Tuesday, December 31, 2013
This is the clever title of a book by Richard Rohr about the second half of our life. Some things appropriate to the first half of our life become ridiculous in the second half.
You have met people trying to act and look young way beyond their natural aging process, still playing the ego boosting games, we all do it some times. But there are really opportunities to grow in vital ways if we accept the purpose of our lives for the second half of life. Very good book, my second time through.
My second half began against my will, when circumstances cast me out of tribal Christianity, my denomination, into the world of independent churches. The way I thought and taught was suddenly out of sync with my new congregation. They did not get me. It led to some interesting conflicts that were very helpful in bringing me to the point of being willing to test my worldview and my time developed theological glasses.
I was 44-45, a very good age to rethink and reframe, and the last two decades have allowed me the freedom, the pain, the struggle and the joy of finding out who I am and what I value.
It is amusing that the subject of my greatest conflict over the years has been endtimes theology. My first major breakthrough was understanding why the book of Revelation was written. And it was also the major thing that put me in a minority viewpoint and further pushed me away from the silliness of those who get caught up in trying to figure out the times and the seasons.
I am still on this journey beyond my first identity, it was very important and necessary to do all those things, but I am firmly turning my eyes and ears away from the crowded way and listening to the still small voice that met me at 17 and promised that the truth would set me free.
All this to say I will be looking as passages from the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ next month, God's purpose for the church
Monday, December 30, 2013
We welcomed our neighbors and church folks to our home for refreshments yesterday and enjoyed the food and the interactions with newer folks at church and watching them get to know each other.
I am in the office planning for next week, and wondering what direction to go with my messages, transitions require a blend of personal desire and sensitivity to the leading of the spirit.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Waiting for friends to visit. Another year leading folks in worship and teaching over.
Been preaching since 1973, about 40 years, still love it, even though its fallen out of fashion as a career calling. Trying to keep the home fire burning and keep it fresh after all these decades. Keep finding treasures old and new to examine and parse.
Been preaching since 1973, about 40 years, still love it, even though its fallen out of fashion as a career calling. Trying to keep the home fire burning and keep it fresh after all these decades. Keep finding treasures old and new to examine and parse.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Finishing the short series on the prophecy of Isaiah, it was rewarding although much of the book is so filled with national references and metaphors of judgment that it is still to me a hard read.
I am not sure many have grasped the idea of fulfillment that means all of Israel's promises are fulfilled in Christ and all of Israel's future included the expanded promises to the Gentiles.
This wonderful Christmas and New Year in the middle of the week have given Laura and I some very great time together, although we are preparing to welcome folks for an afternoon Holiday open house tomorrow afternoon.
Excited that the schedule offers the same extended rest and time to reflect upon another year ahead. Its good, and I am very grateful.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Time fascinates me. I think thats why photography is so cool. I capture time and freeze a moment so I can prove to myself that I was at that place at that time, and that my memory had preserved the event as well, though not with such detail.
Once for five minutes I had a weird experience with time that I will share Sunday. I was 38, and visiting a town I had left twenty five years earlier. I was standing at the trophy case of the High School I would have attended if we had not moved. I saw pictures and exploits and trophies of my thirteen year old buddies, they had happened in the future for them, but now they were old and worn and over 20 years after those high school days two decades ago.
These friends were frozen in my memory in Junior High, they had futures I missed, and now they were long past. A future I never knew collided with a past I never knew when my Junior High friends went on without me.
So, we have pasts and futures, and only the present to live them. I wonder what a timeless or more properly a timeful life will contain, when people from your past appear in your age enduring present and you remember the slice of time you shared, and yet you renew the relationship from the perspective of what God was teaching you in that journey, and how the imperfect past melds into the perfected future with seamless joy.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
My, my time flies. Another Christmas day in the past, 2013.
Ben says it was his best Christmas ever in terms of getting his wishes fulfilled.
Melissa got an Ipad Air, very cool and very essential for her design career.
I got a shirt, cologne and some workout gear. I am easy when all my electronics are up to date.
