21 November 2006

Words to the heart...

I had a conversation yesterday that got me thinking, praying, and wondering.

The first was with a young friend who is doing some great questioning about her faith and life growing up in the church. I haven't had many of these since my youth. In fact, it reminded me of me in the 70's. She is looking at an eastern approach to her life of living in harmony and peace and there are real conflicts to a western approach that tends to deal with right and wrong. I loved the conversation and saw something in her eyes that I haven't seen in many nor in her in the past few years. She is peaceful, wrestling, but peaceful. Great questions of ethics and balance. I can imagine it is freaking out youth group friends and family but I think there is something wise about this path she is on. But it will be full of conflict and misunderstanding.

I think sometimes our Calvinism creates a thinking that overrides the heart of Christ, Beatitudes if you will, and puts it into an approach a Pharisee would love. Quantifiable righteousness. The church that seeks to build huge cathedrals or parking lots at the expense of the environment or slave labor is not in harmony with the "Way" of Jesus.

Sure a faith in Jesus' work on the cross is not in question. But do we mirror the Way of Jesus. Our treatment of children, born and unborn should be huge as well as reconciling the people of the diocese to one another. Churches are no longer in diocese accountability, responsible for the people of the area where it was planted. They have become like mini-marts on street corner of convenience and style. Going crosstown to a church because they are doing it right with music and child care takes the responsibility off of people to do the work in their neighborhood. Churches attract people who are easily attracted to stuff instead of people who love their neighbor, let alone people who know their neighbor.

Worship becomes about song selection and not about a deep adoration. We use terms like "community" when we do short time commitments to one another. The Word of God is displayed on a wall instead of in the lives of "believers." We spend more on improving parking lots than on youth director's salaries. Do our programs create programatic believers that reward participation instead of creating character of hope (Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.)

19 November 2006

The Aston Martin...

Christel and I saw the new James Bond movie last night. We liked it. Best chase scene since Steve McQueen's Bullitt only this one is on foot. Not much skin. New title sequence, without skin. Great villain. Jeffrey Wright. Not much in the way of gadget except the Sony Ericsson K800i.

Still a bit violent but then again it is 007.

I do like the cars.

Deeds unknown...

Good conversations lately that bring light to dark areas.


16 November 2006

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men do nothing’

Much has been on my mind these past few weeks. I haven't written much because it doesn't seem to come out right.

Some hard accusations have risen from the summer that I am trying to walk righteously through. Criticisms hopefully will turn to wisdom and maturity and not fear and bitterness.

Some good friends are leaving which bring deep sadness but a deeper joy for their relationship that is not over.

Lies of the enemy in my ear.

Weight gain. Hair loss. Eye twitches.

New seasons beginning with much uncertainty. Intermittent hope.

A late harvest Chardonnay.

12 November 2006

New addition: The Food Corner...

Christel and I went out to dinner last night with Dan and Suzanne Kimball at a great new Italian restaurant in Fresno, Casa Mariani 2. The Casa Mariani 1 is located in Bari, Italy. The chef, Tony Mariani and his wife, Marlena hosted an exquisite meal with wonderful antipasti (made especially for us), pastas, and desserts. Dan brought a great bottle of Syrah from Justin Vineyards (Paso Robles) which complimented the time together and the food. To end the dinner, Tony sat with us and we drank a little limoncello to cleanse the palate and a delightful digestive.

Good conversation, good food... that's what a weekend should be.

09 November 2006

You know me...

I was reading Psalm 139 and for some reason I skipped over the part where it says,
"O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me"

I then asked, why that is not a bigger deal to me? That should be huge...

07 November 2006


I was asked yesterday, and quite often these days, if this was my "non-busy season?"

I told her that we are ramping up and that I am very busy in my head. I have many meetings with people, ideas to present, conversations I need to have, new games developed, etc., but they are mostly in my head. I deal with the issues from last summer, problems that happened and why, what people said about me and how can I improve, start listening for a word or phrase that encapsulates the theme of the summer, etc. Now that Nellie is on board I can work with her in many areas but a lot of the action is still in my head.

This month begins design of programs and what we want to accomplish, and understanding what resources we need to accomplish it and then finding people, some money, information, etc., to make it happen.

I sit alone and think mostly, looking like I am not doing anything. I guess I could do what we did last year...


I am not sure where I would rather be.
Not famous, but there is always the potential to be.
Famous now, but knowing any day this could be over.
Once famous, and rarely remembered.

02 November 2006

Just to touch on politics for a second...

John Kerry's botch joke, Foley's botch text message, Florida state Rep. Ralph Arza's botched voice mail, etc. It reminds me of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction... a boob is starting to show.

It is time politicians quit trying to be funny, relevant, hip, powerful and start being agents of change and responsibility. Go home John Kerry with the others, check into a rehab or whatever, but go home. Your 15 minutes are up...

01 November 2006

Diet Coke and Mentos...

Ordinations can be fun...

Presbyterians do not know how to party. Oh, we can throw a mean harvest festival but we really don't know how to party down and get funky when it comes to ordaining people. Somberilitation is the theme. No one shows their excitement for the young man or woman who just completed 3 or 4 years of seminary after 4 or 5 years of undergrad work and will be working for 25 to 30 years paying off the financial loans that they borrowed to accomplish The Call. I have been to many of them and they all seem the same. We have cake, punch, mixed nuts (I take most of the cashews), and some vegetables (which is a clear indicator of somberility). We sit at round tables and catch up on our children and their education or lack of. Small talk about the church where the newly ordained will be serving and the weather over there. And some prognosticators give a prediction when the new pastor will be a senior pastor.

Ordinations should be fun. There could be a theme where we come dressed as our favorite period of Christiandom (The Crusades or as the door in Whittenburg with a bunch of post-it notes all over you, a Billy Graham rally, or remember the Emergent Era?). Debates should be held in the Northex room. Someone should start the new traditional ordination meal of Shrimp Quesadillas and Guinness. Or a good Fondue could be the thing. A Princetonian could bring their hooka. There should be dancing... ballroom or salsa, the kind that takes up the whole room, not just a 15' by 15' parquet floor that you rent from TruValue. People would want to get in on the list if there was a real party going on.

Or go for the major pomp and pageantry route. Everyone comes in their robes. Women in big hats, oh what the heck, men could wear big hats as well. Everything buttoned up, no cleavage showing (except from the mother-in-law and the custodian). Trumpets played to announce the arrival of the ordainee or a good mariachi band in full regalia. Scriptures read in Latin with subtitles on the PowerPoint. Red carpet is brought out. And everyone gets a gift when they leave, like cufflinks or wallets.

I know this sounds expensive and I have probably lost the true meaning of ordination. If we get too creative there could be a reality show called Platinum Ordinations.

Sorry, I was just thinking...