Thursday, December 27, 2007

Transparency


Confession is for me, not them. Everyone else already knows my sin. They know yours too. Secrets are an illusion for those stuck on earth.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Marsupial Love



My son came home to visit last night. We had a wonderful evening but he spent plenty of time on his phone talking and texting. About 2 months ago his girlfriend of 18 mos. called their relationship quits. They spent so much time together that for all intents and purposes they were married, joined at the soul, a couple. So after about a month of grief and sorrow and anger he went out with another girl. They enjoyed spending time together too and soon they are a couple. Girlfriend number one hears through the grapevine that this is happening and wants to reconcile.

So last night I was sitting with my wife tearfully listening to some music that my friend Nektarios sent me, when Roman transforms the scene with tears of his own. Broken hearted, he has told girlfriend no. 1 and no. 2 that he will no longer be trying to maintain relationship, platonic or otherwise, with girlfriend no. 1. He left and went for a walk in the crisp frosty winter night to regroup and pray. Meanwhile I prayed too.

It looks like two marsupial's. When we are in love we take turns doting over that love, carrying it carefully around in our pouches, sharing the responsibility and joy as that love grows. Suddenly, as if someone flipped a switch, that love looks like a great big selfish thing eating us from the inside, eating parts we don't want to have eaten because we really do love ourselves like we were and are afraid of what we are becoming. Our first reaction is to hand the love off to the other party. It isn't getting the nourishment it needs so it gets even more ridiculously needy and hideous and we blame each other for its poor health. This is the time where we have to make a very difficult decision. We either have to succomb to that love and let it eat what parts it wants and discard the parts it doesn't of us until it becomes us and we are it and there no longer is anything to distinguish it apart from ourselves or..... we tear it out of our souls along with part of what we've become and throw it to the ground to lie there trembling and quivering and very much alive but already dead.

So the decision to throw it to the floor is made. But we take pity on that love and we continue to rip little pieces of us off and throw it to the thing lying on the floor - after all it was so cute and cuddly at one time and it is already house-trained and we've grown used to it's chewing....

Then along comes another marsupial with a little bundle of love of their own and even while we are ripping little pieces of our pouch off for the dieing love we begin to nurture and care for the new love all cuddly and sweet and everything and then.....

I guess that is why we are encouraged to love each other with an agape love instead of a storge' love. We just don't have enough of us for the storge' part. The agape type is like a constant spring, cool and clear and refreshing. It takes nothing for itself but gives all from the very beginning, no expectations of the future, no hauntings from the past. It is courageous and sacrificial. It looks like Jesus.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It has been far too long


I went to the city council meeting last night. I love to watch the people as their mouths open and hear whether they are trying to protect something or just being themselves (pretty arrogant of me to think I can even tell the difference). A friend approached me before the meeting. He's on the council and also goes to the church I haven't been going to. I can't say that I 'left the church' because how do you leave a church? The relationships continue, the cross continues, and you just live in this uncomfortable silence for a moment as you greet each other. Really you both know and just accept it - each others position that is.


Anyway, Jim and I talked about a short message that the pastor asked me to give last Sunday. He asked me to talk for five minutes on 'how' I live out my faith at work. It really was difficult to actually put words to the 'how' but I love talking about the 'why' so thats where I stayed with it. Well Jim was moved and expressed that at the meeting. He also told me that he misses the songs I used to write and share with the church. He told me about the church turning their back on him when he divorced his wife and how badly that hurt. How the rumors travelled in whispers and silenced rooms as he danced of the dirge that divorced people dance. That really threw me for a loop. He wasn't saying it as an invitation but really meant it. So I talked to my wife last night about it, in bed, best place to talk. I really thought that the music that was flowing out of me was temporary and that my heart and creativity was directed elsewhere. She told me that I am distracted and that my flow of creativity was being diverted into busyness.


So here I am, pounding out words on a screen and listening to how they sound in my head and praying (I'm constantly distracted but my wife says A.D.D.) for a little direction. I will say this, I haven't felt much more alive than I do right at this moment. Feelings cannot always be trusted though. How 'bout some fruit friend-Jesus? Can we get together on some fruit?


I love.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Precious

I have the greatest job in the world but it doesn't give me enough time to write about it! People are so exquisitely interesting. Today I met four people. Each one of them true and real and alive, all filled with blood, mucus, sweat and tears pouring out of them depending on the activity. A war with pollen and mold brings mucus, a war with evil-tears, a war with flesh - blood, a war with the earth-sweat. Today I met a builder, a milker, a milk hauler, and a dairy farm designer. The one with eyes that seemed most alive was the milker. Big fat dude with manure all down the front of his t-shirt and on most every part of him. He stretched his wide smile over pearly white teeth and we talked about coyotes howling outside his house and how his "old lady" wanted to look for a different house because she gets scared after he leaves at 3:00 a.m. to go milk cows. We talked about growing gardens and eating farm fresh eggs. You have to cool them or they break all up in the pan, fresh eggs don't hold together well. We talked about the deer hunters travelling down his dead-end road. We talked about manure - we can't help but talk about manure at a dairy farm, its everywhere, on his hands, face, and clothes but there he stood grinning and twinkling - precious.

This morning I got a call from my buddy Baldy, the one whose mom died about a month ago. I need to visit his dad, he's giving up on life and just keeps playing some crazy Allan Jackson song about "walking in heaven with you" or something. It breaks my heart to see lovers mourn. I don't think I have anything to say but Baldy thinks I need to come. You can't say anything to a person like that. I'll just go and sit with him. I'll ask him to play me that song - precious.

Friday, September 14, 2007

September 15

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday. She was born in 1934. She died in 2001. I miss her. She gave great hugs (if you didn't know how she would teach you how to hug and she didn't go for any halfway hugs) and made the best oven-fried chicken. She had blue eyes. She had a round face and many many crows feet from her smile that rarely left her face. When they did she was disappointing. She was also very messed up and hit me alot but she loved so strongly that it's been easy to forgive her. I think I probably didn't ever really get mad at her for it. I don't remember hating her like I hated my father. I remember feeling sorry for her. She would get so fierce that I thought something was going to break. When the hurt came down on me I can remember thinking "maybe she'll be okay now and I can say I'm sorry and we'll hug".

I'm glad that she was who she was. I loved hearing her stories about when she was young and single and living it up in Detroit with her girlfriends. I love to look at the photos of her sunbathing in the 50's. She was free from her abusive mother, had several friends and a couple roommates, worked as a keypunch operator at GE. She didn't look like that ever as a mom. She worked almost all the time, back when women ironed sheets. I remember her being exhausted and going to bed by 9:30 p.m. every night. The closest she got to relaxing was when we took a break from hoeing or picking pickles. She'd pour herself half a beer and sit in front of the fan in her sweat-soaked sleeveless white shirt. Her brown hair would be flying every which way making her look much like a TV madman, except for her smile. I felt so sorry for her and wished we were rich then. Her eyes would droop as she relaxed but it would only be for about a 1/2 hour and then we'd be back out again hoeing weeds or picking pickles until 3:00 p.m. Then she'd go in to start dinner and put on her "shows". She'd escape into General Hospital and then get on the phone with my abusive Grandmother to talk about what was going to happen tomorrow. I hope she felt that she lived a good life when she died but I don't think she did.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Carson City Politics

To the residents of Carson City and all those without jobs in Mid-Michigan:

The last lines of Wendell Berry’s poem “A History” reads “This place, that the great nation passed in its hundreds of hundreds, becomes again the place that they were searching for.”

As I read I was reminded of our own fair city of Carson City. I thought of the farmers and families that had carved a life out of mid-Michigan, had coffee together, raised barns, threshed grains, shocked corn, and built schools, churches, and businesses. The industrial revolution and more specifically the automobile has been kind of like the fire in Berry’s poem, “They set fires behind them to discourage pursuit. Behind them, the way would not support another passage.”

We find ourselves, as in Berry’s poem, at the point where the fires are out (as well as many of the manufacturing jobs), the opportunities are popping up like new shoots of grass through the ashes but it will take much vision and determination to culture a different kind of community from the devastation that many call the “Rust Belt”.

