Sunday, December 30, 2007

Between the Holidays

This is the twilight sky out our back door, looking west. It has been a full and happy Holiday Season for us. I would show more photos of our fun right now, but I am cheating off my neighbor's wireless (Apple) because my Apple wireless router cannot talk to my Windows PC correctly. I have been on the phone with HP in India (my laptop manufacturer) for about 1.5 hours in the past two days.

Tomorrow, I get to call Apple, as I have to do a hard-reset on my Extreme Airpoop Airport, and once I do that, I think I throw off the wireless thingamajiggie for everyone else in my house.

Gosh darn, I just love technology. It is so simple, freeing, and rudimentary.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Bishop's Wife - Ending Sermon

I have just discovered a wonderful Christmas movie, and it only took me 49 years to find it.

The Bishop's Wife, produced in 1947, is the story of a suave angel who comes to earth to save a woman and her Episcopal priest husband from spiritual doubt, and a lack of love for life itself.

But this movie is more than that, and features a sermon at the end, that would preach well anywhere today, in a world so in need of the simple, non-commercial message of Christmas. And here, for the first time on the Internet (as I could not find the script in the public domain), is the closing sermon of The Bishops Wife:

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries.
We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we're celebrating. Don't let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make
peace on earth.

Short but sweet. Sixty years old, and not a day off center. Still relevant.

Merry Christmas to all.

For the latest version of the sermon on YouTube which has not been attacked by the attorneys:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Have Yourself a Tacky Little Christmas

We Americans are a completely nutty bunch, and I have found evidence of this at a lovely seasonal web site known as Tacky Christmas Yards. You can always count on my directing you to the most meaningful and uplifting of Holiday web sites. Go ahead, have a look, I promise you will laugh and be repulsed, all at once.

The photo at left is one of the featured homes at this site. You need to click on the photo to enlarge it, and get the fully confused meaning of American Christmas. When you click the image it gets quite big, so you examine in detail the cornucopia of Tackiness.

What are the psycho social and theological implications of this particular yard? Well, by count there are 3 Santas, 3 Choir Boys, 2 Polar Bears, 3 Reindeers, and, I think, 3 Reindeers, and zero Baby Jesus (Jesus-es?, Jesus's, Jesi?). Could be the entire family were eaten by the polar bears. Shown prominently on this house is also some odd sort of Sun God Ra or Sixties Hippie star burst thingie. I am not sure about the residents of this home. Most likely they are very post modern in their outlook.

My favorite is the upstairs bedroom on the right featuring Santa and the Leg Lamp, in a nice gesture to one of my favorite Christmas movies, A Christmas Story. I am impressed that Santa is showing some restraint and fidelity to Mrs. Claus, and is not looking directly AT the leg lamp. Good job, Santa.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

St. Olaf's Choir and This Christmastide

And I was going to watch SportsCenter.......

But something else happened. I watched a choir. Now mind you, I am not a huge choir aficionado. I live in Southern California, mind you. Flip flops and Hawaiian shirts are the typical attire in our area. Sacred music in our world is often played by dudes who have forgotten modern shaving techniques, and who are also wearing Hawaiian shirts. Sacred music, schmakred music. Please.

Pictured above is the
Choir of St. Olaf college, in Northfield, Minnesota. The other night, as the day ended, I flipped on the TV to see what might be on, and found on PBS the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. This is big time choral music, one of America's longest running musical celebrations of the Holiday Season, and has been named one of five significant global Holiday events by the New York Times. This is serious, major league, unbelievable music, performed on a scale that will nearly blow your shoes off. At one point in the program, I think there must have been more than 250 voices together. Whew! I want to go to this Festival once before I die.

Three words describe this concert and this choir. Oh. My. Goodness!

One song deeply touched me. Know alternately as This Christmastide, and also "Jessye's Carol" (as it was first performed by opera star Jessye Norman), composed by Donald Fraser. This is a choral piece that is, all at once, loud and resounding, praiseworthy, yet gentle, sweet, and thoughtful; referring to the gift of the Christ Child. The song develops in a perfect sine wave. I was a complete mess by the time it was over. Wonderful.

This Christmastide
Green and silver, red and gold and a story born of old,
Truth and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

Holly, ivy, mistletoe and the gently falling snow,
Truth and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

From a simple ox's stall came the greatest gift of all,
Truth and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

Children sing of hope and joy at the birth of one small boy,
Truth and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

Let the bells ring loud and clear, ring out now, for all to hear,
Truth and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

Trumpets sound and voices raise
in an endless stream of praise,
Truth and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

Green and silver, red and gold and a story born of old,
Peace and love and hope abide, this Christmastide.

We need these things. In a world that is wandering - Truth. For lives that feel empty - Love. For us all, facing loss, struggle, confusion - Hope.

This Christmastide.

Thank you, St. Olaf College Choir. Every last one of you. I have been blessed beyond words. You have expressed in song, things that reside deep within my soul.

You may be in a place where this is being
rebroadcast. If you can watch it, drop everything, and do so. Forget SportsCenter, just for one night.

The video of the PBS broadcast is not yet on the web. To give you a taste of the musical ability of this choir, check this out:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pathetic Pastor vs Macho Lay Person

Please note my Buzz Lightyear score to the left. Then go here, and note the pathetically wimpy score of a fellow who has attended Princeton Seminary.

Now I ask you, if stuck in a tense intergalactic battle, where the future of the Universe is on the line, who you gonna call?

Thank you.

And yes, that is my eldest daughter, and yes, that look of bewilderment on her face may, in fact be genetic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For Unto Us A Child is Born

The caption for this video at Youtube reads:

"Excerpt from "Carols from Prague": Performed by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford at St. Jacob's Church in Prague on December 23, 1990. This is the first time in forty years that Christmas could be openly celebrated in Prague."

This has great meaning to me, as nearly 25 years ago, I spent time in Eastern Europe,delivering Bibles to persecuted and secreted Believers. I will never forget this experience, nor will I forget the miracle of political change in Eastern Europe.

