Hawaii 2010

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For all its worth

The Bible should be read for all its worth. A friend overheard a comment at a Bible Study this week in which the women announced her belief that "you know" who is the Anti-Christ. I am not going to put the statement in print. They had scriptural proof.

I remember when it was Kennedy and then Kissinger; This kind of Bible reading has to diminish.

I am reading two excellent books on scripture that are so solid and helpful that I will be sharing some points. Book #2 is about scripture as spirituality. The author used an intriguing phrase that helps to describe part of my journey with the word in the last decade.

"The Text in Travail" He is describing the development of the story and the honesty in which scripture shows God's people violating the very tenets of wisdom that were to set them free. God functioning in a punitive manner while describing his true gracious character. We cannot therefore approach the text as if it is a blueprint or a collection of facts with none being at odds with any other. We see the good, bad, and ugly in the developing story. We choose to live where God intends us to live, in love, mercy and grace, with the full knowledge of our own failures, and our own three steps forward and two steps backward travail of our souls journey.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Brings a busy schedule

Teach me to number my days, that I may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I am in full preparation mode for the Fall Bible Studies that begin next week. Identical studies on Tuesday Evening and Thursday Afternoon (they never turn out to be identical though). I am in year eight of this tradition, we alternate between old and new testament, so year we are starting with an overview of the wisdom literature in the scripture. Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Job.
There will be an emphasis on decision making and ethics and always a Christ centered conclusion. I am looking forward to it.

A Men's group meets on Wednesday Mornings and the subject is yet to be determined although it will begin with some ideas from Scott McKnight's latest book, The Blue Parakeet, about a how scripture is read and what we are trying to get from our reading and study. So far it is excellent. I want these men who are from different backgrounds to study a particular subject that keeps coming up as a point of contention in our conclusions. What is the will? How much of a role does the will play in salvation? Its the classic Arm. vs. Cal. tension. I think if we can suspend our bias and look as all the relevant scriptures we will grow in our understanding.

If you have never lived in a desert city, we have this tradition of keeping our grass lush and green in the winter, so all over our city, lawns are getting scalped, literally, and tons of dead grass hauled off to landfills, tough times if you are allergic to grass. Then tons of rye seed, a heavenly time for doves and all birds, and a couple of cool nights, (It was 107 yesterday) and wa lah. Beautiful turf everywhere. Laura has two weeks off starting next week, so we are doing some local travel between commitments.

Monday, September 28, 2009

3 favorite Christian Movies

Carmen who blogs at In The Open space-God and Culture has asked me to respond to a meme. Her writing is always anticipated in my reading of favorite blogs.

I have had a long and uneasy relationship with Christian films, partly because it becomes a pressure issue in your church to attend and support the latest Christian movie. I never get who the audience is as we hear a canned evangelistic message, when most of the audience are believers. The acting and production values are often embarrassing, the answers to problems over simplified.

I was moved deeply by The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Booms autobiography of her imprisonment in Nazi Death Camps.

I was emotionally involved by The Ultimate Gift with Abigail Breslin tugging at our heartstrings, and the positive story of a forced life transformation through discipline and love.

I loved the great classics, King of Kings, The Ten Commandments. The Passion of the Christ shocked me and made me very uncomfortable as too many protestants brought young children, the suffering overarched the triump of resurrection imo.

I love movies that make me think about the after life, What Dreams May Come has caused me to have more reflection on heaven than anything I have seen in this decade.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kubili Kondit had a dream

The dream was ignited by her parents who spent their childhood in Africa as children of missionary parents, who gave Kubili an African name and raised her to be a world Christian.

She dreamed of being a pioneer missionary, taking the presence of God in the Gospel of Christ to a tribe no one had reached.

She went to college and learned forest managment, to stay outdoors and in touch. She raised money by taking care of the grounds of several grade schools for several years. She took her missionary training and spent several years in language learning in the many Islanded nation of Indonesia, halfway around the world.

Her father died while she was overseas. Her mother continues to support her dreams.

As of a month or so ago she is in the remote wilderness of the country, zero road access, two months walk to the nearest city,a ninety minute flight to the nearest town, and she and another single women are building the home they will use to reach this tribe of several thousand for the rest of her life, learning a more primitive language, learning to survive in the jungle, and yet, thanks to technology, able to get emails via a solar powered laptop. Amazing in every way. Her dream, her persistance, her faith, and our connection to her.

