Hawaii 2010

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Cuban believers

A Church among the people of Maui, where Charles Lindbergh is buried.

I saw several hundred pictures taken in Cuba a couple of weeks ago. My new friend Doug went there to help pastors learn to use Bible computer software provided by a mission organization.

There is a sincere seeking after God in this country and relative freedom to gather in home Churches and the church buildings that exist.

What moved me were the children, being raised with so little and being happy just to play with each other with no toys. People meeting in covered yards, living in squalid homes, and signs of the supposed victories of the decades old Revolution.

They have very little money, very little freedom, but a big sustaining faith that brings comfort and strength. It was similar to the Christian film we saw this evening about life in racially torn South Africa and the struggles of farmers to make a living in the often brutal conditions. The message...it takes faith and trust in God, where ever you are.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Golf is Coming to Town this week

Breakfast at Joes on the Green overlooking Kiahua Golf Course Kauai.

I am not sure if I will make it out to the Golf Tournament this week. I never missed it in the early years here, but the sheer numbers of people make parking and navigating quite a task. I am thankful that we get to showcase our beautiful city each year for the winter weary nation.

I got to play the same course one summer, which is very exciting to play the same venue as the pros.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nothing like it this side of heaven

One of our local men's gospel quartets at the Men's Breakfast last week.

Jobbing.Com Stadium is in Glendale, an hour bus ride across town. We took 37 folks eager for the experience of a Gaither Music Event. I think it was my fourth, including a marathon New Years Eve event some years ago. I don't know if I am changing as I age, but this was something deeply moving last night. I still have some resistance to hokey tunes designed to move the emotions apart from truth, like, "Momma's teaching the angels to sing right now"....like really, come on, were they really waiting for your mother to die to learn how to sing praises to God!

The return of two stalwarts to the Vocal Band was special. Mark Lowery and David Phelps are two of the most successful alumni. Heavenly voices all night. The Martins are the most perfect A Capella sound I have ever heard, Two former Signature Sound vocalists, a repentant Micheal English, The Issacs, and an assortment of Southern Gospel types. Blind pianist Gordon Mote continues the tradition of remarkable accompanists. One of the deepest bass voices I have ever heard.

Four Hours long!!!! You get your moneys worth. The humor, very folksy and cute. Mark Lowery, the resident bad boy says things to shake traditional Christian up purposely so we will quit playing evangelical games with each other. Although this event is really geared for the life long church attender, with so many classic old hymns and gospel favorites. It is and aging crowd, which is why Gaither is doing this in a time of societal change. Its an oasis of security and Christian values.

The consummate song leader, Gaither casts a down home love of the human voice in praise that brings a deeply worshipful experience. I kept thinking that everyone needs to experience this level of musical praise once in his or her lives.

Friday, January 28, 2011

An evening with the Gaithers

Balcony entertainment at the Hyatt Regency Kaui.

We are taking a bus load across town to hear the Gaithers and their gathered artists. It is always an entertaining and enjoyable evening. The talent level is quite high and the crowd really seems to like the humor, and mixture of southern gospel, and occasional country and contempary has really struck a chord with our folks. Will bring a report tomorrow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where do all the old memories hide?

Sunset reflections in a Coastal Mississippi Bayou, Summer 2010.

The brain is a marvelous thing, and seems to be able to file so many things. Yesterday a very sweet friend from my past found me on facebook. I thought about her and the things that happened in our lives back then and I was amazed at memories that sprang from the fissures of my mind. She adopted one of the puppies of my dogs litter, even though the mix of long haired dauschhund and beagle was not real attractive. She went through a sad time and I am so glad for her happy life and lovely family.

I am sure heaven will have time for reunions and catching up, of which facebook is only tiny and imperfect reminder.

Tomorrow is Dieters Gone Wild Day for me and I am looking forward to some bread and pasta, both of which are denied on my eating plan.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How lovely is Thy dwelling place

The praying hands rocks in the Superstition Mountains. I sense His presence when I am out there.

The beauty of the word "dwell" struck me with new force this week. Come dwell with me, has an inviting sound, a feeling of unhurried fellowship, sit down and visit and stay a spell kind of vibration.

I found myself singing a chorus that I could not identify, although I knew it was from Psalm 23. So I googled it, which is an amazing tool for the scatter brained. Turns out it was John Peterson's 1958 hymn, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days, all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever, I shall feast at the table spread for me."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Losing weight

"We want a cook's parade, we want a cook's parade"

I was shopping in our local Sprout's whole food store yesterday, and two employees were having a conversation. The girl was complaining that her husband was on another diet and he was making weird food choices, the other guy sympathized with her and said, Why can't he just eat regular food, everything in moderation is my motto.