Unto us a Child is Born. All of us, imprisoned and free, hopeless and hopeful, those who feel surrounded by darkness, and those who revel in the light. For everyone, a Child is Born.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Bike!

I just needed to share this. I had a bike exactly like this when I was 11 years old. Complete with stick-shift and shock absorber. Now, I drive an Acura, and I think liked my bike better. Smaller carbon footprint.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Family Christmas Traditions

We purchased the Christmas tree yesterday, and had brief moments of happy family togetherness. Shown here are Nancy and I mimicking the photo pose of all local teenagers. If I am flashing a gang sign, it would be for a gang of slightly pudgy middle age white balding guys; The Caucasian Homeys. Although it looks it, I have not been shocked by a 5,000 volt cattle prod. This is, instead, comedy in its purest form. You have to admire my wife, caring for the mentally impaired the way she does.

In years past, we used to drive to approximately 17 different tree lots; a journey of nearly 8 hours and several hundred miles, as my lovely wife searched for the the elusive Christmas Tree of Perfection. The little girls loved this, coming home covered in pine tar and needles, hungry and cranky. After a period of years, Nancy learned that such a tree, was, in fact, not in existence. We have settled on the local YMCA tree lot; filled with good people, making money for local youth and sports programs. Good cause, good trees, two blocks from home, with minimal chance for the hugely embarrassing "tree falls off van" experience on the way home.

Following this, the tree is brought home, where is is carefully placed in the Heavy Tree Stand of Lead (the stand alone weighs several jillion kilotons). The placement of the tree in said stand involves trimming of the bottom of the tree with rusted clippers that barely cut, a rusty saw, and the removal of enough foliage to supply the Boy Scouts with enough material for about 37 additional wreaths. Our carbon footprint is huge.

After the tree is lowered in the Heavy Tree Stand of Lead, I typically spend about 45 minutes lying prone on the floor, advising family members to lean the tree 2 or 3 lineal millimeters one way or the other, in order to have the tree point in a near perfectly vertical position. I use a GPS device and a surveyor's transit, calculating the exact distance between our tree the North Pole. The finished coordinates are supplied to Santa directly. Perfection here is imperative. Sometimes, my assistant people randomly leave the room, and the faithful Labrador is my only friend, sitting next to me, in fear that The Guy Who Buys The Food may be dead.

Following the successful tree positioning maneuvers, my work here is done. The girls are in charge of decorating the tree.

I am in charge of movie watching, with the movie of choice always being the 1954 Christmas classic, "White Christmas". Ok, call me a sap, but I just love this movie. It reminds me of my father's generation, which, even though it elected Richard Nixon, sported double breasted suits, and smoked a heck of a lot, still had a lot of good characteristics, including decency, respect, love of country, and great dance numbers. I think General Waverly is a wonderful guy.

Strangely, my girls actually like to watch this movie. Must be the Irving Berlin compositions, and that boffo ending.

And that is a small slice of Christmas at our house.

Cyber Christmas Greetings for 2007

Water polo. Alabama. 8th grade. The Big Apple. Softball. Soccer. Ordination. Considering private school. Junior year, college ahead. A loss. A legacy. A Future and a Hope. Random words? Not for us. These are the words and phrases that have defined the past year in the life of our family.

Heather, almost 14 and in the 8th grade, is looking forward to moving on from Middle School. Although school has been fun and challenging, over the past year she has decided, very much on her own, that she would like to transition from public to private school as she begins high school. So now we are in the midst of filling out applications and taking tests. Our family would covet your prayers as Heather faces important decisions in the coming months. We are confident that God has a great place for her in a school that meets both her needs and her remarkable personality. Softball, volleyball and soccer are the sports of choice for Heather this year. This has been another busy, fun, and challenging year for her, and it is such a privilege to be her parents, and to join her on the journey of life thus far.

Kelly, almost 17 years old, is the Captain of the JV girls water polo team. Just last weekend the team won a local tournament, upending Beverly Hills High! Kelly is hard working and determined at school, and spends a ton of time studying. In the Spring we will begin touring colleges, if you can believe it! Among Kelly’s many daily gifts to us are her wonderful smile, her ability to find humor in nearly everything, and loud and passionate singing around the house, with many songs occurring as she checks what is in the kitchen refrigerator. How did we end up with these amazing young ladies living amongst us for these few more short years?

Nancy continues her daily blur of a life devoted to others; leading the Mothers of Preschoolers program at church, and PTA at two schools. This past year she has continued to meet regularly with a completely ecumenical (and great!) group of moms in our town, monthly, merely to pray for our kids, our town and our schools. She finds great solace by attending the weekly chapel at Fuller Seminary. Nancy’s greatest gift to me this past year was her consistent and faithful care for my Dad during his final year. A gift of love, given so freely. Kelly, Heather and I are blessed beyond words by Nancy’s daily love for us all.

For me (Steve), this past year has been marked by a long goodbye. In October, my Dad, Roland, passed away peacefully after a more than a year of decline from dementia. Dad was 87 years old, raised me well, was faithful to his bride Betty for 49 years, fought in a World War, and lived a full life. He was part of the Greatest Generation; and I hope to live my life going forward in a way that does not forget the service and sacrifice of this good man; a legacy has been left to us. I will miss Sunday afternoons sitting with him, listening to war and work stories of decades past.

On the lighter side, we did continue to laugh and learn from each other. In the Spring of this year, we spent a week in New York City. We saw all the sights; Fifth Avenue (shopping!), the Financial District, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and we even saw “Wicked” on Broadway. The girls loved it! Kelly’s comment, after wild cab rides and watching pedestrian’s completely ignore traffic lights…”I love this place, they have no rules here at all!”

This summer we took a week and traveled to Huntsville, Alabama for a very special event, and an important moment for our family. Our adopted family member, Jill Williams, was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. It was a great privilege for us to participate in her ordination, after walking with her on her seminary journey for more than four years. We are so excited for Jill, as she begins her pastorate as an Associate Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. She has been adopted by a new wonderful church family, and we remain so thankful for the gift of Jill’s friendship and love.

