Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fredrica Matthews Green on Eternal Judgement

Some quotes:

God’s presence is not just Light, and Life, but Love. And Love invites, but does not compel.

"The same sun that melts wax hardens mud" is how Origen, the 3rd century Egyptian writer, put it. In the 4th century, St. Basil the Great used the story of the three young men in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-30) as an illustration: the fire spared the prayerful trio, while the guards who threw them in were destroyed."

"It is not that God grows angry with us," said the 3rd century Desert Father, St. Antony the Great, "but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us."

Who will end up in hell? Nobody knows. God has not shown us the guest list. And "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1) means it’s none of our business. We can’t guess by looking at external behavior, because we don’t know whether someone, in private, is begging God for forgiveness and the strength to change. That’s the lesson of the Publican in the Temple.

And if Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats is correct (Matthew 25), the Day will be less like judging a criminal trial and more like judging a livestock show. You don’t need a cross-examination to tell a sheep from a goat. Day slips into day, and after decades of goatish deeds, it will be nearly impossible to turn back.

(For the whole article, click the link in the title)

My brother in law at legoland

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Some quotes from "the post-evangelical"

from Mike Yaconelli's comments

Closed doors and crosses have always been the result of following Jesus. (69)

What happened in the 80s and 90s was the yuppizationof evangelicalism, which meant that evangelicals could once again embrace patriotism, consumerism, materialism, and the franchising of Christianity (37)

We do not know the Truth, it knows us (112).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Most Dangerous Person in the World



I suppose there could be considerable debate on who the most dangerous person in the world is. Some might say Kim Jong Il in North Korea, or the president or Iran, or Osama Bin Laden. Other folks might even say that George Bush is the most dangerous person in the world. After all, he has a millitary that has a budget larger than most nation's GDP at his disposal.

I would like you to think a little differently though. I think the most dangerous person, in a more theoretical sense, is a person that you see every day. The most dangerous person in the world is a person who thinks that they are a victim.

Now by saying this I am not trying to demean anyone's personal hardship. There are a lot of people who are victimized by others, and they are not to be blamed for being victimized. But to see oneself as a victim and to live out of the attitude that one is a victim of an institution, or of a situation, or even of God is never a good thing. It hurts the person who has been hurt to remain a victim. Even more so, living with a self-identity as a victim almost always leads to one victimizing others.

Let me explain with a rather tame example. Lets say that I am a victim of a bad boss that does not pay me enough or appreciate me enough. Lets say that I internalize that I am a victim of this bad boss. What happens next? I justify not working as hard for this boss, because I am not getting paid enough. I am rude to the other people I work with because I deserve to be rude and surly to people since I am being victimized.

Or on a grander scale, someone like Stalin, Hitler, or Kim Jong Il (and some may even say Bush, although I would not) can justify and rally a lot of people to their causes by convincing them that they are victims. Victims of being overtaxed (Hitler), victims of terrorists (Bush), victims of other more powerful military powers (Stalin and KJI). Once you convince yourself you are a victim, you free yourself to do all sorts of things to rectify that evil that is being put upon you.

And if you think you are a victim of God or fate or society, then everyone in the world is fair game for your revenge. You can open fire in school cafeterias, or you can sit on your butt and live on "the dole" because the government needs to compensate you for your hardship.

The most dangerous person in the world is the person that sees themself as a victim.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Debt and salvation

From March 15 to May 15 I think about one thing.....DEBT.

Why?

In the good 'ol USA, tax day is April 15. And, I never have the money I need paid into cover my taxes. You see, as a minister I have to pay self employment tax. And while minister taxes work very well for dual income homeowners, or pastors that have a brood of children, it does not work well for single pastors trying to work out of car debt and school debt and previous tax debt.

This year, I have been thinking about other kinds of debt as well. Sleep debt. Time debt. Debt of favors I might owe someone. Financial debt is only one kind of debt. And there are some times I feel like I am running behind in all sorts of ways.

Now certain debts are harder to deal with than others. Sleep debt you can only catch up on, but you cannot really save up hours of sleep. As a matter of fact, when you try and do this you tend to end up more tired that when you started.

And work debt, meaning you are behind and owe work more than you can reasonable do in 40 hours, work debt you can work ahead on a little on sometimes. But I rarely if ever do that. When I do this I find out I have just caught up with where I want to.

Then there are friendships where you just feel like, well, you get more out of the friendship that you give in return. I have some friendships like this. I have friends that have helped me with rides somewhere, or giving you hand me down furniture, and you realize that you might never catch up to even with giving back to this person all that they have given to you.

