Thursday, July 28, 2005

Praying in the Park


From the flower garden at Monument Valley Park Posted by Picasa

The other day I was a little frustrated because...well...it seemed like everything was piling up. I decided to head over to the park while I was waiting for an order to be filled from work and pray in the park. The first place I stopped was the flower garden in Monument Valley Park


A different section of Monument Valley Park Posted by Picasa

Then I drove down to another section of the park where there are lots of plants and trees of different types to look at. I saw this gate, and for some reason it spoke to me. I thought it would also make a good picture.


A wishful thought from a post at Monument Park Posted by Picasa

In the middle of this section was this post saying the same thing in four different languages. (Don't ask me what they were!)


At the lake Posted by Picasa

I loved this tree as well. I sat by the lake for a few minutes and talked with God. It is a wonder what a little solitude and silence will do, especially with a camera.

Entry way to my apartment Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


My tribe at VBS this week. Di Di, Cameron, Emilie, Holly, and David Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On Burning Bushes and Cactus

Last Sunday we had a hike through Red Rocks Open Space as our youth activity. It was fun. It was also beautiful. It was interesting the difference between the way many of the youth made the hike and the way I did. The youth were always wanting to climb things and explore all the side spurs to the trail that we were on. I on the other hand, am a more slow-footed and heavy breathing sort, and stuck to the trail (although after losing over 40 pounds and working out regularly the hike was much easier than the hike last year). But they kept running past all the pretty stuff. Alan Gale and I were taking in the pretty lake, the beauty of the rock quarry, watching the rock climbers, and taking all the stuff in. As we started walking through the most narrow parts of the trail I remarked to one of the teenagers, “Look at that plant.” He was totally uninterested and gulped down the next swig of his energy drink.
I was thinking, “How can anyone not be awestruck by this beauty?”, but the youth were thinking, “Wow, this sure is fun to play in!” I couldn’t help but thinking they were missing something.
Rob Bell, a teacher in the emerging church movement, talks about Moses in the wilderness tending sheep. He wonders aloud, how many burning bushes did Moses miss that God was trying to speak to him through before he wandered on the burning bush that God spoke to him through that read of in the book of Exodus? It is a good question.
As we have been learning in our Sunday School class “God is Closer than You Think”, God is always and ever surrounding us, calling out to us, speaking to us, and yet we often run right past him. There are burning bushes all around us of different kinds. The mountains speak of God’s power. The rivers speak of His grace and His willingness to care for and provide for us. Our friends and family speak of God’s grace and forgiveness, but often times we miss the message. We are too busy trying to make God do things our way, in the way we want or expect. We are too busy racing around the trail, yelling at God to keep us safe. And He keeps calling out to us to slow down, to take time to listen and to look and be drawn into the wonder of the way that He has provided for us.
I urge you to take time to see, listen to, and embrace the God that surrounds you and longs to bless you in this last month of summer. Here a couple of suggestions on how to do that:
1. Take a couple of hours, turn off the cell phone, get away from people, and spend some time in silence and solitude.
2. Go on a hike, or take a scenic drive somewhere nearby.
3. Make a list of 10 people that mean something special to you. Write them a note and tell them the things you appreciate about them. In turn you will see how blessed you are by those loved ones around you.
4. Volunteer at the Marian House for a meal.
5. Choose one verse a day to memorize, think about, and carry with you for a month.
6. Sleep in and wear your PJs until dinner and watch movies that you have been wanting to see.
7. Say no to something you think you should do, but do not want to do. God will understand. He might even smile.
Be God’s
Pastor Clint

Sunday, July 24, 2005


In the Red Rocks Open Space--looking down to the trail Posted by Picasa

A view looking north to the city Posted by Picasa

The Garden of the Gods on a cloudy day Posted by Picasa

Looking toward the mountains Posted by Picasa

The view on our hike as we entered the rock quarry Posted by Picasa

Never give a junior high boy an energy drink, even on a hike Posted by Picasa

our crew hiking the red rocks open space this evening Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Birthday List Blog redux

My birthday is August 13. For those who want my birthday list it is here. For those blog buddies who might want my address, I will send it to you on request.