We hope this Christmas season finds you well, and living in the Hope offered by the coming Christ Child. In this Season of Advent, we are reminded of the words of Christina Rossetti. Words of humility and grace, summing up our response to the most important gift ever bestowed on mankind:

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.

Christina Rossetti, written in 1872
and set to a Christmas carol,
“In the Bleak MidWinter”, in 1906.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Simple Christmas - We Should Be Different

This year I have realized, perhaps in a clearer way, that Christmas is all screwed up.

By this, I mean our American version of Christmas, which is centered mostly around an unreal, romantic, warm and fuzzy Winter Solstice celebration of consumption and alleged family togetherness.

Consider if you will the
25 Most Popular Christmas Songs. Lots of snow, chestnuts, Santa, snow, jingle bells, and Rudolph happening there.

What I feel a bit sad about is Christian folk, myself included. We Christian folk have again chosen to mirror the culture around us, with little distinctive characteristics to the way that we celebrate the most important holiday in our tradition. We have become, in large part, apes of the culture. Include me in, I am not much different. And so, I am writing this blog post to myself, perhaps to work out my "stuff" during the holidays.

Now mind you, I am not going to set off on some screed about how our culture is heading down the toilet because people will not say "Merry Christmas" to me any more at the check-out counter, or how my town does not have a manger scene on the corner of First & Main. I do not have these kind of expectations in our post-Christian world, and I am not going to develop a fearful and combative attitude because all the other people in the world do not think the way I do. I am not going to become bitter.

Something beyond comprehension happened more that 2000 years ago - a baby came who would become the King. I am going to dwell on that, as much as I am able. And then, I am going to try to rearrange my life so that birthday event is declared in subtle and not so subtle ways in all I do.

Here is one way to look at Christmas in a completely different way. HT: Internet Monk:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Something Simple At Christmas

Its Christmas time. Advent. A time of expectation. But what are we expecting?

There are lots of souls this Christmas who have very little in expectations. A meal, a warm bed, a smile, perhaps a hand up. And we have role in helping.

Make your Christmas simple. Go
here. Watch the video, all the way to the is SO worth it.

Listen for the bell this Christmas......

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Give Him My Heart

For more that a decade, "In The Bleak Midwinter" has been one of my favorite carols. I love this song both for its stirring description of the entry into history of a majestic God in the form of a helpless baby, and for the deeply personal response that this song suggests. Can we, can I really....."give Him our heart"? I can never make it through the singing of this part of the carol emotionally intact

Shown below is a wonderful treatment, performed by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir. This carol is adapted from a poem by Christina Rossetti, who seems to have lead an interesting

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How Much Do You Make?

I want this man to teach my kids. I will take passion over conformity any day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Advent Expecting

This past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. I did not give it much thought, until much later in the day.

My wife and I are in the midst of raising two teenagers and all the busy-ness that this involves. I have forgotten where this all started, almost 17 years ago.

Right around this time of year 17 years ago we were pregnant with our first girl. It was a wonderful, mysterious, exciting, and joyous time. But also a time of waiting, of anticipation, of wondering, hoping, and praying. An amazing gift was coming soon, and she has lived with us ever since. What a journey!

Sunday night some dear friends came to visit for a casual pizza dinner on this chilly first Sunday of Advent. As usual, the kitchen was filled with noise and laughter. In walked in Amy, our friend of several years, who is now almost 8 months pregnant, and getting big. Her smile was wonderful; I think she was smiling for two people. For some reason I do not know, I was suddenly struck right between the eyes with Advent. Right then and there, hugging Amy, and smiling at her growing belly. Expecting.

Waiting. Wondering. Hoping.

Advent. May my heart be filled with expectation, and celebration.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Post Game Wrap Up

Reality has returned. The sun again rises in the east, and just as winter means colder weather, SC has again beat UCLA.

For those of you concerned that
last year's Bruin victory had resulted in a cataclysmic imbalance in the universe - you can rest easy, all is back to normal. The sun still rises in the east, the Pope is still Catholic, and SC still completely dominates the Bruins in football.

One point about coaching here. Its late in the game, and your opponents have the ball on your 2 yard line, 4th and goal. But wait! There is a penalty against the other guys, which will result in their getting TWO tries to make 12 yards into the end zone, should you accept the penalty, or ONE try to make two yards. Reminder: the other team is in the top ten nationally, and is an offensive power house. So, it probably doesn't matter how far away they are from the goal, what matters is how many tries they have!

And guess what the brilliant UCLA coaching staff decided to do? There will be newspaper columns about that move tomorrow, I can promise you.

Sigh. At least we have basketball season to look forward to. Oh, and the band has new uniforms.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Simple Christmas

Change is in the air, and it is a welcome thing. The other day I opened the Wall Street Journal and spotted a full page ad, pictured at left.

I felt like I was standing in a fresh fall breeze, even though I was very much indoors at the time. Right there in the Journal, the bible of evil capitalism.

Pictured at right is a full page add that is running in the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, according to the agency that placed the ad on behalf of the Dalio Family Foundation. (Click on the add image for a larger version)

Ray Dalio, the patriarch of the family has made a fairly large bucket of money in
hedge funds. The family foundation has decided that people need to...get ready for this..."Give people donations to their favorite charities. And request that they give donations to your favorite charities." Do this instead of, as the ad states "chaotic shopping....a month-long compulsion to buy something, anything, for everyone". Who does this Dalio Family think they are? Turns out, they have some pretty good family members.

Gasp! What? No shopping? No buying an electronic sock warmer for Uncle Phil at Brookstone (an entire mall-type store full of thoroughly useless crap, that I will admit I like to visit)? No smelly body soaps (luffa included) for Aunt Martha? No more Transformer toys for that annoying but lovable little cousin?

A simple Christmas? Giving gifts to strangers? Not expecting anything else back?

I think I remember some other guys who gave gifts, and got nothing back but a blessing.

I long for a simple Christmas.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What I Am Thankful For

This painting hangs over the fireplace in our family room; it has been there since we added the family room on to our house, almost six years ago. This image seemed a fitting way for us to express our sense of thankfulness for a slightly larger home, and the blessings of each day. When I first saw this painting I was struck by its sense of humility and simplicity, expressed in the imagine of a prayer. That my faith might be expressed this way....