The Bible has this word about debt recovery...and it describes this feeling that I described above. You see, when people were in debt in the old days and they could not get out of debt they ended up in one sort of slavery or another. And they ended up so far behind that they cannot possibly ever catch up.

Once in a while a friend or a relative would be able to recover someone they love from what they owed by paying their debt for them. When a person did this the word they used was redemption.

Redemption is a bible word. It talks about what God does to rescue us from all the things we do to "get behind" in our life due to sin (or doing wrong things) and his desire to set us free.

COME FREEDOM COME.

Links

How Mendy fell in love

How Mendy got engaged

Chandra's Joy

Mike's Internet Addiction (and now mine too)

The City has gone wild

Miracle Cure for Drug Addiction

Buck's take on couple's communication

Buck's take on couple's communication 2

Two sides of the mall

Politics runs in circles

Prayer Boundaries

Friday, March 24, 2006

How to know when you had a bad week

Tuesday: Identity stolen online.

Wednesday: Everyone shows up at least an hour late to your bible study. You spend three housrs that afternoon preparing. Nobody is ready to learn.

Thursday: Hit curb while making a quick right turn at a red light. Seems as though you have minor damage to your wheel.

Friday: Tire is flat from escapade day before. Takes over an hour for you and two mechanics to figure out how to release the spare tire. While releasing your spare tire your battery dies from leaving the hazard lights on too long. You recharge the batteries. Then you take the vehicle to the store. Almost $300 to repair.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Picture Meme

I have been tagged by San Nakji to take pictures of where I live. Since I was doing some of this for another project, it will be easy!







































































The mountain is Pike's Peak-- where America the Beautiful was written

The pueblo dwellings are called the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and were inhabited by Native Americans 1000 BC

The strange looking building is the Air Force Academy Chapel, on the elite training ground for the US Airforce

The next is a rock formation in a park called Garden of the Gods. This particular rock is called KISSING CAMELS. Garden of the Gods is the second largest municipal park in the USA, after Central Park in New York

The final picture is Seven Falls. Seven Falls is a waterfall in a canon south of town.



Preface:
This is part of a series of stories I am doing for a Flat Stanley project for a child in Alaska.


Flat Stanley’s Adventure: Colorado Springs Night Life

After a full day of Flat Stanley and I running around town I decided that I was tired. So I went to bed. Flat Stanley said he would just watch the television. When I woke up the next morning to someone knocking on the door and bringing Flat Stanley home from a night on the town I discovered that he was not just watching television. It took a little doing, but Flat Stanley confessed to me what he did while I was asleep.

I guess he met some girl who wanted to take him around town. She convinced him that if he was see Colorado Springs for himself, he had to see the nightlife.

He took this picture of some people while he was playing pool at a table beside him:











I thought this was a good thing for Flat Stanley so far. Really you know nothing about Colorado Springs if you do not know how big the sport of billiards is here. Every club and corner bar sponsors a team, and people play for a lot of the winter. Many of my friends that Flat Stanley met at church are a part of billiards leagues, or have been at one time or another.

Then Flat Stanley said that he went out dancing. Colorado Springs has some unique dancing clubs. The one he talked about the most was about Rumbay’s. Rumbay’s is 8 clubs in one. They have a 70s and 80s music section, a blues section, and hip-hop section, and a tiki bar area as well. Here is a picture of Rumbay’s that Flat Stanley took:



Wild Life of Flat Stanley

Then Flat Stanley went over to FREAKY’S, which is a tattoo parlor here in the Springs. There are a lot of people with tattoos since the military is the big business in Colorado Springs. Here is a picture with Flat Stanley and his girlfriend sitting in front of FREAKY’S.




And here is another picture of him as he is about to go into get his tattoo:





:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

You know you are getting to be an old youth pastor when

1. Your high school youth are born the year you graduated from high school.

2. Your middle schoolers were born the same year you graduated from college

3. The young adults in your church were enering kindergarten when you were entering college.

4. The youth refer the music you grew up on as "CLASSIC"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A cool litte story someone sent me.

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. "I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life."

"No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.

"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.

"Yes," the farmer replied proudly.

"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of." And that he did.
Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospit al Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.


Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill.

Keys and Kites


I am not good with being able to find my keys. It drives me crazy. I go to my friends' house to lead a Bible study. I do my work. I visit. People leave. Then it is my turn to leave. But I cannot leave. Why? I cannot find my darned keys!

