Hawaii 2010

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Word of Life

I have been engaging the Soterian Gospel discussion again. It's an attempt to correct the emphasis on the gospel presentation from a place where you go when you die. IE. Heaven or Hell, thus making it a veiled threat, to an announcment about life, the world of life, Christ's revealing the heart of God, and how that life can be ours, now,and it will be life changing and hope inducing and produce people who are young at heart, who enjoy this life, and have quiet confidence they will endure this age into the next, but are so committed to life together, with the body, serving the King, that our life was different.

If our life here is not different, don't expect your profession of faith to have the power to take you to that place, if the person has not captured your soul and life here. That's why those forming this discussion call the attempt to reform our thinking, The King Jesus Gospel, who is a life giver, first and foremost now, in this age, and then in the age to come.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fun with Electricity Bills

I shared in fun today a game Laura and I play twice a year entitled, How cold and how warm you can get. We try to leave the heat pump off until May, just when we are flirting with three digit temps. It got to 85 in the house yesterday afernoon and right now at 3:30 pm it is 84. Its a great game of endurance and silliness that every penny pincher should enjoy.

It really underlines for me how hard desert living must have been pre AC, and around much of the world that deals with it the same way with fans and closed shades.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Adjustment Bureau

There is a large part of American Christianity that forms most of their ideas upon the importance of "free will". God gave it to you and now He is bound not to violate it, thus your final destiny is your own damned or blessed fault. You choose, God honors.

Having my faith built upon the minority report of man's basic brokeness and inability we were taught to see God's choice preceding our choice of following Him.

Both systems can be harmonized with the idea that people respond to that which they want and love, and tend to run from that which causes pain and fear. Its hardwired into our human condition. So the Gospel declares and demonstrates the love of God while we are in that fearful condition and draws us into trust and relationship, which transforms us into loving and trustworthy folks.

God must then love us enough to sort of interfere with our self destructive paths and sort of violate our free will because it does not freely move in the direction of that which it believes to be fearful, rightly or wrongly. This seems to be part of our gospel proclamation that has fallen on hard times. We seem to be warning people of the wrath of God instead of telling them that God is in harmony with His own son in pardoning and welcoming us home, not a sin counter, but a love who draws a world of lost sinners to Himself.

We will be exploring that theme with a Monday movie, because the "angels" or agents in the movie The Adjustment Bureau do not know why they are charged with changing the will of the primary characters. They thus make outside agency seem cruel, which in the gospel in it anything but cruel.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ten Years off the Merry Go Round

Here is an example of one of our newer mega church buildings.

Just read an article about the 35 plus years of constant change in the evangelical church. When I started, you knew just what was going to happen in church, you followed a bulletin, sang, prayed, stood and sat, listened and left.

With the music revolution there have come literally every other year a new way of worship, a new idea about how to do church, a new philosophy of ministry. We read the gurus, desired their success and tried to go home from conferences and change our church forever.
What usually happened is that we angered our traditional worshippers and they left the church.

I saw some pictures of a church grand opening yesterday. The church was started when three families moved to Queen Creek from California with salaries, an advertising budget that was huge, and a strategy to tell me that every church in the community was dull and boring but fear not, because a real fun church had arrived.

The problem for me, was that we opened our new church worship center the same Sunday they were inviting people to the school cafeteria to try something new. Our church was over 20 years old, had been through ups and downs, and was still struggling with old and new ways of doing things.

We were contemporary, but I discovered harshly that the quality of your church band could change drastically and you could go from OK to bad overnight with the loss of one or two families. And know people were changing churches according to the skill of the band.

So, it took this church over 11 years of setting up and tearing down in a rented facility, and I congratulate them for perseverance. I think they did not want to build too soon because it would stop growth, but then they hit hard times and many got tired and drifted to other more successful attempts at doing the new thing.

For me, at 50, and with a diagnosis of diabetes and a heart attack, I was through. I had my shot and took it. I tried to create a new church atmosphere out of a struggling traditional church. I got to stand behind an acrylic pulpit, and then it was over.