FROM THE TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT
Laptop--preferably with wireless modem

Kodak Easy Share DX7590 Digital Camera

IPOD or Dell equivalent

New cell phone with picture taking and text message capabilities

FROM THE VIDEO DEPARTMENT

The Simpsons (all seasons)

South Park Episodes

Miami Vice Episodes

Million Dollar Baby

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Ballroom Dance Instructional Videos

Napolean Dynamite

COLLECTABLES

Simpsons stuff

Anything Friar Tuck (check out EBAY)

Anything Jesusy (I already have buddy Jesus and Bobblehead Jesus)

CLOTHES--check with me for sizes

Jerry Garcia ties (extra long)--available at Casual Male Big and Tall Outlets

White dress shirts (can never have enough)

Individual Fit Dockers pants

Bright red dress shirts (wanting 2)

NYSE shirts

Rainbow Flip-Flops (need new pair)--size 15

Birkenstocks

Tennis Shoes

Beach Shirts

BOARD GAMES

New game of risk

Axis and allies

Pass the Pigs

Scene It

Cranium

TUNES

Anything Van Morrison except the new one

Dave Matthews--Crash and American Baby

Forrest Gump Soundtrack

FUNK 1 and FUNK 2 at Walmart

Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits

Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volumes 1 and 2

Alabama's Greatest Hits

Harley-Davidson Road Music (Classic Rock Collection)

Notorious BIG--Life After Death

Anything Eminem

BOOKS--CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE

Monster--Frank Peretti

The Lazarus Trap--Davis Bunn

Prayer--Karl Barth

BOOKS--FICTION

The Kite Runner--Khaled Hosseni

.....Queen Laoni by Umberto Eco

BOOKS--LEADERSHIP

Never Eat Alone

All Marketers are Liars

The World is Flat--Friedman

BOOKS--other

A Walk in the Woods--Bryson

Art Books--Van Gogh and that Catholic sister's collection and Salvador Dali

Other gifts

Jiffy Lube gift certificates]

Best Buy Gift Certificate

Friday, July 22, 2005

WHAT IS YOUR INTELLIGENCE TYPE


Here are the results of my intelligence type test. What are yours? Click on the title above! Posted by Picasa

Which Alcoholic Drink are You?


Click the title to take the test for yourself Posted by Picasa

Sermon Disclaimor

THIS IS NOT MY BEST SERMON. AND IT WAS WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN NOT TO BE PUBLISHED. BUT I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE ANYWAY.

Transformers Sermon

Transformers: More than Meets the Eye
The other day I was dead tired. I had just returned home from the mission trip with the youth to South Dakota. I turned on the TV and watched some TV show, and then the Simpsons came on. Not Jessica Simpson and her Hubby Nick, that is the Newlyweds, and praise the Lord it has been cancelled. No, I am talking about the cartoon with the rebellious boy on the skateboard named Bart, the genius daughter Lisa, the little baby girl Maggie. the wife with the blue beehive Marge, and Homer, the father who provides for the family by working as a quality control operator at the nuclear power plant.

In this episode, Lisa convinces the family that they should abandon the routine of pork chops on Friday for the adventure of sushi. Homer dreads going, but once he is there he discovers that sushi is really, really good. So in true Homer fashion he gets really excited, and orders every kind of sushi on the menu. The final sushi dish comes from a fish that is potentially poisonous, and in a comic mishap he ends up being told that he most likely is poisoned, and has only around 36 hours to live.

Homer spends most of the night fitfully worrying, and then he makes a list of things he wants to do before he dies. He sets out to accomplish them. He reconciles a deep rift with his father and takes him fishing, plays with his son, sits on his daughters bed and listens to her play the sax, he makes a video for his baby daughter, makes love with his wife and tells her how much he loves her. As everyone falls asleep he sneaks into the living room and puts on his walkman. He decides to listen to the Bible as narrated by Larry King. He listens to the story of Adam and Eve, fast forwards through the so-and so begat so and sos, and as he is falling asleep the last words he hears is about how the Lord wants to “turn the hearts of the fathers back to the sons, and the hearts of the sons back to the fathers”. It was if the authors were saying in this moment near death, through this ridiculous series of events, that God was reconciling the relationships in Homer’s life with his father and with his children, and somehow even with God himself.

