Hawaii 2010

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Loving what is, not what might have been

Attending a huge crawfish broil in Louisiana in the early 80s was a memory. The real men suck the heads, but I just went for the tiny sliver of meat at the end.

Sorry I engaged in a bit of self pity yesterday. Our lives unfold and we make good and bad decisions, and no decisions, and we learn. I am just getting used to the fact that a long quest is over, it has matured, and I have other ideas to explore and better ways to learn and practice faith and love working together.

I mentioned that I had been so engaged in theology that I quit reading fiction for over a decade, and now I am remembering that good fiction can be as deep a learning experience as any other type for literature. The two Stephen King works have explored the 60s from his point of view and were most enjoyable.

I am excited about finding new purpose, hoping for good health and continuing to cherish each day as a gift whether it be mundane or memorable. Very happy and blessed 2013 to each of you who stops by for a moment.

If Only, If Only

I have been emotional lately. Who knows why. Maybe viewing 2000 slides from the late 60s and 70s. Maybe reading two Stephen King novels about that same era. Maybe because thats what we do when the year comes to an end and another looms, with the ominous number 13 in its name.
Some of my Whitworth College students, just a few years younger than I was in 1978.

I think there was one moment when I could have made a life changing decision and did not. I was very disappointed with the life I was leading as a small town pastor, but very drawn to two part time opportunities that occurred during the years from 1976 to 1980.

I taught college kids at my alma mater and at a small start up Christian College in Brookhaven Mississippi named Whitworth, for the methodist buildings they were renovating. I taught Old and New Testament Survey in the evenings, and Romans in the mornings at Whitworth.

I should have read the signs, and taken my wife and family back to school for a doctorate and become a professor. If only, if only. Instead I tried to deny my calling and leave the ministry with disastrous results.

So, I have been an egghead pastor who, as one of my members said, reads too many books.
I have also used the last dozen years to test the things I had been taught in college and seminary bible courses, and have outgrown some of the boxes.

I can see the end of my four decades of pastoring churches looming ahead. I am no longer dissapointed, but occasionally I think....if only, if only.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

An odd occurrence that troubles me

Southern Belles from this former southerner reminicing about his years in the deep south.

Each year any extra funds that come in, like for wedding or funeral honorariums, they go into our vacation fund so we can enjoy time away.

Each year we receive a lovely gift from our congregation that we appreciate so much and hope to get something needed or something special.

Each year within a few days of receiving that gift something breaks down and needs fixed or replaced. Yesterday our Lennox heat pump outside began to smoke and smelled of burning wires.....??!!!

So we will be cold until Monday when we call a repair person. Laura thinks someone or something is out to keep us humble and poor. It occurs often enough to trouble me.
Any of you have this phenomenon in your finances, or is it just life?

Friday, December 28, 2012

My family, circa 1967

Life is a gift,our memories reflect an understanding of what we saw and felt and learned in our family of origin as we take what we were given and grow with it. This home on Parkway Dr. was my jumping off place to a life of my own. My parents last stand alone home before moved to Houston TX and apartment life. Two youngest had high school graduations, Dad traveled and mom worked in a drugstore. I had a car and a license and gas was cheap.Well, that is if you can call a British Morris Minor a car? Good times.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thoughts on Les Miserables

Having seen the stage play twice and enjoying the music over the years, I was not sure the movie would grab me with the same intensity as the play. It took some getting used to the way they sang the songs with more acting and less stage sounding, and my favorite songs were done with such pathos that I was moved.

For some reason the story itself stood out more boldly, and the main theme of Javeres obession with justice and law, and John Valjeans willingness to forgive, make amends and love others unconditionally.

The tragedy of Fontine's death made the final scene so poignant, that she who found rest in death would welcome John Valjean into heaven. You got the sense that even those who fought and died for freedom without seeing anything change would become the very martyrs for societal change.

Very powerful acting, singing, and sets. Long but worth it. Would I watch it often, probably not, but still a masterpiece.
I used to fish a lot in my early pastorates in the south, usually back yard lakes and public fishing areas from the bank. Here is a big one.

A mother, grandmother, and grand daughter many years ago enjoying the one thing that matters, being present with each other.

