Hawaii 2010

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

A teacher teaches and hopefully learns as well

Today begins my summer schedule. From October to May I lead Bible Studies in addition to Sunday worship. I know that people do not retain all of what they hear, but like the old illustration, "I don't remember everything I eat, but I am pretty sure I would starve if I did not eat".

So I feed my flock with the good news of the gospel. This year we focused upon the preaching and teaching of Jesus, as Good news. This in the bible study and on Sundays, and then another group study the Epistles of John and resurrection from ICor 15 and from N.T.Wright's book Surprise by Hope.

The teacher of scripture must be learning and testing and challenging himself or the whole process can become lifeless. Christ centered preaching will rise above the ups and downs and struggles of the newspaper, but will also alter the way we understand what is happening in this world in the light of the good news.

The summer months are for reading and searching for ideas and subjects to explore, and for some travel and relaxation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Let some air in the place!

When the new stadium opened it was name BOB. Bank One Ballpark. I loved that name. Now it's Chase Field. If Banks advertise on Ball Parks will the Government own the ballparks?, and fire the managers? and be named after Presidents? Obamarama Field?

On nice evenings they have an opening ceremony to slide the roof and the side panels open with music and pomp. I have not been there to see it but I am told its impressive. The Metro runs right by it, and that was one of the original intents, to get people coming into the downtown area more often. Is that why they build the football stadium about 40 miles out in the boonies? It was supposed to be nearby in Temple until the 911 crash made them worry about planes crashing into the Stadium.

I love this city.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stressed Out on Purpose

I spent half the day at my cardiologists office undergoing a stress test. They have a marvelous new and improved imaging device that takes half the time to get pictures of the condition of your arteries feeding your heart muscle.

A nuclear dye is injected into your system and you take a resting picture of the heart and then they put you on a treadmill with the goal of raising your heartbeat to about 138 beats a minute. My heart is slowed down medically so this is quite a feat for me. When I achieved the goal I literally had no more ability to produce oxygen, I was maxxed out, so then they inject a second dose and keep you going for two more exhausting minutes, which somehow creates a picture that freezes that moment, even though you may wait another half hour or so for your second picture. There you have it, a laymens explanation of something you want to avoid if you can by taking longer slower walks and eating healthy.

One of my dear friends had a cardiac arrest during this test last year, so I asked if they had a crash cart nearby, but I got nervous and asked for a "Crash Test....Dummy" He understood what I was saying.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Phoenix has light rail, and I like it

Saturday we enjoyed an afternoon in downtown Phoenix and a ride on our new Metro. After years of traffic interrution this thing runs from Mesa to just down of downtown Phoenix. The ticket purchase is on the honor system, though ticket checkers give tickets to freeloaders. Stops at ASU and the Airport and right downtown in the Stadium and Civic Center District before heading right up our Central Avenue.

The ride is very smooth, nicely airconditioned, comfortable seating to the side or frong facing, a wizard of electric transportation. If I worked downtown I would take it in a minute. I had a moment of feeling really integrated with my city when I realized the potential of this thing, but, realistically we still had quite to drive to reach the line 12 miles north of us.

The Startrek Exhibit was interesting and made me realize what an impact those TV shows and movies made on my life.

No Phone Line

Our internet connection has been iffy lately and yesterday the whole phone line says the line is in use. So, I am crippled for a few days.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Three digit temps already

I am back to mall walking in preparation for an upcoming stress test. We broke one hundred last Tuesday, April 21st, about the time that Bison Girl http://www.bisongirl.com/ was losing the last of her snow in her Bismarck North Dakota backyard. It's a wide and diverse world meteorologically speaking, and I chose the Arizona desert.

