Thursday, July 31, 2014
This week Joni remembered the forty seventh year of her momentary mistake becoming a lifestyle of suffering and victory. We are very close in age and therefore grew up together, and she and her body of work in writing, teaching, and sharing the hopes and needs of disabled people have inspired me on a regular basis.
She spoke at the event which led to my decision to leave Dixie and come west 25 years ago. She spoke and we had a nice personal visit at a prayer breakfast in downtown Phoenix several years ago.
Her presence in that chair and when she sings or speaks are truly larger that life.
Her willingness to accept the handicap as part of the way that God would expand her witness has been a lesson for every person facing any limitation or trial.
She will not dance in this life, but she has been in the divine dance of the love of God in an intimate way that net all enjoy.
Thank you Joni. Thank you.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I paid a fine yesterday for speed limit violation caught by camera in a school zone. They had me on camera, no denying it, but I had no memory of seeing any speed limit signs and am known for my dawdling slow pace on the road. Ask my wife.
Nevertheless they demanded a fine, which I paid. In my heart I am not a lawbreaker on this issue.
Seems to connect to the oddness of a demand that someone forcebly change a belief system from Christian to Islam. It is rediculous and tragic to force belief in anything. It goes against the idea of humanity and freedom.
You can show me the picture of my car in a speed in zone, but you would have to kill me to make me admit that I willfully and knowingly broke the law in a school zone.
Mitigating circumstance, I was enjoying a Sonic ice cream at the moment of the crime.
I paid the fine. Christians forced to convert against their will are leaving everything, and that is very tragic for the world and for relationships between these two belief systems.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
This barefoot street preacher in Banyan Tree Square LaHaina Maui feels compelled to preach, but the vacationers do not feel compelled to listen.
I live in a world of thoughts, hopes, dreams,....and realities. Seniors have given control of the worlds fortunes to younger generations and become powerless to bring trends to a stop. This sense of helplessness is part of the aging process I believe, as the aging process itself is a part of the sanctification processs built into the cycle of life.
My nearness to the next transition, assuming life and health, has me brooding over possibilities and realities, and therefore not the best place for sharing and just living.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Hoping for a quick control for the fire in beautiful Yosemite.
Am I being selfish to continue believing in a good God and a welcoming gospel? I hear constant discussions about the self justification of violence from the middle east as we choose sides about the right to bomb Israel and Gaza. The desparation of those risking life and limb to leave the violence and poverty of their homes in Hondurus or Haiti for the hope of a better life echos mans inate desire to live a quality of life that is meaningful.
I continue to speak weekly about a God who desires to give us peace and goodness in this life and in the life to come. He is not driven by His own need to be righteous as driven by His purpose to be compassionate, healing, empowering, and blessing.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Ancient racial and religious hatred fuels the news as bombs, the most destructive flying objects ever invented tear homes and flesh apart. This cannot be what God hopes for the world.
Whatever holiness we practice, it must not foment pride and hatred, seperations and division, ins and outs.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Laura is implementing some new discipline and reward features this year that have been working very well. We are both pleased that this class is largely pleasant so far.
Our countertops and bathtub surround were installed to day and look so lovely.
I am concerned about the tensions and problems in the world, and feel so stuck in the middle, so sad for so many, and yet thankful for my life and all the issues we face, knowing that all shall be well, and all manner of this shall be well.
An apology for minimizing the reality of the war in Vietnam and Korea. They were costly wars, any war is costly. My point in reaction to an article about the history of war was describing the reality of world wars being far more common that great periods of peace like we baby boomers have enjoyed.
If as a Christian I do not wish to fall into the trap of praying for the rapture or dropping out of current affairs. I believe the quality of life is a spiritual issue because of the pronouncements of God about all humanity. Every life counts, every place overrun with disorder and violence is tragic. We are to be proactive in working toward the kingdom come on earth part of the Lord's prayer.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Read an article this morning suggesting that war is the normal and peace times are very rare in human history. We post war boomers caught a break between WWII and whats next with our relatively manageable conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.
Now with the twilight of the US as a super power, the world will increasingly turn to widespread violence. Yechhy thought.