Agribusiness will continue to figure prominently but as any farmer knows diversity is the key to success. Picture a landscape broken by a huge wind farm. Farm and municipal waste flowing through sewer lines toward anaerobic digesters to capture the earth-suffocating methane- redeemed as heating fuel or to power a generator. Maybe our roofs will reflect the blue skies as photovoltaics turn sunlight into energy to serve our homes and community. Perhaps a biodiesel plant processing corn stover or wood chips into syngas in a biomass gasification process and using the waste heat to make ethanol or heat a hydroponic greenhouse where fresh vegetables are produced year-around.
Change is right around the corner and I urge you to resurrect and embrace the frontier spirit that calloused the hands of those that came before us. Don’t be drawn into negative politics this fall, concerning yourselves with what has been done wrong, but rather ask what will be done right and choose someone you believe will do it. Indifference is our only enemy. If we are not building we are dying.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Spring Hill Camp


Check out this waterfree urinal. I saw some at the camp and they are clean, not smelly, and use NO water! Since the camp is in the same town as Pepsi's Ice Mountain water plant that is good news to the world. You'll have your bottles full and none of that precious water will be used to wash away urine at the camp. I didn't realize that Ice Mountain was there but we've been enjoying that water for years before it was bottled. My wife's family had a hunting cabin near there and its water supply was/is an artesian well. We stopped by on this trip for a drink even thought we had to trespass to get it (the family sold the place). Our kids have lots of good memories there. Dear Lord forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who cut in the candle dipping lines at the craft barn (dripping hot wax on the heads of 4-yr. olds as they reach over them to dip the ugly candles).
We got back this afternoon from our second annual trip to Spring Hill Camp. The setting is beautiful, food much too plentiful, and accomodations to suit everyone's needs. This year my son and his girlfriend went along with the rest of the family. We had a blast but for some reason it just seemed wrong to me. I didn't rain on everyone else's parade but there is something unsettling about the amount of food that gets thrown away, the squabbles about "what are we going to do next" that we overheard while being shuttled between activities, and the praise and worship that speaks of a God of the good and plenty and not of the God of the suffering, the naked, and the oppressed.
My son and his girlfriend listened to Shane Claiborne (Irresistible Revolution) on the way north. Roman said he felt like he should join the Peace Corps or something. Hopefully he'll just really try to be a person that loves regardless of where he's doing it and be mindful of his impact on the world.
Finally, here are a few words sent to me from my Greek pen pal, Nektarios. They are from Demetrios the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America.
Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year
Protocol 112/07
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained; What is man, that You are mindful of him?(Psalm 8: 3-4)
September 1, 2007
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Once again we are blessed to enter our Ecclesiastical New Year on this date of September 1, 2007. Also known as the Feast of the Indiction, this date begins the calendrical cycle of our Holy Orthodox Church. As such, it is a date that marks new beginnings and renewed opportunities for our spiritual growth through our worship of the Triune God. It is also a date that our revered Ecumenical Patriarchate has fittingly established for the Orthodox Church as the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment. As we begin our cycle of worship and praise to the Lord on this date, it is only appropriate that we pause to consider the majesty of our universe and the infinite love of God for all of us as His children. Here, the Psalmist provides us words of guidance in the verses referenced above from Psalm 8 of the Old Testament. The Psalmist considered with awe the God-created glory of the stars in the heavens, the work of God's fingers, and how in the midst of this immensity humankind might compare. The vantage point of the Psalmist was truly a magnificent one, and his question is as important today for us to consider as it was in his time thousands of years ago. Whereas the Psalmist was inspired to ask his question upon beholding the untainted purity of God's creation at such an early stage in human history, our vantage point is a bit more clouded, both physically and spiritually. Today, as we look from Earth into the heavens, we do so from a world that has been strongly affected by the consequences of our over-consumption of the earth's natural resources, the harmful effects of air and water pollution through inefficient means of waste disposal, wide-scale deforestation by human beings, and increasing threats to the stability of the polar ice caps of our planet. While these are unfortunate realities, they are not beyond human repair. Considering these challenges and the important question posed by the Psalmist, it may seem instinctive for us to think of ourselves in a diminished capacity in comparison to the sheer immensity of the universe that God has created. The truth of the matter, however, is that God has placed human beings "over all the works of His hands" (v.6), as the Psalmist concludes in the final verses of Psalm 8. Thus, God is very mindful of humankind, to the point that He came to visit us and live among us as a human being on this precious Earth, and by the reality that He created us as inherently good and as beautiful, indeed after His very own image and likeness. Each year on this date, as a day dedicated to new beginnings, the Church calls us to move toward a genuine repentance in our way of life and in our relation to our planet. We therefore pray to God that He rekindle within our hearts a keen awareness that it is a profound privilege and high honor to inhabit this earth, and that we can act today as extensions of His fingers in fostering an environmentally sound world. This privilege carries with it many opportunities and responsibilities: forging loving and lasting relationships with others as families and communities, building peaceful relationships among friends and enemies alike, progressing responsibly as a human race in science and the arts, and growing closer and closer to God, our eternal Creator. Where we have succeeded in these opportunities, we see across our world evidence of clear gains in the pursuit of truth, justice, and peace. Certainly, it is these gains that should be the rightful order of the day, this year, and in all years to come. On this date, I ask each one of you to deepen your commitment to caring for our natural environment through ways that are both practical and prayerful. In this way, we can work to dissipate the clouds of ignorance and neglect that stand in the way of our considering and respecting the pristine and sacred state of the heavens and stars as God created them. Through our faith, our dedication, and our love to God and to one another, let us offer today, at the beginning of an Ecclesiastical New Year, hymns of glory to God for all that He has done for us, for the great potential He has given to us as stewards of His creation, and for the wonders that He continues to work in our lives and in our universe.
With paternal love in Christ,
+DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America

Monday, August 27, 2007

Alfalfa, Lewis, and manure


A quote by C.S. Lewis I recently read in a biography by Beatrice Gormley read (from memory)"I find at 50 that much of me is still that 12 year old boy and I suspect that at 12 I already had much of the 50 year old in me".

As I passed a newly mown alfalfa (hay) field and smelled the richness of the sweet hay raked in rows awaiting transportation to feed bunks or plastic ag-baggers I imagined the life-cycle of the farmer's alfalfa. What is now sweet-smelling will become waste and smell enough to make me wretch in disgust before a year is out. The process of being alfalfa is like that. Oh if that alfalfa could remain on the cusp of pre-flower fullness instead of being subject to the haymakers knife, the cows bicuspids, .... Anyway, as I thought about both the alfalfa and Lewis (he had a very tough childhood of abuse and neglect after his mother died when he was 9) I thought about people and how we can look deeply at people and find a mirror of most of what we are in almost anyone we meet. Our alfalfa has manure in it as well as our manure has alfalfa in it and the same it is with everyone else. If we can love people for their alfalfa and have mercy on their manure maybe our own alfalfa will be freed to remain at its fullness in wonder and admiration of the life we've so graciously been given in Christ.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bubba's Creation Moment




Last night I was reading from a Bible story book about the Genesis account of creation to my 4 1/2 year old twins, Calvin and Coleman. Day 1, God creates light, Day 2 God creates the heavens and the earth, Day 3 God separates the land and the water and creates all plants, trees, and flowers, Day 4 God creates the Sun, moon and the stars. Bubba (Coleman) stops me at this point. "Daddy I have a question", His brow is furrowed and his eyes are piercing and locked on my own and I know what is coming because for the first time I have the same question. "The light was on the first day and then God created the Sun, where did the light come from?". I didn't have an answer for him. I was so shocked by the depth of his question. I told him that I'd do some research and see what other people have thought and frankly I haven't found much more than "God can do what he wants when he wants" and I'm not sure that a simple answer like that will be sufficient for the little guy.
Our universe is expanding therefore it must have come from some direction. I studied photogrammetry (aerial mapping) in college and understand how the directions of the tilt on aerial photographs (the edges of a building and what direction the face) will all point to the focal point or the position of the point where the camera was focused when the shutter snapped the picture. I guess we could probably figure out a point at which all matter is expanding out from and that would be the point of creation - where God thought, and Jesus spoke, and the Holy Spirit loved the universe into being with a big bang. That had to have been one heck of a light show. I think that is what I'm going to talk with Bubba about tonight. I'm not going to just tell him but we'll discuss it.
Here's my understanding of it after prayerful consideration: When God created there was light, lots of it, enough of it that God could use it to grow trees and grass and flowers. Eventually, as God continued to create, the light began to fade and he created the Sun to be our light source, to help keep his creation beautiful. Any suggestions on this will be appreciated. I'm not dealing with a "just because" kid here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Beverly Ann Smith