I looked at him and his stomach was extended at least ten inches outside his belted waistline.....moderation??? There is a tendency when you are losing weight to become very judgmental of pudgy folks. Which is odd and inconsistent considering that for me, losing weight is an almost miraculous thing, as my recent stuckness in spite of continued aggressive exercise.

The facts are stark, the amount of body movement it takes to undo the effects of a snickers bar is phenomenal. So if you are going to get healthy it takes a long term combination of dietary change and increased exercise. The trick for me, is finding a way to eat that minimizes hunger while increasing metabolic activity.

Tim Ferris slow carb diet is working so far as I am in Day 9. Last night I made feaux mashed potatoes with steamed cauliflower and white beans, and I liked it. So it is high protein, and lots of veggies, zero fruit and fruit juice, and lots of beans to keep you full. Beans are both protein and carb, but the carbs are low glycemic, so they are good to blood sugar, add a day off for cravings, and that is it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

When my heart is overwhelmed

A heart with an upward thrust, that's what I need today.

When I spend too much time thinking about our debt burden exceeding 14 trillion I get depressed, because I have no idea how many billions are in a trillion. And then I hear all the rhetoric from both sides, and the real problem in the closet....unbudgeted mandates....which means all the folks who have figured out how to get government checks for things. It seems so overwhelming, and leads me to Psalm 61, David sang, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

The concordant literal translation uses the word , droopy hearted, droopy spirited. Its been a while since I read the word droopy in a sentence.

For some reason, I woke up with the Monday blues, the droopy spirit, and I am asking the Lord to lift me up so I can approach the week with joy.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Facing a long relaxing rest from Sunday labor

The house before the one we now have was a big, boxy, four bedroom with three large living areas, formal living room, downstairs den, and upstairs recreation room where the kids could play with games and toys and watch TV while the downstairs was presentable. I loved every minute in that special house we chose, built, and enjoyed for seven years.

The service is over, the message preached, friends greeted, we are alone and cacooning...which is the term they use, for a quiet restful drawing away from activity and enjoying the day. We have no fierce winds and cold to hide from, but I am still opting to read and rest, to watch some sports, and to recharge for a new week. Sweet.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Roof over our heads

Our modest ranch home in Sun Lakes, AZ. Right after the annual tree trimming.

We get married so we can be together, so we find a domicile to inhabit. After our honeymoon Laura moved into my apartment in Alabama which was part of a widows home. In fact, there was a hallway connecting, and our bedroom connection was slatted, not solid, and we hoped she would not open her door to overhear what was going on in the bedroom. It was not strictly platonic!!!!

How many apartments and homes have you lived in? I counted, because my sermon series is moving from betrothal to living together in a shelter of love and fellowship.

Our count at 36 years is an even dozen homes. That would be pretty bad if we had moved every three years, but some were short term like a year, the last four have each lasted seven years, which is good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Slow Carb Diet Cheat Day

Six months till some more summer travel time. I am dreaming of a trip to New York.

I am on an eating plan that disallows bread, rice, and pastas, except for one day a week. So today I had rice for lunch and lo mein with chicken for dinner, and some ice cream. Now back to the program.

On a day off note, my wife and I have watched Medium with Rosanna Arquette off and on over its seven year run, and tonight is the finale. I felt the show "jumped the shark" several times last year and knew with was near. It had some fine drama and wonderful emphasis on a loving family in Phoenix.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Men's Breakfast

We enjoyed our sixth annual Sun Lakes Community Church mens breakfast, feeding 75 men and hearing about the ministry of S.O.W.E.R.S. a retirement repair and renovation ministry. Lots of good fellowship.

I missed two days at the gym with sore legs and was able to go today. I got seperated from my internet connector yesterday.

On a related subject I am seeing an apparent increase in people having problems with staph, MRSA, and today, a dear friend attacked by E-Coli. Praying for her, and hoping hospitals get a handle on this problem.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Muscles are hiding, become angry when found

This is me during a summer walk in Gautier Mississippi in July. The offending belly is visible in this shot in which I was trying to catch the church sign.