I was touched by this episode of the Simpsons. In part because of the message which I explained earlier. But even more because somehow, someway, through God was up to his usual tricks. Sneaking his message into unusual places. Comically smuggling the gospel into the world through a cartoon about a bunch of people who most of the world would call losers. Teaching us a lesson about love and grace through a fictional father who drinks a little too much, who has gained a little too much weight over the years, watches a little too much television, loses his temper a little too often, and is a little too mean to his overbearing Christian neighbor Flanders. Storylines like this don’t show up every week on the Simpson’s, but they are not all that unusual either. Yet somehow Christians find reason to protest against these cartoons because their characters are less than exemplary role models for their children. Forgetting that we don’t come before God as exemplary role-models either, and that God has always been at work using less than perfect means to accomplish his perfect will. God is transforming ordinary Joes and Janes, and taking people that the rest of the world might call losers, and making them into containers of grace that his love can shine through.

As we come to Matthew 13, we could be equally shocked by what Jesus compares his kingdom to in the Scriptures we have read today.

The kingdom of God is like…….a weed.

The kingdom of God is like…..a fungus

The kingdom of God is like…..something dirty and buried underground

The kingdom of God is like….something you find at the pawn shop

The kingdom of God is like….a messy dirty net that needs to be sorted through and cleaned.

What is that all about. Doesn’t exactly sound appealing and exciting to me, and if you read the Scriptures it does not sound very appealing to the folks of that time either. In fact, right after this teaching he runs home and the people of his town look around and say, “Who is someone like this to say something like this to us?” And they disregarded most of what Jesus had to say.







As most of you know, the people of Jesus’ day expected something more exciting from their Messiah. They expected the messiah to be strong and to be majestic and to be a military leader. They expected Him to fit a certain image and to be a certain way. But Jesus was always subversive, and strange, difficult to understand and scandalous. His disciples were commonners, his friends were IRS agents and prostitutes. And if the prophets are to be believed, he wasn’t pretty or spectacular. The people, especially the religious leaders, expected their messiah to all about power, success, and wealth. Instead Jesus was about servanthood, sacrifice, and transformation and growth. And that becomes very clear in this passage.

We see the same thing today. It wasn’t long after the last election that we turned on Meet the Press and saw a panel of Christian leaders sitting on the show with prominent members of the evangelical right and the compassionate left in a screaming yelling argument about who had the right to have the power to speak for God. And more and more the church becomes about pushing a political agenda, getting power so that you can force your beliefs into law, and make everybody do what you want. And we forget the Jesus that says love your enemies, and the greatest among you is the servant of all (not their judge and Lord and Master).

Even in the church we see the similar attitudes thing. We think that our worth depends on how many people show up, and so we label the churches with more people as more faithful than the churches with less. We think that the important things about church are that every body agrees with and feels happy with everything, and so we water down the gospel to the least common denominator—even at the cost of our integrity. We make the church about saying the right words at the right time, about wearing fancy expensive clothes as a sign of our righteousness—as if our ceremony and our threads really impress Him. Then, we make church about our musical tastes—as if God has a preference between contemporary Christian hits from the 1400s or the 1800s or the 2000s. I am convinced that if Jesus had to comment on the state of the church in the USA—in this and many other generations, he would just shake his head and cry and say “Did you listen to a word that I said? Don’t you remember what I said in Matthew 13?”




And we see the same thing in our personal lives. We judge ourselves by how our hair looks, how young our complexion is, how nice our car is, whether people think we are fashionable or not, what the title to our job is, what neighborhood we live in. We find our value in what size clothes we can fit into, what grades we get and what degrees we have and who our friends are. And we think if we just adopt the right philosophy, if we just read the right book, then everything will be A-OK. We will be kings and queens of the mountain. And people will look up to us. And if they don’t look up to us, at the very least then they will fear us. We will grow up to be BIG in so many ways.

So what does Jesus say that the Kingdom of God is about in Matthew 13 then? I will give you three adjectives: small, hidden, and messy. And one verb: transforming.

Lets start with the verb. Transforming. I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons and they would have these toys with a cartoon. They would transform from robots into other machines to help them in fighting the bad guys, some of which were also transformers at one point. The theme song always went, transformers…..its more than meets the EYE.

Transformation is just a big word for change. In the Christian life, the true mark of new life is growth and change. Living things grow. If we are alive in Christ we grow and we change. But the path to growth and change is not always what we expect. Which brings us to the three strange adjectives for growth. SMALL. HIDDEN. MESSY. Lets start with small.