I have two distinct memories of Beverly Ann Smith. One was where I would find her in the early morning when I woke up with a hangover at my friend Baldie's house or when I came over very early to get her two sons Baldie and Doug (now with our Lord) to go fishing or hunting. Dear Mrs. Smith would be leaning over her sink, much of the time potatoes frying or just finished frying in a pan for breakfast, smoking a Pall Mall cigarette and making sure that all smoke went out the window no matter what temperature it was outside. Whether I was inside or came in from the outside she wouldn't even look around at me just yell at me to come in after I'd knocked and scold me for waking the whole house up. I could see her little grin from the side of her face even though her gaze never left that trail that lead into the woods from beside her mailbox on the edge of that dirt road they lived on. She'd offer me an instant coffee or a hot green tea and tell me to go sit down while she brought it to me.

The other distinct memory I have of her was when we three would come to the house drunk. Her husband would be at work and we'd get the music going and singing and playing guitars and banjos, even the juice harp or a harmonica would fit - anything that made noise. We'd have bread races (see who was the fastest to eat a dry piece of white bread with nothing to wash it down) and arm wrestle and push and shove and Mrs. Smith would stay in the kitchen and fix something for us to eat or smoke a Pall Mall until we settled down into a ballad or some slow cheating song. She'd come in and sit and tell us it was her prayer that someday we'd use our music to Glorify God.

The last time I saw Bev was a couple years ago. I had written a song and was drinking a couple beers with Baldie and he told me I had to sing it to his mother. It was a fresh 6 months since her son Doug had been killed by a brick in a construction accident and the song was about how we can't always understand why God allows some people to die in their youth or in their prime. I sang it for her a capella and she shed a tear. Her prayers had been answered and the miracle of proof stood before her and sang to her Jesus' sweet song of redemption.

Bev died on Saturday morning July 28. She'd had a minor surgery 6 days earlier and was overcome by infection and lost circulation in her legs which turned black. I went to her Friday night and told her that she shined, shined like the brightest diamond to me - a kid who desperately needed someone to love him EVEN when I chose to not live within God's will. I'll never forget the smell of Pall Mall cigarettes and fried potatoes.

Saturday I dug some new red potatoes from my garden, picked some tender young summer squash (I can eat those things right off the vine by the pound), and the first half dozen of ripe sweet corn, drove a mile and a half from my dad's house and walked into that dirt-road house. The pack of Pall Malls was still on the window sill but no one was there to smoke them. I sat with Baldie and his dad. We talked of coon hounds, bear tracks, coyote races and fishing. We talked about gardening, tractors, and music. Finally I just had to tell Merle how much Bev had shined in my life. The legacy of love will continue through my six children and many other relationships that have been blossoming from a mustard seed planted in good soil here and there. I told him that she was the saltiest of salty and there was never a bush that could hide her light. A flicker of an ember of that Pall Mall reflected off that kitchen window and into my life and lives to come.

We shed some tears right there and then we smiled together while Merle talked of Jesus' love for us that will transcend our loss. His voice wavered little as he spoke of how important family is and how much it meant to him to have shared that moment of Bev's step into another life. For a moment I really wanted to smoke one of those Pall Malls but only for a moment.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Listened to Bill McKibben last night


Mr. McKibben wrote "The End of Nature" in 1989 and several other books about us, our environment, our joy, and how we live. He gave a great talk to UCSB and eloquently stated what I've had on my heart and have been trying to teach my kids for some time now. I wish I'd written down some quotes but one statistic he used was how a poll that has been done since the 40's asking Americans simply "are you happy" shows a peak in "happiness" in 1956. Since 1956 happiness has steadily decreased in this country while overall personal wealth has steadily increased. McKibben suggested that while most news will have some aspect of the health of the economy rarely do we see much on the health of the community or of the environment we live in - which often is much more closely related to overall happiness than our economic stability. I have found in my own life that my financial status has very little to do with my own happiness. I also know that most of the time the "good old days" in my life weren't all that good and I'm kind of glad they are gone.


I did disagree with Mr. McKibben on one point. He stated that he wrote the first book that really revealed the theory of "Global Warming" but I read about it in "Entropy" by Jeremy Rifkin in a book published in the late 70's. Granted the book was about much more than global warming but it had a chapter on it so Mr. McKibben wasn't the first (he was first published in 1989). Aside from all that Mr. McKibben appeared very honest, straightforward and not as venomous as some of the "tree-hugger" types (what my co-worker Jeremy calls me) that I often hear or read.
I think his new book "Deep Economy" will be a very good read.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Deadly Farm Methane causes deaths

My heart is broken over this tragedy. The family and community will be in my prayers. Farmers need confined space education.

Monday, July 02, 2007

church

Friday night I helped my son change his brake pads on his car. We ate together and talked about our changing hearts and how different we both are and about redemption. We did church.

After he left a person that has not been all that kind to me from the church I used to attend stopped by. He is going through a rough spot with his ex-wife and wanted to talk. We spent three hours together talking about Jesus and forgiveness and redemption. We did church.

Saturday morning an usher from the church stopped by (in our neighborhood) and we caught up and shared our lives and we did church.

Saturday afternoon a old old friend called and we spent a couple hours on the phone talking about his severe arthritis and heaven and hell and Jesus and old men in our lives and how we are not far from it (he's 42, former concrete finisher with two kids left at home and now crippled with arthritis) and yes we did church.

Saturday evening a very good friend of mine that I just seem to hit it off with stopped in to see if I needed some help from him (I rented a jackhammer to break concrete but was blind-sided with a plumbing problem and since he works at the hardware he knew all about it) but we sat and talked about life a little and just a little about Jesus and about his upcoming trip to England and about loving your neighbor and about growing up tall (he's really tall) and we did church.

Sunday I jackhammered all day but did get interrupted by a good friend who was excited about the pastor and christian author that moved in a block down my street and right across the street from him. Our conversation was very short but I know why he stopped and in that little act of love we did church.

This morning I and four of my co-workers and two of their wives drove 3 1/2 hours north to attend a funeral mass for a 23 yr. old man who found life much to difficult for him to bear and put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger last Wednesday morning. His sister works with us. I didn't know Adam. I know his family loved him very much. On the way up I rode with two other guys and the subject turned to Sodom and Gomorrha (I can't remember why we got on that subject, I think it had to do with Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt) and we had differing interpretations so we read it and we talked about it and it ended by following Lot's lineage through Moab through Ruth and through Tamar and on through to Jesus. We then talked about evil and lessons and growing and redemption and GOOD and we finished about 2 miles from the church when I read Revelations 21. It was spooky cool when the same scripture was read by the priest at the funeral. The mass was so beautiful and the service so rich that I was compelled to get up and go to the elements before the priest even called the body to recieve them. I stayed in my seat though because I've gone up front with my hand outstretched and been blessed when asking for nourishment and the rejection burned angrily within me. I remained seated so as to not rush into the same sin. Afterward a catholic friend of mine told me how to hold my hands to "look like a good catholic" so I could recieve communion. I know it seems as though it shouldn't be that important but my spirit longed for those elements. If it happens again I'll know how to hold my hands like a good catholic. After bagpipes cried out Amazing Grace and we walked the shady procession to the cemetary (the first time I've ever seen that done and it too was just beautiful) we joined together for great pans of scalloped potatoes, polish sausage and saurkraut, potato salad, cakes of every description, jello molds and Kool-aid to wash it all down. We followed Adam's sister to the family farm, where they'd all grown up, and had a little cry out by the pig pen overlooking the alfalfa field that leads to the woods where Adam was found in his deer blind. With the fresh, cool, slightly-fishy breeze of nearby Lake Huron in our tear-stained faces, we did church.

