Monday, December 31, 2007
To start, it has been an enormously amazing year of change. Each New Years eve for the last number of years I've asked God for a little word. Sometimes I get a picture or a verse. One year I got the verse John 13:4 and used it as a theme for that year. Two years ago I got the picture of a desert and wouldn't you know, that year sucked. Last December 31rst I got a picture of fire. I thought, "wow, this is either really cool in a charismatic way, or it's gonna be another tough one...". And it's been tough.
A few days after the New year I came across a blog run by a former pastor and Christian apologist who has become a militant athiest. For whatever reason God used this a springboard for the greatest spiritual overhaul I've ever experienced. I began to question God. Who was he, did He really exist? Have I just been indoctrinated my whole life. A product of a quasi-Christian culture no different from some passionate Muslim or Buddhist? Did I really just evolve from a protoplasm and a spider monkey? Could I really know him? Have I just had my head in the sand? Honestly, over the course of the year my faith in him has been literally stripped naked and bare to the point I thought it was gone.
Along with the deep faith trials and questions was the fact that I knew for awhile that my time in leadership and as a pastor at my church was coming to an end. I'd been at the church since November of 04 and had basically helped to pastor it from about 200 or so to 30ish. Not a fun process. So many of the ideals and convictions I would honestly die on the side of a mountain for seemed to bankrupt in many ways. Sure many of my convictions are biblical truths and timeless values, but somewhere along the way even the most noble of them combined with a wounded heart does not lead to the righteous life that God requires. I became a wreck. I felt and still kind of feel like everything I've touched turns to crap. My faith in God, my ecclesiology, my theology, my everything that has to do with thinking about church and God was on life support. I remember one night in particular my wife and I knew that something had become radically different and gone for me. Not a pretty picture.
So what happened? I quit my job at the church. I was blessed to get a new job that became available and saw me step into a great situation. I actually saw an increase in pay too! This job been such a huge blessing for me and my family. Unfortunately, as that happened I saw a huge shift in our social group of friends. Most everyone that I would call a peer and friend, that was part of our close homegroup has moved on. That has been the hardest part. It's been a very lonely time for me, making the trial of my faith questions that much harder and intense.
In the first part of October it all kind of came to a head. I think I was finally able to describe my feelings as "I think the fire has finally gone out, and I'm not sure I want it ever re-lit again." Harsh but really true. I was honestly at the point that I was ready to live the rest of my life as an agnostic/"I couldn't really care-less" theist. Then as the story goes, and you probably see it coming, God met me. Naomi, my dear and valiant wife drug me along to a worship event where a speaker spoke the message that I needed to hear. Then an old friend spotted me, came over and started to pray for me. And I cried and sobbed and cried some more. I was so sad that I'd let my heart grow so hard and wounded. That I had pushed God so far away in my brokenness. Not at all realizing that it was part of his plan I suppose. Honestly I really can't describe what's happened over the last few years with the desert and the fire. I don't know much and can't describe anything that well. Only this, somehow in wanting to please God and strive for holiness and truth, God has brought me through all this to know only his grace.
That last part sounds so generic. I know. But it's the truth. Things that once interested me: theology, doctrine, orthopraxy, eccesiology, systematic theology, how the church functions, how to grow as a church, church health, missional ideas, evangelism... on and on suddenly don't at all. All I'm really interested in is grace. I know I need to be careful here that I don't covey some cheap grace/every thing is permissible kind of idea, but a real understanding that nothing I can do benefits God in any way. Jesus came to serve and not be served. How can we? How can we impress him with any form of service?? Not in the least. It is only by his act of obedience, mercy and grace; his strength not mine that we have any sort of reconciliation with the Creator. Grace and nothing more.
So I'm totally losing everyone I bet. That's ok. This post is therapeutic for me to write. It's my truth as best as I can describe. Somehow on that night when God broke through a whole lot of shame and lies had to go. I haven't all the sudden become John Calvin with my bible study skills or Dr. Dobson in how I deal with my kid, but I'm finally a little more OK with who I am. In striving for holiness and all that, I wasn't really being me... I don't know how to reconcile that with doctrine or scripture just yet, (Give me some more time) but it's true. Only in accepting my depravity have I been able to understand grace. (Don't anybody else take this as a license to be shady!!)
All in all and in conclusion, 2007 is the year we bought our first home. I saw my son turn 5 and enter kindergarten. I made a radical career change. I've lost 42 pounds as of the end of the year. I'm only somewhat involved at church (still going to the same one. I skipped yesterday and went to the gym.) I'm ready for new friendships and more change if God has that for me. I think I'm ready to even reconcile with some of the destroyed relationships if it comes my way. I hope I would be able to at least.... So I don't know. I'm debating whether or not to ask God for a word for this year. It's kind of intimidating. I can't imagine it being any worse than that last few years. But I am a sinner living in a fallen world of sin going through the process of redemption. That is never going to be easy or comfortable. I'm sure that I will always be needing to be taught the same lesson many different ways, Grace. And I'll need it to be taught it!