I still love this painting, and I look at it often and reflect on what I am thankful for. This year I am thankful for countless things, just a few of which are expressed below.

I am Thankful for....

Redemption. Transformation. The offer of new life I have found in Christ and experienced daily now for more than 28 years. God, made know in the person of Jesus, has been my guide and companion on this remarkable journey, and I am thankful for His Mercy, Joy, and abiding Grace, each day along the way.

My wife, Nancy. After more than 19 years of marriage, you still find me funny, and tolerate my strangeness each day. You are the best thing that ever happened to me on this planet, and each day I take a moment and thank God for you, and tell you too. You are beyond wonderful. Words can never express my love.....

For my daughters, Kelly and Heather. Thank you both for the most amazing journey a guy could ever want - sharing my life with you two amazing ladies has been a challenge beyond my wildest imagination and a source of joy I will never be able to completely express. You two young ladies are amazing!

For my parents, both of whom I have lost over the past 18 months. Although my relationship with them was emotionally disconnected, for various reasons, they did the very best they knew how in raising me, and provided me a college education and a great start in life. I have turned out ok; no felony convictions yet. My Dad served in World War II, which leads me to my next area of thankfulness.

For my country. Perhaps being the son of a World War II veteran makes me more acutely aware of the tenuous and precious nature of my freedom.

I am also particularly thankful for those brave Americans that currently serve in our armed services, both at home and abroad. Thank you, each and everyone for serving. Whenever, I see someone in uniform now, I make sure to shake their hand, and just say "Thank you for serving." That's all.

For my job, and for the great team of folks who work with me. I really love my work, and each day I wake up and realize its a work day, its no problem getting out of bed to do it again, and to try to do it all Solo Deo Gloria.

Sacred music. Over the past decade or so, as I have "matured", I have become much more fond of sacred music. Classical pieces, chants, chamber works, choral pieces, hymns, orchestral works, the works. Perhaps music in this form expresses something of the mystery of life, of faith, and of this terrible and beautiful world we have been set down on.

James Taylor. Enough said there.

My dog, Cindy, a nearly 10 year old Chocolate Labrador retriever. This kind old dog (and friend) is a daily reminder of a Peaceable Kingdom I someday hope to find a permanent home in.

Sports Center.

The Internet. Without this amazing tool, I would not be able to share these thoughts, get the news instantly, and learn neat new things everyday.

Babies, and all children under the age of 50. As my own daughters grow up, I find myself thankful for every age, but particularly struck at the beauty of little kids. Of such is the Kingdom. Amen.

For the approaching Advent Season, and the Celebration of the birth of the Infant King. After all these years, the wonder and mystery of this continues to strike me as completely amazing.

May my life reflect the gratitude and joy of thanksgiving, not just this weekend, but each day, without fail, going forward.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Thankful Are We Now, Really?

The following was written in the depths of the Civil War; the greatest war in American history. More than 3 million fought - 600,000 died. I have a great-great grandfather who fought for the Confederacy.

As I reread this amazing proclamation (really a guide to prayer, I think) I am struck at how very little has changed in the human condition in the last 144 years.

Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility [sic], and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Picking Up Trash For Jesus

The other night I took a long walk in the fog, and listened on my Ipod to this conversation. Listening while walking felt like moving into an unclear, scary, yet new and exciting paradigm.

I need to share some with you. The future is not going to be like the past, and those of us older than about 30 better get ready for it, or we will be left in the dust, with our mouths open, wondering what happened to the church we loved. Get ready:

"What would it look like, where I live, for the Kingdom of God to come a little more?"

"Jesus does not use language of build the Kingdom, advance the Kingdom, impose the Kingdom. He uses the language of receive and seek..... enter."

"We pull people out of our PTA, our communities, and get them involved in our churches."

That last one is an "ouch" for me. How much time have I sacrificed from involvement in my local town to be involved in countless church committees. Yikes.

Brian told the story of a pastor in Costa Rica, who got the people together in his village (mostly women), "What would it look like, in this village, if the Kingdom of God was more fully here?" And so, his people said in reply, "Our village is really dirty. If the Kingdom came here, people would pick up the trash." The people of the church even went down into the polluted stream in the village (surely you can imagine how messy this was) and cleaned up the stream. Then, the church folk got wagons full of flowers, and planted flowers with their neighbors in their yards.

Imagine that. What messes are there, around us, and in our greater world, that simply need us to lend a hand, to clean up.

And finally, for those who want more, read a wise review of Brian McLaren's new book

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Have Been Classified!

I have been labeled!

It seems that the fine, handsome, well-groomed, and upstanding people at The High Calling in Texas have decided that I rate. And here is the big comedy; they think I rate as a business blog! Egads! I think I have spoken of my business here only about five times in almost three years that I have been carrying on this blogging silliness.

My wife would call it that. Silliness. Anyway, I digress.

Given that I am now classified as a business blogger, I have decided to clean up my act. I have discarded my khakis and Hawaiian shirts in favor of a nice grey business suit; and I have affixed a toupee to my balding head and have joined the local Rotary, as can be seen above (I am the slightly younger looking one, on the right). Fashion note here: My Dad used to have a hankie in his pocket like the fellow pictured here, but his was, and I kid you not, plastic, and it had a little note pad (for making important business notes) on the back side! Is that cool or what?

I remember that as a kid, I hoped that I could grow up, be a business man, and have one of those babies.

Alas, no plastic pocket hankie for me. What I have instead is a business world that is moving fast, changing daily, and challenging my ethics, intelligence, and faith. I feel called to this place, unsure of the final destination, and yet energized to fulfill my small part for Kingdom purposes.

One of the best resources in this journey, for me has been a group of good friends and Christ followers in Irvine, California, know as InsideWork. If you are involved in the world of business, and are trying to figure out your way around, check them out.

