Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Uncle Johnny

Uncle Johnny was our fraternity cook. He lived downstairs in a room in the basement. He drove a Cadillac he "purchased" on the street. The locks were drilled out. He paid $175 for his false teeth. He got as far as the 5th grade. He could cook.


Well, except on the days we were bad. If we had a midnight snack and left his (oh, it WAS his) kitchen dirty, dinner would be "different." Uncle Johnny had a can of white pepper about the size of a Prius in the back of the kitchen cabinet. It was liberally sprinkled in, though and under dinner. Dessert, too.


We got the point. There were boundaries we future scientists and engineers must not cross or bear the consequences.


My life has been painful at the very times I pushed the boundaries. Oh, I would weasel and finger-point and defensively rationalize. But the truth was, I was bearing the bitter fruit of living outside God's Kingdom.


In Lent, I spend more time asking where some of the ugly fruit (anger, compulsions, procrastination, frenetic busyness) came from. I have crossed boundaries and wandered out of the Kingdom. Repentance is turning around and heading back home. I am thankful the way is always clear.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are

children born in one's youth. Psalm 127:4


I spent the evening of my birthday with my family: two daughters, one son-in-law and three grandchildren and my wife. It felt good.


A number of things crossed my mind and heart


  • I didn't do half bad.
  • How did I get so lucky as to have convinced a woman like my wife to marry me?
  • I really do like my grandchildren. We oddly speak a common language that I did not share with my girls when they were in their youth.
  • The world of my youth is light years away from that of my grandkids.
  • My girls, in their 30's, are still in flux. I was finishing a career in upper management of the oil industry by then; ready to start a new career as priest.
  • A lot of things just do not matter any more. They were so important in my youth.
  • What?!! I have a granddaughter in high school?!!!
  • What will it be like to exit center stage?
  • I'm slowing down.
  • What will my next career be?
  • Where did the years go?
  • I miss my mom: that feisty, spiritual, chain smoking, truck-stop-coffee-drinking dynamo ("I may be small, but I'm mighty!" she used to say.)
  • I have a few, fantastic friends.
  • I have a church of wonderfully crazy God-lovers who are up for anything. I love their energy.
  • Yeah, for mentors (Thanks, Carl, Leo, Rick, and John)
  • Did I really do that in my youth?
  • I want to give.
  • I am content.



God is good. Thanks, God.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I was 37 and I was right. I let him know I was right. About 10 different ways. Went to seminary, ya know. Said them pretty eloquently if I say so myself. Case closed.


Not so fast, sonny (okay, they did not call me that but I know they were thinking it.) You can be right and sensitive at the same time. You need to apologize. His wrong did not excuse yours.


Somehow, I guessed that being right exempted me from being sensitive. I don't know why I thought this. I never saw Jesus do it. I drove over and apologized. No "but's." Just an apology.


Guess what? We talked. Turns out he had a fear that he was nursing. The fear was real and could be addressed. Together, we addressed it.


I am older now. Wiser, I'd like to think. Wisdom seems to arise out of pain more than pleasure. May I never be righteously right again. How bout you?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lent Madness Second Round Results

The Second round saw a number of close overtime games. In the second round of Lent Madness, there were some upsets as well. The Altar Guild took a drubbing from the Breakfast Club, 81-46 but the Breakfast Club may meet its match in the Third Round when it plays the powerhouse Acolytes.


In other games, the Acolytes blew out last week's surprise winners, the Bread Bakers, 100-28. Pumpkin Patch spanked Visitor's Bags, 116-10. Commissioners are considering rescinding the automatic bid to the Greeter Conference.  This would allow the Counters to enter the brackets if the Money Grubber's Conference is offered an automatic berth next year. In a game marked by bad referee calls, the Staff outlasted previously unbeaten Andrew's Academy, 66-60.


In other scores,


The Church has Left the Building conquered God Rocks!, 76-56, and was accused of running up the score on the little kids. Their coach will have a 5 game suspension at the beginning of next year. The charge of "bulking up" on animal crackers against God Rock! has been dropped by the NCAA. Daughters of the King lost to the Band, 76-54 after 3 of the Daughters stated that they were "One and done" and unexpectedly turned pro. 