Lets look at the adjective SMALL. First we have to realize the smallness of who we are to see transformation in our lives. We have to come to God humbly. Surrendering our pride to an attitude of servanthood. Surrendering our personal preferences to what is best for others.





As I look through Biblical history, I don’t see arrogant people who have all the talent in the world being the ones that God always uses. I see God using ordinary people, who often saw how small they were compared to the God-sized task before them. I see a loner named Noah who was mocked and seemed inefficient for decades building a boat, but one families effort did not seem so small when the earth was devastated by a flood. I see a youngest son who worked herding sheep named David save his nation from a giant terrormonger named Goliath and a foreign invasion. I see a sheepherder with a sketchy past and a stutter named Moses being used as a spokesperson for God and leading his nation out of slavery. I see a grungy fisherman with a hair-trigger temper who betrayed his core values named Peter end up being the cornerstone and leader of the early church. Over and over again, we see that God uses people that the world would see as small, average, unspectacular to do great and awesome things. I have come to the conclusion that in the kingdom, especially as illustrated by this passage, that part of what God looks for are people who are not as much qualified for the task he has set before them as they are available and accessable to his spirit in their plainness and ordinariness.

SMALL also speaks to the nature of how we as people and as churches transform. To understand this, we need to understand the concept of BABY STEPS. In the movie WHAT ABOUT BOB there is this guy who has a lot of hang ups and phobias. He goes to a therapist, and the therapist gives him the concept of BABY STEPS. And as I shared with you before, this is an important idea when it comes to spiritual transformation. Spiritual growth often comes in small unrecognizable steps. At first you are going to pray you are not going to lose your temper for one week. Three months later you are in a very difficult situation and realize you were able to control yourself. God’s spirit has been slowly transforming you into a more loving, self-controlled person. And you did not even know it.

This brings us to our second adjective about what the kingdom is like as it comes and transforms our lives and our churches. It is HIDDEN. It takes work to notice the kingdom sometimes. It takes time to identify authentic faith and genuine kingdom work. Not only that, but sometimes the growth, the grace, the great things of God are hardly visible to anyone. God’s work in churches is not always measurable, not always the way we want it or expect it to look, but that does not mean it is not happening.

Think of a treasure hunter, looking and looking for something. About to give up. Then all of the sudden he finds it! The treasure of a lifetime! Does that mean all of his effort before was in vain? The years of looking and never finding. Of course not. All that in his past has been leading up to this moment of understanding and discovery.

Many of you are struggling through hard times and wonder why things could not be a little better and a little easier for once. I urge you to hold on to the faith that God can make great things out of the heartache and struggle you are going through now, even if you do not undersand it and cannot see it now. God’s kingdom comes to us like a hidden treasure, cropping up when we least expect it.

And as you look at others around you, have the love and the grace to believe that God is slowly doing things in the field of their souls that is hidden and unknown to you at this time.

We tend to look at transformation as straight line growth, like hiking up a gradual incline until we get to the summit. Or, as one prominent ministry describes it, like going around the bases of growth. First we go to first base, then we make our way to second etc. The truth is spiritual growth for many of us happens like this. We go to first base. Go into the stands and have a hot dog and a beer. Get caught in a pickle trying to make it from the stands back to first base. Then we get comfortable where we are until we are pushed to run forward in faith four years later. Hopefully some of you get my point. Spiritual growth doesn’t fit predictable patterns for many of us, and our God’s grace in our lives often appears hidden. Especially to others.

And then there is our third adjective. Spiritual transformation is MESSY.

Now one look in my office, and you will be able to tell that I am not always the most neat and tidy type of person. Right now there is a cooler on the floor, some Bible covers under a chair, stacks of books on my desk. Why. Here is my explanation why. Because I work there. MESSINESS ALWAYS HAPPENS AS A RESULT OF MEANINGFUL ACTION. (Some of us just clean up a little better than others.)


There is an equivalent to this with spiritual transformation. No real growth ever comes in our lives and in our churches without problems. If you don’t want ugliness and messiness in your life, don’t do anything, don’t stand for anything, don’t live for anything. But don’t expect anything either.

Let me quickly make a comparison to everyday life. You start a family. Soon you choose to bring a new life into the family. And that new life is beautiful and wonderful and fulfilling. But it is also very messy. In fact, it makes messes you need to clean up several times a day. That doesn’t mean that the child, this new life is bad because it is messy. Messiness is just a part of new life.

