Friday, October 31, 2014
Bridges to new ways to live in peace and joy.
It's Reformation Day. We remember one man calling out a monolithic power that cast fear, abuse, and control on the world that was. He declared the original freedom. The good news is about freedom from a fearful covenant and the announcement of a new covenant based on better promises.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Everything from the solid beauty, the electronic gadgets, the solid smooth ride and power screamed high quality engineering. Loved the little warning light when a car comes up on your left, the beep when you change a lane with markers, it was just plain fun to drive.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I was sharing the other day about a pastor who, instead of publishing a creed or statement of beliefs just shared some movements, men and ideas who had influenced their fellowship. This somehow seems more gentle and less rigid, and yet is honest that no one teaches from a vacuum. We are all influenced by various teachings as we grow up.
As a pastor in the reformed tradition I saw a tremendous value to ascribing our entrance into the walk of faith as all of God and none of me. Of course I was involved, but the key moment, the light bulb that suddenly gave light, and the strange warmth that enveloped me were gifts from above.
Still cannot shake that concept.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
We are watching the lava flow on the big island with fascination. Each island owes its very existence to volcanic activity long ago, so they have to be at peace with the youngest island still sounding off. Last year we traveled down 130 to the place where the last big flow stopped. They have some nice beer gardens welcoming the tourists, and then a 3/4 mile hike across the lava field with the beginnings of cracking apart and with many plants exerting their might by working throug the lava to create a future lush forest.
The beach at the end of the walk contains sandy areas where the government has planted many coconuts that are rooting for future trees. Then, a beautiful black sand beach forming at oceans edge, which will we were told last 20 t0 30 years before the brown sand overcomes the volcanic sand.
We know many will lose homes, but they or someone else will rebuild, its the way of nature and of life.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Sunday, October 26, 2014
New Tribes Mission cannot do their work without effective short strip airplanes. We viewed two Kodiak 8 passenger planes by Quest and some Cessna's and helicopters used by very dedicated families who desire to take the gospel to places and among peoples that have never had mission influence.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
It is after forty years and lots of fundraising, a model campus with new comfortable group homes and apartments for high functioning individuals who often have jobs in town.
The staff is loving and gifted, each rancher has his or her own needs understood, the group dynamics are as great as they could be for these fortunate residents. We are blessed to be part of it.
Friday, October 24, 2014
I am taking a minivan full of folks up the hill about 2 hours to have a 40th anniversary Banquet. This home for special adults was started by Ralph Shows who is still alive. The compelling part of the story was an accident while bringing one of the early buildings to the land that caused the electrocution loss of both arms. Now a physically handicapped pastor who struggled all his life with dislexia is building a permanent home for men and women who would lead lonely lives in the full time care of family.
We have been involved with them for the life of our church. Some of our members helped build the modern new homes for ten residents that dot a really beautiful campus. They have gardening, art, music, horse back riding, hiking, worship, and for some employment in the local town.
Pictures to come, safe trip ahead hopefully.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I met a Campus Crusade leader from the poor east African country of Ethiopia yesterday. As he shared his amazing story and of God's grace to his tribe through the conversion of his powerful father, I also heard of the recent history that occured after Haile Solassi, a name tucked in my brain with no connection to history.
While God was working to bring sinners to the cross, the country went through 20 years of communist persecution, ended by a drought that killed a million, and how they now have a stable government and a growing economy although they are very poor and still needing education.
Other statements he made showing his African worldview were interesting to me, and frankly woke me up in the middle of the night thinking about the ways of God and the blessings of civilization.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Three of my best friends from both college and seminary. John on the left, died at 55, don't know why or how. Johnny, the funniest man I have ever known, did not go into ministry but construction, the church would have chewed him up and spit him out. Tommy, gentle Tommy died in a car accident in his thiries after marrying a woman and promising to help raise her kids. He was not at fault, but was a victim of another persons driving mistake. sad.
One of my pastor friends just Facebooked about how he loves Monday. He must have continued the time honored tradition of taking mondays off as a pastoral sabbath to recoup from the busy weekend.