The Youth Sponsors lost in overtime to the Campaign of Kindness, 64-62, asking, "Where's the love?" Also, in overtime, Head Start Christmas squeaked by Meals on Wheel by the same score


This week's Elite 8 match ups, with the Las Vegas line


o       Breakfast Club vs Acolytes (take Breakfast Club, give 4 points)

o       Staff  vs Church Has Left The Building (Staff + 15)

o       Band vs. Campaign of Kindness (Take COK because of it excess Lenten TV coverage)

o      Head Start Christmas vs. Pumpkin Patch (no line due to Pumpkin's extreme home court winning streak)


 Competition continues this Sunday, 4/3/11, at 8:00 and 10:30 am.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Twitter Bible – Gospel of Matthew


1-Jesus is Messiah-Paternal genealogy back to Abraham- Mary pregnant- Angel visits Joseph. "It's all good, name him Immanuel."


2-Herod-no competitors! Magi w/gifts-Tell family-flee! All skip town. Herod mad. Kills boys-Herod dies-J Family returns


t3-John Baptist-repent! Granola lifestyle.Quizzed by relig. dudes-John makes em mad-Change ways! Jesus baptzd-God pleazd

4-Jesus tested by devil to misuse gifts. Jesus good. Devil gives up. Jesus preachz. Fulfils prophcy. Calls followers. Heals sick

5-SermonOnMount. It's about followin, not talkin. B salt & light 2 world! Law still valid but view it through eyes of luv.

6-RU a spiritual hypocrit?-help needy-short prayrs best-Lord's Pryr a "howto"-You pik:serve God or your stuff-worry less-seek Kingdm

7-Judging othrs bakfires-ask God-skip ez route-not evry1 who speaks 4 God does-tru followers do as God asks-build life on solid grnd

8-Outcasts clean-Roman has mor faith thn Chosen-following J costly, not ez-Disciples faith puny-demons leave man, sent 2 pigs

9-J forgivs man-relig dudes mad-J calls sinners, J sez 2 all: get yur mind on straight-trust in J heals-few ans call 2 follw

10-J sends The 12-Go 2 Jews only-travel lite-say God's Realm near-offer peace but will be hard on u-don't fear-u r me- hang on:reward!

11-J fails relig expectations-J sez:look at fruit not form!-Baptizer prepares-change ways-Jsus: woe 2 hard harted-C me,see Father

12-J Lrd of God's time-J c's self as Isaiahlike Servnt-relig folk say J the devil-J sez judge fruit of actions not looks

13-Kingdom stories-God's Realm worth all-appeals to seekers-baffles others-a little K yields bumper crop-hold off judging crop

14-John loses hed | compassion heals | 5k fed w/ resources @ hand | Jsus prays | Discples afraid | Jsus encourages trust

15-Godz will trumps religus fussynss | Jesus' way ofends religus leadrs | faith mor import thn religus pedigree | 4k fed

16-Relig dudes need sign-R U 4 real Jsus?-relig foofoo no substitute for leaning on God-Peter's faith both a rock&shaky

17-Jsus shows BFF's tru self-BFF get weak kneed-Peter wants 2 build theme park-Jsus reminds:not memorials but risk heals

18-Greatest r servants | clear away everything that hinders service | work out differences faithfully, NOW | 4give-no limit!

19-Status Quo'ers rationliz a "pass" 4 sins-Childlik trust opns heavn-Follow X bettr thn dogooderism-Listn up! Last 1st

20-God not fair, prefers 2 reach all | Disciplshp no picnic | Discipls  dense, fit X in2 their expectatons | dn-and-outers get it

21-J hailed fave son-angry w/priorties of "religus"-Real faith heals-authorties burn-God's kids do as asked-religus mad

22-God's favor:low membrshp threshold/hi disciplshp expectations - dont blow it!- Relig dudes lay trap-It's all abt luv

23-Relig busybodies R showboatrs-No, servants r 1st-Dont B caretakr of religion, you'll lose out & hurt others-God Primo

24-Discipls:we R confusd, what's up?-Jess: bad news B4 gd-Will get worse-EZ (faithlss) answrs will B offered- Hang w/Me

25-#Life God's Way is this: It's there for the prepared, Use it or lose it, That person in front of you is #Christ