And, I returned to piano and organ and bulletins and a few good old hymns, standing, sitting, praying, and listening.....and I am OK with it. The church being the church.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Close calls, grieving, sharing

A happy memory from Del Mar Beach CA, 2005.

The experiences of every day changes in life as a friend to a group of people is so full of constant change. One friend had a fall, an emergency helicopter trip to see a neurologist.

Another friend loses his wife of sixty plus years.

Our monthly golf group chatted of travel, places to eat, summer plans.

The sad and glad of life, we all experience it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rogerian Counseling and a Mentor's passing

Dr. Newton Wilson died yesterday at age 70 of liver failure. He became one of my Bible profs, with a specialty in counseling, when I was at Belhaven College. I remember fondly learning Rogerian Counseling from Newt. It was a non directive type of counseling where you help someone by asking questions, or leading a person to self discovery by repeating what they just said.

"I am depressed", says the counselee, "Your depressed? Tell me about it", says the counselor. It all seems hokey to me at the time, and I was in just a short time to be led in a completely different direction by the teaching of Biblical counselor Jay Adams who used bible texts like aspirin. All ministers are counselors but I always found helpiing troubled people to be one of the greatest challenges of my ministry. People do not fix easily and one method does not help everyone.

Newt was just a bit older, but like those paying tribute to him, he had a maturity, a gentle sense of humor, an approach-ability that endeared him to a generation of students and later to those who sat under his Presidency of our Alma mater, Belhaven College now University.

He joins my other favorite professor, Dr. Knox Chamblin who died last year of leukemia. Both poured their lives into teaching others, and I commend them for it, as I am sure the Lord is doing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fry's Electronics

After lunch I browsed through Fry's, a California based electronics superstore. I share this because I have watched its whole history and am amazed at its survival. The street it is located on was once the location of several computer stores that blossomed and died during the years when people were buying PCs like wildfire.

When Fry's Opened, it was a visitors attraction for its visual stimuli, with screens and sounds everywhere and every inch packed with fantasy purchases.

Today, it is more calm, has much more open area, has focused on the few things that have survived, movies, TV, Camera, and computer supplies and support.

I was there to look at a few camera accessories and to replace my currently misplaced USB flash drive, which we use to carry files between computers at the office. The newest generation is very tiny, and can be hooked on my key chain, its very cute the size of a thumbnail and holding 16gigs of files and pictures, and that why I love electronics stores, they represent the greatest and best technology that makes our lives in an information society work seamlessly.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

We grow up hearing in church that this whole planet is due for explosive destruction and we buy into it. One more failure to grasp the character of metaphor in scripture. A new heaven and a new earth are symbols of a renewed earth, of God accomplishing his mission of reconciliation begun in His Son.

I still remember the dismissive silliness of the rapture ready saints wanting to kiss of the third planet from the sun like some kind of wasted experiment, longing for streets of gold, another metaphor by the way.

The created universe is God's handiwork. One of our missionaries shared a story of a tribal man seeing the ocean for the first time and becoming almost giddy and acting drunk at see so far an expanse. His jungle world and jungle mind was expanded by the beauty of the vast ocean.

For the beauty of the earth, and the sky, accept O Lord my humble praise.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend Thoughts

Enjoying our grand children while their parents have an Anniversary Date. Enjoying April in Arizona, very sweet. Enjoying the Gospel of John, a touching loving account of the beloved disciple John.

Thankful for planet earth, engineered so wonderful by Creator God.

Trip excitement already building for heading south in June and a fall trip to the Big Island.

Sad to be watching several sweet saints in the final days of suffering.

Frustrated with our attempts to video my messages, always something not quite right.

Encouraged by the kind words of a sister in Christ who says my teaching and our conversations are helping her life. Our palo verde tree is in full bloom in the back yard.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ben turned 8 today

We remember when Joe's Real BBQ opened and now in its 15th year we have been there for most of our birthday celebrations. Great food, and a fun atmosphere.