Closely related to my dislike of end times negative theology that is always waiting for the world to go bad as good news. This is why my current thinking is hopeful, truly hopeful, not related to false or liberal hopes, but to the nature of God and the character of man who sees that bombs and guns and violence are just poor ways to get what you want. Like the song I grew up with. When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
My discussions on the subject of the recovery of New York City in terms of public safety in the parks and subways and streets has caused interesting reactions in people I care about.
So, life is safer for people, so what, you have not saved any souls.
I contend that lifes biggest questions can only be answered when we are free from hunger, have shelter, and can live in relative safety. Therefore the governments role in defense, and public safety, and providing super structure for our life in terms of ditches, roads, sewers, streets....these are all essential to creating a life of spiritual openess.
We are material people living in a material world.....hey that would make a great song.
I think the point of tension between me and my spiritually minded friends is that I have come to believe that God's grand experiment with humanity involves us spiraling upward, becoming more humane, kinder, less selfish, more productive. Life has a purpose and co existing in peace and harmony advance that purpose whereas insecurity, inhumanity, cruelty, theft, abuse, violence for personal gain, or just general selfishness are indicators that the gospel is not doing its full work in our time here in this precious life.
I'm with Oprah, lets really live.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I am sitting in a Paradise Bakery slightly miffed that the one in my neighborhood closed when they opened a Panera Bread three miles away. Our PB was very successful and in a great restaurant location. Panera Bread does not have the same welcoming feel and room to sit and drink coffee or use the wifi, which I am doing.
Here to meet with some friends who were acquired apart from my church affilication which is very good because our friendship is not based on me as a pastor. You need friends like this. We do share our faith and our search for authentic life together.
As I am working my way through 2Cor. I am struck how Paul spends most of the last part of the book dealing with a very practical problem, financial neediness among parts of the body of Christ, and he uses it to teach his final lesson of the letter, which is a deep generosity for the plight of others. Someone has to help, and it is generally those who have been blessed.
This is the two pronged approach I am seeinng on our borders. The need to restore law and order, and the need to treat those who have crossed with a degree of compassion. Different groups are focusing on this tension. "You can't stay here, we can't support you while you figure out what to do here, but we will not let you starve and we will not punish you for the journey you took however foolhardy and dangerous it was. If it is true that gang members and thugs are among them to find richer harvests of evil doing in the USA, then bring down the full force of the law against them. It's a balance we all are seeking to walk.
Monday, July 21, 2014
The most expensive and dramatic part of a remodel is the tilework. Our 25 year old bathroom had tile that was like glass and slick and frankly dangerous. You could go down in a second with a wrong move on moisture. Glad its gone. So with all the tear out, and the plumbing refits and the switching of the location of the tub and shower we are beginning to see our new bathroom emmerge.
What little I have learned from the decorators in my family is that color, pattern, texture all play a part in an appealing space, and in our neutral colored theme we have them all. The new shower is really pretty with the bejeweld stripe and the criss cross floor matching the marbled large verticle tile. Wow, I sound like I know what Im saying.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
As I age I find bad news to be personally upsetting, because I cannot change things, and because things are spirally out of control in so many areas.
I pray everyday as Paul instructed for all those in authority that as it involves a very specific hope. That we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and holiness. This I have done. For me this prayer has been answered, but not for too many others.
I hurt for the worlds pain, violence, loss, struggle. I long for the nations of the world to taste peace, prosperity, the opportunity to know enough peace to consider truth, enough food to consider lifes purpose, enough love and beauty to pass it on to others.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
My evening watching the moon landing forty five years ago this week was unique, a small black and white TV out on a porch surrounded by 150 young campers. I had Tommy Pittman in my lap, the camp's cutest kid, and we all stayed up late for that historic event. It was my first full time ministry, being a counselor and swim and canoe instructor at Camp Alpine.
The next year I was a counselor at a retreat for high school kids and made friends with two teens named Beth. I remember encouraging them to follow the Lord and it became clear over the next years that one Beth did and the other did not. Just last week the faithful Beth found my name on Facebook and thanked me for helping her so long ago as a searching teenager. Now that is personally joyful to me.
I am convinced that any degree of holiness we achieve and practice is a gift from God for our own benefit in this life, and not some sort of way of earning points for heaven. Beth told me the other Beth had experienced a difficult life of relationships. Very sad.
