Wednesday, December 30, 2015
I am retiring as Pastor of Sun Lakes Community Church at the end of June. It coincides with my completion of 40 years as a minister ordained to preach, and 49 years as a follower of the Lord. This 35 year old congregation has had five pastors and I am the first who will continue to live here. There was one pastor who lived here and stepped up to serve for a time, but I came here to serve and at least for the forseeable future Sun Lakes will be our home.
Health issues are the primary reason I am moving on, and a desire to do some other things with the time I have left is the second reason. I will still preach when asked, will always be in conversation and teaching and learning with those who I am in fellowship with after we step away from this place of service.
We have been thinking through the various issues of retirement and dealing with the questions and the uncertainties. We know its time for me, and since I am three years older than Laura, she will probably continue her career for one or two more years. We will see. Forty years passed by quickly. "Time like an ever rolling stream bears all its sons away" Here's hoping I have some good years ahead.
Given the upheavals in the world spiritually, politically, and socially, it's a good thing to step back from trying to speak to people trying to navigate the uncertainties and just work on my own search for beauty, truth, hope and peace.
Friday, December 25, 2015
We knew it would be crowded, and it was. We knew it would be chilly, and it was. We knew it would be expensive, and it was. But....we also knew we would be enchanted with the family fun, rides, attractions and the general excellent and heart warming blend of music, memories, and Christmas cheer that always comes through so wonderfully.
We were surprised to hear not only general Christmas music all three days, but sacred Christmas hymns were played as well. We were surprised by the attention to detail that transformed every attraction to have a special Christmas feel. The Jungle Cruise became a hilarious Jingle Cruise, and every display in Its a small world played Christmas music and had a total Christams/New Year theme. Every street, every building was decorated with creativity and care.
A couple of things were jarring to me personally. Seeing a woman with her husband and children dressed in the full muslim outfit with only an eye slit for see. It just seemed so out of place among the crazy fun of children dressed as princesses and thousands of silly shirts and coats and disney headgear. Just a reminder to me that the fundamentalist islamic way of life will never never never thrive in never never land!!!!
I was jarred by three Korean teenagers holding large signs and passing out tracts as the masses headed into the soggy park on a rainy Tuesday. Threatening people with eternal hell when people have sacrificed to provide a disney vacation seemed to be in very bad taste. I don't care how much they believe that every family is going to hell if they don't repent, this was not a good venue to cast this negative pall over a very happy, and loving family crowd. I forgive the adults who put you teenagers up to this confrontational evangelism at its worst.
I will leave our biannual trip to Disneyland with the following impressions. The flowers and horticulture are beyond amazing, God and man at work to present fragile beauty. Music and fireworks were the most spectacular in my memory, they keep topping themselves. The patriotism and American spirit that drove Walt to present such timeless things as Moments with Abraham Lincoln and to observe the flag and band traditions of America.
Families with handicapped children and adults were treated with such love everywhere, including handicapped performers and care in helping wheelchair bound people enjoy the park like everyone else.
And, yes, Americans have enormous problems with being overweight, its not mean to say it, we are a nation of overeaters, and I am included. Got to get back on my diet after enjoying a Charro, two pineaple whips, some vanilla ice cream, caramel popcorn, gummi bears disney characters. To my defense I did eat lots of Salads too.
We love Disneyland and thank God for the positive cultural influence of this magic place.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Some people love a good fuss, jump into a conflict and will debate till the crows fly. For me, when division and dissension rise to the surface some deep wounded place in my heart wants to leave. Long ago when I tested to be a church planter I was strong in all areas except for dealing with conflict. They said I was too much of a peacemaker to survive the tough early months of a church plant when sometimes you have to let people go who are hindering the core group.
He was right. Have never really been that thick skinned or cold hearted. Anyhow, while the national discussion of safely and security and fear and violence rages on, please allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas and tell you I will be back after Christmas.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Chandler Symphony Orchestra Christmas concert was this past Sunday Afternoon. Opened with traditional Christmas Carols, had three Hannakah songs for our Jewish Friends, and a number of secular and traditional Christmas songs that were enjoyed by all.
