Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Stormy Weather

Easily my favorite quote right now is the one I posted yesterday. In light of what Katrina has done in the South I cling to the thought even more.

The eye went over Starkville, MS where my brother, Vance, lives after it made landfall. They were thankfully spared any serious damage, though they are still without power. He works at Mississippi State, which like pretty much everything else in Starkville, is closed in the storms wake. One funny story about the storm is that apparently a heads-up meteorological scientist sent a memo to the administration suggesting they should make certain preparations for the storm. They recommended setting up a meeting on Monday to discuss it with him. That's the danger of higher education crossing paths with the real world. Common sense is just not part of the equation.

The tragedy of something like this is incomprehensible but so are the opportunities to glorify God in how we react and reach out to help others. The way lives have been ripped apart is horribly sad but the way people will come together to overcome this event is going to be a wonder to see. The way people will try to take advantage of this for their own gain is disgraceful, but the way others will literally give someone newly homeless the shirt off their back and share the roof over their head will honor God. Nice try, Katrina, but the one who made the world has overcome it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Where the Lines Are Drawn

Right now I am reading "The Peacemaker" by Ken Sande. In it, he briefly touches on the story of Jim and Elizabeth Elliott. They were missionaries in South America specifically reaching out to the Auca tribe. In 1956 Jim and four other missionaries were brutally murdered by the Aucas. Though devastated Elizabeth responded:

"To the world at large this was a sad waste of five young lives... The prayers of the widows are for the Aucas."

And they did more than pray. The widows continued the work of their husbands and within three years of the killings, changes were evident. Even some of the men who had killed the missionaries came to know Christ. Mrs. Elliott has said many things that would simply blow you away, but the statement by which I was most impacted was:

"...Cause and effect are in God's hands. Is it not the part of faith simply to let them rest there? God is God. I dethrone him in my heart if I demand that he act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice.... The one who laid the earth's foundations and settled its dimensions knows where the lines are drawn."

In light of something like her testimony, it seems almost silly for me to suggest I understand the will of God beyond his desire for reconcilliation. All the details are his to understand and mine to accept and use as the precipitate in the solution of life on this planet.

God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He's painting. God is God and I am man and I'll never understand it all for only God is God.

And that's enough.

Friday, August 26, 2005

More of the Same

I have been linking to some of the blogs of those leaving comments regarding the Harding/Coulter issue and other similar discussions and I am amazed by at least some of what I am finding. Actually, I suppose I am not all that amazed since it is in line with some of my recent thoughts, but I am sometimes caught off guard when people accidently prove my point. The other similarity between some of the legalistic conservatives and the current liberals is the joylessness they both share. By share, I mean they really want everyone to be in the brotherhood (and sisterhood) but it is the brotherhood of miserableness. Everything is awful and sinful to the core: the cars we drive, the stores where we shop, the flags we fly, the entertainment we choose. All parts of our our crappy little existences. The pathetic nature of Everyman and his efforts only has momentary flashes of mediocrity brought on by our exposure to the enlightened thoughts bestowed upon us by the spiritual elite or, if we're really lucky, professional atheletics. Never mind that both elevate certain people above others for profit in embellished arenas of plastic reality.

If it is all the same to you, I want to seek joy. None of us can escape the fact we live in a fallen and imperfect world. But there are wonderful things about how we have been blessed by God that make me even more eager to give myself over to His care and greatly anticipate just how amazing the next world will be. My hope is because of my joy and my joy is because of my hope. Sorry, but the two go hand-in-hand. If I am not Christianing properly by not complaining about how horrible everything is, look on the bright side: I have made someone's day by giving them one more person to look upon with disdain. Just trying to do my part.

Monday, August 22, 2005

13 Years and Just Getting Started

Have you ever seen the Far Side cartoon with two panels, one representing heaven and one depicting hell? The caption for the Heaven scene says, "Welcome to Heaven. Here's your harp." The caption for the one depicting hell says, "Welcome to Hell. Here's your accordion." Well, thirteen yeares ago today, I definitely got my harp, but I fear Kendra got her accordion.

I was blessed beyond anything I could comprehend that day and am still learning how blessed I am as each day goes by. Even not knowing, we stood up there in front of a crowd (some might say posse) in Muleshoe and made ridiculous promises to each other. We meant them, and still do, but we were naive as to the implications or even the possibility of what we were saying. Still, I am so glad and know that if no other blessing had ever come my way, I would still have been the most fortunate person I know just because of what happened that day.