At points in my life I thought more faithfulness in prayer would solve this problem. Although there are times where I have found my keys when I slowed down and prayed about finding them, prayer alone has curbed my propensity from losing my keys.

Lately, I have taken to finding the biggest key chains possible. My thinking is, the bigger the key chain, the less likely I am to forget where I placed them. This has worked. And, the the little clippy thing I got from William Jewell College has helped a little bit as well.

However, I still break into a panic when I leave somewhere and my keys are not in my hand or in my pocket.

It got me to thinking. Are there simple keys to managing keys simply? And even more, are there simple keys to anything?

Some people I know love step by step processes. They like to put their life together like you assemble a bookshelf from Walmart. Looking at the instructions. Going step by step. Or, to use another metaphor, they look at life as a paint by the numbers kind of venture.

My experience is that my life doesn't work that way. To use the analogy of the bookshelf again...I strive to go step by step and then I find that I missed a step, or a part is missing, or something like that. Now what?

A lot of people look at spirituality as a step by step process. And for some the steps work. This is especially true in the AA community. But for me, as I look at Scripture, and look at my faith, my journey does not look the formulaic.

My spiritual journey looks more like flying a kite than building a bookshelf. I have a clear intent and vision about what I am doing, but my life and my ministry is dependant on catching the breeze of the Spirit, flying with the wind, and living a life of unique and unconventional beauty. Sometimes it means I flop down in the dirt, until another breeze starts pushing me in new directions. I don't like the flopping, but it is worth crashing to earth once in a while in order to be caught in the wind. And the more I fly around, the better I know how to land.

Right now, I am praying for the wind.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Always a Friar and Never the Pope


Yesterday I once again visited the local halls of power within our church denomination, the Region Office up in Denver.

The whole experience when I go there is strange for me. I feel I am liked and supported by the folks up in the big city, but that I am not necessarily "one of them". And, I misread the vibe of the whole meeting, which left me feeling a little bit disappointed in myself.

First, I misread the tone of the meeting. I thought it would be a laid back meeting of youth workers. Instead it was a fairly formal meeting to start out with, and I did not present myself formally when I entered the meeting. So I had Flat Stanley with me, and my saint patricks say headgear for fun, and it went over like a lead balloon. They were thinking a business power meeting. I was thinking a youth leaders get together. (For those of you who dont know, us youth leaders are a little less structured and informal) I felt so stupid.

Second, I treat everyone equally. Which means, that I am not good at the political kiss ass game. So, I listen and care what the retired nurse has to say as much as the region executive. I argue with the white folk and the black folk in the room, women as much as men, and I say what I need to say whether or not people like it or not. I am not sure people quite know how to take this attitude and approach.

Third, my theological views do not match those who hold power in our denomination. I am more conservative theologically on core theological issues and issues of ethics in the church, especially the issues which are most divisive in mainline denominations in America. I am hard working and graceful enough that I am invited to the table, but I am enough out of the PC crowd that I dont get invited into offices afterward or out to dinner.

Ahh....it is my lot in life....a good friar.....but never a pope.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A great read: To Own A Dragon



I am not a man who is often free with praise. So listen when I say this. Don Miller is a good writer, and this is by far my favorite book of his so far. Most of Miller's books are tied loosely around a theme, with a lot of personal reflection, with the idea of making you think about faith in some unique ways.

This book is more powerful. It is about Don's experience growing up in a single parent family without a father figure, and how that has shaped the person he has become. It is brilliant. And, growing up without a father in the house, I can identify with the book a lot. It is not a self-help book or a therapy book, but a memoir of one aspect of Donald Miller's spiritual journey.

And, when the book is endorsed by Jeff Foxworthy on the back cover, it is even more of a must read.

Grab a hold of it in a bookstore and read for five or ten minutes. You will not be able to put it down!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness

I want to be at HOME watching TV all day long! But poor me, I cannot do that. So I am trying to think of a place where I can work from my computer and actually get work done while watching march madness. I am thinking about going back home early and working at the clubhouse on my computer.

Here are interesting pics.

Upsets: UW-MIL, Wichita St., Southern Ill., Texas AandM, Bucknell, San Diego St, and Air Force (go Mt. West!)

As Planned: I see Oakland going 1-4 into the sweet 16

Who I have to win it all: UCLA (which suprised me, but that is how it played out)

So far after checking halftime scores, I am not too far off!

Update:
On day one I am 13 of 16. I missed Illinois, Indiana, and Montana (hangs head) winnning.