Veterans Oasis Park

Had a nice photo walk in one of our newest parks in Chandler. Nice pond stocked with fish, a high spot to see the valley, and lots of walking paths. Something is not right with the new camera, Too much fuzziness in my long shots.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Too late to change this choice

Laura was on an outing with her class, two moms, one in her 30s, one in her 40s and Laura were all reminiscing about the freedom to roam the neighborhood they enjoyed and how the parents just said, "be back by dark". Then each shared that they had been raised in small towns. At that point Laura realized that her small town life gave her the same freedom.

Then we remembered how our middle son enjoyed our small town life, and once he got lost and a homeowner had to call us to help him find his way home on his new bike. When we moved to Gilbert, the traffic, the fenced back yards and the large city lifestyle actually closed us all in, and made common neighborliness or "southern hospitality" a thing of the past.

All the moms said they cannot give their children freedom in the present day Gilbert,Queen Creek community.

For a moment I thought, what if I had been more content to be a small town pastor, would it have been more positive for my kids?

Too late to change this choice, this morning I fought my way through 45 minutes of bumper to bumper to check on a person in the hospital, I am a large city guy, but my Sun Lakes Community of six square miles is a small town kind of place. I am OK with that.

Some cute backyard ornaments noticed at a back yard party, love it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Farewell Ann

I drove Laura east to work today and saw the rays descending from the cloudy morning sky.

Bob and Ann had a wonderful life in Indiana/Arizona and Ann taught and played piano and sang for 60 years. We said goodbye to a sweet, sensitive, friendly, caring woman who played an enormous role in the lives of many.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sports Terrorism

No words to describe how stunned and saddened I am after a weekend living vicariously on the grounds of Augusta National to see a beloved part of our American fabric torn with such violent and malicious intent.

The good always manifests when the evil darkness, the tearing apart of the fabric of civilization occurs, and I focus and applaud those medics, physicians on call, bystanders who came to rescue and save.

Joanna playing as Shannon sing L.O.V.E.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How we came to love the Hawaiian Islands

Single paycheck preachers with kids do not really take vacations. They go home to visit parents, which is what we did until 1988. I had a widow friend who needed help with her yard work so I became her lawn boy for a year, visit, then mow once or twice a month.

One day she told me of an inheritance from her sisters estate, and would we escort her on one last vacation to Hawaii. She was 83 at the time. So dear Mrs. Carter, Laura and I enjoyed four days on Maui and three days on Oahu. I still remember waking up jet lagged early after our after dark arrival and seeing and smelling and hearing the coming alive of the birds and the ocean on the ridge overlooking Black Rock at the Sheraton Maui Resort. We really gave Mrs. Carter the trip she dreamed for, and we had a special time as well, and we were hooked by the beauty.

It took a long time to get back, our 25th Anniversary and a two income family, but we loved Kauai in 2000, and our ill advised time share purchase brought us back in 2001 with part of our family, then 2004, friends shared their condo with us in 2006 on Oahu, and we had two glorious weeks split between Maui and Kauai in 2010.

Lord willing, Big Island of Hawaii will be our next trip.

Celebrate 10

The Congregation enjoyed an Hawaiian Theme Banquet last evening and seamlessly wove testimonies with music as we thanked the Lord for a decade of worship and service.

Laura and I were both touched by the kindness and joy expressed in our fellowship. I was reminded that this is not a retirement party, but if the Lord takes me suddenly this will more than suffice for the quiet realization that this pastor was appreciated for teaching and leading a fellowship of believers.

And......they gave us a trip to Hawaii, our last unvisited Island, The Big Island, with some snorkel adventures already to be booked. We were very surprised and overwhelmed with this generous gift. Thank you Sun Lakes Community Church.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Decade in Sun Lakes

Tonight our spring dinner will mark the tenth anniversary of our coming to Sun Lakes. Nearing 37 years in the ministry this June. Hoping for the health and heart to keep going at least till that anniversary that marks 40 years in ordained ministry.

