Saturday, December 31, 2005
Barb and I went up to Sea Ranch with Robert, Mandy and Adam this past week. It was burly. Landslides, flooded roads, going in the dark, fog and rain trying to make it somewhere I've never been without a map, guided only by the verbalized direction of strangers. Oh, did I mention that in the midst of the ocean spray, howling winds, landslides, dump trucks that there were also cows crossing the road? But when we drug ourselves into the house and ate and drank into the night the morning greeted us with splendor. The west wall of the house was 95% glass and before us in I-MAX form was the Pacific tossing extra foamy waves and froth to and fro, breaking on the crags only a stone's throw away.
We all went out onto the crags and cautiously enjoyed the view. I realized one thing--the ocean is scary. It is not safe. If you were in what we saw you would have no chance. Heck, I'm surprised the fish didn't jump onto shore just to get out of it. So I am changing the saying--"The ocean hath no fury like a woman scorned."
It was a good rest. I watched Sports Center and fell asleep in the recliner with the sun warming me through the I-MAX wall as I read a book I didn't understand. The conversation was good, uplifting and the food was plentiful and so was the coffee and the eggnog. Oh, and the fireplace.
All of this was a gift that was provided for by some people I really admire. I will never forget this past week.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
If I would have thought ahead I would have had a Christmas devotional or thought for the day each day this week, but a las, I don't have it together this time around. As a matter of fact, I can't really believe it's here already and don't feel quite up to speed about my duties this weekend during our worship times.
Hillside always has beautiful Christmas services. I wish that you could see it. It has a great vaulted ceiling with wood beams their original color. Lighted garland rings the walls and the advent wreath is suspended from the ceiling. Quite beautiful. And the people are extremely loving and warm. Something good is always happening within the community here.
Below is a quote I read recently from Napolean, not the one with cool hair and a great flare for pronunciation, but the one who tried to conquer the world:
"I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him!"
Not with force did Jesus build his kingdom, but with love. And that love propels many to serve and sacrifice for him. I'm glad that Napolean did say, ". . . and at this hour millions of men would kill for Him!" because that would be the antithesis of Jesus. The more I read about Jesus the more I am attracted to him.
Monday, December 12, 2005
We three met at Denny's off of Paradise Drive this morning and said our goodbyes. I'm going to miss Paul and his take on life and faith. He loves his wife and kids and I think they will do very well being back on the East Coast with family and pursuing this dream.
So, here's to a safe cross-country trip!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense to JFK and LBJ, has a documentary about 11 lessons from his life entitled, The Fog of War. Said to admit it but up until this point I knew or understood very little of the Vietnam war. I had seen several Vietnam War movies but this documentary trumped them all. I do not watch re-runs, a trait I inherited from my dad, but I have seen The Fog of War about 5 times. I watched it 3 times in one week. I then went to the Larkspur library and picked up Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy. It is a brilliant book and by page 93 I understood precisely why it is a tragedy on many parts. All I have been able to say is this: it was one misunderstanding after another, which led not to more thorough communication, but toward escalation. I have mourned as I have turned the pages. I have groaned audibly. And at times I have shook my fist at so many people. Oh, let me tell you how the book is put together. McNamara had this idea that he and high level officials who were in government at that time would travel along with scholars to meet with their counterparts in the Vietnamese government at that time, many who are still alive and well. I think that had a half a dozen meetings and simply ask the question, "What were the missed opportunities." I'll gladly talk to you about it, but I'm telling you, if you ever wanted to know about Vietnam, just read 90 pages into Argument Without End.
Yesterday I finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Very, very good. You can read it in four hours and you might want to read it again after the last page. It's about a shepherd boy having a dream about finding a treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt. The book is about that journey and how, "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." He takes a courageous journey to pursue his dream and his treasure and is faced with hardship and goodness. There are several beautiful passages that make you stop and soak it in and make you reflect upon your own life. Reminds me a lot of the spiritual life.
I just picked up Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, who also wrote Blue Like Jazz. He writes about the spiritual life passionately, humorously and insighfully. You can ask Barb, I laughed out loud about 10 times in 20 minutes. If you want to read someone who just might be able to verbalize what you've been feeling all the long, then Don's book is a good help. If you think God is bigger than formulas and our thoughts about him, then what are you waiting for?
And just as a bonus, I've never told you about one of the best music groups in the world-- Over the Rhine. I'm currently listening to Drunkard's Prayer and Ohio. I never tire of their poignant lyrics.
Prince's sermon on Sunday was unbelievably good. He spoke on the Gift of Messiness. When we are faced with messiness we do three things: get apathetic about our spiritual life and say, "I can't do it"; get legalistic and rigid because that offers control and certainty (so we think); or we get honest and walk faithfully and trustfully with God through it all.
It gave me a lot to think about. The Scripture is full of people who were in either of those camps. Prince gave the example of Noah, who is a picture of faithfulness; you know, building an ark in wilderness and such. And then after he survives Katrina's bigger and meaner brother he gets naked and gets drunk. Being a flood survivor must be extremely tough. I also think of David--shepherd boy, man-child, warrior, poet, king, and, GULP, adulterer.
Then there are those who are rigid. If you were/are the kind of person who thought they knew everything about God then Jesus would've been pretty annoying. There were those who were hyper-rigid and led mostly from their head and not from their heart. This wasn't all the religious leaders because we know that Nicodemus was among the Sanhedrin and in Acts he spoke on behalf of the apostles. Some of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes followed Jesus. There were some, however, who thought got fit in a box--whether that box was the Temple, the synagogue, or even today, the church. When Jesus tells the story of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost child in Luke 15 he is speaking about the out of the box God. And Jesus loved those who were considered to be "irreligious." He hung out and loved (notice the text never says Jesus "tolerated" them) them.
Then there are those who accept the messiness and walk with God through it. That was the gospel for me--truly the "good news." I don't have to be squeaky clean. And thank goodness because on my bed right now is an overdue library book!!! It's okay to have a messy life--Jesus turns messiness to holiness. That's that whole bit about sanctification. Paul dealt with it and so did Peter. And for that matter--so did William Carey, Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And so does Jason Elder.
Friday, December 02, 2005
And then, there is Matches. You've read about her before. She's a pitbull, ooppps, I mean, American Staffordshire Terrier. She's an inside dog. She has to, absolutely has to, be in the same room as a human. She sleeps 20 hours a day, never barks, fetches okay, and uses the potty in the backyard, of course. Well, this is the most rain she's seen since we got her at the near end of the rainy season this year. And, I think she just doesn't like rain. She doesn't mind a wet backyard but rain from above is not her thing. So all this week I've been having to push her scrowny tail out to the backyard and stand out there in the rain for her to go!
So before we put her in her crate for the night we open up the door and she usually goes out, but not last night. It was still pretty stormy at 1030 but I open the door and just assume she is going to the backyard, when all of the sudden I look and she has not left the doorway but is peeing on our doormat!!!!!! Oh the Humanity!!!!! I started crying out laughing at her and said, "You are the biggest punk I've ever seen." I mean, this is a prank a college friend would play. She then shakes the dew off her lilly, looks up at me, pauses, steps over the defiled doormat and comes right back in and lays down.