It was so neat to see the teenager in the grandmother I saw in her pictures on Facebook. Life is a journey of faith and trust.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Our bathroom remodel ran into its first setback when the holes for the sinks and the mirrors did not line up. Its fixable, but we lose a hidden wastebasket area. And the undoing will create a bigger hole where the water and drain enter through the counter back.
Trying to get a handle on the honduran border issues. Yes, we need compassion but the whole thing is unjust and hurtful and illegal and puts a tax burden on our country that is obscene. They need to be fed and housed and returned very quickly, and the stream of people has to stop at the honduran border. There is corruption and abuse being experienced all around. God help us to deal with this in the best manner possible.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Every year Laura has to unlearn the software that was going to be the greatest thing ever and learn this years software thats going to be the greatest thing ever. Sheesh!!
I do embrace change as a normal part of life, but beaurocracies seem to change for the mere whim of the newest tech employees.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
There is something about starting school in the hottest state in the union in mid July that just sounds wrong. Off she went to get ready for another school year today.
We have been visited by plumbers, dry wallers, and builders thus far in our project to remodel the bathroom. The next big thing is the building of the shower enclosure with its major floor to ceiling tile work.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Went to enjoy the biopic on Franky Valli. It was fun and revealing of the true reality of live entertainment. It's a tough business. The actor/singer really captured the voice, assuming nothing electronically was done.
My coming of age really bridged those be bop and ballad days and the British invasion of 64, loved both eras musically.
Thinking about the Beatles song, "will you still love me, when Im 64.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
When we lived in Troy Alabama for four years during my elementary and junior high years, our family of five at the time shared one bathroom.
I know many were raised this way, but when two bath homes became the norm it really made living under the same roof greatly improved.
I remember being on boths sides of the door banging and begging for the person inside to finish their business and free up the facility. Part of the memories of growing up.
Its a wedding weekend for some dear friends whose grandaughter has grown up and found her soulmate. Fun to be part of an extended family when they are celebrating.
A birthday weekend for me. Grateful to be 64. Definitely playing the back nine of life.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Seems to be an intoxicating number of problems brewing in our country and around the world. Many Christians retreat to the standard mantra. "O well, Jesus is coming soon". They are implying that this time there will be a divine rescue.
Whatever your theology about the consumation of the eons, this rescue mantra seems the weakest response to national and world problems. What if God laid down divine principles and attitudes through which we can get to work and fix our issues.
I was reminded this morning that racial relationships in the south only began to change when the non violence of MLK was joined to the FBIs often heavy handed moves against the principles of those who were doing the violence.
This goes along with my thoughts about the human desire to rescue the streets parks and subways of NYC, and the necessary force used to get the disorder off the street. We would wish it could be done without force but even the bible speaks of the role of government in the end of lawless behavior.
For me, the prayer "Come Lord Jesus", while expressing hope, is not what we need to foster and implement societal change.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The streets of New York
One of the by products of a healthy Christianity is a civilized society. Not because all have embraced the faith but because all have recognized the values of the faith. The old saying about a rising tide raising all ships is true in this case.
The statistical and observable change in the streets, subways and parks of NYC in the last half decade has given me a glimmer of hope that I refuse to let go of this week. I heard over the weekend that the out of control violence in Chicago has caused some to seek more information about the manners and methods of the New York efforts to make the city safe for working people and families.
If our country is to recover from lawlessness, in addition to a church that teaches and lives in grace and hope, we need a government that does not allow disorder to rule on the streets. Its a marriage of law and order with an understanding of our weakness and poor choices we make as we are growing up, plus those who decide to make their life stealing from others. You cannot create a place where ideas and caring and goodness can flourish without having basic safety and security when you leave your home.
Even religion when it turns violent and repressive and criminal, as many have and continue to destroy civilization, then they too must face the protection of law and be restrained from destructive behaviour. I know this is all about society and culture and religion, and for me, the hope that our great country can be rescued from danger and disorder. Some Christians believe this degradation to be a prophetic necessity, and I am not one of them.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
My picture of Stary Night arrived from the Museum of Modern Art. It is a reprint with some neat new process on high quality paper that recreates the drama on the very famous Van Gogh. I have always loved it.
