Hawaii 2010

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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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kiss your rear end goodbye

This is an early Indian depiction of a volcano as they understood it.

In preparation for my month with Job's sufferings I saw 2012 today. They did a great job of destroying the world. The sunspots create some things that heat up earth's core leading to massive collapse, earthquake and tsunamis.

They captured the Christian apocalyptic types well, the greed factor in survival schemes, and a quasi biblical mass ark type rescue.

If people buy the Mayan Calendar idea we are going to see lots of books written that will end up in used book bins in January 2013.

More to come.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Popular truths are not always true

It comes as a shock when the majority opinion on something important is in fact, not true. How can this be? Everyone practically believes this and they may be substantially incorrect in their belief.

When such a thought occurs, and the conviction grows, there can follow a difficult decision, to challenge the prevailing opinion, or to doubt your own thinking. This many good folks can't be wrong about something this important.

Test all things, hold fast to that which is true seems to be good advice. For over a decade, along with practically everyone else, we are seeing the testing of many time honored beliefs. I find myself asking two questions whenever I encounter an article or a teaching that challenges my prevailing beliefs. Who is God? What is the Gospel?

I just finished reading "The Doors of the Sea", a theological and philosophical examination of arguments and statements that follows the Indian Ocean Tsunami that occured five years ago next month. A brilliant and erudite theologian from the Eastern Orthodox Church developed some excellent conclusions on God and disasters of this magnitude.

His conclusions were cautious, but I could see that they were directly opposed to the foundational arguments of my upbringing and theological education. They would require me to question one of the bulwarks of my own views of Who God is. Yet, in all honesty they are closely aligned with many of the subtle changes I have seen in my own views on these crucial subjects.

If it sounds as though I am tap dancing around with my words, I am. For if this theologian is correct, my paradigm about God's plan and power might need to be adjusted. Can I handle this? Yes, I can. Will I mess with the comfortable views of my flock? I might have to, or I might just let it percolate for a while. Truth does not demand haste, just hunger.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Music moves me to thankfulness

We Gather Together, Come Ye Thankful People Come, For the Beauty of the Earth. The annual singing of those songs worked it spiritual charm upon me again this morning.

We will sing them again Wednesday for our pre Thanksgiving service.

I purchased Enya's year old seasonal CD entitled "And Winter Came" Hauntingly beautiful. I am a total fan of her creative body of work.

Three weeks away from hosting the Celtic Group "Craicmore" from Los Angeles. We have done well with advance ticket sales and I am hoping to get the Celtic community out. Visited our local Cieli at Fibber McGees today to invite that group. In a bar on Sunday afternoon, imagine that?! A Celtic Yuletide Celebration, Dec. 9th, 7 pm. Be there, if your in town. Still need to sell 100 tickets.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Railroad Men

John was a model railroad HO scale hobbyist. He left this world on Friday and his family and friends gathered for a memorial this morning. For decades he had been perfecting and running and creating his city. He made and painted each house from places in and around the Philadelphia Pa, suburbs.

65 years of marriage, 30 years of retirement, many hours of personal labor and entertainment and fellowship with his buddies and their toys. I applied my hobby of photography to take some pics for the service. Here are a few. John's widow Clara will move with her daughter and the club will pack the train off with them to be cared for my his grandson. Double click on these pictures to see the love and care and detail in this craft.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Real Sun, manmade Lakes

Sun Lakes has lots of lakes, one of the hard working men in our congregation Bud Shumaker and the Robson crew wer responsible for digging our lake system which beautifies our area. Our lake level is down for some reason, and being fairly overgrown with algae the fish must be trapped.

It has become a veritable smorgasbord for the cranes and herons, who are patient fishers. Its great to watch them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas Child Shoeboxes 2009

Our congregation took part in Franklin Graham's very successful gift program for children all over the world. The generous folks in our church put together over 70 boxes and we took them to our drop point church this week. It gave me such a feeling of joy to drop off this shipment. Shannon and Grandma had a great time shopping for school items, small toys, candy, toiletries. The ministry will add childrens gospel explanations in their language. Thank you SLCC.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Branson comes to Sun Lakes

John Wayne estate contracted for a look a like to do a TV commercial, and Ermal was chosen. He turned his acting career into a sketch of monologues on his Career, his patriotism, and his faith.