The last month of 2015 is here, just a few more weeks till the new year. We are already doing so many things a bit differently this year, starting with our decision to spend time at Disneyland on Christmas. We have done this once before and though the crowds will be huge the decorations and atmosphere will be worth it.
We made this decision with the knowledge that major park renovations are coming next year which we would not mind missing. We are further deciding not to decorated the home, which is a freeing concept.
Freedom is such a precious thing,and we must allow ourselves freedom to do different things, good things. So, let the Christmas spirit fill our ears with the music of the freedom we have in Christ.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Shannon, my granddaughter turned 16 this weekend, and my my time flies. She has been so much fun, first as our weekend visitor and then as our summer vacation companion where she has traveled many times to Disneyland, to the south, to NYC, and many other places.
We will enjoy the annual Symphony Christmas Concert of Sunday and be off to a great simple holiday month, a month were peace of earth is nowhere to be found, but always in my heart.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015
I am addicted to Facebook. I love keeping up with my friends. I have no idea how all these funny pictures and videos find there way to FB to give me a moments laugh, but increasingly over the last year the open forum for expressing your political and religious and anti religious ideas and hopes and fears has made my visits feel more like toxic exposure.
I do not want to quit but just the catching up process exposes me to great things I want to read and ugly angry things I wish had never been posted.
I am addicted though, just gotta see who said what, and that's my frustration.
Friday, November 27, 2015
Something about a four day weekend is special. Advent arrives, the year end approaches, the ideas that have swirled in my head for years keep moving to the center, bringing peace and joy again, deeper and more integrated than ever.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
It happens every year, right at the same moment, when I am enjoying the Macy's parade a year older, but still amazed by this near timeless tradition of music, and bands, and floats, and balloons. This moment I am thankful for the carefree part of America, not the part fighting over how to tax and spend our money, not the part where families worry about rent and bills, not the part where policemen watch for lawless people trying to steal, hurt and destroy to take the easy way to making money from other peoples work.
This part of the American Dream, a parade, New York city, TV, musicians, stars, Broadway musicals, this, this this thing, is the freedom and the diversity and the talent and the voluteerism, and the fun of being American. Not racism, not hatred, not class warfare, not welfare, not prisons and jails, just this amazing time out of Thanksgiving. I love it every year in the now that comes once a year.
Monday, November 23, 2015
I am approaching 40 years of ordained ministry, June 27, 1976-June 27, 2016, and have set the course for a course change. mixture of healthy concern and anticipation of choosing where my ministry will focus in my next stage of life no matter how long or short, and of course having more time for travel, recreation, writing, living.
Will turn 66 Lord willing this July 13, not young, not old, plenty of energy left for other directions should my life be extended.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Number of visits to the Hawaian Islands. eight.
I used to enjoy counting the number of states I lived during my growing up years. Six. and the number of houses we lived in before I left for college. Six, and the number of schools I attended in my education. ten, and other numbers, like the number of churches I served, seven, and the number of homes we lived in during our marriage, twelve, and the number of cars I have owned, 17.
In recent years the collage had blended into a litany of general thankfulness for the joys and struggles and the sheer grace of God in allowing me to be born in this great country. This week I am taking a time out to enjoy a week of lightness of being, of the presence of Abba, and the years ahead no matter what comes.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
When Paul told the Thessalonians to give thanks in all circumstances he already knew they were suffering persecution at or above the level of the Jerusalem church. Paul was so angry with the Jews who limited the gentiles from hearing the gospel that he cursed them to an ionian judgment from God. (read the letter, it was the Jews he sent to everlasting separation).
I asked Sunday if there is a quid pro quo to periods of thanksgiving, yes, I think. Our hearts can be lifted, our spirits lightened, our outlook on life can shift from anxiety and fear to joy and fullness of heart.
