Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Girls of Summer

Tonight I find myself in Riverside, California, 70 miles from home. We are watching a softball game, in which my 11 year old daughter and her team is playing for the State Championships. Unbelievable. Long way from home. I need to be less cranky about the long drive in traffic (always here in LA), and embrace these fleeting moments of life.

I will admit, there is nothing quite like the green grass of a ball field, right at twilight. This is a lovely world, sometimes. But, to keep it in the proper context, check this out, and then pray, and maybe even give.

I will let you know the results soon.

Lets Focus on What Really Matters

The Body of Christ. Young and old, rich and poor, strong and weak, confident and fearful. The Scriptures call us to unity, to a life together that is distinct, unique, transformed. Different, set apart, yet completely loving and wonderfully attractive. Its a mystery, and often a journey rather than a destination. Why can this not be our focus?

My old (not that old) friend KC, who is now pastoring at a church in Sacramento, is one fellow who constantly seeks the heart of Christ, and wants to model servant leadership in the best way he knows how. I am so very glad I know him, this morning, I checked his blog and found this and below it, this. As I read these thoughts, I could hear the crack of a wooden bat at a high outside fastball. KC hit it out of the park. I love this guy.

KC's thoughts of Miss Mears stuck me. Henrietta was a woman who was unabashedly focused on introducing people to Christ; it was all that really mattered to her. We have a building at our church named after her. She was influential in the life of many great Christian leaders; Bill Bright, Billy Graham, and Rafer Johnson.

In contrast to this focus, over the past six months, our church has been going through an almost unbelievable time of pain and sadness for many. I have discussed this before here and here. It seems unrelenting.

This past week brought about the resignation of yet another member of the Session, or governing body of the church. But this was no ordinary resignation, this was a resignation filled with fanfare, declarations of persecution, and publicity. Within hours of this resignation, announcements were made on several websites that serve to promote the one-sided view of the staunch supporters of the senior pastor. I will not link to these sites, as they lead to further division of the Body, rather than uniting it.

What should be happening instead? All this blustering, fawning of persecution and secretive plots against the church has me thinking. Thinking about the cross. A single event that towers over history, a day and a weekend that changed everything, everywhere, forever. And yet, we sad, broken, sorry Christian people behave often as if none of this really happened. We are not any different than the world around us. Its all about (me) us, our agendas, our perceptions of who is right and who is wrong. Humility is lost. Excuses abound. Grace has vanished.

Can I state for myself alone that I would be absolutely lost without the transforming grace of Christ. All I own, all those I love, all I hope to do going forward from this day is meaningless without being framed in the light of what Jesus has done for me - and for all of humanity. Its all meaningless without knowing that our lives are lived with a divine purpose in mind. Its all that matters. We have lost our focus. We all need help.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ben Stein Gets It Right

You know how you get those emails at the office that are sort of annoying; like the "pass this on or you will be hit by a bus", or "write your congressman about this", or "hello, I am the widow of the Nigerian Consulate in Bhugmamaland and I have US $50 million to give you, if you will only write back and give me your bank account PIN"?

Well today, I got an email that made me weep. It seems that Ben Stein has written his last column, but it might have happened a while ago, I can't be sure. Either way, take a minute and read it. You will be glad you did.

Its like Ben crawled inside my head, and read my mind. Take a minute, read it, and be blessed. I would love to have a meal with Ben.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

God Speed STS-114

About 12 years ago, I had the privilege of watching a shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center. I will never, ever, forget it. We were standing almost 3 miles away, and I could feel the rumbling of the liftoff in my chest. It was a pre-dawn launch, and the sky lit up like it was daylight. In some small way, the experience left me feeling that this might be a glimpse of Glory to come. Amazing, striking, beyond belief. I know people think the space program is questionable - but go to a launch, meet people involved in exploration, and you might feel differently.

Five men and two women, floating in space for the next 13 days. Adventurers, explorers, heroes all. God speed, good men and women!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Heaven on Earth and a Weekend Away

Have you ever been here:

Santa Barbara, California, is, in my feeble mind, just about as close to Heaven on earth as one can get. Nancy and I spent two days, without kids here this weekend. Wonderful. Perhaps this is why one of my favorite Americans had his family ranch close to Santa Barbara; it really is God's country. Amazing Mexican food here! Ok, enough sounding like a travelogue.

