Sunday for a preacher is an active day followed by a day of rather intense preparation of head and heart. I am not for one minute saying that my job is hard in a physical way, but in terms of how the week goes, it really is a seven day work week, with one day set apart for not being in the office. You prepare and serve and plan, and you have a meeting, and then you start all over again the next day.
When you are on vacation you are usually traveling, so this last two weeks was different. I was in the office during the day and teaching my weekly studies, but two weeks with no responsibility on the weekend was different and a pleasant change.
Back to my regular schedule this week for the next several months. Its all good.
This New York Gal caught my eye, obviously, as she checked her make up on the streets of Manhattan.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Thursday, January 28, 2016
I hope not, I pray the resilience and memory of the functioning of a free country that thrives on good will, liberal charity, and hard work to produce better goods and services has been so much of a blessing to generations. I just find it hard to believe we could let this go in our blindness and mistaken ideologies.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
These two weeks at work during the week but free on the weekend are for us a bit of practice for the next phase of our life. As I was sharing my visit to a local church to my wife who stayed home with the grand kids, we talked about our future without the structure of my weekly life as a pastor/teacher.
Don't worry I said to Laura, you are my best friend and if we never have another friendship or a church where we feel at home, we just have always enjoyed our deep and abiding friendship, the way we converse, and scold, and laugh and know when to hang out together and to be in the same house but in separate rooms.
You are right said Laura, your my best friend also.
My friend Mercy was talking to a Palestinian in Bethlehem who said the Burka as normative did not become a reality until 2000 when the Muslims wanted to distinquish themselves and protect their identity in Israel. The Jews are also feeling less secure these days and are returning to a more fundamental outlook on life to preserve their culture and religion. It's human nature.
The Evangelicals are also feeling threatened and are hoping to take back America so it feels more like the one they grew up with, and are willing to follow anyone whose slogans promise them security and the way of life they remember. It's human nature.
We will see how this all goes.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
I had a Sunday off and was not sure if I would play hookey or attend worship. We met a couple at the movie theatre Friday and talked about our churches so I decided to visit a fellowship in my original denomination.
Twelve year old church plant, two services, soft rock bank, good message on the importance of Scripture, weekly communion, good coffee.
In many ways this man accomplished what I had hoped to do when I came here 26 years ago. He built a strong congregation that is learning, serving, and prospering. They even did something in communion that split a couple of churches in my generation by having a mixture of wine and grape juice. I guess these controversies tend to work themselves out.
I have long ago come to peace about the troubles I had when I moved west with two young church plants. Other than the possibility that I was never destined to start a church from scratch I would say that my efforts to reorganize stalled church plants was far riskier than coming and starting something new. It was the built in conflicts that already exited that did me in, plus, I freely admit, way too much effort to conciliate warring factions. If I had it to do again, I would have ushered a few trouble makers out the door. But I did not and now it is history.
The good news is that survived and grew and even found wonderful knowledge and freedom in the decades that followed. However, when I see a healthy young church functioning in unity of purpose, I feel a bit of betrayal and abandonment. Why not me, why was my path a path of division?
Then I pray to let it go, and to be thankful for the second half of my ministry, in mostly healthy situation, and even the further conflicts I realize are problems that plague the whole evangelical movement, both arminian and calvinist. There may be further answers and understandings that we may have missed, that may have been covered by centuries of error, and then I thank God that if I am failing and falling, I am actually falling upward.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Spent some time over the weekend practicing being a sound and video technician at the Chapel for a MLK service. We blended three music clips,and two video clips and 20 plus slides and it works pretty good for newbies like myself and my friend Dennis.
None of my church members came, a bit because of poor advirtising, and a bit because the idea of affirming Americas religious and racial plurality are not a high priority for us.
We had a good crowd, with Muslims, Christians, Jews, and an Indian Sikh, certainly racial and age mixtures as well. I enjoyed the experience.
Today I decided to leave my world and enter into a neighboring world called Scottsdale. It is filled with tourists escaping the weather, and every kind of upscale eatery and shop you could ever imagine.
Once a year I like to visit the Scottsdale Fashion Mall, filled with high end stores like Barneys of New York and Neiman Marcus. I walked each of the three stories from stem to stern. Window shopped, and just enjoyed all the changed they have made during a huge remodel which even moved the Harkins Theatre to a new location. It was fun.
After a fairly dreary couple of weeks we are finally getting the outstanding warm sunny days that make this a destination, even as the nation braces for a winter storm. Oddly, when the Phoenix Open arrives soon, we have lately had replases of bad windy rainy days, and this year I hope we present a post card to the world the way Hawaii and Palm Springs are doing.
That is all, we can always talk about the weather.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Three people or groups defied the odds, which were incredible, and will share a billion and a half bucks. It will change their lives for good or ill. I hope for good, and I hope they give some away to charity. It was not me, so I return to my more modest planning for the future security and stability of my family. Glad this tsunami of hope, greed, and government baboozle will die down for a while.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Our last visit to Maui was in the summer of 2010 and was very special in that we had missed out trip in 2008 with health issues, so we used both our time share weeks and enjoyed a week in Maui and a week in Kauai. I also bought a Canon Zoom lense that created magical results in my very amatueur hands and by my old standards. I still love looking at that week.
The telephoto lenses they use on the course make the Island of Lanai and Molaki look close enought to swim to, but in live view they are quite a boat ride away.
Back to golf fan talk. We have such a fun group of golfers in the post tiger generation that we are all having fun with our new heroes. Jordan Spieth obviously leading that field and showing up with game ready precision today. Fun.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Almost every corner near the Mall there are men or a couple with a dog, or a woman with a sign declaring homelessness and asking for handouts. It truly saddens me to see people in that state of desparation or to interact with those who always assume that the people are not really homeless but pan handlers looking for easy money. Either truth saddens me.
When the traffic light causes you to be stopped within ten yards and you have no money, you feel guilty. You know the amount of rejection the man or family are already feeling the desperation. Homeless shelters have a clientele that stay near to eat and sleep, but I think people like this are new to the bottom and feel this is the only thing they have. It saddens me.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Our Winter Bible Study is using Dallas Willards, The Divine Conspiracy to help us work through the best way to read and understand the Sermon on the Mount. I met Dr. Willard in 2005 at a National Renovare Conference in Denver in 2005. This book was Christianity Todays best book of the year in 1999.
I remember the impact the book had on me concerning the Kingdom of Heaven and the presence of Christ in our lives to transform and empower. Now ten years later it all seems fresh, though many of the points and illustrations seem familiar. Just reminds me that we should all have a stack of books great enough to read and reread. He died of cancer quite quickly three years ago but his influence as a professor at USC and a speaker in the ministry and an author continue to move the world. It is available on Kinkdle so I know have both a hard back and a Kindle I can mark up and make notes on, which I love to do on Kindle as it is so easy and so quickly recoverable..
Heres to great book about the great truths of the gospel.
Saturday, January 2, 2016
There is a concept that has reemerged in my reading of scripture of late. I have been helped of course by my reading and study and I am sure this concept was always part of my formula, but for some reason it is shining again for me.
It's the idea of God's movement away from law to grace, away from threats toward persuasion, away from demands toward invitations, away from bondage and into freedom. It's all so non coercive. Yet most seem to act as if no one would choose the path of Christ apart from the threats of separation, and hell, and judgment.
I just find the openess of the invitation to follow so powerful, coupled with a relentless love of sinners that operates while the sinner is unaware of the reconciliation that has already taken place. At least that's how it looks to me.