God this is a rough and beautiful place. I know you must be both rough and beautiful (warrior and nurturer that you are) and I am with you and I ask you to please hold Adams family very tight and very long because they are in that suffocating parched throat pain that only you can provide relief from.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Greg Boyd is Rubbing Elbows with the Science Giants

Please read the blog post that the title of this post links to.

I don't think I'll bother thinking much about this when others are so much better at it than I.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Redemption










I'm thinking if Jesus were getting into the debate over Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and environmentalists he'd be packing NRCS dollars to fund biogas production from waste products. Today there are less cows in my home state of Michigan than there were in the 1970's but the problem lies in the fact that most of the cows are now located on farms housing and feeding from 500 to 5,000 head. A milk cow excretes about 14 gallons of waste a day, 12% of which is solid. That makes for alot of poo to be scraped or flushed into manure handling systems. Scenic View Dairy in Hamilton, MI has around 1900 cows and generates a little over 3000 kw of electricity by processing the manure, capturing the methane, and running a generator off the methane. The electricity they generate provides for the 700 kw per day they use and supplies enough electricity and heat to run 3 acres of greenhouse. That is redemption and Jesus does it to the crap that happens in our lives and I think anaerobic digesters look alot like that for CAFO's. Energy, jobs, farm products, compost, and reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emmissions (GHG) - it all looks good. I believe this is also a way that we can work to clean up the unhealthy living environments of the poorest populations in underdeveloped people groups. This is what I've been spending alot of time on and I just had to put it on here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Terabithia

Dang, I thought that was a great movie. I so was Jess in the 7th grade. A kid named Howard and another named Jimmy used to smack the crap out of me. One sat behind me and one next to me in Michigan History Class. Old Mr. Mckinnon, blind in one eye and couldn't see out of the other, would leave the room and I was the entertainment for them. Dark haired, dark eyed Jackie Byrne, my first love, would flush her flawless milky-white cheeks in embarassment as I'd sit there both in terror and in anger holding back because of the last time I'd gotten in trouble for fighting (dad said never again). One day I just had enough. I asked my dad for some advice and he gave the kind I always find myself giving, "I wouldn't give a nickel for someone that starts a fight but I wouldn't give a nickel for someone that doesn't stand up for himself". The parable of the nickel. I can still hear my dad's voice as moved breathlessly in the steamy silage alternating forkfulls down to a feed wagon we were filling up. The dance of the silage. Now OSHA would fine us for going in that silo but it smelled awesome and felt awesome and my dad gave me permission to slug a guy in the mouth.

The next day I did just that. It was just like the picture of Jess slugging Scrogins or whatever his name was at the end of Terabithia. Howard slugged me in the cheek from behind and I stood up, turned around and let him have it full force and knocked him backwards out of his desk (he was leaning cockily on the back two legs but it was a nice added affect) Jackie Byrne gleamed at me with a twinkle in her eye and when we soaked our clarinet reeds in band class later I looked as courageous as I could (with a clarinet reed in my mouth) as she related what happened to the other people in band and I was someone else that day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Heart or Hands?

First, impacting the world is first a “matter of the heart,” said Geoff
Tunnicliffe, international director of WEA, during the commencement ceremony on
Friday for Olivet University in San Francisco.
To illustrate his point, the
evangelical leader used the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a man different than him. Tunnicliffe emphasized that the Samaritan came near to the man when others seeing the man’s
broken image distanced themselves from him.
“The Samaritan comes near to the
man that lays on the ground. He is in contact with the other
man
. This man comes close to the different,” Tunnicliffe said, before
noting that all mankind is the creation of God.




Most people will have a change of heart if they just once sacrifice their own safety and comfort to help another. Several people I know have went on short-term mission trips because it was the right thing to do and their hearts will never be the same again. Jesus didn't tell Peter to love his sheep, he said feed my sheep. Love is often found when we are obedient. I doubt if the man lying wounded and bleeding was interested in whether the Samaritan truly loved him. Bleed for others and proclaim God's Glory. Lose your life(style) for others and lift his name on high. Love somehow shows up so you cannot stand to NOT do as the good Samaritan.

Blue Day

Yesterday I made the painful decision to fire a young guy that has been working with us for a year and a half. I've known this guy since he was 12 and love him like my own son. I don't know why he's been absent alot and late alot and he doesn't tell me anymore, not since his girlfriend dumped him, but out of concern for our small company and the welfare of the families that rely on our small company I had to make a really tough decision. I tried to let him know how much it hurt to do this and I've offered to help him in any way I can but its really next to impossible to say you care from a personal perspective (to him) and to tell others in the business you care about them too while allowing another employee to bring the company down. There were other circumstances that I won't mention but suffice it to say it hurts really bad. His dad came in and made an ass of himself - screaming at me and my boss, but I don't blame him I guess, he only knows part of the story. His dad has a trailer that I let him borrow but that doesn't mean much right now.

God please help Tim, my whole family loves that guy and we cherish the time we've spent with him and his family. Send your angels to protect him from evil. Lord you know his heart and you know mine. Amen.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Prophet Lullabye



My 4 yr. old twin boys and I have a nightly ritual. I lay between them on their queen-sized bed and we discuss their day, hope and dream about the next day, pray, and hugs and kisses then I leave them in the dark to sleep. Last night they each prayed and then I prayed and asked God to "continue to teach us his way so we can be like him". Coleman spoke up as I ended the conversation, "I still don't hear God". I suggested we all just lie there and listen really close and soon Calvin announced, "I hear God through my heart, I asked him for powers and he told me he doesn't give powers he changes people" I can trust that. I can trust it as much as I trust that if I run my car through the wash on the way home from work Coleman will ask me when I washed my car, where I washed it and if he can go with me next time. Calvin is as out there and unpredictable as Coleman is predictable. I told my wife about Calvin's pronouncement and she quipped, "I don't doubt he's a prophet or a preacher, his mouth never quits running".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Most irritating gardening chore to Christ's Glory

This weekend I'm going to visit our garden at my dad's home that we haven't been to in 3 weeks. We thoroughly weeded the garden then and for the most part it will still be quite clean with the exception of the parsnips. Parsnips take a long time to emerge while weeds and unwanted grasses are the first to emerge. The situation ends up being a perfect example of the Parable of the Weeds as found in Matthew 13:24-30 something. It is so difficult to pull the grass (now with 3 wks. growth) while leaving the roots of the parsnip seedlings intact and undisturbed. Jesus, the master gardner, will have no problem pulling the fully grown parsnips from the midst of the grass but he cautions the servants not to do it in the field lest the crop be ruined.

I think that is why God just doesn't destroy evil from among the good. That is why evil lingers among good as both grow and the good matures along with the evil. The servants cannot disturb the evil lest the good be killed along with it. I think we have to be very careful not to be too hasty in our weeding of our lives. There might not be much life left alive after the garden is clean. Maybe bleached-out dried-up bones will be all that is left.

Maybe we'll be left with a row of empty dirt, no weeds and no parsnips.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do I say nothing or chance saying the wrong thing?

I grew up in a tough area. Its mostly working-class construction, plumbing, electrician-type. In the 70's a planned nuclear plant was shut down and the rich economy of that area took a serious hit. It seemed that depression just took over and has been claiming lives there since. Its probably no worse than any other rust belt village but to me its home and it breaks my heart to see what is happening there.

About three weeks ago I had a dream about a guy from high school, Steve Kopka. I guess we could have been considered aquaintences. I know if we were to see each other we'd speak about old times for about 10 minutes and we'd be done. I don't know why I'd have a dream about him, especially one that had us actually talking about our kids because I haven't seen him in almost 25 years and didn't even know he had kids.