These folks have been so sweet and loving and appreciative to us, and we have enjoyed our time hear. The hardest part of course is being with people in failing health and saying final goodbye in this eon to so many wonderful people.

The good parts are too numerable to list.

Twenty three years in AZ, Five in church planting, seven in Queen Creek and Ten in Sun Lakes, and you get up and go to work and live and preach and time flies.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shrimp Party

Rocky Point Jumbo shrimp, breaded coconut shrimp, fried shrimp, broiled shrimp and all kinds of good sides to enjoy. The men talked golf and the Masters, and the women talked about....whatever women talk about. The men were in the other room. This group of people have gotten close as they golf and volunteer together, and most worship together.

Looking forward to a celebration dinner tomorrow evening for my 10th year in ministry here at SLCC.

Taxes almost done, triple checking.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dow is an idol

For me, maybe for most Americans. We see the numbers go up and down and our hopes go up and down. A good Dow Jones number means all is right in America, right? I left stocks a year ago after riding the slow recovery to 13,300. Now it's pushing 15,000 and happy days are here again?????

Surely the present tax and spend policies, the massive debt and deliberate shift toward government sponsored jobs and socialism cannot be inspiring private business to hire and expand????

We will see if our real underlying economy is strong or we are bowing to an illusory and false sense of hope.

I want America to be strong, have opportunity for our youth, and safety and security for our future.

Made great progress on the tax return, still working on the investment part, which made my mind go in this direction.

Golfers on the the Course at the Masters, when I leave here I will fire up live reports on the web.

The weather has returned to delightful after that dusty windy storm cooled us down.

Looking forward to our Hawaiian themed banquet, a chance to thank the folks for a great decade, and then to find some reasons to be motivated for the next years.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

God and Government

I sometimes feel like going fishing and letting the world pass me by. This was late 70s, and quite a good size bass in Mississippi from the little pond behind the Barnharts house.

I was suggesting to the Men's Bible Study that God puts people in office and we should be good citizens even if we don't really like those in power. Don't hold me to the exact nature of the discussion as there was give and take, but, oddly, I felt like I was a kid again hearing all those ready to be active protesters and civil disobedient we will obey God rather than men types. Conservatives are really feeling like we are being persecuted and ignored in the spirit of the times, and tension levels are really up there in the hearts, minds, and voices of folks our age.

They feel that we must take a stand on the gay marriage issue or the nation will fall. No wiggle room.

Can cultural decline be halted? Why are so many confessing Christians leading unholy lives? When you add the issues of a taxation plan that robs from the productive and gives to what seems like groups unwilling to work, and the out of control nature of big government and debt....well you have a pretty steamed up group.

So who knows where we are in the big chess game, as a grace guy, I just get a bit jumpy about railing against lists of sins and enforcing biblical morality being the way out of our present situations. I am all for hoping Christians actually live Christ like lives in moral purity, but what about being Christ like toward people who speak and dress and have different worldviews? Is this not our mission. Are we condemning or are we compassionate?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Drinking Coffee, learning about Revelation, should be doing taxes

A friend has shared a study of the book of Revelation from a very scholarly point of view. Enjoying it and learning a lot. The taxes are still needing my attention, but this is more interesting to me.

Here is a picture of Laura and Mellisa on Pensacola beach in the early 80s. Headed back for beach time this summer.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Augusta on my mind

Its Masters Week and along side of Turbo Tax I will be thinking about this beautiful golf course, magnolia blossoms, Azaleas, and some of the most memorable holes in golf. Will the big guys get a notch in the major wins, or will an also ran win his one and only major. Its a great part of the golfing life. I still remember the incredulity when 46 year old Jack Nicklaus bested the field with some putting on the Amen Corner decades ago.

I will also be shopping for a new Hawaiian Shirt to go with our Celebration dinner this Sunday.

Gilbert's newest high rise attraction, a Mormon Temple...no comment.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sad reactions to family tragedy

I spent seven good years on this Queen Creek Campus.