Laura is at Target shopping for half price party plates for our Open House on Sunday pm.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Now that we have been empty nesters for a good while, Christmas often means waiting for family to come and visit. It means the presents are still under the tree and I am totally immersed in the Disney Parades.
Building some Trip anticipation for our spring visit to Disneyland, yep, its been over two years.
Went to get a Christmas paper and saw two ambulances headed to the hospital, a Sun Lakes reality moment that emergencies never schedule themselves politely.
Getting hungry and a Turkey Breast is in the oven and all our Christmas special dishes. yum.
Enjoy your Christmas day, friends and family.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Troy and Denise throw a yearly dinner party for their friends and decorated their home and yard, celebrate with fine food and beverages, provide entertainment and games, and generally create a joy and Christmas spirit that makes this evening a highlight of our year.
The fact that both sets of grand parents are with their children and 9 month old Cloe brought out the most joyous of generational connections. You can see the effects that a new grandchild makes in the plans and purposes of the proud family.
This is a musical family, and the professional pianist lightened up the evening with his rendition of the traditional songs and also added a set from Phantom of the Opera that was breathtaking.
And the food, the feast, prime rib and salmon, and shrimp cooked in butter. Believe it or not all this does not raise my blood sugar. Cannot say this for my waistline.
People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.....who said that?
Monday, December 23, 2013
Remembered the early days when the Curtis Mathes store rented tapes and after we bought our first VHS I bought my first home movie for my young children, it was Mary Poppins.
Remember the first time through my machine ate the tape and I was faced with my first technology failure and return. I never quite trusted VHS after that.
Remember giving my whole VHS set away a few years ago. Still miss some of those fav movies.
Remember how cool DVDs are, and almost indestructabe.....almost....don't step on them.
Own Mary Poppins on DVD, love it every year.
Saw Saving Mr. Banks last evening with deep enjoyment and some tears. Kind of brought real life, and books and Disney movies full circle for me. Highly recommend the movie.
Bought Despicable Me 2 for grandkids....tastes and animation continue to change, big time. I endure the movie and my grands love it.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
A dedication of the great, great, grandaughter of Josephine R. little Cloe was a beauty. Then a farewell to good friend, spiritual brother, Hank H. Life and death and the love and service between those two is what it is all about.
God knows our weakness and through this world is full of trials we are safe because He loves us, and Christ bridged the gap.
This week means alot to all of us, some are lonely, I know that, some are overwhelmed, some are very blessed, and I am one of them.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Then to now famous locally to a dead end street where everyone decorates to the hilt and the house at the end has a Bethlehem walk in the backyard. Very crowded, thousands walking and driving by, trying to park, crazy stuff. I was impressed that many of the homes created outdoor bars in their double garages for partying through the long month of craziness on the street.
Friday, December 20, 2013
REALITY TV SUCKS, BIG TIME. GO AHEAD AND GET HOOKED ON IT, I DON'T CARE IF YOU WANT TO WASTE YOUR TIME.
I mean that...not about Duck Dynasty which does not interest me, but about anything which ever has or ever will take place in front of a camera. It cannot be and is not real.
When I encourage Laura to pose or say something or do something for my video camera it is not real, she instantly acts. When I catch her doing something or walking ahead of me, my favorite thing to do by the way, then it is real, a slice of life.
Any Christian speaking in front of any camera is not really real. He or she is aware of the camera and is therefore being careful about what they say.
Christian TV is not real, in any way shape or form, it is performance. I dislike Christian TV big time.
Reality TV is a cash cow, its about and profit, and the Duck family is happily being used to make big bucks by being their good ole southern boy hunter fisherman, persona. I dont care how real they used to be, if a camera is there, it is not real.
HAVE I MADE MY POINT, AM I OVERREACTING? Read a book, even fiction, its better for you. Watch movies, they are not real, but they are entertaining.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
little brother is trying to keep up with big sister even though he cannot walk. Christmas past.
A dozen of us attended the new adaptation of C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce at the Herberger Theatre last evening. It was an interesting and fulfilling performance that featured the blending of video backdrop with three actors playing all the roles including C.S. Lewis.
