Thursday, November 27, 2008

Throat-sticking Overdone Like That Turkey But I Can't Help It

But here goes....

I'm Thankful....simply because I'm able to be, that my heart is formed such that I can find something, someone, or some memory in this day of twenty thousand-some-odd breaths of air (of which every one I'm thankful for) to look upon with grateful eyes, a peace of mind, and say that- that right there is worthy of my thanks.

peace and thanks for you -

Monday, November 10, 2008

Maturing of the Web as a Social Network

Bulletin boards, email, chat rooms, instant messenger, myspace, facebook, twitter, google calendar, etc. I am a social networking addict. I began in 1998 in chat rooms talking about competition coon hunting, daschunds, gardening, Y2K, etc. It was novel and it was fun and it seemed you could soon discover nuances in the personalities of people that brought a level of intimacy that merely meeting someone face-to-face at an organizational meeting never could and possibly never will. I tried to count tonight how many people that I've met first on the internet and then face to face. I believe it is somewhere around a dozen people that I have met in face to face meetings that I probably would have never met otherwise. When you chit chat with someone in a fairly open forum and then meet them face-to-face it seems there is a greater intimacy to the relationship from the start.

One of the strangest phenomena I've noticed with online networking is what I will call 'ethno-centering'. A person that you may be familiar with and may even have frequent face-to-face conversations with, but may be on your 'outer circle' or 'exocentric' group of friends, can often become one of your closest networking friends. That online friendship will often bring people closer together as they move from the keyboard and screen out into the real world, strengthening their face-to-face relationships. A Facebook page or Myspace page (I'm going with the top two that I am aware of but there is also many more including Youtube, Picasa, Flikr, etc. that use media to build community around it) brings transparency to a relationship. Its difficult to attempt to be someone you are not when you Twitter often or reset your status often or share photos through Photobucket, Flikr, or Picasa or blog or whatever way you express yourself on the internet. A trail of information gets laid down behind you and like Ebay ratings or Diggs, you become the character that you exhibit, at least in the eyes of those stalking your profile or lurking on your wall (Facebook lingo).

My mug is raised to transparency and intimacy. I praise the author of all knowledge for making all things know in the Kingdom that is already but not yet. If you aren't on Facebook, get on there and join in the conversation. It is fun, rewarding, and so far I've seen it builds relationships.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Colab With My Friend Today

The Poem of Leo Leaf

budding tree
blooming green
silky, airy
joyful glee
growing, feeding
shading, breathing
bugs feed on me
color changing
yellow, red, orange
frosty, cold and wet
wind drives a herd
across the lawn
and men blow you into piles
crunch, shatter, organic matter
dead pumpkin smell
you're all brown and fallen down
no more story to tell

or is there.....?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A New Economy

I think we're getting one and something tells me it won't work with my paypal account or American Express. Don't the names of those companies just seem prophetic at this point? It would be ironic if it were the least bit funny.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Pulpiteer » Poll: Halloween?

My good friend and pastor Andy Croel posted a halloween poll that I urge you to vote on. While you're there check out Andy's blog and download his messages. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hijacker Jesus

When I was a little boy and lived in the sticks in Northern Michigan my mother would put us 4 or 5 kids in the car and drive us all over the community trick-or-treating. I remember her often coming to the door with us and pulling at her polyester stretch pants to get her to stop chit-chatting and move on to the next house, which might have been a 1/4 mile or a 1/2 mile or even a mile down the road. Most of the houses had dirt drives with puddles just over ankle deep. A few had grumbling cow dogs or a beagle barking its voice out on a chain. They'd all have a candle-lit pumpkin on the porch or in the window and not much for yard lights outside of that. Getting out of the driveway was a great adventure with unbuckled kids in the back seat poking their heads over the top of the seat to help direct a straight path out in the faint rosy glow of the tail-lights (I remember a couple of our old sedans didn't have backup lamps that worked) while mom tried to use her mirrors and yelled at us kids to sit down so she could see. At least once we ended up in the ditch and had to get help (always in a car waiting to get in the driveway) to get the car pushed out of the shallow ditch or another time the 'undriveable' track in the muddy driveway. Trick-or-treating was a community event. A social event. Neighbors connected and kids got candy that they didn't often get the rest of the year (aside from Easter and a little around Christmas and St. Valentine's day). When I look back on that I don't see All-Hallow's Eve of yore. I see alot of GOOD.

For my own children it has been much the same. Whatever neighborhood we've lived in we've treated Halloween as a time to dress the kids up in goofy costumes and parade them around the neighborhood with buckets to visit our neighbors, check out the fall colors (what's left of them), and instill memories of community in our kids. Until a teaching from the church pricked our ears. We were taught of the original 'All-Hallow's Eve' and how it is a dangerous way that Satan has lured Christians of today into worldliness. From then on we took our kids to alternative celebrations like 'trunk-or-treat' or just halloween parties that banned ghoulish costumes and were held at a church. We separated ourselves from the rest of the community as an example of how one should be in the world but not 'of' the world. You know, that is all well and good for those that feel a genuine heartache over halloween. I appreciate the concept, but this year I'm struck with a different dilemma.

I volunteer at the teen center and one of the students that is a regular attendee asked me last week if we could have a halloween party. "Oh YEAH we can!", was my first reaction. Then I started thinking about the board and how they would respond to the suggestion of having a halloween party and it caused me to think deeply about our role and our purpose when we say we believe in Christ.