One week time out, if at all possible, from the never ending political tag and blame shifting. One week of concentration of the past and future of trust and strength and grace and beauty and love and peace and kindness and reconciliation. Leaving the WWIII and rapture talk behind.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Found a neat mennonite pastor in Canada who did a youtube on Jesus, Isis and Islam. We had an interview with a committed Canadian educated but devout muslim. Very interesting that they have such a high view of Jesus and Ethics along with a very militaristic use of violence to extend the caliphate.
As I read earlier, prophecies or not, the arithmetic adds up to more violence and innocent death ahead.
Monday, November 16, 2015
In a six minute introduction to the service the mega church pastor spoke of the evil of Friday's attack, the core issues of ISIS commitment to attack western civilization, and governments role to punish evildoer, and then quoted Trump that it is therefore God's and Trumps will to bomb the $^^&% out of Isis in Syria.
This is the American way.
I heard many other ideas presented during the first wave of reactions to the Friday attacks. Some say WWIII has begun, but I heard that after 9/11/01. It is surely true that Islamic fundamentalism and terror are growing, and I feel really sorry for the worldview that has trapped so many in this mode of hatred and violence.
I am so new to the conversation about the church and non violence that as per usual I am listening to different viewpoints. I tend to favor allowing the arab countries figure out their own governance and building strong borders and a strong defense ready to protect democracies and allies around the world from terrorism.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
What if one of the Syrian immigrants actually enters a sanctuary city and within months is armed and carries out a terrorist act in the United State or Canada? I would think the 15 year wound that 9/11 will be torn open and all restraints about vetting immigrant will be gone and serious border control will be the new law of the land. Hoping this does not occur, not hold my breath if history teaches us.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
There are so many ways to react to the violence on the streets of Paris last night. I saw people doing the same thing that people do in every free nation of the world. They attend sporting events, they go out to eat, they go to nightclubs to dance. They go hang out and walk at the Mall.
Those free places became killing fields for Islamic terror, for murder, and from their twisted point of view, revenge for all the crimes of the west against Allah and the muslem people.
I have empathy with the Parisians today. I have wept real tears at the sadness that parents and families are experiencing thinking of the murder of their loved ones.
I am outraged that these acts are done without warning and to innocent people enjoying a night out. I want justice, and I agree that something must be done to stop radical islam in all forms, organized as armies and infiltrated as terrorists, or homegrown as new converts.
They lost me when they burned the Syrian refugee camp in the spirit of revenge. I could understand it, but I cannot agree with the world systems way of handling such injury. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth and always been our default reaction, but it only perpetuated the hatred.
Friday, November 13, 2015
The Isis actions in Paris will rally the west and all civilized nations against the violence that tore the city apart earlier this evening. I pray and hope for an end to this hatred in the name of Allah against the nations of the world.
Monday, November 9, 2015
I must not therefore obsess about politics and elections. I must not worry about shopping, and eating, plenty of both with occur. Need to lift the doom and gloom from the churched people, too much to be thankful for in our country.
Need to abstain from the Thanksgiving and Christmas Culture Wars, no worth the ink and anger spent on them.
Need to train for our family Christmas gift to ourselves and our grand children. A pre Christmas Disneyland vacation. Yes folks, the decorations, the music, the fake soapy snow, the crowds, all to be endured and enjoyed this year. Counting the days because my greatest joy is watching those I love have a delightful time, and me trying to find places to rest and endlessly people watch.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Dinner with a "Wounded Warrior" last evening at the Marine Ball. He had a head injury and is being helped along with his wife to deal with a decade of difficulties since the accident. Great Couple and a really great reminder of the dedication of the Marines for 240 years.
Each song contributed to the whole, the subject was encouraging, the day beautiful, a day when leading a gathered group was a joy.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Walked into my present work space in March of 2003 and Genevieve greeted me and all who enter our strange neighborhood office. For my family out of town and other readers my congregation owns a manufactured home that was converted into our office several years before I came, we have access from the Country Club parking lot, but still have street access and regular neighbors. Its odd but nice.
The great room is our reception room, kitchen and library, the old den is our board room/teaching room which can seat 30 comfortably.