I have been reading about the wonders of the kettleball. A Russian instrument for fitness that is basically a weighted ball with a double handle. I read about two simple exercises, and figured that this would help me move to another level of fitness, so I got a lesson, and did some introductory moves......and I found hidden muscles that are screaming at being disturbed, my thighs are hurting so badly I am falling into the chair, the legs muscles are so tender that I feel like I have been sitting on a couch for months rather than working out regularly for 18 months.

As I painfully reflect on the lessons learned, they are....vary your workouts, and start very slowly with something new. I am also knowing that the soreness will pass and the kettleball is a real serious workout.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Justice for All

Parents who move alot create kids who try to figure out what makes the people tick when they move. My pilgrimage from New York to Alabama was an adjustment to the extreme.

I have this vivid memory of swimming with black folks in Oneonta New York and moving to Troy Alabama with enforced segregation in the public pools in 1962, then moving to Mississippi and seeing dozens of public pools closed to prevent the rising pressure to integrate, and then watching the token integration lead to groups of largely ignored kids trying to come to school. Racism was deeply ingrained into the culture and I saw it in so many ways over the years that I cherished the friendships I had with other races in college.

My father was caught in the lock down in Memphis, working blocks away from the assasination of Martin Luther King. Christians in the south had lived for so long with the segregated way of life that they were bothered by the changes, as if their culture was collapsing, and there were real problems in the schools that took decades to change. I preached on the Samaritan women at the well and know that racial hatred was not in the Lord's heart, and should not be in mine. I honor all those who risked their to change our world.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

900th post

Started blogging daily in August of 2008, have not stopped. I am an open life kind of guy, trying not to be bragadocious, just daily ruminations. Bless you for stopping by for a moment.

Fun Wedding last evening, lots of happy kids and grandkids.

Now to a family memorial, and that is the blessing and pain of a pastor's' life, there for the happy and the sad, the I do's and the farewells.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Late Life Weddings

Love both of these shots and cannot figure out how to reposition them, sorry for the head bending!!!!

We have many people here who lose their spouses to death, and find new companionship and a second marriage. I am performing the vows for such a wedding this evening.
The saying around here is that those who had happy and considerate weddings should be able to enjoy and have further happiness without problems. I agree as long as people realize the new spouse has different patterns and responses to be sensitive to.

When I was on my bachelor trip, Laura experienced a week of solitude, and she did not enjoy it, and just about forbade future separate trips. Companionship is precious at any age.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fruits of Golfing Swing Change Today

I still can't believe she married me, coming on 36 years ago this Tuesday the 18th.

Arizona is back in the 70s, and it coincided with my golf outing. I have been changing my basic swing using the online teaching named Peak Performance Golf. Today I began to see the consistency that allowed me to shoot a one over par back nine. Some continued chipping problems made the front nine average, but overall, eleven pars and two birdies. That's good for a one a week golfer, and yes, I do brag about good rounds and moan about bad ones.

Another passing from our senior flock last evening. Bea P.entered the heavenly realm leaving a legacy with her husband Vern of a rock solid faithful in church and community. Vern was a bible scholar who studied and developed his faith all his life. In recent months they had moved to be cared for by a daughter.

We sponsored a stroke prevention testing today and they served over 90 people from our area.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Praying for our Nation again

Civility is not a liberal concept. Dr. Os Guiness wrote an elegant book on the fabric of civility that made our nation great. When upheld, the public discourse is spirited but moves forward peacefully, when disrupted, we have had some pretty ugly results in our history.

Guiness believes Christians have been taught how to speak gently and turn away wrath, and that we can help.

I would sadly tend to agree with many who say this particular violence was more motivated by mental illness and confused thinking than political rhetoric, nevertheless, I was moved by the teaching of Dr. Guiness and the necessity of the church to speak her convictions in love, not vitriol.

Paul prayed for those in government and submitted to rulers, not because he agreed with everything happening, but he knew societal change is best when gradual and lawful, not revolutionary. I cease to rant.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kindle Owner's first opinions

The one time I did not have the wide angle lens in Kauai, we saw a full rainbow that I could not get on pixel.

The Kindle arrived yesterday from Amazon. I love the boxes that electronic equipment comes in...I'm savin it. Within a few pages of the explanation I was charging and moving about. Playing with all the features like text sizing. Beginning to use the internet 3G function to look at books, magazines and various offerings.

I love reading reviews, which help with decison making. I downloaded my first purchase, the New American Standard Bible, which was the first new translation of my new Christian life as a teenage. Appropriate and nostalgic, and cheap. $1.99 for the whole bible on Kindle. I loved the nearness to the greek text of the NASB.

