Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Sat with family, hospice worker, and a man losing his battle with cancer but crowning a long life with dignity, faith, and lots of memories. It is one of the most sacred and hardest things I do. I represent hope for the life to come but know the passing from this one is heart wrenching and a bit frightening during times of pain. Once again, hospice is a godsend. A Brooklyn and Manhattan guy with the experiences and wisdom of a life lived with a hard edge and a soft trust in God.
Monday, March 30, 2015
I presently commute 2 miles from home to office. Recently our main road was refreshed with a new coat of asphalt, and I notice right down the middle seam of the road, grass popping up from what must be a foot of dark road underlay. Wow, nature is slow but persistent in getting us back to the garden.
For seven years my commute was 12 miles each way, but it was away from the city and quite pleasant on quiet roads that have since been populated by our huge growth spurt in the great Phoenix suburbs over the last 20 years. We wanted a home that was not in the horse property areas, so the commute was our choice.
Previous to home ownership my commute for the first 14 years of my career was a walk out the door to my desk in the church office 30 yards away by foot. It had its advantages during those years, including frequent children popping in to say hi or to beg to be allowed to play in the church nursery area.
For many the commute is a transformation from private to public self, but for me my thoughts about God, faith, and life begin when I wake up and never really change when I change my work environment.
In that I have been blessed and burdened for self employment for tax purposes does allow me to take business miliage from the office to the appointments in hospitals or homes, but my work, my calling, is never left at the office.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
I know its Holy Week, but in recent years I am so appreciative of what God did through Christ that I have no desire to try to do anything in my own actions to make the finished work of Christ more authentic by trying to set apart a day or a week and be more holy or more transformed than I am.
The living Christ is the one in whom we live and breath and have our being. I would rather share his unconditional love with everyone and allow Him to change them and continue to live each moment in realization of the unity he has already declared in a world full of different people and different cultures. My faith in God and love for others does not require me to refuse to give people all the love and compassion which God shows toward me. Yes I am ready to share the reasons for my hope but do not live in the necessity of insisting everyone be where I am in my understanding today. God is love, and we are known by our fruits of that love. His risen love is declared for all in the gospel.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Mystery, did John Hagee discover the prophetic key to the end times and suggest his study and book was based upon another man's idea, or did Hagee steal the other man's work and call it His own? Based upon the original scholars work we should be expecting the end of the world and the coming of Christ on the weekend of Rosh Sha Shonna or about September 23 of this year.
There goes my retirement. I am glad other prophecy teachers in my youth were wrong because in the early 70s I read a book and said, There goes my hope of marriage.
I await the date with bated breath. These guys are never wrong????
Every week Amazon throws a half off or more sale on something. Sometimes I buy, like a few days ago. I keep a journal of sorts on my Kindle, and love having a portable keyboard that works with bluetooth technology. Now they have bluetooth mouses which need no usb dinglethingy to run. My new portable bluetooth keyboard is smaller, and has five backlit colors so you can type in low light. If you would have predicted I enjoy creative writing and thinking and journaling on a small portable Kindle with small keyboard/ mouse I would have laughed.
I am so greatful I made the switch to a computer in my early 30s so I could enjoy all this.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
The first congregation I served just announce an anniversary Sunday. They organized at the end of the war...the Civil War! 150 years ago. They had a wall of pictures of all the former pastors when I was there that was scary, and I was on the wall after I left.
I learned alot about the church in those four plus years, and I often dream about that congregation. We had our first two children in that place. Most were kind and loving to us. Gladys Wallace would introduce me around town with the phrase, "I would like to introduce you to our new little pastor". After a while I told her that at 6 ft and 200 lbs I was not little. It was a quaint colloquilism that came to represent to me what the tragedy of cultural Christianity is all about. They have made God a small part of their lives. Could I introduce you to my little God?
The men were the ones whose faith seemed like an uncomfortable suit they had to put on an hour a week. I would often see them heading for the golf course after going home and changing cloths while we were still visiting people in front of the church.
We are thinking about attending, We left 35 years ago and some of the young ones are now the old ones. I still resonate with the title of a book by Francis Shaeffer, No little people, No little places.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Glanced at an article I want to study later, but the premise I know to be true. Human beings have the ability to process information differently and in essence filter what they read and hear through a personal or a group lens. That means groups of people under the influence of a teaching or teacher may have a unified understanding but someone from outside my see and interpret things differently.