I think about her each day and pray for her weekly, join me. If you want to be on her mailing list with New Tribes missions let me know.

Right now supplies needed to finish the house are being held in Jakarta for higher bribe payments. Sad how countries strangle their own people with greed. Kubili asked us to pray, and her faith is undiminished. As I said before, she sees these people as precious to God.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

They built it and not enough folks came

"Here is a church, no longer with steeple, open it up and where are the people????"
The website says this church was the vision of a pastor X in 1999, and Dr. Pastor y took over in 2002 and rented a storefront. Construction of this building was done by the same local company that did the building I helped build and complete in 2002.

Doors opened in 2007 right next to our new freeway about a mile from another church at the next exit, which is very seeker sensitive, (they just finished their back to school series on great parenting), and draw several thousand a week.

My Gideon friend told me this church is closing their doors soon. They did not grow as they had hoped and could no longer make the payments. The Pastor is seeking a place back home in the Bible Belt, and if I remember the talk given to me by the banker when we signed for our loan, some banker is really worried about finding someone to pay for this building.

Did they dream too big, borrow too much, stay too traditional, try too hard, get outclassed by the super big churches all around? I have no idea. Like most things I learn in our society, I am kind of sad. I do fear those trying to reach the unreached and hoping for enough givers to make it to the next level, that we have catered to so many felt needs that we have a church hopping crowd here in the East Valley that will always be looking the the next cool thing.

The Church down the street has the same basic theology(baptist)but they did an enormous calling campaign and advertising campaign that was heavily funded by churches in a neighboring state, and they had 800 at their first service and never looked back and never built until they could dazzle with a very nice set of buildings, and 2 years ago had Jesus as the opening speaker for their state of the art worship facility with a coffee bar of course. You remember Jesus....Jim Caveziel, I am told he is a very good speaker.

Tomorrow I begin a series on wisdom, three hymns and two worships choruses, on piano and organ, and wondering whether we will look back on these recent decades as building on sand, and this poor church vision just did not dazzle with sufficient dazzle to get enough butts in the seat to keep it going. Give us wisdom, Lord.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I am not Sedentary

Lots of people are. I have always been active, even though a lot of my work is sedentary. Problem is that even when you are active and move a lot, even regular walking, you still lose muscle tone unless you are in an exercise regime.

If I make it to the gym tomorrow I will have completed a month the trice weekly workouts which contain aerobic and weight lifting. The Tumbleweed Rec Center fits me, full of normal people trying to stay in shape on a budget. Young and old, fat and not so fat.

We also got someones neglected treadmill for our bedroom which we are using on off days to burn some calories. This is all good and I feel better, sleep better, am seeing a pound or two less on the scale, and feel the tone returning in needed muscles.

So why do I have a moment of thinking about not going every time its scheduled? I am glad that I have made it 11, and then 12, and I am reupping for another month.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Dream of a Nuclear Free World

I had a dream last year that was so real I still think about it. I was up on a mountain and saw a nuclear detonation about 10 miles away, I think I was in Tucson, so I take cover behind a large rock and I feel the moment of being pulverized....and I had to wake up to see if I was dead.

Obama spoke on the desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons on a sound bite, and quoted Ronald Reagan on his belief that we should end nuclear weapons. He spoke of the power to destroy masses of people and everything we have built must never happen again.

I googled it and found a NYTimes article that called the President naive and wasting time even thinking in this direction. I always wonder, quite naively, why a nation that calls itself Christian..would not practice the golden rule. Why is peace through strength or speak softly and carry a big stick a better approach to this problem?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photography Flashback

The Cutest Young Wife Ever.

The Canon A1 and AE1 were the most popular slr cameras in the 70s until Canon switched to a new docking mechanism with the EOS Lenses and Cameras. This pristene camera was purchased by a friend now deceased, along with the three lenses from 78 to 80, and would have been the work horse of any vacation photographer until the digital revolution.

I bought a less costly Ricoh SLR when I entered the ministry in 76 and for several years enjoyed recording my new family and my other hobbies. My second son pulled it off a table and cracked the prism, and that was that, back to cheap cameras until last year. I could not have afforded this collection. I bought some Kodak Film today...remember them? Kodak? Film?

The first thing I realized again is that there is an expense and a wait for gratification, which is now intolerable. Nevertheless, I am desiring to test these lens against the quality of the four lenses I bought this year. If you want to pay a price of learning to use the camera manually, these lens can attach to a converter on my Digital.

