Four years in Crystal Springs, MS, Seven in Moss Point MS. and amazingly, in two weeks we will have made 20 years in East Valley Phoenix.

To be honest, not all in one place with one people. I am still a rolling stone. We have owned three homes here, and rented two for short periods. Been involved in four ministries, but, except for a short period in Tucson, (I don't want to talk about it), we have called this area home. I want to reflect on that for a while.

Two first impressions when we flew out here to check out the city. Well maintained and beautiful highways. This city puts all kinds of decorations and plants along the major roads and it is very cool. Geckos, and Indian symbols and balls and swirls everywhere, and mostly trash free.

Second, the smell of oranges. The East Valley was a huge fruit distributor. Alas, this has not lasted, as houses sprang up everywhere. In 1989 Gilbert, AZ had 18,000 folks, now probably close to 200,000. When you rack up 20 years in one place, now you can remember empty spaces filled, and stored changing locations, and signs of ageing here and there. Its a good feeling for a rolling stone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Can't help being contrarian

Dancing Injun by friend Butch Hall

Avoiding conflict at all costs has always been my personality issue. If you love the land wars going on in the Middle East that's fine. If you love religious wars....not so fine, but I am hoping the big message of the gospel begins to influence us. The breaking down of walls between people is a very significant part of our message.

A violent man killed four police officers having coffee before work. May he pay quickly, and God comfort those families in shocking grief and suffering. It does not, cannot follow, that all black men are violent. Some muslims are terrorists....therefore all muslims are terrorists, does not, cannot follow. There are many Iranians in America, we do not trust Iranians does not, cannot follow.

Hackman's Musings, see sidebar, has a great post about a statement by the BYU quarterback, who, because some Utah fans treated him poorly, grouped all Utah fans basically as ugly, hateful and wicked. This kind of thinking needs to stop in America, and more urgently in the quickly becoming less salty....salt of the earth.
The only good Injun is a dead Injun, was said in the west long ago, the only good ****** is a dead****** was said in the South not so long ago. It does not, it cannot follow, and that is why I am not whistling dixie on this.

I need to keep my eyes on Jesus before my blood pressure goes up.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Isreal in prophecy?

I am looking for a verse from the end of the Old Covenant scripture. I know it's there. Goes sort of like this, you will have to help me search for it. All the promises God made to Israel, he fulfilled them all.....

I realize I have an historical and theological bias from my upbringing, but the idea that God has these unfulfilled promises He intends to keep with the modern version of the nation of Israel is at the root of the apocalyptic confusion of our day.

In its original 100 year old formula, all of church history is just a parenthesis between the cross and this renewed covenental promise keeping with a race of people.

Its very popular and gripping, and I cannot buy into it. I just cannot. It nullifies the greater range of the new covenant and returns it to guns and battles and fleshly carnal fulfillment's, all of which were completed in Christ. The fact that this said return and fulfillment in 1948, and 1967 depending on how you figure it, is in fact, not about Jews who have come to Christ, but a nation of secular people, who, in fact, and I hate to sound anti Semitic, have heritages that cannot be traced by blood to the children of Abraham.

God help me if I am wrong, but this does not sound like the restoration of creation which the church hoped for. Jesus ruling from a physical throne in a physical city,a mandatory rebuilt temple, return to blood sacrifices, forcing obedience for a time. There are more satisfying ways of interpreting these scenarios in scripture. I am not trying to pick a fight or start an argument. We need more examination of these prophetic stories that we have been circulating for the last fifty years.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

God can tell time

The tendency to read apocalyptic lanquage as if it is literal, tends to make you overlook the literal time indications of the final judgment of the Old Covenant. Soon meant soon, I will not delay means I will not delay, near means near, and before this generation passes means before this generation passes, and some of you will not die until you see the kingdom coming, means just that.

Matthew 24 contains first century prophecy for first century fulfillment, which includes a dose of apocalyptic language that indicates an ending of something and a beginning of something else, and what was that thing that came, the spiritual promises of the new covenant, including a God who identified with sinners, removed the adamic curse, and reconciled mankind to Himself in Christ. Everything changed, God got out of the nation business and into the proclamation of good news for all people, all people, all people.

Death is still with us, time and chance affect us all, and at times the things that happen in the world seem like the universe is quite cruel and unresponsive. But God has spoken, death has no more dominion, sin is forgiven, satan's power destroyed, and the creation is groaning until the full revealing of God's complete renewal of creation.....and what I hope to teach this month in the Gospel according to Job, is that God suffered and suffers with us, God's Son died and rose, God weeps when injustice destroys and even when creations power overwhelms the creature in his frailty.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Are we doomed?

I watched Glen Beck today and he says we need to build our financial ark cuz were are going down and no one wants to stop it.

Christians have been deeply entrenched in prophetic doomsaying for the last three or four generations. I listened for a few tortured minutes to the frenetic prophesying of Perry Stone on TBN...what a nutjob, pardon my rudeness.

The reason I am so interested in the block buster movie, 2012 is that, to me, its like the nuttiness of the Left Behind movies of a decade ago, and the older and more aged nuttiness of the popularity of The Late Great Planet Earth, of my youth.

Pastor Don, you are so rude to be speaking of nuts about so serious a subject as the end of the world. Nuts to you too! critic. The failure to understand serious biblical apocalypse leads us like lambs to the slaughter by the real power brokering going on in politics and culture.

There are crazy and serious things going on. I am not belittling any of it. There are serious political problems in our country, fight the good political fight as you see fit. There are complicated financial strains on America and the world that need calm, and responsible analysis. Bring it on.

All I can do is say nuts, and speak of a world changing gospel, not of an angry Lord coming to snatch away his church, but a Lord asking the church to bring in Kingdom values that can salt this stew, aright this careening vehicle, and pick up and help its straying little lambs. Too many metaphors?! Nuts.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Evening

Laura baked a 8 lb Turkey Breast stuffed with green apples which was super moist and tasty. We have some annual favorites supplied by Melissa this year. Shoe Peg Corn casserole, a delicious bacon, raisin and broccoli cold salad. Then Laura has her famous Yams smothered with nuts and brown sager, topped off with apple pie and double vanilla ice cream. My Tummy hurts. Oh and the most traditional, her mothers Southern Corn Bread Dressing with gravy. It takes all morning to make, right down to the old black iron skillet for the corn bread. Awesomely good.

Could not get anyone to pose for a picture, but the kids retired to the warm and delightful outdoors to do some dreaming with the store inserts. Its humble and modest but its my family. Brian called and said the lead actor in the Shrek musical who performed with the cast today at Macy's was one of his drama classmates at the U of A. He began as the understudy and got the lead quite early.

Hope your day was as delightful as ours.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blessed Thanksgiving

Celebrate this special day with your family and thank the Lord for His blessings.