Hawaii 2010

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Coughing Preacher says the "V: word.

This is a picture of one of our mega churches in the area. I try not to be envious and to be content with where God has me.

Laura and I have had a rough winter, cold germ wise. We have caught and shared an almost continual set of head colds, sore throats, chest congestions, and stuffy runny noses.

The fact that she teaches almost 30 first graders has to be a contributing factor, we think, and the fact that on any give week I talk to and shake hands with 100 plus people.

Anyway, I thought I was well again when a strange, persistent, dry cough began about six days ago. I am going to have to get it checked out. I deadened it with Cloroseptic to get through my message this morning. Good stuff.

Some comments, I hope tongue in cheek about me speaking of the women with an issue of blood having a "vaginal" infection. Apparently not a word used in polite Christian conversation. I had forgotten that shibboleth.

Revisiting the women healed by the touch of Jesus Hem allowed me to reflect on the healthcare debate, our dependence upon medical professionals, and how our faith brings Christ into the exam rooms.

It also allowed me to warn about the many false enthusiasms about the faith healing movement and the over selling of divine healing that takes place in much TV and popular teaching. I am alive today because a relatively simple surgical procedure that opened three dangerously clogged arteries. That is miraculous. Could and would Jesus have healed me had my heart attack happened five hours into the woods on a hike? I cannot answer that, but I would have prayed such, and believed such. Do I believe in healing, yes, just not to the level and perfection we see during the Apostolic age, and for many good and clear reasons.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Random thoughts and projects

The young girl in this picture read a touching letter to her great grandmother at her memorial service.

We have three fellowships participating in a building project next month with Amor Ministries in the Rocky Point area. I am looking forward to it.

Our date night was to Pei Wei, which is a very unique restaurant.

My copy of The Deliverance of God arrived today. I can't think of a book I am more anxious to read, even at a daunting 1000 plus pages. I think I am an amateur Pauline Theologian, and Dr. Beck's comments on his reading over at Experimental Theology made me want to join in. It also stands of the shoulders of the Torrence theologians and Trinitarian relational theology which has been setting me free for several years from an inadequate view of God the Father's role in salvation. In any case this is one of the goals I set for this year, to back off a bit on web browsing as a method of learning and return to scholarly reading.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You were always there for us

I have the privilege of conducting funerals and memorial services. When I know the person it is very special. Maxine was part of our Queen Creek fellowship 12 years ago, and I prayed with her a week ago as she neared death. I had done the service for her husband, and her son in law while I served that church. Maxine is also the only person who has ever claimed to have seen an angel standing near me one day when I was leading services. Now I am not about to write a book or start a mega church, but she was sane and serious when it happened.

I loved it when her youngest son said her greatest strength as a mom was unconditional love, of her kids, and of her husband who refused to attend church with her throughout their whole 60 year marriage.

I love looking at the life collages that many are displaying these days, look at Maxine when she was 16 and 86.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hole in the Gospel

This is the title of a recent book by World Vision. This organization is among the top ten ministries helping restore Haiti by sending food, water, health care, and ultimately helping the the long term recovery of the area.

For many decades bible believing churches have wanted to get the gospel to the lost and have them receive Christ as Savior, but we were strangely uninvolved with the whole issue of poverty, gross injustice and the inequities that exist around the world for many reasons.

This is an hole I have been hoping to fill in my own life, and as I have read the reviews of the book want to add it to my reading list. Because our last decade was so marked by huge events that brought great physical and emotional suffering I believe the world and the church are waking up to what God wants us to do with our resources, and even more importantly, with our hearts. If a rising level of the ocean lifts all ships, then we can help other nations and have a vision for the spreading of relief and the giving of hope to the whole world. Lord show us how to fill this hole in the gospel.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three hours a week at Tumbleweed

I am two visits away from completing six months of regular exercise. I am not trying to be narcissistic or proud and puffed up, but the establishment of this routine has had very positive benefits for my overall life. It just like Glen Close who is around 60 and told her Physician father that she had no energy for the Broadway play she is in, according to Sundays insert in the paper, he told her she needed weights and aerobics. Why would an exhausted person benefit from more activity was her thought, but she listened and did it, and he was right.

I am fortunate that a very user friendly recreation center is nearby, filled with flabby, fat, and aging folks....not a showcase for tights, but also full of teen athletes from our local high school a mile away. Anyhow, the time that is working best for me is heading home from afternoon appointments, around 4ish. I walk for 10 minutes to get the heart rate up, stretch the legs and back, go through three sets of a dozen reps on about 15 different tension and weight machines that work the whole gamut of muscle groups, and then do 20 to 30 more minutes getting my heart rate into the fat burning zone, and go home.

