Wednesday, December 31, 2014
The rain comes down in a gentle manner as we end our office year. Here are two pictures of my home away from home for the last 12 years, after a whirlwind straightening job by Shannon and Charlotte. I love our manufactured home office space.
I took an hour to help a friend prepare to advertise a 72 Mercedes for sale, its a sweet ride for some antique lover out there.
Saw the movie Unbroken last night. Good job of seeing the mercilessness of hatred and the power of endurance.
Laura has a good book she is reading, nowhere to go, and a great day to stay home. We will end our voluntary game of fasting from heat tomorrow and have a warmer time during this current cold spell. Over two months without using the AC or the heater....yeah us.Yeah lower electric bills.
Even Kitty got under the covers this morning, her ears are thin and cold.
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Hoping to spend time thanking God and thinking about what lies ahead in 2015. Our Ruby Anniversary in a few weeks, 40 years, and mostly good ones, with a few periods of sadness, loss and hurt from our circumstances. We are no different than everyone in that reality, and compared to most of the world, we have had far more blessing than pain, and the pain served its good purpose.
I want to continue growing in understanding, enjoying the health and flexibility I have, cherished the joys and challenges ahead.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Shannon was gifted a designer I phone cover with artwork from our son Brian. A company does this for artists and we think it is very cool.
She also is spending time with her Tucson friend Charlotte that has extended for many years and gives her opportunity to visit down there several times a year. Charlotte also loves to visit her grandmother his in Sun Lakes so they can hang out together.
We are in cleaning and hiding mode for our open house, cleaning is mostly done, but hiding all out electrical cords and comfort stuff that make our life work takes some time and ingenuity.
Friday, December 26, 2014
In the NYC Subway system they have some areas of connection that have huge concourses. In the past decade they have allowed groups with permision to perform and sell their music.
One day I was captivate by the sound of a Peruvian pipe group with catchy background tapes. I rushed a short video and kept up with the family and later checked out their website and discovered they are a group that supports human rights around the world as well, and have performed widely in countries struggling with abusive governments.
Brian knew I enjoyed the wind instruments that were developed in Peru, and brought to the Indian culture in the north american continent as well. I known have two albums given to me as Christmas presents and I am enjoying them today.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Troy and Denise have shared their home with friends at an annual Christmas Gala. We love the lavish decorations and food and drink and music that fills the home. We feel so blessed to be brought into their celebration and joy each year.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Dish Network and Fox news are having a money issue. I enjoy many programs on Fox and think that people who make Fox watching a personal attack are being silly. We all have shows we like because we agree with them and shows we like because they challenge us.
I miss the smart women who are OK with being attractive, its not there fault.
So I am sure this standoff will be ended, but free speech and variety are good for our culture.
Monday, December 22, 2014
We had a needy person in church and we helped her yesterday. No real time and possibility to test if she had a real or manufactured need. We gave her money to do what she needed, believing she came and asked in good faith. I am grateful to those who came to her aid with the church.
Today I got involved in another family dynamic involving money. It just reminds me how dependent we are on buying things to survive. We need shelter, we need food, we need clothing, we need the tools to survive and some money to enjoy things as well.
It would be nice if everyone had all they need without working for it. It is the failed impetus behind communism and socialism. Take from those who have and give to those who need. It never really works the way it should, and it has bankrupted more nations than we can name.
Neither has pure Ayn Rand selfishness worked very well. I like the word I heard from George Bush, compassionate capitalism. If we can provide help to those truly needy and dependent and also provide rewards to the truly hard working that they can keep and use to build a more prosperous world, lets do it.
The middle class where I was raised has truly been shrinking in the past decades, an I do not know what to do about it. The lack of preparation for retirement of my own baby boomers could create a retirement crisis unlike any we have ever seen. There is drama every day in this financially unstable time we are going through.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
I have been exercising weekly at the Tumbleweed Rec Center for almost five years, Laura for four. Most Saturdays we begin the day with an hour of stretching, lifting, and moving. It has been very beneficial for our sense of wellness, our muscle tone, and even though I have heart disease, it is not due to the muscle part of the heart, which is strong.
We all make our habits and they make us, and these Saturday dates are sweet. And I have a very healthy wife who needs her energy and flexibility to handle a job like elementary teaching.
Happy time ahead this week with Brian visiting, and 70 degree weather.