I have four cameras on my bookshelf as collectors items, two Brownie boxes from early in the century, my Fathers WWII Agfa that brought back his memories from New Zealand and the Phillipines were he was a SeaBee. A Canon half frame used during Vietnam to get twice as many prints per roll, this a gift from a dear friend. I will let you know how my retro photography goes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

398 reasons I am a minister of a new covenant

I entered a Mall recently to take pictures with my SLR like this one, and was kicked out. Apparently they are afraid a man without a family is stealing designer ideas, or taking people pictures without permission. Major Bummer.

Experimental Theology, by Dr. Richard Beck is one of my favorite blogs. The author teaches psychology at Abilene Christian University and has incredible insights into the relationship between Theological truth and psychology. He recently introduced a term that helped me understand one of the constant struggles of pastors. He called it, "folk theology" and was describing the mixture of ideas that Christian pick up along the way and believe are part of the gospel, when in fact they are part of things they heard or things mom said or such a mixture of concepts that are not in fact, good theology.

Most of these have to do with God being extremely sensitive and picky about our actions and ready to lower the boom on us at any moment. Some sins are so wicked you are thereby tainted forever. This relates to my previous post about teen sexuality and about dealing with long term guilt over sexual mistakes.

The more I study, the more important I believe it is to take a hard look at what changed with the new covenant; including the promise of reconciliation as part of the gospel, that God was in Christ, reconciling himself to the world, NOT COUNTING THEIR SINS AGAINST THEM. Folks, let go of your folksy views of God's anger, in the new covenant God employs a new reckoning (accounting) system that enables us to announce as ambassadors the enormous good news of the love of God for sinners. Until our folks drop their fears and really believe God forgives sexual sins, and others, and believe that God loves sinners in Christ, then we are just fishing for the right kind of folks, and not preaching the gospel.... not whistling Dixie on this.

Declaring the grace of God in the new covenant is not encouraging sin, it is offering hope and forgiveness. This is my 398th post, and every one of them, serious or silly is a declaration of the freedom to enjoy this wonderful life and actually live in grace with everyone!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Texas Sage is blooming

I do not know what causes the Texas Sage to bloom. Mostly changes in the weather, and several times a year. Thse hardy bushes can be shaped so beautifully and get so thick and pretty with or without the color. I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with climate change. 20 inches in Georgia with floods, a record breaking hot summer here, and questions about pollution, a clean planet, nothing like politics and the weather to create discussion.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raising the lake level on teen sexuality

I really dislike the practice of taking photos by holding the camera at arms length and trying to get a good picture of yourself. And this weekend Samsung joined them rather that fighting them by creating a camera with video on both sides.

This is related in my mind to the ongoing discussion of teen sexuality and abortion.
Christians really feel like providing birth control is ceding ground to the enemy and abstinence is our only counsel.

The statistics on teen sexuality are not encouraging on the abstinence message. I have a deep sadness about the damage done to those who feel their popularity depends on being cool and being hooked up with a popular guy. I have a serious anger at any young man who sees his sexual exploits as a sign of accomplishment. I hope we can show enough acceptance to the young girls who become victims in this sad situation, (no, I will not change that word, the issue of whether sex feels good to all involved rather briefly or not, committed or not does not remove the burden that girls bear in this issue.)

I once knew a woman who had a shotgun wedding, as we called it in the south, and even though she and her husband has been married over 50 years, and even though the offspring of this union had accomplished enormous success in career....the guilt this woman was unable to resolve affected her most of her life, and something is wrong with that.

Sex, drinking and drugs, accidents are the stuff of youth, and somehow those of us past that stage need wisdom and compassion to deal with whatever happens, and a church that does not shun its affected teens. I learned a phrase from a terrific couple this summer when they spoke of the ups and downs of raising teens, particularly the downs...... "Its the page they are on....lets deal with it"

How to like youth culture

"These rotten kids today, why, in my day this kind of thing never happened" Excuse me, sir, ma'am but you're lying, or suffering from a selective memory.

The things young people do have always happened in every generation. They experiment and stretch to find out about this world and who they are. They test the limits, try the things they are told to avoid. This is youth.

You can love youth culture by realizing that every teenager will find something to say, wear, put on their body or hair that will seriously irritate their parents. Its a right of passage. With us it was the length of our hair or our skirts, it was bell bottom pants and tie dyed shirts, it was peace symbols and marijuana.