Our life has changed so much since then, but I wouldn't have it any other way. She is beautiful, easy to love, godly, sexy, patient, kind, caring, a great mom, a great teacher and my best friend. Happy Anniversary to me and thanks for 13 wonderful years to her. I love her.

Coulter's Bar-B-Q

As if to validate the previous post, the comments on some blogs I frequent regarding Ann Coulter are a good example of what I was talking about. It would be comical if it weren't so sad.

Paging Mr. Kettle. Paging Mr. Kettle. Please pick up the nearest non-courtesy phone. You have a call holding from Mr. Pot.

It quickly turned from a discussion from why she can speak while others cannot into a venom-fest against her. She is obviously abrasive and in my opinion somewhat annoying but I don't hate her. It's a shame, too, since hate seems so couture this fall. By the way, nor do I hate Molly Ivins for calling the president the south end of a north bound donkey. Both she and Ann Coulter are uniquely qualified to make such an assessment. (My apologies to donkey butts everywhere.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Picture This

A few weeks ago I followed a link to one of those survey sights. This one was desgined to tell me what I am in terms of my faith. For those of you waiting on the edge of their seats, it turns out I am not actually a Muslim, nor a Buddhist nor an atheist. In fact, after ranking my responses on over 100 questions in turns out that I am an "Emergent Christian." They even put a little picture on there. Apparently I am going to look just like Brian McLaren before this is all over. Perhaps I should have kept a copy of the results in case I ever need them to get into a missional club, but I didn't. I tossed them. Maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction to being labeled.

There is something interesting about being identified as something rather than identifying yourself as something. I thought back over my responses to the questions trying to remember what I had said and how it may have been interpreted. Reading some of the description of someone who is "emergent" I thought that indeed it sounded like me even though I was a bit resistant in light of the impressions I had gotten from other people who identify themselves accordingly. Perhaps I should explain.

Something about the church of my youth that bothered me was the notion of exclusions and absolutes. I have always been very aware of my ignorance. And while I may have been given a double portion of ignorance, I doubt that I have completely cornered the market. In light of this, I really do not think that any person has completely firgured out the mind of God and has a full understanding of His ways and His plan. Therefore, the idea that any one understanding of scripture is absolutely correct is folly. I guess that is why I was less than enamored with the legalistic teachings of my faith heritage, but it may also be why I am skeptical of being identified as emergent.

I might be stating the obvious, but it seems like those who are now enlightened and disappointed in the ways of conservative legalism are just as openly critical toward those on the other side as the other side is toward them. Is it possible that either side has a stranglehold on ultimate truth? Neither is unique in acting like they do. And sadly, it often seems like both sides spend more effort and time talking about their opinion than they do acting on it.

I guess it's easier to condemn than to be introspective. I guess it's easier to talk about being missional as a church or a group than it is to actually form close relationships with people from the other side of the tracks. Oh well, even if the disenfranchised are further alienated by the intellectual conversations we have on their behalf I am sure they are impressed. And that's gotta be worth something, right?

I do not intend for anything I have said here to sound critical of Brian McLaren. Quite the opposite. In fact, I have been very impressed and moved by much of his material. Still, I wonder whose picture would have been on my page if I had answered a few questions differently? Maybe I need to find that website again and keep trying until I find a picture of Jesus. I'll get right on that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Not much to say right now. Your turn.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

And now for something only slightly different...

We've all been pretty busy the past few weeks. Baseball finally wrapped up a couple of weeks ago so we tried to get a few last-minute blasts of summer in. It is crazy to think that C had been playing virtually non-stop since March. Still, right up to the end he was loving it- even regretting to see it come to an end. He and his buddies in the neighborhood still play every day.

One last gasp of summer came last week. We went camping with our neighbors (see pictures on the family site). It was a little stormy on the way down (I saw a funnel cloud) but a little rain is actually fun in the camper. On one of our Frisbee golf rounds, C and I had the talk. You know- "The Talk." I think it went pretty well. He is such a great kid. I thinks that's all I'll say about that for now.

We toured the school where the kids will go this year. Their usual school is being remodeled so they are going to one that had previously been moth-balled. We were all a little apprehensive about the change- especially since it is A's Kindergarten year- but I think it will be great after the tour. They are all excited even if they don't want to admit it. The school year starts Monday.