P.S. an old friend from college Skipper, got a lung transplant yesterday after a long wait on the list. Pray for a good outcome and restored health, he and his wife have a high school age son that came along later than most.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Some weeks the headlines just kind of overwhelm me. The Pakistan inhumanity, the Cuba reversal, the Sony cyber attack. My head spins with the moment by moment fleshing out of our brokeness, violence, hatred, and pride. It's not that I am not engaged, but that I am overwhelmed.
I hate what war does to nations, I hate what communism did and does to Cuba, I hate smug bullies like North Korea's dictator, and I hate that somehow we are marching toward WWIII, God forbid.
Somehow I have to unplug the sad noise. I hear the bells on Christmas Day, but there is no peace on earth. I need to feel what I heard in a message on the cross this week that when God seems to have lost control, He is still controlling.
I need hope and joy, its personal, emotional, immediate. The images of the news need to get out of my spinning head.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Wow, 25 years ago this month we moved from the gulf coast of Mississippi to the East Valley of Phoenix AZ. I wanted to leave stuffy tradition, stodgy old buildings, and mean spirited attitudes behind. At least that's how my mind felt it.
I don't want to reflect on anything heavy, but to share how odd is still is for me to have this much time invested in a location. Yesterday I ate lunch with friends near my first home purchase. So much change, growth, and struggle in the area. I know the whole town now, all 60 plus miles wide, but these are my familiar streets of my adopted home.
I am an Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Alabama, Mississippi transplant, but Arizona has been my home for longer than any other, and I still don't ride and rope or own Cowboy Boots.
Happy to say, I like my City. The raw hills, the ugly desert, uniqueness of each town within the larger area, the parks, the ponds and lakes, the downtown. Nothing happened like I dreamed yet we survived, grew, lived, loved, enjoyed it all.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I keep hearing people I respect talking about Christians needing to embrace less absolutism and be more willing to question whether the formulations at the foundations of their faith are worthy of the weight we place on them.
It's akin to the whole foundation based upon sand analogy Jesus used.
Folks, we are in a 500 year cycle in history in which ideas that are hindering us or crippling us are being exposed and abandoned. It is painful but necessary process to question authority, even the boogey man fears planted in your brain by someone decades ago.
Confusion while you work through these things is good. Just keep listening and reasoning.
Monday, December 15, 2014
The reason I see history with hope lies not in the sad acts of violence but in the small acts of light in a dark world. I have been struck in the story of the good news of great joy for all the people with the fact that very shortly after the birth Jesus they are sent to Egypt to protect the Child from Herod.
I was surmising a better short term scenario in which the Angels enter Bethlehem and subdue Herods troops with powerful lasar weapons and thus begin to uproot evil.
It just doesn't work that way. The way of peace and truth is much longer and much more costly than eye for eye and tooth for tooth.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
I suggest that the deeply serious declaration of God's soveriegnty in accomplishing his purposes in history stands over and against all the open and free moves of evil men, half hearted disciples, unexpected events.
This requires skill and knowledge and power that works above and beyond all the variables mentioned and more.
This may require long periods of time, and may not gaurantee you live during a happy time in history, but it does fill one with hope and joy.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Friday, December 12, 2014
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Having a discussion on a small group, and me and another reformed guy had an old wound scratched open by a newer believer. I ranted about it and he observed that someone must have really hurt me in the past about this issue.
He was right, but it was not just someone, or one time, it was many people at many times. It was the accumulation of a mindset that tried to gently enforce religious obligations on me. If you want to be part of this group, these are things we do and things we don't do that we are sure that make us more pleasing to God.
Was I wrong to take such a strong position on the freedom I feel when discussing religious practices like the old discussion about proper ways to keep the sabbath?
My problem is that there is such a fine line between suggesting that God would like me to set aside the day in a special way, to insure I was resting properly, and being judged because you are not keeping Joe or Sallys scruples about Sabbath.
Then you add the huge issue of sabbath being an old covenant requirement and you wonder why people are trying to turn the Lord's day into another way to practice religious oneupmanship.
I think this type of activity code is damaging to grace and faith, not just neutral.
Sports on Sunday, Restaurants on Sunday, playing outside on Sunday. Its a treadmill that only spins faster and goes nowhere.
Preachers who sort of work on Sunday are supposed to sort of make Monday a sabbath.....what a holy crock of religious #(@)#^.
Live your life, be authentic, rest when your tired, have a weekend, which is an american kind of thing because some people do sadly work seven days a week to survive that crazy money demanding world.