Well, she's a pretty smart dogs as dogs go, so today I'm teaching her to deep clean.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I got some serious flack from that post and feel I should clear things up. I want to first say this (which I heard a presenter say at a recent conference)--don't hear what I'm not saying. When I cited Bill Press I knew that red flags would go up. Heck, when I was creating the code to link to his cite I had to beat the red flags out of my face. Just because I cite Bill Press or any other article or author (see my right margin also) doesn't mean that I necessarily agree with them 100%, 70% or even 18%. And just because I do not cite certain other websites or authors doesn't mean that I'm anti this or anti that.
So, why did I post that article? Well, before I answer that let me say a few other things. I personally believe that Press over shot some of his statements. I highly doubt that President Bush assigned an IRS hit man to target the church. I don't know who did or why. I highly doubt that Richard Nixon is a fitting comparison with President Bush. And I don't really think that President Bush wants to headhunt that church or, as far as I know, Valerie Plame or Joe Wison.
I know where Press leans politically but I was intrigued by his comments about Jesus. That's what I wanted to look at.
Further, another reason is that I spent some time doing summer missions in Vancouver, B.C. When I was there a conservative church in the western part of the country was speaking out against the Canadian government's endorsement of homosexual marriage. That church had its tax-exempt status challenged because the church was speaking about "policy and politics." And even in British Columbia some pastors were having to weigh what they could and could not say on Sundays. My concern is that if a "liberal" church could face that kind of treatment then what about "conservative" churches when the pendulum swings, which it usually does?
My point was not that I support all of the doctrine of the liberal or conservative churches but that I am concerned that any faith community is threatened because of their stance on any moral issue. What if, in the future, (imagine this!) that there are unfair taxes on a vulnerable group of people and the church, like the Prophet Amos decries it, what then? The church, in my opinion, should be very interested in some developments within our government, because we should not separate our faith from our practice. However, I think that eventually church after church may have to come to a point and say, "Tax-exempt status be damned, we're doing what's right." Our hope doesn't come from exemption or from the government, in reality, our help comes from the Lord.
My parents read this site and give me feedback about some of my thoughts. Bless their hearts they had to live with me. Emailing my dad helped me sort through some of my thoughts. One person read this and told me that he was sorely diappointed that I would have an article like this. A person said I was, in essence, leaving behind Jesus, and therefore becoming "leftist." One said he would never read the cite again. And who said I couldn't kill multiple birds with one stone!!!! I guess that's why my degree wasn't in marketing.
I've spent over a week thinking of what to write in response, so thanks, Dad for the good help.
I was reading Evelyn Underhill (excerpts actually, from Devotional Classics) and she wrote, gee, 80 or so years ago about how three faculties (thinking, feeling, acting) go into praying and living out the "spiritual life." It seemed simplistic, which means that it was the hardest thing to do. So I spent some time thinking about what I needed to pray about, and well, I didn't get much past that. I often find that in my prayer my thoughts are jumbled and run from one thing to the next. I hope God doesn't mind. So I went in and out of that kind of prayer, which was really frustrating. Maybe I was still drowsy and not fully awakened, maybe I've just been out of my routine and rhythm, or maybe it was just one of those days and even though God didn't seem close he actually was. You ever have prayers or times like that?
My first thought was, "God I feel distanced from you." But then I realized that was a general statement so I needed to specify. I didn't feel God was far away when we were having some certain conversations at Jane and Jon's in St. Louis. I didn't feel God was far away when we talked to the soldier (see post below). The answer was, I felt far from God as it related to my reading of Scripture, prayer and personal worship. I want to get into a better rhythm and have felt the urge and starting tomorrow will take action.
That's a new kind of thought or two for me. It's not that I segment my life, but that in reality we have so many "tentacles" attaching to God at different places in our life (our personal, our private, our communal, and others) that at times we neglect some connections and they get corroded or become limp from dis-use.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A great thing happened on the way home from Thanksgiving holiday. Barb and I make it to our gate two hours before the plane was scheduled to take off--we thought there might be other people wanting to fly that day. We sat down, got out our respective Narnia books and started reading. Do you ever enter into "book coma?" You know, you read and you read and all of the sudden an hour has passed and you hardly noticed. Well, when I came out of "book coma" I heard a man speaking to someone. I looked over to my left (Barb was on my left also) and I saw a 60-ish man speaking to a 20-ish man dressed in his battle fatigues. The soldier was sitting on a luggage rack as the whole seating area was full. Actually, Barb and I had our stuff in an extra seat, but that was before the "book coma." We're usually thoughtful people.
I heard the soldier tell the man he was going to battle, his first battle. My heart was instantly pulled toward him, and I felt God (somehow and in someway) prompt me to pay attention). Me, being the great "follower of Jesus" I am, tried to push it aside, saying, "Gosh, really. No, you can't want me to talk to a complete stranger about his faith. I'm really sensitive to sharing my faith and always try to go about it in sensitive, articulate and appropriate ways. How was this going to be any of that?
So, I go back to reading my book. And, well, Barb awoke from her book coma and said, "Jase, there's a soldier over here. He's going to battle. We should invite him to sit up here instead of on that rack."
"Yeah, of course. There's no need for him to sit there."
Barb invited him over and he sat on the end seat. I sat in the middle and Barb sat to my right. It was a three seat bench facing the runway.
"Thanks for giving me this seat."
"No, problem, man."
"We heard you were going. Where to?"
"Wow. I think we're on the wrong flight. We were only wanting to go to San Francisco." (actually, I didn't say that, but it would've been funny.)
Then he wanted to deflect attention off of himself, "How was your Thanksgiving? Are you from St. Louis?" We told him where we are from originally and that we live in the Bay Area.
He told us how he had just seen his family and his niece and how hard it was to believe that his brother had a wife and kid now. This soldier was only 23 and was the older of the brothers.
"Is it difficult to leave them right now?"
"You know, I've always wanted to do this, ever since I was little. When I jump from the plane there's nothing else I want to do. I can't believe I get paid to do it. So, yes and no."
I said, "It's good to find something that you are passionate about and come to a place where you can do that for a living."
"What do you two do?"
Barb told him she was an art teacher and I told him I was a pastor at a church north of San Francisco. He asked us what it's like to live in SF. I told him that there are some who solidify the stereotypes of SF but that many people are down to earth, that a lot of people fly the American flag, have patriotic bumper stickers and that I see innumerous "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers.
He said he had an art teacher that Barb reminded him of and they talked a little bit about that. He then went on to tell Barb and me about how he is greeted sometimes when he and some of his friends go out. Some places have paid for his meal when they see his military i.d.. Some people go out of the way to walk over and shake his/their hands and thank him for their service.
And then a surprise. He told us how some others greet them. He told us how some people are very antiwar and have threatened he and his friends and in one city even shot at the soldiers. It hurt for Barb and I to hear it and I'm sure it hurt him to have that happen, to leave and to serve and to face that at home. Unthinkable. But he never cursed those people and even in talking to us he was very calm and seemed to give leniency to them.