The director and book adapter was Max McLean who was present and did an after show QandA.
I thought they did a great job of presenting Lewis idea that heaven is more real than the Shadowlands.
I asked our folks if the idea of a bus between heaven and hell was attractive to them, for it is a concept that does not exist in evangelicalism. One shot at the truth and its over.
Fun evening, even though I took some heat for not noticing that the play started a 8 instead of 7. Why would anything start at 8 on a school night, he said, unobservedly.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
For some reason the spirit of Christmas has not warmed the cockles of my heart yet. I am looking forward to the change of schedule and my wife's two week vacation. Relaxing and enjoying the family.
Confessed to the bible study that I am a radical, from the latin radix, meaning committed to finding the original roots of the issues of life and faith. Willing to break with conventional views and traditions. Can't really help it.
December mornings bring memories of June Vacations.
Early last year we were celebrating our Wedding Anniversary with a dinner date and concert. The phone call from Dianna was hard to hear and I was not sure how serious the story she was telling me was at the time.
Yesterday we got their Christmas letter and yes, Dianna is a survivor of pancreatic cancer, still recovering, still hopeful, still aware of the uphill odds against long term survival.
Dianna was a very special office assistant a decade plus ago who helped me and the church through my first rather startling and personally traumatic heart attack. They have moved often since then, and struggled with life's curve balls on many occasions, and we have remained friends.
I was so grateful to hear from their family and see their wonderful daughters, and to renew my regular prayer for Dianna's health and long life, and thankful that such health challenges make us treat every day as a gift. God bless you today dear Stark family. dear Dianna, we love you.
Monday, December 16, 2013
A selfie at a funeral? President acting like a frat boy? Is all this a sign of the descent of our culture?
Just heard all those words on Fox news as I type this morning, and its hard not to agree how much we have changed... particularly leadership by principles.
Meditating upon Isaiah 40 about the power of God to lift up and put down countries, and wondering if the new covenant emphasis on the movement of God to be vulnerable at the cross and speak with love and freedom does give us the ability to sink our own ship.
I still believe and hope that God stays close as we flee from the foundations, because His love is stronger than our own delusions of grandeur, for he knows we are dust in the wind, the plant that grow up and withers and is blown away.
Help us Lord to find our center and our strength from you.
P.S. the Navy Orchestra and Singers are now singing the Hallelujah Chorus, and there you have it, there is hope for joy to the World.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Love this time of day when the worship has concluded and the afternoon is young. Some football, some golf, some reading, some napping, some visiting with spouse, some relaxation with happy movies. Good times.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
We had a celebration of life for 92 year old Marge who died Thanksgiving Eve. She was a delight, as is her storytelling family she loved.
Took over the financial burden when her husband lost his health early. They lived a full joyful active life as she enjoyed serving the community and church in so many ways.
Lots of laughs and good food at Laura's staff party last night.
Friday, December 13, 2013
If you are talking about God and the Gospel you might be in a conversation about belief and understanding of the various stand out verses and our understanding about theology. I enjoy such conversations because they stretch us and help us to a better understanding of how we agree and differ.
Sometimes you are hanging with people who share an agreement on all the major issues, and it is very special to agree on so many things and then to seek to balance and extend our thinking into what is commonly called the whole counsel of God.
As one who has a lifelong interest in the Bible, theology, church history, doctrine....I live and breathe this stuff, and when you get to stand on common ground with people on the same place in the journey, it is sweet fellowship. It is not about agreeing to disagree, or saying OK thats your view and I don't share it, but we still love each other. Its about enjoying the truth together so we can encourage one another.
That was this morning with two brothers. Sweet.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I installed my first of 20 sets of Invisilign braces yesterday, yes my life is an open book. Age was pushing my bottom teeth so out of line that I was biting my lip when I eat. Some residual health benifits are involved as well. I call it my investment in the belief that I have a future.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Longfellow was a friend and of Abraham Lincoln and the author of a poem that served to make the Christmas song I heard the bells on Christmas day. The civil war was of course the backdrop of the somber nature of the poem, and the hopeful last verse.