In other news, the Norris clan continues to span the globe in search of adventure. This week, our 14-year old daughter Kelly is here, on a one week mission trip with her high school fellowship. You can view all the action and updates right here And Heather, the 11-year old wonder, has participated in an amazing team (look at the photo on the far right, that is her team!) I love the web!

In other thrilling news, you will recall that I have been the wandering churchie in the past. This weekend gave my wife and I another shot at being the Mystery worshippers at Santa Barbara Community Church. After my lengthy reviews of other worship services, I have but one thing to say......Wonderful. Heartfelt worship, a casual yet inviting environment, excellent exposition of the Word, and a genuine community of Believers. Thank you God. One warning, wear Rainbows to this church, or be uncool.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Katie and Emily Benton - Make America Proud

I just sat down to check blogs, and spotted this on Fox News. The Benton sisters, injured in the London bombings, spoke to the media today, and it was eloquent. I feel better about America, and the state of our collective souls, just listening to them. I hope that my daughters can have their character and poise, when they reach this age.

Wait, I am sounding like my Dad again. What has become of me, in my middle age?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lets Not Take Ourselves Too Seriously

For me, the photo at the right is hysterical. The dapper dancing fellow is Jack Roberts, four year old son of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. According to the New York Times, the Robert's married nine years ago, when they were both in their 40s, and tried to have children. After several failed adoption efforts, they now have Josephine (5) and John (Jack) (4). That is a great story in and of itself. Kids help us not to take ourselves so darned seriously, don't they.

Possible captions might include:

President Bush: "Welcome to the White House Conference on the Crisis of ADHD and America's Stylishly Clad Youth"

Jane Roberts: "Jaaaack, please stop that or Josie is going to put her shoe on your bottom, VERY hard!"

Josephine: "Mother, I don't think Jack took his medicine today"

President Bush: "We are gathered here today to pronounce this Wiggly Sear Sucker Kid Suit Month"

Judge Roberts (through clenched teeth): "Ack Jay, opp stay the ancing day, ow nay!"

Judge Roberts (again through clenched teeth): "Heh, heh, Jack, oh Jack......don't make Daddy go get the Restraining Order Paddle"

Jack: "Neener, neener, neener, I'm performing my own personal filibuster right here."

Jack: "Eyow, I am a bad little dancing white boy!"

Your suggestions are welcome...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Kids Have Very Good Things to Teach Us

Last night, my daughter Heather and I (pictured at left) drove together to the airport to pick up our dear friend and house guest Jill. I love these times in the car with my girls, as it provides us with precious time together to talk about whatever runs into our minds.

As we zoomed down the 710 freeway, this conversation took place:

Heather: "Dad, you know the kid in school with only one arm... (this is a wonderful boy who, through some minor birth defect, is missing the lower portion of one arm)....I was just thinking, Dad, how would he drive a car?"

Me: "Well heck, with one arm, I suppose" (to which I then demonstrated driving with one arm - please don't tell the CHP!) You know, people with handicap's find amazing ways of compensating"

Heather: "Yeah, he is a great kid, they even have a special jump rope for him at school; he can hook one end of it over his shoulder, and he can jump rope just fine"

Me: "That is very cool, I would love to see how that works."

We then drove on for a while, and Heather wanted to play one of the CDs her Mom has in the car, and she went to this song, which is my favorite. I told Heather it was, and she said, "Its my favorite too." I silently thanked God for Heather, I still cannot believe she is my daughter. I love my girls!

The deeper message here for me is, that even in the midst of messy church behavior, Christ is Lord, He is honored by our worship, and we need to continue to seek His face.

I am a sinner. I disappoint those I love often. I cannot make it through this life on my own power. I hope I can have a life that learns to adapt, so I too can hook one end of that jump rope over my shoulder, and jump rope just fine.

What should John Roberts say to the Senate?

President Bush's nomination of John Roberts indicates that the Senate Judiciary committee will be having a partisan free-for-all in the coming days.

