Friday, September 30, 2005

A Bit More on Work and Faith

So, what does it mean to be a person who believes, who has oriented one's life around the person of Christ, and who must be engaged each day in the secular culture?

Christianity Today recently ran this on the topic of work and faith. The final thought in this article is:

Third, work is part of the good creation that God blessed before the advent of sin. Genesis records two commands God gave to our first parents before the Fall: one concerns work (dress and keep the garden); the other concerns sex (be fruitful and multiply). The church has spent enormous energies on guiding our sexuality, but done little at the congregational level to give believers a developed understanding of the mandate to work. The distortions of work are as dangerous as the distortions of sex. Do we not owe the business people in our midst solid teaching about their calling?

I would substitute "little" above to "virtually nothing", in terms of the engagement of the church in the work culture. That is why ministries such as this have sprung forth. Thank God for them, and pray for these people.

Another useful resource besides InsideWork, is TheHighCalling. These are good starts, but there is much more work to be done. Oh to connect the dots between the insulated world of church and the world most of us must exist in each day! For additional starters, might I recommend this book - I just finished it, and it is a wonderful place to begin.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Wonderful Resource

Recently, I began a short and disjointed rant about the disconnect between faith and work. No sooner had I done this, than I stumbled upon InsideWork.

InsideWork is remarkable! This is just what I have been alluding to in my complaining - establishing a connection between the world of work and faith. Can you see me jumping up and down here?!

To my few pastor buddies who look at my little blog, please, please, take a long look at
InsideWork, this is the place you need to be spending more time finding out about the world many of your flock exist in - a place they dwell in, know of, and find far more familiar than the church. Interesting articles, great web links, solid content. Keep coming back, the site has been done in the form of Blog, so the content will be changing.

I can personally vouch for the people behind this effort. As fate would have it, the principal mind/visionary of
InsideWork is a long-time business associate and friend of the utmost Christian character. Check this out, you will be so glad you did!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Proof that God Exists

My accountant called me today to report this:

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said the agency was continuing to investigate a truck accident on the San Mateo Bridge that ejected some 30,000 tax payments into the San Francisco Bay.

The truck - driven by an employee of a delivery company under contract with the IRS - was traveling eastbound on the bridge, going from the San Francisco post office to a Hayward IRS check-processing center, on Sept. 11 when the truck inexplicably crashed. The truck carried 45,000 tax payments at the time of the accident. CHP spokesman Christian Oliver said his agency, together with the IRS and state transportation officials, responded to the solo-vehicle accident. No other vehicles were involved, and the driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries, Oliver said.
IRS spokesman Jesse Weller said Saturday that the 30,000 documents - 1040-ES forms for filing quarterly taxes, plus the payments themselves - were deemed "not recoverable."

And people say there is no God................

Is It Reality, or Is It Make Believe

We live on a street where reality and fantasy blur. You see, our street has been used for years for filming all sorts of things, from commercials, to TV drama series, to sitcoms, to movies (all three Back to the Futures). So we live on this street that is very much like "Anywhere, USA". Tonight, the crews were out filming again.

The world these film crews create is make believe. This is the world as we would like it to be, not the world that we have to live in.

The challenge for us who believe - is to form lives that reflect a reality we know to be the Ultimate Truth, and yet to love those around us in a way that is real, genuine, down-to-earth, and exhibits the character of the One who changed the world forever. God help us to do this. Daily.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Avoid This Gentleman

In my mind, this photo has three potential captions.

  1. "Hello, I have parked my space vehicle on your roof. May I borrow your magic moving-picture viewing box to communite with my Star Base? Oh, and please, vote for Hillary for President"
  2. "Yes, hello. I am the candidate for the position of Pastor of Communication. What time is the interview again?"
  3. "Duuude! Like, I'm here to totally take your daughter to the prom. Like my outfit?"

Update - Canal Street Church

This is the inside of the sanctuary of Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. My old friend, Pastor Mike Hogg, has an update on the status of the church here. Mike relates the condition of the church buildings with his usual sense of humor, mentioning that a new hole in the roof of the church gym will likely improved the basketball game of a certain church member. In the midst of flood, damage, pain, and suffering, Mike and his flock retain their sense of humor - a sure sign of Kingdom people.