Let me assure you that following Jesus can get messy. You deal with messy people with messy problems every day. And you still have to deal with all your hang-ups and sin problems. And sometimes you do the right thing and you feel like you are getting punished for it. And sometimes you try to deal with one simple problem in your life, and realize you have to grow through a lot of other junk to deal with this one problem effectively.

Church life can get messy too. There is always someone that makes you angry. There are always hurts to deal with. People never seem to be as eager to reach out to others once they have been reached out to. Most people I talk to who don’t come to church don’t come because they have felt deeply wounded by something that happened in or with a church. Building the kingdom comes with all sorts of challenges and difficulties, but that does not mean it is not meaningful, and it is not the right thing to do, and it is not powerful, and it is not true.

I offer my life as case exhibit A.


I was in kindergarten. In Oregon, this was not required schooling at the time, but somehow my mother found a way to enroll me in a small Christian school. Despite the MESSINESS of my mother and father divorcing, I developed an interest in knowing Jesus better.

I was in second grade. Like most kids I liked getting out of school early. A couple of older ladies started a GOOD NEWS BIBLE CLUB. They picked us up from school and took us over to their home for a few games and crafts, lemonade, and a flannelgraph Bible study. The told me how much Jesus loved me. THEY WERE TWO OLDER WOMEN WHO SPENT AN HOUR WITH ME A WEEK. I had a very loving mother at home, but she was also living with an alcoholic. Mom and him were always breaking up, and getting back together. MY LIFE WAS MESSY. Yet their small effort was instrumental in me accepting Jesus. Because the kingdom of God comes in small ways. And my guess in the impact that the GOOD NEWS LEADERS were going to have on my life is hidden to them, even to this day.

I was in late grade school and junior high. I spent a school year being threatened by school bullies every day. Girls would pretend they liked me until I believed them, and then tell me how worthless and ugly I was and how nobody in their right mind could ever love me. My father never visited me, and began to stop paying child support. I was suicidal. But we found a church. A church that only had about 30 people. But it was in that small church hidden in a little league meeting house that I was surrounded by love and acceptance. I began to understand that even if I felt like I was alone and nobody loved me, that I could count on God loving me and my church being there for me. MY LIFE WAS MESSY. THE CHURCH WAS SMALL. I AM SURE MUCH OF THE IMPACT THEY HAD ON MY LIFE IS HIDDEN TO THEM. But the Kingdom of God was on the move in that church, and I am a witness.

I was in high school and we moved to Alaska. We never found a church we felt one hundred percent comfortable with. And deep within me grew a hunger to experience God and know God more. So, when I graduated from high school I went to a Christian College where I could play football. In his mysterious hidden ways, God was at work in this too. I took a class which got me to think more and more about ministry. I felt like I did not fit the mold of what God wanted a minister to be. I told God so. I told him I did not think I could do it. God told me, through my mind and through the Scriptures, that I was right but that he could do things through me. I surrendered my life to ministry.

Now I am a minister, and my life is still messy. I am not the world’s or the mainstream churches typical image of what a pastor should be. I am not a COVER BOY for Youthworker Journal or Christianity Today. I am an overweight, single pastor with a strong introverted and intellectual streak who struggles off and on with depression. I am the only member of my immediate family regularly attending worship on Sundays. I don’t have the churchy pedigree. I am small. But God is BIG. And God has and is doing things through my life that I know I cannot do on my own power.

And the same is true of you. You are a part of a struggling downtown church with a messy history. You are not a poster church for CHURCH GROWTH magazine. In fact, we as a church have major issues to work through and change through in order to grow. We are small. BUT GOD IS BIG. And God has done his work through us despite our struggles and limitations.

So now we come before God, today as a church and as individuals. Will we choose to let God use our small, broken, messy selves in ways that we can only think or imagine? Will we surrender our pride and our thirst for control and power and recognition over to him? Will we allow God to transform our lives and church into something scandalous and unexpected, something greater and better than we imagined. I hope so.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

WHO ARE YOU IN 1400 AD?


As usual on the WHO AM I IN 1400 AD, I am the weirdo that doesnt really fit anywhere. Cl;ick on the title to take the test yourself. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A quote from Doug Pagitt's new book

15. Centralized control
At the heart of the resistance to progressional dialogue as a legitimate method of preaching is the question of control. The speaching act allows for the preacher to not only to control the content, but also to apply the sermon to people’s lives. In basketball there is an expression for a person who does everything on the court: get the rebound, dribble up court, and shoot. This person is called a ball hog and no one likes having one on the floor.