I patted him on the back and told him thanks for serving America and for doing the dangerous and hard thing. He shook our hands and we exchanged names. His name is Carl. I ended up giving him a book I was reading through and put Barb's and my name in so that he would remember us and know that we would be thinking of him.
Well, we were approaching "conversation coma" and then we realized that it was time to get on. We were going to be last in line. So we said our good-byes and he headed for the line. We ran to the restrooms real quick and watched him from a distance. The person behind him in line had also been in the service and he and Carl were chewing the fat.
I can't put to words what that did to me. Sometimes the war can become something like a miniseries on television. But that 15 or so minutes with this great American soldier restirred my love for our country, not that my love had diminished, mind you. Carl and thousands like him do the dangerous and brave thing so that I can travel freely with my wife, vote, speak about my faith openly and, yes, even blog without threat or pain of death.
Carl is scheduled to finish his tour in 18 months, so in the summer of 2007 (that's right) he will have finished his tour of duty. "God, preserve Carl there, and give him protection, guidance and wisdom in those hard decisions he talked about having to make. Bring comfort to his stateside family and peace to this earth. Amen."
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Eventhough the question was directed to Barb I answered for us. So Wednesday we arrived in St. Louis. That night we planned to surprise Bill and Brenda, Barb's parents, as they had just driven in from Kansas City. Bill opened the door and had a stunned look on his face and then closed the door right in our face. It's was priceless. We were greeted with the best hugs and kisses.
The next day we drove to the in-laws of Barb's sister, Bev. We stood outside as Bill and Brenda went inside and told them that they needed help getting some things out of the car. We surprised them and got hugs all around. It is a moment I will not forget.
Jane and Jon are such great people and their children, our cousins, Molly and Matthew, are becoming good friends of ours. I can't say how much I really enjoyed being here.
However, Barb and I did end up with the bug, so last night was a very long night. I've been meaning to lose those ten pounds, but I had other things in mind. We fly out tomorrow afternoon and begin the grind.
Hope all is well.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Below is an article that grabbed my attention. There is a cause for concern in this piece. I have a few questions I'm asking that I've included at the end. Feel free to include your questions or even some of your thoughts. I'd be very pleased to hear what others think..
Church Opposes War - IRS Declares War On Church November 10, 2005
Written by Bill Press and taken from www.billpress.com
Richard Nixon lives. In one of the more notorious acts of his presidency, Nixon turned the Internal Revenue Service into a White House attack dog, unleashing them to go after anyone who dared cross his path: Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Democratic Chair Lawrence O’Brien, Sen. George McGovern and the Ford Foundation, among others.
Richard Nixon lives on in the person of George W. Bush, only more evil than ever. At least Nixon only sicced the IRS on his political enemies. Bush has turned the tax cops loose on at least one religious leader simply for expressing his opposition to the war in Iraq. And he won’t be the last.
It started with All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., where Rector J. Edwin Bacon was recently notified by the IRS that his church risks losing its tax-exempt status. Why? “A reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church,” warned the IRS, because of a sermon preached by former rector George F. Regas on Oct. 31, 2004, shortly before the last presidential election.
Regas is one of Southern California’s best known clergymen, and a long-time peace activist. He was an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq. I met him in the 1980s, when he helped lead opposition to the Reagan administration’s illegal support of the contras in Nicaragua. It was no surprise when he stepped into the pulpit and spoke in opposition to the war in Iraq.
That’s not an unusual position for a priest, rabbi or minister to take. Regas, in fact, was doing nothing more than echoing the teachings of the Prince of Peace: “Put your sword back in its place. For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” In his sermon, Regas told the congregation that, were Jesus Christ alive today, He would not support the war in Iraq. In fact, said Regas, if Jesus could only make it through White House security (a Middle Eastern man with a beard?), he would tell Bush: “Mr. President, your doctrine of pre-emptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster.”
In taking that stand, Regas was hardly alone among church leaders. In fact, during the buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, only one religious organization — the Southern Baptist Convention — supported the war. Every other church or organization, including many individual Baptist churches, came out in opposition. The general secretary of the World Council of Churches called the war in Iraq “illegal, immoral and unwise.” Pope John Paul II sent his personal emissary to tell President Bush his plans for war were morally indefensible.
Indeed, when it comes to war, it is pro-war Christians, not anti-war Christians, who should bear the burden. The message of Jesus is clear: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Let those Christians who opt for war over peace explain why they know better than Jesus. But don’t punish those who take Him seriously and oppose a particular war — especially an unprovoked, pre-emptive war.
So why was Regas singled out for retaliation by the IRS? Surely, not for preaching the Gospel. But not for violating the separation of church and state, either. In opposing the war, he was talking policy, not politics. In fact, in that same anti-war sermon, Regas said that “good people of profound faith” could vote for either John Kerry or George W. Bush. He made no endorsement. No, Regas was singled out for one reason only: because he dared speak out against the war in Iraq. Consider this: Regas purposely did not tell members of his flock how to vote. Yet, at the same time, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other evangelical preachers told their followers it was their “Christian duty” to vote for Bush. Now Regas is targeted by the IRS, while Falwell and Robertson are not: proof that the attack on Regas is part of a political witch hunt, initiated by the Bush White House, and directed against critics of the war.
There’s one way to stop the IRS. All George Bush has to do is pull the plug. Of course, he’ll never do that. Bush wants to destroy Rev. George Regas, just like he tried to destroy Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame — and he won’t hesitate to use taxpayer-funded government agencies to do so. Even Richard Nixon would be appalled. --end
What of this is over-the-top rhetoric (witch hunt, "destroy Joe Wilson", et al) and what is factual?
--Should the IRS do that to any religious group who expresses an opinion opposite the current administration?
--Did Jesus really mean what he said, even what he said concerning war and conflict? If not, then how many qualifiers must be included in explaining my point?
--Is it true that Regas was targeted even though he didn't endorse either candidate and yet others who did endorse a candidate were not "targeted?"
--If others call Bill Press "liberal" does that make his articles less powerful even if it might be based on fact?
--President Bush, a man of [Christian] faith, had many believers counsel him against this war. How did this advice effect him or any of his decisions?
--What is the role of faith communities when it comes to voicing concerns over policy or any government in any part of the world?
--Are you concerned with what you read?
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
First, it's my birthday month.
Second, it's when both sides of my family (Reed and Elder) would gather.
Third, nothing is really expected toward the end of the month--just eating food, watching tv, and sleeping.
Fourth, I love being warm. Growing up we had this great wood heater that would suffocate the house with heat. I love the warmth and I love to see the smoke billowing from chimneys.
Fifth, gee, it's getting kind of thin. Perhaps I love how everything slows down. I think this season mathces my "rhythm." Does that make sense to you? I have friends who are definitely Spring people, or live for July. For me, I prefer the Fall. Actually, since being married, most of the trips Barb and I take are during this time. Did you know that "the Lost Coast" north of here and Monterrey, south of here, are both very beautiful. Every bit as beautiful as it is in summer, and that's saying a lot.
Anyway, how about you?