My sister sent me this last week:

Sheriff: Suicide bullet struck deputy, too

Its a story of a man at the end of his choices, or so he thought. I've been so close to that same place. Nothing anyone said could help me see things differently because there is no way they could understand. A few did love me though and that stuck with me in a big way. I hope that I never make the mistake of saying nothing again. I know I don't always say the right things, my wife tells me that, but sitting in this chair and wondering if I could have said the right thing is not a position I hope to find myself in again, for Jesus' sake.


Life is so fragile. Hope is so important.

Random Reflections - Greg Boyd

Random Reflections - Greg Boyd

I don't know how I never found it before but this is the blog of one of my all-time favorite authors. I cannot recommend his books enough. Even if you don't agree with him it is obvious he is genuine in his love for Christ.

Here is his podcast

Here is a podcast he did at Mars Hill last month called "Christos Victor" and it is awesome.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Speedy Delivery

March 21, 2007 Mike Johanns announced the availability of $176.5 million in loan guarantees and $11.4 million in grants to support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements by agricultural producers and small businesses.

The deadline for applications for the grants is May 18, the deadline for the loan app. or loan/grant app. is July 2.

Thats a short time to come up with ways to spend almost $200 million dollars in funding.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Thoughts

A friend was listening to a talk I was giving on the Psalms and interrupted me with the question, "Do you consider yourself melancholy?". I appreciate questions like that. Yes, I am melancholy but not depressed. Besides, of all the studies in the Bible there is nothing so bipolar as the Psalms and if my facts are correct, there is far more laments than there are praise Psalms. Life has so much depth and so much richness and so much pain and so much joy that most of the time I just don't have anything to say that could possibly add. Is it considered productive to absorb stuff? Like recently I've been bowled over at the opportunity we are missing out on making a difference in our world. Just some little things for now and like a crack pipe to a pothead its not much of a step to go really radical and affect some really significant change. We started by changing out our light bulbs for the flourescent curly kind. I explained it to my daughters and wow, I find darkness where before burned incandescent flames of eternity (why should you turn off a light if you are going back in there in an hour?). They started hanging up clothing that they'd only worn for a short time so they could wear them again rather than throwing them in a heap to be washed. Speaking of washing, they are now waiting until they have a full load instead of running the washer for 1, 2, or 3 items.

I get melancholy when I think of all we could have been doing and haven't. I get melancholy when I see my financial obligations have me enslaved to a lifestyle I no longer wish to remain in. There are over 20 homes for sale in our tiny city of 1200 people. Our real estate market has fallen as manufacturing jobs that people relied on go south for cheaper labor. No way is someone going to buy my 6 bedroom, 3 bath energy monster so I can downsize. I get melancholy when I realize that in a few short months I'll have 3 kids that are licensed drivers and only one with a job to pay for his insurance (he now has his own car too so really I only have two drivers). Even if I don't let them drive (which would be abuse in our society) my cars my insurance company is still going to raise my insurance. I get melancholy when I see that in spite of all the change that is being made in my own life I still find myself like Paul, doing that which I wish not to do and not doing that which I long to do.

Its 51 degrees on the 1st of June. Just a couple days ago it was 93 degrees. That alone is a reason to be melancholy. I think I need a nap...or a bowl of soup...or maybe a good book....or hope that springs eternal. Yep, I need that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'm fatigued but pictures can say it











I stayed up too late, drove 635 miles in two days, ate too much, shed too many tears in the rainstorm that came at the end of my son's graduation from Military prep school and got to watch Doug Ewandell (sp?) of "Here's your sign" fame with my dad while we sat in our underwear and ate popcorn. Some relationships take an entire lifetime to appreciate. Thanks God for such a rich life!
Now I've got a test in Greek class in 30 minutes that I am definitely not prepared for. No time for a real post.




Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Welcome To TINYTECH Plants

I have not fully read through this entire site but it looks like a way that we might be able to 1. Add jobs to village economies 2. support sustainable development 3. reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The engineer that is manufacturing these small oil mills is a student of Ghandi and has many pages devoted to his teachings. They sound remarkably like Jesus in many ways.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Girl posing as 13 yr. old with 22 yr. old partner

I have two lovely daughters 15, and 16 and whether I support reproductive choice in women or not I believe Planned Parenthood needs to be dismantled if this is their modis operandi.

Pakistan Considers Bill Condemning Muslim Apostates to Death | Christianpost.com

From the story link above........

McDonnell pointed to a case of a Christian being unjustly harmed by the blasphemy law. A Christian boy was sentenced to death for writing blasphemy on the wall of a mosque. However, the boy was completely illiterate but was accused by Muslim “witnesses” of the crime. Under international pressure the boy was released but the family had to flee the country for fear of being lynched by mobs.
“Christians and other religious minorities are being roped into false cases under the blasphemy law. They are being murdered by zealots … This law is proving to be a sword hanging on the heads of non-Muslims and secular-minded people,” said All Pakistan Minorities Alliance in a statement.
“The blasphemy law needs to be amended, if not altogether repealed, because of its great misuse. The law has created an atmosphere of bigotry and intolerance …a sense of insecurity and harassment.”
Currently, Pakistani Christians in the northwest town of Charsadda are confronting the additional threat from extremists to shut down their churches and convert back to Islam by May 17 or face “dire consequences and bomb explosions,” according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
“Kindly pray for the protection and safety of Christians of Charsadda, who continue to remain in siege but undefeated spiritually and continue to uphold their faith in these difficult times,” wrote Shahbaz Bhatti, chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, in a letter Friday.
“Kindly pray for government of Pakistan that God may provide them wisdom and courage to make sincere efforts to control the situation and violence.


I grieve our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, those living in persecution and those walking corpses that are instituting the anti-apostacy hate conspiracy. In dire times such as these it is only a little comforting to know that Christ's Kingdom is breaking in through the evil. I pray that in this suffering, for Christ's name, satan's cause be defeated and the red dragon of hatred be driven to ground where the strongman lies bound by the sacrifice of the lamb and the testimony of the faithful. I pray that the peace that passes all understanding strike fear in the hearts of those who persecute and they seek the strength and peace of the Holy Spirit rather than the destruction and death that would consume the entire world were it not for the blood of the lamb and the surrender of those whose blood wil be shed for Jesus.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Manna


I was studying this morning and finalizing a talk I have to give on study (DeColores) and I read Exodus 16. It spoke to me. A few different things:

1. If we are grumbling against something we are grumbling against God.


2. When we get hungry we grumble.


3. When we get hungry we tend to think of what we’ve already eaten before rather than wondering what God will have us eat next.


4. God promises enough for the day, an omer for each, no more no less, whenever we try to make it last longer than the day he provided for, it gets full of maggots and smells like a rotting carcass. It MUST be new every morning.


5. Every time God shows up with bread we better pay very close attention.


Bread from Heaven
16:1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” [1] For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, [2] according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.



see also Luke 24 and Deutoronomy 8 for bread/word-God shows up.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spring Concert

All things will be made new. Last night I viewed a school spring concert through the eyes of Jesus for the first time. I've had kids in spring concerts for 8 yrs. so this is not my first go-around at bleacher bruises. The difference was phenomenal though. For the very first time I looked at the faces of the choir and rather than picking out their differences I discovered how very much the same they all looked. Yes there were fat ones and skinny ones and dark ones and light ones and all heights and variety of clothing but they all looked so beautifully alike that I saw Jesus in them and it blew me away. Why hadn't I ever seen them like that before?

So the music starts and I wish I could tell you everything that was played but I can't because I paid so little attention to the announcer and focussed on the kids. There was so much life packed into the little gymnasium. I think there were probably 250 kids split in three groups, fifth and sixth graders, middle-schoolers and high schoolers. Their faces were a collage of confidence, nervous energy, jubilance, humility, posers, and indifference. They sounded awesome. As they played the music I thought of the composers and what might have been in their hearts as they wrote in a cymbal crash or a flute solo or a bell strike. I was moved to tears by this really large young lady's rendition of Evanescence's "Wake Me Up Inside" and thought of times that I felt just as the artist felt when they penned those words but not now, no by no means did I come anywhere close to that now because every one of my senses was awaken to everything thing around me to a degree I've only experienced like 3 times (not counting my earlier partying years). Now I was in awe with wet tears on my face at the naked courage of this young lady, beautiful young lady, that was belting out these words as if she herself were attached to every one of them and being carried on wings through a life that we can't touch or see but know just from her voice that it holds the richness of what the very centroid of the universe is anchored on. If this is what experiencing life in Christ is like sign me the heck up forever because I don't want to be anywhere near that corpse that used to walk in and wonder if everyone seen how supportive it was being of its kids or if its kid realized it was missing some important meeting at church for this and if they appreciated it for its sacrifice.