Is it possible that this kind of phrase could apply to pastors who do all the studying, all the talking, and even have the gall to think they can apply the message they created to the lives of other people? In this setting there is little for the hearers to do other than decide if they agree or not. It is possible that we have, through the practice of speaching, created a culture in churches where agreeability is the necessary posture of our people? And if this is so, does it serve the gospel well?

Transformers--It is more than meets the eye

Kim, in her comment on my blog, was utterly brilliant. The parables of Matthew 13 are all about transformation. Written like someone who was sat under the teaching of John Ortberg for a little while! And stupid me could not see it well enough to say it. Nevertheless, my sermon work is not complete.

I have several tasks. First of all, I think this discussion of smallness (in the first part) and single-mindedness (in last "gem" parables) need to be integrated into the concept of transformation and how it works.

Next, I think the thinking inspired by Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis needs to be integrated. Specifically, that the kingdom is about service and sacrifice and we have made it about power and control. And that maybe it is our weakness and inadequacy that makes us qualified to be kingdom workers, not our competence and our skills.

And also, I am thinking about discussing the word "surrender" as a metaphor of faith, especially after talking to a Moslem visitor who wanted to understand my faith.

Any of you have any helpful comments and stories to add to this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shrinkage

This sunday I am preaching on Matthew 13:31-33; 41-52. I have been struggling with the text I have been given, and how it all ties together.

One of the things I am thinking about is how
1.) God uses the small and insignificant things

2.) Conversely, often the things of God seem small and insignificant to us until we know what it is

3.) Kingdom things are not about immediacy. In fact, the greatest things in the world may seem small but insignificant for a long time. They may even go unnoticed by the rest of the world, yet those who live faithfully can be assured that the small things they do will bear great results, even if others do not notice it.

Please look up the passage and share your input and stories.

The "other" Clint Walker Posted by Picasa

More pics of the boys Posted by Picasa

Birthday List Blog

My birthday is August 13. For those who want my birthday list it is here. For those blog buddies who might want my address, I will send it to you on request.

FROM THE TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT
Laptop--preferably with wireless modem

Kodak Easy Share DX7590 Digital Camera

IPOD or Dell equivalent

New cell phone with picture taking and text message capabilities

FROM THE VIDEO DEPARTMENT

The Simpsons (all seasons)

South Park Episodes

Miami Vice Episodes

Million Dollar Baby

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Ballroom Dance Instructional Videos

Napolean Dynamite

COLLECTABLES

Simpsons stuff

Anything Friar Tuck (check out EBAY)

Anything Jesusy (I already have buddy Jesus and Bobblehead Jesus)

CLOTHES--check with me for sizes

Jerry Garcia ties (extra long)--available at Casual Male Big and Tall Outlets

White dress shirts (can never have enough)

Individual Fit Dockers pants

Bright red dress shirts (wanting 2)

NYSE shirts

Rainbow Flip-Flops (need new pair)--size 15

Birkenstocks

Tennis Shoes

Beach Shirts

BOARD GAMES

New game of risk

Axis and allies

Pass the Pigs

Scene It

Cranium

TUNES

Anything Van Morrison except the new one

Dave Matthews--Crash and American Baby

Forrest Gump Soundtrack

FUNK 1 and FUNK 2 at Walmart

Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits

Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volumes 1 and 2

Alabama's Greatest Hits

Harley-Davidson Road Music (Classic Rock Collection)

Notorious BIG--Life After Death

Anything Eminem

BOOKS--CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE

Monster--Frank Peretti

The Lazarus Trap--Davis Bunn

Prayer--Karl Barth

BOOKS--FICTION

The Kite Runner--Khaled Hosseni

.....Queen Laoni by Umberto Eco

BOOKS--LEADERSHIP

Never Eat Alone

All Marketers are Liars

The World is Flat--Friedman

BOOKS--other

A Walk in the Woods--Bryson

Art Books--Van Gogh and that Catholic sister's collection and Salvador Dali

Other gifts

Jiffy Lube gift certificates]

Best Buy Gift Certificate

Many people think Trailblazers star Sebastian Telfair is poised to have a great season after a stellar performance in the Las Vegas summer league. The Blazers have signed coach Nate McMillan, draft picks Jarrett Jack and Sebastian Telfair, and extended the contract of the improving Travis Outlaw. Hopefully, they will make a couple of free agent signings to strenthen their team. I suggest Luke Walton, Kareem Rush, Mark Madsen, and Dan Dickau, and a forward/center backup like Kwame Brown of Ervin Johnson. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 14, 2005


A pic of my nephews puttering around the harbor in Dana Point CA Posted by Picasa

Here is the picture of the FAM. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Do minorities watch more TV Preachers?