I've decided that Jesus hi-jacked halloween! Yes, I don't know when it happened. It must have been sometime before I was born. He first brought polite kids in to yell trick-or-treat and neighbors out with bowls of candy knowing full well that these kids weren't going to wax their windows or T.P. their trees or egg their car. They had faith that that wasn't going to happen and sometimes it did but that didn't keep them from believing in those kids. It also didn't keep the mischievous kids from getting candy from the bowl and taking with them an image of a saintly neighbor that they wrongly tricked. In Carson City you rarely see someone's windows waxed or egged or T.P.'d. Mostly you see neighbors getting out like they should and having fellowship and loving each other and making over the cute kids and well, it looks alot like the church. Maybe I'll burn for that but something tells me its just this way that our redeemer lives. Something intended for evil is co-opted for his Glory. Something meant for destruction is turned sweet and holy in a very real way.

So go with the love of Christ in your heart and hi-jack halloween one more year and look for Hi-Jacker Jesus, he'll be dressed like your neighbor!
p.s. I must add that this is not intended to crash down on church-sponsored parties - safe way for people to have fun. I just think that it is way cool how Jesus can cause us to rethink things sometimes. He truly does offer freedom from oppression and guilt. Whether you decide to hang out with the friends from church or renew old acquaintenances in your neighborhood is up to you, lets just live and allow others that same freedom.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The First Thing

I just got done listening to Greg Boyd preaching on worship (I listen while I dig holes in the road with a pick). He taught and then they had a prolonged worship with communion tables set up. He made the invite to everyone and followed by saying they had open communion, "Jesus never did background checks and neither do we". So when I got back to the office I talked about this with Dave and we joked about the background checks and such and got to talking about the woman at the well. We like to really look at each moment as scripture tells the story. The very first thing that Jesus did, knowing her background and everything, was to ascribe worth to her by asking her for a drink. No Rabbi would have dared speak to the woman much less let her touch a vessel from which he would drink.

What kind of world would it be if the first thing we did when we met someone is to ascribe worth to them? Not in a 'hey I want to sell you a set of tires' or 'hey nice dress' kind of way but to find a way to ascribe worth to someone that would speak to their very humanity.

It'd be like a mustard seed, or like yeast, or like what God put between the water below and the water above on the 3rd day.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Faith Like a Child

I believe, help me in my unbelief...

Five-year-old Michael was in the park with his dad. "Daddy why is all that money in that pond?" Daddy explained as he gave Michael a quarter, "you make a wish and throw your coin in the pond and don't tell anyone what you wished for and it might come true." So Michael hesitated for a moment, gave the quarter a good toss into the water and they went about their walk. A week or so later, next to a fountain, Michael asked for a coin to throw in. Reminded of the earlier wish, Daddy asked Michael if his wish had come true. Michael pushed up his sleeves, bent his wrists and mimicked Spiderman's web shooting and nothing happened. He dropped his arms pulled down his sleeves and simply answered "Nope", grabbed the coin that Daddy had produced from his pocket and through it in the fountain.


This is for my friends Janet Clark, Leslie, MJ Soldano, and Sherrie Miller. They taught me not to underestimate bread.

"Truly, truly, I must say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."


How often do we casually eat or use the gifts that are given us without plying the depths of the sincerity behind the giver?

Often in this world we underestimate the sacrifice that went into every good gift. We eat the freshly made loaf and enjoy it with honey or meat or just butter melting. We thank the person that made it because it was good, rich, and lovely. What we often miss is the person in the bread. The person that keeps enough flour in their stores so they can make the bread. The person that inventories their pantry and makes sure they never run out of yeast or salt or any of the other ingredients that goes into bread. Some make a bread special, requiring additions at a certain time so they take the time out of their busy schedule to watch..., to watch bread. And when the bread is done, there is the delivery or the packaging or the preparation (melt more butter on the crust) so the bread is at its finest - or maybe they take the trouble to give you a yell and ask you to come and their bread - something the little red hen wouldn't have dreamed of doing since you didn't go through all the preparation with her to produce the bread. That would be the world's way of giving you bread, invite you to grow the darn wheat, carry it to the mill, carry the flour back, mix and knead the dough, bake the bread and then and only then do you deserve a share in the bread....


When you eat the next slice of bread that someone baked for you KNOW that in that bread is the link to all that is holy. That person made and gave you that bread for one reason that confounds the wisest of souls. Believe in that person that chose LOVE in the loaf "For on him (her) God the Father has set his seal."

Friday, September 05, 2008

In the Middle of Up and Down

I was lying between my twin boys a couple of nights ago and we were in one of our great theological discussions of where we find God. We had named so many places and the lateness of the day was sweeping us dreamily into that place between wakefulness and slumber when Bubba drowsily said "Dad, I know where heaven is, I can see it". "Really? What's it look like Bub?", I mumbled back to him, now barely awake. Slowly and deliberately he spoke, "It looks like little purple, red, and shiny dusty things just beneath the ceiling. Its all moving around and must be angels". I opened my eyes and in the darkness, complete darkness, I saw what he saw (if you look into darkness with your mind's eye you'll see it too) and gazed in wonder at the unseen molecules and particles moving before us - empty space to us most of the time but this time teaming with life seen through the eyes of someone looking, really looking. I continued to stare in wonder as the room grew full with my own heartbeat and the breath of my sons as their breathing grew deeper and more relaxed. My heart filled with the beauty of the Father's image to meet the child where he needed him to be, like a blanket watching over him as he sleeps, like the Father hovering over creation as he built the foundations of the earth, like the potter leaning over the clay.