Friday, November 04, 2005
You know, sometimes I've got so much to say I can't wait to sign in to blogger and power up my text box so I can give my thoughts some kind of outlet. At other times, perhaps like today, I do have some thoughts to share but I'm not really clear on what it is I should write about, so forgive me if I ramble.
I took a drive on Highway 37 today toward the south side of Petaluma. It's beautiful country. I took a left onto Lakeville Highway which is lined with vineyards, dairies and other family farms. The eucalyptus trees spread up and hold hands over the top of the road as if the London Bridge is falling down. It rained a bit last night and the morning air was crisp like the first breath you take after a good dream. The clouds were marching by twos right above the coastal range and were white, black and gray--kaleidiscopic, schizophrenic and hypnotic. The leaves bounced in a wake in my rear view mirror and the road curved like suspenders on a portly old man. I found myself, with only 30 minutes separating me and my home, in another land, much like the land in which you find yourself as you read a book. It's like you are looking not down into the story of the book but are a participant in all that is happening. And so I felt I was not just floating through but a part of it all. And when I turned that curve and went upward over the mound I saw, 20 miles away, the city rising up through the Bridge, just right of a blue island. I immediately braked so the moment would last longer, more than just a few blinks of the eye and a breath from my lungs. I could have hung there like a leaf until gravity, time and destiny pulled me to parachute back down to where it all began.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Actually, Barb and I got a foamy mattress cover and it's even comfier now. So, to Wo and WMO, who installed their own hardwood floors and are some of the funniest people on that side of the Richmond Bridge, I say thank you. And, let's do lunch.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I spoke today from Matthew 6--What Jesus said about authenticity. To quote Adam Duritz, "Getting to the heart of matters; it's the heart that matters more." We took a look at "authenticity--who you are when no one's looking; who you are when everyone's looking." Jesus is not so much interested in spiritual information as he is our spiritual formation. The heart and not the head is usually in the crosshairs. One of the ideas that was good for me to learn in my study was about what Jesus said about prayer, "Don't keep on babbling like 'the pagans' because they think they will be heard because they use so many words." The thoughts was this: God does not hear us and answer us because we talk so much. He answers us because he loves us. We are to pray simply and to simply pray."
After our second service we had 3 baptisms at Prince and Leta's house, in their hot tub with a view westerward toward Mount Tam. It was very moving for me, to tears actually. "It's a courageous thing to be baptized in Marin County," Prince said. I was once again captivated by this centuries old tradition.
I drove out to Tiburon to look at the water, the boats and the city. It was a perfect day here. There's really nothing that compares to the bay area the sunny day after it rains. There's freshness in nature and sunny expectations from those outside.
We went to Terrance and Meshanette's home tonight to hang with them. Kenny is home and is quite adorable. Vincent was fun to be around. Love that family.
Here's to Halloween--now go get your freak on!!!!!!!
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Tomorrow I'm speaking on the topic, "What Jesus Said about Authenticity." Just a few days ago all I basically had for content was "What Jesus Said about Authenticity . . .he's for it." I've added some content since then. I'm using the Matthew 6 text: when you give don't be like the hypocrites; when you pray don't keep babbling; when you fast don't be like the hypocrites. I turned to Isaiah 58 and it rocked my world. God desires more than formalities. He deals with the heart, not the head most of the times. He's more interested in spiritual formation and not just spiritual information. Interesting: it seems that God desires justice, mercy and humility more than any other thing.
Well, hallelujah, I have one extra hour to prepare/to sleep tonight.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Back problems. It's been a consistent issue for several years now. I'm not even 50! I'm barely half of 50! We can't afford a new mattress yet, so I'm building my own out of nails. . . . We may get a foamy kind of cover for our bed. Hope it helps. If it doesn't I'm going to have to start checkin' these bags when I go to the airport. I heat; I ice; I stretch. . . pretty much everything the docs and the phys. ther. says to do, but alas, I am like a door on a rusty hinge--moaning every time I turn.
However, I did run across a good website: www.theonion.com
Check out the article about Halloween (sorry, too tired to remember code right now).
Friday, October 21, 2005
T and Meah moved up from SoCal about a year ago. We met them one Sunday morning and have loved getting to know them. Class A people.
Well, my small token to a huge event.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Warren says the idea of a grande pitch for God as creator came to him after seeing a Starbucks quote on evolution from paleontologist Louise Leakey. Because Starbucks solicited customer contributions for 2006, Warren sent his in. On Tuesday, Starbucks spokeswoman Sanja Gould confirmed that it would be used.
After Snyder's death in 1993, "the family felt strongly about keeping this just as he had done it" at its 196 outlets in California, Arizona and Nevada. The Bible book and verse in minuscule type "are so subtle most of our customers never notice."
One who did: Don Chang, the deeply religious founder of clothing chains Forever 21 and XXI. Five years ago, the clothier copied In-N-Out by stamping the Bible book, chapter and verse notation John 3:16 on the bottom of his stores' shopping bags: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
It's "evidence of faith," corporate spokesman Larry Meyer says.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
|Your Inner Child Is Surprised|
You see many things through the eyes of a child. Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded. You cherish all of the details in life. Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.
The past week was filled to the brim. Among other things, last Friday and Saturday I got to spend some time in a city that I've wanted to visit since I was a teenager. I accompanied two others for financial counseling training in Portland, Oregon. I live very close to San Francisco, but I must say, that on that day I was in awe of the beauty of that place. No words can describe that kind of scenery. It was a quick trip but I hope that Barb and I can spend several days there (if not at once, then over the course of our life--I'm easily pleased).
I went to the doctor yesterday about severe pain in my left foot. It was a disappointing visit, kind of like that joke: I went to the doctor. I said, "Doc, it hurts when I do this." Well what did the doctor say? He said, "Well, don't do that." If you are like me, well, shame on you. But further, if you are like me then you say, "My foot is hurting. My foot is not hurting because there is a lack of asprin in my body. My foot is not hurting because there is a lack of ibuprofren in my body. My foot is not hurting because it is not ice cold enough. The pain is a symptom. There has to be a better way than simply saying, "Don't walk on it," and "Here, have some ibupropren." So, for just about the first time in my life--I disobeyed the doctor.
Although, before leaving they did send me down to get my foot x-rayed. Boy am I glad that they have those lead vests and things so you can cover what matters. So they took about three or four pictures of my foot and said I could leave, which meant disobeying the doctors order of staying off the foot. Well, I only use my left foot half the time anyway, so it's not all bad. No, not to give you the wrong impression--I stretch every way that the pamphlet tells me. I ice. I even try to avoid putting it in my mouth. I said, "So, what's next for me? When do I find out what you saw when you took that machine and looked inside my foot?" He'll call you if he finds anything irregular...
And today started off with an 845 visit to the dentist. She's good. One of the best I've ever had. I had a filling that cracked. To fill that "pothole" I stuffed some chocolate, ice cream and burrito down into it. It's fixed now. My mouth is still tingly. I have three cavities. My all time high score for cavities is around 20. I never flossed as a kid or adolescent and I never went to the dentist until I was about 18. One summer I spent every Thursday in the chair looking at two masked people and seeing the halo from the Pearson and Crane dental light. You never want to hear a dentist look into your mouth and say, "Holy, crap. What happened?"