I bet you don't see kachina dolls in Bismarck?, just like you don't have snow drifts in Arizona in April, or just about any other time. The Chandler Fashion Mall takes about 20 minutes to do the loops and turns on each floor. People watching, carrying a camera, stopping occasionally to shop, reflecting on the noticeable lack of crowds in our panicky times. I did make an early purchase for Laura, whose 4 gig IPod is overcrowded. We were taking albums off to add new ones so I bought her a 16 gig nano. She likes the lightweight of the smaller ones, and this one is cherry red, one of her favorite colors. Another reason I enjoy mall walking while Laura is at work is that she walks faster than I do, and bikes faster than I do. It's humiliating.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Photographic Impulse Purchase

My Camera has been a pleasure. Learning how to use it, developing a photographic eye, visiting my computer collection every now and then. Reading about equipment. I heard a lot about the relative cheapness of the kits lens and wandered what kind of picture a really expensice lens would obtain.

I went to the bankruptcy sale at the Camera shop and bought an inexpensive super zoom by Quantaray, apparently manufactured by Sigma. My Disney adventure convinced me of the need of one everyday zoom, and the reviews for this 18-200 zoom have
been mixed, some loved it some did not. Most said it was pretty well made and OK for the price.

So, here is an idea of the zoom capability made of a Grand Canyon Picture at the Mall. The lens is a few onces heavier but the same size as the 17-55mm kit lens.
If I end up dissapointed with this I will save up for a nice lens while using this for outings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Family Doings

We enjoyed a traditional bar-b-que dinner for our grandsons 4th birthday. Dropped our middle son off at the airport for a hiking trip to Europe which will last as long as his savings. He will visit NYC and stay with his brother and take off to Dublin Ireland on Friday. He has prepared well, except I am not sure he or we understand the youth hostel thing. I am a bit worried about where he will sleep economically and safely during the trip. His dream destination is Italy. He also wants to visit the grave of the relative whose middle name he carries. Lt. Wade Horne landed at Normandy and died attempting to cross an inland river along with over 10,000 Americans buried at National Cemetery in Lorraine France. Arriva Derci, Matthew, Happy Birthday Benjamin, life goes on...and is good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gaelic Storm Blew Through Town

Gaelic Storm is a five member band with Celtic roots and a powerful sound and a truly entertaining performance. The Lead singer Pat Murphy is funny, and talented with Accordian, spoons, harmonica and bohran. A beautiful fiddler, talented piper, whistler, and a fine drummer and guitar player create a full joyful and uplifting 2 hrs and 30 minutes of hand clapping good music. Highly Recommended.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A sober anniversary, a mistake in teaching.

A year ago my heart attacked me...for the second time. No need to go into the details except that every time I hear of someone dropping dead at the gym or while biking I am thankful that my heart has warned me gently when an artery has reached the danger stage. I actually got out of bed, took a shower, drove to the office to take my blood pressure and drove to the emergency room. I have since promised I would not do this again...but on the way out I saw a copy of The Shack on our booktable, and took it with me.

Sunday after the procedure, I read the book in one afternoon. I know all about the debate the God talk in this book has brought to different teachers and Christians, but I was moved by the book to tears, and I believe the books great strength, reflecting the true grace and healing that came from Young's attempts to show the Triune love of God.

I decided to attempt a two week study of The Shack and wish now I had not.I found my efforts to open a discussion just did not capture the power of the dialogue. I should have just left it alone. This book goes along way toward reintroducing an older and more gracious outworking of God's grace. In a real way, I realize that if I had not spent time in the hospital I would just have read reviews and never taken the time to read the book. This weekend Baxter Kruger and others are holding what I am sure will be a more profitable time of opening the lovely truths of Trinitarian relationships in the propagation of the grace of God.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dropped back and punted

There is no time of the year when I feel dumber than tax time. This year we lost our last exemption with the flying of the coop of our youngest college graduate. We also got a tax break by helping him borrow obscene amounts of money to live on his own at the University of Arizona.