It never worked for me for a number of reasons so I quit it decades ago for a bit of a looser schedule. If nothing comes up Fridays are my day off. It fits better with golfing buddies. I am through with office work and thinking about the message in a relaxed mode. Saturdays are chore and clean up the house days for my working wife and I, if she can catch me, and Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon I am in full fledged heart and mind preparation.
Things usually come up on the day when the congregation gathers that should and can be dealt with Monday. I can set my mind to another week and plan what and where I need to be and what meetings I have to prepare for. All in all Monday through Thursday office and planning Friday a Saturday two days of different schedule. Sunday is for the practice of my primary gifting. Teaching about the Good News.
Of course those of you who believe a minister only works one hour a week can ignore all the above.
Those of you who labor in physical sweat and toil 40 hours a week, yes, you do work harder than I do.
Those of you who own businesses and work 60 to 80 hours a week to survive and thrive. My heart is with you, but you also work harder than I do.
Those of you who can leave your work at the office and relax completely without anything on your mind. I work harder than you, because I am always on call, and my life and my behavior never take a vacation, even on the golf course where cussing should be allowed.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Can we talk? When two people talk it is called having a conversation. It's a two way street and both can profit from sharing and listening.
When preachers are all saying that we have entered into an era of conversation about truth it does not belittle proclamation, it just adds the dimension of having to respond to the teaching without blind trust. Folks are smarter than they have ever been in some ways, and points of view have been developing for a long time.
We are in an age of knowing that conversations build bridges and dogmatic assertions sometimes lead to endless arguement. Someone mentioned that preachers everywhere are talking about the need to enter into conversation. I agree, and no one told me, but lots of books are discussing our times and how to reach folks.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Blogging for personal reasons has been largely replaced by Facebook and Twitter in the last number of years. Blogging for a purpose that is transformational like a theology blog can develop large followings and attract adds and income.
My blog is personal, daily, photo sharing driven, and related to the daily experience of a pastor who has stuck with it for four decades.
Last week my original counter, not the one that shows on the page indicated that I had passed 60,000 page visits. That is nice and I share it not to boast in numbers, but to be thankful that a few folks each day enjoy my thoughts.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Who gets to do the correction, when correction is needed? A Seattle pastor just faced a life correction for his leadership habits, another acquaitance lost his job after moral failure.
The Protestant Reformation was a major correction of the Roman Church system 500 years ago. Protestants have no pope, so how does correction of leaders who are off message and off path, or followers who are not living out their faith with integrity.
We call it church discipline and mostly it is never really done because wrongdoers just leave the church without being corrected. It's a problem. Independent churches have no system to correct the moral or theological errors of its leaders for most part, and people get led astray all the time.
My personal belief is that a free press and free discussion are a modern method of bringing correction within theological systems and churches. People who think we are off message write about it, and people read and discuss and pressure begins to mount that something must change.
It's a positive sort of peer pressure. Which is why you have to encourage questions in the art of interpreting scripture and developing lifestyles in modern culture. Did we properly understand this text, may it have cultural limitations that change the application for today? Not easy to do, and discerning the times and seasons is important.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
I wanted to be a pastor/teacher and lots of guys targeted cities and dreamed of types of service, but I was a dude who really came late to the party and did not have a real idea of where I fit, so I thought, why not just take a little church in a little town and learn the ropes?
I did and it almost killed me. Long story and I don't want to go there.
Anyhow planning ahead is tough for me, I am sort of a procrastinator and live in the moment guy who nevertheless has daily and weekly deadlines that I mostly accomplish.
My life in ministry was more akin to survivor than thriver. But I stuck with it, and enjoyed the ups and downs, mainly because my bride is still my friend and we will hit the big 40 year anniversary in January.
Now I am thinking about how we will live, and move and have our being when the paychecks stop. Planning for retirement is sort of like having those babies, you look forward to it and have no idea how expensive they are, how they change everything.
What will it be like when we have time, and a modest bucket list? Will we have enough money for a movie, a dinner out, golf, trips. Will a health problem wipe out our savings. I know I am supposed to trust in the Lord and all that, but, a wise dude plans ahead the book says, and for me, that is hard.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Words from the hilarious Star Trek IV movie where Scotty picks up an Apple mouse and speaks into it. He has traveled into the past and forgets that we still have to used graphical interfaces to talk to our computers.