Looked at some covers today and decided to put a protective film over the reading surface to keep it sleek and simple.

I believe this will be a wonderful tool for my studies, fun reading, and vacation travels like all the millions who bought one last month.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

John Piper is back in his pulpit

My cat leads a simple, uncomplicated existence...we humans do not.

I love John Piper. He has been a prolific writer, a pastor with a lengthy stay in one pulpit, Bethlehem Baptist, in Minneapolis, and as he nears retirement he is the gentle spokesman for a huge wave of Calvinistic preachers and church planters that are part of the Acts 29 network.

He has beaten prostate cancer, and was given a long, eight month leave of absence to rest, and refocus himself for the last decade of his ministry. He spoke at a college conference over the weekend, according to IMonk website, and I realized again that although I respect him and the movement, I am no longer comfortably in that camp, for I believe, with all respect to his great impact, that he and most from his school of theology have a weakness....for it seems as though he does not understand the full implications of the doctrine of reconciliation.

Study 2 Cor. 3-6 to see Paul's teaching. It enables you to say what Piper refused to say in his talk, that God loves sinners, even while they are entangled in their sin. God has reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, He tells us to announce it as ambassadors of this finished work, this accomplished fact. God is not waiting for you to believe so He will stop hating you....out of His great love for you He is inviting you to receive the love He as already declared and accomplished on the cross.

It seems like a small distinction until you think about it for a while. I still love and respect John Piper and all his theological kin.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rooting for the Tigers

My friend Pastor Joe on the balcony of the Cafeteria at Belhaven College in the days when I was whistling dixie.

How can I do anything else. I used to live in Alabama. When I left the gym today there was a banner flying overhead with an Auburn sign. I have never been an avid fan, but I do show up for the championships in my fandom.

This Cam Newton appears to be the real thing in size and talent and likability. I look forward to watching him develop in the pros.

SEC football was a way of life when I lived in dixie. My church attendance would flucuate with the home and away games. Serious social events they were. I as a lowly Bible College student just did not get to excited over those things...except my senior year, when someone gave me tickets to see the Ole Miss Rebels play two games, and I watched Archie Manning play. Which is why I am a fan of the Colts, and the Giants.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tucson in my prayers

I saw this heading out of Tucson one year and count it as a favorite cloud picture to this day. And....thanks to Janet for identifying the gluteus maximus, and much less offensive name for those important muscles in our posterior.

We lived in Tucson for 2 years and traveled there often when our son was at the University of Arizona. The Church I served met in an office complex 3/4 of a mile from the corner of Ina and Oracle. I am joining all who feel deeply affected when these acts of violence disturb the progress of peaceful government.

I will encourage our board to not so much set a new course for our sweet fellowship but stay the course and "things fly apart, the center cannot hold". Maybe those committed to non violent change and the way of peace can be the center which does hold in these uncertain times.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Butt Cheek Machine

In August of 2009, I bought a 2009 Kia Mini Van which I love. It is close to turning 20,000 miles in 18 months. I went to the Tumbleweed Gym on August 1st of 2009 and for some semi miraculous reason, have not stopped. I walk vigorously at least 2 miles on the track or on the elliptical trainer at least four times a week, so in a month that would be 32 miles, time 18 months that’s 576 miles of aerobic exercise. My goal is to keep both machines in good running order till retirement age, and my body…until the warranty expires.

At the gym today I saw pregnant women, the newly committed obese, and an assortment of seniors, including one elderly gentleman doing the rowing machine in slow motion. I applaud them all for moving their bodies and keeping fit.

My friend Michale told of her soreness at doing some knee lunging for her chiropractor. The machine above is designed to strengthen that muscle in your buttocks where you sit. Some of my cruder golfing buddies used to say after a long drive, “you really got your butt cheeks into that one”. Anyhow, that is one of my favorite machines now and I truly believe is responsible for a feeling of stability, the easier lifting and moving we all must do, and…..some really long drives when everything works. I am sure science gave those muscles some more elegant name than butt cheek muscles. I should google it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nearing the end of the line of WWII Vets

My first visit to Punch Bowl Memorial Cemetery and Pearl Harbor was in 1989.

I get downright emotional about Pearl Harbor. It was a day of infamy just like 9/11 for our generation. Bill H. survived Pearl Harbor with his buddy from the Casper Wyoming Saxophone line.