Mike closes his remarks on the condition of the church with this:

"Lots of work, but could have been a lot worse. If there was ever a time to relinquish control of the church, ministry, etc., it's now. God is able..., we will worship again at Canal and Hennessey when the Lord enables us to do so!"

Amen to that. And may those of us who love Pastor Mike, Christina, and indirectly his flock be a part of that day coming soon! I long to hear that once soggy, now repaired organ swell again, joined by the voices of the faithful of this good church. We can help bring about that day....even sooner!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Close Enough To Feel The Migration

I am in Dallas tonight for a business meeting. Today a local radio station indicated that the normal 4.5 hour drive from Houston to Dallas is 15-20 hours long, and not much gas at all along the way. At least living here, you have the chance to get out of the way, if you have the resources to do the getting quickly. Rita is scary!

Our hotel is nearly full tonight, with more people arriving as darkness falls. I just spoke with a fellow in the hotel lobby who decided on Tuesday to get his family (wife and three little girls) up here by today. He just sold his house in Houston, bought another one, and did not have time to board up the windows before he left. He thinks the house will be ok. He is in the oil business, and evacuated all his people out of the gulf region on Tuesday as well. Sounds like a good and smart boss to me. The Dallas Morning News is indicating that upwards of 1 million people are headed north. Good Lord!

I met a fellow in my meeting today who is from Tyler, Texas, and he said that his town is still full of evacuees from Katrina. These folks in Texas have big hearts.

We think we can control our lives, and something like, oh say, a hurricane or an earthquake comes along, and we are reminded how little we control.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Look Out Krispy Creme

In my travels today, I came across this lovely little donut shop in Los Angeles. Due to a tight schedule, I was unable to visit inside, in order to find out exactly what a sexy donut looks like, but I might stop in again soon. My curiosity is killing me. However, thanks to the miracle of the internet, if you really like this concept, you can make it a part of your fashion ensemble.

Also, I have never had an Ice Cream Croissant. It sounds like a total paradigm shift for the baking industry. Epic! Cataclysmic!

This is what you get reading my blog. Thoughts on the intersection of faith, culture, and everyday life, combined with tips on new frontiers in pastries. Could you possibly wish for more?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Off to Work We Go

As mentioned recently in Christianity Today,

"the calling of those who engage in business is as noble as those God calls to more "spiritual" pursuits. Luther dropped a bomb shell on the late medieval world when he wrote: "The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone." That means that the office and the trading floor must be conceived of as arenas for service every bit as much as the church.

Can I ask why I have seldom heard Luther's wonderful ideas expounded in church? Why also is there so little discussion of workplace issues within the context of the church? Should not one of the jobs of the church be the equipping of its members to have a sense of relevance and dignity in their work?

All is not lost. There are some relatively good resources for beginning to make connections between faith and work - but most are on the web. I would love to hear if you know of more a comment!

The Remarkable Gift

Go here and read about the wonderful gift of friends who stand beside us, and will pray with us, even when it does not feel so "special", or "wonderful", or "a blessing" or any of those other tired out and trite Christian words.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This Island and a Glimpse of Heaven

I took this picture less than a month ago, on the north shore of Kauai. This photo is now the desktop background on my PC at the office. It miss this spot a great deal, and this photo touches, for me, the wonderful beauty of the mystery of this journey through life. I still cannot believe I stood waist deep in warm Hawaiian waters and took this picture. Why was I given this wonderful moment with my sweet family, and why have I been graced with a loving wife and two wonderful girls?

I am of the opinion that it would be wonderful if much of life could be set to music, and if this moment were to be set to music it would be the music of
Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole, and, it would be this song (go ahead and play it from NPR while you read the rest of this). "IZ" only lived to the age of 38, but seemed to have a wonderful spirit, which lives on in his music.

One of my favorite authors is
Frederick Buechner, and he wrote something in Longing for Home, that has marked my life, because he described so well moments I have had in my own journey through life. In short, Buechner described an otherwise ordinary day at Sea World with his family in which he had the sense of mind to recognize that God was showing him something remarkable. For more details, buy the book, you will be glad you did.