George Barna recently did a study of which preachers/pastors were most popular among different ethnic groups, theological stripes and the like.

Across the board 4 names came in the top 5--Bush, Dobson, Warren,and Graham.

Non-whites add in TD Jakes to the mix. They also report to be more influenced by Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Joyce Meyer, Eddie Long, and GE Patterson. I think that the first three are TV Preachers. Does that mean that non-whites watch more Trinity Broadcasting Network? Maybe. It also means I think that there are more non-white Pentecostals by percentage.

Why do I say this. Because most of those names show up on the second half of the most influential Christian leaders. Also showing up with pentecostals is Pat Robertson.

Baptists tend to elevate Hybels into the top 5. Mainliners add the Pope and Will Willimon (former chaplain at Duke, now bishop of American Methodists).

Anyway I found all of this interesting.

Land and Spirit

I think a lot about what the connection is between place, land, and Spirit.

How does a certain sense of place inform one's spiritual development?
Why do some places seem charged with the presence of God, and others seem devoid of it?
Are there some common things with land that touch people's Spirit more than others?

If you look through the Old Testament especially, much of thier spirituality was connected to land and to place. Some of these places had monuments or markers. Others did not. Some had a sense of collective memory/history. But some had a name, but even today we cannot pin down where they are for sure (Sinai for instance).

Part of what I believe is that every part of creation is charged with the presence and power of God, but that it takes us a while to become attune to it.

One example for me is the desert. The desert between Winnemucca and Reno in Nevada. The desert between Pheonix and Winslow in Arizona. At times it seems desolate. Devoid of blessing. Devoid of presence. Devoid of beauty. But after a while you begin to sense the wonder, the beauty, the God-shapedness of the place and it moves you.

Other places for me feel spiritual the moment I enter them. The Black Hills and the Badlands both speak to me this way in South Dakota. The Gallatin and Bitteroot Valleys also speak to me powerfully of a spirtitual reality. Especially when sitting under the half-light of the canyon. As do some of the beaches in Oregon when the waves come crashing hard into all the rocks. Or the simple expanse of beauty I see when flying over Alaska, or floating down the Kenai River or in the Katchemak Bay there. And the Panhandle of Idaho has a noticable effect on me the minute I enter it, but the opposite happens in Southern Idaho.

And there are still places I struggle to find a sense of spirit, of comfort, and of God's presence in. Like most suburban places, although I find a sense a peace in most urban centers. Certain parts of the plains, especially in Iowa and Illinois, and a little in Kansas, seem places of spiritual heaviness for me. Why is that?

What is it that makes some places have a more palpable sense of the presence of God and the spiritual, while others do not?

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hearing God say FOLLOW ME (also on other blog)

Read Matthew 11:30 and Luke 5:1-11

I have always thought that God chose people like Peter and Matthew and his motley crew of disciples to show that he could do great things with people who were inadequate. Or at least ordinary. You have Peter with the hot temper, John grabbing for power, Matthew is a betrayer of community, Thomas is a doubter.

More and more though, I wonder if their supposed inadequacy in the eyes of the world for what God was asking them to do was actually their strongest qualification. Maybe their Humpty Dumpty lives is just what God needed, not people who have everything put together all over again. Maybe if he had more qualfied people by more traditional means they never would have got it, would have completely missed the boat, and never been faithful to the radical message of Christ. Just a thought.

Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." A yoke was a set of teachings by a rabbi. Maybe part of what Jesus is saying is, "You got it all wrong. You have made things too complicated. Be my friend. Love God. Love others. Live life."

And maybe the disciples he chose were chosen because they were broken, rough around the edges, and simple enough that eventually they could get that.

Maybe sometimes we make Jesus too complicated. We try to make him about a set of political beliefs, or a list of this or that that is more about us than about him. And which speaks more to our thinly vieled inadequacies and hang-ups than it does about Jesus.

