18 September 2010

The Rhythm of Seasons

I am sitting outside on my patio in the late evening. It is crisp and cool outside. Autumn is clearly in the air. This is my favorite season. The days here in Denver continue to be warm and sunny, the nights cool off considerably. At this time of year the change in temperature from day to night is dramatic.
       Last night we were at a friend's house in the foothills. we sat outside facing the mountains to the west as the sun set. We could see the beginnings of the change of color, as some aspen leaves are changing from green to yellow.
       Autumn reminds me of a few things:
* Life has its rhythms - there is life and death, warmth and cold;
* The change of seasons keeps me wondering (and wandering) about the future, what will be in the next season;
* Winter will be upon us soon - a time to slow down a bit, hybernate, sit by a fire.
       I don't slow down too easily. I usually go at a fast pace. This evening on the patio - with my dog Bailey curled up on her bed beside me - has called to me to remember the rhythm of the seasons. It is very good.

13 September 2010

The Truth of the "Hokey Pokey"

My friend Bill posted this bumper sticker/t-shirt on Facebook yesterday.
       I know that I take life WAY too seriously too often. I think I should buy a T-shirt with this on it so that I am reminded that sometimes life is just hilarious.
       So maybe life really IS about the Hokey Pokey, and turning yourself around. 

11 September 2010

Carly at Westmont

I drove up to Westmont College in Santa Barbara yesterday to visit Carly. I was in Los Angeles and took a some extra time to see my "little girl" at college.
        Wow, Westmont is a beautiful place. Tucked in the hillside in Santa Barbara. It felt a bit like a campground or something like that. Quite spectacular.
        I'm really proud of Carly as she steps out in this new phase of life and learning. I can totally see her doing well at Westmont, Becoming quite the California Girl!

08 September 2010

What is Preaching?

Last week I preached for the first time in about 6 months. I think I had something of a breakthrough. Here's what I mean. If I don't preach again for along time that is OK, and if I am asked to preach again I will do so. In other words, I don't think that my identity is wrapped up in this thing called "preaching."
       Ian Pitt-Watson, who taught preaching at Fuller Seminary for many years, once said during class that, "you know what preaching is? It is one person working out his or her issues with God - and others - in front of a lot of people." I am convinced Pitt-Watson was right.
       At its very best preaching is a catalyst for people to consider the claims of Jesus in earnest. At its worst preaching is a "bully pulpit," a context for a person to take shots at people who have hurt, betrayed, abandoned or done other harmful things to the preacher or congregation.
       The pulpit can be a powerful tool for social change. William Wilberforce used it in the fight against slavery in England, Martin Luther King jr. used it in the fight for Civil Rights. Tremendous causes which have bettered society.
       And yet there are so many wounded pastor/preachers who work out their stuff by preaching. In a sense, preaching becomes self-medicating, self-soothing. It's the place we can "safely" show people how much we have been wronged without having a dialog about it. After all, preaching is a monolog.
       Perhaps I am growing up to the point where I just realize that working out my issues in front of hundreds of people is not the most healthy thing. I need to work out my issues with God and with people who know me best. I need restraint rather than sympathy when I preach. People need to be drawn to Jesus because of preaching, not drawn to preachers who are working out their stuff.

06 September 2010

September Schedule

Several of you have asked where I will be and when so that we can possibly connect. Here's my schedule for September, with major activities:

  • Wednesday, September 8: Financial Peace University begins (every Wednesday for 13 weeks, hosted at Lookout Mountain Church)
  • September 9-11: Pasadena, California (dessert on Sept. 9th in Pasadena)
  • September 12: Dine at California Pizza Kitchen and Christian Associates gets 20% (Colorado Mills, Denver West)
  • September 16-17: Spokane, Washington (with CA President Rob Fairbanks)
  • September 20-25: Amsterdam, the Netherlands (facilitating workshop)
  • September 26-28: Madrid, Spain (facilitating workshop)

05 September 2010

My cousin the restaurantuer

My cousin Susan owns two restaurants in Seattle, right next to each other. She is the most amazing restaurant owner you could ever meet. Once upon a time - more than 25 years ago - I worked at her restaurant in Juneau, Alaska. Feel like a lifetime ago.
       Susan's restaurant, Serafina, is in the Eastlake area of Seattle. Here's their vision for the place -
"Serafina’s philosophy is simple: Offer the freshest, highest quality ingredients, present the food in an honest and inviting way, and provide the casual warmth and soothing ambiance that echoes the welcoming embrace of an Italian home."
       I have to tell you - they have succeeded wildly! Not only is Serafina a great place to dine, Susan has created a community. A REAL community. A third space as it were.
       That's why it did not surprise me when I read Serafina's most recent newsletter in which Susan spoke candidly about battling a recurrence of of breast cancer. Here's what she said to the Serafina community:

For those of you who are wondering about my
new hair-do, it is more of a “hair-fallout” than a “do”.
In February I was unfortunately diagnosed with a
recurrence of the breast cancer I dealt with over 12 years
ago. The good news is the cancer is responding well to
the chemo and I am hoping to “kick cancer’s butt” again
and put it into remission very soon. The support of
my staff and of those of you who already know has
been tremendous, and I am grateful for all your love
and good wishes. Feel free to ask me how I am doing,
but please avoid questions like, “ how long do you have”
(yes, folks, I have been asked that). The truth, as we
all know, is that none of us do know, and it is again a
reminder to live each day to its fullest, as today is really

all we have."
       Here's to you, cuz, and kicking cancer's butt!

03 September 2010

I Love This Photo

I love this photo. My heart is drawn more and more to these "other children of Abraham." The Moslem (Arab in this case) and Jew.
       In many ways they are quite similar to one another, even in their usual disdain for one another.
       I wonder if there is a place to do ministry to this odd and unique group of Semitic people.

01 September 2010

The "Other" Children of Abraham

I woke up this morning (in Grand Rapids of all places) and this thought occurred to me, "What about the other children of Abraham?" There is a context for this question, one I have been mulling over for more than a year since I facilitated a class at my church called, "Jesus, Judaism, and Other Things Jewish."
       Some 25 years ago Francis Peters published his little historical book, "The Children of Abraham." Princeton University Press just republished it after all these years. I read it a long time ago, but will not soon forget the opening paragraph."
"Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all children born of the same Father and reared in the bosom of Abraham. They grew to adulthood in the rich spiritual climate of the Middle East, and though they have lived together all their lives, now in their maturity they stand apart and regard their family resemblances and conditioned differences with astonishment, disbelief, or disdain."
       I have spent most of my adult life with one "sect" of Abraham's children: Gentiles who are called Christian. They are wonderful folks. But more recently I have been thinking more and more about the two other children of Abraham: those from the line of Isaac (Jews which happens to be my personal line) and Ishmael (today's Moslems).
       There is much to consider here, to be attentive to these stirrings.