Ermal and his wife Paula, a mountain girl with a great voice and an award winning yodeler, helped make the evening very interesting and uplifting. They are also in demand for Cowboy Churches around the nation.

I told him that John put Chandler Az on the map as one of his retreats from doing movies in the AZ high country. He brought his star friends to the Sheraton San Marcos for golf, swimming, dining and drinking. The bar he stood at is still there today. My golf club is on land he bought during those decades.

Lining up to see the End Of The World

2012 is making big bucks at the theatres. I am going to see it. Meanwhile I am doing everything I can to delay the end of my world through heart disease. I cannot rid my mind of the images of the peeling away of the World Trade Center walls in a cascading arc of destruction, yet I can't wait to see it happen all over the world from the comfort of my theatre seat.

I deeply desire war as the end all solution of international problems to cease, but I was mesmerized by the dramatization of D-day in Saving Private Ryan.

I will never be accused of consistency on these points, as will the rest of us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

John and Mary....and Daniel- gifted musicians

34 years, 4000 concerts many musical disciples. The Gygers, sing duets of hymns, and seasonal songs with grace and beauty. They represent the lovely days of a more traditional approach to music that I hope we do not lose. They ended with "The Prayer, made popular by Bocelli and Dione, and Groban and Church. Very lovely concert.

Today I heard one of the most talented teen aged classical guitarists in the country. Ten years of playing, at 17 he has a repertoire large enough for weddings, concerts and special events. Once again music accents the events of our lives with such transforming beauty.

A Church Anniversary Observed

The congregation I serve organized 30 years ago this month. It was not started for a new purpose but because of a new place, and a bit of a new concept. Active retirement communities began to spring up in the warm states to capture those who retired in our increasingly unrooted and mobile society. Sun Lakes and Sun City are two of the larger models. We have six plus square miles and over 30,000 retirees, or those over 50 nearing retirement, like me.

Most people leave our church for heaven. We are a solid and happy last stop, where groups of friends within the church find each other for extended fellowship through service, hobbies, games, sports.
We have a group learning Bocce Ball?? We have a bus of fans who have adopted the local high school football team. We have service clubs, and of course….gambling runs to the Indian Casinos, and the ever present bowlers, card players, hobbyists, and golfers, of whom I am a part.

In a society that marginalized the aging, we level the playing field by segregating from the world of the young, except for our involvement in our summer homes, and our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are family.

Our vision for a community church has survived and is thriving, though denominational churches sprang up over the decades. With the passing of time our building has been planted in the now older part of the community. The oldest of the old, and since Phase 1 resorted to manufactured homes like Florida did, and since the newer communities built larger and more upscale homes, we are often teased gently for our part of the community. Each of the sections has a name. Oakwood, Ironwood, PaloVerde, Cotton Wood, and they call us Plywood??????!!!!!! A derogatory term no doubt. To me it feels like a campus, with a lunchroom abuzz with visiting, a library, a pool hall, lots of pools and walking paths, a pitch and putt course, and for me it has become a solid and blessed place for my last stop before glory. Lord willing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bells, and voices and the One Shepherd

The conclusion of Ecclesiastes introduces wisdom and The Shepherd, the God who receives our spirits unto Himself, of the God who rules the Universe with justice and remembers the plight of His cracked Eikons.

I recommend Scott McKnights recent book The Blue Parakeet as a lovely summary of the best way to read the scriptures for our edification and for building our life and ethics. Reading as story, reading with tradition but not through tradition, allowing Moses ways for Moses days, and even Paul's ways for Paul's days, leading us to a wise and interactive discernment of truth and her applications.

When we read this book with a Christocentric focus we see Jesus giving the teacher hope and purpose for life, even when there continue to be bad breaks, illnessess, evil actions of evil men, and acts of God that are quite destructive in their influence......Life is full of meaning. Can you spot my lovely wife in the choir?

Friday, November 13, 2009

I am at peace with Qoheleth

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes is not a positive thinker. He is a rugged realist. I am planning on doing a word study of Ecc. 9:9-11 to see where the word chance comes from, "time and chance affect us all", as a former Presbyterian we were not allowed to use the word luck, or chance in conversation without being frowned upon. We laughingly called our Pot Luck Dinners....Pot Providences.

I tend to be a lot more of a Christian realist when it comes to miracles and prayer. Some people believe that if you can get hundreds of people praying for someone God just practically has to answer such an overwhelming number of intercessors.