26-J prepard 4 death-betrayd-J sez gd bye ovr a sacred meal: Consume me & world not consume U-Jesus prays-arrested-Peter denies

27-Judas shuns blood $, kills self-Pilate duz wats expedient 2 save hide-Xify him!-J Xifed-Outsidr gets it-body entombd

28-J Alive: dont b afraid-men vanish/women presnt-resurrectd J tels followrs: dont wallow in moment-Go!-Make mor-I M /u

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Somewhere, about 200 miles out of Farmington, NM, I stopped. I was on my way to a drill rig inside Bryce Canyon National Park. Snow. I had to chain-up the car to go any further. Before I returned to the warmth of my Ford Torino company piece-of-junk (120,000 miles of dirt roads,) I stopped and looked at the night sky. Stars. Lots of them. Where were you hiding?


The night sky looks much different in the middle of no where. Without the interference of city lights, more, smaller, weaker stars show up. It is almost as if they appeared out of thin air. Truth is, they were always there. I just was hindered in seeing them.


God tells us that he is up to things all around us. He is building a new word. He is operating in a new reality. Question is, will we see it or are we blinded by the glare of our crammed lives? There is beauty in the glitter of this world but it pales compared to the reality behind it. We need both.


Stop and see what God sees. It is beautiful. If you cannot see it, trust it is there. It will appear, even if briefly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fed UP

 21 "I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
   your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
   I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
   I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
   I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
   righteousness like a never-failing stream!  Amos 5:20-24 


Do you get fed up? God does. He even hates things. In this case, our worship.  Our churchiness. Our Sunday Club. Specifically, when our spiritual life becomes hollow. When we go through the motions.  When the walk and the talk are miles apart. When we pay lip service to God and full service to us.


God is very clear. His agenda is people. Relationships. Justice. He has no time for religious showmanship or pomposity or busyness. God wants his people to address injustices. Serve the poor. Visit the lonely. Embrace the odd duck.


Get mad (and invest time, heart and money) at an injustice that speaks to you and do something for God.


People matter and so do their conditions. God hates the status quo. And in challenging it, we regain our life.


Lent Madness First Round Results

Busted Brackets already!! After the first round of Lent Madness, there were some upsets. The God Rocks! kids squeaked by Financial Peace, 44 to 40 (bet the kid's cash envelopes will be empty this week,) and the Sunday morning Breakfast Club had to come from behind to beat Rock U. 44-42.


In other games, the Acolytes blew out the Chalice Bearers 56-6. Pumpkin Patch spanked Offertories 60-4. Some have accused the selection committee of purposely bypassing the Counters for a berth in the competition in favor of the traditionalist favorite Offertories. Investigation ongoing.


In other scores,


Daughters of the King were surprise winners over the Office Volunteers, 38-36. The Band easily beat the Ushers (bet they will bring the offering up early this next Sunday to throw off the Band's offertory,) 46-20. Elsewhere, Youth Sponsors handled the Greeters, 48-24, Campaign of Kindness trounced the Nursery 56-20. Head Start Christmas overcame a first half drubbing to win handily, 38-20.


Meals on Wheels beat Vacation Bible School, 38-36 on a blown call in the last minute. Visitor bags were a surprise upset over highly ranked k-2nd Lock-in, 32-30. Top ranked Altar Guild found the Lay Readers no competition, 50-28. Bread Bakers cruised to a 38-20 win over Prayer Cards (guess who's NOT praying for another Bread Baker win?)


The Church Has Left the Building 42, Fishwrap Newsletter, 22. Staff 36, Clickers 14. Andrew's Academy 48, Stations of the Cross 10.


This week's match ups, with the Las Vegas line


o       Altar Guild vs. Breakfast Club (take AG, give 4 points)

o       Acolytes vs. Bread Bakers (even)

o       Andy's Academy vs. Staff (Staff + 5)

o       Church Has Left The Building vs. God Rocks! (take God Rocks! +4)

o       Daughters of the King vs. Band (toss up)

o       Youth Sponsors vs. Campaign of Kindness (Take COK because of home court advantage)

o       Head Start Christmas vs. Meals on Wheels (no line)

o       Pumpkin Patch vs. Visitor's Bags (take VB +15)


Competition, this Sunday, 3/27/11, at 8:00 and 10:30 am.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

All Hell Breaks Loose

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you

and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad,

because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they

persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:11-12


Are you in trouble? Not because you screwed up big time. No, because you follow Him.


