Hawaii 2010

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Elijah's Cave

We went through some tough years when we moved here in 1990, lots of dream bashing realities which finally drove me away from the denomination of my youth. The transition figure was a humble pastor named Bob, whose church provided a spiritual haven for us in our transition.

Sunday afternoon Bob and his family celebrated 15 years as a minister on ASU campus with a focus on the students from China, and many of the families from that old congregation provided a touchstone for me to see how God was working through pain to get me to see deeper and more wonderful truths about spirituality.

So many people from Bob's pastoral years have supported him in this mission because they knew he was the real thing, and, oddly enough, just a few years after he helped me that wonderful church kind of cast him adrift and imploded as well. Bob went    through his own dark night of the soul to find a new direction.

Bob Thompson greeting people after the service.
Seeing those faces, aged by 15 years, yet still the same people, reminded me that our journey cannot be without struggle, and dissapointment. Faith gets tested, new directions have new blessings, and it is all hard at time, but worth it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Banquets are Nice

We joined a celebration of three of our family of believers for a combination of a 60th Wedding anniversary and two 80th birthdays. It was such fun and what feasting we enjoyed, fresh vegetables and fruits and cheeses for an hour, then succulent roast beef with potatoes and gravy and salads and hots smothered green beans.

The generation I serve really know how to throw good parties, and Laura and I feel privileged to share in these feasts. We enjoyed watching the dancing and shared a lovely slow dance as well. I was careful to slide my feet so as not to step on my spouses toes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Six degrees of connection

I love this shot of a Sunday afternoon at a beach where the local Hawaiians play with dogs and kids and picnics.

My son Brian has a new pet, a dog named Six, one of those larger short haired black and brown kind of mutts. As a family that never had a dog this represents obviously his desires and choices and this is cool. So far the need to take the dog out for walks has caused him to meet actress Bernadette Peters who had known the dog since it was born, and to be near Chelsea Clinton in some kind of gathering.  This is life in NYC and Brooklyn where so many folks live in close proximity.

We did own a poodle when we were newly weds but her tragic death broke our hearts and we just never got back on the canine wagon.  Our cats came to us through the pressure decisions of our daughter but we have enjoyed our decade plus of having cats around the house.

I have been moving some of my photos from an older computer to my picture back up hard drive and seeing so many photos of our early marriage when the kids were young. I am so happy to have them, but still struggle with getting them organized into some time of system where I can find them in a timely matter to share them on this blog. A project of connection with my story. This new laptop I am using only has this years pics and my Hawaii and California Vacation so I need a better system.

As we plan our summer travel the issue of cats come up again. I feel so bad about leaving Big Kitty in the house with a cat sitter who stops by to check the food and water and litter box, and tries to companion her, but she does not connect with strangers. When Big Kitty goes to sleep we will probably be petless so we can pick up and go a bit more.

Friday, April 27, 2012

When it's all fixed

Attended a ground breaking at Chandler Christian Community Center for an addition to their facility.

From Julie Ferwerda:

It isn't getting together to build something new in the ages to come as much as it is getting 

together to heal...calling all captains and soldiers where family vs. family and brother vs. 

brother...sister vs.sister....brother vs.sister blood has been spilled and words have 

poisoned....since we are ONE then the same stories will be in the same room together

reconciling with the truth of loves forgiveness ~Joseph Brost

Ponder this thought with me today.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

A smartphone shot of a girl on a near deserted beach in Maui, 2010.

When mutual funds were invented, it was a wonderful way to spread the risk in savings to get money into the future in your savings plan. Turns out a major correction in the market means it takes more time to get savings growing, and in the last decade its been tough to be in market driven investing. We have run out of time for waiting for better times, and have a bit of concern for the near future, who doesn't.

We just got off the horse, onto a donkey, less risk, slow and more bond dependent. yet with the opportunity for greater returns. No one knows the future, but we have borrowed too much money as a nation, and we are glad to sleep a bit better over the security of our savings. The retirees I serve are constant examples of frugality, wisdom, and generosity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I have tomaters

My Topsy Turvy has three different types of tomatoes just beginning to grow. Fun to watch the changes each day. Wish I had loved gardening.

We had a small group to enjoy Hook tonight, I was kind of shocked that the movie is over 20 years old now. A real enjoyable Spielberg with a great many themes harvested from the book.

Summer Schedule

Our Church runs year round, we have no Sunday School because we do not own the building where we worship, the funds to build the church were raised by this church, but it became a Chapel used by multiple congregations, long story, not my point.