JOY

Monday, April 30, 2007

$45 Tomatoes


I've been dreaming photovoltaics. I've been watching ebay and hoping to buy a good used diesel car to convert to burn Greasel (used cooking oil). I've switched out totally to those curly flourescent bulbs, serviced my bicycle and started using it, filled in our pool, and have my kids trained in shutting off lights when not in use (monetary incentives built into what we save in electricity) but my wife and I made a choice this weekend that flies in the face of all those good intentions. We are planting a huge garden at my dad's house. He lives an hour and a half from us. I figure with all the fuel we suck through our old suburban, all the drinks we buy on the road, all the money we spend on seed, plants, fertilizer, and a decent used rototiller our tomatoes will cost about $45 per fruit. But, (thats the part I play in all these plans-I'm always the but) I got a great photo of my three little ones and my sister's two little ones following closely behind grandpa's old Ford as he rolled huge nightcrawlers and thick juicy grubs from their earthen home. We got to feel the rich black earth with our bare feet, hear grandpa talk about his dad tilling their garden with a horse-drawn plow (my dad still has the plow and a cultivator) and pouring out his farming know-how to my urban gardener wife and my oblivious toddlers. My twin boys each got a turn at 'steering' the tractor. We haven't planted anything yet but we did rescue a couple hundred strawberry plants for a sodden grave and transplanted them to a nursery bed where they can recuperate a short time before we transplant them again into our garden.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What an Awesome Weekend

I'll post pics tomorrow but we had the most precious baby at our home Saturday night and part of the day Sunday. Her mom and aunt are friends of my daughter's. They have had a very rough childhood. The mom, Amber, just turned 17. Faith, her daughter is 8 mos. old. My daughter wanted to treat them (the sisters) to a movie so my wife took the three of them to a movie and when they got back we went and got Faith and they (the sisters and little Faith) stayed the night with us. I got a chance to really connect to the two sisters and played alot with Faith. I'll just say I cannot wait to pour into the lives of this family in any way I can. By the way it sounds we'll get lots of chances, starting with helping them move to another home that has more bedrooms for their mom, step-dad and their 4 step-brothers. Right now they are all living in a 2 bedroom home, well, its more like a barn that has been converted into a home.

I got to connect a little more with the kids across the street yesterday. A couple of neighbors came by to warn us to watch them - that is so awesome. The neighbors finally come outside in the warm weather and realize they've got a houseful of kids (in their twenties) in their neighborhood threatening to do something, well, like they used to when they were that age. It was great that Leslie could let the neighbors know that we know them well enough and we're not too concerned. She suggested they stop in and say hi.

Dancing with Consumerism | Out of Ur | Following God's Call in a New World | Conversations hosted by the editors of Leadership journal

Dancing with Consumerism Out of Ur Following God's Call in a New World Conversations hosted by the editors of Leadership journal

This is a good article and particularly compelling for me was the final paragraph-

The way that I think about engaging it is…well, let’s look at how Jesus interacted with his culture. Jesus used three primary movements in every context. The first movement is towards. So he was incarnational. He entered. People like to use the word relevant for this. But Jesus also moved against the culture, he was resistant. He overturned tables in the temple and said “You brood of vipers.” So he was both relevant and resistant. And third, Jesus withdrew to quiet places. He was also distant, he moved away. So you have three rhythmic movements of toward, against, and away—relevance, resistance, and distance. And none of those can be static. They always have to be happening.


Enter, Resist, and Distance. This I can do as I live out the counter-culture of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Fray - Good tuneage for a friend of mine

Sansa e250 media player


Yesterday I was listening to Bob Seger as I was out surveying and stooped to look into a storm sewer pipe. I was beside a busy highway and couldn't hear anything but 'Beautiful Loser" when my sound went dead. It was only out for a moment and blared again in my brain before ultimately dying again. I removed the buds from my ears and looked in my pocket to see if my battery had gone dead but there was no player. It was then that I realized the other end of the earphone wires was in about a foot of water and had been there for probably 20-30 seconds, fully immersing my player. When I pulled it out the colored screen was black but the backlight on the selector dial was lit and it wouldn't turn off. I took it to our truck and put it in a shaded but warm place on the dashboard and continued to work. It somehow shut itself off or ran out of battery or something while I was working. About six hours after it was immersed I powered it up and the colored screen appeared, it allowed me to select a song and appeared to be playing it but no signal came through the buds. I left it overnight, altogether about 24 hours from when I first immersed it, with its back removed and battery removed. Upon putting it together and attaching it via USB it powered up normally and operated normally. I charged it fully then gave it the final test, I selected a song, raised the volume to max and felt the music vibrate through the buds in my hand. I seldom give reviews on things and I bought this a year ago when it was giving the ultimate bang for the buck but I didn't expect it to be so durable. I've dropped it from 5 feet onto rocks in Alaska, left it on the dashboard in 90 degree heat, sat on it while it was in my back pocket, and used it in 10 degree cold. It has proven the most durable piece of electronics I've ever owned. For the same price I bought mine a year ago you can have 3 times the storage but I'm not disappointed.

Gregory Boyd and some thoughts


If you haven't heard Greg Boyd preach you are missing one of the prophets of our age. Opening statement to this weeks sermon which kicks off a sermon series he's doing called "Beautiful Mess" (I don't know if he knew Rick McKinley had a series by that name or not but who cares, they are both advancing the Kingdom in their own context) is:
"There is a new world order coming and its called the 'Kingdom of God' and it will bring a beautiful order to our normal messes and a beautiful mess to our normal order".
Luke 6:17 is where he started.
Thoughts:
Wow, I was cleaning off my home computer and ran across an Internet Messenger log filled with text that had a conversation in it between my son, who is about to turn 18 and has accepted a whopping huge scholarship to University of Seattle and will be attending in the fall, and I. The file was dated from March of 2005, one month before he made the decision to write the Friend of Court a letter requesting his custody be granted to his mother so he could stay in military school.
The text was a long, drawn-out conversation with him giving reasons why he thought he should return home from military school. He asked me why I sent him. I could have cried right there but I finished the rest of it before I had a good sob. I didn't send him. At 15 he decided it would be awesome to take advantage of the $23000 a year the school was going to give him to coax him into their educational system. I was reluctant but couldn't see the harm so I put up the remaining $6000 it took for uniforms, board, books, travel, and he went. He was so strong in his moral convictions, loved Jesus, and basically a leader. When we were messaging back and forth I encouraged him to give it some thought because if he dropped there would be no returning. He asked me, "Dad, don't you want me to come home?". I remember when that message came over. He's my oldest son. We've always been close. We did so much together and now he's a young man and can do just about everything I can and he's gone. I cried when I got that message. Of course I WANTED HIM HOME. WHAT ELSE IN THE WHOLE WORLD COULD I HAVE POSSIBLY WANTED MORE.
He took my advice and thought about it.
He didn't come home.
Within two months we weren't even speaking (his rebellion against my parental control, its complicated but it boiled down to me being an ass and 'insisting' he adhere to my rules whether he was at home or in military school - stupid, as if I could or should put that kind of expectiation out there) and it took a long, long time for us to get the time to actually talk some of it out. That one fateful conversation that began with a desperate kid wanting to come home made men out of both of us. I enjoy the few hours every 3-4 months that we get together - we talk about all the things we've done together and eat and laugh and discuss politics and religion and music. It is rare but so precious.
So God, you've helped me protect and serve one of my six children to adulthood and we're both still alive, very much alive. I hope I can handle your surgery another 5 times, it left me much humbler than I had come. Selah