When was the last time the boss, coach, teacher, child, director, friend, neighbor, parent, even stranger let you have it with both barrels specifically because you said, "Can't, cause I follow Him?" Or "Must, because I follow Him?"


When have they accused you of having your priorities all screwed up because you follow Him? And tried to coerce or manipulate you into changing your mind?


When have you lost status, prestige, money, or reputation because you follow Him?


   "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

   "'a man against his father,
   a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
   a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

                                                      Matthew 10:34-35


Pray all Hell breaks loose because I follow Him. I'll pray for if you'd like.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Twitter Bible - Book of Genesis in 140 characters a chapter

1-God maks somthing out of zip-What God maks is gd-People made in God's image-told Increase, Subdue, Rule. Eat yr veggies

2-God rests-Creation remix-God mks dustdude-All yours but U cant B God-God not gd at makin helpers, finally mks Eve-nakd

3-snake tempts coupl 2 take Godz place-they do-realiz they R vulnerable now-God strolls, they hide-blame game-consequences

4-Sibling rivalry-Cain kils Abel-blod revenge wory-new zipcode 4 Cain outside #paradise-Seth born-people need #God

5-Adam's family tree-Ancestors live to be super geezers-Adam lives to 930-Noah becomes father at 500!

6-Humans gon wild-God ticked off, has regrets/shortens life, plans 2 get rid of them-Noah gets weird orders-obeys

7-God sez bring on the animals and your family-flood of a lifetime coming-Noah obeys-water comes-all life wiped out

8-Oh yeah, #Noah & that H2O thingy-dries-dov sez all gd-birds: whoa, now we're bein sacrificd!-no total wipeout redux

9-#Noah, run show!-skip bloody meat-murdr not-now no wipeout by H2O-rainbo reminds God-Noah drunk & naked-son sees, 86'd

10- Genealogy -Sons of #Noah- Japheth's clan spreads out north-Ham's flies south-Shem is a homie (#Jesus clan)

11-Babel folks think theR hot stuf-build tower 2 occupy heavn-cut out God middleman-God confuses speech- scatterd-Abram's fam

12-God tels Abram 2 Go-leve cushy life-goes-builds altr-worshps-on 2Egypt-tells wife:lie-say UR sis-backfires on Pharaoh

13-Abram thrives in Egypt-Abram and Lot go separate ways-Sodom sins-God tells Abram "Land and offspring" are yours

14-Kings rebel/dfeat Sodom/Gomorrah; Lot hostage-escapee tells Abram-318 get back Lot+stuff-King Mel blesses,gets 10%

15-Abram no kids-Lord says no problem, you'll have bazillions-Abram trusts-Ab dreams-kids will have 400 tough years

16-Abram wife barren, sleeps w/ wife's maid-Conceives-Wife jealous-Maid flees-Angel sez go back-Does. Ishmael born

17-God:be gd-get kids-Covenant:circumcision sign U R w/ God-O,geezer Sarah will B mom 2-Abe thinks is funny-God a punster

18-men visit-Abe hospitable-Men:wife 2 have kid-Wife pushing 100, laughs-Lord miffed-Abe haggles Gd dn on destructn thing

#19-Angels visit Lot-neighbors demand sex;struck blind-Sodom&G destroyed-Lot's wife bcomes salt-daughters preggers by dad

20-Abe lies again about wife being sister-king almost sleeps with wife, irks god-Abe admits weenieness-king gifts

21-Isaac born 2 geezers-puns cont(Isac=Gd laughs)-Sarah jealus:wants maid/son outta hre-Gd sez,all will B gd-Abe maks peace

22-Gd tests Abe-askd 2 sacrifice son(only hope  4 a legacy)-Abe goes 2 do it-Last min reprieve-Abe's kin 2 B a blessing

23-Sarah dies @ 127-Abe asks locals 4 burial plot-Local owner gracious in offering land & cave-Mamre becomes family plot

24-Abe sends servant 2 find perfct wife 4 son;coupl 2 stay local-prayers answerd, Rebekah perfect-Lord does gr8 work!

