Hawaii 2010

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Algodones, Mexico

Melissa and Matt when they were young.

Its been a while since I crossed the border, last time I was so saddened by the begging and poverty I pretty much decided it was not a great shopping experience for me. But today I travel with some friends for the joy of driving and hope to have a better attitude.

Laura and Kitty will enjoy a day together without me as she begins her vacation time, although she has a class to take next week for in service training.

There is a rocky mountain pass on the way to Yuma I love to see when going that way.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Pope is Not Whistling Dixie

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world"

The Church is trying hard to do damage control to the inclusive words of the new Pope. Many have pointed out that he just echoed the sentiments of Vatican II and Catholic Church history as well. Those who do good in this world are pleasing to God.

The message in I John is not about a future reward but a present life that is overcoming evil and death right now, and since we are alive and have not been judged then we are working toward the kingdom of God showing forth right actions and love, therefore all men have a calling to join in this outworking. He who is not against us is for us sort of thinking.
So the church is correcting the Pope, when the Pope is not really talking nonsense but sense. He made the doctrinaires very nervous and I am enjoying reading more about it from various sources.

I ordered my own copy of Hellbound and am glad the church is discussing these issues. Hellbound the documentary interviews a number of Catholics, Orthodox and denominational leaders on the subject of final exclusion in a thought provoking and interesting way. Looking forward to sharing it with open minded folks, if I can find any?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coffee with suds

This is the woman who introduced me to coffee drinking so wonderfully long ago, and we have shared many cups together, including this morning, except she finished hers before I started mine.

In the office, brought leftover coffee from home, poured it into a cup with residue from my quick washing yesterday, stubborn enough to drink it with a slight aftertaste.

Stopped by to watch the progress on the blooming of a Century plant, which took considerably shorter time to bloom since it is a desert plant that gets watered weekly, but I am told after it blooms the whole thing will die. Pictures will follow.

Its almost June, my revitalization time.

Working on culling interesting family photos from my scanning and digitizing projects, not easy to do on a large scale.

Body of Proof is gone with a satisfying and surprising ending, her boss did it.

Laura says goodbye to another class of first graders today.

Laura has found a real special restaurant for a nice meal during our New Orleans visit, she got hungry just reading the website.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rally around the flag

I would imagine that I known more veterans than most pastors, and more WWII veterans as well. I am surrounded by them at our Memorial Service, well attended and always special, marred this year by a man who collapsed during the speech. I learned of the heroism of a Chaplain in Korea who has a military base named in his honor for service in battle.

The afternoon was enjoyed with lunch together and a surprisingly good ending to the Iron Man trilogy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day


Our community has a very nice outdoor ceremony and speech at 9AM at our flagpole. I think I am on the program so I am dressed and at the office.

Summer before last I spent a few days alone in San Diego while attending a small group study at Point Loma Nazarene, and one afternoon I drove to the end of the point and photographed the naval cemetery there perched over the ocean. It was very moving.

Since moving to Sun Lakes I very often am at the graveside when veterans are laid to rest, and now there are dwindly numbers of WWII vets, and our Korean War vets are nearing 80. Last nights tribute in Washington was very emotional and well done, and of course saturated with God and faith. You cannot remove faith from the public square without impoverishing our culture.

Anyway, I am greatful for the freedoms I have enjoyed. God Bless America.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The summer is almost here.

I logged some time yesterday reading in my new recliner and plan to spend a few more reading over the holiday weekend.

I am in a good place as to my summer goals, I am in a needy place as to a deep exhaustion that is deeper than a good nights sleep. Something needs to be replenished or replaced for me to be ready for the fall.

God is good, and will help me as I seek Him, and enjoy a needed time away in a few weeks.

Emphasized the God who allows trials and difficulties and even hides our work and destiny from the world. Accepting that this dangerous and costly freedom to follow good or evil is a part of this present darkness and the light we are allowed to bring into the world by an alien righteousness and a lavish love.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Star Trek fun

One of those perfect golf days, when you are not pushed or slowed by groups around, and your having fun, and then a movie night with your wife.

This movie really did a great job of connecting the original series to the modern amazing smash and crash high speed story line that hollywood is so good at these days. It even had tribbles!