I have finished my huge box of slides that were dumped from various places into a box, and now have preserved some memories from the sixties, seventies and early eighties, and will now unload the dozen or so Kodak carosels trays from my folks variety of Kodaks cameras.

My goal is to seperate them into decades, or places lived or some thing and share them with family.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Family Day

Up the mountain to Payson to enjoy my son-in-laws family. a huge feast, fun gift exchanges and conversation, some moments of cold fresh mountain air and the remains of a week old snow storm. Fun. Hope all enjoyed your Christmas day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

A live manger scene from years past.

I woke up at 5am. I am very emotional for many reasons. One of my newer church attenders told me I seemed angry recently in my messages. It is not anger, its a combination of zeal and frustration. I so desire to reveal God in Christ, the one we sing about...you know....God and sinners reconciled.

Boyd Purcell in his book, Christianity without Insanity, shares what is one of the key issues with the way we have been traditionally taught, that atonement which was given to all sinners while they were still sinners, out of the love of the God who is love, has been morphed downward into a "provisional atonement". Which only applies to those who specifically request it and excludes then...sinners who need a God who loves and accepts them with grace. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them. Then the declaration to sinners, Be reconciled to the One who has already been reconciled to you.

I am angry and frustrated because the church has been mostly "sin counters", pointing out how much God hates sinners, and thereby short circuiting the one thing that can turn sinners into saints...grace.We sing it, and then radiate the opposite.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

When slides ruled

My parents got me into taking slides instead of prints, but I did a lot of both when I began to take pictures as a hobby and a way to preserve my memories. I remember my first real 35 mm camera, a Yashica viewfinder, which I truly enjoyed. It had such a solid feel and quiet operation.

Yet I began saving the colossal sum of 250 dollars for my Ricoh SLR, shiny black and so full of buttons and gadgets. I loved it as well right up until my son Matt pulled it off a table and it landed on the prism and that was that.

So now I am taking one last plod through the process of transferring those slides to digital, both my parents and my own, digging first through a box with about 1500, and then to the Kodak Carousels of my folks.

Its been fun reliving the late 70s and early 80s when our kids were born and babies and toddlers. If you remember, Kodak sold film in 12,24 and 36 shots and I mostly bought 36. I have no memory of struggling to pay for the prints and slides but it must have been occasionally enough for Laura to complain. I took so many really bad shots.

After I tranfer the digitals and am sure they took, I am going to toss the slides away forever, and ever and ever. Why, because digital rules.

What I did on the last day

Went shopping, and felt bad because I am so completely overwhelmed by all the stuff in the stores and I have no idea how to develop a sense of taste in clothing or discern what people I love may desire. I just don’t have what it takes and it frustrates me.

I keep getting attracted to kid toys, like all the toy helicopters, which I have bought and destroyed over the last several years. No more toy helicopters for us.
Saw James Bond, which had a sad revenge theme but some great chases and loyalty themes as well.

Ate chocolate, which is something that first grade teachers are showered with from the students. Dark chocolate is supposed to be good for you, but I love the cheap milk chocolate. The most unique was some chocolate that was formed and colored like little rocks. After all, it was the last day, so why worry.

Realized it was not the last day and remembered to be humbled by all end time texts and traditions, and to realize every human has a last day on this earth, and hopes for a world to come, in which love, mercy, justice and goodness prevail. And then I remembered I am called to bring that hope in some manner to this world, and I looked forward to tomorrow, which as I write is today.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time shall be no more?

Thats how the hymn goes. "When the trumpet of the lord shall sound and time shall be no more".

My own very amateur understanding of time and matter and physics tends to put me in agreement with Einstein, that time can be stretched with speed, but that if mass is involved there will of necessity be some kind of experience of passing time, unless the next age involves only spirit and nothing flesh.

Since the universe created by God is going to be redeemed by God, then there will be some sort of continuation of time.

All these hundreds of predictions talk of an end of days, and yes, I would imagine our own physical death will be an end of days, but I am not convinced the future involves a melting of the present world....ie. Peters destruction of the heavens and the earth is a symbol of the end of the world of the temple and the Jewish world.