25-Abe dies-Ishmael's kin hostile 2 Abe's-Bekka has twins who fight even in womb: Jacob(mama's boy) & Esau(macho man)

26-God promises Isaac same(land,kin,light 2 others)-Is pulls "she's my sister" routine-Is thrives-Esau's wives truble

27-Isaac old-Esau, get me hunters stew-Mom plays favrites,pulls switch of sons-Jacob tricks dad,gets Esau's blesing-Run!

28-Isaac sez,"Marry kin, no foreignrs"-Esau maries foreignr 2 hurt dad-Jacob blessd-Jac lets God B his god if God delivrs

29-Jacob seeks wife-falls 4 cousin, her dad sez work 4 wife, switches 4 lesser daughter-2 wives-God gives child 2 lesser 1

30-Rachel barren-tells Jacob 2 zzz w/ maid-sisters battle 4 mor kids-Finally, Rachael has son-Jacob tricks Fatherinlaw

31-Laban mad, Jacob flees, sez God told him it will be all good-Laban confronts-Jacob/Laban covenant

32-Jake goes home 2 face Esau who he cheatd-scard-prays-splits enturage-wants 2 pacify bro-Jacb wrestls w/Gd-renamd Israel

33-Jake,fearful of reunion w/Esau, puts expendable folks up front-Surprise!-Esau gracious-Jacob settles back home

34-Jake daughtr Dinah raped by outsidr-Sez its luv-Marry?--Jacb sons tell outsidrs 2 B circumczed- 2 sons slay outsdr guys

35-God 2 Jacob,86 4reign gods-go 2 Bethel(houseofGod)-God sez again, yr name Israel-youl B gr8 nation-Rachel/Isaac die

36 - Esau's family tree, father of Edomites-names, names, names-Edom become nemesis of Israel

37-Jake plays favs w/Joe,givs flashy robe-Guess wht?siblings h8 him 4 it-Joe dreams he will rule sib-sibs h8 more,sell Joe off

38-Judah kids-1 maries, dies-Judah 2 #2 son:Make baby w/widow-won't-he dies, Widw tricks Judh in2 sex-Judh wantd prostitute!

39 -Joe thrives as captive in Egypt-he's a looker-masters wife: hey, hook up?-he wont-shes mad-Joe jailed, thrives there 2

40-Joe interprets dreams in jail 4 2 of Pharaohs court-drems come tru-both freed-Taster gets job bck,Baker loses hed

41-Pharo drems-7 fat yrs/7 skiny-troubld-xperts duds-Joe helps-givs God cred 4 interp-offrs busnes pln 4 famin-J put n charg

#Bible Gen42 -Jake "Quit sittin on butt, get food"-Ben, fav son stays bak-Sons go 2 Joe but dont recognze-Joe asks 4 Ben-Jake upset

43-Jake "More grain! Famine"-Judah:need Ben then 2 go back-Joe glad 2 C Ben: weeps-feast?-boys worried they R in trouble

44 - Joe plays tricks on bros 2 hold on 2 Ben-Bros claim "Innocent!" of theft-This will just kill dad-take 1 of us

45-Joe reveals tru identity to bros-Bros OMG/terrified-Joe explains all okay, God blessed him-sends 'em packing w/goodies

46-God2Jake:make u gr8 nation in Egypt-names, names names:genealogy-70 make trek 2 Egypt-Jake sees Joe, happy man!

47-Joe presnts family 2 Pharaoh-Jake blesses Phar who grants rights 2 Joe's fam-Joe shrewd handling commerce-gets wealthy

48-Joe visits Jake on deathbed-Jake claims Joe's Egyptian sons as own-Jake bleses Joe but giv prefrence 2 last born o'Joe

49-Jake blesses sons but sum blessing sound more lk curses-All will not B well-Jake dies, asks 2 B buried w/ancestors

50-Joe/bros bury Jake near Mamre-Bros fear: now Joe get us 4 dumpin him-Joe sez:you did evil, God used it 4 gd-Joe dies

Thursday, March 17, 2011


What (not where) is your wilderness? We start Lent with Jesus in the wilderness being tempted to take shortcuts in life and seek an easy way out. Our wilderness is whatever in our life leads us to seek an easy way out. Notice that God's Spirit leads us into the wilderness. God knows that the road to real life goes straight through the wilderness. God's all for wilderness experiences. In fact, they are necessary.