It must have been a little like that when Andrew went to his brother Simon and said he found the Messiah, or when Phillip found Nathanael and brought him to Jesus for him to see, or when John the Baptist first saw Jesus approaching and said, "Behold the Lamb of God". They saw something there, maybe because they were looking?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Gospel

just curious...

what is the good news as you know it?


For over a year and a half I have not really claimed any affiliation with any church (small 'c') although I remain on the roll at a local United Methodist church. My reasoning behind this was that it didn't make sense. The Bible says that our struggle is against the powers and principalities yet in the common church model there is a striving toward these same powers and principalities in the so-called leadership development, commitees, trustees, prayer teams, worship leaders, sheparding, etc. and basically a very worldly-looking organization and flow of power or authority that looks less like sacrificial love as much as it looks like upwardly-mobile christian ladder-climbing. I took part in it, got my pats on the back for awhile and found myself empty and desiring to 'spend' my life on what Jesus actually said to do rather than spending it on keeping the church itself growing in numbers, square footage, and acreage. The two ideas of 'being the church' somehow could not be married in my mind. I still am not convinced but my argument centered on how the early church looked nothing like the church of today. Sure there was in-fighting and disagreements but the world was smaller then and people 'had' to work things out, their very survival depended on it. What I see today is rather than people working it out there is so much room for so many you just switch ministries and off you are again, unscathed and unrepentant for one more broken relationship. If you can't get along with the trustees, maybe your 'gift' is finance, if the choir is too old-school maybe you're better suited to the praise team. Since the praise team already has its heirarchy and they don't want to rock the boat, you might want to start another one, can't have too many praise teams! If you can't do anything we'll teach you how to run the projector. We will plug you in and give you authority and there you will die. Die because leadership is servanthood, not control.

So how do I resolve what Greg Boyd has said about letting the church change as the context changes? I agree with him, Frank Viola & George Barna, in Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices don't have the authority to say church should remain a group of 12 or less people meeting in each others homes, there is not anything in the Bible or tradition that says that it should.

However, how do you do it? I mean, how do you insulate an organization from the control-mongers that are doing it for their own glory? How do you paint a maggot to look like Jesus? You don't. You can't. So who will lead us?

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I was reading through some of my old stuff and since we're going to be butchering chickens soon (see, not processing, butchering, and its ugly and terrible but there is no other way, none, to get chicken on a plate).

I’m really stoked about what God might be doing. I don’t know how chickens play in that but I’ve been confronted with chicken messages 3 times in 10 hours so I know there has to be something to it. The first was at 1:00 a.m. this morning. I awoke (could have been dreaming of the Mayan blood-letting stuff I watched on “Digging for the Truth” on the History Channel) and wrote this poem down:

Soup Chicken
Into the Darkness
I reach
As a breath forces cool life
Into my chest
My hand clutches the hot scaly claws
Surrendered to my view
On the block staring up at me
As the axe falls through
Sinking deep into the sweet-sticky sacrifice
staring up at me
A call uncried
An October leaf carried in the light of autumn fresh
A body, yet to give in to death, as it flops through the world
A soup chicken to be soup

I know its morbid. So is the process of giving up myself. Sometimes we forget that the richness of a life in Christ isn’t as easy as opening a can of soup. Something has to die. Something has to be cleaned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You are Always So Good!

For weeks I've been resolved and NOW standing here bent over these pickles, yards from the back door of HIS house, feet caked in mud, ankles, hands, and forearms itching, back aching, green slime tatooed up to my wrists, loathing the day I met him and you whisper "How can you love him?". Well I'll tell you what the hell it isn't! It isn't butchering his half of the chickens! It isn't feeding that son of a *%&%)#@ one single calorie! It isn't going out of my way to not be offensive to him even though I know he is being cold as ice to five and six year old kids and my wife who never did or said anything to remotely offend him. It isn't not kicking his sorry ass for all the work we've done together and then having him trip out and dump it all like it just doesn't exist anymore? What? It is? Its all that? Its all that and more? For what? What do I get out of it?

A cross? I get a friggin cross? Oh yeah, and those sunsets. Mmm Hmmm, there have been some lovely ones. I get a pulse? One more day to wake up to my beautiful wife? Okay, deal. I'm in. I'll clean the friggin chickens, all of them, and I know you, you'll probably bring me to tears while I do it and somehow, through the gore and the mess, you'll show me something beautiful and profound and I'll go about crying your name and dancing like a child in a sprinkler or some other totally uncool thing with chicken guts all over me. Somehow I'm really glad to have met him...and you.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary to the Nation of Sam

11 years and it seems like about half that. Today was our anniversary! I woke up to prickled flesh snuggling away from the 50 degree Michigan morning pouring through our open window. Lazily I reached behind me and felt every reachable inch of my beloved wife before a child's size 10 1/2 foot wiggled away from my touch. Ahhh another spooky dream of Calvin's. He's going through a stage but he's such an accomplished snuggler there is no way you can turn him away or lead him back to his own bed when he stands next to the bed and describes his biggest fear of the moment, in vivid technicolor, surroundsound, and special effects like sword sshwooshes and things dropping to the ground, saliva dripping, and thumps of feet outside his window.