We have a lovely room for our Bible Studies, and they run from October through April, seven on, five off.
As I type the group of ladies who meet here on Tuesdays are gone a week early because their teacher had to return to Washington State.

Our active country clubs become used more infrequently, golfers fight for the earliest tee times to avoid the midday heat, walkers are out early and late but not during the dead zone. These are all parts of the rhythm of life in a retirement community and a desert landscape.

At first it felt funny but now I get it and I love it. Laura and I launch into reading projects, we plan a short vacation as Laura loves being home in the summer. So, a movie nite tonight to end our Tuesday group, one more men's Bible Study tomorrow, a last Thursday study, and a shift in schedule. As I have never served one church this long, there is no looping back to old series, and as my life passion to find and enjoy answers in the presence of God goes forward, I have always new ground to plow. Life is growth in the light.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day

The earth is the Lord's, He loves it, and so do I.  We have been learning about the privileged planet and its unique place in the galaxy, a place protected and placed optimally for exploration of the greater universe.

This is so different than the depressing worldview of Carl Sagan who saw it all as random and meaningless.

Christians who fall into the Platonic trap of despising this world and longing for spirit world only have not really understood the Gospel of the restoration of all things in heaven, and on earth.

God is a Spirit, but He created the universe for His and our enjoyment in ages to come, in raised and new bodies, fully bodies yet adapted for life in the expanded universe.

Meanwhile, every moment in God's creation  is a taste of glory and of glory ahead.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Walking for a Cause

Helped raise $22,000 for the Chandler Community Christian Center this morning, not me alone, obviously. Thanks to all who helped me do my share. The walk was fun, a bit over an hour, and then did weights in the Gym so was tired out all day. They help thousands each year with food and family programs.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lumped together and taking lumps

Having a lovely game of golf with a Father/Daughter couple today and all is polite and copacetic till he finds out I am a pastor.   "A Bible Thumper" he said,  No, I replied' I handle it very gently. Next hole, something nastier, and I am feeling his anger.  I stopped and said, "Are you a wounded Catholic or something?" Scotch Presbyterian he answers.

I wonder why he is so angry, and remembering that this is one of the oddest parts of my calling, being lumped together instantly with everyones positive and negative reactions to Christianity. He must have gotten thumped in the past by a thumper.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy 7th Ben

So many birthday dinners at Joe's Real Barbeque that I have nothing but sweet memories. We arrived at 6:40 and there was no line, one half hour later the line was out the door including a high school la crosse team.

Ben got a five iron, some cash, and a really cool electric razor scooter.

Majoring on the Minors

A new friend was sharing about a loves ones brand of faith. Everything was outward and judgmental. So and so wore slacks in church, how disgraceful; the choir directors hair is too long, you did'nt do this right, you did'nt say that right.

I heard a video and song this morning in which the singer was expressing to a number of people sorrow for what the church had done to them.

Whatever that spirit is in people, we have reached a place in time here in this country when people just are no longer willing to take that kind of spiritual abuse in order to be around the majority that are good and gracious. It's like a few bad apples or a few twisted world views are causing a great movement to implode.

Its a new day, and the rigid spirit must fade.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Annual Procrastinators Reunion

So, I have had my taxes prepared for three years and decided to use good ole Turbo Tax this year, and found out that so many people are e-filing that good ole Mesa Post Office no longer stays up late.

I ended up at 10:30 at Pheonix Munincipal Baseball Stadium lining up with thousands to drop off our Taxes.

It is the one time the procrastinators of the world unite. We are a proud bunch, no matter how much we try we just cannot get the job done until the last minute. One reason I enjoy it is the feeling of relief when you pass those documents to the mail people.

Good Ole Turbo Tax would not allow me to e file because it just kept asking me to do something crazy, to take my housing allowance and put it in the place where people who keep home childcare services. So, there I was out among the late filers, remembering the good ole days.

Caught in a Turbo Loop

Dedicating prayer shawls which we will give to the hospitalized, homebound, grieving.

Turbo Tax is a little quirky for me this year. After telling me everything was fine and finished and reading to e-send, it would then go to a problem that it said would have to be changed for e filing, and then the fix would not work and I would be back where I started, unable to finish.

I shall prevail, one way or the other, printing and mailing if must be.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Those who sing!

I can carry a tune. Melissa, Shannon and their voice teacher Joanna can sing!!! Joanna has a classicly trained soprano voce wth lots of tremolo. My girls have a more normal style. All were wonderful

just want to thank God that our church and family live in a country and time when so much good musc is heard and shared.