So me and Turbo Tax began our yearly waltz, and I just got more and more frustrated that the bottom line was so much more than in years past, and so, I punted, I filed for an extension and am carrying the whole semi organized pile of financial information to a tax professional...and I told Laura to never let me do this again. Its like washing your own car, there comes a time in life when you pay a little more the the service. So, Taxman, you win, and I punted.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Taxman Cometh

On a blog break until taxes are mailed. This yearly chore is done with TurboTax and lots of sweat and tears.

Here is a picture of our Easter Lilies arranged cross shaped. Very unique. It was a fine climax to a year of teaching through the red letters of the New Testament.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Resurrection Day 2009

Forty two years ago I became a follower of the risen Christ. I pursued to calling of Pastor/teacher as best I understood it, in the culture and context of my nation and historical pathway of teaching.

This conviction led me to two education institutions and degrees, many friends and experiences of learning. The degrees confired upon me opened doors to live in five different cities and work along side nine different groups of followers for various times and in various ways.

Fulfilling, dissapointing, frustrating, joyful, depressing, boring, hurtful, enraptured, weary, fearful, hopeless, sustained, struggling. There has not been an emotion or experience that I have not tasted in some form or fashion in the pursuit of the pathway of a follower of Jesus.

I have witnessed births, baptisms, weddings, sicknesses, birthdays, and funerals.
I have fished, swam, walked, golfed, biked, driven, sightseen, dined, and shared hours of entertainment with fellow believers.

I have studied, searched, questioned, debated, argued, corrected, changed convictions on hundreds of deeply important life issues and practical solutions about this thing called Christianity.

I have quit, fumed, cried, and gotten heartsick over a hundred crushing dissapointments. I have been neglectful of family, seriously underpaid at times, cruelly opposed and made the subject of twisted gossip. I have left people and places when I did not want to, and watched many prosper with what I felt were lesser gifts, may God have mercy on that thought.

But, but, but, the sense and belief in that risen Savior, who told broken Peter, to confess his love, and to follow Him. That has sustained and strengthened me, and through it all, kept me singing and hopeful and happy.

He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed. God bless you all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Chihuly

The 40 ft Saffron Tower, done in bright neon, is one of the most spectacular parts of the exhibit. The boat of balls seems a bit out of place but displays the artists incredible ability to create colors and shapes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dale Chihuly at the Phoenix Botanical Garden

We finally made it to see the Chihuly glass blown art exhibit in the midst of the desert flora and fauna. What an amazing display of creativity using shapes and colors to imitate the beauty of the desert landscape. Everyone was in a festive mood with special events and mixed beverages being consumed. This thing is a total sell out every week, especially the 4 pm till closing time, obviously because you get to catch the magic hour in photography and then the illumination around, through and even withing the sculptures creats an interplay of light that I know I will remember for the rest of my life. And the camera equipment people had, from cell phones to professional gear. Everyone wants to take home visual reminders of this unique event. I took 160 pictures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We bow down??

-I have been on a journey that took a significant turn for me in 1994 when I realized that the organization in which I had placed by hopes and dreams had no help for me in the midst of a crisis. I found out they shoot their wounded soldiers...so I became a non denominational minister. I had no group, no affiliation, no set of common leaders to follow, no magazine to read, no career ladder to follow.

There followed a period of healing, and struggle. I began attending the church of a minister whose gentleness and welcoming spirit gave us a place to sit and evaluate.
The struggle part was, of course, about money. How does a minister who quit a situation pay his bills?

This is an odd way, not of bringing my readers,(O ye few, and faithful??) to tell you that this independence of thought has been quite liberating, and has led to liberating thoughts in many many areas of my life. A moderation if you will, a willingness to listen to peoples struggles, backgrounds, stories... a third way, a middle road.

So, I am willing to think that a mix raced American, raised for a while in a Muslim country, might just instinctively bow to a Muslim dressed in tradition Muslim Formal attire. It might be radically against my own traditions and culture, but I still remember those early days of my conversion when I purposely wore shorts and a T shirt to evening service to see if I would be despised by the wealthy Presbyterians in our downtown congregation, dressed in Suits, even in the evening service. The vitriolic obsession of Sean Hannity is turning my stomach, and I am still a very conservative republican type. So we are locked in a fight about whether or not we are a "Christian" Nation. And, sometimes the Christian hatred of Christians defending our Christian nation......well....it makes me feel all alone again.