I should finish this now... Grace to you friends, far and near, in 2008.
Well, I tend to feel really bad about that part of my spiritual development from time to time. I'm glad I didn't follow evangelical path cause I'd probably be more part Fred Phelps than Jesus Christ at this point in my life.
All this to say that I came across this video on-line titled "Christian guy totally owns Mormons" and well, I guess he does. It's just crazy that:
A) They filmed this.
B) The Mormon guys come off way less obnoxious than the Christian guy.
C) Mitt Romney might be president of the U.S. of A.
D) That 1,854,749 people on-line have watched it.
E) The Christian guy is right.
I guess all this to say, Wierd.
I've learned there is so much more to faith and evangelism than point/counter-point books and sneak attack parking lot debates on whether or not Jesus and the devil are spirit brothers in the tellestial heavens.
Anyway, if you want to be the 1,854,750th guy to watch you can see the video here.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
- See Sweeney Todd.
- Start drinking V-8
- Start drinking hard liquor. A lot.
- Start hanging out with improv actors.
- Go to bible college.
- Avoid urinals all year.
- Eat potatoes at every meal.
- Wear my socks inside out.
- Buy Windows Vista.
What are your fake New Years resolutions?
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Following the Christmas celebrations, Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings of their part of the church, which is built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.
But the ladders encroached on space controlled by Armenian priests, according to photographers who said angry words ensued and blows quickly followed.
For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.
A dozen unarmed Palestinian policemen were sent to try to separate the priests, but two of them were also injured in the unholy melee.
"As usual the cleaning of the church afer Christmas is a cause of problems," Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh told AFP, adding that he has offered to help ease tensions.
Read the rest of the article here...
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Someone perhaps like a guy named St. Nick:
The original Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop in 4th-century Myra, geographically located in modern-day Turkey. As an adult, Nicholas gained a reputation as a generous man and the protector of innocents. These saintly traits largely arose from a legend, which eventually led to his canonization.
In the legend, a poor citizen of Myra had three daughters, but not enough money to afford a dowry for them. No dowry meant no marriage, and unmarried women in those days generally had one career choice: prostitution. The father was less than thrilled by this possibility, but too proud to ask for help. Nicholas discovered the family’s predicament the night before the first daughter came of age. Not wanting to embarrass anyone, he approached the family’s house late one night and tossed a bag of gold through an opened window. He did the same thing the night before the second daughter came of age. Both gifts were enough to cover the dowry, and both girls were spared the consequence of their poverty.
Before long, the third daughter was ready to marry, and the appreciative father wanted to find out who was behind the lavish gifts. When the time came, the father hid next to the window, hoping to catch their anonymous benefactor in the act. Nicholas learned of the father’s plan and improvised: Instead of lobbing it through the window, he dropped the third bag of gold down the chimney.
It wasn’t long before people began to suspect that the kindly bishop Nicholas, who had inherited money from his affluent parents, was behind these mysterious actions and a great many other secretive gifts to the poor. After he died of old age on December 6, 343 AD the people of Myra continued providing for those in need. In fact, they made a practice of giving gifts anonymously, always attributing them to the late Bishop Nicholas.
Before long, the bishop — who had worn liturgical robes of red and white — was canonized as a saint. Saint Nicholas became venerated as the protector of innocents, the patron saint of children, and a secret giver of gifts.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I am hear-by now referring to the upcoming spectacle that is happening on December 25th as "present-mas". I intend to celebrate it by placing a large plastic tree in our living room, and flashy lights along the fascia of our roof. It will be a marvelous time with lots of debt going onto the visa. We will all give great gifts to each other and eat like swine.
In doing this, I'd like to discover a season where I can celebrate the birth of the baby who crushed sin and Satan while incarnating redemption and revealing hope.
Happy present-mas everyone!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"I was told some people on World of Warcraft had a virtual funeral for one of the people they played with who actually died. But apparently, they told everyone where they were having it and to leave them alone and some people came by and killed them all. "
That is both the funniest and most tragic thing I have read in awhile.
