Friday, June 29, 2007

A Few Items of Note

- Covenant Pastor Eugene Cho has found himself in the midst of "the gay debate" over on his blog. Eugene is one who really is trying to be sensitive, culturally-savvy, and open to all people in the name of Christ. Unfortunately, to many on "the other side," if you don't say "I'm 100% supportive of homosexuals in every possible way," then you're am intolerant fundamentalist bigot. His post and the comments are worth plodding through, just to understand where people are coming from.

- One more thing to worry about in Lake Tahoe: Disaster Tourists, showing up to gawk at all the "excitement." Must feel good to be sitting in the ruin of your home, mourning your loss, when up pulls the SUV with all the looky-loos jumping out with their digital cameras and video recorders.

- Horror story come to life. Hackers breaking into your cell phones. Using your cell phone camera to spy on your life - what you're wearing and eating, when you're sleeping. Switching your phone off and on. And maybe it starts when you download ringtones off the internet?

- I'm not buying an I-Phone. Just so you know. Didn't want to stand in line for it. Oh, plus I don't plan on doing business with AT&T any time soon

- And Finally, Dan's Friday Random 10. #s 1-3 all seem to fit the rainy mood outside pretty well. #4 is probably the only song dealing with Alzheimer's/Dementia I've heard. #8 I saw Laurie and Tom do live in the old theater in Newman, CA. And #9 I used to listen to when I worked in the purgatory of Christian Retail, just to keep my sanity.

  1. In a Lover’s Eyes – Jim Brickman
  2. Jesus Paid It All – Fernando Ortega
  3. Goodnight Irene – George Winston
  4. Silent House – Dixie Chicks
  5. Waiting in Green Velvet – Joshua Kadison
  6. There for Me – Sarah Brightman
  7. Mildred Madalyn Johnson - Fernando Ortega
  8. Just a Lie – Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum
  9. Body and Soul – Susan Ashton
  10. 40 West – Infamous Stringdusters

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The great sermon experiment, Week 5

Texts for Sunday, July 8:
2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30

Psalm 30 is one of my favorites, especially this line: weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing comes with the morning.

Both texts deal with a person being taken from despair to joy. They both speak of God stepping into a life and fixing that which was broken. Both deal with despair and hope. And both make clear Who it is that we can rely on for help in trouble.

Some questions to ponder:
1) Where have you seen this in your life? Have you experienced miraculous physical healing? Have you been lifted from the pit, from mourning to joy?
2) Besides being healed, what lessons did Naaman learn from his experience? Was there more to this story than flesh being made clean?
3) What is the important lesson for us to learn from these texts? There are a lot at play - power, glory, miracles, doubt, God's sovereignty. How do these texts speak to you today?
4) If you had to summarize the lesson of these texts in one sentence, what would it be?

The Curse is Lifted, or , "I'd forgotten how good that felt"

I average 3-4 ballgames a year. When I lived in Ontario (California), we'd go catch the Mariners every time they came to play Anaheim, and if UW had a game at USC or UCLA, we'd be there. When we lived in Portland, we'd come up to Seattle a couple times a year to see the Mariners play. And when we lived in Turlock, we'd head over to Oakland, usually to see the M's play the A's, although I went to at least one A's vs. Rangers game. Last year, after moving to Seattle, we made it to Safeco near the end of the season for one game, and last Fall my brother got us tickets to see the Seahawks and the 49ers play at Qwest Field.

And why is all that important? Because, for over 10 years and all those games, EVERY SINGLE GAME I attended the team I was cheering for lost. I saw the M's when they had Griffey, when they won 116 games. I saw the Huskies when they had some good football teams. I saw the Seahawks one year after they went to the Super Bowl. And for over 10 years I ALWAYS went home disappointed.

Until yesterday. When Seattle beat the Red Sox 2-1 in the bottom of the 11th inning, when Jose Lopez hit a double that Manny Ramirez barely missed catching, sending Ichiro home from 1st. And for once I could leave feeling great about the game.

Add to that the 43,000 festive fans, a sunny afternoon at the park, a wonderful pitching gem, some tense moments of drama, some highlight-reel catches, spending a day with my dad and my oldest daughter, and the fact that it was the Red Sox and not some sucky team like the Rangers or Brewers. . .