The old hymns our generation loved were interpreted so beautifully, some show tunes and old favs were enjoyed. My grand daughters ministry of music has been launched and she is a natural, she enjoys it but is humble about it, which all good faith singers experience. A memorable evening for our congregation.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday music

Laura says all her Hawaiian Crazy Shirt Tees are wearing out. Gotta go get some some.

We heard three flute pieces this morning by our Romanian missionary this morning. What a sound!

Tonight at our spring dinner will be piano and voices, more good music.

Spoke on the Gospel of Victory today and God's pleasure in the Kingly work of His son, who will live and reign with the saints in the consummation of all things.

All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well, and the fire and the Rose are one.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Probably our last Chilly Weekend

A less than sastifactory attempt at camera/tripod/timer shot. I still like it.

Boy, did I wish I had a jacket when we left the gym this morning.

Happy report on my latest leaf blower. I go through these things yearly for some reason, my last one died when it fried the cord a few weeks ago. I try to buy different brands. Once I had once that had a leaf sucking attachment and it was so powerful it would grab rocks and pull them into the aluminum motor and ruin the blades.

With trepidation I chose another with that feature, and...it is really working. Not enough power to do the rock thing, but enough to vacuum the leafs and debris from the rocks. Blows good too. Temporarily a happy yard man.

Don't plan on seeing Titanic 3D but I really enjoyed the movie and plan to note the century anniversary in an illustration tomorrow.

Looking forward to our last dinner in the cactus room for the winter/spring season as my family will share in the entertainment.

Forgot to mention last Sunday that the word grace is in the last sentence in the Bible.

Word for this month is "trustworthy"

Friday, April 13, 2012

Death and Taxes

Our Good Friday pulpit decoration.

I get funny feelings during this yearly ordeal. For the last several years I have paid someone to do the leg work which eased the mental burden, but this year I have had to face the fact once again that the stock market has not helped us reach any kind of satisfactory retirement goals. In other words, depressingly, my death would be a great financial boon to my wife.

This was impressed upon me deeper because I actually moved some money out of the stock market this week. The Dow closed that day exactly the same as it was on Dec. 3rd 2007 when, according to the article, a democratic house and senate put new leaders in two areas, housing and banking, that would sow the seeds for a disaster 18 months later.

This do not make me feel any better in this volatile election year. Investing and electing are all about trying to figure out the future. if this happens, then this will happen, if it goes this way, you better be going that way. Sheesh!!!! All of life takes some degree of trust. Who can you trust to get you where you hope to be?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I got pricked taking this shot

Flowers in the midst of cactus.

Life is like that, it is a beautiful, fragile thing, and we are sure nothing will ever go wrong in our family, our body, our nation.

But God, the refiner's fire, tells in all over the text that it will be through tribulation and testing that we will endure.

I will be focusing my thoughts this month on trusting God no matter what happens, politically, nationally, internationally, personally, locally. Not an easy thing to do, and near impossible when you are trusting in the arm of the flesh, as the text says.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

God Wins

When I was promoting the ideas in Rob Bells book "Love Wins" I knew that Bell was being the provocateur and raising questions without really giving chapter and verse about how he got his points.

The blow back books that came out suggested that "God Wins" was better than love wins because Bell's view was too inclusive. Sinners who do not repent have to lose for God to win, says Mark Galli in his response.

I am coming to the increasing confidence that Paul's Gospel allows God to win by allowing love to win through the cross of Christ. The sticking point is this blind spot in Augustinian Theology that states that the only way for God to win is an eternal isolation of evil from good in a place called Hell. God wins because sin in put in a lock box. Paul taught that the box could be emptied by justice, mercy, and ultimate reconciliation. Time can be served, divine forgetfulness can be employed so that those doing wrong and those wronged can join the joyful throng in bowing the knee.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not many famous

These birds tried to crash our Bible Study one day last year.

Paul makes a pretty big deal about the modesty and humility of most of those who saw the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection. The everyday folks.

The power people are too invested in power and wealth and self to see the wisdom of the way Christ revealed Himself as a suffering servant.

We do not need better public relations, in fact, when we think the Tim Tebows and Bubba Watsons of the world will make Christianity grow we are mistaken.

The blurb about Tebows Easter speech drawing a huge crowd, and then having a chunk leave after he spoke and not stay to hear the preacher preach about Jesus was telling.

