Monday, June 29, 2009
I meet Christians all the time who are convinced that the Lord holds parking spaces and green lights for his loved ones, that he spends all His time personally protecting us and arranging just the right appointments.
I am not convinced that it works that way, but here is what I want to share that I learned in those first four years of ministry. In some mysterious way, your strengths and weaknesses get tested by the circumstances of your life. Certain personalites will challenge you and some tests you will flee or fail, only to find a similar challenge somewhere else dealing with the same issues.
Byron Katie has a self help book with a name and message I appreciate. "Loving what is". My first ministry would have succeeded longer and my life would have changed in many ways if I had learned to accept what I was working with instead of falling into a dreadful trap of despondence which was triggered by the following lament. "Is this all there is to the ministry????" I wish I could go back and talk to that semi disillusioned young man and tell him to calm down and relax, to not take personal criticism as the end all of effective ministry. The anvil was fashioning me, and the pain caused me to jump off the altar.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This calligraphy was a gift from a college girlfriend. It does not balance on the board but I love that verse and read it every day. After all, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
One of the first challenges I faced in the ministry was a realization of where I lived. When I moved to small town Mississippi and began to visit and experience life among those families, I realized that as I went through my education I really lived in a small microcosm of life, and not life itself. I lived in High School Culture, College Culture, Seminary Culture, all with people my own age and general interests.
Finally I was in a town, and the values and culture of rural Mississippi made me begin to feel like a stranger in a strange land. There was much good about it, but for the first time in a long time, ie. 9 years I was with Christians for whom the church was a small part of life, not around Christians preparing for vocation for whom Christ was life. It seemed like many of my parishioners were just going through the motions. One of my professors had warned us that in our first pastorate the people would change us more than we would change the people. He was right. Hopeful, passionate young preacher wants to revive the church, and finds most people too busy living. I would learn to look for God using me in smaller ways, and eventually learn to love what is, while keeping an eye on what could be.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The 16 year old in the picture is about to have an encounter with the Living Christ, who left the pages on his RSV Bible he got in 3rd grade, and with unhurried pace, the Hound of Heaven would use friends, circumstances and time to bring that boy to a life changing awareness that Christ was his Lord and Savior. It became real in time on June 27, 1967. Some moment that evening he received an impression that he should spend his life telling of this Christ.
Plans began to change, he chose a Christian College, a Theological Seminary, he grew and had ups and downs spiritually, he worked, he studied, he played, he dated and married, and the man stood before a congregation, knelt down and had hands layed upon his head and shoulders, and made a holy vow to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ with all his talents and abilities, and to be faithful to live a life in accordance with the doctrine he professed. This was the evening of June 27th, 1976, exactly nine years later. I did not make that connection right away, but I have always marked that date with thanksgiving and reflection. Tomorrow marks then the 42nd year of being in Christ, and the 33rd year of being a pastor/teacher.
I am not famous, have written no books, lived my life on a small stage, but how absolutely precious and constant and wonderful it has been to know the Lord through His indwelling spirit, and to love the Father whom He revealed. And the service, the relationships, the family dynamics, the trials, the blessings, the crushings, the mountaintops, have all been part of the journey He had for me. How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me.....to God be the Glory, to God be the Glory.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I don't remember who first observed this but we have found it remarkable. The personalities that marked my generation. Ed, Farrah, Micheal. I don't have much to add to all the talk, except to say that each of these folks suffered from the hard truths about celebrity in addition to the benefits.
This post marks a first as well, as I am composing it by the pool as I watch my granddaughter. I am trying out WWAM, which I have no idea what it stands for, but it means total connectivity anywhere with my laptop. I am hoping it is the solution for our churches needs for faster internet connection. We have four computers at work between my home and office, who would have ever thought it.
Speaking of music, Gabriel Redding is the drummer for the Redding Brothers, a fine young man with a heart for the world. He is undertaking a 40 day bike ride across the country to raise money for Multiple Schlorosis Research. I am making a pledge. He and his brothers played at the last two Presence Conferences and are very talented in writing and playing and harmonizing. See GabrielRedding.com for details.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
My lovely wife and I enjoy using the word Chachskie. It is defined as a small tricket or toy or gadget that brings joy. We have noticed how people enjoy putting statues in their yards in retirement communities. Well, we found Chachskie heaven in Gila Bend on our trip last week.