Have we all not had brief moments where we have fleetingly seen a glimpse of the
Home we are heading to? The trick is recognizing these moments. They are like trying to hold mercury in your hands, they slip away so quickly. The wedding of dear friends, the embrace of a loved one, the smile of a baby, a brilliant sunset, a quiet night in a place where there are millions of stars overhead. Most remarkably of course, the presence of God, strangely warming our hearts.

On that warm summer day on Tunnels Beach, I felt almost sure that heaven had dipped so low I could nearly touch it. I know its there, and someday, I will head Home. May we be granted the grace to recognize when Heaven passes near, while we are still down here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Something to Think About Tomorrow

Tomorrow, if you go to church, and the air conditioning is turned up too much, or you have to deal with someone who is a bit cranky - think on this. I suspect your attitude might improve.

Living with Not Knowing

Two weeks of not knowing, of going to bed every night and waking up every morning wondering how much damage your home has sustained. Is it repairable, still under water? Does it smell, is it moldy? When can we go home? Is the furniture all ruined? How much will insurance pay, or will it pay for anything at all? Who else even wants to go back? What is our life going to look like?

And then there is the church. It might have sustained water damage too, we don't know yet. Will some of the key leaders never return to New Orleans, because their jobs with
Shell Oil have been permanently transferred to Houston?

I had my first phone conversation with Pastor Mike yesterday, and he is spending all his energy on pastoring his flock scattered
around the country. Its not easy. Long days, late nights, and still not knowing. Mike and Christina's "shotgun" house is 150 years old, as is their church. Mike is fairly sure that both sustained damage, just how much, he still does not know. The Hoggs moved into their house just this past July. It might take two weeks or more before Mike can return to New Orleans to survey the damage.

In the midst of the chaos and confusion, Mike has a miracle to report. Everyone in his congregation has been found and is safe. Now scattered all over the country, they continue to be in regular communication via phone and email. Mike is concerned that some folks may not ever want to return, either forced into this decision by employment, or traumatized by the whole experience. As one church member told Mike, "Humanly speaking, I don't want to go back.., but we're going to seek the Lord and find out what He wants us to do". May we be praying for all in Mike's flock and others in similar circumstances throughout the Southeast.

Mike needs a truck for use in assisting folks to rebuild. We are on it here.

Pray that we can find him one cool truck!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sharing Jesus at Work

Dodger 7, Rockies 8....sigh
Well, it seems that there is a rather obscure discussion going on about faith/work/vocation in other quarters of the Blogosphere. My friend Pastor Mark Roberts has written this, as a part of Theologica, a new effort of World Magazine. Good for all these folks participating in this effort. But my reading thus far, leaves me wanting more substance. Sort of like listening in on CS Lewis and JR Tolkien in the pub discussing things abstract and theological, whilst pipe-puffing. People! Keep in mind that the landscape of real-world vocation is much more messy than pastors and theologians allow or perhaps understand.

First, I have to note the comment of my blogging friend, Mark Smith. I have reproduced Mark's comment to Mark Roberts thoughts on vocation below:

"Hi Mark, You made a good point when you said, “So, I expect that this might help to explain why Arch and I see things differently. And, if I were in his shoes, I might well see things from his perspective, and vice versa. We're both reading the same Bible, but we're seeing it in light of our pastoral concerns and challenges." It seems to me that most Pastors, male and female, are much more relational than the typical believer in the pew. Therefore, what usually gets preached from the pulpit is the need for more and better relationships in and out of the Church, but what gets heard and felt by the believer in the pew is a sense of failure in trying to achieve the Christian purpose. I think you are right that vocation and relationship are intertwined, but Arch is right that "relationship" has been over-emphasized (my word) to the detriment of being who God calls us to be.

Failure! Yes! That is it. I feel quite often as if I am a failure because I do not have a weekly morning Bible study at my office which attracts (by my winsome and charismatic Christian character) a wide and varied collection of hungry seeking people. And I sometimes feel like I don't measure up as a Christian because I have not lead anyone to Jesus as a direct outgrowth of my job. (Steve, the way you completed that Excel spreadsheet was so perfect, please, tell me about Christ!) Paint an "L" on my forehead, because I do not have this terrific "ministry" at my job. What am I to do with these feelings, and where did they come from?