You can love youth culture by remembering that God has already laid a claim to their hearts and minds by becoming sin for them and reconciling them to the Father in a new covenant of love and grace. You can see their rebellion as a search for truth and a rejection of things they already see as phony in their culture. You can believe that the sins they commit will be part of the plan to get them to the end of themselves. You can believe that the limits you put on them will help them in the long run but in the short run they are not interested in listening.

You can remember the sins of your youth and how silly you acted and looked, Pops.

You can pray for the level of culture to rise, especially if they hit a strain of destructive behavior like many of the things threatening our youth. But if you do it with condemnation and judgmentalism and your own selective self righteousness, if you try to limit the things that normal kids do to feel different from their parents, you might hasten or prolong the behaviors.

Fashion is fashionable and constantly changing, music fits each generation, knowledge expands, your kids know and use things that baffle you, get used to it, laugh about it, appreciate it, and, with the mind of Christ, continue to see Him speaking to each generation as He promised He would.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can you reach someone you do not like?

Thanks to J.R Briggs for this pic and his article God in the Docks

Three things I read last week came together for this post. Our Sunday bulletin had a history insert about Adoniram Judson's letter to the father of his bride describing the heathens they were going to reach and how a few might be snatched from Hell, but most will not. He waxed eloquent about how rotten these natives were.

Kubili Kondit, a young single missionary with New Tribes Mission is now living her dream of reaching unreached tribes in Indonesia, She shared some stories about a man who was feared killed by the family of a bride he was seeking to purchase in another village, and the joy in finding them both home and alive, and some sad picture of a starving child they were able to save, and she ended with these words, I thank God I am among these precious people. Its more than seeing Christ in them, she sees the best in their culture.

J.R. Briggs posted a powerful illustration of a Florida lake home surrounded by docks that no longer have any connection with the falling water level, and that almost no one did anything to make them useful again, and no one thought of making a dock that floats on the water and would thus always be useful. He likened the water to our present culture and the dock to the church erected to reach the culture, and our failure to reach and connect with the culture. Thus my question, can we reach a culture we do not like, or one we despise and call rotten heathens? This from a guy who came of age in a culture that was despised by our own sets of parents and elders.

I doubt it!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back to the Future, gratefully

Our little collection of photos are precious instruments to prove I am on a journey of learning and relationship and experience. The visual stimulus gives me an momentary connection to the person I was when the picture was taken. This was less than ten years from the previous picture, and I have packed so much into the high school and college experience.

This warm day in May was our College graduation in 1972. Everyone in this picture is gone save Sarah on the right. My mom and dad we so proud their son had a degree. Alex and Sarah were the pride of their hardworking german immigrant parents. Alex's Dad worked on the Skyline of Ft. Lauderdale in contruction while Gwen took care of premies at the local Hospital. Alex would only have five more years before a birth defect took him out of this world. The first time I drove down to stay with the Beck's at Spring break I developed the most intense crush on Sarah. I loved the Beck's, everyone of them.

This is why I believe God is the God of the ages, these precious people exist in the mind and heart of God, their souls resting in His presence until the restoration of all those things. This is why I occasionally flip through my photo library, not a maudlin sentimentalism, but a brief refreshment, a reminder to be grateful for every joyful day, every thought that brings personal growth, every day I awake to His fresh mercies. Preserve your families story, share it when you can, its all good.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Junior High Growth Spurt

We lived in Alabama from January of 1961 til June of 1965. Middle of fifth grade til the end of ninth. I have some of the most wonderful memories of those years. Biking, skating, the beginning of the skateboarding era, basketball, baseball, horseback riding, camping, swimming, the local pool hall, motorcycles, fireworks, the beginning of flirting...all the things that make junior high so pivotal in the growing up process.

I grew 7 inches in those four years to six feet. Here was one of our Sunday we are going to church pictures. Dig the fake napkin in the pocket, the white socks showing how quickly the pants got short in those years, and I think, my first efforts to let the hair grow and tackle the cowlicks on my head. My sisters will no doubt have thoughts about their own garb that Sunday.

It was a very segregated society, our schools, their schools, our part of town to shop and their streets, our restaurants and theirs. Other than our ironing maid we borrowed from a neighbor when my mom went to work to help with laundry I never knew or spoke to any black person my own age unless being served in some way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birth Order Blues

You thought I was kidding about my mom's picture taking abilities?!!

I am the fourth of four, the third post war child, and I grew up with three sisters.
Judy on the right, the prewar child, left for college when we moved south and she just reminded me of those brief summers she spent with us before she entered her teaching career and child rearing. Linda, also had a teaching career, Janet,moved around in ministry and has worked in administration for a long time.

