Hawaii 2010

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Christian Viewpoints are all over the map

The old Gilbert Water Tower downtown is now a park for children and parents to splash is a pressure fountain.

For many years I was a faithful reader of Christianity Today. There came a point when I was through with an issue a feeling of depression would sweep over me for the state of world Christianity.

I have a gift subscription to a slick publication that represents a very large segment of modern Christianity and lately when I finish the months issue a feeling of depression sweeps over me...not for the state of Christianity but for the answers the church has to solve the terrible state of the world today.

It's not that there ideas and hopes are wrong, its just that they seem to want to be there first with the slickest, and the quickest, and the huge conference to follow answers.

This months idea to rescue civilization is a play of American History, a flag with the motto, "An Appeal to Heaven"
If we pray hard and together God will give a great move to bring American back from the brink of self destruction.

The problem with that for me is that the same magazine is filled with warnings that Jesus is coming to rescue us and rapture us and end this mess.

Which is it? We find a way to combat evil, restore righteousness, and tame international disorder, or we wait for God to get us off the planet?

To say God can do what he wishes, is not to say God will do what we wish, or is it? And is it rescue removal or the hard work of peacekeeping?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Racial Unrest makes me very sad

A mayor that allows time for those who wish to destroy? Is this good government?

Two pictures emerge in my head. A mother slapping her son silly for becoming a rioter. Boy was she mad and was he embarrassed. This is what biblical punishment is all about, to correct and erring son. Amen and Hallelujah.

A baseball game with no fans. The whole meaning and purpose of sport and sports fan destroyed by the soul destroying protests and anger and destruction. No good thing comes from the violence of a mob intent on destruction.

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Oops! Farewell to my beloved 17" Compaq

Matthew found my pipe about the same year I got into computers. The pipe smoking was never long lived, just a toy from my school days.

Phone rings while plugged to my backup digital drive. I get up with laptop and forget the short cord to the appliance, down it crashes and catches the corner of the screen....one dead screen and one dead computer. It was old and had some other wear and tear, but I kept it to watch pictures and do some odd work when wifey was using the Toshiba. Sad for me.

Now that we have projector teaching in both our Bible Study room and in our Sanctuary I am in need of a back up or primary machine to drive the projection system. Best Buy here I come.

I know in some future era people with laugh at the quaint way we handled information, but by golly I love what computers have done for my work and thought life. Losing an old workhorse is like losing a really good tool, you hate to replace it, and hope the new one works as well, but time marches on. I still have fond memories of my first local assembled IBM XT with no memory and one floppy drive. Bought it as a local store when computers first became affordable for me, ie. under $2000. That was 1983 and what fun we and her long line of replacements have enjoyed.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Suddenly the crust of the earth is feeling the pressure

Laura braving a lava bridge on the Big Island.

Nothing more fascinating that a volcano that erupts and more frightening that an earthquake that rattles life and limb, topples buildings and destroys intrastructure.

Those preparing for Armageddon see a forboding sign in these events. I see the ongoing life of a living planet and the call to rescue and feed and repair for areas affected by such natural disasters.

I am so amazed to learn more about this creation and see the power of our silent creator and his message through the prophets.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Home and Work

Congratulations to my wifey Laura for being one of two employees to Celebrate ten years at Chandler Freedom Academy. She and others opened the new school and this year are facing many changes as a new campus opens 2 miles away that will take many staff members away. She is happy to finish her career in this location.

We are pleased with our home and new back yard lounge area. I enclose some pictures taken this morning.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What makes life sweet?

Life rituals. Five days a week our alarm sounds at 5:15 am and for a precious half hour we have a threesome with our kitty as he demands attention from each of us and we drink coffee and say what ever comes to mind. This morning I told her that Jordan Spieths caddy was a sixth grade teacher who is now quite well off since carrying a bag for a young golfer for two years.

Routines. Off to work, to do list, demands which increase toward Thursday and are put on hold for my day off, which has been Friday for a long time. Monday day offs never worked for me and were far to lonely. Long story, no time to go into it.

Reunions. Home to see the wife and Kitty, to talk about the day.