I also read about C.S. Lewis leaving his English Literatrue lectures to head to the pub for a brewsky, content as he said with monotony, when he was at that time a best selling author and radio personality whose 15 wartime lectures on God and Faith were listened to by 600.000 people at a time.

God uses the little things and the everyday folks to glorify Himself.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tax Time

Doing my own with Turbo Tax for the first time in several years. Things have gotten fairly routine except having lots more medical expenses this last year, so with the help of the records done by the Tax prep service I think I can get the job done.

Took a swing thought to the course today which helped, for those who missed me at the food prep morning, I am sorry but I really needed a day off as the last several weeks have had weekend events that were extensive and I missed my Friday off with work and preparation. Thanks.

Why do I think that the Tour Bible Study is different than the Tim Tebow kind of interest? The tour Bible study began in 1965 by Kermit Zarley and has been a wednesday evening fixture at each event for decades. The players support each other but do not promote or share the names of those who attend. The players who hugged Bubba on Sunday are genuinely sincere about trying to live out their faith as pros, Baddely, Crane, Bryd, Fowler, Simpson, Kucher and others are careful not to say God was with them helping them to win, but they thank God when given a chance.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Bagdad Florida is near Pensacola, and good ole Bubba Watson is my tall golf hero. A bible believing member of the tour Bible Study, and good ole southern boy who can hit the ball a mile, and has the short game and the mental toughness to win the Masters. I enjoyed the annual struggle immensely and am glad for an American golf win as well in these days when golfers around the world are excelling.

Most moving moment was his uncontrolled weeping at reaching this goal, while deeply desiring his father to be alive to see it. Gripping, I was tearing up and blowing my nose until I got a nosebleed.

Living beyond Easter

Well, I gave this Easter my best shot, preached the Pauline King Jesus Gospel, unveiled the deeper meaning the the hell words to show a message that is good news for the whole world yet calls us to live out the Kingdom Vision of God and be Christ in this world, and know we are going to face judgment without fear because we walk in love.

It is a view that does challenge some other visions of God and the Gospel, and must therefore be given a place in the ongoing conversation between various faith groups in the Christian tradition.

Its an old truth that got put away by tradition, and power, and abuse. It was hidden by people who wanted us to give up this present world as unworthy, so they could live in greed and lust. It allowed them to do acts of violence and believe they were serving God.

The gospel of grace and truth and peace in Christ the King has won, is winning and will win in reconciling all things to the Father, who will become all in all.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A watchable Masters weekend

Kapalua Golf Resort, Maui.
I did get to golf once on Oahu, too much trouble to lug your club through the airport though.

I used to boast long ago that I could recognize a lot of golfers just seeing them from the rear as they walk the course. A golfer who enjoys watching golf can really learn more about the game and the swing and the mental aspects and tempo just by watching.

The beauty of grass, pine trees and azaleas makes the weekend very special. Add the history and drama and personality and tradition and you have something very special.

There are some views of believing in the gospel that tell us we must save people or the blood of the lost will be on our records. There's no time for anything but to warn them, no time for hobbies, no time for recreations, preach! preach! Implore!

My understanding of faith allows me to enjoy life in all its variety, for the good news permeates and glorifies our enjoyment of all things, even beauty and human development and sporting competition. I even know how many of those professionals are trusting in the Lord and serving Him through their sport. Not many make it that far, and....those guys are good.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Books and Faces

There is nothing more forlorn that books sitting on a shelf not being read.

I love learning from books, some are more visual and hearing oriented and learn more from listening, and I am sure they are both equally important.

That said I do not like our cultures tendency to create super ministers who have a star like following and are recognized everywhere and whose pronouncements and positions become like protestant popes.

That said I have really enjoyed a series by Louie Giglio we watched this month. It contained a long and poignant story of a three month walk with Christ, a tragic death, and evidence of how grace works among the college age students he is trying to reach.

A God big enough to make the Universe and small enough to knit the human body together in amazing ways, must be able to speak through pain and loss, as Christ's pain and loss are at the heart of grace and the new covenant.

One more powerful illustration that resurrection has no meaning for everyone apart from His identification with us in our suffering and death. That tasting of death for everyone is the heart of Good Friday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lots of hope for change

I marvel that this image was captured by a tiny lense in my smartphone.

I have hope that the main focus of church will no longer be what God can do for me, but that I can enlist as a follower of a King, who is engaged in a campaign to do something for the whole of creation.

I have hope that we will realize that glorifying that King is actually a worthy thing because the King is kind and good and is not a petty tyrant who will cruelly punish his enemies forever.