My office is the old master bedroom, closet an extra book room, and yes, I can shower here if I need to.
Genevieve came with the former pastor and so will complete 17 years as secretary/office manager. She is training her replacement and like all change I am dealing with it.
Wondering when my time comes were my 36 shelves of books will go when I leave? They have been friends and helpers just like Genevieve.
I already gave away 40 boxes of old books that were given to me that lost their usefulness last year. I hope some of my Bible Study library can find its way to a younger pastor/scholar.
Other than that, life is good this week and people here are wearing sweaters in our first chill, which means below 85 degrees!!
Seniors just naturally resist change, in general all humans do. We like our routines and the comfort of our mental furniture we place in our lives to give us security and hope. The future always holds unknown outcomes and thus it is easy to dread it or fear it or to be apprehensive at least.
Hope, trust, and life experience help us to take each day as it comes. When those we trust and hope in begin to join in fear based predictions then sickish feelings of dread enter our life about the future. Wars and rumors of wars, stories of violence and barbaric actions from around the world create dread and cause us to exhibit anxiety in our present life.
The church is in the midst of a reformation, this being almost five hundred years since the Protestant reformation. People are observing the powers that be in Christianity and the teachings that have developed in the diversity that exits in non catholic organizations and they are asking questions that need thought and answers. When leaders refuse to engage these questions but continue to shout louder for the way things have always been it will create pressures that overflow into splits, people checking out, and the death of various forms of the visible church. This is good, and those who are the most resistant to the questions and respond poorly to those who mean the best in capturing the ways in which true faith will be a strength for the future will face dwindling influence and eventual irrelevance.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Just finished a history read on the Arabs and the muslim faith. Sobering. I have been taking a strong stand on Biblical prophecy being mostly fulfilled in the first century. Hoping that somehow we find the courage to stop the growth of a violent and misguided hate group. Innocents are dying, children are suffering, people are starving and homeless.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
I can no more speak and act the way I did when I was beginning my teaching career than I could turn back timee. Yet many things I say would sound the same or similar. With experience and the freedom to play outside the established boxes so many wonderful truths become like new, fresh every morning. This is the secret of my present passion. I am adding new ideas that are making my understandings more joyful, more hopeful, more energized.
Friday, October 30, 2015
This year I am guilty of false advertising on my little blog, Not Whistling Dixie, because it says very clearly, "Daily reflections on my wonderful life". This year I have failed to post daily as in years past. Why is this? Is it because my life is not longer wonderful? Well, in some ways yes. Laura and I are in retirement planning mode, the world seems to be preparing for WWIII mode, and my preaching is not getting enough butts in the seats, and on occasion is getting butts off the seats when I offend someone. Is the word "butt" offensive?
So, thank you for visiting Not Whistling Dixie where I share several times a week about my transitional wonderful life. False advertising seems to be a reality in just about every aspect of life these days....politically, socially, educationally, spiritually, and certainly most forms of media. God help us to hear truth and honesty through it all.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Sometimes I see myself laying a foundation for a new understanding,a new reformation, something that will save humanity. Then someone wonders why we need a new understanding, and someone does not care for the pillar of the new foundation I am trying to lay.
In moments like those I need to see the building whose maker and creator is God, by faith, and not be overly anxious when people are not praising the pillars or seeing the need for the building, because I see it.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Over 40 years of marrying and burying and it never gets easy, although my appreciation of the process of grieving and celebrating have developed over the years. Phyliss was over 80 but the last seven years involved the loss of memory in the disease called Alzheimer's.
Earlier in the week my visit with a loyal husband caring for his failing wife allowed me to experience the presence and absence of cognitive ability up close. My heart breaks for those dealing with this.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Last Saturday I had two greasy hamburger meals and two rich servings of cake during two celebrations and long story short ended up in the ER with chest discomfort and gastric distress. I took my first upper GI Cocktail which consisted of three ingredients to calm the stomach... the most interesting being lydacaine? not sure of the spelling which puts whatever it touches into numbness.
I did make the worship service and did preach and have recovered to sleep again, but am now wondering if the whole thing was stress related because of a number of things going on in my life right now.