As an example of the amazing world we live in, check out the video below (HT: InsideWork), which illustrates how we exist in an entirely new world. The question is, where is Christ in the midst of all this?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bizzare Teenage Conversations

Several years ago, I read a book that changed my perspective of raising teenagers. The Primal Teen is a book that explains in new ways what is going on inside of the mind of adolescents, and, in many ways, rewrites the way in which we look at, and can interact with teens.

Earlier this week, I had a classically bizarre conversation with one of my teenage daughters that illustrates the strange, mysterious, and comical workings of the adolescent brain. We were driving to school, and discussing her preparation for a significant history test that is coming up later in the week. This is early nineteenth century American history, and her history teacher is a great fellow who really pushes his students to think and learn. My daughter (who will remain nameless to partially protect her strangeness) asked me to help her prepare for the test by reviewing her textbook and quizzing her. So, the night before, I had reviewed the history text, in preparation for our pending study time together.

However, my efforts to help, little to my knowledge, were to soon collide with the strange workings of her adolescent brain and Teenage Bizzaro Land, a place we often visit. It is a very strange place.

As we drove to school, our conversation went thusly:

Me: Ok, so I looked through your history textbook last night. Have you seen the references they have in the text to book publishers’ web pages, where you can go and take quizzes related to the material in each chapter?

Daughter: What? Huh?

Me: Have you READ the textbook? There are web page references every couple of pages, they show you where you can go online to get further information and take quizzes. I looked at the web pages, and they seem really helpful. You should check them out.

Daughter: What are you talking about? What web pages? Where? Huh? Didn’t YOU read the textbook?

Me: Yes, I have read the textbook, that is what I did last night. Did you know that the textbook has a bunch of additional web resources to HELP YOU STUDY? Did you see those?

Daughter: Da-ad! (Note: My name is often pronounced in two syllables, as a implied sign of my near complete stupidity, irrelevance, and general dorkiness) What?! You said I should not read the textbook? What the heck!?

Me: Nooooo! (Now on the verge of laughing out loud and having a stroke at the same time) I did NOT say you should not read the book! Now I am wondering if YOU have!? You haven’t seen the web page references in the textbook, there are like ten of them, every couple of pages, in glow-in-the-dark colors, right there in the two chapters you need to know! What HAVE you been reading and studying?

Daughter: (Now getting the textbook out of her backpack) What the heck!? What are you talking about? How can I study if you don’t think I should read the textbook? (Shuffling through the textbook pages…….awkward pause, as her eyes find the web page references I was mentioning) What the heck…, I have not looked at these! Duh! Besides, everyone says these things are stupid to review.

Me: (See note below) Ok, honey, lets just study the material together later tonight.

Note: I had barely enough wisdom, to see beyond my confusion to understand that I was, yet again, confronted with the teenage anthem song “Everyone Says!”

Neuroscientists tell us that chemical connections and development inside the adolescent brain are not complete until the early to mid-20s for girls. I am here to vouch for that.

Nevertheless, I love my girls more than I could ever say, and I am deeply thankful for their apparent nuttiness. Every day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day 2007

Click the image to see today's For Better or For Worse. During the declining years of his life, this was very much who my Dad was. He could remember events of the Great War far better than he could remember what he had for breakfast.

On The Tops of Mountains

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are releasing an album later this month.

The producer, John Cohen was interviewed this morning on NPR. As it turns out, Amazing Grace is one of the feature songs of this album. And, as it further turns out, this song, by this group of pipers, was a huge hit in Great Britain 30 years ago(#1 single for a few weeks).

The making this album was, for Mr. Cohen, a very moving experience. I don't for a second wonder why. Mr. Cohen said something during the interview that caught my imagination. When asked about working with a bagpipe regiment, Mr. Cohen said this:

"They are very, very loud. When you are in a room with a bunch of pipes playing, its a big noise. They weren't designed to be played in recording studios, they were designed to be played on the tops of mountains."


Just then, when I heard those words, I understood why, every time I hear the bagpipes, I am so deeply moved to the core of my soul. This is a very ancient instrument, and it really does not belong indoors; it belongs on a mountain top.

As I reflected upon Amazing Grace, the simple haunting majesty of the pipes, and then my faith, I thought to myself, does it belong "indoors"? Should the music be bottled up?

Or rather, should it be played happily in the streets, in the places where the homeless are? Should it be sung, softly, in the quiet corners of life, where others are hurting? Can my faith song, be played gently and warmly for others, for those who do not yet know the melody? How can I play this music in a way that might move others to come, and listen, and perhaps join in the song?

And should it not be played, in the end and all throughout, loudly, on the top of a mountain?

I will entrust you to figure out your own answer.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lloyd John Ogilvie - Faithful Servant

For more than 10 years, we had the privilege of listening to this man preach the Gospel each Sunday. He went on to become Chaplain of the US Senate, and continues a speaking vocation today.

My friend Mark Roberts shares a remarkable story about a good man

I have noticed that this post is very frequently visited. If you wish further information on Dr. Ogilvie, visit his web site, here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Grades, Hurt, a Parenting Moment

Do you remember the feeling? That feeling of getting back your grade on your high school test, and the result was way, way less than what you had hoped for. Remember that feeling? The sinking feeling.

The pit that opens up in your stomach, as if some void of despair had suddenly opened deep in your bowels. The sudden opening of the Clam Shell of Failure.

I still remember that feeling well. I also remember my Dad and his reaction. His primary response to the news of poor grades was, well, how do I say this? One word. Anger. For some reason, although my Dad was basically a good man, his primary response to academic under performance was not an encouraging word, a pat on the back, and a "you'll do better next time, son". Nope, not that.

So when I got a bad grade, I often would dread my father's reaction almost more than the getting of the grade itself. For my Dad, my life was all about getting into the right college. Shame was a nice motivator to that end. Getting into college was essentially the whole point of my life in Dad's perspective. This was what his generation valued. As I think, my generation is not much different, for that matter.

And strangely, I did not learn something very important about my Dad until I almost graduated from high school. What I learned was that my Dad actually never graduated from college. He had a Big War to fight. It bothered me that he was after me about my grades and getting into college, and he never bothered to tell me that he never went back and finished college himself. For years I was bothered about that.