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thoughts

This morning I got up at 4:00 a.m. intending to make a long day's trip to Indiana but the guy that was going to accompany me called me and cancelled due to illness. I was found with an extra couple of hours to spend with Jesus while I curled up on the couch with my 4 yr. old son and I'll have to say it was edifying. I spent such an awesome day yesterday with my family that I was still bowing before God in thanks as I crawled into bed last night. My wife and daughters went to Battlecry in Detroit (much that I could say about this but culture happens in every stadium as well as every nook and cranny where humans interact -' living' as a human beings, to me, is in the intersection of our lives with those places and people and that includes just about anything you can imagine). My wife had mixed feelings on the event but it instilled a missional directive in my two daughters and for that we are grateful. We did have to compare some of the pro-military speech that one speaker presented with what Jesus says about violence but other than that it was a positive experience until they were headed to the buses. The Ford Fieldhouse is in a mixed-economic neighborhood with gated luxury multi-family housing as well as abandoned buildings, soup kitchens and the homeless. As a group of 200 people that my wife and daughters were walking with passed two homeless guys (they had carts and stuff so they weren't just taking advantage of the crowd, they were homeless) there was a wave created of people swinging wide to avoid the two men who were gently asking for money. The crowd was moving fast and my wife and daughters didn't have much time but they produced all the change that they had and gave it to the men. They were the only ones. None of the rest of the crowd leaving a Christian concert event that cost $25 a ticket could spare a quarter or two for these two guys. What do you do? My wife and daughters had to choose between stopping and showing love to these guys and keeping up with the rest of the group headed to the buses. It tore my wife up and broke my heart to hear her tell the story. What Jesus is it that people are following?

I watched a documetary on Global Climate Change debate done by a guy named Moyer who interviewed Evangelicals from both sides of the debate. I'm hard-pressed to believe anyone that uses scripture out of context like Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla did when Moyer interviewed him really can adequately represent the "Church" on this issue. There are a vast number of Christians that believe good stewardship means getting the most return out of mines, wells, farms, developments, etc. I cannot agree with them when I see God's hand trying to restore as soon as we mess something up. I like it to giving my kids pencils to write with and then going behind them with a 'magic eraser' to get the pencil off the wall. At some point the child either quits writing on the wall or you take away the pencil or you instill in the child that it is your job to wipe pencil off the wall. I don't like the third option but that is what many of the I don't think it is God's job to clean up our messes.

Oh, one other thing. When I read the sermon on the mount I'm not reading it like people have read it to me. I read it alot differently now that I actually view it through the 'metanarrative' or story. Jesus was adressing the crowd as well as his disciples. Christians aren't 'the' light of the world, nor are they the 'salt of the earth', HUMANITY is the light of the world and the salt of the earth so get over the pep talks and share in the life of someone that isn't from your 'church family' because THAT is how hearts are transformed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Falsani on Idling, the Sisters, and Bruce Cockburn




Jesus is Life


I was thinking last night about how many times God has redeemed his people. I have alot to do today so I'll keep this short, but over and over in the Bible and in our modern story you see God sprouting life (fragile and sweet like a pea sprout through the frozen straws of garden litter) out of death: Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, Jesus, Paul, the reformation, the Puritans, the 2nd Vatican Council, Vineyard, Pope John Paul II, emergent conversation (obviously not a complete list so sorry if I left our your favorite), and I believe what we are seeing right now is a great number of post-post-modern, generation nexters throwing off the complexity and complication of 'organizations' for the 'no preservatives added' brand of imitating Jesus. Just look toward the whole grains, fresh fruit, and meat and the remarkable disciples of tomorrow will already be there serving the least of us.


If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Power Under


I was watching M*A*S*H last night with my 16 yr. old daughter. I don't watch much television but I do take every chance that avails itself to move into those intersections that seldom come for a father and his 16 yr. old daughter. In this case it was a scene where Hawkeye was scrubbed and about to operate on a Korean soldier when he noticed the guy hadn't been prepped correctly (his pants were still on). When Hawkeye turned to throw some insults at Klinger the soldier on the gurney slowly removed a live grenade from his pocket. Hawkeye noticed just in time and clamped his hand around the soldier's hand to keep him from letting go of the trigger (he'd already managed to pull the pin). These two men were in a struggle, Hawkeye to keep the grenade from detonating and the soldier to break free of the grip that Hawkeye had over his hand containing the grenade. Klinger was searching for a gas mask, Father Mulcahy for the pin, and Colonel Potter yells, sing to him! Hawkeye starts singing to him softly at first and you can see the confusion in the soldier's face. As Hawkeye's voice gains confidence others in the room join with him and the soldier slowly relaxes and allows Father Mulcahy, producing the pin that had been hidden under Hawkeye's foot, to replace the pin in the grenade. The heavens were filled with a song of triumph.
I have seen real-world examples of just this type of conflict resolution. It can be viewed as great leadership but it really is a simple concept that has been laid out for us numerous times in the Bible. Its Christ's strength made perfect in our weakness. Not in our lack of courage or our willingness to martyr ourselves but the mustard seed of faith required to understand that the powers that we are up against feed on the 'will to power' that Nietzche described and that we cannot defeat that alone. It is defeated by the 'blood of the lamb' and our 'testimony' for we shall not love our lives so much as to shrink from death. Our testimony is our surrender - not against those that we are called to rebuke (our brothers and sisters in Christ) when necessary but surrender to those that would strike us on one cheek, so we can offer another. Those that would steal our paper, we should offer our library. Those that would back-stab us to move up on the power ladder we should offer our face and heart to be wounded as well, as we lovingly support them as they climb to their lofty positions. It could get pretty ugly, this imitating of Christ. Then again, maybe we'd return to something - something before the struggle, something before the labor, something before poverty and disease, something like redemption.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Portrait of a Christian Leader

I just finished "Courageous Leadership" by Bill Hybels. I also got the chance yesterday to sit for an hour and chat with a new friend from Chicago (in Michigan on business) about his involvement at Willowcreek. I was pleased to hear all that he was involved in and he shared his heart openly of his passion for the poor and homeless in the windy city. This post isn't about Chicago, Bill Hybels, Willow Creek or the poor. This is about Jesus. I was asked to help develop some Christian leadership training materials this week. I brainstormed and studied and all I could come up with was this graphic. In Matthew 13:33 Jesus says (paraphrased) the Kingdom of Heaven is like the woman who hid a small amount of leaven in two measures of flour and the whole dough was leavened. She hid it. I think following Christ is like that and so is christian leadership. See a need, meet a need, proclaim the Kingdom of God (with a gentle spirit not as a street preacher) and like the leaven hidden in the dough, the whole world will be transformed. Every single act of sacrificial love does this. In secret, in humility, in surrender it changes the world just a bit at a time never looking back, never to be the same again. And look at the graphic. Look at the 'bud scar'. It costs. As that bud separates and multiplies there is suffering. Yes it isn't prosperity gospel its bearing the cost of turning the other cheek, absorbing violence, people looking at you like you are absurd, yes its scandalous but that is how the Kingdom advances and it doesn't look like some rewritten 'Total Quality Management' program from yuppieville. I find it increasingly difficult to love those who call themselves christians yet claim for some reason they are exempt from hardship as they strive in their prayer life and study life and wear their shawls and wave their banners and then go home in their SUV to catch 'American Idol' on the bigscreen before they throw away half their cookie that they can't possibly finish. Maybe thats the log in my eye. Although Jesus held the leaders of the church accountable, not the lost, but the shepards. Lord help me love and serve those people. I prefer those that don't believe in you. I'd rather be in a slum or village or prison than to go back into the church. At least I don't have to explain to them why my faith is not strong enough to heal myself of asthma.