My feeling is this, someone is sick, we pray earnest and sincerely for healing, either miraculous or natural or surgical or medicinal. What ever happens is good.
If the person dies we pray some more and grieve. We continue to trust God.

The Old Covenant and the Wisdom tradition inform and provide the sound foundation for our new covenant faith, and if we live long enough we admit that Ecclesiastes is the truth we have observes, evil people prospering, good people dying, a good bit of luck involved in people who have great success in business or arts. We see talented people who never find their niches and hard working people who never see a great payoff. This is life, enjoy your food, your shelter, your wife, your work, and know your soul will return to God and your works will be judged. Good stuff to balance us all.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yo Yo Ma, the Cello, the Soloist

We watched The Soloist with friends last evening. Powerful movie dealing with homelessness, mental illness, music, befriending the homeless. The Cello has a strong supporting role and ranks right up there with the flute as a mood enhancing sound.

The movie inspired me to pick up Yo Yo Ma's Songs of Peace and Joy. This will be, along with Enya's And Winter Came, my Christmas CD additions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some came home and some did not

Ecclesiastes 9:11 I have turned so as to see under the sun, that not to the swift is the race, nor to the mighty the battle, nor even to the wise bread, nor even to the intelligent wealth, nor even to the skilful grace, for time and chance happen with hem all.

This is the Saxaphone section of the Casper Wyoming High School Class of 1937. My friend Bill is bottom row, second from the right. His friend under the mark went to sleep on the U.S.Arizona on December 6th, 1941 and still lies entombed there today. His name is on the wall above the ship. W.L. Bill Watson.

Each year we honor those who came back, and those who did not, and that is what I am doing as you read. God bless their sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Life is a Beach

I have been immersed in the Wisdom books for a few weeks, Ecclesiastes most recently. An old preacher is reflecting on life and its meaning and he keeps coming up with what my study Bible calls enigmas. There are just so many things in life that do not make sense unless you believe in God as a great settler of injustices. The wicked prosper and live long life, the righteous die in the midst of being righteous.

As I near the Anniversary of moving west, and near the big 60, I am finding this kind of reflection helpful for me. Now I realize that the next 20 years theoretically will not hold the same opportunity for change as did the first and second score of years, but I really believe that wisdom can crown the next period with further refining of my hopes, values, choices and the way I spend my last years.

I realize now that the decision to move out of the south was really tempered by the reality that if I kept doing the same thing in the same place I would get the same results. It was not ministry and service and teaching I wanted to leave, but the trappings of a heritage that so many did not question because it was all they knew, but I did as a transplant inserted into this culture just late enough to have a different perspective.

Now is it time to reflect on what I encountered when I jumped out of the frying pan of corn bread and landed on a cactus and a cowboy. Not that I have not done so already, but again anniversaries are for looking both ways and resetting your course a bit if you need to.

Today’s picture represents the joy and anticipation of the beginning of a family vacation. We had just arrived at our favorite beach city, San Clemente. I had a new 50 mm lens that is crisp and sharp and colorful. I lingered above as my family descended to the boardwalk. You can spot them if you click to enlarge, and see the relaxed and rhythmic life at the beach beckon us to rest and enjoy the pounding pacific surf life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

From Tumbleweed Gym, an update

Since I have no data time left on Verizon I am using my Chandler Public Library wifi at Chandler Tumberweek Rec Center. This is one of many reasons I moved to a large town 20 years ago next month. The city services here are wonderful. I feel so very comfortable with all the shapes, ages and sized that gather here to keep themselves in shape. I see many of the same people each week. Some of them are true inspirations in fitness, some are fighting to lose enormous amounts of weight, some like me are working for heart health and age retardation??? is that a concept???

Any way I sandwiched three sets of twelve on twelve upper body weight machines with twelve minutes of walking and twelve of biking, and I am heading home for supper. I am going to post one of my favorite pictures today which shows how much God has blessed us in our journey of faith to the desert. The backyard you see here was our second home here in Mesa, and we built all you see in terms of landscaping around our pool, which we enjoyed a great deal during our seven years in that home.


You are the latest and coolest and most available way to get online. I can call in an order from a cow farm in Kansas, but for the second month in a row I have run out of data usage allowance before the recycle. 5 gigs is not enough for my 2 bucks a day you are charging Verizon. Gotta get offline, I have run out of time.......