I have never tried to answer the questions in my title but I am thinking about doing some more research into handling stress and stress reactions. It has to be cheaper than moving to Hawaii.
Monday, October 19, 2015
We are enjoying pictures of Laura's class of 1975 reunion at our common Alma Mater, now Belhaven University. We enjoyed hearing about life journey stories from many in the weeks leading up to the weekend and from the pictures it looks like those who went had a great time catching up, seeing some retired teachers and observing the robust present of this growing educational campus.
I kind of snatched Laura the previous January for our wedding and the end of my youth work year in Alabama so this class was the year she finished her elementary degree and did some student teaching while she lived with me across town at Seminary, so we were not quite connected enough to feel the same as many, though some of them were dear friends from Laura's Junior year.
Anyhow, since this blog was started in 2008 after my 35th anniversary of my High School Class of 68 I find myself reflecting on how long and how short the fourty years of our active life and career really are.
When your living through those years it seems ardous, but after you reach the end you look back with a feeling of swiftness. Where did the time go. You have so many memories and joys and life experiences, but it still seems so fleeting.
Four seasons in a year, four decades in an adult life, and of course we all plan for long retirements. Life is to be cherished.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
I am discovering that the older I get the more some forms of technology begin to defeat me. I have a brand new laptop with a bad installation of Windows 10 that has now changed the entrance password and locked me out.
I am now officially through until death do up part with my yearly struggles with Turbo Tax. We just don't get along.
I am now hopefully through with this two year flirtation with late tax filing caused by Turbo Tax and its unwillingness to cooperate with the unique tax situation of clergy.
I am amazed at the leftward drift of our country in things related to free enterprise but I am feeling a need to agree with the loss of jobs for factory and blue collar folks. We just can't support a future generation with fast food and store clerk jobs no matter how much they pay per hour, and if they price themselves and their products out of the market people will quit eating junk food and will continue to buy mail order products.
Sorry for the rant and stuff, mailing taxes at any time lifts my spirits.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Apparently they were related theologically with the prediction several years ago by the Radio preacher and were convinced he did good math but missed the day by exactly 1600 days, which was last Wednesday, so it leaked to the web that yes, the world would indeed be annihilated last Wednesday.
So the leader did indeed issue a statement the next day when the world was indeed not annihilated saying how dadgum surprised he was and how he would indeed have to continue studying the word to see what when wrong, but meanwhile, He is coming soon.
Indeed, this is why the world laughs at us...indeed, the ridiculous literalist number counting fundamentalists are giving the good and beautiful gospel a really stinky image. Indeed!
Sunday, October 11, 2015
This week many of our friends from up north have returned. We find our time occupied with routines for the winter different from those of the long summer season and we enjoy the reconnect with some special friends we see and dine with weekly.
Hints of fall in the air, but some 100s still seem to show up in mid October.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
In June of 2010 we ascended the hill to see the Waimea Canyon and the Napili Coast from the top and were met with pea soup fog. I had some photos from 2006 I cherish and was very sad that we did not find time to try again that trip. I set a secret hope in my heart that was fulfilled this month we again we spent some time up there with clear skies.
The Hebrews had a desire to see a city whose maker and builder was God, and the author of Hebrews said they never did, but that when they saw the day of Jesus they were glad.
All week long I kept thinking about our four previous visits to Kauai and how they all ran together in my mind and added up to about 40 days of island living. Only a short slice of our life time, but because the island is not, indeed, as close as San Diego which I also love to visit, there just seems to be something akin to a spiritual feeling when I see such views. I keep changing, and resort amenities keep changing, and recreational activities keep changing, but that coast line has changed so slowly that to my eye it is as changeless as just about anything we see.
Greatful to bask in a spiritual/physical site.
Friday, October 9, 2015
When I was 24 I was petting a Scott Terrier on a pastoral visit, He put his paws on my knees and wagged his tale, so I leaned down to pet him and he bit me on my nose, both incisors digging into my flesh as I pulled back instinctively, and I bled immediately and profusely and had four or five stitches on both sides, the scars of which I bear today.