I sleep better, think better, move better.....except for tonight when I am awake at 2:30 writing this post. The brain would not shut down this evening. There is this cute lady I have been observing who glides from place to place gracefully, stretching and moving almost like a ballerina, and no one laughs...there are people who have gotten very heavy, on the treadmill, and no one mocks...it is a fellowship of those trying to maintain health and I do not want anything to bring this habit to a halt.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Former longsuffering Saints Fan

Way too much time on the couch, but it was enjoyable. I lived near New Orleans for almost a decade. I watched Archie Manning play at Ole Miss. I watched him play and lose in New Orleans. I am proud of the sons he raised. I was born in Indiana. What I am saying is that I have already won the Super Bowl, happy either way.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Freshness after the Rain

The interplay of clouds and sunlight is a constant moving work of art that lifts me and fills me with amazement. I have had so little new moving through my mind the last few days. It seems so odd to me that we talk about saving healthcare and stopping healthcare reform, and within hours of here a nation is crying out for emergency healthcare of the most basic kind. Thankfully it is coming, and yet the death toll for this one is staggering.

Through it all, as I bring a five month concentration of Biblical wisdom to a close tomorrow, is the echoing of the hope that fills me, God through all and in all, and the One to whom the glory will go when we all get "further along".

Friday, January 22, 2010

A New Park in Chandler

It was cold and rainy and windy all day, and very cold during my photo shoot in our new park. The highest spot is a shelter that is probably six stories above the city.

They have a real nice Bark Park, an enclosed area for people to let their dogs run free. A real nice Frisbee Golf Course and an extensive bow shooting range, and a nice walking path as well.

Date night was a dinner at California Pizza on a gift card from one of Laura's students family, and thank you very much.

Rainy Week in the Desert

My young Jedi Knight, practicing his light sabor, "Do not think, Do"

This is Friday and normally I would be heading for my weekly "good walk spoiled" game of golf. But everything is soaked and more rain is coming as we get the west to east leftovers of California's big storms.

I am trying to decide how to use and enjoy this day. Rainy days are so rare here that we marvel at them.

I plan to visit and photograph Mt. Chandler this morning. Well, more accurately it is called Paseo Vista park, our newest city park and recreation area not far from my gym. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that in was for over a decade, our city dump. Now perched over 40 feet about the city, it has been transformed into a gas vented place to play and enjoy the beauty of the west. Pictures to come.

Speaking of Pictures, I finally backed up my photography on a portable hard drive because my laptop is choking on a lack of disk space. Even though most of my digital work from my first year with the Canon Xsi are not remarkable, I just love looking at my failed attempts to shoot a full moon, or capture a nighttime shot or practice a technique.

If I am not careful, I will sit here all day flipping channels and not doing anything, so, I am off to the gym and hope to see or do something of beauty, worth, and authentic experience. Sounds pompous, but I just don't want to waste the day, but seize the day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Life, wisdom, and suffering

This was First Baptist Gulfport, now gone completely after Katrina.

In recent years my teaching and preaching have been clustered around subject or topic studies. I feel that you can touch more areas of truth when you spend time looking at what we learn from scripture and life in a certain area.

Since September the subject has been wisdom, which to me means the understanding of life and the ways we learn to relate to God and man. Closely related to this is the reality of suffering that enters our life in many ways and disrupts the regular enjoyments of work, family and play. Disasters, accidents, sickness, violence, war, broken relationships, crime, job loss. It is a long list.

I really enjoyed the last decade and all I experienced and learned, yet for many it was marked by disaster, suffering, and recovery. 9/11, Katrina, Asian Tsunami and with the turn of a decade the Haitian Earthquake.

One of the conclusions of my reflections that I want to share is the importance of your view of God. If you believe God is loving and compassionate, then you feel His presence in your suffering, not condemnation or judgment. It has for me been on of the greatest shifts in my worldview to believe that God identifies with us in our suffering and cares for the suffering, asking us to care with Him and help as we are able.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Favorite College Beard

I grew a yearly beard for a while when I was young. Laura said I could have one when I reach my goal weight. I am thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why we are still enjoying our union

1. We were compatible and ready
2. We had kids fairly quickly and were to busy to quit
3. We had no TV in the bedroom for the first 20
4. Coffee fellowship daily
5. Dating for 35
6. Returning to her career and making money
7. Letting me have my hobbies and games
8. Faith in Christ and tons of forgiveness for our grievances.