What happens when you are the last and only boy. Well, I slept in some odd places at times, corners of dining rooms, because very few houses came with four bedrooms at our income level. I heard a lot of girl talk and was a alone alot, at least it felt like it. All in all we enjoyed our life and did the best we could with school and life where ever we lived. Mom and Dad had high school educations and all the kids got college degrees and beyond. I have thought often about the dynamics of my father's work history and how it affected each of us. What would have happened in my development had we not picked up and moved south when I was eleven?

Is my zipper halfway down or was it a zipper blowout. I never paid enough attention to my clothing. Each of those pieces of furniture, the old upright radio, the wall fixtures bring emotional reactions when I see them. I love capturing history in pictures, too bad that slides were so prone to getting fungus when stored in humid places.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More of My Memories of Morris the Minor

Can a young man who drives a car to high school with the name of Morris Minor, be a major popular guy? I doubt it. Believe it or not, the first day of my junior year I drove to my brand new High School, and had a wreck in the parking lot. I backed out of my space and hit a car and bent my bumper sideways.

Other highlights, endless driving for very little petrol, mostly passing the homes of girls I was crushing over. A date to a drive in movie where my date spilled a 32 ounce coke on herself in the tight space. Losing control rounding a curve and climbing a bush between a pole and a pole wire, (considered miraculous at the time) then my friend Dicky and I lifted the car off the bush and skeedadled (considered a non miraculous but effective way to avoid trouble in the deep south), when the homeowner called the cops. Feeling the seat sink and discovering the floor of the car had rusted through.

The summer I went to Camp Alpine my sister Janet removed my racing stripe and put flower stickers all over the car. What an embarrassing end for my Dad's toy! We sold the car to the teenage kids of the then Governor of Mississippi. I counted once, since that first car I have driven or owned or been gifted with, about 20 vehicles, but you never forget the first, not a minor memory, but a major one.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My First Car

Well, I am clearly in need of some lighter moments. Please blogging friends travel back in time with me to delve into my cache of rescued slides from my mom's Kodak collection. Its a wonderful testimony to her ability to misframe a shot. In this case my 12 year old face.

What I see is an early predilection for holding tummy fat....a family curse, and my Dad's play car, snagged from who knows where the summer of 63. Its a British car, a Morris Minor. Same class as the Volkswagen but front end engine, and we loved it. It sat four comfortably and had a tight four speed stick shift.

When you learn to drive with a stick you have a life long romance with shifting. I would later incur the wrath of my wife for buying a stick shift Saturn which paralyzed her on every incline in our city for four years.

I would also, because of the heritage and love of my dad, buy a lot of cheap cars trying to recapture the Morris Minor spirit for my own kids. I owned a Austin Marina, great British car, worn out, zero parts available, which died an ignoble death due to a frozen and cracked block.

Please understand, I did not inherit the car until I got my license at 16, moved from Troy Al, to Jackson Ms, and gave it a cool paint job and a racing stripe.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Its always complicated

Hearing some of the stories of 9/11 reminds me how many stories intertwine in life. The good and bad and just and unjust and miraculous and mundane.

Learned today that the money for the widows of 9/11 was a mixed blessing as people made claims they did not deserve and firefighters left their wives to marry new millionaire widows of their station buddies. Just one more reminder that we must live by faith and not by sight, and trust the One who can unravel all the various threads of our complicated life.

Trust...... trust, trust trust trust the promises of God.

Pray.......pray with the faith God gave you.

Live......each moment is a gift, each friendship a privilege, each day part of a journey of love and life.

Keep it simple when it gets complicated.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

With profound sorrow and sincere remembrance

Today I am ending my current emphasis on recompense. I have been thinking about victims. 9/11/01 will remain one of the most calloused murder/suicides in modern history. I am mourning their loss for their families, praying for their healing and welfare, and praying for peace and the restoration of humanities hope. Valuing human life, and working toward the relief of human suffering.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Maggie McDonald, could it be true?

So young, so long ago. What took your life? Where you healthy and took sick suddenly?
It must have broken your parents hearts. You are way up front in a Cemetery high up in the New Mexico Mountians, an almost forgotten church in the middle of the harsh western lands. There is no one here to tell me your story, your parents and brothers and sisters are long gone, as are their children and their children. People pass your resting place to camp and see Indian Cliff Dwellings.