The DNA our parents give us is often unavoidable. This week I was confronted with the lineage of anger within myself. Suffice it to say that one our our girls came home with a not so hot math test grade; and this after she has been visiting a math tutor. My wife Nancy told me the news on the phone in the middle of the day, so I was prepared.

Honestly, the first reaction I have with news like this is to want to cut off my kids from all extraneous Internet use. I mean, if you can't do well on a math test, why should you be able to "IM" your friends all afternoon, whilst you are doing your homework, while also multi-tasking and looking at your Facebook account. And while we are at it, lets cut off the kids from all social contact, as well. Grounded for the rest of your life, that works for me. Let just get angry, that was the model when I grew up.

However, as I drove home from work the day of the math test report, I made a decision for Grace, but one that felt counter to how I am wired. I decided to offer grace, to just love, and to lay off the anger. When I got in the house, I went to the room of the "math offending daughter" (who was, by the way, in her room studying).

I said this;

"You know that sinking feeling you get in your tummy when you get a crummy grade on a test? (look of semi-surprised recognition from my daughter) Well, I sure do remember that feeling, and I was thinking about you this afternoon, and that math grade you got back today. I said a quick prayer for you. I was remembering about how I felt when I was a kid, and I wanted to just tell you that no matter what, I love you, and I will always love you. I am really glad to be your Dad, and I am proud that you are my daughter. I love you. That's all."

Then we shared a hug.

As I thought of this, I realized that this might be one of the only pure things I have done this week that is motivated by my faith.

I thought it was a good parenting moment. I don't have a lot of those, so I thought I should share.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Brig. Gen Paul Tibbits

Three weeks ago today, my Dad died. He was 87 years old, and a former B17 instructor and pilot.

Today, former Brigadier General Paul Tibbits, 92, passed away. General Tibbits was made famous (or perhaps infamous) as the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

The men and women of the Greatest Generation continue to leave us daily, making our lives much less for their loss.

As I grew up in my house, my Dad would remember the first atomic bomb each year on August 6th, and speak of it, and General Tibbits, who he knew distantly from the War. We would hear stories of the famous plane, the Enola Gay, named after Gen. Tibbits mother.

My Dad was aloft in his B17 the day of the bomb's dropping, being informed in a morning briefing that no flights were allowed within a wide radius of Hiroshima that fateful day. As he flew early that morning, Dad recalled seeing what he described as a "second sun" in the sky, and remarking to his crew, "that must have been one hell of a bombing run!"

Many will continue to argue of the morality of the decision to drop the bomb, but Colonel Tibbits remarked once, "The guys who appreciated that I saved their asses are mostly dead now." Tibbits went on to offer that "in war, there is no morality", as a partial response to those who questioned the morality of the use of the atomic bomb. My Dad would have agreed with that. Still, between 70,000 and 100,000 Japanese souls perished in the blast that day. Hell on earth, unleashed.

Lord, save us from ourselves.

For a brief overview of the life of General Tibbits, see this NPR piece, released today.

This Would Be Me

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dorothy and Leadership

I read something today that was written seven years ago. However, this article will likely not go out of vogue for at least another ten years, and maybe not for 50 more years.

The article is entitled "Dorothy on Leadership", and it has had bells going off in my head and heart ever since.
My favorite bit:

"In a world plagued by ethnic hatred and telemarketers, every voice adding stridency and sales pressure to the world is one voice too many. Nobody wants to be “won to Christ” or “taken for Jesus” in one of our “crusades,” and neither do they want to be subjected to a sales pitch for heaven, that sounds for all the world like an invitation to check out a time share vacation resort. A presentation of the gospel that sounds like a military ultimatum or like a slick sales pitch will dishonor the gospel for postmodern people. Instead, think of leadership (and especially evangelism) as a dance. You hear the music that I don’t hear, and you know how to move to its rhythm. Gently, you help me begin to hear its music, feel its rhythm, and learn to move to it with grace and joy. A very different kind of leadership, don’t you agree?"

Take a minute, go read it. Then take a minute and reflect on all the wrong ways we might be doing leadership in the church.
Hat Tip to the Right Reverend KC Wahe.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Malibu Presbyterian - Memories

For a moving visual summary of the devastation of Malibu Presbyterian Church, go here.

I traded emails with my friend Neal Nybo this morning, who is a pastor in Rancho Bernardo at this church. So far, they know of 57 families in their congregation who have lost their homes. There may be more.

Pray that God will bring healing and wholeness out of

Loving the Church

From the pen of Henri Nouwen:

"Loving the Church does not require romantic emotions. It requires the will to see the living Christ among his people and to love them as we want to love Christ himself. This is true not only for the "little" people - the poor, the oppressed, the forgotten - but also for the "big" people who exercise authority in the Church.

To love the Church means to be willing to meet Jesus wherever we go in the Church. This love doesn't mean agreeing with or approving of everyone's ideas or behavior. On the contrary, it can call us to confront those who hide Christ from us. But whether we confront or affirm, criticize or praise, we can only become fruitful when our words and actions come from hearts that love the Church."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can KC Do This?

This is a little bit of heaven in this:

I just wonder if my buddy KC can do this yet?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire, Pain, and Faith

Yesterday, Malibu Presbyterian Church burned to the ground.

A holy place, so many memories, seemingly lost in wind whipped fire that must have resembled what we think the Apocalypse might be like.
Read this, for a wonderfully honest account. Kristi is a friend of my friend KC - she must be a wonderful woman.

My prayers, and those of so many, are with Kristi and the Body of Christ at Malibu Pres. God will bring back something beautiful from these ashes!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Movie of the Year: Lars And The Real Girl

Delusional Disorder is defined as a person who has "irrational beliefs, held with a high level of conviction, that are highly resistant to change even when the delusional person is exposed to forms of proof that contradict the belief."

Last night we saw a movie about delusions. "Lars and the Real Girl" shaped up to be my favorite movie of the year thus far. I have never sat in a movie theatre with so much going on in my mind as I watched a movie. This movie is billed as a romantic comedy of sorts, but is so very much more. You must go see it.