Our choir will be singing two versions of the song on Sunday.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Been interacting with friends over this issue of evangelicalisms obession with making a decision for Christ. Part of the church adopted the idea of baptismal regeneration long ago to swell the number of those in the church. Baptized infants are members of the body of Christ and washed by the blood of Christ at their baptism, (although they must show the fruits of it later, although in my experience no baptized children are ever removed from the roles by an act of the church).
Many have taught that none of the benefits of salvation become active until a person uses their will to "make a decision" to follow Jesus. The decisions are recorded on the belts or pelts of the church leaders to show they are growing.
I like the term obey, used quite a bit in scripture, because it involves submission to the will of God and a turning away from following your own will. Obedience is tested over the long haul, while a decision can wax and wain or be sincere or emotionally motivated but not really life changing.
Decisions are emotional, ego driven, like my decision to diet. Obedience is the act of actually doing what it takes to lose weight, day in day out.
Monday, December 9, 2013
We had a wonderful man in our church who passed away two years ago. Kind, loving, servant. He asked me to remember his high school friend the last time I went to the Arizona Memorial in Honolulu. They were in the Saxaphone line of his high school band.
He had played in the band the night before the Pearl Harbor attack and was one of those entombed in their bunks when the Arizona took a direct hit.
There is young fresh faced Bill and there is his friend who died at 19 while Bill lived well into his 80s. You never forget moments like that when you see the wall of names and find the young man there enshrined.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It was a great morning of music and reminders that we need to be rescued a lot in our lives.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
The freedom of information on the web can sometimes clash with the reality of the real world. I was searching for a vehicle to allow me to put extra money into tax deferred savings. The web made it sound like boiler plate easy and the law office made it sound like they were diffusing a bomb and it would take many hours of "due diligence" at 300 bucks an hour to protect me and them from the dreaded auditors. After two lawyers in two fifteen minute conversations I begged to be allowed to leave without opening my wallet.
Many years since Pearl Harbor, even 10 year olds living in 41 are in their 80s. As the news reports the event is fading in our national memory there are some events that must be reintroduced to make us aware of agressive small nations that are willing to make a big risk to achieve small goals. Japan and Germany are now our partners, but then insane leadership led us to World War II.
We must therefore watch nutjobs in North Korea, Iran, and yes, even religiously led leaders in Israel. Peace is that important.
Three weeks, no golf, this time its the nippy weather, and our game to see how long we go until we heat our home is beginning to get chilly. It was 38 outside our home and 62 inside this morning.
Post script to fine dining day at Lauras elementary school. It actually worked, the discussion of manners, the dressing up, the teachers eating with students, the menu....all the kids got into it and yes it gives hope that we all grow up and learn the basics of not grossing out our fellow diners. I mentioned to our dining group last night that putting our elbows on the table should be allowed to help old people keep their stability at the table, its just too comfortable to be wrong!!!!
Friday, December 6, 2013
Great young adults, very proud of them both.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Laura is dressed in an evening outfit.The kids at her Elementary School are going to read a book on manners at the table and actually practice during lunch time. Laura says you do not want to be in the lunch room watching kids eat these days. A report will follow the event.
Spent 20 minutes with a lawyer yesterday and he said the introductory meeting would cost $450, sheesh!
Experiencing some cold for us weather today and for a few days. We can handle it.
Being a motel this evening for a marine and his sister traveling from Kansas to LA to put him on a plane for his next tour of duty in Oahu, Hawaii. Some one has to serve there.
Wish I had a crystal ball to see what this healthcare bill is going to do to healthcare.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
His descendants have created a cottage industry with prints and recreations of his life work. This Christmas Laura is framing two of the prints for our home, and believe me, the frames, even on super sale, cost more than the prints. You want the colors and textures to set off the beauty of the artwork.