I called upsets by Texas A and M, Alabama, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Nephew pics

My mother visited her nephews over Spring Break.
Here are some pictures she took while she was there!!








Mom's new "man"



Mom found a new love interest while taking her grandkids to LEGOLAND. I am a little disturbed at how handsy she is with her friend from Carlsbad, CA, but I am glad their outfits match!

Who the Bible is about.



















My life tends to run in cycles. Right now, I seem to be really hungry for reading. Theological reading to be more exact. So I have been using some projects I have been working on as an excuse to thumb my way through some Eugene Peterson books, an NT Wright book, and I was on a quest to find a good Lenten devotional by a contemporary theologian I wanted to read (Miroslav Volf, Tom Wright). I ended up picking up the Stanley Hauerwas book pictured above, called The Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Last Words of Christ. As I read it the book seemed to bring everything together.

The first meditation in the book was about the phrase "Forgive them for they know not what they do." Hauerwas pointed out, as my reading of The Last Word by N.T. (Tom) Wrightreiterated to me in its own way, that I run to the WHAT of the Bible to quickly.

Hauerwas pointed out that we often move in this passage too quickly to our need for forgiveness, when the words of Jesus, at that moment, are much more descriptive of who Jesus is. The Last Words of Jesus are much more about who he is, what his heart is like, and what his mission is than it is about me. Lots of times, Hauerwas seems to say, we make it all about us. We rush to make it about our lives, when the gospels were about the life and character of Jesus. And this rush to self-centeredness and practicality, Hauerwas says, keeps us from being formed by being with Christ, getting to know Christ. We make EVEN THE PASSION a to-do list and all about our life issues.

As I got to thinking, I think this is true of our life in general. We rush past the story to get to the "point". When the "point" is getting to know Jesus enough to be his apprentice and friend with our whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eugene Peterson quote

The church is the community that God has set at the center of the world to keep the world centered.
Living the Resurrection--p. 12

Maturity and Marital Status

Believe it or not I think about how these two subjects and how they relate to one another quite often.

One of my prejudices is that marriage and building a family stunts a lot of people's intellectual growth. People get married and all of the sudden, it seems, they think less about the big questions, and more about getting work done, putting food on the table, and surviving day to day. I am not completely sure how I developed this prejudice, because most of the people I learn the most from are married people. Somehow, this was just something I observed in my friends and the people in churches I worked with. It was like intellectual seeking and growth was a nice phase in their life, but something they left behind for greener pastures. It wasn't like people stopped thinking after they got married. More to the point, it was like their intellectual abilities seemed to enter a static period after they started a family. And, to a lot of these people that I know, the world of ideas seemed to matter less and less. At least until middle age, where a lot of these people started to dig into things a little deeper again. As I looked at marriage, the possibility of having less time for reading, for thinking, for writing began to worry me.

Recently, I have discovered singleness has its own struggles with maturity. Spiritual theologian Henri Nouwen was single his whole life. From what I have read, there were several of Nouwens friends and critics that were dismayed by his inability to not move past certain life issues. He seemed to be stuck in this quest to understand his lonliness and his brokenness, and to understand his significance. And, to a certain extent, he was still on this search as he died.

And I look back at certain posts I have written recently, in response to other single people about what is "sexy" it seems like it is easy to get stuck in a similar rut. Instead of getting static with the intellectual things, it seems I am still trying to understand what I was trying to understand in my twenties. I am still thinking about dating and relationships, about what I find attractive and what I do not, and about issues of who I am in relationship to others that others my age seem to have put behind them long ago. And it disappoints me that although I am still growing in this area...in many areas I have become stuck on the issue in my personal growth somehow.

I am not sure what all that means....but that is where I am at.

Are they really not getting along?



















Rumor has it these two have been FEUDING. Do you believe it?


This month's music purchase













Another music purchase--last month

Monday, March 13, 2006

An AWESOME quote

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language, and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators: some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice. But God's hand is on every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall be open to one another--
Poet John Donne
Quoted by Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Soul, page 185

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Classics for a reason.

I don't necessarily enjoy reading. I enjoy learning....and if one wants to learn about thinking and ideas, reading is the best way to do that. It is a means to an end.

In my line of work, it is easy to read about the trendy stuff. It is easy to try to be on the cutting edge of what is going on, and try to ride the wave of the latest fad.

Yet, I find it much more beneficial sometimes to return to the classics as minister.

Tonight was one of those nights as I started reading through my quotebook (where I collect my quotes...I have lost two of these on airplanes but have held on to the one I have now.