Got any to add?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Wedding Day plus 35

We finally got hitched ten months after we met, moved the wedding up from summer to January, against the wishes of the pastor I was working with. "Why in my day we finished our education before we got married" I told that old dutchman that we were not living in his days, but ours, and we wanted to move the wedding. He punished me by limiting the time for my honeymoon.

The Wedding Planning was done mostly without me, and everything went off almost without a hitch. The church youth/Choir director was supposed to do a duet with his wife, and went to the gym and forget the time and had to sing it late and without his wife, and left me sweating in a closet filled with ancient smelly hymnals and the pastor for 15 minutes.

I am so greatful to have these pictures preserved from our young life, because it reminds me we had a young life. Great day, great experience, great memory, great life with the women of my dreams.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The 90 day courtship

So, I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love with a beatiful girl and I have committed to move 300 miles away for a year of ministry preparation. We spend a lot of time together that spring. I took her on a campout with my Bible Study from Seminary, and met her Dad, having already met her mom on another occasion.

One afternoon they told me Laura needed me urgently....her father had died suddenly at age 57. The funeral weekend intertwined me deeply with her life and family, and we were talking serious future plans within weeks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Choosing a life of commitment

Since the IMAX 3D Avatar was sold out we saw Up in the Air with George Clooney. It was poignant and meaningful since it dealt with the hassle of relationships and the difficulty of losing your job in this society.

Part of me always had a false fantasy about how much fun the traveling life would be. Clooney’s character was a good as it could get and yet we discover that life without relationships is the most costly.

Hence my weekend subject. Our 35th anniversary, and the incredible blessing having a friend and partner for life has been. I believed in dating to find the one, and had several long relationships in high school and college, but when I graduated still single I began to panic, as I was out of the milieu of seeing single women at our mostly male campus.

The summer after my first year I lived in South Florida and worked as a youth pastor. The family who took me in was wonderful, and when their youngest daughter came for a visit we began a long distance relationship that lasted 8 months, and ended when she told me that she had no interest in being the wife of a pastor. Since this happened in South Florida on Easter break, I drove over 1000 miles alone in prayerful communion about my hopes and dreams about marriage. I relaxed and decided to visit my alma mater the next weekend and talk to some friends, hoping maybe to meet someone.

I saw Laura leaving the women’s dorm, and was struck by her dark hair, petite figure, and lovely olive complexion. The exact details escape me, but the dorm mom, Mrs. Dennis, arranged for us to meet. Do not ask me if I believe in love at first sight, it happened to me that night. She took my breath away. Happy 35th Laura.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How do they move this stuff????

In spite of the heaviness of my spirit in light of the disaster, I will continue to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and the creativity that fills us. When we attended the Chihuly blown glass exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical garden last year I really had no idea what a treat we were in store for. The adornment of the garden with these organic shapes and brilliant colors was amazing, and of course, we wondered how on earth all that glass could be transported and displayed.

Yesterday on TV I saw the set up process at the Queen's Garden in London and my question was answered. They are taken apart piece by piece and stored in peanut filled boxes that fit each tube or shape and put on their metal frames by engineers and a numbering system. In other words. Every sculpture is disassembled and reassembled. Truckloads of cardboard boxes, and carefully made stands to hold, display and secure each piece.
Here are three of my favs from that magical evening. If you are not busy double click for a full screen appreciation of the desert and the sculptures.

Haiti relief

Our missions committee sent some relief money to Haiti via a Christian relief organization today. The pictures on Boston.com are shocking in the vastness of the collapse of structures and demonstrate how close the survivors are to those who died, depending on what fell on your body and where.

Strange feelings in my heart when this happens. Yesterday evening we had fish and chips, (well...tater tots, actually) and we spent a normal evening, knowing that as the hours ticked by, peoples hunger and thirst in that damaged region was increasing to danger levels.

I would not want to be there, and am glad I am not there. There is nothing I can do except what we did today. And it does not feel like enough. yet today I will go to the dentist, teach a bible study, and get a hair cut??????

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our youngest is 25! How did that happen?

Brian got his mom's thick hair. We had hoped his brother Matt could fly in on a four day break from Denver but he got called for Jury Duty and picked for a trial. He showed way too much neutrality he thinks.