Jesus did not come to help me be a better sabbath keeper. Do I sound wounded, your damn right I'm wounded and sorry I had to cuss to make the point.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
We watched a magnificent video tonight on the bigness of the universe and the smallness of the intricate cellular structure of the human body and the power of a God who thought through all the wonderful nature of creation. And then the whole outcome of all of the magnificence of this creation is dependent on our agreement with the plan. It's an offer which remains null and void unless you allow it.
If the evil that brought our brokeness into the world is not defeated unless we can mend our brokeness by a supposed act of free will, which is supposed to depend on multitudes of concurring coincidences in our birth, influence, circumstances.
Makes me malcontent with the success/failure aspect of good news of great joy. I think He has more bases covered that we allow in american evangelicalism.
When I see all the racial disharmony in our country it saddens me greatly. I feel helpless to change anything, and yet thankful that I am not living in the midst of it.
I do not ever want to be near an angry protesting crowd of any race, creed or color. It brings out the worst in people. We have the right to peaceful assembly in this country but when it becomes violent no one wins anything.
I think some of my personal changes over the last decade have made me realize that the majority opinion of anything needs to be questioned a bit, and that folks need to be very independent and individualistic in many areas of tension in this world.
What can I say, I live in a gated community, in a segregated housing area, not by race, but by age. No young people allowed, no strangers walking and driving past my home.
I live on a cul de sac, my second one in a row, and people who pass my house either live here or made a mistake. Except for the security car that calls me when I leave my garage door open. Now that is a safe place to live.
I feel sorry for the heat that law enforcement is getting. I cannot imagine what our country would be life if they disappear or are crippled from using necessary force.
I thought we had moved further from the Selma Alabama days than we have.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Our daughters oldest children is maturing. We love her and Ben. She and her Grandmother are shopping for new clothes at the mall, not my idea of fun, but theirs. I stop by the bargain store to get a new belt because I have run out of holes with my very slowly shrinking waistline.
Friday, December 5, 2014
The human voice singing, if you have the pipes, is something beautiful. The group Pentatonix, a very catchy name by the way is making a splash with their Christmas CD this year. I love it when people use their voices for percussion and background. We bought it and are enjoying it.
I came across the word polyphonic this week reading a great book. The point the author is making is that if we are unbiased and honest, that the scripture has many voices that create tension and may yet harmonize the varied needs of its audience. We cannot be so dogmatic that we are sure of only one interpretation when we find verses that seem to affirm a wider and more hopeful stance on many things.
Some need mercy, some need rebuke, some need forgiveness. The scripture speaks in many voices that should make us less dogmatic but more hopeful that the world and the universe will shake out in the shape of a God who is love and mercy.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
I read a post about a guy enjoying a local church bible study until the pastor decided to attend and ruins it by taking over.
We have many large churches here in the valley that boast that their pastor was a business man before called to preach and never needed to waste his time in seminary.
I joke quite a bit about my nine years of higher education that prepared me to preach, but how my barber knows more about the bible than I do, at least in his own opinion.
When you use the word scholarly in most modern discussions, you are booed out of the room.
We live in a world of instant information, and instant opinion, and infinite theological variety. I have been pondering an article I read that said if C.S. Lewis had been speaking and writing today he would have been thrown under the bus like many of today's innovative thinkers and writers. He had some unorthodox views of when Adam and Eve came along, was very inclusive of those who were in non Christian religions but had their hearts in the right place, and several other interesting thoughts.
I think what is happening with this explosion of information and opinion is good, but in many circles we get uneasy about the broadness of the discussion and as conservative folks we dig in and fight and split and are fearful.
Scholars of any stripe have spent time to look deeply, at the past, present, and future of thoughts, movements, historical writings, background languages, and thus many times their perspectives are unnerving to the person convinced that if he picks up the bible it will lead him directly to the right and only answer, no matter what his own bias, or innocence, or ignorance have left him unprepared to understand.
Thus in many, and sometimes most cases, the most popular views of any instant culture might actually be the most thoughtless and ill conceived. Thus the education and discipline of an educated clergy.
Which, I fear, are being thrown under the bus in popular evangelical culture. Which may by why highly educated people today are beginning to see the movement which led me to school and seminary as the haven for thoughtless people.
If considering myself anything of a scholar has any merit other than pride, it would be that I have been humble enough to know that I need the wisdom and foundation of deep reflection of men and women of every age and that I stand on the shoulders of those who spent their lifetimes in deep study of truth, and practice.