Too often, we give up (or take on) things for Lent that, while missed, are really no big deal. A minor inconvenience. Certainly, not wilderness stuff.


True wildernesses are thrust upon us. Drive us crazy. Cause us to wilt. Make us search for a quick exit. Our wilderness may be a job loss, marital strife, kid problems (or parent problems,) addiction, illness, dead-end job, death of a loved one, homelessness or foreclosure, emptiness, bankruptcy, a DWI.


To face our Devil in our wilderness certainly takes God but it also takes our action. Action against the thing we do to "medicate" our wilderness experience instead of facing it. Putting down the drink or the credit card. Stop trying to impress or relive college. Finding a place (friend) where we can grieve instead of putting on a good face. Therapy, even though we say we cannot afford it (we really cannot afford not to.) Patience. Forgiving, for God's sake (ours, too.) Losing weight. Dumping the smokes. Shutting down the porn.


Real life waits beyond the wilderness. God will get us through. We will not know life till we trust God to carry us. I pray life for you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who is Your Audience?

I like audience approval. I know when they are hanging on every word and, alas, I know when I have lost them. In our self-esteem culture, audience approval is much sought after.


Sometimes, we do dumb things in order to seek the approval of our peers. Most of mine included moving parts and alcohol.


Sometimes, we misbehave or pout in order that the audience pay more attention to us. I hit a low spot in seminary where I had a period of "look at me," especially when others were recognized.


Sometimes, we live wounded and the audience we haven't forgiven is not longer present.  Four years of therapy helped me to forgive.


Sometimes, we work our butts off to appease the audience inside. Pieces of calligraphied paper, plaques and press clippings were the food of my early career even as my family suffered.


The only audience that truly matters is God. All other audiences have mixed agendas. Most do not mean harm but our well-being is not their ultimate goal. No one is completely selfless.


God loves you. Period. Get over it. If you do nothing. When you fail. Even when you show off and get shown up. God just enjoys you. Please God. Life blooms.


What would you do differently if the only audience that mattered was God? And he was already pleased.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cue the Earthquake

Human suffering is all around us. Japan is but a recent example. That means it is time for someone to step forward and suggest that this is really God's punishment. Pat Robertson claimed Haiti was punished by the earthquake. Recently, Glenn Beck and Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara (link here) suggested that God's was exercising divine punishment with the earthquake/tsunami. The governor later rescinded his comment.


I do not believe natural disasters are punishment from God. This includes ones on a smaller scale: cancer, death, unemployment, love lost. Scripture states we all have (and still do) sin (Romans 3:23.) Scripture further says that Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15.) Jesus goes further and claims that disasters offer a chance for God love to shine (example John 9:1-3.) Jesus avoids the cause/effect punishment scenario. If we were to be punished for our offenses, Jesus would have come and French-fried all of us. We would be nothing but an oily spot on the couch.


This is not to say that there are not consequences to pack-a-day habits, workaholic marriages, and neglect. It is to say that God loves his children and his children include all of us. Ones who seem unworthy and ones who think they are worthy. God never wastes a creation, a person being the crown jewel of his creations.


I have come to value the phrase, "I don't know." I don't know why random stuff happens. I trust Jesus Christ in that my focus should move from blame and speculation to the expectation of God's goodness in the face of what I don't understand. And that goodness requires I participate (my role is not one of spectator or speculator.) My prayers and my financial support go to Japan.


"God, manifest yourself gloriously."

Monday, March 14, 2011


Are you right? Is it important that you are right? In 43 years of marriage and 25 years of listening to people as a priest, it seems being right is very important. Being right seems so noble, so superior. "I know my rights" is as American as apple pie.


Jesus seemed uninformed about his rights. The truth is, he waived his rights in heaven (Philippians 2.) "Rights" were not in his vocabulary. Love was.


I notice when people claim their rights, relationships often suffer. Maybe that's why Jesus avoided exercising them. After all, he was God and we were not carrying on well. When I exercise my rights, I usually have decided I want to impose my will and "get it over with" rather than mutually work things out.


Jesus spoke of love, the prime element of life-giving relationships. Love builds up. Love is a lifestyle where what's best for the subject of our affection is more a concern than our rights.