These are also the first pictures I took with my new Canon 50mm 1.8 Fixed lense. For non hobbyists the 50 mm lensed was pretty much the standand lense on 35 mm cameras. Now with the new digital systems it becomes 80 mm, like a small portrait lens. But this lense has the reputation for producing real sharp images, which everyperson smart or dumb enough to spend a thousand bucks for a camera desires.
So, what better subject for color and sharpness than sleeping pigs and Jesus on the Cross???? By the by, I read a review of a recent book that contends that the crucifix, ie. Christ suffering on the cross, did not exist in Christian art until 1000 AD....the implication was that the first millenial church followed a risen Christ and celebrated an empty tomb, as should we. Anyway, enjoy the photos.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
When I was in Junior High I entered a neighbors house to collect newspaper money, and she showed me her prized possession, the couch used in Gone With The Wind at the foot of the stairway in Rhett and Scarletts big house. Cool.
In Little Rock the folks told me I had to go see Pughs Mill, which was actually a non working replica of a working mill built in 1888. The Replica was built in 1932, which makes it pretty old....and it has become a local site for weddings, photos and quiet visits. It was visually stunning....and was featured during the opening credits in Gone With The Wind. I need to watch GWTW again when I find 3 plus hours, but frankly, my dear...I don't give a.......! Just Kidding, I love that movie, and I'm not just whistling dixie.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Double Click on these.
When Roger and Sherrian took us to see Dale Chihuly on display I realized that I spent all my time taking the whole sculpture. I determined if I ever got close to one again I would take a closer look, as I notice other real photographers did. So here is the Clinton Piece with some stunning close ups of the depth of color in a seemingly white work.
I also posted some of my favorite pics on my google photo site here. Take a look. put this in your browser.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Our last vacation day was spent in a cold foggy overcast climate, we toured the famous Hotel del Coronado, The Dell, as they prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the comedy Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis, who will be speaking. Also saw some statures honoring the characters of Dr. Seuss.
The Afternoon was spent aboard The Midway, the longest used of our major aircraft carrier class, 47 years at Sea, including Four wars. Anyone serving on these floating cities is giving up a lot and living in the most cramped and difficult circumstances to get those planes where they needed to be. Met some great veterans, very inspirational.
Drove home today, over a thousand miles for the week, and over a thousand pictures which will capture the joys of the week for years to come.
Friday, June 19, 2009
The San Diego Zoo shows many improvements since we visited three years ago, new trails, a new Elephant habitat. Lots of walking, whiny kids. I am impressed by what a great effort is made to care for the animals and to educate the zoo goer about the species, the conservation efforts and to create such a lovely place to spend a day....and crowded too.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
No beach time today, we went downtown and the kids and I went to the Library and the book sale we enjoy there each year, lunch on the pier...a tradition...and the beach to watch and photograph a sunset. Tomorrow we break camp here and spend the day at the San Diego Zoo, one of the best in the country. Looking forward to a day of taking pictures of kids and animals.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Spent the morning at San Jaun Capistrano Catholic Mission, one of the oldest buildings in California. The summer flowers are in full bloom and maintained by local horticulturists. My photo log reminds me we were here three years ago yesterday.
The History of the mission is a tragedy. Opened, taken over and militarized and secularized while the locals suffered and lost their land. Abraham Lincoln restored it to the church just before he was killed. Then in 1812 during a service a powerful earthquake collapsed the cross shaped church killing 40. The restoration work is well worth your trip.
Went to the beach in the afternoon and battled the encroaching waves of high tide and a rock squirrel begging for food.
The beach renews us. We find our spot, set up our umbrella and chairs, and watch and listen for a connection to years past, to our own youth, as we watch the sun worshippers, the sand castle builders, the wave riders. The rhythmic pounding of the waves in sets, little, bigger, biggest. We walk the beach, picking up jelly beans, the little blond rocks we enjoy. I found a perfect sand dollar which did not survive the trip home. Our grandchildrens' laughter is our laughter, their wonder and discovery are ours as well. San Clemente has a place in our family memories.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I have my first airport disaster story, along with thousands of others. The weather around the south caused many canceled flights in Denver Int. Airport. United was to pick me up at 8 and home by 10 last night. Instead we departed at 3 am and I was home at 5:30, with a short nap before a 400 mile drive to San Clemente we we are tonight. Sunday it was 90 and humid and sticky in Little Rock, At noon today we were in Yuma, 105 and dry hot, and on the beach 65 and cloudy and cold.