As the Christianity Today (CT) article on vocation points out, our work as Believers is not necessarily about being "nice." Gasp! What, we are not to be like Ned Flanders?!! I agree completely with CT that "as good as those things may be, business is fundamentally about serving others." There is a whole topic for another post.

And yet, is it possible to serve others, do my job as best I can, day after day, year after year, and still build something that counts for Kingdom values - even if not one soul sees the Kingdom as a result of my work? I wonder. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Faith, Work and Church - The Big Honking Disconnect

My experience of 26 years in Christendom and the protestant church leaves me with the distinct impression that those of us who dwell Monday to Friday in the working world are not understood by many pastors. But this does not mean that others have not considered these issues - I direct you here and here, for starters.

From the Christianity Today article, lets touch on a couple of things. First, pastors and church leaders need to "help business people develop a fundamental understanding of what it means for Christians to engage in business." Wonderful! Some other points, which bear future discussion.

  1. I am not supposed to be primary an evangelist at work. Yee-gads, is this true?!!
  2. My secular vocation is as noble as those who work in the church.
  3. Work is part of the good creation, and deserves the attention of pastors as they contemplate spiritual direction and guidance of their flocks. I would love to know where in the world this is actually happening.
  4. If churches are to take the task of connecting the secular and sacred, what should it look like? So, how do we see this actually happening?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Is Secular Work of Real Worth, or Not?

There is an editorial piece in this months Christianity Today that pushes some major buttons for me. Entitled "Neighbor Love, Inc.", the article (not available online yet) is about work; the secular kind, that is. The kind that 99% of the working age folks in the world get out of bed and head off to five days a week. And sadly, the kind of work that a large portion of the clergy has not a clue about.

Here is my dilemma; when each Sunday rolls around, I attend church, and my experience with the Church (in the universal evangelical sense) is that I am left consistently with the impression that what I do as a vocation and, what I believe to be a calling, five days out of most every week hardly ever connects with what I am learning, doing, and experiencing on Sunday. Very little connection what so ever, thank you very much. Its as if the working world speaks English and the church-going world speaks, well, some form of language only understood by drunk Portuguese sailors.
I cannot tell you how many times I have sat through an otherwise average or good sermon, and thought to myself, "the person delivering this message has no idea whatsoever what my Monday to Friday world is like". And, might I ask why the only theme I seem to hear about the working world is a variation on the topic of "Sharing Jesus With your Fellow Employees"? Not that I am against that concept, but hearing it over and over again is like driving a car with only one radio station, when you well know that other people can get XM satellite in their cars.

So why is there this massive disconnect between the secular and the sacred? What is going on here? Why do many evangelicals fail to make a real connection between the working world and the cloistered world of church. More thoughts later, but in the mean time, I am open to suggestions (hint: comments?).

The Blogasmatron

My wife says that I spend too much time on the Internet in the evenings. After I have worked at the office all day, helped get dinner on the table, helped kids with homework, performed various chores, walked the dog, given kids trips around town to multiple random locations and sporting events, etc, etc. She says that I need to spend more time "sharing my feelings" about my day, her day, my life, my future, my feelings, her feelings, my heart, my kidneys, and other major organs. I mean, I don't even usually get a chance to even watch Sports Center, for heavens sake!

So, I have decided that I shall make a small purchase, in order to focus more completely upon my Blogging. To wit, I present,
The Oculus, or, as I shall rename my own model, the Blogasmatron. The perfect place to get away in the midst of life and create the thing that really matters more than the people I love; my Blog.

$45,000, its a deal. If I only had some hair like the guy in the photo.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering the Fallen


Mr. Schmitt, Willie Lemon, and Katrina

Today was a remarkable day. The remarkable event took place in church. It was not a stunning sermon, or a remarkable hymn from a large choir, or a massive celebrative service in a stadium church, or just about any of the things we silly self-concerned Christian people associate with greatness, or being on the winning team, or part of the "cool church".

What moved me to tears today was hearing the love of a teacher for his students; a simple love founded out of love for Christ. Students from New Orleans, now scattered about the country by Hurricane Katrina.