Well, I must away.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
At times I think that conversation is quite interesting, but I think if we were to scan all of the Scripture we would see that in its entirety the Scriptures go beyond that--beyond how and toward why.
It is one thing to speculate about how--between you and me, I wasn't there, so I can't say exactly what happened. It is another thing to speak about why. Why were humans created? Actually, let's get a bit more personal. Why were grandparents created? Why were your friends created? Why were your grandchildren created?
Why were you created? There is a purpose for your existence. We didn't create ourselves, so there is no way we can tell ourselves what we were created for (to quote Purpose Driven Life). The reason must come from God.
Beyond your skin and more deep than your cells, beyond your double helix, atoms and strings, taking up residence within your soul is something that years. Perhaps you have felt this before. You have had that suspicion that all is not as it seems--that Jesus or God or something has to be figured in. You are right, not because I say so, but because in saying so you have summed up most of the Scripture. Scripture is beyond speculation and is toward revelation; God speaking to us as individuals in a community.
And at Communion, or the Holy Eucharist, God speaks to us again and again. God did not remain in a remote location, under a rock he created, far removed from us. He sent his Son Jesus to this earth to fulfill the necessary and difficult steps of renewing and redeeming our fragmented relationship with God and others. He not only gave us his Scripture; he gave us his son.
And in coming to earth he made himself available for all--for everyone who was/is willing. Are you willing today?
Communion is more than a procession toward bread and juice. There is a quiet and deep mystery. Somehow God meets us here through these elements. At times it may seem more potent than others, and that's okay, but he has made himself available nonetheless.
You may come this morning no matter who or how you are. We don't ask allegiance to us or even membership. We simply and gently ask that you listen to God and seek to draw closer to him, even if that means amending your life.
"God, as we come we realize that you too have come. There is a difference, for you are waiting--waiting, wiling and wanting. Help us to draw closer to you, so that others may be helped, that we be pleased, and that you would be glorified. Amen."
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Actually my schedule has changed to where I have less optimal reading time. I'm really stoked about the next 10 weeks or so. I'm helping conduct the Alpha Course at Hillside Church. I'm helping teach through the Chronicles of Narnia. On Thursday night I am helping lead a small group through a curriculum called, "LifeShapes." Then, of course, there is one-on-one counseling, staff meetings, planning and the weekend services. Sometimes I stare at my calendar and I say, "Wow, that's going to be an interesting week." But I must say that each night I come home and I look at my wife and say, "I got to do what I was born to do today."
Barb and I have rearranged parts of our schedule so that still have our time together, which is a major asset to all that I do. We both have some discretionary time to use how we each want to use it. Life has changed and we are changing with it, trying to become wise with our energy and not just our time.
Oh, yeah, about those books. Here are the "to do's." I can't go into the details of each but here's a quickie:
Present Future: Six tough questions facing the Church
Volunteer Revolution: Living Beyond Ourselves
Making Room for Life: Priorities, Creating Overlapping Segments of your life
The Contrarians . . .: Uncommon Sense
Prince Capsian: C.S. Lewis
The Idiot: Don't quite know yet.
Men's Nutrition: it's more of a catalog that I pick up every now and then
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Much is happening around these parts: Barb's sister and her family (Kurt and the kids, Lilly and Conrad) had to evacuate from Jasper, Tx. They returned to find a huge pine tree on their house. They are trying to rebuild and are trying to work. My heart hurts for them. We are trying to figure out a way to help them.
Barb is teaching in Alameda and it's her first year. So there is an enormous learning curve there. I have a lot of confidence in her and know that she is learning while she is teaching.
The dog, Matches, is still alive. So, I feel that is an accomplishment these days.
I'm reading several good books right now, and perhaps I will let you in on them later, but now I have a morning meeting to go to.
Hope all is well, sorry for the short work, here.
All my best, Jason
Monday, September 05, 2005
It wasn't at a concert and it wasn't at SBC Park or the Oakland Arena. It was right here just off of Paradise Drive. Two girls were standing on two large boulders with neon signs, "Lemmonade to Help Hurricane Victims -------->" Those girls had been out there for hours yelling for the passers by to please help. I like stuff like that. As a matter of fact, it's quite easy for me to get choked up at stuff like that. So after my work out (I recently joined a gym--more on that some other time) I headed back to my house and saw those girls waving the signs and screaming; I pulled in. They were more than appreciative. I rolled down my window and asked the price--$2. I looked in my wallet and I had some ones and then I saw a five.
I love this country and I love to see how in such circumstances children have talked with their parents, "What can we do for them?"
"Why don't you/we sell lemmonade?"
Such simplicity. Such mutual concern. God does bless the USA and we should bless others.
Friday, September 02, 2005
I would "loot." "Loot" in some of the instances I see means scavenging for food, batteries and necessities. I would not go looking for appliances and such. At first I was amazed that people could do such things, but then I began thinking what I would do if I was in their soggy shoes. If I had kids who needed diapers, dry blankets, baby food; I would loot. If I had a relative who was sick and had a vacostomy bag strapped to their side; I would loot for medical kits and disinfectants. IF I had a wife who was hurt, hungry or needing something dire, yes, even tampons, I would loot.
You know that expression, in hell or high water, well, the Gulf Coast has had both at once. Before I many of us get to thinking that we are better than others let us stop to think--who's going to come down and open the grocery story so I can buy the fruit that's going to rot in a few days anyway? Who's going to come down and unlock the doors so I can buy Power Bars or clean water?
Once again, I don't think it is quite necessary to have televisions right now. There is no electricity. Radios, maybe, because they are battery operated and could give some very valuable information. It's easy to castigate, but I'm not the one who had to saw a hole into my roof to escape the waters that some of my family members couldn't escape.
Let's pray and give, pray and give.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
A few weeks back I performed a beach wedding for Mitzi and Carl at Stinson Beach. It was all very charming and pretty: scenery, people, words, and the photos. I love marriage. I would recommend it to many, if not all I meet. I also love weddings. I get teary thinking about it--standing in front of a couple who is starting a step together. Much of life for some of us is about walking some stretches of road by ourselves--just walking closer to the destination, God. It's a very moving experience when you look across the lane from you and someone who is very beautiful, kind and dedicated is walking the same way, so you join up together. And the more you walk toward the destination the closer you get to one another. Very moving.
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Friday, August 19, 2005
So, I pass the knowledge around to a few people that Barb had her teeth excavated and people read and get back to me and say, "That was funny . . ." Well, I checked my comments this morning and I see that I have the most comments ever for any of my post yet--six. Now, I'm a humble country boy and realize that is not a staggering number. So I click on the comments and it's spam!!!!!!! Only one of the comments was from a reader. The other comments are mass produced, overly generalized comments that spammers send to get your attention. Sickening and pride clubbing. That should be against the law, primarily because I don't like it. See, I'm a forthright person.