I bought the relatively inexpensive but highly touted Canon 50 MM 1.8 Lens and tonights is the first picture with this new lens. The sharpness and color saturation are stunning, double click for a view of one of our favorite places, the Pier in down town San Clemente, CA.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I worshipped this morning at Indian Hills Church, the hosts of our Presence Conference, the fellowship was great and the music very well done. I was invited to a noon home group for lunch, thank you dear friends for wonderful conversation centering on the inclusive love of God.
After lunch, I toured the Clinton Library and relived the years from 1992 to 2000 through pictures and exhibits. Loved looking at all the gifts they got including a Chihuly glass sculture that was beautiful. I now sit at the airport waiting to go home to my family and head off to San Diego for a week. Its good.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I had to see this. Little Rock Central High School The place where in 1957integration efforts exploded and revealed that the deep division between races that marked our history had not ended with the Civil War. We knew that and still know it.
Just four years after this my family left upstate New York for South Alamaba and I was immersed in the struggle, hearing words and attitudes being taught that I was unfamiliar with in my upbringing, feeling hatred well up in my own heart as I learned to use the "N" word to be accepted with my new friends. Deep inside I knew it was so wrong to do this.
The National Park Service preserved the corner gas station to record the history of those three weeks and on the 50th Anniversary expanded the museum to a nice sized exhibit. The pictures and words and violence still move me deeply. I needed a hair cut yesterday, and their I was in Little Rock, getting trimmed by a black woman. We talked about her family and her dreams and we blessed each other, which is part of my dream for every single day, to show someone I accept them and love them because God loved and accepted me.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Once a year I attend a study or learning conference. Indian Hills Church is hosting the 21st Annual Presence Conference this year. Over ten years ago as a result of the Y2K hoopla I studied and changed my views of the end times. I have been greatly blessed by fulfilled or covenant eschatology. Presence has been studying these things longer than I and I am challenged by the teaching and conversation here.
Little Rock is a nice sized town with the Arkansas River defining the city and some nice hills and trees unlike my new home in the desert, and sweet southern women with the gift of hospitality making the out of town guests feel comfortable. I enjoy driving around and learning how to find things I need in a strange city.
I reconnected with my best high school friend who lives in Pine Bluff. We played basketball together and drove past the homes of those girls we were hoping would pay attention to us as we fished and played our way through high school. He has become a successful banker overseeing the trusts and assets of his bank. True friends are friends forever, we picked up where we left off and shared our lives. It was good.
Monday, June 8, 2009
We painted our front door this week...ruby red. I am leaving for Little Rock Ark. to attend the Transmillenial annual Conference. The following week we will be in San Clemente CA for a few days of beach time, our fourth year in a row. and a couple more in San Diego. 80 degree weather is a treat for us. I will blog if I am able.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Our chapel is advertized for weddings, and I am asked a good bit to officiate. It is a thrill when young people believe in vows and marriage. I hope and pray the absolute best for Taggart and Kimberly.
Congrats to Jade upon her retirement. Attended a lovely party in her honor tonight.
Tomorrow we celebrate a long missionary support relationship with Lucy from Manila Philipines. Many people know the Lord and the truths of Christianity through her efforts in jail ministry, student outreach and church planting with leaders through Source of Light Ministries.
Friday, June 5, 2009
The above title is a play on a country song, I think. It allows me to share what I did on my Friday off and to thank the Lord for allowing my wife to be blessed with some new furniture.
6am-8am Fellowship with Jim and his son
8:30 Norwood Furniture delivers two chairs, a couch and an ottoman. Our 20 plus year old furniture is cat scratched beyond repair. I never had to heart to have them declawed and we paid a price. Plans are being made to combat the problem....I will keep you informed, any advice appreciated short of throwing a bag of cats into the lake.
10-2 Golf, wrestling with continuing swing problem but fun was had and wind and overcast kept it cool.