While the Christian media is currently foaming at the mouth about the release of the cartoon version of the "Ten Commandments", there is this little art-house film about Lars, a man with a profound delusion that a silicone sex doll is his girlfriend, and that she is real. That sort of topic would not go over well with Dr. Dobson, but the messages in this film are where the wisdom of the Ten Commandments meets the road of real life.

As I have had time to think about it, this movie is less about people with delusions, or mental disorders, or dysfunctional family systems, than it is about what is deep inside all of us, including me. This is a movie about the delusions we all have. This is a story about emotional struggle, redemption, a caring community, gradual healing, accepting the pain of reality, and about loving others just exactly the way they come to us. If I were In Charge, I would make every last Christian church goer on the planet go see this film, and then go home, form a loving community full of messy people, and do what the movie tells us. Oh, and the Scriptures too!

And image this, in this film, the church comes off just fine; rather than being mocked, or made to seem irrelevant, or stupid, dorky, and unreal. The church is the core of this story, it is a place of acceptance, love, hope, and also goofy and annoying people. Here is one of my favorite examples of this, in a clip from the movie, entitled, "The Church Meeting" (note the cranky protestant elder type):

What would Jesus do, indeed.

Delusions. Which ones do I have that need clarity and correction? What am I just so sure of in life that might be, well, untrue? Where am I unflinching and difficult? I need healing too.

Lars and the Real Girl. Go see it, you will be very glad you did.

OMGosh Bruins!

Its the season of nutty college football in Westwood. First we loose to just about the worst team in the country in Notre Dame, then we BEAT the #10 ranked team, in Cal.

Is this what it's like to live with bi-polar relatives?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Picture of Jesus

"Picture Of Jesus" - Ben Harper

It hangs above my altar
Like they hung him from a cross
I keep one in my wallet
For the times I feel lost
I feel lost

In a wooden frame with splinters
Where my family kneels to pray
And if you listen close
You'll hear the words he used to say
I've got a picture of Jesus
In his arms so many prayers rest

We've got a picture of Jesus
And with him we shall be forever blessed
Forever blessed Forever blessed

Now it has been spoken
He would come again
But would we recognize
This king among men
There was a man in our time
His words shine bright like the sun
He tried to lift the masses
And was crucified by gun

He was a picture of Jesus
With him so many prayers rest
He is a picture of Jesus
In his arms so many prayers
So many prayers
So many prayers rest
With him we shall be forever blessed
Forever blessed
Forever blessed

Some days have no beginning
And some days have no end
Some roads are straight and narrow
And some roads only bend

So let us say a prayer
For every living thing
Walking towards a light
From the cross of a king
We long to be a picture of Jesus
Of Jesus
In his arms
In his arms so many prayers rest

I long to be a picture of Jesus
With him we shall be forever blessed
With him we shall
With him we shall be forever blessed
Oh- Oh- I long
I've got a picture of Jesus

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fleeting Moments Each Filled with Grace

It has been a remarkable week. One week ago this evening, I sat by my father's bedside, listening with concern to his irregular Cheyne-Stokes breathing pattern; wondering how long he would be present in body with us. He was gone less than 13 hours later, passing quietly, without struggle or pain. Fleeting moments; one minute here, the next, gone. Calmly, almost silently, his breathing ended, no struggle, only peace and rest at last. An ending. Grace.

Dad wanted no service, no memorial, no gathering. It was rather fitting to the way that he and my mom chose to end their days, quietly withdrawn, choosing to separate from the bustle and energy of daily life. This was the pattern in which they had lived their lives for more than 10 years, almost entirely disconnected from civic life or involvement in the lives of others, save for a small handful of family. We were a small family, really just my immediate family and his sister, who is 79 now, and lives in Beverly Hills.

And so, my Dad is gone.

Saturday morning, I headed to the mountains, to this place, to spend a shortened bit of time with our church family. These are the people who spent the week thinking of and praying for our family as we faced our loss. And so, for me a loss, followed by not by isolation and withdrawal, but by engagement and embrace. So many who greeted me had kind words of sorrow, of sympathy, encouragement, or merely a long hug and tears. None of these people knew my Dad, but they know me. These are good people. Broken, messy, fallen, redeemed, awkward, loving, grace-giving people. The Body of Christ.

I always keep thinking that our church could do better. In so many ways. We are not big enough, not influential enough, not cool enough, not hip enough. Just not, well, enough. But you know what? This past week, and again over the weekend, for me, my church did just fine. Simply, graciously, fine. I need to be content with the simple gifts of this life.

And then, on Sunday morning, as our congregation gathered one more time, came a moment that nearly knocked me over. A fleeting moment. A moment full of joy and noise and singing, of music, and laughing and Grace. So much Grace.

Our oldest daughter has wanted to be a teacher of elementary kids for as long as we and she can remember. A junior in high school now, her life is full with school, studies, sports, and social life. And as is normal in young ladies her age, we parents do not necessarily get the best parts of her personality. We are often living with the sullen, grumpy, at-odds-with-the-world young lady who lives at our house. Not a lot of joy on some days, you know. Its hard to be 16, and we hear about it often. Much drama.

Fleeting moments. On Sunday morning, all of the kids of the church gathered in the front of Hormel Hall to sing to the adults. This is a tradition that has lasted as long as we can remember. There were almost 50 kids in all, crowding the front of the room. And there were two high school girls leading the singing, on their knees in the front, conducting like mad. One of those girls was Kelly, our oldest.

This was a moment I could not miss; I snuck to the front of the room to watch.

As she conducted these little kids, the smile on her face was as bright and broad as I have seen in months. The somewhat sullen high schooler was transformed by the smiles, and signing, and joy of a stage full of pre-schoolers and elementary kids. As I knelt on one knee and saw the beaming face of my girl, as my eyes filled with tears, the entire week, if not my life to this point, was illuminated.

In some strange way, the pieces of my life rearranged, and fit together in a more coherent picture. A picture of Grace.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Saw What I Saw

Sara Groves is one of my two (that is all I like) favorite Christian artists. A while back, she went to Rwanda, to the Killing Fields. This song is about what she saw. That I might have eyes to see.....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grace In The Midst of Facing Death

This morning, at 8:53 AM, my Dad left this earth, bound for Someplace Far Better.