Anyhow, looks like we have more time to ponder these things because I have not floated off my bed yet with a magnetic inversion....and I am still ready and happy to enter into the dawning of the age of Aquarius when peace and understanding begin to rule.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The King Jesus Gospel

The Wise Men worshiped the infant and gave him gifts, a new kind of King that would rule not with a rod of iron but the law of love and the gospel of peace.

The King has come to ransom and rescue lost territory and in due time will accomplish every goal he sets and states.

Do not fear if the enemy seems to be winning in any given day, the King is awake and at war against the darkness, and your little light is part of the plan, so let it shine on the King.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Passionate once more

As my views have changed about God's plan for the ages, I have such a renewed excitement about the good news of the ultimate victory of Christ oover sin, death, and the damage done through the destructive power of evil, that I get so passionate about it that those who have settled for a good news with a lesser scope are struggling with my message, and it's kind of heartbreaking.

People always think the ways they were taught are the best ways, that no better understandings can be reached, and changing is difficult to impossible for some.

The idea that evil plays a role in the good news that God has ordained for a greater purpose is to me so much more ennobling then a revelation of a God who has lost control to the evil one and is just running damage control. I say it and show it was a passion to set people free, and they struggle with it, and...as I said I am saddened that I have to be contrarian to ideas long hallowed but perhaps in need of testing for faultiness, and even as I write it I know it sounds boastful, but the very nature of unfolding revelation and newer and deeper understanding must allow that truths lost or dimmed can be recovered, and it can happen during my generation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Father loves his grandchildren

A picture like this is worth digging through a box of slides.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Return of Sunshine

A rainy Saturday has been followed by a return to delightful weather in which a dozen golfers from our church had an outing today.

Loving the Tuesday Christmas that creates long weekends of family time.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

National Grief

Parties and celebrations go better with cake.

I tried to say things to comfort this morning, it was a good day of worship, and another lovely wedding tonight between widow and widower. Fine food and a wedding cake from AJs fine foods, lots of good music by the crooner Perry Como.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baby on the way

Aunt Millie, Uncle Tom, Dara and Sherry, my dear family are about to welcome a great and grand child on the way very soon, way to go Sarah and Tim, a growing family.

An evening Christmas Party

Troy and Denise hold an annual soiree for their friends and share their delightful home and passion for Christmas decorating and fine dining with all who were there.

Singing carols, hearing from some very talented singers, dancing and dining the evening away. It was a very special evening.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Capture the past project, take 2

Six or seven years ago I borrowed a slide digitizer to save years of old slide from my early days in photography and my parents memories. It was time consuming and I made a big mistake or at the time did not realize I was saving them in bitmap rather than jpeg. and it became cumbersome to view and save them.

Soooo, today I bought myself a faster and better digitizer and began again, four slides at a time now, still time consuming, but worth it to see those years again.

Deep Sadness

Purposeless violence against children saddens us beyond our ability to understand. Why are very young adults doing this madness?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Didn't we Dance?

What a great day, the evening dinner and dance were a blast. Joy is Canadian so the room was half filled with Canadian friends and family, They are just like us mostly. Except they handle the cold better. What a way to celebrate a new couple and to enjoy the goodness of life and love.

12/12/12 12:12:12

Today I will be standing in John and Joy's backyard to hear their vows. I have heard their story. A story of love and life lived and lost. Of loving spouses deceased and the prospect of a long and lonely widowhood.

But for some, a chance meeting gives hope of new love, new memories, new blessed companionship, and that is what I will be doing on this numerically memorable date today. Fun.

1/18/75 6:00 pm, soon 38 years of love and companionship with my time traveler, Laura.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Friend John S

John and I met when he visited the church I was serving in Queen Creek almost 15 years ago at the bequest of a friend of his in leadership who wanted his opinion of what was wrong with my approach to the gospel.

It was about the whole tension between calvinism/arminianism but John thought I was OK and we struck up a friendship that has continued to deepen through the years, including his ringside seat on my first heart attack, our mutual embrace of the wider hope of the Gospel, and our love of the Lord and the word of God.

He may retire to another state and so we had a great breakfast with another friend Mike and had some good looks backward and forward. He also helped me sell and buy homes so we appreciated his career as well, and his gracious wife as well.