In my experience of Christianity, the way we frame the artwork of the gospel is as important as the work itself. Although the original artist has finished the work, there must always be a contemparary framing that fits where we are in our journey. We have arrived at that point in history where some of the ways in which our faith has been portrayed and lived are no longer creating the focus on the work itself. It is exciting and necessary to see people try to create the backdrops so the beauty of the story will shine through another era in restoring humanities hope.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Talking to the daughter of an independent missionary who passed away recently in his 90s. He left not one scrap of paper indicating his wishes or concerns about his widow after his death, no will, no promises extracted from relatives.
Wondering if the idea of not being in the world that pervaded the church's when he came of age had contributed to his neglect of practical matters?
Trying to balance my own efforts to thin kpast the last regular paycheck to life past retirement. Hearing the mantra that perhaps came from the same kind of thinking....ministers don't retire, they preach until they drop. Retirement is a worldly idea...etc.
I am hoping for an active retirement, which includes preaching and teaching, mostly teaching, but one which contains enough flexibility for a weekend trip, a visit to another church, an occasional visit to Bedside Baptist, which is a church that existed in every community I ever lived, especially when I was whistling dixie.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Lots of fun golf from Australia. I wish Australia were not on the other side of the world, it looks like a fun place.I have a friend headed that way and hope she gets to see it all.
Good day in church with flute and oboe Christmas music.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Another of our long time members passed yesterday, lived into her 90s, struggled to hear and see but what a life of love and service she had, great family, a real Proverbs 31 kind of woman. Farewell Marge.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Laura, my love, dressed for dining with friends.
In the last three weeks I have said goodbye to three men who served their country well, loved their family deeply, and made an impact in their churches and community.
Hank was our reader and led our congregation in prayer weekly for many years, career Air Force Air Traffic Controller. Tom was career Air Force fighter pilot in Korea and Vietnam. Today we buried Bill, a WWII Marine who was awared a Purple Heart, and served as a firefighter for 30 years.
I have been priviledged to enjoy the families of Americas Greatest Generation for the last decade and presiding at their homegoings never gets easy. Taps, Flag Folding, deep reverence and honor....its changed me.
Our Turkey growing friends say that the number of companies that package whole Turkeys for roasting has diminished greatly over the last years as more of the meat goes into processed cuts. This yearly ritual is such fun, but many don't know how or don't have the time and interest to do a big one.
It was delicious, I love turkey meat, dark and white, and dressing, and cranberries, and mashed potatos and sweet potatoes and salads made of broccoli and bacon, and spiral cut hams, which we enjoyed at our second Thanksgiving with our Son.
Fun, reatful, sunny Arizona Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Hope your day is special, connected to the great memories of your past, and the hopes for the future. The floats are in the air and flying low to the ground. Families are freezing and kids are excited. It's America, the land of the free.
Our nation is in a crisis of leadership and direction and much division, but the cooperation of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade reminds us of the good we enjoy. A Band that plays and marches with precision, the icons of our TV culture floating overhead to remind us we were all kids once, and much of what we do involves our children and our family.
Too many of my fellow Christians kind of fall into a trap of pronouncing this kind of celebration worldly. I think it is a part of the wonder of celebrating the fact that we are engaged with the beauty, drama, and celebration of life in our unique country. Sure its over the top, and a bit commercial, but that is kind of who we are.
The fact that I am not a super consumer at my age is OK, and the fact that not everyone can fly to NYC to participate indicates that young folks have raised money in their home towns to make the trip of a lifetime, and someone somewhere needs the many goods and services that are available in a free market economy.
Long may our banner wave. Enjoy.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Yep, I like the traditions we enjoy this time of year. I like the Macys Parade, the football, the turkey, the whole experience with seasonal music, the Christ child stories.
I don't want to fight over my private or public celebrations. I cannot change the political climate of secularism. I actually agree that there is healthy division in our constitution that will never allow any Muslim to insist I bow to Allah, as there is no blue law that forbids someone from buying groceries on Sunday.
My holiday joys and wishing Merry Christmas are not political statements, just heartfelt parts of my life, because Jesus belongs to the world.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Now and then, when aches and pains increase, I can see why people long for release from the body. It is the vehicle through which we live and when we are not in peak running condition the problems cloud your ability to enjoy each day.