I have hope that man will continue to work in the direction of judging a man by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin, or even the creed he or she currently espouses for one reason or another, usually because they inherited that creed from their parents or culture.

I have hope that I will live long enough for people to say he lived long enough.

I have hope that if I do not live long enough that I will live past the "fear of death" which I am learning, is the fuel for our foolish selfish strivings and our needs to have more stuff and to love people less.

I have hope that when this beautiful spring quickly yields to another oppressively hot Arizona summer, that I will cherish springtime in my soul, resurrection in my daily walk, aonian life in every thought, and God's love in every day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter as an outreach?

Hearing a beautiful flute is special.

Lots of churches hope to turn visitors on Easter into attenders and are putting as much of a production together as possible. One local megachurch usually has a catchy theme with banners and signs. We are having bells and brass and joint choirs.

For many lapsed or grown up children who no longer go to church weekly, the twice yearly pilgrimage into the special Christmas or Easter Service gives plenty of reason for churches to hope some will come back and stay. The very pledge we make to seek the lost continually suggests this is a good strategy.

I would rather have someone I invited come on a normal, no so ramped up service so their expectations would not be so ramped up.

No matter how churches have tried to dress things up with dark rooms and smoke machines and cool instruments and arrangements. It is still someone leading, people singing and praying, and hearing a message that gives hope. Our people like songs they are sung before, and I understand that.

The resurrection from the dead sounds just as earthshaking when sitting on a couch as it does through all the bells and whistles of a high powered service. So mmany have given up on church these days among the young, many of whom are second generation non attenders, the attractional model is being replaced by the incarnational model. Love them where they are at, be with them outside the service, till they come for what they felt rather than what they see in the service.

A special day, but just one day, and for me, a living Lord is a daily experience.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Remodeling virus spreads!!

A year ago Laura and I bonded in a special way by living without a kitchen and cooking in a pot and microwave in the laundry room for two months, it was fun in a demented way. Now, said laundry room is a thing of the past waiting for matching cabinets and a new counter top.

Said counter top has been very special to me over the years, as it serves as a receptacle for whatever piles and bags of stuff I am hauling back and forth between the office and the home.

This kind of thing makes my wife very happy and that makes me very happy, and the matching cabinets will make the house more valuable, we hope.

Next place I expect the virus to hit, our master bathroom.

The ministry we donate our perfectly good cabinets too is really cool, there goal is to keep tons of stuff out of the landfill, give cabinets to remodel homes for free for old vets and the poor, and sell enough to the economy minded re-modelers to keep the hired help paid.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Observations

Been telling visitors how I enjoyed by hike in the Superstitions a few weeks ago.

Saw a young women running on a treadmill at the gym, her black and white text Kindle dialed so that five lines of huge print would show, running full speed her right hand would strike the page advance every ten seconds or so. Speed reading at its finest!

Strange realization of the relationship between my digital world and the real world. Watching ladies golf from Palm Springs on Saturday and the winds were ripping, then Sunday they arrive here in Pheonix. Makes the world seem more connected somehow to me.

Had free movie channels on my cable all weekend, thanked the Lord that I do not pay for any of these services.

Added a third tomato plant to my Topsy Turvey, I have always known that people with gardens are blessed to see how God slowly feeds the world from the soil and sun and lots of tending, and watering.

Ate a quick meal at Taco Bell and saw two teen age boys so large and soft that I became angry at what fast food has done to our culture, and know these boys will be teased and spurned for the flabbiness of their bodies when they desire to attract members of the opposite sex. Which will depress them and sent them back to Taco Bell.

Have begun to reread books that have affected me. A second slow reading is a pleasure as you remember how much you have remembered from the first time through, and it sinks deeper into your mind and heart.

Passed a heart attack anniversary and feel like I am blessed, am renewing battle against sugar and empty carbs as April is the last chance before hitting the pools this summer.

Easter messages leave me speechless, can never do justice to hope beyond the grave, but realize I have learned so much about the good news in the last decade that I am convinced that Jesus and the gospel are better than we have been taught.

It's early monday morning, time to get up and live and watch and read and visit some more. It's good.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

That man is no fool...

who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot quote, who died trying to reach the Auca Indians decades ago.

The fool says in his heart there is no God. Old Testament quote.

I have never been much on this April 1st thing, on Palm Sunday Christ was annointed King by a few followers and proceeded to become the Lord of the living and the dead, at His sacrifice. Hallelujah!