I was skimming through the IMITATION OF CHRIST and saw a few quotes that really spoke to me:

He who superficially trims his temptations and does not pull them out by the root accomplishes little.--(16)

The beginning of all evil temptation lies in a flighty mind and insufficient trust in God. (17)

Leave the hollow things for hollow people, but you fulfill those things that God has commanded you. (29)

If your heart is right then every creature is a mirror of life to you and a book of holy learning, for there is no creature--no matter how fleeting or lowly--that does not reveal God's goodness.

It is in disordered loves and empty fears that all disquiet of heart and distraction of mind have their orgin (120)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dead Sexy

Amy has this post about what is sexy. In it she says that confidence is sexy.

It got me to thinking. What have people told me is sexy about me? My mind. You have a sexy mind they say. I have heard this from several women I have dated. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most frequent compliments I get from women while dating them.

Which then got me to thinking, what the heck is a sexy mind anyway? Does that just mean that you are smart? Or that you are mysterious or intriguing? Or does your mind just work differently than other people's does? Or is it because I am confident in my intellect and am not afraid to share what I think? I am not sure. After all, I don't really turn myself on.

Then I got to thinking...what do I think is sexy?

Average to good looks are nice. Reasonable intelligence is also a plus. But what makes a woman sexy to me?

More than anything else, I am sad to say, it is someone who makes me feel glad to be me. Someone who makes me feel like I do things right, that I am somewhat attractive to them, that I am so funny that I make them laugh all the time, that I turn them on so much that they have to nuzzle me or touch me at every opportunity.
So then where do looks and intelligence and character come in? Well, to be honest, they are a reflection of me too. Basically, I could care less what size clothes a woman wears, or whether she has a mole on her cheek, or how in fashion her clothes are (within reason).

What do I look for then? What do I find sexy? A woman I can be proud to be with! When I have broken up with, or not gone on a second date with someone it is for this reason. At some point I was embarrassed or ashamed to be with her. Or she has seemed ashamed to be around or be seen with me. Both have happened.

This is also why shared values are important as well in a lot of ways too--because couples are in many ways a reflection of one another. And this is the challenge of break ups for many people....to be thought of or found unworthy by someone you think reflected you in a meaningful and powerful way.

Am I alone is seeing things this way? I don't think so.

Nabeel's questions

Nabeel asked a number of questions about the development of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Books have been written on this subject. I will attempt to answer each of the questions briefly, Nabeel, but first I have some preliminary comments.

First, these questions are difficult to answer because different audiences have different thoughts and presuppositions in mind when they ask these questions. A Muslim has different concerns in mind than a Western secularist than a Zen Buddhist. Thus, my plan is to answer the questions you have asked in a very brief manner, and then we can continue the conversation on these matters through the comment section on this post or other posts in the future.

What is the Old Testament and the New Testament?

The Old Testament is also referred to as the Hebrew Scriptures....and tells the story of the people of God's (the Hebrews) journey with God before Christ comes.

The New Testament tells the story of Christ and the early church.

Who wrote the Old and the New Testaments?

Christians beleive that God inspired human authors to write the Bible in their own language, in their own way of speaking and thinking with his guidance.

Old Testament:

Most of the Pentateuch is believed to be written by Moses (you know except for the part where Moses dies).
Most of the rest of the works bear their author's names

New Testament:

Mostly written by apostles or others who knew and interacted with Jesus within 30-50 years after his death.

Links for this week

Donald Miller quote

Krishna or Jesus quiz

Who Knew I had this much power?

Sarah's Gettin' Skinny!

Brotha Buck's Ash Wednesday Adventure

Questions about Sacrifice

This Worldly Jesus Thoughts

Motion Sensing Lights in the Restroom

Raven's Random Facts

Confessions of a Skater Girl

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seven Things Meme--from the Kiwi-Korean blogmaster!

7 Things To Do Before I Die:

Get out of debt
Get married
Have children
Own a home
Write a book
Teach a college class
Make a difference

7Things I Cannot Do:

Put my heel behind my head
Run a 4 minute mile
Get to sleep before midnight
Be skinny
Stop feeling guilty for not working when I take a day off
Please friends and family
Cry more than once a year

7Things I Say Most Often:

Holy.....(i dont fill in the blank)
Thank you (as a prayer and to others)
Am I making sense?
Uggggh
Yessss!
May I ask you a question?
What the.....(i dont fill in the blank)

7 Books I Love:

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
The Life of Pi by Yanni Martel
Anything written by Douglas Coupland
The Bible
Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman
The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

7 Movies I Can Watch Over And Over Again:

The Tao of Steve
Ever After (hangs head in shame)
Fight Club
A River Runs Through It
Princess Bride
The Third Miracle
Silence of the Lambs

Now Playing.....
