Well, Senator Thad Cochran's ofrfice has not phoned me back, so I'm still very disappointed that he did not see it fitting to apologize apologize for the lynchings of about 4,500 hundred negroes in America. below. Come on, Thad, just throw me some kind of bone. Tell me you were out of town, a relative was sick, you were on a fact finding mission in the Mississippi Delta, but don't just leave me hanging like those 4,500 innocent people. I don't expect an apologize--neither for your not returning my phone call nor for those loved ones of years past.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
On the way out she was wheelchaired. As the receptionist told us good-bye Barb gave a hearty and rhythmic wave of the hand like the Queen. She seemed quite mesmerized and asked inquisitively several times, "Is that my lip? Is that my tongue?"
I'm learning to translate. After surgery she was very cold. Luckily I have some good verbal skills and since there is no such thing as a "fiscal blanket" I got her the thicker blanket. Oh, and I've also become the humblest of servants. I got her water to drink. She took a mouth full and the light maroon "oral Kool-Aid" came right out. She's learning to swallow again.
Well, I'm thinking about doing something special with those teeth of hers that are on a counter in the kitchen. Perhaps I should make her a necklace interspersing the teeth throughout like she had hunted down the crocodile herself. Matches is really interested in them. Maybe what Corte Madera needs is a cute pitbull with a necklace made of teeth. . . .
Several hours have passed now and Barb is up and running. I hear her cleaning the kitchen. She's heroic when it comes to pain. We've had a good time today. I read her a chapter out of the new Harry Potter book and even did some good inflection. And I just read to her what you just read. She has a good sense of humor. I've tried as much as possible to mess with her head. "Barb, do you remember telling the nurse you could see down her blouse?" And of course she is bright red with embarassment and says, "No! No, way. Oh, gosh!" Seriously, I've told her that three times today and I've gotten the same response. It's kinda like Guy Pierce in the movie Memento.
Thanks to Dr. Mason Lee. Heck, he's so good I'm thinking about having teeth extracted--wisdom or not. Well, I think I need to go tell Barb about something she said to the nurse.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I went to my secret store early this morning to get a balloon and 25 roses. No, not two dozen--that's cliche. No, not just a dozen--I want to impress. Not three dozen--well, I'm not made of money, you know. And then a balloon. But which balloon? Now, I like using my creative side, especially early in the morning. That suits me best. When I wake up I'm ready to tackle the world. I'm high functioning as early as 0600 or oh six o'clock. I saw the perfect balloon--"You'll be missed." I would then buy said balloon, get a Sharpie marker and the balloon would read, "You'll be missed--please stay at least one more day." I also saw another that said, "Got a bug; need a hug?" I would get said balloon and said Sharpie and edit, "Got a bug; get a hug; and no deep kissing; I don't want to be sick also." Then I saw another balloon, "Over the hill." I wouldn't get said balloon or said Sharpie because that balloon, well, there's nothing funny about kidding a woman about her age.
So our house is decorated with roses--some in a huge vase, some in candle holders, one by the bath towels and one in teh q-tip dispenser.
Oh, thanks to Trina, worker of the beforementioned secret store. It was early and she was so helpful. I'll contact the owners of the secret store and give some detail as to how she was so helpful and made this so secretly easy.
It's been a really good six years. I love you, Barb.
P.S. Barb: I expect a reply on this post.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
This week I am a crew leader in Vacation Bible School and it's only Tuesday.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Thanks to Robin for letting mine be the first blog she's read.
Thanks to Bev for coming into town with Lilly and Conrad.
And thank you Mom. I love you so much and wish I could give you a huge birthday hug and kiss your forehead. You're a great momma, great cook, hard worker and great friend. I love you. Happy birthday.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
They put up with a lot of immaturity from me way back when. I'm grateful for that and am surprised that I was not banned from the reunion roster. Viva la graciousness!!!!!
The ten days in Mississippi went really well. Yes, it was hot--four days over 100 degrees. The heat was drippin' from the trees. I saw the nieces and nephew, played basketball, ate bbq, hung out with my little sis and my bigger bros. All in all it was a fine to do. My stated goal before going was to rest so much that I would get bed sores. I came mighty close to succeeding, but then, maybe that's a failure worth having.
Hit the ground running when I got back. It's good to go away. It's good to come back. It's just good to be alive.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Well, back to reading about devotion.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
You know what I've found out lately--that there are a number of things that I don't understand. One of those is the profundity of this--that God is righteous, just, and yet remembers mercy. That's something that I've been learning about--mostly how I fall short.
Jonathan Edwards in his book Religous Affections talks about our affections (love, hate, desire, hope, fear)and how they are the "spring of action" that set us in motion. We all "do" things because we are moved beyond apathy and toward action. Our affections cause action. He mentions about nine affections: holy fear, hope, love, holy desire, joy, religious sorrow, gratitude, compassion and zeal. The questions arose--which have I felt the most and which one do I need to see growth?
I feel zeal the most. Edwards says, "It is spoken of as something which Christ had in mind for us when he paid for our redemption: 'Who have himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works' (Titus 2:14). It was also the essential thing missing from the lukewarm Laodiceans (Revelation 3:15-16)." It is okay to be zealous, but for the right things.
Which do I need the most? Hope. Why hope? Because I am a champion idealist. If there is no hard evidence of change or possible change then cynicism can creep in. But with hope comes margins. Margins? Yeah, margins for allowing God to work beyond my own human limitations. Hope is our helmet and our anchor (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 6:19). With this comes compassion/mercy. If I show mercy I will be given it (Matthew 5:7).
So, I'm a person on a journey. A journey into my own messes and my own growth.
Monday, July 11, 2005
There were several things that encouraged me yesterday. First of all, our little church in Corte Madera, CA is growing deeper in our thirst and hunger for just causes. This has been a dream of mine and the center of a lot of prayers. For so long I have longed to be a part of a believing community that is actively engaged in community issues. I've been doing a good bit of reading, thinking, writing and praying about this. God is shaping me, for what I do not know, but I do know that it's really moving me to walk closer with God.
Secondly, there were people from San Jose and Los Angeles who came up to here Larry speak. It's good to see people my age saying, "Jason, I'm just trying to find what God wants me to do." On guy was interested in building a clean water supply system for developing countries. Two others were interested in helping stop sex traffiking in southeast Asia. National Geographic reported that about 27 million people (10% of the poplulation of the United States) are in illegal bondage around the world.
Thirdly, as I see others who are stirred beyond the seduction and anesthesia of apathy, it encourages me not to slow down, but to read voraciously about such topics and to do small things that, in the long run, make a difference.
To stop now in despair--that would be foolhearted--to stop now of fear--that would be faithless--to not go silently--that would only be fair.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Oh, that's not all. Several Senators refused to abstain from the vote, one of my own former political leaders, Thad Cochran of Mississippi. I've called his office and left a message. How could this be? How is this explainable? I cannot tell you how heart broken I am over this; I am almost sick to my stomach.
If you'd like to check some of this information out, click here. I know that it is easy to pick on the source and question their political bias, but the issue at hand is not the link above or the links in the margin, but whether or not it is true. And if it is true what do we do about it?