How should John Roberts respond to questions from Senators? Look here for an interesting model.

In summary:

"Ginsburg’s hearings demonstrate that there are many valid reasons why a judicial nominee may decline to answer the questions posed by individual senators. Justice Ginsburg declined to answer, or gave only generalized answers, to a vast number of the questions she was asked during her confirmation hearings. Despite this, Justice Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96-3, which suggests that the Senate recognized her reasons for caution as valid and appropriate. In light of this precedent, the Senate and current judicial nominees should carefully apply those same reasons for caution (discussed above) to establish a common understanding of the rules for a confirmation hearing. This understanding will help in avoiding much of the delay and conflict that has become part of the confirmation process."

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Life is Short, Lets Make a Difference

Tonight, my wife and I finished watching this, which we had recorded several weeks ago from PBS. It is amazing. Really. Buy the DVD, you will be very glad you did. You Pastors who stop by this blog, this series would make wonderful grist for a discussion of how the church can be effective in the world. Interesting note - not one of the "New Heroes" discussed on PBS had any visible form of Christian faith attached to their work. Think how much more effective the Gospel might be if tethered to social action in developing countries.

Today, as I was running errands in the car, I thought about how many times I use the phrase "life is short" in describing to others why some stuff in life is just not important, like staying later at the office, making more money, or focusing on unimportant details. And the events of the last week or so with my parents brings this all into sharper focus. Will we have lives that make a solid difference, that lift others up, and that leave our corner of the world brighter and more full of God's grace? I sure hope so.

Part of the journey for me is to figure out what that would look like for a guy like me. I own a small commercial real estate appraisal and consulting firm in Old Town Pasadena. How do I use my business, the money it generates, and the experience I have to do something unique and lasting for the Kingdom? Perhaps helping with land use decisions in the developing world, is this possible? Suggestions are welcome! Also, look here in the coming days, to see what interesting things my friend Tod might have to say about all this. Lets link hands, and figure out what God might be calling us to do.

Friday, July 15, 2005

De Nile Is Not Just a River in Egypt

The past several days have been odd ones for me. As I have noted here, my elderly parents have recently required a greater amount of my time and energy than I have been used to in the past. This investment of my life into theirs will likely increase in the weeks and months to come. This is difficult for me, as I grew up in a home where painful things were not discussed, where problems were minimized, conflict was not dealt with in a productive way, but, mind you, everything was always "fine". I have been in a state of denial for some time that this season of life was approaching.

I was raised in the 60s and 70s in a time where "dinner parties" were the big social event, and I played with Matchbox cars, Etch-a-Sketch, and electric football (where the little men jiggle like mad, and then fall over). My Mom wore a moo-moo when the guests came over, and served a "gourmet dinner", as my Dad called it. Much barbecuing occurred on the back deck by the pool. "Cocktails" were consumed prior to dinner, and after about age 15, I was the bartender. Only child bartender, imagine that.

Yesterday, my folks and I met with the social worker who is assisting in our care-giving, to discuss what comes next. We agreed that care will 8 hours a day, every day of the week. Someone will be there to watch over them all day, until they have completed dinner and are heading off to bed. Dad is worried that we will not let him drive any more, and I am not sure what to do about that yet. Mom is more amenable to moving to an assisted living facility, but Dad is not there yet, and may not ever be.

As I drove to my parent's home yesterday, I prayed that I might become a provider of grace, mercy, and peace to my folks. I hope that was accomplished. I am sure they are feeling stress and worry that they cannot speak of. After my 47 years, I have learned that they are not from a very communicative generation. I hope I can be more honest and freeing to my own girls as I age. My sweet wife purchased this book earlier in the week for me, and it has been a source of comfort. Another source of meaning has been this. Another book I have been thinking about getting a copy of is this.

I am loath to admit that all of these changes have had me thinking (is it selfish?) quite a bit about where I am in life, and suddenly realizing my own mortality as never before. Some day, these sad things will be happening to me. However, my prayer is that they may happen in an easier way, a more joyous way, and perhaps even a way filled with laughter. Is that possible? I hope so.