Before the clock on my nightstand registers another ten minutes we are joined by two more imps, Coleman, who chews Calvin out for leaving him alone in bed and forces himself between me and my beloved, and Elizabeth who just has to be on Daddy's side, settles for what is left of the bed and ends up with no covers. I knew we weren't getting anymore sleep so I grabbed my mp3 player on the nightstand and played some of my wife's favorites as we lazily wrestled with the little ones and sent them to check on this or that while we resumed our snuggle. I'm thinking it doesn't get better than this until later in the day we picked our first 5 rows of sweet corn. Three and a half bushel! I picked up a fillet of wild-caught Alaskan Salmon ($7.32), a box of Leslie's favorite Taquitos($5.89), Leslie made some fresh salsa verde from the peppers, tomatillos, and herbs we picked out of our garden and along with just a big kettle full of sweet corn and we ate our fill. Sydney gave us the scrapbook she made with the three little ones and how rich, just how friggin rich does a man have to be? Maybe its the double shot of B-complex from the brewers yeast at the bottom of the beer I just drank or maybe its the omega-3 from that Salmon but it sure looks alot like heaven in the Clark household tonight. Now I just heard my beloved get out of the shower so I'm signing off. Sorry for the details but someday I pray my kids can read this and actually know that with a little passion and much joy - the Kingdom of God will come crashing into our midst.

You know what is ironic after I reread this post? I took John, a homeless guy that visits us one weekend a month, back to the shelter tonight and he chewed me out for not doing something more with my wife on our anniversary! He was married 2 1/2 yrs. of his whole 50 years and he was giving me advice! I'd really like to write a book about his life sometime. I might

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Every Knee Will Bow, Every Tongue Confess

I long thought that the words above were the assurance of Christ's victory over a sinful world and yes the evil will get what's coming to them! Drinking from the spring of Grace and the fount of Mercy changes these words for me. The "other" doesn't seem so "other", my enemies remind me of myself, beauty found in wrinkles and age spots, richness found in a hobo's cabin - barest of necessities allowing him a freedom I could only dream of.....The Kingdom of God not looking terribly different than what pours out of the soul of a young woman committing her life to loving others in cockroach-infested, dangerous places. Every knee WILL bow, and Every toungue WILL confess but not under the gleaming sword of the oppressor of the world but in the wide open arms of the light of simple peace, simple love, simple words, and an equilibrium restored.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Here is a photo of our thriving garden. This is a year of plenty for those with dirt under their fingernails and in their shoes. The weather has been perfect for gardening and farming. We have teamed up with the Havens' on their 2 acres to grow all of our beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, greens, pickling pickles, sweet corn, and also fresh lettuce, carrots, peas, squash, etc. We've named it "Fresh Haven Farm" but its really just a big garden (1/2 acre). We're also raising a dozen Rhode Island Reds for eggs and a couple dozen Cornish Rocks for broilers.
The garden is an interesting way to get to know someone. We haven't known the Havens for very long and many people believe that we took on alot of risk by spending so much on seed and plants and chicken house material and chickens that is on someone else's land. You know, I don't look at it at all that way. The way I see it is by doing this together our kids get the opportunity to see a couple families come together in difficult economic times to create some synergy. If it doesn't work out it won't be a lesson in keeping your guard up, it will be a lesson in how to live life as if we are already within the Kingdom of God and if it turns out that life is not a fairy tale with a happy ending we at least feasted on the joy that we've had thus far in this endeavor. Our kids play well all day and well into the dark, catching lazy fireflies while we relax around a crackling bonfire (Mike is the bonfire king and takes the size, color, warmth, and ambiance of his bonfire very seriously). Many times the kids will crowd onto a blanket next to the fire and fall asleep while we talk late into the night. The harvest began when we broke ground for the garden and I pray it continues deep into the winter when we twist off brass rings and open sealed wide-mouth masons of spicy salsa, hearty vegetables, sweet bread and butter pickles, and sweat-beeding hot pickled peppers. These will be the jewels of our larder but the real treasure will never be contained in a jar or sealed in a freezer bag. The real treasure will be written on our hearts and in our memories for eternity.

shalom, grow something

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Excersize in Missing the Point

I went to a funeral today. Yes, it was sad, of course it was sad. The saddest part was when the focus went off what this child of God had spent her entire illness, 17 years, trying to teach people, that it is not about the struggle, its about the triumph. She died. She died with less limbs(both legs, an arm, and some fingers were taken), sores over much of her body(never healing but compounding and remaining open and inflamed), and skin that looked as if she'd been in a tanning bed set to "scorched earth" but her focus was never on the fact she was dieing, that was obvious, her focus - that dear, dear saint, was that she was A.L.I.V.E., alive and kicking, fully alive, alive and she is STILL A.L.I.V.E. So, pastor whatever-your-name-is, how can you add to that prayer, to that gospel? You think telling people that "Good people don't go to heaven" is going to cut it? Relax and live in the moment, smell the flowers, look at the pictures of her life and remember that message that she lived, the gospel, the true gospel, meted out in the life of one who L.I.V.E.D. and had such grace that words... well, if I had a picture, you'd get it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Scoota Commuta

For about a month now I've been riding a little Chinese 49 cc moped to work. It is 28.5 miles one way and it takes me about 47 minutes to drive in to work and anywhere from 53 minutes to an hour and five minutes (prevailing wind in my face) to get home. It used to take me about 35 minutes each way. I really enjoy that little moped. I wanted to get a motorcycle but as many fathers will understand, my wife was against it. She caved in when I suggested the moped because it is much slower (=traffic has to rush around you frantically on hills and curves) and therefore must be safer to operate. I settled for the moped, hoping that cashing in the "cool" factor of riding an actual motorcycle would be repaid in increased fuel economy (as if I could ever grab that elusive "cool factor" with anything I do), and expected to see an added benefit of getting 70-80 miles to the gallon of gasoline. I am really out of my mind happy about getting a whopping 103 mpg with the throttle wide open all the way! Take that Global Carbon Footprint! I can fill up with 89 octane for about $5.00 and some change.