I am so touched that history chose a few years of boys who came of age at the outbreak of the war to carry the lions share of grunt duties as the nation ramped up for war.

Bill's family talked about his life long organizational skills learned in the navy, and his desire to pass on practicing integrity when people were not watching to his children, and grandchildren.

Going on the near holy pilgrimage across the island to the memorial was heightened when you knew the back story of one of those names.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My New York Relatives

Celebrating my 60th with my sisters Judy and Linda this past summer.

Reconnected with Chris K today. My former brother in law. Father of my three nieces, the children of my oldest sister Judy. We had not seen each other in 30 years. It was good to hear about the family from his perspective and how his life had gone forward after the marriage broke up.

He has been able to travel a lot in his retirement and they have come to love our valley, as you would expect from any resident of New York State in the winter time. I am thankful he has been very involved in his children and grand children's lives.

Passed the Scottsdale Princess Resort, home of the Tournament Players Club, heavy into the construction of the thousands of seating areas for the worlds most highly attended golfing event, and maybe even sporting event starting early next month.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Healthcare??? Paying for it.

Seeking peaceful solice imagining I am sitting by the ocean watching the waves crash the shore.

I had a physical today. My doctor is forming a smaller and more responsive practice, cutting down his client load, limiting his practice to spend quality time in preventive care.....for a price. Tough Call, I have been with him for 20 years.

Got the bill for my Thanksgiving pinky pad accident. They used 5ml of disenfectant for 52 dollars, and the Emergency room fee was 950!!!!! and my insurance with its yearly high deductable paid 0!!!!!

Is'nt healthcare wonderful?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bill H has finished his earthly course

Here is Bill and his friend in the High School Saxaphone line. Bill is second from the right first row, his Pearl Harbor friend right behind him.

Just a few weeks shy of 89, he was in Pearl Harbor aboard one of the two ships that were able to evacuate the Harbor during the attack of Dec. 7th. One of his high school friends is still resting in the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona to this day. It is a great mystery why one dies and another lives to enjoy a healthy, full, active and joyful Christian life.

I cannot say enough about what a rock solid trustworthy and faithful man he was. Never missed Bible study, played organ for us in our Thursday afternoon bible study for many years. Organized and served churches here and in Denver. He will be missed and his dear second wife Irene is in our prayers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Therapeutic Music and a sticky subject

Today's picture is a Cholla Cactus, nicknamed "jumping cactus" for its ability to leave the tree and stick to anything passing by, as if it jumps on you.

I have mentioned many times how important music is to me, and how convenient having an 80 gig Ipod had been to have music available and portable. I am not cruising for the latest hits but often looking through used CD stores for music that is often classified "New Age", but is..in reality, ambient instrumental music that is very soothing. It fills you without requiring that you give it the full attention of vocal or classical genres.

There is another name it has been called, "Spa Music". Anyhow double platinum award winning flutist Nicholas Gunn has some of the most beautiful creations in this category. It is hauntingly beautiful. Today I snagged his orginal two hits, Grand Canyon and Return to Grand Canyon at the used store and boy are they good.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Brazilian Bull

We observed our friends enjoying the main course at this restaurant while we went for the salad bar. Six different kinds of meat brought on the skewer to your table from the grill and sliced till you beg them to quit. Pretty cool and different.

This evening our friend Butch had three families for dessert and showed his collection of Nutcraker dolls. Impressive....and outside.....a bubble making machine. That was cute.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

No Regrets

Our second home was so awesome, since we chose the lot, watched it being built, had a swimming pool to enjoy, and had seven great years while our kids were teens and we had housefuls of kids and friends.This photo was taken yesterday, the trees have really grown in the cul de sac park area.

I drove around town for a bit yesterday acknowledging and thanking God for the 22 years I have lived in the Phoenix East Valley. We moved in December of 89. I felt led of the Lord to leave the Bible Belt and work with young churches. This means over a third of my life has been in this place.

I reflected on the way in which God physically protected and prospered us in spite of the pretty severe difficulties. I never thought I would serve four churches, but thankfully the last two ministries have encompassed over 15 of these years.

We came with very little savings, and have owned three homes and built a retirement account in spite of tough economic times. We have raised three children who still love us. We have seen so many places in our western life, including the joy of the California beaches and the Canyons and Mountains of the west. We have seen museums, shows, plays, cultural events which can only be enjoyed when you live in a huge city.

I have no regrets, and am very thankful for living under the Shadow of the Superstition Mountains.