Is God's hard drive big enough to hold Maggie McDonald in His arms. She could not have had a very developed faith, I can't be sure she even knew how to read, I have no idea if they believed in an age of consent back then.

Are you any different than that child that ran out to pick up fish in Indonesia when the wave returned and swallowed you up? Are you any different that the children playing in the Oklahoma City Federal Building on that fateful day.

Are you any different that the 3 year olds Herod slaughtered to persecute the Christ child? No, you are not, and yes He is able to hold us in His Arms. I think about victims of hard times, violence, envy and intrigue, war and famine. Lord have mercy, remember the little ones, the forgotten ones. Give them life and love and experiences of beauty at the restitution of all things.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The hope of the future gives strength for the present

I have been making a bit of a deal about risk, pain, accident and disease from IICor 5. Paul realized that his missionary work was physically dangerous and had caused him to be near death a number of times, including many who desired to harm him.n
Paul does not teach an invincible Christian, but a recompensing God. I have found too many situations where people feel abandoned by God with a job loss, or sickness, or someone comes out on the bad end of a swindle, or is cheated, or robbed. Our prayers for rescue are not always answered. God's purposes, justice, and recompense are on the other side of that judgment seat of Christ. That's comforting and good news.

Late August, early September, I start thinking about the victims of the weather and the human loss of 9/11. I want to think about other places in the world where children suffer, and do my part to bring kingdom compassion to those dark places.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Relaxation

Kierland Commons today with Laura. You know you are in Scottsdale when all the cars are luxury, and the strollers have dogs in them. One of the nicest Apple Stores I have seen.

This evening an exclusive viewing of The One and Only starring Rene Zellwegger. Not a romance, but a ride through the 50s America as a family survives and grows. Great conversation starters all through the movie.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

There's a Hole in the World Tonight

My friend Tim King introduced me to this Eagles song this summer at the Transmillenial Conference. I bought their greatest hits album to get this song, which they wrote the evening of 9/11/01. I plan to listen to it everyday this week. Their question calls me to ask how I, as a Christian, can influence the world to try nonviolent answers to our spiritual problems. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can out power and out kill the Muslim terrorists. The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. "There's a hole in the world tonight, there's a cloud of fear and sorrow, there's a hole in the world tonight, don't let there be a hole in the world tommorow." There some good You Tubes of this song.

I am weary with memorials to this disaster, I wonder if they don't tear wounds that need healing. I am thankful there is a memorial at Pearl Harbor for me to visit, as there will be one in NYC ground zero and elsewhere. I am spoken out of the subject, except for the Eagles line, "they tell me theres a place over yonder, cool water running through the burning sand, till we learn to love one another, we will never reach the promise land.

Had what we call our youth group over to the house tonight, its a welcoming fellowship for new folks visiting the church. We have great conversation and tonight we watched a few songs from John Tesh Worship at Red Rock. Now they have a collection of the most beautiful praise songs collected and worshipfully done by Tesh and a great worship team. I am currently enjoying MW Smiths Ancient Words.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

To All the Ships at Sea, and all the Ports of Call

20 years ago the neighborhood I live in was being built. They buried the phone lines for asthetic reasons and now its biting us in the asthetic. We have been paying close to 90 bucks a month for a phone line, long distance, and internet service. For the past year we have had wires running to and fro between houses as one after another developed problems.

We had a wire running through our back yard for over four months, then one running through our front yard for three, then they came and dug a big hole in the neigbors yard about 2 months ago and told me everything was OK. And it was, for about 2 weeks, and then it started again. This time they said it was in our house, some sort of short, and for 150 bucks a half hour they would look into it.

So, even though we are old and conservative, we are, like brave young folks, going wireless. Our two cell phones will be our link to the world, a wireless WWAM our link to the internet. Two new gmail addresses to prepare for getting kicked out of AT&T.

They will be donhendricks62@gmail.com and laura.hendricks4@gmail.com. We are porting our home phone number 480-984-1810 we have had for years to Laura's phone so doctors, banks, and occasional republican fund raisers can still find us. Who knows what else I will discover myself locked out of? I do have curmudgeon standards, even though I love all things electronic. I will never twitter, I will not buy an Iphone, a camera phone, and I hate all reality TV shows and have pretty much never wasted a half hour watching one. (Well, there were a few dancing with the stars Laura made me watch.)