Got into a theology debate in our general men's bible study today. It was a variation of the who chose who discussion. Did God chose you or do you choose God? I had people shaking their heads at me. When I suggested that we are all primed by our past teaching to see certain conclusions I got stuck deeper.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Different week ahead, kids back in our life.

Brian, our NYC youngest is home for a week. He lives with three other Arizonans in Brooklyn and works at The Standard Hotel and is attending Parsons School of Design as well, hoping to be in costume design on Broadway. Being the social networker that he is he will reconnect with all this friends, take a day trip to his Alma Mater UofA in Tucson, and hopefully enjoy being away from an existence that he describes as crowded, all the time, everywhere you go.

The Furniture Restoration people came and removed all traces of my Wii bowling accident with the red red wine, and I feel so fine. Out the the Dog House till the next incident.

We have pictures made everytime we go to Disney and Laura noticed that in every one of them I have stains on my shirt. Todays picture shows my coffee spill on picture day. This is who I am, what can I say.

Apologies to the dude in my head!

This is related to the previous post. I woke up and he was still here. He never leaves me. I apologize for being temporarily weary of his voice. He is not the voice of my conscience. He is not the voice of a schizophrenic. He is me, and he is the developed voice of a teacher, who, by necessity is always thinking and testing and searching for truth. He is the difference between me and the person who goes through life not thinking and reflecting, if such a person exists.

He gets weary because Christianity has so many different voices and confused answers that if you listen and read widely you find yourself second guessing about everything.

He is necessary because our civilization is 2000 years removed from the text of scripture and it takes some creative thinking to figure out what God wants and expects from us. So, in the midst of this constant waking conversation, I welcome the still small voice of God, who never wearies of whispering through the clutter of my thoughts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I am tired of debating the dude in my head!

I spent an hour in the Gym today. It has become a part of my life again, and I am enjoying my time at Tumbleweed. I asked a woman who I see there all the time what her motiviation was, and she said...to fighting against the ageing process. Me too, if its possible, or just to say flexible and healthy and carry less body fat.

While working out I listen to music like most around me. But I also realized that I have been having this ongoing debate with someone in my head. I don't know who he is or represents, but I find myself defending what I have come to believe in my head and heart, that which I am convinced is a valid and serious conclusion after a life of serious theological reflection.

I would like to end the debate in my head and just enjoy knowing, loving, and serving the good and beautiful God I have found in the gospel. Maybe he is there representing my desire to help others break out of views that dishonor the completed work of Christ. Maybe its just the slightly uncomfortable feeling you get when you differ from a majority belief. Any way, I am tired of debating this old voice. Would you like to invite him into your thoughts?????

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Can't take the pressure of being a fan

My heart cannot take the ups and downs of a playoff game like todays Cardinals/Packers game. I liked the blow out waltz scenario, but the great comeback and the see saw ending was too too too much for me. Had to leave for our annual leadership celebration so I heard the final without seeing the plays, can't wait to see some game recaps tonight.

I am priviledged to serve Sun Lakes Community Church, they are caring and sweet and interested in life and service.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In the presence of a great talent

Last evening our date night took us once again to the Phoenix Symphony Pops concerts to meet and hear incredibly talented conducter, composer, song writer Marvin Hamlisch. Those Julliard grads who make it big time have made such a contribution to our culture.

He has a delightful Jewish sense of humor, and played and directed some of the greatest pop music ever written. He brought along two current Broadway stars, Julia Murney of Wicked and Michael Williams starring in the current revival of South Pacific. He still plays extremely well and has a gift for changing arrangments just enough to feel his signature.

Music has brought us such joy and companionship in our marriage. We had a first date and our most recent date at the symphony, and in another week will celebrate 35 years of dating.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Forced into Silence

My wireless WWAN connection keeps running out of data space before the month does, and it is very frustrating, forcing me to go quiet for the next two days or pay outrageous data fees for exceeding the limit. My Iphone kids keep their phones in use all day with this or that and seem to use a fraction of the time.

I will be back Saturday or Sunday. Today we traveled to the National Memorial Cemetery in north Phoenix where 52,000 veterans are buried to lay Hugh’s ashes to rest. They do a fine job in organizing and honoring the families services. It is so inspiring to see the flag wrapping and presentation.