In the end, this life is a mystery. I want to embrace that, and be present in the moments of struggle and pain for Mom and Dad. This is what Jesus would have me do, I am confident. A touch to someone who is wounded, a listening ear to the woman at the well, a confidence that the Kingdom of God lies ahead.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This is Why I Drink...Moderately

I feel vindicated by the Wall Street Journal. For those of you wondering how I do it, this article illustrates is why I am a more humble and generous fellow than the average bear.

Please drop a comment if the link does not work, and I will go have a drink with the Editors and straighten this all out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Making A Difference - One Pump at a Time

The IDE Foot Pump (flowers not included)

First off, sorry for the huge paragraphs and mega font....Blogger is misbehaving today....
Here in South Pasadena we have been blessed to befriend some really wonderful people. I have posted briefly on the charms of our little town in the Big City here. One of the best blessing we have had is getting to know Jim & Debbie Taylor and their children. We met them about four years ago, have become good friends, and observed as they have begun and adventurous journey toward doing something remarkable - one farmer at a time - half way around the world.
Debbie, is a native of Myanmar (Burma) and has worked in Myanmar since 1995 as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme and The World Bank. She has over 20 years of experience in developing countries, working in both Cambodia and Indonesia. She holds a masters degree from Harvard University in development economics and public policy. Jim has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. Prior to launching the IDE-Myanmar program he was a senior executive in a global software company serving the food industry and in a Fortune 400 agri-business company. His development experience includes work in Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India. He holds an MBA from the University of Southern California and a masters degree from Harvard University. So there you are; two very smart and compassionate souls, and wonderful marriage partners.
Two years ago, the Taylors packed their belongings, leased their house on the next block over from our house, and took of to Burma, with their 12 year old son and 16 year old daughter. Jim and Debbie are now working in conjunction with International Development Enterprises (IDE), manufacturing, marketing, and selling a small foot pump (pictured above). The pump sells to rural farmers for $13, and can increase annual income for a small farmer more than $150 per year.

You should know this type of development work has a good track record. In neighboring Bangladesh in the 1980s, IDE came across a locally-invented treadle pump with great promise. IDE helped to refine the pump design, initiate a private-sector supply chain, and actively market the pump to smallholders. The result was a phenomenal growth in the treadle pump market with dozens of manufacturers, over a thousand dealers, and over 1.5 million treadle pump users to date. The rural economy has been lifted to the point where many farmers are now investing in diesel pumps, as they can afford to even further increase investment and productivity in their farms.

Two people on the next street over take a risk, move thousands of miles away from home, and begin to make a difference, one pump at a time. Kingdom stuff.

Google Earth Rocks!

As a commercial real estate consultant, the new Google Earth is amazing beyond comprehension. This software will take you anywhere you want to go on the planet in seconds. Download it today, play with it (waisting about 2 hours easily), and enjoy a truly remarkable product of the Internet age. I am awaiting "Google Universe" next.

Chosen, Blessed, and Broken

From the words of Henri Nouwen:

"When Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, he summarized in these gestures his own life. Jesus is chosen from all eternity, blessed at his baptism in the Jordan River, broken on the cross, and given as bread to the world. Being chosen, blessed, broken, and given is the sacred journey of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.
When we take bread, bless it, break it, and give it with the words "This is the Body of Christ," we express our commitment to make our lives conform to the life of Christ. We too want to live as people chosen, blessed, and broken, and thus become food for the world."
Please Lord, let me be like this.
Henri Nouwen 1932-1996

Monday, July 11, 2005

Kindergarten Sunday School Connects with Real Life

My father, Roland, who you will learn about more in the weeks and months to come, is 85 years old, and served in the 5th Air Force during World War II as a B-17 pilot. More later on that.

This past Sunday was my turn to teach the Sunday school lesson to the 11 o'clock Kindergarten class at our church. I have virtually no memory of Sunday school growing up, as my parents were far more "culturally Christian" than evangelical. That is much of the way it was during the 60's and 70s, at least for me. I learned yesterday that Kindergarten lessons are not silly, and really do connect directly to real life.