1. Suspension upgrade
- Front Bilstein HD Struts $279.94
- Rear Bilstein HD Shocks $166.92
- ipd Sport Springs (set of 4) $248.00
- ipd anti-sway bar $348.00
- ipd adjustable panhard bar $99.95
- new Volvo ball joints $50.64
- front polyurethane bushing kit $80.78
- front & rear wheel bearings $95.68
2. Engine rebuild
- rebuild kit $300.00
- engine gasket set $123.54
- engine mount $19.90
- polyurethane accessory bushing $6.50
- hood insulation $49.95
- oil pump $159.00
- timing belt, tensioner & seals $149.00
- new injector seals $23.59
- In-tank fuel pre-pump $49.43
- main fuel pump $140.14
- ipd adjustable cam gear $104.95
- new sodium exhaust valves $208.80
- new intake valves $35.88
3. Turbo upgrade
I need to do a bit more research on this. It looks like I can take the turbo, intercooler, downpipe, plumbing, wastegate and the hardware from a wrecked 240 turbo and just bolt it up. The good thing about putting a turbo in a non-turbo engine is that the compression is a bit higher so you get a more power and a faster spool up. A wrecked 240 turbo will also be good for some turbo mags and lots of extra switches and such. I'll probably end up putting a larger turbo, intercooler and a few other goodies to help speed things up.
4. Water injection system
- Water injection kit $642.00
- DDS3 System Monitor $297.00
With everything here, it should make around 300hp. I figure this car can easily last me a couple hundred thousand or more miles with it's cast iron block and head and I want to keep everything in top shape. In the end, it's much more reliable, much safer and way cheaper than making monthly payments for something new...and way more fun when you take a 5.0 off the line like it's a minivan.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
On Earth as it is in Heaven...
God is mending this world so he can come to it as said in Rev 21:3. God is restoring creation with the blood of Jesus. God has always been and is always about restoring creation to what it was and where it should be, the next step from the Garden...New Jerusalem.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
1. Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell Johnson
-A great walk through the book of Revelation that is extremely practical and pastoral. I could not put this book down without being challenged - a great read
2. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
-One of the most read books in all of English literature. The imagery in this book continually came to mind months after I read it and was deeply stimulating.
3. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
-An allegorical tale of a bus ride through hell and heaven. Great leisure reading, short, and very thought provoking.
4. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years by Iain H. Murray
-The first book in a two volume biography of the Welsh preacher D.M. Llyoyd-Jones. I always love reading a good biography.
5. A Puritan Golden Treasury compiled by I. D. E. Thomas
-I didn't read this cover to cover as it is a book of quotes. However it has been great to flip through.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
We're in the midst of a very quiet disaster - an ice storm. More on that later.
I just thought I'd post something - I was beginning to feel left out. I almost posted from my phone but I'm too cheap to pay for the media package. Fortunately my brother-in-law is letting us stay with him till our power is back on so I was able to do it for free.
By for now.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
If I spend all the days of my life in disillusion of who I am, then is my life not a failure? Trying to live up to peoples expectations is a dangerous path I've been on as being that person means not being who God created me to be. If God created me to be "X", then there is no tension in being who God created me to be.
or not to be
that is the question...
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
So here is the little bitty version of Team Polycarp! from my phone, from my Anniversary weekend. How disturbing is that?? No need to worry. I only checked my e-mail and the web once. If your interested in checking out the pictures from my wifes and my trip to beautiful Tofino, British Columbia check them out here...
It was a great weekend even though it snowed. A bunch. In a place (Tofino) that doesn't get snow that often. The interesting part was the three hour that turned out to be 6 hour drive back to the ferry that saw us lose control 3 times, while crashing twice. Once into a snow bank, and one that will require a trip to the body shop. Lame. It was probably without a doubt the most intense driving of my life. In all we left the bed and breakfast at 9 am and got in the door tonight at 7pm. Ice and snow everywhere.
Also here are the pictures from my son's pirate party to celebrate his 5th birthday...
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Just a thought.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
God has spoken over me about my poisonous tongue, specifically about "The Church". I have a tendency to offer mounds upon mounds of complaints, but completely forgetting that the problems inside “the building” is not the church, religion is not the church, they are just bi-products of fallen people. I'm pretty sure I knew that at one point, but somewhere along the line, I forgot...got bitter...didn't see the real battle just under the surface. It's mental how critical we can become of God's people...forgetting, that God's people aren't perfect and we make mistakes. Why is it so hard to remember this? When did I become so self-richous? When did I forget to love? Stay tuned.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
First up is Steve. Get this, he was my youth pastor many years ago. I was blessed to reconnect with him sometime ago. Steve is someone that God has used to have a huge influence on my life. I hope he knows that all those rides to youth and guitar lessons has produced one heck of a virtuoso with the acoustic guitar.
Anyway, now Steve lives with his wife Beth and four, count them four sons somewhere in Illinois. He drives a jeep and is still spreading the joy of music and show tunes to the world.
Now onto the interview. I met Steve at the local Denny's. We grabbed a few milkshakes and began, So Steve...