Right now the kids are in Muleshoe. I met K's mom in Post, Texas on Monday night to drop them off. It is sometimes alarming how badly you can miss someone before they even leave. I hated to see them go. I really love those munchkins. The night before they left MK pulled another tooth. The combination of seeing her gap-toothed, wrinkly nosed smile and A's teary eyes and C's vow to help take care of his sisters really tugged at the old heartstrings.

I felt guilty last night. K and I were going to go on a date (no kids and all) but she got another offer (a better offer actually) to go to a chick flick with some friends. She chose to go to a movie with me instead. As she put it, with the hope that comes from having the house to ourselves she could get me to see any movie- even a chick flick. But, as is common, we talked about the kids all through dinner and ended up skipping dinner to go home and work on stuff for her classroom. If not both, we are at least either fuddy or duddy.

Finally, I dropped off my application yesterday to go back to school. I'm still in conflict over this primarily because it is so incredibly expensive, but I actually think I will give it a try. Anyone know of any aid or grants or very generous gifts for non-traditional students married with kids? Actually, I think this is a field that will help me in my work no matter what I am doing. Even though I still hope that applies to what I am doing now, but if I am not blessed accordingly, perhaps I will be more marketable. We'll see.

Have a great week...


Yesterday as I was driving back from a little camping trip to the lake with the family, I thought about how what some people think of as camping is actually a test of survival skills. With this as a starting point, my mind (as it so often does) began to wander. It is interesting how for mankind our early emphasis on self-survival has evolved to become something altogether different than mere sustinance.

On a side note, if the use of the term "mankind" offended anyone, I respectfully hope you will both forgive me and get over it. I am incredibly sick of the notion that terms like this are offensive or inappropriate. There is seldom any cruel intention associated with such a term but people will get their unmentionables in a bunch over things like that. What's the point and/or big deal? It is merely a long-used term to describe humans at large and people understand that. To suggest it is anything else is just spoiling for a fight. That kind of crap (Oops. I did it again) has got to stop. But I digress...

In the early days of people on this earth (There. Feel better?) it seemed like our primary concern was sustinance. We had needs rather than wants and directed our energies accordingly. We recognized the provisions of our Creator and were close to Him on a basic level. We relied on Him and sought God, food, shelter and safety above all else. In many cases were made this a group effort and held each other up in these efforts.

Eventually, however, we decided we were pretty good at the sustinance thing and decided there must be more that would improve our lives and self-improvement began to take over our interests. We became more involved in arts and apearances and at first rightly directed these efforts to honoring our God. At the same time, we began to think that perhaps we played a pretty large role in our own existence and began to feel pretty important as a result. No longer of the collective opinion that we were totally reliant on God, we distanced ourselves from Him a little bit feeling confident that we had more control over our own destiny than we may have originally thought or given ourselves credit. Self-survival had given way to self-reliance and the difference was not as subtle as it sounds.

This chain of events was doomed to failure. This may seem obvious because of the trend of pulling away from God and this is disastrous. But there is another reason. Though self-reliance is not necessarily negative by nature, it was a rung in the ladder by which mankind has elevated itself and in so doing has given us a spirit of self-importance and this is where we are now. The selfish nature of man has reached a fever pitch in my opinion and fostered a society whereby we seek our own interests over those of our fellow man. Further, those interests are reinforced by an extremely zealous marketing machine that feeds those tendancies and feeds on those tendancies. Our desire for self-importance causes us to carefully prop up images (however fragile they may be) that suggest we are problem-free, blemish-free and living lives of luxury and priviledge. And where is God after all of this progress? Sadly, for many He is serving as a garnish to our sustinance rather than the main course and again, this approach is destined to fail. We will not, nor should we, be able to maintain a society wherein people are willing to use others and then discard them for personal gain or where we laud our status over those of others or where we dismiss the plights of those who have not been materially blessed because we are convinced this is a measure of their value.

Perhaps I am a bit too pessimistic, but I fear that this is not a situation we will fix ourselves soon enough to avoid more heartache for humanity. If self-reliance were to somehow morph into more responsibility for our actions, that might help, but I fear this may not happen. We are too entrenched in the blame game to reverse course. But the deadly mixture of self-importance with community blame is one that will make our society become enamored with the siren's song of those hoping to gain or maintain power through promises of prosperity with no responsibility. The fact is, no country nor man is elevated above another in importance in God's sight and all are worthy of opportunity and even aid when dealt a difficult hand. This is the responsibility of a community seeking to aid one another in survival and reliance on God by being instruments of His peace. So, perhaps we should begin at the beginning.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ruff Riders

Here's another picture that cracks me up. I welcome your captions.