Anyway, the lesson was on Genesis 39 and 40; and Joseph's character and behavior, first as a slave for the King, and secondly as a slave in prison. The theme of the morning was, in kindergarten parlance, "I will never get tired of doing what is right". I told the story of Joseph, using my wonderfully cooperative daughter Heather as an example - running errands all over the room (with a smile on her face). I think the kids enjoyed it.

But as my pastor friends have told me, sometimes the sermon is really for yourself, and not the intended audience. And so it was (and is) with me.....

Over the last several months, my Dad's general health has declined significantly, to the point where he and my Mom (84 years old), require much more emotional involvement, time, and care. I am so very blessed to be standing in this with my wonderful wife, who is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met, and with an outstanding social worker who specializes in senior care. As an only child, I don't know what I would do without them. We will work as a team to provide my folks with the best care possible. I hope to share my journey with you here, in order to journal my own thoughts, and to illustrate God's faithfulness. His presence gives me hope, purpose, and compassion to care. That conviction is not something I come about by my own strength. Indeed, His Grace is Sufficient.

It is going to be a tough road, not smooth and easy, as I would prefer. But I know that this road is where Jesus wants me to be. I am not alone in this journey.

And so, pray for me. Pray that I would "never get tired of doing what is right!"

If you have had a similar journey, let me know.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Attitude is Important

This is too good to avoid sharing, with images like these. (HT to Hugh Hewitt) Interesting how that website makes me think about this. And to follow it up, I was struck today by the thoughts of Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, who connects the dots together in an interesting way about the relationship between the London bombings and other foreign policy issues.

Also, if you want to understand a bit more of the pluck of the British, rent this movie. It has long been one of my favorites; perhaps because it illustrates the character of a people and of a family experiencing war in a way that I have never had to face in my 47 years. I have heard much of war from my 86 year old father though. More on that another time. For more direct from the London source, visit here.

And finally, to get a sense of perspective of all this madness, take a long look at this.

Grace and Peace, and prayers for the people of London.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

United We Stand with the British

Today was not an easy day. Unfortunately, now July 7th will have a similar, although possibly different meaning to the people of London that September 11th does to us. We will never forget.

Two things to read and think about. First,
this, which is quite scary to me. Al Franken needs to stick with comedy. And next is this, an example of the spirit of the British people, who all deserve our prayers this night.

Lord, hear our prayer for the people of London.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Boy, Aren't We American's Swell?!

Over the past several weeks, there has been much fomenting in the Blogosphere regarding the One Campaign, the G8 Conference, and Live8.

Not to be the guy who is left out, I am taking a brief break from my church musings (I might still have more to say, but I am not sure) to give you a measure of cognitive dissonance over the whole African aid issue.

To start off, David Smith seems to be all in a lather about the One Campaign, claiming that corruption is at the root of all evil in Africa. He is probably right, but sometimes I have a hard time reading because of this log in my own eye, you know?

Then we have Doug Payton at Stones Cry Out commenting that Americans are really generous. I have read this before, I believe in the Wall Street Journal, and other places, and this concept makes me feel strange. We are generous, isn't that nice of us? Come to think of it, we are also clean, brave, thrifty, and reverent (well, sort of), we Americans. Please reference the graphic above, as it is self congratulation time. Oh wait, I forgot to mention that we Americans are also humble. As a matter of fact, in scientific studies, Americans were found to be 15 times more humble that any other major population occupying a land mass north of the Equator.

Alright, I am sorry, the sarcasm is getting too thick. But in response, I want to share with you this (HT to Tod Bolsinger) which for me, captures what really should be happening. I just have to quote my favorite paragraph:

Why appeal to government when the church is a far better resource? John L. and Sylvia Ronsvalle, authors of The State of Church Giving Through 2001, note that if American Christians gave 10 percent of their income to support the work of the church, it would provide $143 billion to equip the church to do what she is called to do. Why ask for a measly $25 billion when the American church has more money and can directly support those private groups charged with addressing the greatest needs in the most effective ways? This approach allows governments to focus on things like building infrastructure and securing peace and justice.