Remembering our war dead is solemn obligation, even when so much of the weekend has to do with the transition from spring to summer life. Life is so interesting, from tornado recovery to political scandal to the novel I am beginning to read.

Enjoy the long weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

In the valley of the shadow of death

When I lead memorial services, or funerals, I ask the Lord to give me some special connections to the grieving family and to the memory of their loved one that will help us connect to the love of God and the world to come.

Of the duties and privileges of this office this one is very important and very emotionally draining upon me. I cannot explain how it affects my spirit and emotions to go through this raw sense of loss, sadness, and hope, although it is good for me, it is difficult.

We have had six in the last three months, and each time I have a decade or less of personal contact and friendship.

On a lighter note, I took my broken screened laptop to a local repair shop, and in four days an aftermarket screen was inserted into my case and I am back in business, and wiser in that I decided to buy a real 2T western digital backup drive in case something permanent happens, just too much thought and precious pictures on this toy to let it dissapear. I also made a vow to set the thing on the floor if I have no computer bag with me. It was not very expensive and much better than replacing the whole laptop.

On an even lighter side, I will attempt to fix my broken swing at a local golf course with a few friends this morning, this change of pace is precious and necessary for me, recreation is re creation of my spirit, as is prayer, spiritual reading, and vacation.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I shall never Tweet

Pastors spend lots of time in large group functions. In this picture I told my folks I was giving free hugs, but I grew up in a family that were not huggers.

I barely facebook, although I love all the cute comments pictures and daily lives of my friends, I find myself content with this little blog, because you have to come visit, I am not putting myself in your face.

All this to say that the issue of extroverts and introverts has been in the Christian news when recently retired Pastor John Piper shared that he was an introvert and struggled with the social demands of his 33 plus year ministry in one place when it came to being in social situations.

A recent book named Introverts in the Church is making a splash in helping evangelicals give room for people who are often drained by group experience rather than charged by them. Interesting stuff, because I have struggled with this. Introverts are energized by solitude, they process things internally,they prefer depth over breadth. Many pastors with real callings are introverts, some who share this trait would surprise you, like mega church pastor Andy Stanley.

So Piper tweets a Bible verse from Job about the tornado, and he is called out by popular blogger and author Rachel Held Evans on the theological implications of an angry God who used disasters to urge repentance, one of Pipers consistent themes. You should read her responses on the blog listed by her name in yesterdays post.

I have been to Pipers church and conferences, and know his humility and integrity, but on this issue, I am far more persuaded by her comments than his. I am an introvert though, so I think about it alot without jumping into the fray.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Heartland suburban disaster in our thoughts and prayers

Raising children is what life is all about.

Last summer I visited the Midwest, starting in Wichita, and really thought about Oklahoma as I travelled through a small portion or the state. So difficult too watch the rescue and hear stories of sadness and survival.

Tornadoes are so very random in their choice of victims, which is why we feel such identity with those who catch the worst and lose possessions and life.

My heart joins with all those who were affected.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Seven Days and goodbye

This was May of 1968, forty five years ago, my how time flies.

Every year I make a brief stop by Laura's classroom to say hello to her kids and see the tiny faces behind her stories of classroom adventures in overcoming strong willed children.

They are cute, but they are little versions of our own broken selves and the challenges she faces daily in education are very real, and I admire her for pursuing her career and helping to create a semblance of future financial security for us.

Meanwhile, back to church to start again, a memorial service this week, board meeting, some sticky problems to overcome or at least tolerate.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why Gnosticism?

It is very hard to learn much concrete about the gnostic heresy in the first three centuries of the Christian gospel because it was so thoroughly rooted out of the church that it all but ceased to exist, and many of the writings were destroyed.

We know it contained a mixture of greek philosophy and christian ideas and was quite damaging to the faith, causing many to leave or fall away from the faith.

At its core, the duality of gnostic thought devalued this life and moral issues. Since flesh is evil and spirit is pure, we can be spiritual by knowledge and our deeds in this life really do not matter.

It reminds me of the old saying, "so heavenly minded that he is not earthly good", but in a really negative way, not just ignoring the world but indulging the flesh with no sense of consequence since its all about the next life.