Just kidding I sent him a list of questions. He filled them out. Here they are. Take some time to read it, Steve has some great insight. He's a very smart guy. (He even went to seminary!) You should also check his blogs here and here...
Where did you grow up?
I was born the hospital in Lancaster, CA. and then spent my first 7 years in Quartz Hill, then we moved to Lancaster. Basically, I always say that it is a great place to be “from.”
Do you miss it?
I miss the people. I don’t miss the traffic, the crime, the price of a house in California – all that stuff.
Who would you consider your best friend?
I know it sounds trite- but definitely my wife Beth. She has put up with me for more than half of our lives. I most enjoy spending time with her. What more can I say.
What is God teaching you right now?
To wait and trust Him. He is definitely telling me to slow down, not to try to fix things myself or make things happen. We are kind of in a holding pattern in certain areas of our lives right now. I’ve been learning that it is o.k. to say no to a lot of “good” things and just be obedient.
If you were on an island… What 5 CD’s would you want to have with you.
Syncronicity – the Police (a classic that still gets me goin), Passion One Day Live (It’s old – but hey), CA Worship Band Live (Some nostalgia – I used to go there), My own Best of the 80’s compilation (just because), and the Best of Louie Armstrong (He has influenced EVERYTHING we hear).
What 3 books?
My Bible, My Greek Text, & my Douglas Adams compilation.
What is a theological truth that you would die on the side of a hill for?
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to Love your neighbor as yourself. Too many of us emphasize one over the other – we are great a loving God – our worship is fantastic, our preaching is solid and we feel great but we aren’t reaching our neighbors. On the other side of the coin we have churches full of folks who do nothing but serve others but really don’t have a walk with the Lord. They put others down for not doing enough about social issues. Jesus said both were equal. Love God and Love People - the Second command is like the first. I believe James has a lot to say about that too.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church Paul says and now remain faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is Love. In the church lately, we’ve turned it around and now we say – “…the greatest of these is TRUTH.” I’m a bit guilty of that myself.
What blogs/websites do you check the most?
Honestly, I don’t do more than just look at headlines any more. I used to check a lot of political blogs that I am now embarrassed about. I am really feeling the need to find a truly “Objective” news source. Basically I’m kind of burnt out on the net.
What do you find most satisfying about parenting?
Early morning when they’re still sleeping and the house is quiet.
What scares you the most about it?
When they wake up.
What is your eschatological position?
Wow, such big words! Admittedly, I am not very big into eschatology – it kind of bugs me when people over-emphasize it. As for another disclaimer – I can defend just about any position because I see scripture to back most of them up. However, I am basically a pre-millennial, pre-trib kind of guy – probably more out of wishful thinking than anything else. How’s that for honesty. As for times and seasons – dunno and I’m not one to debate it. I don’t see end-times stuff when I watch the news like other freaky people I know. (Ew!) Just gives me the creeps.
What does a satisfying day for you look like?
When I have been able to make a difference in somebody’s life. It might be just giving someone an encouraging word, or a smile. There are those times when God gives you something to say out of the blue. Or, there are those times when you have the privilege of being involved in something bigger than yourself – such as an outreach team or other “ministry” opportunity. For me, it is all the same – I like to know that someone has been touched, that somehow I have helped make a difference. That’s a good day.
What is one quality that blesses you most in other Christ-followers?
I have witnessed a few people over the years who just serve. These people serve when nobody is watching. They just get things done. They hate getting credit – they would just rather put their heads down and work. If we were all more like that this world would be a much better place.
What is one thing, if you we’re the commissioner of “the church” for a day you would change, eliminate or enhance?
If I could coin a phrase my word(s) for it would be “Rugged Denominationalism”. I have run across many supposed Christians who won’t associate with other believers who don’t share the same beliefs about certain issues. They refuse to even pray with them. I can understand that there are essentials that we absolutely cannot compromise on, or we just aren’t orthodox – I totally agree with that, namely salvation by grace through faith. However, some folks won’t associate with other believers who don’t share their views on eschatology, or even their version of scripture (KJV only for instance). I believe Jesus just looks at us and shakes his head in disbelief sometimes. We just don’t get it!
What is your favorite sport?
Do you have a favorite team?
The Finnish are usually pretty hot contenders, although the German team gave them a run for their money at the European games last month.
Who is a person you would love to reconnect with from the past ?
Definitely my father. He died much too young and I really believe I could benefit from his wisdom and experience.
Favorite bible verse?
II Chron. 16:9
Place you would love to visit?
You know that picture on your computer of the beach and the waves with the little Island – I want to go there, with my 5 c.d.’s and my three books.
Best job you ever had?
For a short time (tragically way, way too short) I was running a Bible institute. It was a blast. Every day I was able to pour my life into people, simply so that I could bless them and train them to do the same thing for other people. Have to do that again.