Friends are what makes the rougher parts of the journey bearable and joyful.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three favorite Christmas Albums

Now that I have been listening to Christmas Albums for 10 days I will share my three favorites from my collection of 20 albums. I mean, how many Christmas songs are able to be distinctive and beautiful enough to stand out?

Andrea Bocelli, My Christmas stands out not only for his strong voice but for the unique arrangements that add color to old favorites, 15 songs blend festive, religious and Italian just right, and God bless us everyone is destined to be a new classic.

Enya, And Winter Came, What can I say, no one sings, arranges and performs instruments like this artist. It takes her forever to produce something new and this one was worth it in every way. I am transported to another place when I listen.

Sarah McLachlan, Wintersong wins my current #1 with this album, her use of multiple tracks, deep echos along with that voice and the choices of songs slightly out of the ordinary like In the bleak Midwinter. Only ten songs but everyone is a hit, and my all time fav is one I don't quite understand, but love. I Wish I had a River to skate away on.

Get these, you will love them.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cantata with a helping of Quantam Physics

What beautiful music today for our combined Choir of 50 singers and a dozen musicians doing an encore of last years, "I hear the Prophet calling" by gifted arranger songwriter Pepper Choplin.

I mused a bit one the properties of light as the way in which time and distance can be harmonized in a grand future time we the lamb shall be the light of the city.

Great day in everyway.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


The Shack was written at a cross roads in the Young families life, there had been financial hardships which caused a forclosure on a house where they had lived for 18 years. A move to a small rental where he finished the manuscript he wrote to share his healing
experience and faith understanding of God with his children.

As he shared the story of how the book, self published and rejected by 26 publishers, began to spread by word of mouth, he continued to say that the first 15 copies, duplicated at a local copy store, were all he intended to share, and had done all he hoped it would.

18 million copies later, he is being filmed for a German documentary, a friend of a friend of a friend is filming a shot at that small rental house and asks Paul if he remembered an envelope with 5 twenty dollar bills under the door before Christmas that year when you first moved here?

It was me, the videographer said, I asked my friend if he knew a needy family. I was given this address and did not know you at all.

With tears in his eyes, Paul Young, author, said....I used that money to print the first 15 copies of my book for my family and close friends. The rest is history.

This genuine late blooming writer has tapped something real in relational theology and God's love of broken people. He is real and genuine enough to be a spokesman without become puffed up, the man and the message are the same.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Speaking of famous Authors

Apparently there is a line in one of Stephen Kings books where the subject is standing in a book store looking at a book, "Oh, that's the book my sister is always telling me to read, says it will change my life."

I chatted with the author of said book, Wm. Paul Young, who wrote "The Shack" at Barnes and Nobles

this morning. He came in early to do a book signing in Scottsdale and we had a conversation.

As I mentioned before, novels have been on the back burner for a while, so The Shack had been given to me for several months after it was widely published, and I picked it up with the me night I go out of bed at 3pm, showered, and drove myself to the emergency room, walked in and told them I was having a heart attack.

This was 2007, and I have since sworn not to drive myself to the ER, and sure enough they gave me some stents to relieve heart attack #2, and I read The Shack in two days...and wept and thought deeply about this story of an angry hurting man who had a little visit with the members of the Trinity to help him with his healing.

Christians attacked and panned the book, and being an English major and a Christian minister, I got it, deeply and profoundly.

So today I bought his second book, heard a lovely story sermon from him to those who came early for the signing, and bought a copy of "Cross Roads" More to come later.


I have no idea why time travel is such fun for me to imagine, but I think it is related to the way my brain has sectioned my history because of my timeline in history.

Mom and Dad, circa 1975, with Laura, my constant, who travels through time with me.

See, my folks moved a good bit for jobs. You know that about me if you have followed this blog. Each time we moved, this little boy ended relationships, and locations, and had to orient himself to new places and people, and thus, the old places found compartments in the grey matter of my brain to live.

I imagine if you have lived in one town and one house all your life you would still have the same memories, but less organized??????

Therefore, what I love about my memories about the past is that they bring worlds no longer available, memories that are filed by age, ie. 58-61; 61-64, 64-68.