Matthew Schmitt, who now lives in LA with his new wife, taught junior high for two years in one of the poorest neighborhoods of New Orleans. Matthew was asked to share with our congregation his journey of sadness, searching, finding, and hope over the past two weeks. Matthew read to us a deeply moving email he had sent to his friends describing the anguish he has felt over the past days, not being able to locate so many of his former students, and the emerging hope he is finding through finally locating students and old friends.

Matthew also brought along two photo albums from his students. Each photo included a note from a student, thanking him for being their teacher. I have never seen anything like it. Let me explain why.

As my Blog title indicates, I live a sheltered life in the suburbs of Los Angeles. We bought our home here because the schools are academically among the top 10% in California. The biggest problem in our junior high typically deals with tardies, bad language, and an occasional troublesome teen. In New Orleans, as in many inner city schools, its an entirely different universe in public education; one of managing deep family problems, coping, chronic under-funding, barely getting by, and daily struggle just to communicate the very essentials to kids. It is hard, very hard to be a teacher, let alone a good teacher.

It seems that Matthew Schmitt made a profound impact on his students, and he will not be quickly forgotten. The photo above is of Willie Lemon, one of Matthews students, and it's theme is in keeping with so many of the notes from Matthew's students. Willie writes:

"I have always tried to get rid of you; but you stuck by my side. You helped me a lot. But I did not know. But now I understand you did everything you can do for me. You have shown me the way."

Matthew Schmitt, be not discouraged. You have performed a noble task. You taught well by the example of your persistence. What you did for two years in New Orleans was not in vain. You have shown the way.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

More on Pastor Mike, receding Water and Hope

We have more information on Canal Street Presbyterian Church, and my old friend, Pastor Mike Hogg. I had a chance to talk with Mike on the phone the other afternoon for about five minutes. He answered me in a whispered voice, and I was immediately concerned he had contracted some form of deadly swamp virus. As it turns out, he was whispering because he was in the library using the internet to return emails.

You can note in the picture to the left, all the dark blue is water (HT to
Mark Roberts). Mike and his family are renting a home in Tucson, where the kids are enrolled for the next school year (for now). Their family is fine, given the circumstances. As for their home, it is feared that much of it is a total loss. You can go here to see estimates of current water levels throughout New Orleans; this technology is remarkable.

Pastor Mike has been interviewed by Christianity Today
here. Mike is a pastor who understands Hope.

You can help the church

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wal Mart and Home Depot Trump FEMA

Over the past several years, Wal Mart has become the whipping boy of the no-growth and slow-growth movement. Never mind that Sam Walton built the model of retailing efficiency, and that today Wal Mart is known as the example of logistical perfection.

But certainly you also know that Wal Mart, Home Depot, and their other large retail friends are, in actuality, evil incarnate. Also (he said breathlessly) that they are part of an nasty capitalistic conspiracy to dominate the lives of us all? In a nearby town to our house, Wal Mart has been trying for years to build a new store on the site of a tired old nursery that is an eyesore. But the residents of the local community would prefer the sad old nursery to a new Wal Mart in which they could buy kitty litter far cheaper than just about anyplace in town.

But wait. If I read this correctly, it turns out that these private companies have become the major saviors of the disastrous aftermath of Katrina. Home Depot, WalMart, Black & Decker. So then, private companies can actually add something to the world that is positive? Is this possible? How shocking!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Intelligent Design and Unintelligent Comments

Daniel Schorr almost made me drive my car off the road again recently. His thoughts on Intelligent Design seemed to me to be angry, vindictive, and without any form of theological reflection. The undertone of his comments about Christian folk felt condescending, patronizing, and simply annoying. More of the same from the main stream press.

Now, a quick look on the web indicates that Mr. Schorr is now 89 years old, and has had a remarkable and distinguished career in journalism. He brought us much of the Watergate story, and did the first interview with Nikita Khrushchev. However, a remarkable career in journalism does not excuse grandpa from saying silly things. I have told my girls that when and if I reach my 80's, that if I begin acting like a cranky old guy or start spouting off completely silly things, they have complete release to thonk me on the upside the head. Mr. Schorr's smug attitude about crucial world-view topics is frustrating to me, he needs thonking.