I'm just ranting. No one from my church reads this anyway. They talk about me not to me.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Small Things with Great Love

My wife and I have been previewing "Intersect Faith and Culture" (The Christian Vision Project), a six week DVD study series on being a missionary in the U.S. (its a little more complicated than that but that is not what this post is about). There is alot of theology in support of moving out of the suburbs and/or rural areas and into the city and we really are yearning to do just that but we have two teenage girls that we don't want to uproot from their world. I know it would probably be the best thing for them but I also have an ex-wife that would disagree and I think, to minimize the drama, my family will wait until my two girls are at least graduated from high school before me make the move. We've lived in the slums before and its not as scary as one would think. The people are real people and respond to love in the same way that wealthy suburbanites do, it leaves them unbalanced and destroys the solid judgements and vows that people have nurtured from their deep woundings.


So what do we do with this overwhelming urge to get busy with something a little more costly, something outside of the small groups, prayer meetings, leadership development, team-building, 40 days of this or that (I don't want to belittle local church discipleship but at some point a disciple has to move into something else and risk something, that is what is meant by faith, not the faith that comes from building each other up to Christ but the faith that comes from trusting Jesus with everything and risk losing it all) and build something real and lasting and firm. We need to do something that pares away the rot of the civil religion most of us have called church and breathe deeply of true self-sacrificial love that finds is source from the one that whispered "follow me" to some dirty, raw-boned, smelly, dark-eyed fisherman.



In one of the sessions the DVD profiles a family of suburbanites that developed a "homework time" at an inner-city apartment complex. I think they eventually moved in to the complex but they started by renting an apartment and offering to help kids with their homework after school. They also played games with the kids and just loved them. I'm thinking this is for me. I'm putting the plan together right now and am going to start a non-profit, buy a trailer in the worst trailer park in the city I work in and start it up this fall. I've offered the idea to my bosses and now they are talking about kicking out the tenant that is in the old theatre that they bought (he just stores antiques in there) and making it a teen center. I think I'm going to forge ahead with the homework/game trailer because I can almost cover that with my own resources (other than volunteers). I guess the reason I posted this is my excitement level is so high I had to tell someone and now I'm thinking I'd really like any readers to be in prayer for this project. I think the right kind of mission not only transforms the person being served but also the one serving.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Lord Help Us

I wonder what Jesus' tracts will look like when he gets them published?

I wonder how the hungry will eat them.

Maybe lepers can use them as bandages.

I guess if you glued enough of them together you could give them to the naked.

Prisoners could write notes to each other on them if he leaves enough space.

TRACTS ARE NOT THE GOSPEL. Love in action is the gospel.

Of course Jesus' blog wouldn't look much like mine either so I'm gonna work on the tree in my own eye right now and serve someone.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


"The Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory Boyd



I read the book. Then I went to the Woodland Hills Church website and listened to the sermon series that Boyd preached leading up to the writing of this book. Boyd offers much insite on the followers of Jesus in the 'blue states' and I have to admit he changed my way of thinking about the abortion debate. I have been leaning (falling actually) toward a different approach than signing petitions and voting conservative on political issues. Boyd reinforces the position that Jesus has been drawing me to. The book is an easy read, informative, and really does complete his purpose. His main point is that in following Jesus, christians should take a "power under"(love, support, forgiveness, love, etc.) approach rather than a "power over"(conservative laws, conservative judges, military actions, censorship, etc.) to become yeast in the dough. I have posted before that I thought we (as followers of Jesus) should be taking a different approach to engaging the tough issues. I'm pleased that there are men like Gregory Boyd, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McClaren, and others that help us to look at life a different way. I don't always agree with everything I read from these guys but they have helped me discover a new richness in following Jesus. Read the book or listen to Boyd's message if you're feeling the "church" in America isn't quite what you expected the "Church" should be. When in doubt, follow Jesus, be what he was, hang out with who he did, love like he did, give like he did, pray like he did, stand up like he did, turn the other cheek like he did, love like he did.
One of the kids from the rental across the street got locked out of her house and spent the evening with us last night (until her roommates returned home). I thank God for giving us the opportunity to love these kids, they need it real bad, they are all from broken and abusive homes. Oh, I've posted before about the teen center in our town that my friend started. Its not overtly christian but my friend is and he's there alot. Last night 50-60 Goth kids from another city came in with two of their own bands and equipment and took over the teen center. The leaders were a little overwhelmed but all turned out okay. A group representing the 'leaders' of the kids was inquiring as to how the facilities came to be in our backwater town and who funded it. My friend did most of it but he did explain to them that there are four churches in the area that thought the teens "were of unsurpassable value to our community". They were very surprised that churches actually did that. We've got a long way to go but I really feel there is a strange and beautiful breeze blowing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What if 7

What if we got rid of the word "they" and always used the word "we".

What if 6

What if the word "trust" didn't mean an expectation of superhuman proportion and meant "lack of fear of losing what I can't keep on my own".

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Marriage

I realized this morning, in a "lightbulb-over-my-head" way, why my marriage is so great. We both set our expectations very small and often live up to them.

What if 5

What if we didn't laugh about eating too much? Would more people have enough to eat?

What if 4

What if it were considered fashionable to live in mobile home parks and inner cities so we could live efficiently with low-impact on our open spaces that we use to grow food?

What if 3

The world considered 'giving away' rather than 'collecting' a hobby? What if there were television shows, periodicals, and books written about it?

What if 2

What if people that built houses larger than 2000 sq. ft. were not praised for being successful but ostracized for being selfish?

What if 1

What if it was considered swinish to own more than two pair of shoes? Couldn't we all own two pair of shoes?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mainstream Press

I thought I'd check the time and date of Shane Claiborne's visit to Mars Hill, Grandville, MI and found an an article in "In These Times" giving press to the Christian revolution or "insurgency" as Rob Bell of Mars Hill refers to it. I'm looking forward to dinner with an old friend and then catching Shane's talk entitled "Finding Your Own Calcutta".


I teamed up with about a half-dozen other guys and cooked and served over 800 meals this past weekend. It was good.


I've met about twenty other people this past week that are adjusting their lives toward a more "costly" discipleship. It is encouraging to witness the awakening through the body to a leaner, more effective gospel. Their work and message is condensed while the sparkle in their eyes speak volumes. Wow.


I drove past two red cows.

They found a different path than the other thirty

in a field with no paths, no streams, no rocks

nothing to guide them but each other

away from the thirty.

just two.



How significant those two

as the small Hyacinth in the seat next to me

stood out among the roses

in their red rosiness and green vases in the flower display

dwarfing the mundane white Hyacinth in their richness.

But the Hyacinth, on a different path,

always smells more beautiful than the rest

away from the thirty.


I'll never forget those two cows nor the smell of the Hyacinth.

Whatever Happened to the Human Race? - Google Book Search


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NAK: 9.75 -0.32 (-3.18%) - Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (USA)


I was in the area of the Pebble Mine Deposit last summer (for the month of June) and spoke to several natives about it. Very few I spoke to want the mine to happen and I don't believe it should either. Not one ounce of gold has been mined yet the stock has doubled over the past six months purely on speculation. Establishment of the mine means using an existing Alpine lake as the tailings settlement pond-effectively destroying any fishery in the lake and threatening the delicate salmon fishery that has been a lifeline for many Alaskan Native peoples for 10,000 years. It also means building a road through a significant portion of Lake Clark National Park (anyone see the "Alone in the Wilderness" films or read Dick Proenneke's book?)
To get an idea of the shear scale of this project, Lake Iliamna is about 22 miles across and 60 miles long.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

God's Glory in the Strangest Places

I was listening to a vodcast from UCTV called "Atomic and Astrophysics: The Synthesis of Molecules in the Universe" and found something nothing short of poetic. In the first 200 seconds of Genesis that scientists refer to as the "big bang", in an environment of extreme heat(something in the billions of degrees celcius) stray protons and neurons were hurled through, uh, space (still not sure about whether space is something or nothing) and in their collision combined to create what astrophysicists call deuterons. Two deuterons also moving erratically through space were combined to create an alpha particle, He2+.

So He was the alpha particle, there in the beginning, from which all matter formed. Close, real close.

I know I'm taking it all out of context, I said it was POETIC, nothing more. I'd have called it irony but thats Fe not He. MMmmm Hmmm, its late.