This is true about looking at the results of political actions, for I see the same information being interpreted differently by the party spirit.
It explains why group Bible study can become so contentious so quickly.
I absolutely know that the way I read and understand scripture has changed since I moved away from the theology of my youth and entered into some different hermeneutical pathways. Grace changes everything,and the character and compassion of Jesus is for me the way to define the character of his father in the new covenant.
Meanwhile, I have another week to climb the mountain of life. People, plans, work, thought, relaxation, communication and cat hugging.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Laura returns to the classroom Monday for the last quarter of the school year. We spent more time together but did not travel or break our routine. We had a birthday dinner, two boys in the house but it was in some ways retirement practice. Two weeks of her own schedule. She enjoys reading so she read, she enjoys home projects so we worked on a few and dreamed about a few. She likes a clean home and so she cleans, seriously.
I hope I will never stop being a teacher, a truth seeker, a beauty collector. But I do desire some freedom to see and do some things, or spend some time in our home that does not follow this weekly schedule I have observed all my life.
When we switch from earned income to savings, social security and pensions we will have less money and more time, so we will learn to maximize the joy of the time and be careful with the ways our money is spent, duh! don't we all have to do that.
I feel good transitions in our future. Lord Willing. I hope and pray for time to enjoy these transitions.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Fear, conflict, violence, political corruption. For many it is exciting news. Surely we have arrived at the prophesied end times!
If the battle of Armageddon is a world wide armed conflict and if we are near it than all the politics in the world will not stop it. If, however, we are facing an escalation of tensions leading to something like WWIII? or nuclear holocaust, and we could have prevented it politically, militarily, or any other way, prayer and fasting, spiritual warfare, refusal to fight, whatever. If we can stop the violent death of hundreds of thousands and the destruction of millions of square miles of civilization, should this not be our highest priority. By all Americans of all political persuasions.
The history of the world is the history of war, and armageddon is a questionable application of a highly difficult section of an ancient writing never meant to be literal in any shape form or fashion. It's word pictures, biblical imagery, never meant to be turned into a search for historical fulfillment except that of the Lamb ending the tryanny of Satan. War is not spiritual, life giving, it is destructive,to be avoided at all costs.As a Christian I am not hawkish, but doveish. Can't help it.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Monday, March 16, 2015
What if no one who knows this stranger behind the door knows the Lord and your testimony saves him, How could that be wrong?
A.For every one who has this testimony there are many who feel pushed to make a quick profession, which may not really be a true moment of change.
A. Friendship or conversational evangelism if done naturally are far more effective as the folks doing it have earned the right to share, and are not following a script they learned to bring the commitment.
A. As modernism evolved into post modernism people do not open to strangers their struggles and spiritual thoughts, and each person is at a place in their lives where a stranger with a plan to share no longer hits the right buttons for most people, instead it probably offends them for entering their private life.
A FB acquaitance sees four men in suits door knocking in her apartment complex on a Saturday Morning, tries to appear as if she is not home, and wonders if this method is still effective on her FB page.
A number of people post saying please stop this equivalent to fuller brush salesmen method of obtaining decisions for Jesus.
Some people note the success of the growth of Mormonism as a positive evidence that this works, and my question is, how is a conversion to mormonism proof that true born again experiences can be won at the door of strangers.
As one raised within the success stories of Coral Ridge Evangelism, and one trained to do evangelism by looking at my five fingers for the points, and as one who saw a conversion in an apartment in Birmingham AL, I am still on the side that leans toward the cessation of this form of evangelism. I see the harm out weighing the good in our current American culture for more reasons than I have time to share.
Add it to the fact that my own sense of the golden rule is violated by anyone who confronts me with an opinion and demands I make a decision now, like any salesman of anything ever made or any service ever performed. If you push me I run, dude.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Brian's last full day of vacation occasioned a trip to the Phoenix Zoo and a chance for me to enjoy using my 18-200 lense for animal close ups. The crowd on a warmish spring day and school spring break was enormous but the grounds are so expansive we did not feel overwhelmed. It has been several years since our last trip and we noticed improvements everywhere for fun for children and education about Animals for all. I have beenb unable to download pictures for some technical problems and broken parts on this three year old Toshiba, later.