Not good, while Christianity placed a great deal of emphasis on the next life and eternal life, it never divorced or split this life from the next. We are making a track record of faith and good works, as a response to grace, and a witness to the world.
This was my friend Alex, who loved living in this world, and left it early, in his 20s. I still miss him.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My peregrinations

My sister had an early Mustang, and I drove a 58 Morris Minor. Not very cool.

Peregrinations-humorous travels from place to place, a word I just learned and decided to use this morning. I was thinking about this house we live in and the furnishings which are pretty much complete. Each room has things Laura chose or things she kept from the past she loves. Our home is complete with the addition of one more chair scheduled to arrive this afternoon. Now I am sure something may break or wear out, but by in large we are happy with our stuff.

My own life has been full of peregrinations in which ideas and thoughts that were once comfortable furniture in my brain have been worn out or given away and replaced with new ones. I am pretty sure my new furnishings of the mind and heart are complete. I am just moving things here and there to see how they look together.

My peregrinations have taken me to large and small cities, to different denominations, in and out of several movements, certainly in and out of the affections of a number of people who felt more comfortable in older furniture.

I spoke to a pilot this week who loved what he did so much he continued flying till he was 73. He loved it, and though he switched from front seat to back seat and from people to freight he was still flying.

The Christian Church is like a plane, but its direction and destination depend on the pilot, and if the pilot and the passengers are headed for different places, it becomes like a peregrination, almost humorous in its wandering.

So my teachers used to say if you use a word three times the word becomes yours, and so I have, but can anyone figure out what I said?

Friday, May 17, 2013

A recurring dream

I have this dream where I am ready to preach and have a great message but the musicians keep extending their part of the service and sharing things and although I am visible up front, the service ends without my message. The audience is clearly disappointed and wondering why I did not speak, but then someone else starts planning next weeks service and leaves me out again.

There is a huge new grocery store from the northwest that will soon have four locations in the valley. They are taking old Costco locations. My golf buddies stopped there yesterday. Huge.

Laura has just over a week of classes. I desire this to be a special summer for us. We are watching the last episodes of the shows we watch this week, we have been surprised by how much we enjoy the quirky "Elemenary" with Sherlock Holmes and a very cool Watson.

Laura likes Body of Proof which is getting the axe.

Tomorrow Ethan Allen is delivering my sleek leather recliner and ending a recliner drought in my house that goes back to the early mid 80s. I am not saying Laura is stubborn, but she just does not like the look of recliners. I always sit in them when I visit homes and I am very excited that my drought is over.

I am shocked that some writers for Christianity today actually think Dallas Willard and his teachings about prayer and meditation are off base. They have a sort of biblical idolatry that says there is no sensing God beyond the written word. They are wrong minded on this.

The screen on my laptop is malfunctioning and I am typing this using a Samsung TV monitor hooked to an hdmi cable which proves the computer brain is fine, just its display. What to do?

I am taking Protandim for health restoration, hoping it and the other suggested supplementations will delay the progress of heart disease, and I have no other explanation for the regrowth of hair on my lower legs where old men begin to lose it under the sock line. Bald lower legs is the bain of beach walking senior citizens.

Now you see how scattered my thoughts are on this Friday morning, have a great weekend.
A very cool guy in his senior prom outfit....do not look at how short the pants are!!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Courses for Horses

A special day to play Las Sendas Golf Course, which was built in 1995 in North East Mesa. Very classy, beautiful homes, fast greens. I was really looking forward to it as a special treat until I was sabotaged by yet another attack of inconsistent driving.

Struggle, frustration, wishing I was at work, except for having some of the most beautiful views in the valley.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

When I was Cool

When you graduate and go to college you are convinced the whole universe was created to give you this time of cool pre adult freedom, you have a car (one of your parents cast offs), you have a few dollars in your pocket from your own work and from your parents kindness, you have old and new friends and the world is your cookie, and you are cool, very cool.

Summer of 68, Fall of 69, good times.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Like minded men

Yesterday I enjoyed a breakfast with a group of men who are studying and thinking about life and God and redemption in generally the same way. Not because we all go to the same church or have the same creed or denominational list of beliefs, but because we believe that the modern evangelical church is off message.