Blessings, see you in totally wireless land.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How I ponder the hope of heaven

Dixie, you have been blessed to share your grandparents lives for so long into your adult years. All their life experience, their memories, their faith, will one day be restored to you. When we lose our bodies, out tent, the essence of who we are, our souls enter into rest. Most bible scholars call it the intermediate state when we are in communion with God in our spirit. There is also a good argument that the dead are sleeping, that time truly does give them a disconnect so that we all kind of show up at the next stage together, relatively speaking. Some think we start the party immediately. I'm leaving that part up to God, indeed all of it will unfold as it was taught, and we may have gotten parts of it wrong.

The thing I am sure of is agreement with all those see progress through the eons. Thankfully we are not handed a harp and assigned a cloud and a white robe.

I am not a futurist, which means the whole Armageddon and increasing wickedness scenario were fulfilled in the first century. I have no idea how many centuries this world is going on, or how or when the whole thing ends and the next stage begins. I do know 70 to 80 is the length of our lives barring sickness, accident, or violence.

I believe the followers of Christ and the unbelievers are having some different experiences at this eon, preparing us for the next.

This resurrection we have been discussing, this redemption of the body, will in God's time open up a world, a universe of possibilities and pleasures, pleasures forever more. I think the whole mansion in heaven talk we love, and the cubed apartment complex we see in the charts is nothing more than an image of completeness, like the reality behind the phrase, In His house are pleasures forevermore.

Finally I agree with the idea that this perfected nature and renewed universe will contain all the things that make life here worth living..... love, fellowship, music, reunions, sharing of stories, and God the triune, relational, loving God will be the life and power that sustain it, nourish it, challenge it to keep creating and developing. And I hope, many instant trips to Hawaii and other exotic ports of call. I can only imagine.......now that would make a great line for a song, I would love to hear you sing it this Sunday Dixie. And that is why we make it our desire to please Him in all things.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'll Fly Away????? I Think?????

From Grave to Glory Murray J. Harris 1990 Zondervan Academic

I wish I kept a journal to share the unfolding of this study several years ago. I found some articles by Harris online and was intrigued but found his book out of print. Every couple of months I would search the used Christian Bookstore on Central Ave. Downtown. One day there it was, and I was like a kid in a Candy Store.

Harris was at the time professor of New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He noted that there had not been a serious book written on the subject since the turn of the century and so he embarking on an historical and exegetical examination of the doctrine of resurrection.

His 300 page work is thorough and excellent, yet this edition of the book expands to 478 pages because it includes the controversy that arose when his colleague two offices down, none other than Dr. Norman Geisler, accused him of either being heretical or most certainly unorthodox.

I felt so exited to see these two duking it out theologically right before my reading eyes. This is an evangelical,s thrill, a disagreement between two guys who are both believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and cannot agree on what it says. I get giddy just sharing it again.

What was the issue? According to Harris, Jesus was raised bodily and transformed. Here are a couple of his conclusions.

P. 272
The Christian doctrine of resurrection excludes the view that sees immortality as a disembodied or purely spiritual existence. The Christians desire and destiny is not for release from embodiment but for the redemption of the body through resurrection. Not for the divestiture of the physical body investiture with the spiritual body.

He goes on to affirm that this will not be a transient thing but an immortality, freedom from decay and death because it has the constant invigoration of God’s endless power.

So what was Geislers beef? Here was the question, Was the body that went into the grave and the one that came out of the grave a literal physical body? (Can you see the fighting literal fundy coming out of that question? Murray, a honest scholar said, Yes and No? (Its those yes and no questions that have defined my life}
Ie. Jesus was no longer bound by time and space limitations, but he actually had touchable wounds and actually ingested real fish and bread. (at this point Reeses Cups in heaven pops into my mind).

We must wrestle with a mytery, he says, about the capabilities and capacities of Christ’s resurrection body. Long story short, an actual golfing buddy of mine Dr.John Vawter, after a couple of long meetings, made a motion that affirmed Harris’s orthodoxy. 500 to 10.

Of course Geisler never gave up his suspicions. But for good ole mystery loving me, it meant that God does not have to go to that plastic hole over in the Methodist garden to get some of Bernies DNA or molecular material to give Bernie a resurrection body, or to get Jaws to belch out human remains to find those poor victims, or the nuked bodies at Hiroshima, or the pulverized people of the Twin Towers.