What do you think?

Julia and Nika on mission trip Posted by Picasa

Its a beautiful day! Posted by Picasa

Rob Bell book release: Velvet Elvis

I went to a Rob Bell book release for his new book VELVET ELVIS last night in a suburb of Denver. Basically the premise of the book is that we think we have a picture of Jesus or Elvis that has arrived and we have all the answers, but that authentic faith is always open to growth and new truth. In other words, our mental picture of Jesus or the Christian faith should have convictions, but never should "arrive" or "have everything figured out."

He showed the latest NOOMA production which talks about faith in Christ and following Christ is like "being in tune with the song." Pretty interesting.

Then he answered questions. I took some notes...some of which I would like to share here:

"Blessing is always instrumental. People are not blessed to show God's pleasure with them. They are blessed so that they can be a blessing to others with the blessing they have recieved."

"Many churches become about success and power, but the central metaphor for Christian leadership in the church is about sacrifice and service."

"The church is at its best when it gives itself away."

"We have mistaken Jesus to be speaking about religion when he is really speaking about life."

"Instititutions don't hurt people. It is the brokenness of individuals with institutions like the church that hurt people."

(on church transformation) "It is easier to give birth than to raise the dead."

It was a great evening. In particular I am excited about the undercurrent among Christian leaders to move away from pride and power toward humility and service within churches.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Im BAAAACK

After travelling for a week to do a service project in Bennett County, SD (second poorest county in the country), I am back in Colorado.

There are so many things to share about this trip.

First of all....I had one adult woman with me, and 8 teenagers...7 of them girls..ranging from 12 to 14 years old. OHHH the drama. DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA. One person would say something. Another would cry. On and on and on.

We also had lots of fun listening to Bill Cosby CDs, sleeping on floors and in KOA cabins.

I love the Black Hills. I can see why they are a sacred place for the Sioux people. A spiritual presence is palpable there. If I had the oppotunity, I would be sorely tempted to move there. While there we visited Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, Black Hills Caverns, Evans Plunge (natural hot springs), and the Rushmore Water Slides. As we headed out to the plains we stopped at Wall Drug (where I procured a jackelope), and went through the Badlands. When we returned we zoomed through the open spaces of Nebraska and Eastern Colorado.


Also loved the Pine Ridge reservation. Again, there is a certain spritual presence that you notice there just by being there. A certain beauty a dignity about the land. I cannot quite explain it. But if I lived there, I think it would be hard to leave it.

With the exception of a little drama with church on Sunday things were going along smoothly.

The girls said "THATS HOT" about 3000 times in the first two days. They said "Heck yes," about 1000. We had at least one major crying episode a day, mostly due to the girl drama between the kids on the trip. I am not sure I will ever understand women.

But generally, as a male, an adult, and not being in the HOT category, I am neutral ground for most everyone involved in drama within the group.

The first two days of the trip the other leader took half the group to a VBS type thing called Kids Club, and we did housepainting for a hail damaged home of an older, toothless gentleman. (Well he had a few teeth but it was distracting)

Painted the house of Rodney. I really like him. Reminded me of a character (Boomhower) on King of the Hill, only about 50 years older. Had to move into town from the country so he could have a place more managable and be closer to his aging mother and health facitilities for himself as well.

Did a VBS-type program for kids of Martin For the other two days. Mainly kids that showed up were from HUD housing projects on the edge of town and were Native American. On the last day we discovered about half the kids in the program, and all living in the same housing project, had lice.

Visited a Native American lady who just wanted to go back to the Pine Ridge Reservation and die, but felt like they would not let her go from the nursing home in Martin. She asked me to help her get out. It broke my heart.

Had a couple very trying times with the footwashing service, and another drama with one of the students from another group not keeping appropriate boundaries with the gal from our group (i.e. sexually inappropriate comments and advances).

The trip was uneventful on the way home, except for some of the participants getting a little grumpy with getting caught in rush hour traffic in Denver, Castle Rock, and on the North side of the Springs.

I do have this to say. You have no idea how rural Nebraska can be until you drive through it.

Now I am home, and it is back to work today and tommorrow, my normal day off, and then pushing toward the Tygret-Gilden wedding and camp.

An excellent book I am reading as a devotional in the mornings Posted by Picasa

A storm breaks on the plains Posted by Picasa