The fraternity of airline mechanics

All the news today is about air safety. All the focus is on the scanners supposed to stop the crazies bent on self and other destruction. Yesterday I met a number of folks who are the real safety assurance for air flight, a bunch of airline mechanics who came to honor Hugh H for a long career. An Air Force veteran who kept our large B 52s in service around the world during his military service will be laid to rest at the Military National Cemetery in Phx today.

Hugh was a fixer, so good that he often invented tools to get jobs done more efficiently. I asked one man why so many co-workers stuck together in that profession and the answers to me where that they stuck together while airlines were growing, struggling and dying and being sold. Most of them went through many transfers within the airline hubs and many name changes on the sides of the planes, while their concerns were for the complex working parts that keep those massive masses of metal airborne through shear air speed, and God's marvelous creation of air pressure and the wing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A small milestone

This is my 500th post, which means nothing except that I decided to build this communication and expression and picture blog to publish throughout the internet for connections to other human beings in the process of enjoying a wonderful life, and that I have stuck with it for a year and a half.

I admire those bloggers who are reaching great masses for whatever reasons, like my friend who constantly shares the virtues of a simple and frugal life. I enjoy the photography sites that teach and share techniques.

I enjoy the debates about the things going right and wrong in modern Christian practice and thought as I have spent my life in the discussion and have the wounds and blessing that go with life in the organized church.

I enjoy forming a thought, be it silly or profound to send to those who click by. Most of you click my silently, and that’s OK, it probably means my blog is not reaching that far or that I have not discovered the type of writing that inspires comment. I am me, and in a good place in this fragile life, in spite of playing the back nine, I still have lots of dreams and hopes and experiences to live. Thanks for reading and stopping by on occasion.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dressed for Hot Dogs?

One of the things we enjoy about Disneyland is that some people dress up in costumes, or dance along with piano players. At our favorite cafe at the end of main street we saw this couple obviously playing out a fantasy. It is harmless fun and adds to the spice of a short vacation.

Now that I am back to the daily schedule the pictures we took always serve to bring back these captured moments. When I take people shots I try not to offend people by shooting against their will, but I felt that this couple was enjoying the elegance of there Frank Sinatra look.

Goals and plans are not resolutions

Resolved.....smacks of personal commitment to change, and as we all know, usually ends in failure. Setting goals and planning time for the things you desire to change can create the environment for transformation, which embraces our own weakness and hopes in a power greater than ourselves.

Last year the Internet took more of my time than reading, although of course much of my Internet time is reading theological articles. I hope this year to read outside my normal genres.

I have set a goal to learn more conversational Spanish. The immersion programs are slow and effective, and need to be used daily to get saturation. Lord help me to have a sense of connection to Hispanics than are all around me.

I enjoy playing guitar, and being stuck in mediocrity is my own fault. It needs fifteen minutes a day.

The wind instruments have brought great joy to my personal development. My daughters flute is now with me, and I am getting good tone and learning the scales.The flute sings with such beauty.

Exercise...first you pay the price and then you enjoy the price. Walking, stretching, lifting, and finding the time to do those things makes this tent flexible enough to enjoy life.

Living in the presence of God is not work, or discipline or duty, it is the very reality that makes getting out of bed and doing anything make sense.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Patti Lupone.....Wow!

As we continue our 21st year in Phoenix I remember one of my dreams was to see great entertainers and artists. On our date night this evening we dressed up and heard Patti Lupone sing Broadway songs with the Phoenix Symphony in her Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda, Show.

She has one of the most powerful and distinctive singing voices I have ever heard and we enjoyed hearing her great parts and the parts she was sure she could have nailed. A very sweet presence and great sense of humor as well. Wow! and according to Sacajawaytoget there, we are only 24 miles from home to our seats.

Rest in peace, my brother in Christ

A quiet New Years Day. I did not watch one play of football. As we were preparing soup for dinner, a call informed me that my friend Hugh had just passed away. I found his wife Donna and some family friends in the emergency room and we had a final prayer around his now silent and still body.

The cancer diagnosis was unexpected, the battle valiant. For many years this sweet couple have sat in my weekly Bible study, thinking about the promises of God, and at this moment, it is all we have. We must believe the most elemental of all promises, that Christ has taken the dominion away from death.

This good man had a good wife and family, a good career in the transportation industry, and a good life. They did not want it to end, no one does. But the meeting was yesterday for Hugh, unexpectedly, and we begin to grieve and to hope again. I never get used to these moments around the bed of a loved one whose tent has collapsed. They bring me face to face with my own upcoming meeting, yet create in me the lovely desire to seize the day. Carpe Diem.