The song HOME from this album...it rocks!

Some quotes to chew on

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.
Pope John Paul II

Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.
Pope John Paul II

Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it.
Pope John Paul II

The future starts today, not tomorrow.
Pope John Paul II

Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" Priest: "No, not if you did not know." Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"
Annie Dillard

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
Annie Dillard

Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.
Annie Dillard

You can't test courage cautiously.
Annie Dillard

Human beings have an innate need to hear and tell stories and to have a story to live by. religion, whatever else it has done, has provided one of the main ways of meeting this abiding need.
Harvey Cox

There has never been a better raconteur than Jesus of Nazareth.
Harvey Cox

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Don't Stop Believin'



Healthily Committed to her work, or a little bit overzealous....you decide

(from a champioship game where one of the cheerleaders was dropped on the floor by her teammates)

My current readings

At work I have been reading three things the last two days.

First, an article in Atlantic Monthly about Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II called THE TALE OF TWO POPES (I think). It talks a lot about their relationship, how they came to the place they were, how they are different and much more. The author, Paul Elie, is also the person who wrote the book called THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN (borrowed from Flannery O'Connor). It is about the School of the Holy Ghost in America--a multi person biography about Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O Connor, and Walker Percy. All four of which are Catholic writers trying to take their faith to the public sphere in creative literary ways. Both the Article and the book are phenomenally well written and fairly presented. The article I am currently reading presents the current Pope as less palatable in a lot of days to where American Catholics would like to go, but a man of brilliant intellect, compassion, and fierce integrity.

The second book I skimmed was called Breakout Churches. This was a study that was an attempt to see how compatable Jim Collins' Good to Great applied to church growth. I spent about 3 hours working through it. Got through most of it. Skimmed some. My Senior Pastor gave it to me yesterday afternoon and wanted me to look it over so we could discuss it the next day. We ate at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort's restaurant, had a good meal and a good talk about how the book sparked thoughts in both of us involving the future of our church.

The third book I have been puttering through is a book about the Emerging Churches by Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs. Very interesting. Not sure quite how to communicate what I am learning in this book yet.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Singleness and Body Prayer

I have been thinking about how much I use gestures in prayer this morning.

I am not Catholic, but recently I have taken to genuflection (crossing oneself) as a frequent prayer practice. I leave the gate of my apartment and I cross myself as a prayer for safety as I leave. I see a beautiful view of the Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background as I pass Palmer Park I lift a hand in praise and smile. A drop dead gorgeous woman walked in to order a coffee, I lifted my hands in praise again. (Then I took a really deep breathe and said WOW under my breathe).

When we strive to listen to God's command to "pray without ceasing" gestures and glances become as much a part of prayer as the spoken word, expecially for more introverted souls like myself. I look to the sky and my heart says help. I take a deep breathe and my heart says that I don't know how to deal with my situation. And to my mind it is all prayer.

Does anyone else have a similar experience.

Monday, March 06, 2006

PDA

Ok here is one thing that really bothers me. Excessive displays of public affection.

I dont mind the old folks that hold hands in church that have been married for 40 years. That is kind of adorable to be quite honest.

But there was this couple right behind me here in Starbucks all over each other.

Geez.

When I was in high school my friend Erik, and a few of the rest of us got tired of this couple at a dance that was quickly passing second base and sliding into third. Erik decided we would do something. So about 4 of us just walked up right next to them....they were next to the wall....thrust our necks forward and just stared.

Sam and Kira noticed us and Erik just had this big huge smile. She said, "You are making us uncomfortable." Erik informed them that they now knew how the rest of the people at our dance felt.

Of course this is the same Erik that is now looking at prison for 40 years for sexual assault. Oh well, it was a funny story and a good memory.

We have the same problem at our church. There is this one couple that has to be all over each other constantly. Our worship service had a footwashing. They had to kiss after they washed one anothers feet. Then my friend asked if he could wash mine. I informed him there would be no kissing me afterward, especially if he planned to use tongue.

There are some times when it does not bother me. A couple walking on the beach holding hands. A couple with their arms around each other at the movies. So, it is not that all public displays of affection bother me. But sometimes it makes me really frustrated and really angry. I am trying to figure out why this is.