Do we have these discussions because we believe that if we get it right, or at least better, that somehow everyone will listen when we explain our reasons for thinking? No, we study because we deeply desire the the gospel which is so beautiful be understood in our own hearts and minds and we will be changed, and then perhaps one or two will be interested enough to leave the sound bites and come to the feast of understanding and freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

When the songs of freedom join with like minded people, then there can be openness to grow and change. I think we all hope we will see it.
First, ideas are tested, conclusions are challenged, and minority reports are not squelched. Then people begin to act in accordance to the sound of the refreshing song of redemption. I at least hope so, and so I will always enjoy the company of people seeking truth, not without testing our beliefs, but because we have tested them.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Friday Nights Oriental

The owner of this small restaurant started 27 years ago and raised her family there, has a cook that has been there for almost as long, and the crowds prove that her food is extremely well prepared and delicious.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom's are pretty in pink

Mom and Dad, Don and Janet, wedding rehearsal 1975.

Saw a number of grown up kids spending time with mom's this morning. It's a May warm up for lazy hazy crazy days of summer. Walked that tightrope between dualistic legalism and grace based wisdom at the harm the lusts of the flesh,eye and pride can do to us. In the world, not of the world, love sin hate its effects. It's a balancing act, and probably all made simple by allowing the new affection we know in Christ to remove us from being stained by that flesh.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remembering Moms

My mother raised a family, went to work to help as we grew older, stood by Dad through thick and thin, and did the best she could to love us and care for the home. I honor her memory tomorrow.

My mother-in-law became a second mother to me and our kids, was always supportive, became a colleague at work, and provided so much joy in our vacation times and special times together. I honor her memory tommorow.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Diagnosis and change

There is a huge dry hay field on Indian property next to our subdivision, I was diagnosing and practicing with my new camera and trying to figure out why it is taking out of focus long shots.

Its golfing day, and the Player's Championship. I am trying to recover or find a golf swing that works more effectively. Last time out my friend was trying to describe why my drives are not working, and I remembered a comment during a swing analysis last weekend and I took a swing and actually felt it, the thing that I was doing wrong I did right, and the results were observable.

The right shoulder going under the swing instead of around, and suddenly shots were traveling with zip in the right direction. Thats whats so fun about this crazy game, you always have things to learn, diagnose, and practice so you change and get results.

Believe systems require a level of diagnosis and practice as well, and too many Christians never work at thinking and practicing any idea or belief differently for better spiritual results. This is not to say that Christianity is just about pragmatic change, but it is an agreement that a bad thought about truth leads to bad results in our Christian practice.

That's why the writing and thinking of men who have more life and Christian experience can be helpful. Allow them to mentor you like a better golfer mentors a golfer desiring to improve.

Since Dallas Willard described the "with God" life, where you journey through life with presence and transformation, and it works so much better that having a right belief that is a ticket to a place you go after you die. It makes life matter, and your score in terms of peace, power, effective living and loving.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Impact of Dallas Willard

I made a conscious decision to begin listening to voices outside my own tradition years ago, and the Renovare Conference in Denver led me to listen to some tapes, hear some lectures, and read the writings of Dallas Willard, who died this week.

He was one of the voices for a modern resurgance of the spiritual formation movement, the "with God" life, which stressed practising the presence of God with disciplines of prayer and service.

I was so impressed with his insights and humility at that conference that had over 3000 in attendance that I remember hoping I could thank him for his messages one morning, and later that day, we passed each other on the street and I got to chat for a moment with him.

A voracious reader who owned an extra home to keep his library, he rose from a poor motherless Missouri upbringing to a 50 year career teaching philosophy at the University of Southern California. A great communicator and sincere believer. I suggest you read one of his books. My heart was renovated by his teaching on Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Piecing together a summer vacation in mid June

Tickets to and from New Orleans secured, two nights in an historic old French Quarter hotel, now to work on our time in Mississippi and Florida. Looking forward to beach time and seeing extended and long seperated family.

Laura ticks down the last few weeks of her school year.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Double Ending

I have been watching the steel beam contruction at our local regional hospital with interest this last several weeks.

When I moved to Jackson Mississippi in 1965 I attended a local High School for the 65-66 school year, my tenth grade. They build a new school way out north that year, which became my School for the last two years till I graduated in 68. There was a nice Presbyterian Church in the area I enjoyed attending on occasion.

Over the decades the area became increasingly integrated and experienced white flight, which is a phenomenon that will never stop because people in the south really struggle with equality.