Friday, July 08, 2005
It's quite interesting how life turns sometimes. A few weeks ago two friends from Fresno were talking to Barb and I about Oscar Romero and needing to watch a movie about his life. Today as I was in the city I talked with a friend and he gave me this print that he took of a mural in the Mission district in the city. I went down myself and checked out this alley that was all murals dedicated to the heart of the Hispanic community in the area. Very powerful. The soul of the people was put to color and I think a lot of it has seeped into my mine.
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Thursday, July 07, 2005
My short summary of that is that things either look really good in the past or in the future; it's the here and now that I have trouble with. I'm always antsy to go to the next level; to do more; to not be satisfied with the status quo or with any status, for a matter of fact. It has its ups and its downs. One cannot go through life with just total idealism and at the same time when one is a realist life can be a cyclical system of cyniscism.
I guess this helps explain why I love the prophets of the Old Testament. Not necessarily because Nehemiah pulled the hair of the men.
Ouch! In college I was able to study the book of Amos, which Martin Luther King Jr. sited several times in his I Have a Dream speech. In seminary I wrote a paper on the social gospel movement and compared and contrasted Walter Rauschenbusch, King, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. That was one of my favorite papers.
I'm trying to crawl and claw my way up this steep learning curve about how to be a true Jesus follower and seek justice and equity. It seems that many Christians see the "gospel" as not being campatible with the "social gospel." However, what is driving me forward is the fact that our spiritual lives should have a social consequence. In light of this I've added "People of Interest" to the sidebar. I'll add more later.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
It wasn't my first time to see Adam Joshua. Nope, I was there and saw him when he was about 10 minutes old. Wow, I will never forget that. Robert and Mandy are good friends. So very happy for them.
Well, Robert shamed me yesterday for not blogging. I usually only write when I'm in a bad mood. I guess it is because I go and write to get my thoughts out. So, I've not been in a bad mood as of late. A lot of good things are happening. Maybe this blog will show it soon.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
fro when dreams go
life is a barren field
frozen with snow.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
It's been a while since we've done something like this. Usually our vacations are spent visiting family. Those trips are always good and satisfying, but this time it is just us. Santa Cruz is where one of our first dates was. Carmel and Pacific Grove is where we stayed for our six month "anniversary."
As I was putting together a cd mix for the trip I got to thinking about how so many important things have happened to me since moving here to NorCal. I attained a Master's Degree and worked three jobs during that time, one of them a life changing experience--an aide in a special education classroom with Erin, Roxanne, Barbara and Katie. I met and married Barb. Lived in the city. I have made so many great friends, several of whom are now living all around the globe. Although Mississippi is "home," in that it is where my roots are, this feels "home" to me.
It was hot last night and because we don't have ac I couldn't sleep. So at about midnight last night I stepped out in the backyard and looked at the Corte Madera flatlands, the apartments at Greenbrae and westward toward Mnt. Tamalpais and was irrevokably struck with what has occured.
Nietzsche was right, the greatest thing in heaven and hell is a long obedience in the same direction. He said that this long obedience results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
I remember waking up one winter's morning. My eyes were blurry and there was a new crispness to the air, even the atmosphere of my bedroom. I heard the door crack open and Mom say, "No school; it's snowing."
In one night the snow came silently and secretly, alarming no one as they slept. It was expected but it still came as a surprise. A brand new, thick blanket covering the world I had seen the day before; everything had changed.
Sorrow falls like that silent snow.
Last Saturday I found out that a classmate of mine from 1st to 12th grade died of stomach cancer recently. Tracy was 28. It has caused me to reflect. To reflect upon the stupidity of youth and the reality of our existence. Of course I could go into my regrets about school and what I could've to Tracy and how I could've been a better friend, but that would be really narcisistic. It's not about me or my feelings. It is about Tracy and her life. Her smile. Her friendliness. Her family and the one's she loved who are left to mourn.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Things are busy but paced around here on the hillside these days. I spoke last Sunday and am speaking this Sunday. Last week I spoke on symbolism in worship. Symbolism is so powerful, yet we Protestants use so little of it. The first reformers threw everything out with the bath water. The truth the object symbolizes is more powerful than the object itself. Symbols are no good unless they are interpreted. So for those from a Catholic background the mass remained mysterious. The meaning of the images or the motions or the candles were not described and the language of the mass was uninterpreted. The search for meaning was thwarted by lack of translation.
Jesus said that we should live in such a way that others see our lives and honor our Father in heaven. He also said, "by this all will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." It seems that Jesus said and is still saying today that you and I worship leaders. You and I are icons, not in that flamboyant way, but symbols for worship.
To tell you the truth, that makes me uncomfortable because I don't want to lead anyone astray. I don't want anyone to stumble over me because the truth is that the cross itself is enough of a stumbling block already. Anyway, I'll fill you in on the coming Sunday's message as we ask and think about, "What is God up to?"
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
I've been thinking: Dante layers hell in various degrees. I wonder what mine would look like. Well, today I think that hell would basically consist primarily of having to create a multimedia presentation with moving images and jpegs using only Microsoft Movie Maker. It is the bain of my existence right now. And from the discussion boards online, I'd say it is hell on earth for many others. Luckily Barb's Ipod is nearby. I foresee a day when I am no longer on this cracking platform called Windows.
That's my rant. I think the Ibook's booted up. A way out of purgatory has come! Take me to the pleasant gates of music and video. I love thee, Ipod. Never shall I waste time on "the other."
Friday, April 29, 2005
How is it that I have been a Jesus follower for several years now, have taken college and graduate level courses dealing with Scripture, church polity, leadership and the like and yet know so little? I know that I've heard the answer to that be, "Well, that actually shows your wisdom because you realize what you don't know." I appreciate the intention of that but that doesn't help me sleep much at night anymore.
I have been overwhelmed with the diminuitive amount that I know toward leadership and shepherding a group of people toward maturity in our faith. Man alive, I am realizing so much these days that it is mind boggling. I have long been afraid of leading a group through subversive tactics or in a way that would impact them negatively to the point that for several years I put myself in situations that were safe. There was no danger. There was no risk. I just had to show up. Nothing ventured but nothing gained.
Now I have been providentially placed in positions where I am the leader. Sometimes I am frightened. Sometimes I am confident, not because I am self-sufficient but because there has been affirmation from God in/to my spirit. Thing is also this: I never really learned how to keep healthy relationships healthy. I never learned practical steps of admonition, confronting and sticking to relationships. I have this bad habit of "just forgetting" offenses. Someone will say something and I will talk myself into thinking that they meant it in a way that would not be of any concern to me. I lie to myself a lot.
The pattern is this: their spoken word, a feeling in my gut that I supress and then a few days or weeks later I will say to myself, "That really upset me when they said that. I should've said something." The truth is that sometimes those thoughts just don't/can't come to you right at the moment. I'm a slow processer from facts to feelings. I'm learning how to have that stuff going on and yet still have my faith strong.
I am really tempted to finish this with Bible verses and a flury of fantastic quotes pertaining to this, or a quote from the ever wise Oswald, but I will just leave it at that, because I think we all know what the Bible says about some/most of what I've mentioned. I should just concentrate on the application of it.