What will dominate your week? Love or rights? Love wins.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Not clergy's favorite day. Another time change Sunday down. Maybe 5-6 more before retirement. This year, it was the beginning of Spring Break as well. Clergy know there will be three "low energy" (and attendance days) a year: the Sundays after "springing" forward, Easter and Christmas. Just not fun days for clergy when so many take off.


The First Sunday of Lent, Jesus took off as well. He did not escape. He took of to the wilderness to test and strengthen his relationship with God. To be tempted to ditch God for quick relief and quick fame.


The wilderness is really any place we are tested and tempted. Illness, financial strife, unemployment, addiction, family conflict, work pressure, any loss and even some gains. The temptation is to escape rather than face it. Jesus faced it.


The wilderness is always a place of danger. Will we strengthen our relationship with God? Will we lean on God in our weakness? Will we be drawn away by the glitter of the big promises  and quick fixes of the world?


Make this a Holy Lent. Test yourself by leaning on God more and comfort less. Know that God is anxiously awaiting you to call on him. God is dependable. Test it. There is more to you than you know.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


People like being certain. We judge. We plan. We're sure. We know. We have you pegged. We're certain you can't change. This will (won't) work. We have the right answers. Tomorrow will be much like today or yesterday (that can be a happy statement or a dreaded one.) We're certain. Certainty has a comfy feel.


I am certain I will die. Not too sure about the intermediate details. I have come to realize that, for the most part, control and certainty are illusions created by me to hide the aforesaid certainty I do know. I was once dust. I'll be there again.


I have come to deal with life's uncertainty less by hiding from it (though I still do) and more by letting God handle it. Somewhere in God's 'to do' list, God has it covered. And it will be all right.


Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight   Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


As Lent begins, I want to encourage you to stop looking for God.








No, I mean it. The Bible is all about God poking us, interrupting our lives, speaking out of turn, challenging us, making us stand in the corner, being humored by us, devastated by us, making  audacious requests of us. We may hide from God (Adam and Eve.) We may jettison God for conventional wisdom (Samuel searching for a king.) We may complain to God (lots- throw a dart at a Psalm.) We may "honor" God if he will do us a favor (Jacob.) We may even feel like giving God advice (Job or Abraham.) We really don't do much searching for God. We search for relief.


And that's okay. God is on it. In fact all over it. What we really need to do this Lent is to



                    stop  (no really)



Let the noise of our lives die down for a moment. God's already shown up, he just cannot get a word in edgewise. If we really look at it, much of our "noise" we put there because we do not want to be reminded that "we are dust and to dust we shall return." What we are looking for is mostly anything but God. Something (someone) to dull the pain of uncertainty and lack of control. Yet only God has overcome the World.


Today, before you (and I) pig out on busyness, have dessert first.




                                                                    stop, God's there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


for dust you are and to dust you will return Genesis 3:19b


God, thanks for showing pastoral sensitivity and cushioning the blow!


Yet, it is the truth. God made dust, not me. God blew life into dust, not me. God has numbered my days, not me. I will become dust again.


I am in control! (pause here for irony to set in)


Ash Wednesday is the day we remind ourselves that we are not God and we have done a pretty crappy job of attempting to be God.  God tells us that to be loved is more important than to be God.


When I play God, I slowly squeeze the life out of people and events. Grind them into dust if you will. When I love, God working in me can even raise things long thought to be dead.


I hope your Lent is directed by sacrificial love and your disciple of love transforms you.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Words are important. They build up. They comfort. They misdirect. They tear down.


Words either create or destroy. This past week, I saw both. A word formed in anger, shot to kill. The wound was deep. A word meant to cover up a lack of effort, drove a wedge into a relationship. A word of encouragement that lead someone to see God afresh after decades of isolation. A word that made a loss more bearable.


Scripture reminds us of the truth about words and our call to employ them judiciously


o       God creates with words           

o       And God said, "Let there be light," Genesis 1:3


o       Jesus is the Word of God         

o       In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1


o       Jesus sustains with his word  

o       he sustains all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3b


o       Words destroy                        

o       The tongue also is a fire….sets the whole course of one's life on fire…James 3:6


o       A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28


o       Words cut both ways               

o       The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them. Proverbs 12:6


How will you create (or destroy) with words today?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


There was a lot of buzz this morning over the fact that Brigham Young University dismissed basketball player, Brandon Davies, for violating the school Honor Code. He had premarital sex with his girlfriend. Oh, and the BYU basketball was #3 in the nation and eyeing a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. They lost, without Davies, last night to lowly New Mexico. Oh, well.


