30 December 2013

Merton on Hope

"We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope. For when our hope is pure, it no longer trusts exclusively in human and visible means, nor rests in any visible end. He who hopes in God trusts God, Whom he never sees, to bring him to the possession of things that area beyond imagination."
~ Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

20 December 2013

Why Duck Dynasty Does Not Matter

Confession: I know just about ZERO about Duck Dynasty in general, and absolutely nothing about the current alleged controversy. The only thing I know is that some guys have long beards which reminds me of ZZ Top. That's it.
       The fact of the matter is that I think my life is better for NOT knowing Duck Dynasty. Why? Well because it's called "Duck Dynasty." Have you been around ducks lately? They are not the sharpest knives in the drawer! Why would we want a dynasty of DUCKS??
Dolphins, yes. Ducks, no.
       Here's the second reason that I don't give a rip about Duck Dynasty and what controversy is stirred. It's ADVENT season! Why in the world is anyone considering anything else besides this wild, beauty, crazy event called "the birth of Messiah." Now THAT is full of mystery, intrigue, even controversy, and WILD HOPE for God's creation.
       My friend Dave Meserve - resident sage - has written a number of wonderful Advent guides. In one he writes this:
"In the Nativity Story, we have four poetic outbursts as evidence that a character is standing in a very thin place. They've had an encounter! When someone bursts into laughter, you wonder what was so funny, and when an Advent character bursts into song, you want to know what caused it. That cause is what we seek to understand and cultivate this season."
       I would like to be caught up in the Nativity Story and encounter a thin place, where Jesus is born in us.

19 December 2013


Everyone has a story (your personal narrative of life) - unique, precious, possibly full of hurt and hope. Each story of a life matters - a lot - even if you might feel like it doesn't.
       In classic Apple fashion, this commercial reminds us that our stories matter - and they are worth capturing with such cool devices such as an iPhone!

12 December 2013

The Best Tribute for Mandela

The cry of the heart in grief (and respect) is one of the most sacred things of life. This tribute was organized by Woolworth store in South Africa in partnership with the Soweto Gospel choir.

Asimbonanga [we have not seen him]
Asimbonang' uMandela thina [we have not seen Mandela]
Laph'ekhona [in the place where he is]
Laph'ehleli khona [in the place where he is kept]

Asimbonang 'umfowethu thina [we have not seen our brother]
Laph'ekhona [in the place where he is]
Laph'wafela khona [in the place where he died]
Sithi: Hey, wena [We say: hey, you]
Hey, wena nawe [Hey, you and you]
Siyofika nini la' siyakhona [when will we arrive at our destination]

The song was written during Mandela's incarceration as a call for his freedom.

11 December 2013

A Tragic Persecution

Ronnie Smith, from Austin Stone Church in Texas, was gunned down in Benghazi, Libya a week ago while on a run. Ronnie is a martyr for the Kingdom of God.
       Many of us desire to be generous toward Muslims, and toward the cultures where Islam has grown and developed over many generations. Recently I returned from North Africa, and I want to be respectful and honoring of the peoples and cultures of that land.
       Many of us also want to stand up for justice, and to speak against oppression. We believe the Palestinians should be given equal opportunity to live peacefully as Israelis do. We advocate for the homeless and under-privileged.
       We must also speak to the tragedy of a Christian who was gunned down by militants in Libya. Ronnie Smith went to Libya with his wife and son to teach at an international school. We was seeking the shalom of that war-torn land.
       Any and every religious, political, or social system which forbids certain beliefs must be called out. The voice of Jesus incarnate here and now is for justice and protection for all. It is never acceptable for minorities in a country to be persecuted and killed. If a country is Islamic by orientation we must ask whether or not their ideology allows for minority expressions, and if there will be protection for these minorities.
       I want to ask my friends who are following Jesus to find our voice in advocating for justice for all peoples, as passionately for one as for the other.
       May God give enormous grace to Anita Smith and her young son in the days ahead.

The Pope As Time's Person of the Year

Most of the people who were considered for Time's Person of the Year are less than role models - Bashar Assad of Syria, Edward Snowden, Miley Cyrus.
       Time chose Pope Francis. In my view there was no other real choice. As a leader he stands apart from just about every other leader today, except perhaps Nelson Mandela.

09 December 2013

The Challenge Posed by Pope Francis

In his recent "Apostolic Exhortation" to the faithful, Pope Francis challenged the Church both theologically and with our practice of faith. Some of his opening comments:

"The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew."

"The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience."

"I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day."

"Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy."

"The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice."

"Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others."

"The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others."

06 December 2013

Nelson Mandela: Somewhere Between Hope and Peace

Nelson Madiba Mandela passed from this earth on Thursday, 5 December 2013. He was 95 years old.
       He died during the Advent season, celebrated by more than a billion Christians to remember the beginning of Jesus' incarnation on earth.
       Mandela died between the first and second Sundays of Advent, the first traditionally being known as the Sunday of HOPE and the second being known as the Sunday of PEACE.
       In Short, Nelson Mandela left us on the path in between Hope and Peace. Having experienced both of these himself in such poignant and powerful fashion, he led us to this very place with the urging to get to that next place of JOY.
       Mr. Mandela is now at that next stop called Joy, having lived with Hope and having both found peace and brought peace to his people and to our world.

04 December 2013

The Example of a Generous Spirit

Word got out this week that Pope Francis makes clandestine excursions from the Vatican into Rome in the evening to minister to the poor. Word on the street is that he does this incognito - not dressed in papal attire but rather as a "regular" priest.
       Many of us have marveled yet again at the Pope's audacity. His actions again are riveting us. Many of us find ourselves smiling and nodding in appreciation and admiration. Why?
       Because Pope Francis consistently demonstrates a genuine Generous Spirit!
       Or to put it in a corny way, he "walks the talk."
       He does so without fanfare...
       with focus on the other, not on himself...
       with passion and COMpassion...
       with authenticity...
       with the Spirit of Christ bursting forth from his life.
     And so when a young boy walked up on stage recently while the pope was speaking to a crowd, we all gasped in one way or another. We were tempted to instruct the boy that it was not appropriate for him to interrupt the pope.
      Instead, the man with that generous spirit simply placed his hand on the boy's head and subtly invited the boy to stand next to him.
       Yet another quiet, humble act of a man who is so full of Jesus that His Spirit spills out in generosity everywhere.
       I, for one, want to be more like this man.

02 December 2013

Coming This Friday Eve!

Our annual Holiday Pottery Show and Sale is this coming weekend at our house. Stop by if you are in or around Denver.

  • Friday, December 6 from 7:00 to 10:00pm - also featuring wines from South Africa!
  • Saturday, December 7 from 9:00 to 11:30am - Pots and Bagels brunch!

We are at 8795 W. Dartmouth Place, Lakewood 80227