We are not there yet, although our smart phones are supposed to be conversation ready. Key in the very funny I phone commercial where a man wants to break up with Siri, who has become a bit maudlin in her attachments to the owner. Very funny.
For me, my present day to day office laptop is recharging poorly and indications are I need a new battery, and a key which was responding poorly is now officially broken and sticks up at an angle but still works well enough to type.
Then last week I was informed that our modem ip address was hacked by someone and we had to pay for cleaning and protection. sheesh.
Then the cord on my five year old laptop which I use for backup and to enjoy picture viewing because it has a 17 inch screen has stopped charging at all, so I must determine if it is the cord or the pc power connection.
Then, my windshield cracked and it has taken two days of hassle to arrange a repair, which has nothing to do with computers, but a lot to do with my daily frustration level.
Such is life in the land of the free, and it is way better than fending of ISIS and hoping Ebola goes away, that is serious stuff.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Today marks one month of using Weight Watchers for men online. The first two weeks I ate mainly from picture menus on the fast start menu. I saw them, cooked them, and did not know how many points I was consuming. This was fun and effective but it would have helped to know how those pictures and portions were pointed, because in the last two weeks I am wondering about portion size and points because I have a lot to learn about how the points create healthy meals, fill you up, and yet cause a steady loss of weight.
This on the backdrop of the inevitable slow down from the first two to the last two weeks. Am I slipping? How am I doing now that I am eating out more? This on the backdrop of a new medication I am taking that has caused a dramatic drop in my blood suger and is supposed to help me lose weight a bit faster. The doctors scale a week ago said I was down seven pounds. Eight a month should make me elated, but why not more??? This is the fractured thinking of an overeater on a diet.
On the scale tomorrow, and no matter what it says I am here for the duration as a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet, my motto is the literal translation of what my cardiologist said more politely last month. "LOSE WEIGHT OR DIE, SUCKER".
Monday, October 13, 2014
It is hard not to get caught up in national and international and spiritual fear these days. Every day our super connected world reminds us how good things can go wrong. This weekend a runaway hay ride and a blow away bounce house are in the news. It all adds to this big issue that surrounds us in our frailty. If God is not for us, everything can be against us. This is why over the years I have made a huge shift in my heart and mind away from my roots which emphasized Sinners in the hands of an Angry God. Deal with it. It has blessed my daily life beyond my ability to share.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Both SEC universities in Mississippi are ranked. Unless you have lived in an SEC state you just cannot realize how much those folks love their football season. They eat it, drink it, and worship it.
Watching Mississippi State Auburn, good fun. Does not need more cowbell.
Also chores, the gym, and sermon on the mind. Life is good.
Friday, October 10, 2014
A big scramble for available golf courses in our area as they close to overseed the green winter rye. We played an executive course nearby and enjoyed a scruffy game with an almost scalped fairways and poorly conditioned greens.
Occasionally I get passionate about the sound quality and comfort of my music devices. I love my UE boombox for a tiny footprint and full sound on the back porch. I enjoy both of my bluetooth earphones which set me free to put my phone down when working out and have free movement.
Just bought the Amazon ear buds at an introductory price. They are black, with a ribbon cord which prevents tangling, and the coolest magnet that holds the ear phone together when storing.
I also understand what they were doing in the design, a bit bigger than the Ipod earbuds because you cannot push them deeper into your ears for a snug fit. They are designed to sit in your ear comfortably, and I like them.
The sound is full and rich, about all you could ask from a 15 dollar purchase. Go Amazon.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
In the year 2000 fear based religion manifested it's presence among the believers I served in Queen Creek. Fed by books and articles from all over and from the strange truth that computers were not equipped to turn over a new century, the Y2K bug joined a long history of belief in a seven thousand year life span for planet earth. I observed folks stocking up on survival supplies and of course the left behind movies followed.
I am thankful for all that because it was the impetus for me to study lots of things for myself, and eventually led me further out of man made religion and into the embrace of a loving God. If I am going to cherry pick verses, which is what fear based religion does, then I choose to cherry pick the verse which says, perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment.
Anyhow, the breakthroughs I have made have had an observable effect on my daily life, in spite of the fact that my health issues may indicate that I not live to average life expectancy. I have become very much more interested in life, in beauty, in truth, and in humanities good side instead of gloom and doom and our evil side and satan's constant power to trip us up.