The church sold its building to a black congregation over twenty years ago, and my High School is 90 percent Afro-american
The once open halls are now series of locked doors and it looks more like a prison than a high school with guards in the halls.

Last week the little church closed its second building, apparently the area they moved to also has experienced a continuing white flight and it could not sustain its viability. Jackson is a city that survives with surrounding mostly white suburbs and towns with a core that is struggling to survive.

The cultural, racial, educational and economic issues surrounding integration are still alive and well in the south. Which is why I left when I had the opportunity.

From time to time the issue of the homogeneous unit principle resurfaces. The fact that people just like to be around people that are like them in dress, status and racial affiliation seems to be true, even after so many years of integration. The church in the south has fought the changes the hardest and longest, and somehow, it seems they are behind the curve on this issue.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Living in the moment, but it's Monday again

It's like a rewind, my life, a hill climbed, a climb...ax, and I awake to start again. But its always now, and always something different happens that spices the week.

Saturday I actually put a yard of rocks in my van to finish the other side of our house that has been denuded of bushes.
Very dusty even though I used a drop cloth.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Worth the wait

For almost a year I have enjoyed the swiss style recliner with the separate leg stool, but it just is not like a recliner, so yesterday, Laura and I both found we we like on sale at Ethan Allen, so, after a long wait, hummmm, of some 30 years, I am getting a leather recliner for my reading and occasional relaxing pleasure. Its called the Paloma, plenty of headrest, no visible levers, which Laura never liked, three positions that lock, closed, reading, full reclining. Not too small, not to big to fit in our bedroom or the study, depending on if the cat leaves it along.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dualism influenced the Christian Mind

I have ways had interest in simplifying this concept because it really needs to have less influence in American evangelicalism. As I understand it, dualism overemphasized the effects of the fall and declares the world to be completely evil, a place ruled by the Devil who has an equal claim upon it.

The world is evil, people are evil, God has no stake in this planet, only in heaven.

Here's hoping I can shed some light in my own understanding.

Laura gave me an early birthday present, Ethan Allen had leather recliners on sale and we bought one we both liked after I saw it and sat in it at the Ethan Allen Store. The picture above shoes one of our first purchases as newlyweds, Ethan Allen side tables.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Windy Golf

We were playing in gusts that kept me from wearing a hat, ferocious, but still fun because the company was good and the temperature quite nice.

A facebook reconnection with one of Laura's friends from college whose family was greatly affected by hard political struggles in the Phillipines back in the 70s. I remember her father in the military was wounded in a riot. She stayed here in America and raised a family of four.

Took friends to a Chinese Restaurant and we met the owner who has run it for 25 years and had the same chef for 24 years, and the food and ambiance were evident. Delicious.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Farewell Phyllis

67 years of marriage, to a successful businessman, who kept the home fires going and raised three boys, became a mother and grandmother to all around her, with a quiet simple faith. She traveled much, often flying beside her husband in small aircraft, hiked many trails and enjoyed many places around the world.

There theme song would be one for all of us to echo. "Count your many Blessings".

My Laura during one of those amazing pregnancies.

My second season

Liberty is precious and life is full.

The nature of our community is interesting in that many folks who retire here maintain residence in other states, or own summer homes in nicer climates.

May through September we operate on a limited schedule of Sunday worship. In our church culture of constant activity this may seem strange, but its a flow that I have come to accept and enjoy. Seniors really do need to pace themselves, and to invest time in extended family, and yes, even retired folks take vacations.

For me it is a chance to do just the same thing, change gears, see family, travel a bit, enjoy Laura at home for six too quickly passing weeks. In the life of the spirit and mind, I can respond to the directions I have sensed in my studies and spiritual life to uncover different stones, recover better practices, discover new ways of thinking. I am thankful for this second season.

Someone wrote this morning about the uniqueness of our thoughts about God. They are, at their worst or best, only our thoughts. God in reality is probably better than our best thoughts, but the joy of thinking about God is the joy of being in a spiritual relationship with Him.

I listen to all the shocking things that go on in this broken world, I do my best to be informed and to form opinions, but my thoughts about God do more to shape my future and my hope than any other life practice. I rejoice in His power and goodness and the ways in which He is going about reconciling this world to Himself through Christ.