There is nothing very romantic in the little machine itself. It sounds as if it is being held back all the time and wants to really whine. I smell a little like a lawnmower when I get to my destination and have really cool 80's fly-backs to go with the rest of the "dry look" hair. It isn't very comfortable to ride and the broken tailbone I have from the stupid cliff-jumping keeps me from ever relaxing. I get a knot in my shoulder from holding the throttle wide open for almost an hour. However, riding the moped allows me a little freedom that I otherwise don't feel. I tend to get a little caged-up feeling when I have to ride in an automobile now. I don't get the full effect of the new-mown hay, walls of lucious cattails, blossoming maples, ash, and willow, and the whole plethora of smells that pours out from a dairy farm - molasses, grain, silage, heady manure, and just a hint of the smell from a wet nose of a newborn calf. I also miss out on the effect the little machine has on the fauna along the road. Cows come running to the roadside fence as they hear me approach, deer spook but have to turn around and stop with curious ears spread wide, and both ring-necked pheasants and wild turkey alike run along side as I pass by not knowing whether they should take wing or hunker low until they just stand there looking at me as I continue down the edge of the road inches from the white line.

The weather adds adventure to the mix. I've only gotten wet twice and am pretty adept at checking the weather and taking off at just the right time to miss the showers. You are really much closer to weather on a moped. You are immersed in the air ionized by lightning, you feel the sting of the rain on your face, the sun shines warm on your body even if the air is cool, the wind slows you noticeably or gives you speed like you've never before had when its at your back. When you get wet on a moped, you are wet everywhere but the backs of your legs. It is cold in the morning and cool in the afternoon. I can't picture myself in riding leathers or a full face helmet so I would imagine that I'll have to come up with some humiliating-yet-warm getup this fall to lengthen my moped season.

The little bike responds to the weather also. It runs fast and smooth in the cool air, a little sluggish and soft when its very warm, sputters in the rain, and struggles against the wind. It seems to have a personality all its own, much like the junker cars I used to drive. I guess all in all this little bike helps me find that child-like joy that I sometimes lose track of. I get laughed at and laugh right back with a wave. I get the 'finger' and well, sometimes, have used it as well when someone speeds by dangerously close (not saying its right, just saying its me and I'm not always right). I hunker down behind the fairing in the front to cut down wind resistance to see how fast I can get to work. On a relaxing ride I can stop quick and just enjoy the sunrise, the sunset, a singing Redwinged Blackbird or watch a Bald Eagle sitting in a dead limb high over the Maple River. There is much that has come with the cheap little machine and I'm much the richer for it in many ways. So as I sit here and listen to the bubbles come off a fresh batch of homebrew beer and hammer out this entry for some day later when I have forgotten who I am, I'm thankful for the little bike, a good life, and a cool evening to take a ride around town.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Montcalm Teen Center

My eyes are dry and my heart is broken. I am crying out to humanity in this little village, no burg, that I have been placed in. There are five freaking churches and two or three benevolent societies here! I can't get a volunteer to give 3 hours every two months to just show up and be there for a small group of teens to let them know that there is someone in town that feels they have value. I've been opening it myself without the second volunteer simply because I'm not going to turn away kids at the door. Where are the hearts for these kids? Single parent homes, foster homes...thats where these kids come from and for the love of God, great God almighty, they need to know that our community loves them and supports them and wants them to seek to be a force for good and redemption and love in this community and all I get are excuses! EXCUSES! How many dates do you have to take with your wife? How tired are you really after that rummage sale you had? Why did you ever sign up? Why do you sit on the board when you can't spend even one hour at the teen center? You are retired! You are empty nesters! Your kid is THERE!


With that said, I can't figure it out. I really enjoy being with these kids and it grows me and helps me be a better human being. Why the heck are not people knocking down the door to be volunteers?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Michigan governor outlines ways to save money - NewsFlash -

Michigan governor outlines ways to save money - NewsFlash -

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is riding her bike to work a couple of times a week,
an example of a way she says Michigan consumers can save money.

The 49-year-old governor lives just southwest of the city center, about 3 miles from
her office near the state Capitol. She rode her bike to work Wednesday,
accompanied by her security detail.