3-5 Watching my golf buddy Jack the painter work on turning our front door Ruby red to finish the exterior paint job we did last year. Ruby Red looks too pink for my taste. pics to follow.
6 pm A wedding rehearsal for a lovely young couple and their friends from the Globe Miami area of Arizona. Those Arizona mining towns are historic and fun to visit.
8 PM The Phoenix Symphony has taken a 17% pay cut for three years...sad, and they wowed the crowd with songs from the OO7 Movies. They had a Bond impersonator do a piece using cell phone tunes, a cellphonist..! It was fun and Brian, our son visiting from NYC got to be with us.
Another great day in paradise.
We enjoyed a delightful evening at the Golden Buddha Restaurant last evening. The Center provides stores and access to Chinese products through a large grocery and smaller retail stores, and several restaurants, along with a Chinese Garden that shares various parts of their cultural history.
I do wish we would think about the commonality of all peoples and the influences of other cultures upon our own. Given the amount of American debt held by China, we should be respectful and careful in our relationships with their government.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
When Christ called us to be together to worship, learn and serve, every Christian develops a passion for the church. How shall she function, what are her marks?
Why does my church not look and feel like the vision of Christ and the New Testament?
As a child of a five hundred year old reformation I have been immersed all my life in thinking about and attempting to lead in the church.
I believe along with many others, that we are in the early stages of a new reformation. Thoughtful younger people are wondering, hoping and experimenting with old and new models of doing ministry in a body.
Last evening a few men gathered to ask my advise and to share a hope of a more missional type of fellowship. Not sitting and soaking and being entertained, but learning to follow while helping real people with real needs, the elderly, the poor, the young caught in confusion and addiction. It was inspiring and different than what I am sure took place under those beautiful steepled sanctuaries of my upbringing. It's a return to people sitting across from each other and in circles, and a conscious walking away from pews all facing the professional speaker....now, I am one of those, and I am ready to applaud all those efforts to recover the methods and manners of Christ in a way that will reach this and the next generation.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Watching "UP" brought back a great memory. In college I was road tripped with six other guys as part of a club initiation. Awakened at midnight, searched for hidden quarters, dumped beside a country road two hours from school, left to our own resources to figure out how to get home.
Mike had a bad leg and had hidden quarters in the cane tip. He jumped into a barbed wire fence when the first car passed and we did not want to spook them and sent everyone into the ditch. We nursed him and began walking and thinking our way home.
We walked and laughed and tried to figure out where we were. Near dawn we walked into Port Gibson, Mississippi and saw the above steeple. Its the pointing finger steeple of the Presbyterian Church. I really believe God helped us that weekend and the shared trial made us close brothers in the fraternity, and whenever I am lost, the first thing I do is......look up.
I had to sneak off to see this one. As a pastor to seniors any movie with a 78 year old star is important. Having read a positive review in Christianity today I knew what I was about to see but needed to see it for myself. Like all Pixar movies it had lots of speed and action and heroics and a bad guy, and funny characters.
I loved the softness of the artwork this time, there was no attempt to make these characters look really human, the angular jaw of the old curmudgeon served to accentuation the stiffness and intractability of old age.
It was the theme that drew me. Life is full of disappointments, and unrealized dreams, but in the end, the real adventure, the real dream is human love and relationships. I was not dissapointed.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I remember when we were a young family the only vacation that would fit in our budget was the Grandparents. Laura's mom had a large home on the gulf coast which became our base for relaxing, going to the beach, playing golf. They were good times. My parents retired in a manufactured home on a High School campus where they served as part of the security team in return for free utilities. This enabled me to use the practice ball field to bang golf balls around, and we loved all the beauty of Pensacola Florida.
With the passing of our parents and the emptying of our nest our vacations over the last ten years have changed. We are spending a week in San Clemente Ca and San Diego. San Clemente is a lovely beach town, with well maintained beaches, a charming pier where many gather to watch the sunset each evening. At the end of the week we are going the San Diego Zoo and the Harbor Area, always fun. If you have never spent a few hours at Seaport Village you have missed a treat.
Before that I return to the south to a Southern City I have never visited. Little Rock Ark, for my second Transmillenial conference. I am looking forward to time away. I look forward to more photo hunting, a very enjoyable hobby.
My time share company has been of no help in any of this. Liar lair pants on fire.