Newt Gingrich reminded Hannity that George W Bush both bowed and kissed the same rich oil leader. Please, let's watch our tone and our vitriol in this public discourse.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Palm Sunday Worship

Easter marks another anniversary at my church, finishing six years, starting seven. How quickly the years fly by, a day at a time. I have enjoyed living in an active retirement community. Its different. We lose some things that living in a regular neighborhood may have, but we gain things as well. An almost college like campus with many opportunities to visit and see people. Endless clubs that bring people together.
Walking paths, inexpensive breakfast and lunch in the grill, swimming pools maintained by others.

We have a joint choir with handbells on Palm Sunday. Very beautiful. They work hard to play and sing together. Traditional worship is good, so much less confusing than trying to stay on a cutting edge thats always shifting. I am blessed with simplicity and abundance. I noted that the healing of Malchus slashed ear was Jesus last healing, and the warning about living and dying by the sword.....how prophetic was our Saviour.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What really counts

Our friend Don wanted my Laura to see his home this evening.He is really keeping it up well as a widower, I think to honor his wife and the things they bought together. He's a joker and a kidder and a crazy sports fan, like most of us in this blessed country, but a large part of his heart goes to the ministry of Joni and Friends because of his wifes struggle with MS.

What Joni, who is my age, has done with her life and injury is so inspirational, so deeply helpful.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Easter Thoughts 2009

I have come to believe that Christianity is good news for everyone. Really! Colossians tells us that the ordinances which were against us were nailed to the cross, and in II Corinthians we are told to be ambassadores of Gods announcement of reconciliation, "that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against us." Why? Because Christ died under the law and ended the law covenant for all of Adam's race. This is good news for sinners. This is not a law covenant, not a performance covenant. It does implore people to believe the announcement, and therefore enjoy the relationship with a God who is not angry. Really, He's not.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I need a third place

One of the most consistently challenging and amazing bloggers I read weekly is Richard Beck at Experimental Theology. He is always testing some idea that blends the most delicious aspects of human behavior with Christian truth.

His latest series deals with our loss of places to meet and talk. Something Twitter seems to be trying to help, but honestly, I have no interest in it. What I realized that I want is a bar like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

My father loved coffee shops. Whereever we lived Dad would find fellowship with the guys at the cafes. Some of my favorite memories of my Dad where in those places. I remember Grimes Restaurant in Troy Alabama, and finally, in Pensacola, the local McDonalds. We had a coffee shop in Queen Creek that was distinctively Christian and just closed for lack of sufficient income to keep it open. Sad.

We actually have a breakfast and lunch place in our country club where this happens, I just happen to be about a decade too young to feel comfortable there. Read Richard Beck....and I am going looking for that place.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Easter Bokeh

I am learning photography catch words. Bokeh is the fuzzy background created by having a short depth of field. In my truth telling I try to focus in on something to deepen our understanding of Easter. This year Palm Sunday will focus on the moment of Jesus arrest. All four gospels dramatize and reveal a different detail about the panicky defense of Jesus from the soldiers, and Peters whacking off Malchus ear. OUCH! and the healing touch of Jesus, the last healing in scripture. Never have done this, never heard anyone doing this. I am excited.

So many years preaching and living with the Christian year revolving around Christmas and Easter that I confess it is hard for me to get "up" in a special way for the High Holy Days. I live with the truth, and love the truth, but I struggle to feel especially moved during the holiday.

Part of the problem is the extra efforts we feel must be made to make it special. Or just the fact that there are only so many ways to say, "Christ rose again from the dead". Then, usually, and I believe this will happen again this year, some moment, some song, some idea hits me and makes it all hallowed and special again.