One of the cutest moments was at the monkey exhibit where a long nose baboon sat tranquil and interested while children just inches away on the other side of the glass were being photographed with him.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Why are taxes due right in the middle of spring when your heart should be merry and your outdoors activities be precious, instead of filling in blanks and hoping your final number will shrink?
Why is life so short?
Why are the worst ideas the hardest to change?
Why can't we all get along?
The answers my friend are blowin' in the wind, the answers are blowin' in the wind.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Someone at our study wondered out loud if we would all have been better off if that book had not made the canon. Even after listening to a greek scholar share a literary reading I find apocalyptic language heavy handed and confusing. I am not moved by it nor do I find it edifying in any way.
Then you add my fourty year conflict with the Hal Lindseys and the Jack and Rexella Van Impes of the prophecy for profits genre and my blood got boiling so badly last night I went into my office and had a nose bleed. I seriously need to stop thinking about the end times confusion.
To top it off I came across a clip of the Van Impe duo raising major money connecting the Y2K issue to the end times and the silliness of it all just blew my mind.
Those who become obsessed with it need to get a life, and it's killing me slowly with its words.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Monday, March 9, 2015
Someone posted an article from Charisma Magazine saying that young progressive Christians are messing with the teachings of Jesus and posted a stock photo of two young people with tattoos and piercings. Raised a lot of ire from the tatooed and pierced evangelicals.
I wonder who has a right to criticize and say that the church is off base at all. Would the Catholic Church be qualified to hold us to orthodoxy? I think not.
I guess the funny thing to me is that as a rather recent reader of a gift subscription to Charisma magazine I would say that they may hold the blame for promoting the ministries of some of the wackiest theological views and most wolf like leaders in today's culture. I find it hard to see that particular pot telling the kettle that it is black.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Saw and article on the death of a mega church. The mid 80s and the rise of the Assembly God growth birthed it, and the weirdness of the charismatic excess and pastoral shenanigans gradually killed it. The massive building that seated 10,000 will be raized for a retirement home in Lakeland.
I wonder if the future of Christianity will see many super churches go by the wayside?
I wonder how the church will find the courage to find a genuine way forward.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
I occasionally am asked to lead memorial services for people I have never met, this week in three days we put together a service for a man who had been sick since he moved to Sun Lakes and had no chance to find a pastor. The widow and her sister did such a lovely job of bringing family into readings and comments,and everything went just beautifully. It is quite amazing how quicky you can bond to our common humanity and experience of happiness and loss. I am always deeply grateful to step in and help people like this.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
John McArthur has pastored a Church in LA for his whole ministry. It is conservative and has resisted change and modernization with great success and draws Christians from all over the valley for his solid expository preaching and traditional music, suits and dresses and solid family values.
Over the years several issues have brought McArthur controversy. The Lordship discussion, his long standing expose on the error and weakness in the charismatic church, and his embrace of male eldership rule only in the church.
This years theme is innerency, the believe that the Bible is not only inspired but without error in all it asserts in all its words in the original manuscripts and the insistance that this issue will be the final watershed that will be the defense upon which the future of truth will stand or fall.
To affirm that the Bible is inspired and trustworthy will no longer be enough, we must also affirm a perfection in the text or we will be excluded from the evangelical camp.
I have always believed this, but have listened to scholars who have looked into the formation and preservation of the texts of scripture and have benifited from those studies. My real struggle has always been how we interpret scripture and arrive at dogma. The vast number of interpretations floating around the non catholic part of the church are mind boggling, and make group Bible study and even group discussion almost impossible in this climate.