Friends. Allowing others to share your life and time, your meals and plans.

Family. You have a long history together, and are invested with memories.

Vacations. To plan for, dream about, and pull off with success.

Faith and practice and hope. Nothing works without them.

Duty. O duty, why dost thou not have the visage of a sweetie, or a cutie?
An old couplet by Nash which I have always loved. Yep, sometimes duty is tough, but when we do it we know we should have.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Athletic life

Today I shared with a friend while shared his life with me. It was a catch up and fill in the blank time. This friend was a baseball player, and
as an adult golf and tennis. As we shared I was impressed with what a joy is added to life when you have friends who meet for a great game, laughs and healthy physical activity. I add the joy of going for a workout which is a challenge to get out the door but a reward when you feel good and know your body is stretched and strong.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Big Celebration

First Presbyterian Church of Crystal Springs Mississippi will celebrate 150 years of organization this weekend. A post war church plant, post Civil War! I am sure no charter members will be there. We were there as pastoral leaders from 1976 through 1980, had two of our three children there, and had some happy times getting used to living next to the place I worked.

I had some hard time getting used to the way good old southern folks thought and acted in small town southern America, but for the most part we were surrounded by loving and kind people and had some happy memories to cherish from our time there.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hip and Trendy Down Town Gilbert

The three blocks that made up the western whistle stop of cowtown Gilbert have transformed in the last 25 years into a hip and trendy nightspot. There is an active theatre, many restaurants, and small businesses, and just a laid back feeling of history as you read about how many different uses each old building had in the 80 year history of this little farm town, now major suburb in the greater Phoenix area.

I uprooted my family 25 plus years ago to call this place home, and though my roots are broad, this place has become my home. The outdoor picnic area at Joes Real BBQ is a place where birthdays are observed while we watch families and couples walk and eat at the places across the street.

Grandson Ben is ten years old, we celebrated. Shannon travels with choir and band to California next weekend. Lots of places to live, lots of people, and this crazy western town is now part of my life experience and my childrens. Much to be thankful for.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

In a postponement vortex

The tax season is not over for me, just postponed, but life goes on, and there is much to be thankful for and much to prepare for in the next months. Thinking this week about the cultural mandate, what God delights to see us doing during our sojourn on earth. Go, multiply, and subdue the earth and rule over its creatures. Extend the garden, make this world work and be blessed for all. A great subject.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beware the Ides of April

A younger me with Tim and Alex, sailing on Biscayne Bay.

Turbotax has been made more difficult with the data loss of a crashed hard drive that had the last two years of electronic forms stored on it. I will persevere. There is no more painful procrastination that tax procrastination. Thus says the preacher.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The clergy tax break

Two of our three tax deductions when they were young.

Did you know that for all of the modern era of the tax code only two groups have been allowed to not participate in the social security system. Clergy and U.S. Senators and Congressman. They have been closing the clergy loophole for decades but our congress has their own retirement system as a perk, while they vote to mess with the system set up for all Americans.

The other huge clergy tax break is a deduction of the fair rental value of your home from your salary. It's the only way we have avoided heavy taxation through the years of our career.

And Turbo Tax has a spot to include this deduction, but for the second year in a row it is not working right and for the second year in a row I am having to have an extension to figure it out. I will not complain because I am grateful for being given this help in the tax code and I am sure in the future and in our present climate this will be under consideration for change.

In the meantime, God bless America!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Master's Memory

A younger version of us.

Golf has been a joy for me since I was given a rusty mismatched set of clubs by my Pastor at age 13. I would bang those balls all over my neighborhood, which thankfully had lots of open lots to keep me from breaking windows. My first golf heroes are all over 65 now. Watson, and Crenshaw and Kite.

I enjoyed when I move west 25 years ago the ascendence of a new wave of heroes like Michelson, Woods, and Ells.

Now we have a good young man, Spieth, to join other young golfers and carry the professional sport into the future. I am so glad he is not the product of a driven father creating a golf god, but of a normal sporting family. One with values and grandfathers.