That being said, I might have a hard time encouraging a young God lover to take the hard road of scholarship in this climate. Yet, if they are hungry and searching, they won't listen, they will still take the road less traveled.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
My parents were Presbyterians...my sister joined a Methodist youth group and has been a happy Episcopalian all her adult life. I followed in my parents traditions for 20 years and became non denominational. The other day someone said my Calvinist tradition was in such error that all who follow it must beware of being eternally lost.
There are just too many traditions that developed post reformation for us to diss each others upbringing and faith roots.
There are just too many traditions that developed post reformation for us to diss each others upbringing and faith roots.
Monday, December 1, 2014
My Christmas spirit is high this year. Some years its not. No reason I can pinpoint. I think in recent years my study and thoughts on Trinitarian theology have restored a more ancient view of incarnation that cements the fact that God is not our problem. That God is for us not against us.
I am so weary of evangelical attitude that keep folks on the outside until they learn the magic words and the club handshakes.
Change is in the air, in the air we breathe. Christmas is good news for all the people.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Here comes the crowning of the year, December. May our hearts be full of love and gentleness in a darkening world.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
They say blogging is a dying art form. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are just working better. Friends with blogs that had a lot of traffic and response are losing it, yet a Facebook post brings the level right back. So, no matter what I do as I approach retirement, I will always love blogging better that Facebooking.
One of the main reasons is that you have to take a second of effort to visit here. If you don't care you don't come. You could have that same non caring attitude and pass my blog like comments on FB and I would never know. This makes me feel more free to be me, and not to try to impress people on FB, which is a lot like Junior High and High School, where we only present our best face.
We are in a serious process of looking at the coming changes in our life and finances, and perhaps our social networks in the coming years and we want to hang on the the things that are worthwhile. Blogging my not be the thing that keeps me connected with you. We will see.
Friday, November 28, 2014
It's wonderful to not need to wade into the struggling masses yearning for bargains today. We are OK with what we have. We just went through two massive garage sales and saw nothing we want or need.
We have decided to buy an outdoor table to enjoy dinners in our oasis backporch. It will be our gift to each other this year. Other than that, today will be for exercising some of yesterdays calories off the bods and just being together.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
We Love NYC.
This Macy's Parade feels a tad different because we walked up and down Broadway last summer, marveling at the crowds, the buildings and the pulsing of life in the Big Apple.
Was blown away by Taylor Swifts performance of Welcome to New York, seriously catching tune and words. Is she charmed or what?
I am sixty four and nearing one half. Running the numbers of an eventual semi retirement. About to celebrate 25 years living in the Phoenix east Valley. I dreamt of planting churches, and I did, and dreamt of owning a home with our own name on the contract, and we have owned three and have somehow miraculously made near 300 straight house payments on those three homes. We really enjoy our current home of 11 years with our new kitchen, tile all over the house, and a new master bath.
Somehow we have saved money, somehow Laura is approaching a semi decent pension, and the most iffy of them all, perhaps we will collect some social security, though its been shoveled to lots of people for lots of reasons. We hope so.
Health is good, but the big question mark? How long do I have, is not far from my planning.
What I love about the corny American celebration of the Macy's parade is the fact that a new group of teens gets to march, sing and perform each year and we celebrate our memories, our myths, and our music.
I love my tiny family. I love my wife. I love all the stuff she is cooking. A whole turkey this year, the annual southern corn bread dressing, the broccoli salad, a fruity dessert, shoe peg corn cassarole.
Thank you Creator and Redeemer that my faith is still alive and has taken on such an earthy and real character since my days of theological purity and fussing have melted into the goodness of an undeserved and passionate acceptance by the Father.
Have a great day, you dear family, you few and faithful readers of my six plus year old Not Whistling Dixie.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Lots of water under the bridge of the story of this countries journey of governance and freedom. I had a middle class upbringing, more relocations than most, and we worked, and played in our neighborhoods and towns. We had a yearly vacation to see more sights, we had libraries, TVs, bikes, and toys.
I choose a helping career and had years of learning. Friends, books, libraries, work to pay for school, cars, girls, movies. Freedom.
I practiced that career, had food and shelter, meetings, joys and sorrows, kids who had what I had growing up.
Free to live, work, enjoy, eat, drink, experience daily blessings.
I am thankful to God for all these years, people, places and life that allowed me to build up, not tear down.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Violence, looting, and destruction. Still trying to figure out why they staged an evening drama in Ferguson last night, all primed for darkness to cover and inflame.