Pinched or sore nerve, or hip degeneration or who knows what, that has been going on for a month. Adjustments have given temporary relief, pain killers short term dulling, but it persists. I am not willing to live with it like this.
Still thankful for the parts of my body that work, for a good life, for caring friends, for beauty in all forms.
Monday, November 25, 2013
I visited Deely Plaza once. I was a pretty convinced conspiracy advocate. Over the weekend most folks just wanted to lay it to rest and pin the deed on Lee Harvey Oswald. I still enjoyed the oddballs on the other side, and such a long time has passed that we may never know, and it may never matter.
History is like pinball, the trajectory changes things, and that successful assassination really changed things, and I guess every president has no idea which bill, which incident, which political decision will carry us forward on a bad trajectory.
I am trying to stop obsessing about it all and live in the precious present moment which has enough cares and duties to take care of the rest of the day.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
No thanks, I don't need it, my life is upright, I have performed sufficiently for you to require death to those whose achievements and efforts fall short of mine. Bring it.
Romans 10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
The golf course was closed on account of rain. Huge cactus, decades old, gave up the ghost in crashing piles as the soil let them go. Deserts are not designed for long soaks like this, we don't have quick absorption so the city is on alert for flooding everywhere.
As this rain coincided with my off day, I took full advantage along with my cat to read and relax and enjoy the freshness of the air. Laura, on the other hand, was surrounded by soggy children from before 7 am till they went home, with only a 20 minute lunch to catch a breathe.
As much as we love our evening out with friends, Laura's dilapidated psyche and other issues caused us to stay home, put on our jammies, and carry the quiet refreshment of an evening at home to its completion.
I watched some of the ceremony in cold and wet Dallas. I did some pre Thanksgiving thankfulness for the life God has granted me in this nation, as I have somehow skirted the worst of the damage done by hostility, war, and enmity, and have mostly been allowed to live a quiet and peaceful life, of which this quiet day was a pleasing example.
Thirteen was always a good number to me, despite its bad reputation, and 2013 will go down in my books as a good year. We enjoyed three of our favorite places on earth, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Hawaii. We saw family and friends. I continued to deepen my understanding of the gospel of grace and peace, and survived another summer in the desert, thanking God that there are occassional streams in the desert that make life recharge itself.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Reflecting with a great deal of Thanksgiving my life viewed from five decades since the Kennedy Assasination. For some reason when we spent a weekend at the New York Worlds Fair my one souvenir was a pack of pictures of the early Kennedy years. I would leaf through that box of black and whites from time to time. I am sure I was a bit caught up in the youth and glamor of the first family at the time, but the sudden and tragic ending changed me forever.
Each decade was so full of discovery and joy, and a bit of struggle.
The 60s were full of rebellion, but mild and enjoyabe as I came of age and encountered personal faith.
The 70s were full of education, romance, and young love.
The 80s were full of service, and bills, and kids, and getting used to my adult self.
The 90s were filled with an attempt to reach my dreams, big geographic moves and adjustments
The 2000s were full of challenges in my health, my work, and my theological foundations.
This youngish decade has given me rest, deep joy, and a realization that life on this earth has an uncertain cancellation date.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
There is a little old man who drives his mobile chair to McQueen and Ocotillo and holds a sigh that says "God Bless You" as he waves at passing cars.
Having some struggles with nerve pain in my right leg, my chiropractor fixed it yesterday but it slipped or was pulled back out of place over night, still moving and lifting at the gym, which I enjoy.
Nice meeting with my financial advisors today, gettin my self employed act into gear so we can have enough to get to the end of our lives. Save, Save, Save.
One of my gym friends lost her father over the weekend, she reported that he was a lapsed Catholic and quite beligerent about his faith, but near the end he quietly submitted to the last rites. Interesting, and I was very grateful to have some input into my friends struggles to provide end of life care. We preachers need to get out among regular folks when we can.
Everytime I think violence against the innocent has reached new lows something else pops up, the Knock Out game is appallingly and completely evil. We need help Lord.