I know she is trying to do her best to set a good example but I wonder how much extra her security detail spent by having to accompany her on that ride rather than if she'd have just drove in as normal. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Redemption: roadmap of life

Pride can paint one in a corner. We say to ourselves, "I am this" and proceed to form our lives around being that, even when that starts looking like a burden we are not fashioned for, equipped for, or impassioned with. If everything goes according to plan we can look back and think ourselves 'very fine indeed' for having achieved just what we'd set out to achieve and forget that for us to achieve whatever it was we'd set out to do a hundred billion actions, unlikely circumstances, had to align themselves with our will in order that we could even get beyond potty training. I can find humility down that gravelly road. I can find a path not of my choosing that somehow is more beautiful than anything I could have planned for myself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Redemption: the Lifestyle

I worked until 9:30 p.m. tonight, alone. Its physically more demanding to try to do a land survey alone but it gives me alot of time to think and tonight what and who was on my mind doesn't matter as much as the concept that I was mulling over. It was really more like a song...or a prayer or, some otherness that I can't quite describe. Anyway, we postmodern followers of Jesus Christ cringe when we see that little box beside the "religion" question. If you are on Facebook there are many mainline denominations and then simply "Christian", which is what I chose. I was trying to figure out what I really am tonight. I'm not really "Christian" because with that comes a ton of baggage that "Christians" over the past 1700 years have included in a tradition that doesn't even resemble what I believe. I'm not "non-denominational" because I'm really "all-denominational" in a sad, lonely way. What I am is "redemption people". I am with the Jesus of the ages and also the God of the law, the prophets, and the psalms! I don't believe that redemption is only apparent in the lives of human beings but it permeates all of creation and the God who is Creator planned it that way and came and died to pay the ultimate price for what he thinks is worth it...everything! What better way to defeat Pain, Death, Suffering than to go to work on the story to play it out for the glory of the suffering and the ultimate glory of God himself? That's who I am, redemption people. I've got to put some chords and words together on that sometime. Sometime soon.

Shalom - the Peace that passes all understanding....

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I can't think of anything more like redemption than my ex-wife coming to the house to teach my wife how to make the best apple pie in the world! Alot of water under the bridge but one thing you cannot take away from my ex-wife is her apple pie! She made me one to thank me for something, my wife had a piece and invited her over to teach her her secrets. In exchange, my wife the coupon queen, shared her couponing program. Color that R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N!

Oh, add to that sweet sweet Wings victory!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Day

I'm sick. I'm setting up with a cup of honey and ginseng tea with about a 1/3 cup of brown liquor topped off with hot water and trying to get rid of this nagging cough so I can get to sleep. Busy day today (actually yesterday). I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. and hit the snooze until 7:00, mixing prayer in with light sleep and birdsong in through the open window. Someone convince me it wasn't heaven. I dressed and drank some coffee with Les and was out burning precious gasoline through the rear-tine tiller by 8:10. Leslie and I have some new friends and we're doing a garden with them. Well, its more like a little farm. We're planting a 1/2 acre this year. Yes, a 1/2 acre, 85 feet by 267 feet! I'm still only getting paid for 24 hours a week while my company tries to set itself right after a winter of no real good paying work. I contend that we're more content than we've ever been. The girls haven't seen their allowance in a couple months but never mention it, they are very frugal and I'm so humbled by their understanding of the circumstances. We've never been wealthy but they've never really wanted for all that much either. We got rid of satellite television and we talk a lot more - hence the contentment.

We're waiting patiently for our chicks to arrive. Mike Havens and I are in the middle of building a coop from scrap lumber but the chicks will have to be brooded indoors for a few weeks before they need the coop. The kids ask us every day when the chicks will be here.

Tomorrow (today) we'll plant most of the garden. We're planting everything we eat and many things we don't. Some things sell so well at the produce auction that we're planting for an abundance with the hopes of putting some money into an account for maybe building a greenhouse or adding a few meat goats to the mix. Pickling cucumbers are the big money-maker, easy to grow and hardy - they will be the big money-maker. We're also transplanting some raspberry bushes and will put in a strawberry patch in early autumn.

I went to a wedding earlier today. Now I'm really getting a sense of my generation. Kevan's daughter got married. It seems only a few months ago that I was standing and watching Kevan and his brother kill ants with rubber bands while his mother and my mother chatted on Mrs. James' two-track drive. Hers was the only drive I knew that had violets growing down the middle, between the tire tracks. We met the Smiths in the shade of a huge White Pine and the ants were plentiful along that sand drive. "Kevan, you know Sam from school don't you?" and he replied "nope, don't know him" and he was lying through his teeth which was easy because he didn't have but one on top and that one only half way in. And now his daughter is married. The twins thoroughly enjoyed the festivities. They were running around hitting each other with balloons and grabbing watermelon chunks out of the fruit salad with dirty hands. Had I been at any other place I might have felt the need to curtail that but here, among the Smiths, it was not only accepted but expected and maybe even encouraged. Kevan's sister Brenda Kaye threw mints across the room for me to catch in my mouth and embarassed her 16 yr. old son completely by hammering on the table until the groom would lean over with a mouth full of food and kiss his new bride on the lips. The staunch Nazarenes got up and went outside after eating so they didn't have to sit through the PDA and the noise. God bless that people and that couple. I pray they worship you in freedom and in grace all the days of their life, no, all the days!

shalom, the cough is gone and my heart is full.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Want To Believe

I had a chance to do a read on Mel Lawrenz's "I Want To Believe". I found it a satisfying personal apologetic loaded with insite. Lawrenz does a quick synopsis of world religions and a serious critique on Western Christendom. His anecdotes are humorous and thought-provoking. I'd recommend this to all of you out there that have found yourself sitting in church and all of a sudden think, "How did I end up here and is this what it is about?". In this present age of cynicism and skepticism Lawrenz gives sound reason for belief.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sucker Fishing- The trip north