So, If guess what I am saying is that my memories are my form of time travel, and I know that if I did not move, my life would have headed in an unknown trajectory, but the way it worked, good, bad and ugly, is the way the Creator knew would be good in the long run. So, I am probably through with this subject, and still love time travel stories.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No Back to the Future

In the series lost, we learned that the main characters had been watched and chosen and even had their young lives interfered with by the man in white from a light house.

OK I accept the fact that the "butterfly effect" makes travel to the past unwise, you never know what any action you make to change the past will affect the future in adverse ways. We learned that from the movie back to the future when they had to undo the alternate Biff timeline when he got hold of the future sports scores.

I wander what happens when a bad memory of an event is healed in the present? In other words, you took a scar and turned it into a star. You have changed the you future for the better. I think that is why transformation is better that regret and wishing we could change the past. 2

The other big issue that has crossed my mind lately in this regard is God's need to put some people through really crappy lives in order to accomplish His purposes. The illustration I am currently using is generation 3-9 of the sons of promise in Egypt.
They were slaves so God would have a large number of them to fulfill His promise to Abraham that a great nation would come from his seed. But what was the quality of their life and freedom???? There is a past that needs to be recompensed in a future life. Just thinkin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Satisfying glimpse at possibility and reality

A blooming Texas Sage....got Texas on my mind.

So I have learned from Stephen Kings entertaining novel 11/22/63 that changing the past can have catastrophic effects on the future. It was a moving book about the events surrounding the assassination of the president and about what all good books are about, a love story, a fine one, and heroism and selflessness.

After finishing I went to You Tube and looked at some videos about the event, and realized that when I started studying the Assasination you only had books and occasional TV specials around the anniversary, now you have just about everything recorded available for your instant viewing. Times have changed.

I am still not convinced that Oswald acted alone, and it was David Liftons book about the physics of the head shot and the shenanigans of the body transport that still make me wonder, it was called Best Evidence.

Seems so long ago now that this 8th grader burst into the lunchroom with the news from a passerby in a car and told to teachers what had happened, only to be scolded for making up such a lie. I gave them the scoop, and that whole weekend burned into my brain so much so that I call it the weekend I left childhood behind. I was never quite so innocent about the world from that moment on.

Years later I would stand behind the fence on the grassy knoll and still see how easy that shot would be compared to Oswalds a football field away.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reading a Novel

The little tree in front is now as big as the tree in back, which was cut down, and my grandchildren are climbing in a tree we planted just a few years ago. Time and growth stop for no one.

I began my reading life with novels when I caught the reading bug in Junior High, I still enjoy them, but in recent decades have been studying theology with a passion and a fun book was a rare treat.

I am not a fan of Stephen King but really wanted to read his novel about trying to change the past, namely the Kennedy assassination. As those years are burned into my memories, even the Cuban Missile Crisis brought back a memory of sitting under my desk wandering how it would shield me from a nuclear attack.

I am really enjoying 11/22/63, but don't tell me the ending, I am still in the middle. For me also, is the realization that e reading for me is more enjoyable on a sepia screen with a strong backlight, I am really enjoying the Kindle Fire, and my subscription to Prevention Magazine for a little over a buck a month. I like the way you can flip pages, and when you are reading an article you can switch to page format for easy reading and then back to the magazine. Technology amazes me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday Joy

The Tenth Annual Neighbors Who Care Fundraiser with the Chandler Symphony and the Sun Lakes Choral was a Christmas music delight with a sing a long and the annual playing of the Sleigh Ride song with the clapper and the whinny of the horse. Fun, and the Hallelujah Chorus.

I surrender to all the joys of the season and let them wash me with the message of hope.

I think the Chandler Symphony has to be unique to cities our size. How can you assemble 80 trained classical musicians to learn complicated music and serve for free. It has young college grads to octogenarians and most of the concerts are free with donations.

For all you season folks, we have yet to have rain or anything but shirtsleeve weather since fall began, super delightful. I wander if all that rain in California with drift this way.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Shannon

A one year old picture of Shannon, who will be 13 this week. They shopped and we will enjoy the annual Christmas concert with the Chandler symphony orchestra and a Sun Lakes Chorale doing the Christmas portion of the Messiah. Great afternoon.