Wind and rain in our area last night. Lots of trees down and branches broken. We found a water leak under a wall that has just been visible through the bathroom remodel and now wonder if it just started, was started by the demolition, and where it is coming from?
The water issues in this house are driving Ms. Laura to distraction. Leaks and line breaks and clogs have done much damage to our home over the years.
When you have had no rain for four months it makes diagnosing leaks a bit of a problem. We cannot imagine this having gone on near what was our tub for years because there is no visible water marking or mold in the area. A mystery to be solved.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
We have a beautiful study in our home which we enjoy...its like a den, that's not what I am talking about. For my 12 years here our church office is on a street of homes, a manufactured 1600 sq ft office with a master bath. That's what I'm talking about because this morning I showered at the office.
Our master bathroom project has begun with the tear out of my beloved 25 year old shower stall, goodbye lots of thinkin and scrubbin and goodbye dirty grout that would not clean up. Hello new bathroom, in a couple of weeks. Wow, the contruction on our home was very sound, and the walls behind the shower moisture free, good news.
Meantime, it's a joy to have an office that used to be a home, with a fine bathroom and shower.
Much appreciation to my chiropractor Dr. Don D. for working on my spine and back yesterday. I think I am on the road to stability again.
Speaking of domiciles, The Nomad Hotel has a great shower, the intimacy of a boutique hotel, and the guest only lounge was a well stocked library we were free to browse and borrow from....like we took time to read that week. Still, a lovely place to stay in midtown Manhattan, with a subway entrance around the corner.
Monday, July 7, 2014
We were entertained last evening in our fourth of July dinner by a gentleman who has been entertaining for his whole life. Although I had heard him as part of a group and as our bango player, turned out he was one of many who stood up in the early seventies as the New Christy Minstrels.
Deep base voice, multi generational music, fun with homemade instruments including my favorite, the cowbell. It was a sing along par excellence with humor, reminiscense of a long singing career, some genuine gospel music reflecting his southern roots.
He has one of the most beautiful Santa beards also.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
......Keep us from our warring madness. restrain our evil ways.
Such is the tone of a fine hymn that walks the balance between standing for a transformed culture and extending a compassionate hand to weak sinners and those who walk in error.
Tryed to bring out those truths today in light of NYC and its renewed streets and parks and burroughs.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Yesterday I threw out my lower back again. This is a recurring injury related to a long ago accident that for some reason decides to happen again and again. It was made more serious in the early 90s when too few people tried to move a huge musical instrument at an awkward lift angle.
Yesterday, after many months of stability I moved wrong brushing my teeth and dressing and now I am bent over and in pain with nerve pinches and muscle tugs to protect from stabbing pain.
My chiropractor has helped, but I am stuck in this mode through the weekend.
Pain colors life, we all know that, both physical and mental.
On another note, the century plant in my neighbors yard is bent 40 degrees from the dust storm. Our backyard oasis took a lot of dust and yard debris we determined to bring the cushions inside next time.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
I feel so blessed to be an American. Though my life and transitions have been rewarding and challenging and at times dissapointing, I have had a wonderful life in this land. I have lived in many states and homes and parts of the country and have seen most of it duing travels, and just last week learned the landscape and vibe of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Happy Fourth of July, my Country.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
A conservative, a liberal, an Arab and a beautiful woman enter a park in New York City. They all have plans to spend some time there reading and relaxing. What do they have in common.....a safe place to sit and read.
This is the question I am pondering with great curiosity this week. How did the Flatiron District in mid Manhattan take back the park from meth addicts, aging hippies, homeless people, thieves, and thugs and return it to all the citizens of the city, who, though different in many ways, all benefit from a beautiful safe and peaceful park, well maintained and protected by the local police and a consortium of concerned citizens who see the value of such a happy place?
Hearing this tale from a sweet old French immigrant who ran a store nearby, and having it confirmed by a successful pastor in the area made this a legitimate question. Both of them admitted the city had restored itself to being and becoming a place not only to work but to live.
If the bible centers on transformation on a personal level, does it not also see societal transformation as well. Is this not the role of good and helpful government?