It was a great day for the sport to see this young man win the Masters.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A service of praise

A flowering tree on the big island.

Two beautiful flute pieces, three songs praising God for the beauty of nature and creation, including Morning Has Broken which I truly love.
An old time rendition of He touched me, a rousing praise song from the choir, and many fond farewells to people leaving for the season. An enjoyable experience.

An early back nine wowsers to Jordon Spieth. He just holed another long birdie and I am so ready for a nice well spoken young man from a good Texas family become a Master's Champion. What a future he has in the world of golf.

Gotta go watch the finish.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Post Easter Messages

If the risen Lord desires us to live life abundantly I want to start a new year thanking God for two of His gifts that keep on giving every moment of every day. I am thankful for the beauty of the earth. Spending a few hours each day looking at the layout of Augusta National Golf Club reminds me of what grass, trees and flowers can look like when manicure carefully by caretakers.

The sport and tradition are wonderful, but its the beauty of the place that is so inviting. My own day of my local golfcourse allowed me to enjoy the same kind of manicured beauty in our lush desert area.

Thank you Lord for natures beauty.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Masters

Volcanic underlay golf on the Big Island.

I just join in all the praise for that park in Augusta Ga where golf makes history each year for almost 80 years. Some of my early golf heros are now legends like Watson and Crenshaw playing at the end of their careers. Why must I wrestle with taxes on such a weekend as this?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A walk through Carl Hayden Veterans Hospital

My father, a WWII veteran, used the VA in Mississippi and Florida at the end of his life, here he is with two friends, one was a German POW who came to America and was a baker who loved this country, and raised a grateful family in upstate NY.

The huge and much criticized VA hospital in downtown Pheonix was bustling with activity. I found a lone parking spot and proceeded to try to find my son, there for observation following a car accident yesterday morning. I could not find anything resembling a help desk that was not related to patients waiting for service and finally asked a guard what to do. He pointed to a phone and told me it was for information. I listened to dial tones off and one for six minutes with no one answering. The guard told me to go to emergency, and I missed my son by six minutes as he was being transferred to another facility.

Observation...I saw an ocean of struggling, sick, poor, and wounded humanity seeking help in a facility clearly overwhelmed by the aging, unhealthy, veteran population of this huge city. I also realized that if these people were made to pay for their care they would overwhelm the system.

I also realized that most of my life has been lived in the suburbs, surrounded by wealth, priviledge and opportunity. This sight was overwhelmingly sad to me, realizing that it takes place every day of every year.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Renee Bondi

Heard this woman sing at a Banquet a few months ago. Mid Forties, vibrant, talented, mother of a teen age boy, loving husband....and a quadraplegic. She was a popular choir leader at a High School in San Clemente, months from her wedding when she sleep walked, and dove off the end of her bed while dreaming she was at a swimming pool, and woke up paralyzed.

The irony of such a thing is stunning. The awesomeness of such a thing is that her fiance did not leave her, they had a child naturally while unable to feel anything from the shoulders down. She continues to sing around the country and share her testimony of going forward with what she had left. Imagine singing when your diaphram no longer works as it should.

She is an inspiration to handicapped people every where and to normal people as well. Just thinking about the blessing of a body that moves today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Does the end justify the means?

Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite National Park

This has been an intramural Christian discussion going on forever. Was it OK to lie during the war to protect innocent lives? Can you achieve peace and end violence by practicing violence for a good purpose?

It stood out so clearly last week, assuming I heard all this correctly, when Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor and reported that Romney had not paid any taxes for a decade.

When proven to be untrue, Reids reply was, "Well he did'nt win, did he? Which was a way of saying that his false report accomplished the desired ends and therefore from his perspective, was the right thing to do.

Someone told me that I slandered the President from the pulpit a few years ago. I have no memory of it, and will apologize to the one who told me I did this, but it raises a question of speaking the truth, or expressing an opinion or speaking about politics from the pulpit. I am hearing that preachers are failing the culture and the church by not speaking out on the issues of violence against Christians and the harassment of conservatives by liberals and gay activists.

What is free speech, what is offensive speech? Do I want to be the type of preacher always speaking about what we are against rather than what we are for?