I fear this stance will turn McArthur and followers into a sort of evangelical sanhedrin, (not my phrase, but I like it) who will play harshly with the needed reformation we always face in a living faith. The complete ouster of Rob Bell is the prime example. I know him to be a Christian and I know his controverial questions, but I also know he is dealing with the texts and not ignoring or carelessly throwing them out. He was attacked for stating that a text of scripture is 2000 years old, which is true. Even those with a high view of scripture cannot escape the difficulty of hearing an ancient text and understanding its cultural context, its religious context, its consistency in a world that is long separated by culture, language, and worldviews, not to mention the impact of technology, medicine, philosophy and history. Waving the flag of Biblical innerency is not going to stop the issues we need to face today.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Larry is always bringing some pharaceutical from Mexico. When I began to complain about my two joints in my first fingers aching he gave me several ointments to try. Unguente in Spanish. Then came a green jar of Iodex Crystal. Rub it on the joints, smells like Vicks Vapo Rub, and instantly my nagging nightime ache was gone...for hours.
Recently looked it up and found it was almost 100 years old, a staple of households around America. Cost five bucks in Mexico and twenty in America. They have a brown bottle version which Larry likes, and its OK but just not as immediate as the green. Sadly we have not been able to resupply the green jar and I am cast upon the brown one. It works better than my 30 dollar jar of Austrailian Dream.
The active ingredients do not seem like they would ease joint pain, and it also advertises itself as an aid to heal bruises, but I am a big fan of this stuff. People are complaining that they have changes the formula but the Mexican version is just great. Thankful for little helps with issues of aging.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
The answer is very simple, but very hard for evangelicals to think about. It is not a slippery slope to the lose of faith but a pathway to understanding and freedom. It allows our Bible to make it into our century with its core message of grace, love and peace intact. It allows us to see the occasional discord in scripture and not have to tap dance our way to concord through denial. It allows Paul to be a compassionate preacher of grace and occasionally act really rudely to the women on his team. It allows us to eat and drink the wine and meat of the new covenant without worrying about lipstick and head coverings. Here is it, think about it without fear, it does no damage to the inspiration of scripture.
GOD ALLOWS HUMAN BEINGS TO TELL HIS STORY. THEY ARE HUMAN, THEY HAVE EMOTIONS, THEY ARE OCCASSIONALLY NOT CONSISTENT WITH THEIR OWN CORE VALUES. THEY SOMETIMES SLANT A STORY TO MAKE THEMSELVES LOOK GOOD, JUST A TINY BIT. WE ALL DO IT. THEY WERE CHOSEN BY GOD TO CARRY AND MESSAGE THAT WOULD TAKE THE WORLD FROM EXCLUSION TO INCLUSION. IT WAS A TOUGH THING TO DO IN A WORLD OF RELIGIOUS OPPOSITION, AND BELIEVE WHEN RELIGIOUS OPPOSITION CAN GET YOU KILLED. ASK THE MESSIAH, AND THE REST OF THE APOSTLES.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Why did my young preacher friend have to show me that verse? I spend a great deal of time and study defending the Gospel that Paul preached...telling folks that if all we had was the four gospels we would not have a ghost of a chance in developing a faith for this age. Paul had a unique calling to study, discern and reveal the good news to the gentiles, and he did a spot on job.
In recent decades however, with the rise of feminism and expose of biblicism Paul's practical sections have come under fire as being dated, confusing, and down right obtuse. I have agreed with some of that, but still contend that if you contextualize and place first century ideas in their place he still comes out strong.
Why did my young preacher chose to proof text with I Cor. 16:22. "If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed". NASB Really, Paul, after all that love talk did you have to end so hatefully? And, please help me....is accursed better or worse that cursed? Is it like a double dog dare?
This is the kind of proof text that will not win friends and influence people....and frankly the attitude is what makes me really hate religion. I really hope Paul can rise above that kind of sniping and let nothing unsavory escape his lips....because I just do not want to curse those who do not love God, I would rather co exist with them, or ignore them or pray for them hopefully, but I just am not up to cursing other people.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Schwans Ice Cream is moving off the truck and into the store with the help of Jack Nicklaus. I have never purchased any from the truck so I am definitely going to give it a try when it shows up on the shelf.
Odd that Jack who has struggled with his weight all his life is admitting that ice cream is his weakness....mine too.
Just hear that Phil Mickelson has used the paleo diet to lose some weight. Way to go Phil, now win one.
Played a new golf course on Friday and enjoyed the last warm day of our blustery but dry weekend.
After a busy week and weekend it is delightful to relax with a florida golf day.