Fear based religion wanted it all to be over and please lift me out of here, the world is not my home. My faith says, let your light shine, and enjoy the beauty, truth, and love and service you have been blessed with. I will handle the next step in your journey after death. Live fully and completely and abundantly and joyfully. Pray for the places where evil is in control, and try to end it or at least pray and oppose the evil.
I still remember Dennis Prager, Jewish conservative who said his people had all the money in the banks, and do you really think a Jew is going to let someone or something seperate him from his money? Funny.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
What might have happened if Martin Luther's 95 questions had be cordially received and discussed in the months that followed All Saints Eve in 1517? We will never know because the authorities inside the church refused to look critically at their faith and practice. They hunkered down and acted all self righteous about this young monk who dared to question. He ran for his life, but his questions demanded answers.
Any government that squelches civil dissent and even civil disobedience is in trouble, and probably hiding something. Any church that becomes so convinced it speaks for God without error is in trouble of becoming something other than the helping institution it was founded to be.
Not all questions are respectful, and destructive attacks are not building bridges, but legitimate questions and discussion will help us to hold true to that which is true, and perhaps reconsider that which is weak.
If religion becomes obsolete in our time, it will be because it refused the dialogue that would bring growth, and the change necessary to meet the need of changing culture. And this is coming not from an angry college student but a man at the end of his career and maybe his life. There are lots of really good questions being discussed and I say....bring them on.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Brooke and Kathleen took a four island cruise of the Hawaiian Islands last week, sent back some great pictures. It culminated with a renewing of vows for Brooke and her husband on their 31 wedding anniversary on Shipwreck Beach in Kauai, one of our favorite spots on the planet.
I have known these girls since they were adopted by my Aunt and Uncle and have seen them through some thick and thin times. Loved their pictures and thought how great it is to take the trip of a lifetime with six family members to enjoy it together.
We have never done the cruise type vacation but I saw how cool it was to do one or two trips all catered on each island to get the flavor of each one. The Volcano on Hawaii, Road to Hanna on Maui, Pearl Harbor in Oahu, and the Napali Coastline by helicopter on Kauai.
Brooke said when she goes back she wants to see more of Kauai, and Laura and I agree
Monday, October 6, 2014
It is reformation month at church and we are thinking about the questions that led to the split between catholicism and protestantism 500 years ago. That split affected the world for good and woe, mostly good in my little mind. However it has caused me to reflect on the tension that exits in our country between divergent views of the future, between liberal and conservative visions that exist in the Christian faith, in the government and in every diner and coffee shop in America.
We are people who develop views, and defend them. For me, as one who has played this game and really wanted the best answers I could find for lots of issues, I found that hearing lots of points of views was good for me.
Many however, and I have been part of this as well, find it much more rewarding to defend your view will dismissing the views of others. Bill Gaither put new words on a great hymn tune we sing that has such a line. Ive been so loved Im willing to consider another mans point of view.
Os Guiness wrote an excellent book on civility which he beieves is missing from the public square in our dialogue in this country and believes that Christians of all people should lead the culture in this direction. Given our penchant for defending our own turf and denigrating the views of others in evangelicalism I am not sure we are as ready to listen to another point of view as I hope we could.
I continue to believe the church is entering a new phase as a result of all that has happened since the reformation, and evangelicalism will have to face up to some of its claims and procedures that may overstate the case and end up blunting the very sword of the good news we try to advance.
We will see how this all works out in politics, faith, and practice in coming months, and against the backdrop of serious issues in the middle east and on the terrorist front.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
You cannot think of Tom without Mabel. She was the talker of the two, yet they were one voice. He cared for her so faithfully till her passing a bit over a year ago. He was already losing his sharpness during her last days, and finally he is at rest.
Another of our greatest generation entered into rest.
He loved the Navy and his service. He loved his career in Chemical Engineering. He loved traveling, flying, golfing, and enjoying his family.
In later years just getting out each day for a late lunch in our cafeteria was a great experience for them. Mabel and Tom were friends of our local library who worked tirelessly to get a new building for our community.