The feelings, emotions, and words are still hard to form in my mind. But there is this one word, this one feeling. It has been growing from a distant whisper into a bold headline over the life of our family in these recent days.

The word, feeling, and experience is Grace.

Theological types will tell you that the definition of grace is essentially unmerited favor. Perhaps they will remind you that grace is God's free action for the benefit of His people. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. In grace we get eternal life, something that, quite obviously, because we are goof-ups by nature, we do not deserve. But because of God's love and kindness manifested in Jesus, we receive the great blessing of redemption.

I have been overwhelmed by grace this past week. Its hard to get into words just yet, but I will. I have to. I must tell this story, as I have experienced it.

Amazing Grace.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Good News, Bad News

First the Bad News. UCLA was defeated by just about the worst team in college football yesterday; the semi-fighting (more like a pillow fight) Irish of Notre Dame. I was an eyewitness of this pathetic charade of a college football game. My wife/football buddy summed it up well in the third quarter...."Honey, I think the Goodyear Blimp is more entertaining than this game." The FA-18 fly-over during the national athem gave me goose bumps and tears; the Bruin football play gave me gas, and a rash.

I am not one to fly off the handle, but honestly, Karl Dorrell, the fellow who has been "coaching" (and I use the term loosely) the Bruins for just more than 4 years now, should have his photo next to the definition of "average" in the dictionary. He is 29-22 thus far in his coaching career in Westwood. My quick sports analysis: time for a change!

And now, the good news. Stanford 24, USC 23. The biggest cheer of the Bruin game Saturday night was the announcement of the final score of the USC game! It was a bittersweet Saturday night.

And for my friend Rob, who must be suffering greatly, a theological observation on these events. I find the SC loss somewhat of a substitutionary atonement for the Bruins sad season. Rob, please pass my thanks along to Pete and the Overconfident Crew. Fight on, heh.

Friday, October 05, 2007

They Care, and So, They Run

I have often had a frustration with some pastors I have known. Often, they don't get really involved in the street-level lives of their congregants, they avoid getting their hands dirty. They are happy to preach, to tell, not necessarily to "do".

I also have a problem, with marathoners, or those who participate in triathlons. Some can be complete narcissists, absorbed in their own world of training, diet, and performance.

My friend Tod is a guy who "does", and he is not self absorbed. He is willing to run out of breach, to face "the wall", to sweat, to keep on going. Tomorrow he will run with a team from
his church in the Chicago Marathon; and will raise over $25,000 for children impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Lets support a pastor who makes it real.
I am in. Are you?

Run, Tod, Run!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Soul Searching - The Documentary

Over the past year or so, I have made a new friend. His name is Michael Eaton. He is a husband, father (of perhaps the world's cutest baby girl, according to him), and film maker.

Oh great, you think, another film maker living in LA. Just what we need. Badly.

But Michael's films are different. Very. He makes films that really matter. These are films that contain beautiful and breathtaking cinematography, and are filled with heart touching purpose.

I am proud Michael is my friend.

At present, he is releasing "Soul Searching", a documentary companion to the nationally recognized
book of the same name.

Michael has not yet put the trailer up on YouTube, but you can view it
here. This film is a must see for anyone who cares about kids.

For another beautiful example of what Michael can do with a simple message, go here.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Normal Christians? Heh....

My college chum Julie has made some very fair observations of Christian culture that I feel need a bit of comment.

The post is based on a book that I have no thoughts about yet, and do not plan to read, to no offense to the authors. It seems to me that I have heard many of the issues raised in this book a number of times, and so, the reading for me would feel like an exercise in deja vu.

First, the comment is made that many evangelicals need a "workshop... that would train them to smile and say hello to newcomers". On its face, this is both pathetic and true. I know I am being judgemental and critical, but if the shoe fits.....

Next, we have Julie's most clear thought of her post...."If evangelical Christianity is about spiritual growth which ought to result in deeper human connections, why do they struggle so much to relate to regular people? Why do they need "special trainings" for ordinary human behaviors?" And this is from a friend who has had much experience in things Christian, a former missionary, church worker, and a chick with a Masters in Theology, mind you. This is not someone shouting from outside the gates of the palace; this girl has the keys, and has cleaned many of the bathrooms.

Ok, now I can't stop, there is so much good stuff in this post, such as "Therefore the real issue for the church has to do with the convincing appearance of being good, right, kind, true, and superior, rather than actually being those things or at minimum, real, honest, and human." Yay, Julie! This is so very true, I winced when I read it. God help us church folk, everyone.

Why can't we church people admit our shallow and fearful lives? Why can't we admit we have the feet of clay of the rest of the world? That our lives are often messed up, confusing, and just as fearful as many who do not embrace the faith that we do. What is going on here, anyway?

What if we could say something like songwriter Sara Groves:

We've had every conversation in the world
about what is right and what has all gone bad
but have I mentioned to you that this is all I am,
this is all that I have.
I'm not trying to judge you. That's not my job.
I am just a seeker too, in search of God.
Somewhere somehow this subject became taboo.
I have no other way to communicate to you.
This is all that I am. This is all that I have.

I long for the day when we church people can admit our weaknesses, just to be honest.

Friday, September 28, 2007

SkyVenture, Baby!

Ok, word is out they are building one of these babies in Universal City right now. I think I wanna go for my 50th Birthday Party!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

PC Upgrade?

I am considering purchasing a new PC for the office. One problem; said purchase will require I install 1,500 tons of air conditioning on the roof, potentially collapsing said roof.

Shown here is my IT consultant, installing the memory module that will tell me where I put my car keys.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Painting the Bedroom - Prof. Randy Pausch

I have loved the Wall Street Journal from the very first days I picked up, after leaving the Economics program at UCLA. Last week, there was an article and accompanying video, that proved my love again. Below is a the original video, about the final lecture of Professor Randy

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Want to Go to this Retreat!

If you can't have a sense of humor, you should not be in this men's group...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...