Mr. Schorr observed that President Bush had "staked out a non-position" on the debate between evolution and intelligent design. Bush had said that "both sides ought to be properly taught in the schools of America." Then, with a snide tone that came right through my car speakers, Mr. Schorr linked the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with the concept of intelligent design with the following invective:

"[Bush] might well have reflected that, if (hurricane Katrina) was the result of intelligent design, then the Designer has something to answer for."

Alright now. This is shallow thought, and NPR can do much better than letting their "very senior correspondent" hall off on topics like this whenever he likes. While I do not pretend to be an apologist for Ats of God, I also understand enough of the mystery of God not to tell Him that He has "something to answer for".

I would direct Mr. Schorr (who comes from the Jewish tradition) to Job 38. To me, it is sad that a fine man who has a remarkable career as a journalist should conclude that God is in big trouble with us humans because he has misbehaved. This indicates a complete misunderstanding of the order of God's creation. I would also direct Mr. Schoor here and here; for two separate deep and thoughtful responses to the calamities of life that are far more than I am capable of conjuring up here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pastor Mike, The Diaspora, and The Body

About 15 years ago, as my wife and I were newlyweds, we had the blessing of being involved in a couples small group through our church. As a part of this, we met a wonderful couple - Mike and Christina Hogg. They became our good friends, and I still remember the way in which they approached all of life with joy and good humor - and most importantly, with a focus on the Kingdom of God. Mike was finishing up his studies at Fuller Seminary, and Christina was spending much of her time looking after their 2 young children.

Since that time, Mike has spent time as an Assistant Pastor at another church in the New Orleans area, and more recently, was called as the Senior Pastor of Canal
Street Presbyterian Church. We have kept in touch mainly through Christmas cards and seldom placed phone calls (mostly from Mike to us - pictured above with the very snazzy vestiments). Over time each of our families has grown; ours from two to four and the Hoggs from four to SEVEN (count 'em).

To this day, I will never forget dropping in on a preaching class at Fuller, the day Mike was to deliver a sermon. His text was
this, and to be frank, I cannot remember much of the sermon but Mike's conclusion. When he finished, he looked at us all and said, "Indeed....................................what kind of this" - with the pauses caused by Mike's inability to speak due to the tears he was trying to hold back. In short, my friend Mike loves Christ deeply; he felt this sermon in his soul.

I did some messing around tonight Google Earth, and found exactly the location of Mike & Christina's home and Canal Street Presbyterian Church. Mike lives very close to his church. Since I am a commercial real estate guy,
I have reviewed this image and compared it with those found at Digitalglobe, and it is difficult to say, but it looks like there is a lot of water in the neighborhood.

But perhaps I should let Mike
speak for himself. My favorite bits:

"YOU ALL ARE CONSTANTLY IN OUR PRAYERS...,not a minute goes by without our thinking of you all.

I THINK YOU ALL KNOW THIS, but let's agree together that the Lord is indeed going to get us through this...,together. We may not know the how's and when's, but by the end of this whole experience, the testimonies of God's goodness will outweigh the tradgedies by far..., not because of who we are, but because of who God is!!

I HATED TO MOVE SO FAR FROM THE SCENE OF THE CRIME, but it seems best for our fam. and us as C's family releives some of our stress. For the most part, it will not matter where we are geographically at least for the first few weeks? as I mostly coordinate/communicate by e-mail and phone...., I will be back in as soon as the city opens up and will be available to travel as needed..., if the diaspora of CSPC continues to reside grouped in various cities throughout the US, I will make the rounds to see you. I hope Wayne Smith can go with me, at least then it will feel like a rock tour.

Anyway, we are fine, kids are good, keep them in prayer as we lost rabbits, iguana, "cheesecake" (hamster) and had to put the dog asleep on the way out here.., we still have a cat, but he's got a worried look on his face! OFFERS are pouring in from the body of Christ around the country. Homes, offers of finances, clothes, equipment, groups wanting to come in when the rebuilding and clean-up begins...., YOU ALL NEED TO KNOW that people who don't even know you want to help!

The message to you is this, you don't have to do it on your own..., lean on the body of Christ, learn the gift of receiving.., it is the glory of God revealed through his body!

