Archive for May, 2006

Catching Up on Blogs

Posted: May 23, 2006 in Everything

I think I’ve mentioned that I sometimes hit patches that are a little too busy for me to blog consistently. I’m in one of those patches right now. However, I have had some blogs floating around in my head that I haven’t been able to bring together, so here are a few things that should have become full length blogs.

1. Previously on The West Wing. This blog would have been about my personal devotion to the television show, The West Wing. It would have focused on how I thought they framed political arguments and about the great writing–particularly during the early Aaron Sorkin years. It would have also focused on my disappointment that so much on TV is crap and shows like The West Wing show us what is possible for the medium of television. Then I would have finished with some sarcastic comment about a great show like The West Wing being cancelled yet we’re all in for another season of Trading Spouses.

2. Illegal Immigration. This blog would have been about the current Mexican immigration conversation. I would have talked about how so much of the language I hear about the situation is racist. But I would have also talked about the need to know who is coming in the country–something all countries have the right to know. It would have also focused on how appropriate it might be for someone’s first act in a country to be breaking the law. At the same time, I would have had something to say about the business owners who hire illegals and why they are not punished for giving jobs to illegals and why the country isn’t focusing on their law breaking. I would have also had to highlight the fact that I have had a house-keeper and a yard man that I suspect probably weren’t here legally. And that those of us in southern states kinda like having the cheap labor when we need it. And how the historic home ownership rates are connected to illegal immigration and decreased cost of buying a home. I would have also talked about God’s commands in the Old Testament to welcome the foreigner, and then posited some ideas about what that might look like in America today. Finally, I would have spoken about how it is a complicated issue and that my blog probably didn’t do it justice.

3. The Vast Right/Left Wing. After doing a blog about The West Wing and Illegal Immigration, I would have written something to show everyone that I’m not necessarily a political liberal or conservative. Likely I would have focused on a right wing issues that I agree with–and there are several. In the end, I would have said something about the allegiance of a Christian being to a King and a Kingdom rather than a political party or ideology. I would have highlighted Derek Webb’s song “A King and a Kingdom.”

4.Power. After three blogs about political and semi-political topics I would have said something about power and the use of power. My thesis would have been that Christians should be EXTREMELY careful when it comes to issues of power, empire and dominance. Then I would have ended with this quote from Henri Nouwen from In the Name of Jesus. “We keep hearing from others, as well as saying to ourselves, that having power–provided it is used in the service of God and your fellow human beings–is a good thing. With this rationalization, crusades took place; inquisitions were organized; Indians were enslaved; positions of great influence were desired; episcopal palaces, splendid cathedrals, and opulent seminars were built; and much moral manipulation of conscience was engaged in. Every time we see a major crisis in the history of the church, such as the Great Schism of the eleventh century, the Reformation of the sixteenth century, or the immense secularization of the twentieth century, we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus. What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love.”

Another Day in Paradise

Posted: May 5, 2006 in Everything

I’m sitting outside my room in Malibu right now while my daughter is sleeping and my wife is at a session experiencing God in worship lead by the Zoe Group. It’s been a good day. I don’t usually do “journaling” type stuff in this space. The way I figure it, no one is interested in the minutiae of my daily life, so I typically do more issue/interest driven topics. But I want to tell you all a little about my day.

I had breakfast again with my wife and daughter overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Does life get any better than that? I’m amazed at how big a jerk I can be to them when I’m busy and stressed and overworked and overtired. I’m thankful they put up with me.

There’s something about a beautiful place that helps me see the beauty in people. My wife and daughter are beautiful people.

I went to two sessions this morning. The first was with Mark Love, who I always find insightful. Speaking of difficult circumstances in congregational life, Mark says, “The congregation is a God-inspired imagination.” That’s a lot to take in. A bit more; speaking of the way churches handle situations, “Deciding is related to expertise; Discernment is related to wisdom.” There’s a lot to unpack there, too.

From Jeff Childers, whom I affectionately call 91.4% (which is the grade he gave me once, that .1% from an “A” you know), speaking of conflicting spirituality styles: “Congregations don’t need balance, they need wholeness.” WOW!

This afternoon, my daughter and I spent time on Malibu beach. Was it fun, you asks. Well, here is her prayer from tonight before she went to bed: “God, thanks for Daddy, thanks for me, thanks for sand, thanks for wa-wa (that’s “water” in two year old speak), thanks for the beach, thanks for me, thanks for Mommy, thanks for California, Amen.”

The most beautiful prayer ever. Period.

And yes, she did thank God for herself twice.

What can you say, I thank God for her at least that many times per hour. She knows a good thing when she sees it.

Tomorrow I’m speaking at an event called “Pepperdine View”. We’ll be watching some movie clips from the film Bruce Almighty. I love this lesson. A lot of people I know have used this movie to begin discussions about God, but I love what it says about prayer and how Bruce learns to see people as God does. The movie lays out three possibilities for who God is.

1. God as puppeteer.
2. God as genie.
3. God as relater.

Often I wish he were one of the first two, but deep down, when I need Him the most, I’m glad he is the third.

God bless…

Growing Weary

Posted: May 4, 2006 in Everything

There are certainly worse places in the world to spend a few days than Malibu, CA. Each morning my family looks out over the Pacific Ocean as we eat breakfast, and if that gets too stale, then we simply turn around and look at the mountains. While it is sweltering in my hometown of Houston, TX, the temperature has not topped 64-degrees here this week.

There’s only one problem, though.

I’m tired.

When we arrived yesterday not all our bags arrived with us. In particular my bag with me speaking clothes was missing. Not only that, but the same bag contained the toiletries for the entire family. After talking with Continental about a dozen times yesterday our bag arrived at 11:10 Pacific time. Mind you that we awoke at 4:45am Central time that morning. That’s a long day for me, not to mention that I was teaching first thing this morning, then again at lunch. And for me, speaking is always draining. Plus, I just finished an assignment for a class and have some other professional writing projects that are overdue.

I need some rest.

Luckily, I won’t speak again until Friday afternoon. That means tomorrow is for fun and learning. I’ll take in some classes in the morning, have lunch with friends, Rob and Judy McRay, than my daughter and I will head off to the beach–which she has been patiently begging for since we got here–then I will hear Randy Harris in the late afternoon, have dinner with good friends Russ and Rebecca Debenport and then return for the evening lecture.

Something tells me that my weariness is going to wear off anytime soon.

Isn’t life great.