So, is the church a better resource? What you say? No?! What is wrong with us self-congratulatory American Christians? When will the church stand up and become something more than an institution, but rather a living, breathing vessel of the transformational Christ? When will we stop sitting on our wallets and open them? Perhaps then, those around us who sit on the sidelines and giggle at our little church silliness (as I have been recently discussing, and have been a part of myself) will begin to see a community of Believers that actually can and do make a difference? Oh, and if that is not enough, you might want to get a hold of this (it is amazing), because it seems there are a lot of non-Christian folk who are doing work that is more redemtive than a lot of church folk can often do.

Stepping down off my soap box now. Thanks for letting me rant.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Remembering the Fallen

On this day after the 4th, we all need to remember the quality of character of the men and women who protect our freedom and work to bring freedom to others.

Take a couple of minutes to listen to the story of a fallen hero. If you have dry eyes afterward, you are a tougher soul than I.

God Bless Maj. Steven Reich, his family, and his new bride. May He grant them Peace beyond understanding.

Monday, July 04, 2005

A More Perfect Union or Perfect Society?

Today is the 4th of July. I our town we have a "Festival of Balloons" Parade, which is an event that involves a whole lot more people; kids, seniors, parents, and whoever wanders into the parade route than actual balloons. The photo to the right is of a two-story tall inflatable Lady Liberty, who wobbled down the parade route today, being towed by a guy riding an ATV. It was great. My wife and I sat with our dog and watched everything go by - in South Pasadena the joke is that about half of the town is actually in the parade, and the other half cheers them as they go by. It is small town Americana at its best, in the midst of a huge metropolis. What a gift each day here is.

Today, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, as our nation is 229 years old. Ronald Reagan once said, "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

It took our little nation more than a decade to get from the Declaration to the Constitution; written in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia. The first line of the US Constitution reads:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

We have come a long way since that hot, sticky summer on the cobblestone streets of Philadelphia. This stuck me as I read this wonderful, haunting article by Angela Beise, who is a missionary in France. Indeed, we must be very careful with our freedoms and with the technologies we are unleashing on the world.

I have a friend named Molly. She is turning 8 years old this month. She lives with a wonderfully loving family near us, dear friends we have know for more than 20 years. Molly loves life, and never seems to hold still for a moment. She is always the center of attention, and she loves to make people laugh. Molly has Down Syndrome. I hate to think what all of our lives would be like without Molly; of how much less color we would see.

Sometimes I wonder, are we really still working to "preserve this last best hope of man on earth"?

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I'll Take Jesus Door #3, Monty!

Over the past several days, my friends Rob Asghar and Tod Bolsinger have been discussing the same thing, on different yet parallel tracks. Rob has been discussing, as fairly as I think is possible, the history of profound failure in leadership at Hollywood Presbyterian. Tod is beginning what I hope will be a longer discussion of what the church should really be about. You really need to review what these two have been saying.

Tod's recent comments have me thinking about what we expect church to be, and about something I mentioned
briefly before. The picture Tod paints of today's church is something I have heard him mention before, of church as some kind of "spiritual smorgasbord", or buffet table, in which you pick the things you want, and leave the stuff you don't like on the table. We tend to demand and then take from church what we want, and leaving the rest behind, including things that might bring so many more people to relationship with Christ and His Kingdom. It gives me the willies sometimes; "Give me Jesus Door #3 Monty, I will take Promise Keepers, Joel Osteen, and hanging out only with people that look like me!"

Maybe in many ways, this is what is wrong with the American church, and why the vitality and charisma of the church here seems so lacking compared with the explosive growth of the church in the third world . Just look at what happened to the church in Western Europe; and I wonder if we might be heading that way as well. Perhaps this is what has been wrong with Hollywood Presbyterian, and why it has gotten itself into such a mess. Too many trees, and not a good view of the forrest. It was "church as usual", or "church for a select few", or too oriented around the personality of a well-meaning but overly controlling pastor. We American church folk need to reexamine the way we do church, the lives we lead, and the core mission of this Jesus fellow that we follow.

However, if we do this, really follow this Jesus, its likely to be messy. He is going to ask us to love the unlovely, to do the hard thing, to live with less possessions, and for our lives to be less self-centered. I am the first to admit, as an only child, that I don't like some of these ideas. Lord help me where I am weak. Help us all.
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