The blacks see the police as tyrants, and the courts as part of the system. So they attack the system. And somehow stealing vodka or electronics makes it better.
Civilization falling apart with hatred and lawlessness. Sad.
Monday, November 24, 2014
This year they aired a compelling older but newly revealed theory on the Kennedy Assasination. The kill shot was an accidental discharge of an AK47 by a secret service man in the follow car. Lots of evidence that was ignored but there all along. Good explanation of the Secrtet Service behavior which takes away evil motive and replaces it with embarassing cover up to cover the asses. I am still interested.
Listening to five part Christmas music by Pentatonix. They got style and talent.
Getting thankful this week, my life has been blessed.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
We had a screen and projector installed in our church building this week and introduced it this morning. Screen raises and lowers remotely. I am pleased we finally streamlined the visual part of our ministry. Lugging the screen and projector and setting it up by hand was getting real old.
Had some glitches with the remote control. Training coming this week.
A great week of Thanksgiving ahead.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Or take the metaphor of climbing a hill, unable to see what is over the horizon. Life is a series of hill climbing and reaching vistas, except for the huge reality that aging makes the climb slow and at some point we make the leap into the unknown beyond.
Yet the seeds for every discovery, the needs for every corner in life, have already germinated between my ears, and the transformation begun decades ago assures me that I need not fear the next turn, the next vista. Freedom, it is for freedom Christ has set us free.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Lot's of visitors in church who left very cold air to enjoy our warmth. Almost weekly we welcome first timers who came here for grand kids or cold states. We are welcoming them to a new time in life. I enjoy this part of my ministry. They don't all stay because church hopes are so varied.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
So this is a tough issue for Americans and Christians. We feel the worldwide onslaught of a violent aggressive Jihad, and at the same time we are trying to build respect and communication between American Muslims and the Christian culture that formed us.
Our constitution forbids naming one faith as the faith of our Country, but at the same time the Judeo/Christian history and valued pervades the halls of our Nations Capital.
A Muslim warrior beheads an American in a act of total barbarism and yet they want to force other nations to suspend their traditions that offend them and secretly would be willing to force their religious practices upon any culture they conquer of even invade.
Freedom from religion is important to me. Freedom to practice my faith is important to me. Respect for others who are different is important to me. Religious wars are repugnant to me.
As I said, this is a tough issue that is not going away soon, if ever.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
So for a week our Dish Network modem went dead. Getting a repair man was a nightmare of miscommunication. Turns out Century Link was hired to install them, but cannot work on the connection issues. Each repairman has shared how stupid this is, and has helped me. So, one dropped wire outside he was allowed legally to fix, and one dropped wire on the inside he fixed illegally to his company guidelines. I don't care, but it makes me wonder about Dish Network and the people who messed with me for a whole week.
So, yesterday was a wasted day of waiting, in which I enjoyed two new Hallmark Christmas romances. Which I am told did real well in audience share. They are cute and lift up falling in love for marriage, not shacking up for sex. And they all share the values of family and Christmas memories from growing up. Fun.
Got a pic from my gym buddy and her husband in Kauai on day one of their visit. So happy for them.
Friday, November 14, 2014
There, I said it. I am a sappy romantic.
On another note, this week was a disaster of technology with the loss of a hard drive, and the absensce of WIFI due to some tech difficulty with my modem. Stuck today hoping and waiting for a repairman.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
This world of computing is fragile. My three year old Toshiba laptop had a hard drive crash and I am remembering passwords, reinstalling programs with long key codes, and finding little quearks in the system I though were gone. Sheesh.
Its kind of like life. Takes a lot of maintenance, memory, and repair.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Charles B. friended me yesterday. We said goodbye the summer of 64 when my family moved from Alabama to Mississippi. Charles introduced me to the joys of motorcycles, and actually won a 64 red Mustang Hatchback in a contest run by Coca Cola, so this fifteen year old learned stick shift driving from my buddy as well. A Vietnam vet, school teacher and principal. now retired and living in Georgia. Wow, how cool was this reunion.
Also got a phone call from an African high school girl living in Iowa. She found our church website and wanted to talk to a minister. Her speech was difficult to understand, but she shared of isolation, shame and fear and a taunting memory that her mother died practicing witch craft. When I prayed for her she could not listen and asked me to stop. She called twice and it was difficult to help her, she did not own and had never read a Bible.