WE ARE A BLESSED PEOPLE..., the generosity of people is more awe inspiring than the greatest storm. Never doubt that this is a great country, and we have an awesome God. Lift our church, city, and national leaders in prayer, refuse to join in on pessimistic finger pointing, continue to pray for unity of our city and country, pray that the end result of this disater will be a glowing city on a swamp, known for it's faith in a God who reconciles and rebuilds even New Orleans!!"


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hope, A Lever, and Persistence

This has been one of the most remarkable weeks in American history. We have watched awestruck at the tragic aftermath of Katrina, feeling helpless, feeling weak and small and powerless. Add to this the death of a remarkable Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Yet in the midst of confusion, pain, suffering, and loss, there is now Hope.

I have learned more of my friend, Pastor Mike. He is now in Tucson with family, and will likely be heading back to New Orleans as soon as is practical. When I hear from Mike you will too. The effort is underway for his church, and you can give, right here. Click the Paypal button.

My friend Mark Roberts has spoken with Mike this week, and was impressed. Mike really just wanted to talk about the church's opportunity for ministry in the city, even though their church itself may be severely damaged, even though his own home may be destroyed. Selfless, caring for others, looking for hope. That is what Mike is like. I am blessed to know him.

Now lets see if we can do two things. First, lets make a gigantic lever. Those of you who were not asleep during high school physics class will remember that... "it is possible, as a result, to overcome a very large force at a short distance from the fulcrum with a very small force at a great distance from the fulcrum. Archimedes is supposed to have boasted, having the lever in mind, that given a place to stand he could move the world." And so it is, that those of us many miles from the Gulf Coast can apply our leverage to move things a great distance away. Lets give, and pray, and most of all, persist.

As a nation, we seem to have the attention span of a knat, or perhaps on our best days that of a hummingbird. Fashion tastes only last for a season, the initial run for a TV show is 13 weeks, and fast food is our nourishment. This challenge will require real persistence. To persist is to 1) to be obstinately repetitious, insistent, or tenacious. We must all persist in this effort. Together.

This effort is going to take weeks to dry out, months to repair and replace, and years to rebuild. We have the Hope, we have a great Lever, we must have Persistence. With these tools, we can move mountains, and again, hold back the waters.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Help is on the Way & My Closet

The news is getting better in terms of immediate panic and general chaos in New Orleans and other parts of the south. Lets keep praying, and giving.

Right now, there are the sounds of paper bags being filled down the hall, as all of the closets in our house are becoming a bit less stuffed.

We just got a call from our good neighbor up the street, and believe it or not, she has a friend with a big rig truck. This fine man, who I do not know, has decided he is going to fill his truck full of whatever people in our area can bring (food, toys, clothes), and he is heading east tomorrow on I-10 to New Orleans, or Mississippi, or where ever the need is greatest.

My closet suddenly has more room. I have never met this truck-driving man, but I love him, and our family wishes him God Speed. Just imagine if every block in America did this. And, might I add, the
blogosphere is getting it too.

Imagine this also. What if everyblock in America could give consistently like this, each time there was a need. Imagine it. My closet suddenly has more room, now I need to work a bit on making my wallet a bit more empty too!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Peggy Noonan Sums It All Up

Given the events of the last four days, this is completely worth your time.

Some Reporters Love Bad News

I just headed upstairs for a second to watch the news with my wife. The news is not good from New Orleans, and so, I direct you to this. Give, and give again! This is an opportunity for us to really show what the American people are made of.

After just five minutes of the news, I had to leave the room. Keith Olbermann was on MSNBC spouting with lead-in phrases like "hell" and "anarchy". Now, mind you, friends of mine like Mike Hogg will very likely have stories of near hell on earth, and conditions are terrible. But I am also very tired of news people who seems to feed on either disaster or doom. I watched a reporter in New Orleans, during the hurricane, get blown to the ground repeatedly, exposing himself and others to great risk of life and limb (I fully expected to see a STOP sign come flying horizontally down the street and decapitate the poor fool/reporter) so he could, I guess, show us that it was really windy and rainy. Now, is

Here is something you should read about the way the press is choosing to handle this situation. And here is a balm for your soul, if all the main stream media dramatists have you down. Oh, and blogs are not all bad, after all (go look, its neat). And what should our spiritual perspective be on all this? Try looking here.

Shall I repeat myself? Ok. Give.
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