How all this came together for me personally as a pastor/amateur theologian and what I would tell Dixie about her departed loved ones…..next post.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We wrinkle and rot, and He did not

Acts 3 makes a significant point that God preserved the flesh of the Savior in the grave in a miraculous manner. I know from experience that dead bodies decay very quickly. I also had the experience of carrying the ashes of a dear friend in my car for a weekend and watching his dust go into a tube in the ground. A tall man reduced to four lbs. of granular dust. This is part of the reason I flip-flopped a bit when I was thinking and restudying this issue. I put a lot of emphasis on the verse in 2 Cor which says “that which is seen is temporary and that which is unseen is permanent. I was leaning toward a spiritual body with totally new charactaristics.

At the end of the Passion there is a very brief scene showing a puff of wind in the grave cloths of Christ and then his appearance with holes in his hands. The last book I am going to discuss is a fascinating work by L. Murray Harris named From Grave to Glory, which documents his battle to escape a heresy charge by a very popular co teacher in the Evangelical Free Church.

Before I head in this direction I want to show how Randy Alcorn’s book echoed agreement with the physical body, renewed universe hope for our future.

From Randy Alcorn, Heaven
"Any resurrection that leaves our bodies less physical than Adam and Eves or the New Earth less physical than the original earth, essentially credits Satan with a victory over God, suggesting that Satan has permanently marred God’s original creation, intention and design."

Quoting Anthony Hoekema in part,….”the goal of God’s redemption is the resurrection of the physical body, and the creation of a new earth in which his redeemed creatures can live and serve God forever with glorified bodies. Thus the universe will not be destroyed but renewed and God will win the victory.

A sentence or two later a reader of an early draft wrote the following: Because I believed that places did not matter to God I did not want them to matter to me. Because I believed that animals did not matter to God I did not want them to matter to me. Because God only cared about my spirit. I did not let my body matter to me.

Alcorn says and I agree: If I could snap my fingers and eliminate one thought that confuses our understanding of Heaven it would be that the physical world is an obstacle to God’s plan rather than the object of it. He calls that belief christoplatonism.

Finally, it is the issue of the changes in the resurrection body of Christ that became the point of contention in from Grave to Glory. Ie. In the future will I need a plane to visit my favorite place on earth, the Napali Coastline, or can I just sort of think myself there and be there?????? My next post will wrestle with this.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thoughts on Resurrection

Marc and Dixie Vanderslay blog from Canada. I have no idea how I discovered their blogs, I think it was looking at Marc's photos and finding an incredibly wonderful couple whose humor and honesty made me a regular reader. Dixie lost her wonderful grandparents this year. These events, when those we love fall asleep, begin to increase our interest in the afterlife. My best friend died when we were 26, long before I wanted to think about heaven. It has been a lifelong interest. I share my thoughts and recent studies with Dixie with love and respect, knowing she will comfort hundreds with the comfort with which God will comfort her.

2008 saw the release of two significant books on the Resurrection. Randy Alcorn’s Heaven, a pastoral and popular book and N.T Wrights Surprised by Hope, from a more scholarly audience. Previous to these my favorite reads were the deeply devotional and inspiration book by Joni Erickson Heaven Your Real Home, and one more book that deserves its own post.

Some random quotes I enjoyed.

While there is great mystery in the scriptural images of heaven, all these emphasize the fact that we do not remain in a disembodied state, The resurrection demands a physical future of sorts. Wright calls it, Life and Life after Death; referring to Romans 8:9-11 He will give life to your mortal bodies also.

He says heaven is a reverent way of speaking about God’s presence, and though many believe we get our resurrection bodies at death, Wright disagrees, because time matters in a good creation, We should not allow ourselves to be seduced by the language of eternity. As in the phrase eternal life, which in the new testament regularly refers not to a non temporal future existence, but to the life of the coming age. Not imagining as the hymn says, when time shall be no more, No-the old field of space time and matter and the senses are to be weeded, dug, and sown for a new crop. We may be tired of that old field, God is not.

I love it when Wright quotes John Goldingay to the following: God will download our software to His hardware until the time when he gives us new hardware to run the software. There will be continuity and discontinuity involved in this.

Wrights consistent desire to rid the church of the subtle influence of platonic duelism has fueled so much of the recent breakthroughs in my own thinking that I feel the time has come for us to recover a creation spirituality that will improve our enjoyment of the time God gives us in this present world, and more effectiveness in bringing the true Kingdom message to a new generation.

For Joni, her physical limitations have opened doors to ministry untold, but she still rightfully desires to dance, to touch, to move, and thank God she will.