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ford's Dream Car

Sun Lakes was a bustle of fall activity today. The Women’s Bizarre is a huge rummage sale, the Baptists hosted an Antique Car Show. Safeway had a grand reopening after a remodel. The weather was delightful.

There must have been ten restored Mustangs. It’s odd when a car you grew up with becomes an antique. I guess that means I am an antique. Right around the corner from me two of my friends brought the original Ford Mustang to a special position in my memory.

Chris’s Dad sold Ford’s and snuck us in to the locked garage for a preview of the 64 and ½ Mustang. I was mesmerized by the lines and the sheer sleek beauty of that vehicle. The next year Charles and I entered a contest to win a 65 Hatchback. Charles was sixteen and I was fifteen, so he could enter for us. We had to guess the mileage of a Honda 50 scooter as it drove to all the Coca-cola plants around Alabama. I did the math with a state map and a ruler and we guessed on 10 postcards and sent them in.

Charles won the car, bright red and awesome. I learned to drive a stick in that car and we had many adventures in the few months before I moved to Mississippi. It is a restorers dream.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A question I have wanted to ask

Today, in the usual banter of men relaxing after a round of golf, I heard a story from a gentleman about his time as an attack helicopter pilot in Vietnam. As we left I aked him this. How do you feel after all these decades about the killing you did during the war? I had no judgmentalism in my voice, just interest.

"The first time is very hard, and I remember people shooting at us who should not have been involved, a fourteen year old throwing a grenade...a woman firing a rifle at the choppers. Those I remember, and they haunt me."

But, honestly, after you see a helicopter go down, after you lose a couple of friends, you just do the job and do not think about it at all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Experiencing a brain fog

My little web log has so far been enjoyable. I have not tried to climb Mt Everest with monumental ideas, or correct the theological errors of the day. I have chosen to simply reflect on something in my day that made an impression and to share an image I have taken with my Canon Xsi or 590is.

I am .4 of a pound of breaking into a lower weight zone as a result of being in month three of joining a health club. Hallelujah, a little thing for many but my own Mt. Everest, considering the joy of eating and all that.

My fascination with Kubili, our Indonesian New Tribes missionary continues as she and her team have finally prayed the building materials out of the hands of crooked inspection clerks in Jakarta. In a week a team will arrive to build and equip the home she and her roommate will share as long as God leaves her among this remote tribal people. Solar energy keeps her a few keystrokes away from "the daily report" as the Lion King sings. My admiration for her dream continues. She is looking jungle toughened in her picture this week, slimmer, like the natives she is learning to love. Thier dry season brings hut building, which lasts for 3 years she says, and gardening, which leads to many cutting injuries. Primitive, I said. God bless you today and each day as your home construction project nears.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Accidents happen

Fun loving college athletes make tragic mistake while stargazing. I had a moment of realizing how connected we are when I was reading a blog of a young woman searching for those missing girls, while Fox news brought the story during the early morning, and by dinner we know of three grieving families, a softball team, a college and a town stunned by the frailty of life

Qoheleth, the preacher, called it vanity, transitory, like a vapor, here and then gone. Death my drowning a way up high of our list of "please not me Lord" prayers. Thanks Julie, for joining in the search, thanks friends, for standing with the families. Gracious Lord, bring blessing out of sorrow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Indian Summer, golfer/hacker

I went to work, dealt with a few things, and filled a foursome of friends at the Duke. It was a beautiful warm day hitting nearly 90.

I love the bantering and joking with golfers that goes on during a contest. I enjoy watching how a repeating swing can produce such perfect and disastrous results. Four pars and a birdie chip in, a respectable 42 on the front nine.

Something changes on the back nine, unexplainable in its destructive and damaging effects. How is it possible to shoot 42,54????????? Just watch me. Where is my sports psychologist?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Glad its November

I remember all those years of planning Harvest Parties or Reformation Parties in our Churches. I have never really been a great youth ministry planner, but we had lots of help and pulled off some fun events. I could care less if people allow their kids to Trick or Treat, and used to hate the 2 hrs of non stop doorbell ringing when we lived for 7 years at the end of a Cul de Sac.

All in all, when November comes to the desert I enjoy this next season so much. I do not enjoy the silliness of adults dressing in ridiculous costumes, its just me, we passed it, and I am OK.