My undergraduate school also had an Honor Code we agreed to upon accepting our admission. Much of this morning's buzz made fun of the code, Mormons in general and felt the punishment was extreme or unfair. "Play for my team!" they cried.


But what about giving our word and agreeing to abide by the norms of a school, church, marriage, a job or the military (among many others?) Our word does not seem to mean as much as it once did. "My word" once meant, "I will follow through no matter what the cost." Today, it seems to mean, "I will follow through until something better comes along."


What happens to life when we can no longer count on each other to follow through on our word? Recount when was the last time you followed through at great personal sacrifice. What does your word mean?


5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
   by taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!   Philippians 2:5-8

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The Supreme Court ruled that Westboro Baptist Church had the constitutional right to protest at military funerals. This protest was done in the minds of most, including my own, in the most vile and hateful way. Signs and chants protested that the soldier's death was a punishment from God for America being godless. "God Hates Fags." "God Hates America." "God Blew Up The Shuttle." "Thank God for 9/11" And so on.


I am not a constitutional lawyer, so I am not the one to ask about free speech issues. Evidently, this is protected free speech. I am a Christian, however, and I take my vocation seriously. I do believe that these folks are misguided and do not represent my God nor the God of Jesus Christ. What do I do, if anything?


First, I exercise my free speech. I write this and it will be posted many places. I do not believe the God of Love chooses arbitrarily to take the life of a random person as an object lesson for the rest of us. Justice would demand a fairer system of punishment. God will judge but I do not believe it will be random or arbitrary.


Christ died for our sins. God could have skipped that and fried us a long time ago. Evidently, that was not in God's plans. God wants it all back. Voluntarily.


I believe God is a God of both Mercy and Justice. I cannot help but think that God would not call us to burden bereaving families further with such painful protests.


We are all sinners. The Bible says so. Westboro members as well. They show no humility. The fruit the Spirit of God leaves behind embraces humility. Leave room for God.


I am aware that America and I, Jim, are both imperfect. We do, in fact, need to clean up our act and pursue justice in the way Jesus urged. That same Jesus Christ gave a second chance for those of us who are a mixture of noble and ignoble to help life bloom despite our faults. God does want us to pursue justice.


Second, since the protests will continue, I hope we will turn out in greater numbers to support grieving families. We have free speech as well. Use our tongues and presence for good. This includes not berating the protestors, even if we may argue with them.


What do you think? What's your understanding of God have to say about this? Is there any call to action for you? We are the ambassadors of Christ.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)


A friend of mine (named Will) enjoyed saying that he was "God's Will."  As a pastor, I get asked the question, "How do I determine God's Will?" more often than any other question. It is an important question.


I don't believe that God has a secret, "you-better-get-it-right-or-you-screwed-up-big-time" plan that we have to guess at as if it were a game. No loving father or mother would do that. I believe we have many destinations that God would approve of. I do believe God leaves "footprints" in our lives, pointing the way you follow. So, God's Will has more to do with the trip than the destination.


The "footprints" I examine on a regular basis (One never "gets it," It is faith after all) are;


·         Does my trip square with scripture? I am not looking for a passage that gives me the answer. Rather, does my direction fit within the bigger story?


·         What bubbles up in my time with God, especially over the long haul? (Prayer is more listening than talking)


·         Are there precedents in faith history or human history, especially ones with fruitful outcomes?


·         What do my closest confidants say? These confidants are one who love me unconditionally, do not need me to do anything for them, and can risk telling me that I am full of it, knowing I won't let go either. These types of friends are rare.


·         I chart a course saying, "Forgive me if I am moving without you, Lord."


·         I monitor the fruit, changing course when it is rotten.


·         I enjoy the ride. Mike Yaconelli, Christian writer and satirist, told me that when he died (he is now deceased) that he wanted to be able to look God in the face an say (with much gusto,) "What a ride!!!!"


God's Will is that you have life and have it in abundance. Tell me how you discern God's Will.