I left around 9:00 p.m. Tuesday night, after finishing the last batch of venison jerky, packing 3 times too much gear, and kissing my wife and kids goodbye. I was off for three, maybe five, days of non-stop fun. It was a welcome respite after the day I'd had. Dave and I rushed through a topographic survey on the Maple River, in spite of a bitchy German Shepherd that would lay around for ten minutes then bolt at me and grab my pant leg, survey rod, or the loose glove I was carrying just to give the bitch something to sink its teeth into besides my flesh. Dave and Mike, the owner of the campground we were surveying, had a good laugh every time she rushed me with that deep gutteral growl that raised the hackles from the crack of my butt to my forehead. I know she could smell the fear all over me. I'm not afraid of many dogs but I'm not the dog whisperer either. The beer I drank with Mike, Dave and the two other old river men in Mike's shop redeemed the whole trip. That first beer was great and I wanted to have another but I had to get my stuff together for the trip. I bid them thank you and good bye and hustled out ahead of Dave so he would be between the bitch and I.

Leslie made a great dinner with this pasta, cheese, and sausage dish and sent the rest with me in a container. She helped me pack and questioned me insufferably until I walked out the door. We were staying in a really new camper, close to civilization. It's not like we were not going to survive if I didn't take an extra container of floss.

So I'm on the road at 9:20 and the suburban starts feeling a little loosy-goosy in the back end and then the noise, flump, flump, flump as the rear passenger tire flip-flapped to its completely flattened state. I look all over, through everything, no flashlight. I jumped out and aimed my flip-phone at the tire and sure enough, it's flat but the phone is not enough light to even change it by. I checked the spare. It is inside, on the driver's side, beneath a pile of junk and covered by a gray carpet tire cover with a zipper.
The tab to the zipper was lacking so I had to rip the cloth from the zipper enough to free the spare from its cover. Good news, the white letters on the tire are still covered in blue indicating a brand-new tire! Bad news, it too is flat. How can the brand-new spare be flat?!

I didn't want to but I called home. My wife was out walking with a friend. I called her cell phone. She ended her walk and walked home. She called me back and gave me the road service number to call. I called the 888 number and it put me on automatic hold, for what seemed like an hour but was realistically more like 5 minutes. A young man answered and asked me what I was calling for. I told him I needed roadside assistance and he said "one moment, I'll transfer you to roadside assistance". Now why a roadside assistance number has to be transferred is still a big question for me but he did and I sat for another five minutes listening to elevator music. A voice broke the jazzy beat of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer". "The number you are attempting to reach has been disconnected and is no longer in service. Please check the....", the recording stopped as I flipped my phone closed and sat with my forehead on the wheel whispering, "crap...crap...crap..crap" to the rythm of the green blinking triangles on the dashboard display.

I dialed the 888 number again and only listened to the hold message once before being connected to a very nice young lady. I told her that I'd already called and was transferred to an unlisted number so I hoped very much that she could help me. She did. I stayed on hold while road service was called and she smiled through the phone as she came back on an announced that help was on its way and should arrive in 15 minutes or less. Thirty minutes later a little car with a beacon on the top did a u-turn after passing me and swung in behind me. He aired up the spare and changed the tires. I pulled in to my destination, usually an hour and 15 minute drive, at 11:00 p.m.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mythic Reality

Read the post I've linked the title of this blog. It is a nice perspective.

Blain Butler, if there is one regret that I will have of my life it is that I never stopped and told you I appreciated the deliberate exhuberance that you showed when you waved to me as I passed you on the street. I can't do that now. You fell victim of the destroyer, the self-loathing that many of us develop quietly, undetected, as we go through life with a smile on our face and seemingly without a worry in the world. Aww Blaine, if you'd have seen the crowds of tear-stained faces gathering to honor your life you may have valued it for one breath more. Blaine you were everyone's favorite person, knew no enemies, separated yourself from no one, and somehow the lie crept in and lived within you. I don't know how it happens - it is foreign to creation. I don't think it can be found anywhere but in humans.

Lord help me to seize every opportunity to value people as eternal beings created in your image for all time and help me find little ways and big ways to tell them. A grain of sand remains a grain of sand forever. It may be dashed upon a rock and wear against that rock once and forever more lie motionless trapped in a bed of sand for all eternity but it was that once, that single moment in time that brought significance to its existence. How much more for the very image of the creator God? Blaine will not father a nation, he won't save a person from a burning home, deliver a calf, offer a thirsty person a glass of water, pay taxes, write a love letter, or greet me with a firm handshake and a smile - not again in this present darkness. We mourn you Blaine and 17 years are to few for anyone.

See you later.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I listened to Richard Daukins (intentionally misspelled) this afternoon on NPR. Its a weakness to imagine that there is meaning to life. Why then does he bother to write books and go on radio? Its meaningless and a waste of his time. I think there is a little truth inside of every lie. Especially after I listened to him speak about the universe as if it is creating itself.

I don't know if I read this or if I heard it or if it just came to me so I'm not claiming it but if a person, most people, are looking for meaning in life then isn't that evidence that it is out there to find? You'd think that all of science and philosophy, the scientists and philosophers among the brightest and bravest, would just stop if we once found that meaning is not there yet we continue to explore the very idea that we explore.