So it took a day for the atheists and the fundamentalists to invade the web space and send suicide victim Matthew Warren to Hell, or too condemn Christianity for offering false hope.

Aren't we so thoughtful?

God is merciful to the broken hearted, that's all I care to say on this First Sunday after Easter.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Awesome comeback of the LPGA

Couple of years ago the demise of the ladies professional tour was predicted in the absence of American dominance. No one was drawn to the Asian girls.

Someone decided to take the reality and sell it, as a world tour, as an opportunity to let people know about the talented Asians by using all kinds of interviews and stories to create personalities that people could connect with.

The product was always superb, great golf with swings that real people learn from and copy, and great locations all over the world.

I always enjoy the Dinah Shore and since we spent a wonderful week in the Coachella Valley last summer it means even more. We played the Gary Player course just on the other side of the property.

Go girls, you have rescued your sport, and way to go American golfers for not giving up and fighting back to the top.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mall Date

To tired to cook, to tired to go to a movie, its a Mall date. There were thousands waiting in line to get a signed photo of one of the Twilight Male stars, crazy.

We always cruze the Barnes and Nobles, the Apple Store, the Bridgestone Gadget Store, the Teriyaki Bowl we share. We bought nothing, we just used the mall for our own enjoyment. Quick, cheap, painless, and part of our life together.

Since I have a new camera, I am revived in my desire to photograph life each day. Even when its the small Canon Elph 300. i love walking the Mall, watching people shop and act funny, and wondering when they will look back at the photo they bought and wonder why they waited in line for two hours for the autograph????

Its Tax Time

Second year in a row Turbo Tax and I are working together to pay all I own and not one cent more. They get a cut of everything I buy, every drop of gas, a million hidden taxes in every living transactions and then they proceed to feed the unmanageable beast with maniacal abandon. Not loving the whole tax thing although glad to be an American.

Another enjoyable day with friends at the Duke.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The most loving people in the world

That's what the folks who attend Westboro Baptist Church believe they are when they picket funerals and events. We love you enough to tell you God Hates You when no one else is, and we love you enough to tell you to repent before God sends you fags and sexual sinners to hell.

As I read that in an article it made me wonder, is that really the Gospel, God hates you but we love you enough to tell you that and give you a chance to turn or burn.

As I read the texts of the gospel message, I see the opposite. God loves sinners enough to die for them while they are trapped in their sin, and He is love and loves us enough to draw us lovingly, seek us persistently, and wait patiently to forgive, indeed the major forgiveness and redemption have been freely given.

The various contrasts of this issue make up the spectrum of evangelicalism. I have added another reality to the gospel I follow...redemptive judgment. Purposeful correction....you know, like a Father might practice to the lost sons and daughters of Adam.

The Westboro folks are delusional about their loving ministry, and we should be loving enough to tell them so, as well as others who have the same message more cleverly marketed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Trampolines and puppies

Fun with family. It took a couple of years for the kids to get a back yard, but now it adds so much to the enjoyment of their home, and the puppy racing back and forth to jump and nip and fetch.

We are not quite as casual about the trampoline. "It makes me nervous", as the old mom on the TV commercial said about her kids lifestyle with the fat husband silently feeding his face next to her.

A joyful Easter, now to finish the blankety blank Taxes!!!!!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring is springing

We are watching and wondering if this Century Plant will bloom this year.

The Cactus bloom every day and attract the bees.

Golf was poor today but beauty was fresh and free. My Canadian friends playing with us said it was 15degrees in Calgary today.

After Easter

Easter is always an invitation, the door is always open and we always hope to see people desiring the thank God for the message of life beyond the grave. We had a good crowd, my daughters church has 4,000 in two services.

For Laura and I it was also a time of special thankfulness as it marked the Tenth anniversary of our ministry in Sun Lakes. Over five hundred Sundays in the same pulpit. I am grateful to have had the health to keep on sharing my passion for the good news among senior adults.