Interested in everything, interesting in all ways. Makes me wonder what reunions are like over on the other side. They danced their way through a long and joyful journey.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Ah, for the desert dweller there is no enjoying the fall and bracing for winter. We instead look for the fall and fully enjoy our largely shirt sleeve winter. Our backyard oasis is feeling comfortable for a longer time each day.
It's deja vu all over again for the rapture ready crowd of believers. They have a new movie to scare people into the kingdom with. Reviews so far are not good, and I will again choose not to see it in the theatre.
Many good and faithful people have studied and grown up in a theological system called dispensationalism. They believe Daniel's last seven years are floating around in history waiting to find just the right prophetic moment to kick start the end of the world.
Instant removal of true believers in an unknown secret time but highly anticipated moment, will dissapear. In case of rapture this car, train, plane, cruise ship, etc will be unmanned.
While I believe that history has purpose and telios, ending, I do not share in this view with much enthusiasm for many reasons, none of which I will share without being asked.
I will enjoy my backyard oasis instead. I hope my questioning of the rapture will not leave me behind if I was wrong. In case of rapture, this comfy chair will be unmanned.
Friday, October 3, 2014
If I had words to make a day for you, I'd sing you a day that's golden and true. I would make that day last for all time, and give you a night full of moon shine.
One year ago today we swam with dolpins, snorkeled on a private beach, ate a meal about a boat on the pacific ocean and had moonight drinks in a romantic restaurant within earshot of a Luau.
It was about the perfect day for us both and I will always cherish it.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
The interesting thing about Hawaii the Big Island is that compared to the others it is big. After our epic park fail we drove on around the bottom of the island to Hilo, the other port city in Hawaii. We did our Hilo Hattie visit, ate lunch in a very nice restaurant, and as the sun began to set we headed across the center of the island. For many years this road was little for than a WWII access point to the Volcanos. Rental Cars were forbidden to use it, but in recent years it was made quite safe for crossing the island in the middle.
However, if it is drizzling and foggy and you are doing it for the first time it was quite full of tension. We could not see far enough ahead to watch for turns in the road.
Full day one ending that way was so exhausting that day two was spent driving locally, scouting out snorkeling waters, and resting at our Condo in preparation for the Manta Dive.
A year ago when I shared the story I concentrated on how difficult it turned out to be and how much salt water I injested. A year later, I just remember being touched stomach to stomach with a huge one tone sea creature just happy to be feeding with us and providing a lively evening for us chickens of the sea.
We even saw the original manta whose broken jaw caused him to feed under a harbor spotlight and created a healthy evening business for forty or fifty companies.
Memories of the islands are so dear and rich for us. If Hawaii does not do it for you, find someplace on this beautiful land that does, and go see it.
A meal on the north shore of Honolulu with friends years ago. Jamisons by the Sea....food is memories.
I am a complete sap for a good movie about hope, dreams, love and food. That plus a beautiful town in the south of France as the backdrop.
The 100 foot Journey is such a beautiful movie that lifts up family, tradition, changes, loss, love, and the joy of cooking through the eyes and heart of an intense and totally lovely young cook who becomes a true chef.
Just a lovely movie in every way, the filming, the pace, the drama, the characters, the music all combine for a cinematic experience that makes you long for life and love.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
One year ago today we turned innocently into the gate at Hawaii Volcano National Park on the big Island. It took over two hours of sightseeing to get there and we were excited, and shocked to see a State Trooper in process of shutting it down. The whole American National Park system closed that morning at the orders of the President.
The ranger apologized sheepishly and allowed us to enter the park, asking that we find a place to turn around. It allowed us to stay for half an hour and take a few pictures of the caldera and see some steam vents. Laura wanted to keep driving but I am too much of a law abiding man to feel good about that. So we were steamed about it that week, all week. And sad for the people staying in the hotel inside the park who had probably made reservations years ahead and were told to pack up and leave that morning.
One of my relatives was there yesterday and all the feelings of being cheated for low governmental objectives have returned. Let's close the symbols of America's stories and beauty and history and patriotism to show them they can't stop us from spending money we don't have. Let's make them hurt. (My take on the issues, strictly personal and slightly biased).
So......we just have to go back soon, and thanks to my beloved congregation for the anniversary trip, it was not your fault we chose that week.