Here are some of the things I have come up with.

1. It makes me uncomfortable because it is taking private acts into a public sphere. It is the same as when people have restrooms in their home with NO soundproofing, and the user of said restroom does not turn on the fan or run water or anything and is having a vigorous bowel movement. Most of the time you can handle this without giggling, sometimes not, but it is not something you want to hear while you are eating dinner. Regular practice of PDA by some couples strikes me this way.

2. Sometimes when I am around people who are PDA people, you know it is more than a simple kiss or hug. It is foreplay. And yet I am stuck pretending not to notice or be involved, yet drug into the whole process at the same time. And my participation is not voluntary. I suppose it would be different if I was invited to participate somehow....but generally any mention of this behavior being uncomfortable offends people.

3. PDA is often exclusionary in a community setting. This is what I have taught kids as far as PDA goes at youth group. God likes kissing and hugging, and there is nothing sinful about it, but when we are all together it excludes you from others and others from you. Both because it makes people uncomfortable, and because it keeps you from being as open to befriending, getting to know, and caring about others in the group. That is why PDA does not bother me in some settings, because it is obviously a setting where people are together as a couple in the midst of the crowd, and their PDA-type behavior appropriate to that setting.

I dont know why this is all on my mind, except the couple sitting right behind me was basically dry-humping in the middle of a coffee shop, it was driving me crazy, and I was trying to figure out why it bothered me so much.

Guilty

I am feeling a little guilty this evening.

I had lunch at Chilis with a Blue Marg. and quesadillas.

Tonight I did the wireless thing at the local starbucks, bought a pair of cheap ($10) headphones since my other ones had all broke, and bought a non-fat peppermint mocha latte.

I should feel bad. I want to be more disciplined. But I decided to spoil myself a little bit and really be nice to me on my day off--be nice to me without staying in bed until the afternoon that is.

Another reason for the starbucks purchase of wireless time........computer recieved a virus at work. So my laptop is my digital lifeline right now....and dial-up only goes so far.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wanderlust











I think I have a serious case of wanderlust. Either that or I just have not found my place in the world yet.

In my 32 years, I have lived in 26 differences residences (that does include dorm rooms, it does not include where my mother lived after she moved up the road to Soldotna and I was still in school). In the process of this I have lived in 15 communities...although I only lived in a couple of them for the summer, and a couple of them were "suburbs" of Roseburg, OR.

So, after about 3 years I get tired of being in the same place. I think my time is through there. I feel like I need to move on. Sometimes I do. Most of the time I do. Sometimes I could have stayed longer in one place. The last place I lived at I lived there for 5 years. A personal record!

Part of wanderlust is the thought that "the grass is greener on the other side". I have fallen victim to this thinking at times. Sometimes it is true. Sometimes it is not.

Part of wanderlust is being a young, educated professional. I went to three institutions of higher education for 7 years total. Then I took an entry level job. I was there 5 years.

The position I am in now would be considered a more "mid level" job.I suspect I will be here between 3-4 years.

Sometimes I wonder, am I ever going to settle down somewhere. Am I ever going to have old house with the white picket fence and the little rugrats in a community where everybody knows who I am? Would I be satisfied there? I am not sure.

Maybe my wanderlust will have me ever wandering, wandering, wandering from place to place trying to make a difference where I land, but never really landing anywhere.

What about you? How many of you are more movers and wanderers? How many of you tend to stay in or around one place for all your life? Do you like being the way you are, or do you wish for something different?

My Academy Award Comments



Most Happy About: Reese Witherspoon winning for playing June Carter Cash in Walk the Line.

Biggest Disappointment: George Clooney winning Best Supporting Actor. Total political power play. Clooney is not a Oscar worthy actor in my opinion

Biggest Smile: Its Hard Out Here for A Pimp getting best song

Biggest Frown: Brokeback Mountain winnning for Screenplay

Biggest Surprise: Crash for best picture.

Personal Thought: This overall was one of the worst Academy Award fields in years.

My addiction




I love slurpees. They are so hard to resist. I can be doing well with what I eat and what I drink all day, but slurpees are my downfall.

I have loved slurpees since I was a child. My mom would send me in to pick up her cigs, wave at the cahier from the car, and allow me to buy a slurpee with the change.

Those were the days.

I am consistently impressed with the different kinds of slurpees that come out. Some are based on juices. Some are based on sodas. And there is even one mystery slurpee.
I don't usually buy anything that says that is is a mystery. A little too risky for my blood!