Yesterday on a pastoral visit, I tried to enter a home through the front porch, was directed to the Kitchen door, turned to my right and hit an aluminum awning full force. At emergency care, which was caring but very slow, I got a tetanus shot and determine my wounds did not need stitches.
A far cry from the Apostle Paul's physical threats, but, you never know when a wrong move will cause great pain.
Favorites from day 4,5,6. Wiamea Canyon on the right and Napali Coast on the left of a mountain ridge make Kokee State park the best 36 mile round trip of beauty. Also the wild Chicken survivors of Iniki 23 years ago still over run Kauai and are bit players on the islands charm.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
When we are on our morning walks, which for me are photo walks, I am always playing catch up to my wife who strides ahead of me. But honestly, when I stop to snap a picture, it is a real and tangible way for me to extend my vacation and make sure I really remember I spent a week in that beautiful garden island. When I bought the largest photo picture frame that exists, it allows me to have momentary vacations in my mind as the picture of a time and place spends 10 seconds on display.
Here today are my favorite pictures of day one, two, and three. Two Rainbows one above one below, an oft repeated of wifey beside Kialua Falls.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
We packed every day with sights and sounds. I sat and watched the ocean and sky early and late, walked the streets with happy couples and families, sat on the beach, swam through coral channels with colorful fish, flew a man made machine over the valleys and mountains that were formed by volcanic activity and seeded by natures variety.
We observed the economic history and diversity of the population with the new and old industries. But it was mostly about the unique eco system of a tropical island and all the people attracted to the lifestyle it allows, both short term and long term.
I will return to my desert home richer for the music we heard, the food we enjoyed, the vistas we saw from shore to mountian, and the fun of getting up and going each day. Home again is good too.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
A lovely return for great singing and guitar at Keokis Paradise, our favorite dining place for hebi fish, short tailed swordfish, a local Hawaiian specialty, very good texture and taste.
One more full day on Sunday, then home. This island is special.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
I felt myself surging backward and surfaces at what turned out to be a wave break area, and before I knew what was happening I was lifted and dropped on the reef, all in real time filming. I scrambled back in and only sustain to cuts to the hand I used to steady myself.
Today we are going back for another swim, and ziplining in the pm. Never to old to act young we say.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Yesterday ended out on the Lanai starring at one of the clearest dark skies I have even see and a starry, starry night as brilliant and full of twinking stars that mesmerized our third full day on Kauai. We ate at the new RumFire Restaurant at the Sharaton where we stayed on our 25th Anniversary 15 years ago. The resort was fun then, and I noted how many changes have taken place to make the experience modern. They had a number of fires surrounded by large rocking chairs that gave people a change to sit outside, the pool was remodeled again to add more outside eating areas, and many of the chandeliers have been updated.
Its just the nature of humanity to be creative in updating the decor. My complements on the resort experience. Yesterday we saw the quieter west side of the island including Wiamea Canyon and the Napali Mountain top. I erred with my travel mates in heading up the mountain with very little gas in our tank which gave them insecurity, My Bad!
Only 4000 ft up, but so near the wettest mountian top swamp on earth that it got cold up there. We had a return trip to glass beach, down in the harbor industrial area where trash was dumped and decades later polished glass fills the sand.
Another great day on Kauai filled with music, and the sound of waves crashing the shore.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Yesterday was all about seeing the beautiful island as we departed early for a date with Jack Harter Helicopter and enjoyed an hour with one of the most experienced island pilots who has been flying the islands for almost 30 years. His ongoing commentary added to his swirling around to give great photo opps for both sides of the copter made for a magical morning.
In the afternoon we joined 18 young friends for a four hour sea tour of the Napali Coast with an hour of snorkeling and entering into the sea caves along the shore. It was a blast bouncing on those huge waves and getting sprayed. I followed a sea turtle for five minutes and got my underwater camera in good use. It was a day to cherish in and around the beautiful Honalea Bay and the Napali Coast.