Thank you dear God for this longing that I have in my heart for everything that is you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I don't know why he did it but Jesse took his own life last night. He was a gang-banger from Lansing, did 6 years for manslaughter starting at 18 yrs. old. He started following Christ while he was inside. Worked on a roofing crew and did youth ministry when he got out. He was one of my best friend's nephews. He called my friend his mentor. I met him a couple years ago. He was a little guy, engaging but humble. His eyes shown brightly with life. He was one person that could describe freedom.

He lived with two of his brothers. In the past month he'd been withdrawn, coming home from work and retreating to his room to study the bible. Just in the past couple of days he started talking again but only surface stuff, nothing too deep. This morning he's gone, in the physical, reach-out-and-hug sense.

He had so much to offer a world of black and white. His life was every shade of gray.

Oh God hear me. Please do not let this tragic event be swept away without your sweet redemption. I pray you move in power among Jesse's brothers and his parents to move them to a new reality in you.

It got me thinking about sin. Yes it is wrong to take your own life but it is no more wrong than materialism, sloth, or unforgiveness. Oh Jesse my heart grieves for you and your family.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Child Theology

I stood in the long wet grass in my bare feet beside my sister. I held the plastic knife in my fat little hand and looked into the deep blue sky. I can still smell the chemical residue of the huge green pipe my dad scrounged from the chemical plant, the dog shit, and the fresh spring breeze that insisted on putting itself on record in spite of the gloom we felt beneath the low but warm May sun. Were it not for that breeze I'm sure the whole memory would be in moldy sepia. Instead, my sister's sleeveless white sundress with the periwinkle flowers, my blue elastic-waste shorts and the dandelion-infested rich green grass lay imprinted on my life. I don't know why she was angry with us. I don't know why she screamed at us to get outside before she brained us but whatever it was seemed so painful at the time. It must have been for me to grab that plastic knife on my way through her kitchen.

"I jus' wanna go see God, I'm tired of being alive" I told my sister. "I'll cut my wrist first and you can do yours next and then we'll go to heaven together!" "No, God don't like us to bleed and I don't like it either so we can't" she scolded me. "It'll be okay, lets go swing" and we did.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Chapter

When my son left home to go to boarding school never to return to live with us again it was a depth of emotion and pain that I'm not sure I really have felt before. Last night a new chapter was written when my 16 yr. old daughter came into the room I was busily writing in and just stood there grinning. She asked me what I was writing and sat down and read some of it and somehow she turned the conversation to the family down the street that moved in about a year ago. The father of the family is a fiction writer, songwriter, singer, and pastor of a church that meets in a theatre in a nearby city. He has a son a year older than my daughter. I've met him and he seems like a nice kid. BUT, I am not ready to release my little girl's hand into some pimple-faced, hormone-powered, bible-thumping, son of an evangelizard. There, now that I've got that off my chest I want to say that I'm excited for her. She's liked this kid for awhile now, went to his bible studies where he preaches to other teens (and usually draws anywhere between a dozen and two dozen kids - but not the ones you'd think, the ones that seem to be the outcasts and you'd think they'd be too cool to buy this God stuff) about purity and living their lives to God's glory, and she has spent quite a bit of time with his parents as well. She wasn't allowed to date until she turned 16, which was less than a month ago, and remarkably his dad had told him he couldn't until he was 18 but he must have caved in. Anyway, my heart is broken at the thought of my little girl, who suffered through her daddy french-braiding her hair at 5:00 a.m. just to be the "best" daddy I could in others eyes, becoming a woman. We had a tough year together last year but we rode out the storm and we are closer because of it.

You know, we have no money, we have one car working right now and we're two months behind in our mortgage. The Michigan economy is slow and we are having to change our lifestyle drastically because of it. I would love to try and call that suffering but I can't. I have no friends with time to sit around and talk. I can't get the book written that is inside me and no goal that I have set seems even worth looking at right now but there are little things. Little things like last night with my daughter. Little things like the birds that come to the feeder. Little things like wondering at how so many people KNOW so much but really just have heard it from someone else and have these exponentially large number of tiers between really knowing and just believing, yet cannot accept that others DO exactly the same thing and cannot forgive them in their ignorance. I thought it ludicrous one time when a pastor friend told a troubled lady that she had to quit trying so hard and take some time to just "be". I believe he was right. I am thankful for being. I'm thankful for the loss and the gain and little Calvin sitting in the chair drifting off to sleep while I read. I'm thankful for the lit up faces of my little ones as they watch me scan a toy car into the computer. I'm thankful for the snowmen we built and the way that my heart has been ripped out every time I get the idea that I have a direction to head in. Its all worth it.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Persecution Alert

Dr. Peter Jones of "Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet". Listen to him on itunes on the Resurgence Podcast with Gary Shavey.

I know these guys are really trying but they are somehow getting it wrong. Putting a line between created and creator for the sake of mankind is like worshipping a painting of Jesus, no hands or feet. One of the reasons we are created in his image is because he uses us to get things done. If the world is to be saved we need to understand we are the ridiculous way that God will do it because any other way would not be like God. It would be like, put it on velvet with some blacklights.

Talking about 'blurring the lines' between Christian and pagan. Pagan means outsiders. I guess I'm one of them if to be inside means to only understand part of Christianity. The fruit of that remains to be seen. The fruit of name-calling like these guys are doing is called a witch hunt. It is ironic that that is what Peter Jones warns Gary Shavey about as they speak together. Check it out on itunes.