They call it Stormy Sunday

Sundays are hard days for me. I am not sure why. I get all wound up from about Friday night on. Sometimes even Thursday. I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic. What did I forget? What do I need to beg people to get done for Sunday. How am I going to survive my Sunday.

It did not used to be like this. There were up weeks and down weeks. There were months at a time where I really dreaded attending worship. This is different. I just feel like I am not going to survive another Sunday every Sunday. I get really depressed. Attendance is not what I want. I feel like a failure.

Now it is getting to the point where Sundays are not that bad...but Saturday's are just awful. I am full of fear. Full of dread. And I really beat myself up verbally and emotionally for some reason. I don't know why. I wish I could be more positive and more faithful, but I cannot. And I wonder, is it my general temprament, is it my environment, is it my gernaral lack of friends, is it my schedule being weird, or is it some perfect storm of all of it that leaves me screaming and driving around in my car for no reason whatsoever?

I think a big part of it is I have a hard time seeing the future, except for being stuck doing what I am doing. And feeling like I am good at what I do, but set up for failure just being here. I just signed a lease for another year. Hopefully thing will change by the time the lease is up.

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Questions Part 2

A while ago I asked for input on the development and organization of the questions of Jesus for Lent. I too the advice of Len and grouped most of the things by audience, except for the week of the 12th. I learned a lot. Thanks for those of you who gave input. Here is what I am planning to deal with:

For Sunday March 5—Identity questions (to disciples)

Why did you doubt?--TRUST

You do not want to leave to, do you?-FOLLOW

Who do you say that I am?—WORSHIP

Do you love me?--SERVE

For Sunday March 12—Comforting questions

Have I not chosen you?

Who are my brothers and sisters, and who is my mother?

Why all this commotion and wailing?

For Sunday March 19—Transforming Questions (to those who sought him)

Why do you call me good?

Do you see anything?

Who touched me?

For Sunday March 26---Authority questions (to his enemies)

How can anyone enter a strong man’s house--?

Which is easier, to say your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?

Whose image is this, and whose inscription?

For Sunday April 2—Kingdom Question (as Jesus was teaching)


Do people pick grapes from thorn Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

What then will the owner of the vineyard do?

For Sunday April 9—Passion Questions

Who are you looking for?

Betray me with a kiss?

Could I not call down 10,000 angels?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Justice and Judgment



In both the Common Grounds Sunday School class and in the C.H.O.W. Bible study the conversations keep coming back to similar questions: How does forgiveness work? How do we share grace and still stand on our convictions? How do we understand when it is appropriate to keep someone accountable?


Recently we came back to this question while studying in the book of Obadiah. Obadiah is not as easy book to get your thoughts around. It is a one chapter book that is basically an oracle against the nation of Edom after the nation of Israel is drug off into Babylonian captivity. Upon initially beginning to prepare for this study I was frustrated. Ancient nationalistic prophecies seem to have little application to the way that I or the people around me live our faith out day to day. So, I picked out a couple of key themes that the book presented and hoped that one or two questions might draw enough interest to have a meaningful discussion.


The issue that we seemed to spend an awful lot of time on was, “What is the difference between standing for truth and justice and being judgmental?” It is not as easy a question to answer as it might appear. Especially when we start thinking about what it means to be missionaries at our jobs and in our neighborhoods.


One conclusion we came to is that standing for truth and justice is standing with God and others, and advocating for them. Christians are at their best when they are standing against injustice. Recently, diverse parts of the Christian family in the United States have united to work against the AIDS epidemic. People as diverse as mainline liberals and evangelical megachurch pastors, and national figures as diverse as Jesse Helms and Bono are uniting to move the church toward compassion and justice in regard to this issue. In the past, followers of Christ led the way in the civil rights movement, helping Jews escape the holocaust, and universal education of children and establishing child labor laws in the U.S.


Another conclusion we made is that Christian are at their worst when they are being judgmental. And, that over people and against them. When we judge we are not identifying with others, we are vilifying them for being NOT LIKE US. Both Christians and non-Christians are skilled at being judgmental. We combat this by being creatively proactive with our convictions, instead of shouting down condemnation upon those (especially that are not Christians) that we disagree with. Against abortion? Adopt. Against gay marriage? Make friends with gay folks and shower them with love and compassion. Against the war in Iraq. Invite solders to your dinner table and listen to their stories. Come up with relational, creative and humble ways to share your Christian convictions, instead of being a part of the masses of people that condemn others that think and believe differently from them at a distance.