I know this, slander, to me, involves a deliberate attempt to slur a personality or statement. Conservatives often question the motives and actions of any President and that is part of our free society. I hope and try not to mix my own values and politics from the pulpit and hope I did not cross the line then or now, or in the future. Still do not want to be the kind of preacher who panders to political persuasion from either side of the aisle.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday after Easter

In my office with a few short term goals....spring cleaning the office, finishing the taxes.

Our service was wonderful with brass quintet and double choir. Sermon was hopeful and about resurrection. Now to summer, the loss of our winter visitors, and relaxing schedule in May, June, July.

On another note, I bought my own copy of Interstellar, I was finally able to understand the muffled dialogue, and still love a science fiction story that tried to keep real possibility in the off planet reality. The idea of gravity being something that could be defeated without speed and uplift, and the idea that time and speed and gravity are all interrelated as well. Awesome God.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thoughts on Easter

Laura took an I phone shot of a park on the big Island.

Did Jesus taste death for everyone? For the elect only, for those who respond to the offer? A person professes faith, has a reasonably moral life but has no deep dedication or sacrifice to any thing other than minimal support of charity and church and fairly regular attendance. Spends most of his time and money on hobbies and TV.

Another person has been addicted to various substances all there life, wasting money and relationships, but toward the end professes belief.

Another person professes faith at a very young age but education ends all church connections. He speaks warmly of personal faith and his success in business and integrity provide jobs for hundreds, and charitable contributions through business for thousands.

How does God sort all this out? What kind of belief is saving believe?

What kind of life following profession is demanded?

What type of faith and belief qualifies for heavenly bliss or sends a person to eternal conscious torment?
Listen to Paul's big gospel, the Adam/Christ gospel. and Have a Glorious Easter, He is way ahead of us in this life and the life to come.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thoughts on Holy Days

Going to Easter Service in Oneonta New York 1959?

The Churches are trying hard to get visitors this weekend, special Easter events and attractions. They hope they will stick. TV has a plethora of Bible based dramas all updated and contemporary to attract modern audiences, which kinds of worries me in the same way as attractional methods in the mega churches. Come hear Quarterback Cool Guy from the Poukipsie Buffalos Share His powerful testimony.

The more I have walked in the finished work of grace, the less I feel like making one day more special, or finding a special way to show I love God. I feel His presence in me and around me and in everyone through the image of God in every child of Adam, and I do not call that image "free will". I do not feel any emotional appeal will get good ole free will off his duff and get people back into the pews.

Most Christans do, and good fortune to you this holy weekend.

I hope and believe that the truth that His decision for humanity has more power than my decision for God. That good news is already written but blunted by the church who 1450 years ago began to get this good news backward....we are not redeemed by obedience or belief first in order to be redeemed second. Jesus faith and obedience is the only one that counts.

Resurrection today, tomorrow, forever.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

God is fond of yellow

Saw this at Leisure World yesterday. More brilliant than you see in the picture.

I try every year but I find early April to be a downer. For some reason when spring is springing and the heart should be light there always seems to be something about tax time that pulls me into a funk. I should be filled with Easter Joy but there is a lot going on that's tough.

My Romanian Friend pays 24 percent income tax and 17 percent consumer goods tax. God help those poor nations trying to rise up with that burden.

The desert is beautiful this time of year, our backyard palo verde is about to burst into yellow blossoms. I will find joy again.

On another note, facebook has been publishing old posts without permission, and a bunch of people thought I was in the hospital again from a post from last september. This is not cute facebook. Are you going to post an old one from my friend who died last month if they keep his page open for a few more months? That would be creepy?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

One sows, another reaps?

Took a new friend to see the area in Queen Creek where I served from 95-2002. We had a 80 seat quanset hut, a small three bedroom home and a covered picnic area and started with 50 people...today there are three new buildings, and worship seating for 600. They have come a long way and my role in getting that first new building built was meaningful to me.

Then we ate lunch at San Tan Flats, one of those western theme places with a huge outdoor dining and dancing area. Fun.