Monday, April 11, 2005
I've been reading through Jeremiah, that afflicted prophet and child of God who expresses so much of what we really feel and think about God if we were reflective upon ourselves. I could follow that vein for a while but a short little chunk got my wheels going today, "Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD" (8:7).I was imagining scenes from that great indie film Winged Migration. Those seemingly brainless but beautiful creatures know intuitively their appointed season of migrating, their time of returning. So, there is a time the people of God should migrate/return to God. We have a nickname for that: "repentance." The context of 8:7 speaks more, so I will let you have the joy of studying that.
And my ole fav, Douglas Coupland, (author of Life After God, The Shampoo Planet: Tales for an Accelerated Culture) showed up in The Shaping today. Douglas has a powerful knack of bringing melancholy and mood into his writings, especially toward the feeling that one gets when they consider the landscape within the soul of a Generation Xer. In his book, Generation X (London: Abacus, 1991), he wrote the following about the middleclass malaise:
The middle class is on a precarious perch betwixt two worlds: affluence and poverty. The middle class has the ability to change the world and influence both the powerful and the forgotten but comfort, pride and fear has conquered the middle class. The middle class adopts a lifestyle that is beyond their own means and struggles to find any meaning that exists beyond a lifestyle.
And so it is.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Things are going well. Barb is in the midst of putting a portfolio together and having job interviews. She is a hard worker, loves students and loves art. There is much more to her than that, but that's a good start.
Matches is getting more "pitty." She loves to hike and to chase ducks. She is learning the repercussions of eating someone's underwear: about 3 days of pain and then the passing of "Hello Kitty."
Me? I'm doing well also. I'm getting off the juice: no, not like Balco Barry, but caffeine. I was becoming too dependent upon it. I was also becoming a poor decision maker about food--really, portion as oppossed to the kind of food. Actually, I had made a trip or three to McDonalds. That's what happens when I get stressed. It's comfort food. There's some childhood reason for that, I'm sure.
Holy Week was unbelievably good here at Hillside. We did a mixed-media Good Friday, blending ancient liturgy with technology. It was very moving for some. Saturday night we held a Holy Saturday time during H20. We had meditation stations set up. Sunday morning we had a great time of celebration.
Very few times have I really sensed the presence of the Spirit like that week. My personal worship was good and it really helped me through the hectic nature of the week and weeks leading up to that. However, I'm trying to be more consistent and trying to live to the fullest, like the fervor of one drowning.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Monday, February 21, 2005
Check Matches out. Her picture and story is about 3/4ths down the page.
Some of you have commented on the personality and disposition of American Staffordshire Pit Bulls. On a temperment test given by the American Temperment Test Society "Pitties" received more favorable grades than: Cocker Spaniels, most Dachshunds, Collies, Chihuahua (insecure little fellas), Beagles, Dalmations, and Poodles. As a matter of fact, Pitties received a grade of 83.4% and Golden Retrievers received 83.6%. Check out the results.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
His body was crushed and torn for us. His blood was spilled for us. He then said that whenever we partake of this meal that we should "do so in remembrance" of him. I don't think that that is just a mental ascent or just thinking, "Jesus." I think it is saving a place for him at the table, or in our case, in line.
It is also powerful when friends you work with or play with or live close to are standing at the front serving you the body and the blood of Christ symbolized through the elements. You look into their eyes and you know that they know you, that they have seen your faults and still love you. Here is exemplified the fact of ongoing, enduring, steadfast love. And yet how great is the fact that Jesus is our friend, "No greater love has anyone than this that they would lay down their life for their friends. You are my friends if you do what I command."
I must give props to one person though. Eric Eckstein played his guitar and sang this morning. "I Came to the table...." Very beautifully done. It touched me because I know Eric. He was one of the leaders in the Alpha class that I took. He wants to know more about Jesus and what it is to live out an authentic loving relationship with God and with his family. So thanks, Eric.
And thank you, God.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Well, I actually have contacted AFA (American Family Association)three times and have gotten no response. I'm disappointed that I've been ignored and their credibility has lessened in my eyes. When I see "Contact Us!" I just expect to be responded to. Maybe the exclamation point is misleading. Anyway, I'm going to "contact them!" again with a link to this post. I told them I would write about it and post it, so I'll keep my word. Anyway, no big whoop.
In the book of Luke, chapter 15, Jesus teaches about God's emotions. The purpose of his telling of the story is that others were coming to him and saying that God had no or little positive interest in "sinners." Jesus is not just paradigm shfiting, he is crushing an incomplete doctrine. He says that there is rejoicing in the presence of angels when one "sinner" repents. "In the presence" shows us that it is God's own joy that is being displayed. It is not only for his glory but for his gladness!
That is a part of the dna of love: it identifies with the welfare of another. Any good and right father would take concern over their child. Every good shepherd worth his salt would be concerned over a sheep that has been lost. Any good and fit husband would be concerned over the health and wellness of his wife. It is no different with God for those three things (father, shepherd, husband) are used as metaphors in Scripture to talk about God and his relationship to us. It is an amazing thought to think that God is emotionally interested in my outcome and will only rest when I/we are home safely.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Well, I was really looking forward to taking a shower and getting ready for the raucous night as two friends were going to come over and stay for a while. And as I turned the corner to the shower I noticed that water was coming back up through the drain. Hmm. I plunged it and then I snaked it. And while I was snaking it more water came back up and it was colder than the water I was stepping in. Oh, and then the toilet started girgling like a stew, a very slow boil. I realized that perhaps I shouldn't try to take the toilet out of its setting and that my arms just weren't long enough or skinny enough to do the job. So, I called a plumber.
The plumber was quite nice and as of 930 Sunday morning I can now take a shower and flush without trepidation. Metaphor: plumbing the depths of capability. Most of the time life is about common sense and having a fair calculation of what is possible through your skill. I know I have a lot to learn. The water coming back up into the shower was not the problem. Nope it wasn't. The water coming back up into the shower was a symptom signifying that something deeper was askew. Perhaps I need to consider some attitudes and behaviors as symptoms of a greater and deeper need.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Pit bulls are not human aggressive, honest. It is not in their genes to be human aggressive. Pit bulls were reared to be fighting dogs. The owners of these dogs wanted dogs who were intellient, athletic, tenancious and had a high pain tolerance. If a pit bull was neither of these they would kill it. Since the owners had to separate the fighting dogs they would have to reach into the pit. If a dog bit the master it was a very good sign that the dog would later be killed. By doing this they actually elimanated from the gene pool pit bulls who would be aggressive toward humans.
Number 2, I'm a good person and promise not to slap Murphy in the head with pictures of you so that when he sees you he will go into some kind of Pavlovian fit.
Number 3, pit bulls are dog aggressive. They have to be watched when out in dog parks and have to be supervised when they play with other dogs. First of all, I've been to dog parks around here and I must say that I don't want any dog of mine hanging out with the riff-raff that I've seen--a bunch of yelping, ill-mannered hooligans.
Number 4, I'd just like to repeat number 2.
Here's a site: www.badrap.org