It was a very good day, and a lovely way to lay that losing streak to rest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sermon Response to a Call to Mission

We believe that God’s desire is the redemption of the whole earth.

We believe Christ came to make the offer of redemption to every person on this earth.

We believe that, through his Holy Spirit, Christ is still at work, undermining the kingdom of darkness and replacing it with the Kingdom of God.

We believe there are still many in darkness, who desperately need to see the love of Christ displayed in their lives.

We believe that we are the primary visible source of God’s love today.

We believe that God wants to use us, his children, to call the lost home, to proclaim freedom to those in bondage, healing to those living in the shadow of death, hope to the hopeless, love to the broken, the way home to all who are lost in sin.

God wants to use me. God wants to use us all.

We go, then, into the world, offering our very selves in service to the King, that they may know the life in abundance we already possess. Amen.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Annual Meeting Blogging

As it turns out, the Jantzen Beach Red Lion Inn has free wi-fi, so I can blog from inside the Annual Meeting. Now if it was only as exciting as most political conventions. . .

I walked in the hotel lobby and saw Gary and Marilyn Peterson. We went to lunch at Taco Bell. While we ate, in walked the Patersons. And I've already seen quite a few other friends around. Nobody from Turlock yet, although Karina and the girls were supposed to meet the Dockters this afternoon.

The Ministerial Association Annual Meeting is beginning right now, with the reading of the standing rules of order. Let the fun begin (wish you could be here, Brad?)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A couple of things

- I'm heading down to the Covenant Annual Meeting tomorrow through Saturday, so I don't know if I'll be blogging anything over the next few days. I do look forward to seeing some old friends and maybe making some new ones. We're staying with my aunt and uncle in Tigard, so should have some good family time. And I hear Bruce and Katy are up from Turlock. . .

- Today was, I think, one of the final visits to the eye doctor for awhile. We've arrived at the place where it's about as good as it's gonna get. I had to accept that, due to the nature of this corneal thing, it just won't ever be perfect and pain-free. The lens that's in now is the lesser of all evils, according to Dr. Ralph. It gets me to 20/25 vision, and it mostly stays where it's supposed to. Although if I look to the right, it has a tendency to pop out. So if you want to sneak up on me, come from the right, as I won't be looking that way much. He did say technology is moving along rapidly, and hopefully in another 10 years they might be able to do a transplant that will take care of the whole thing. So until then, we make do.

- If I was a sociologist, this is what I'd study: It seems we've become a society who expect to have private moments in public spaces. There was an article in the P-I the other day about a park near Pike Place Market that is famous for two things: being a huge draw to tourists because of the view, and being a haven for homeless people, including many drug addicts. The arguments fly back and forth - compassion and understanding for the homeless vs. lock 'em all up so we can have a nice clean park. But I think, underlying it all, is the assumption that "I" can go to a public park and have a private little time there, not having to put up with other people, especially people I don't particularly care for. In reading the comments under this article, I sensed this idea again and again. "I should be able to go to a park and not have to be bothered by other people." The fact that they are homeless is merely a mask for the underlying feeling that public space should become private space.

I know it's not this way in other cultures. You go out in public to interact with the public. I don't think it was this way in America all that long ago - whenever we went camping we made the effort to meet our neighbors. But more and more, we are autonomous individuals assuming we can make our way through public space without having to interact with others (think ipods). And it comes to a head here - I should be able to go to the park and have my little time there and not have to have any interaction with others.

Anyway, I need to think it through more. Maybe you can comment and spur my thinking more.

As to the article in the other Seattle Paper about the Episcopalian Priest who claims also to be a Muslim. . .it's been too long a day to comment.

Great Sermon Experiment, Week 4

Texts for Sunday, July 1

Galatians 5:13-25
Luke 9:51-62

And now comes the challenge. Last Sunday's text was about true freedom in Christ - Christ accepted even the prostitute because of her faith and love for him. But, both Jesus and Paul would remind us, don't think that let's us off the hook. I hear Bonhoeffer echoing in the background here with his "The Cost of Discipleship."

So for those of you responding,
- in the Gospel, Jesus pokes holes through three people who aren't wholeheartedly interested in following him. Who might this describe today? What excuses to people give for not completely giving their lives over to Christ
- In Galatians, Paul points out the possibility of using our freedom as an excuse to sin again. Do you know people like this? People who say "Well, it's all about grace, so I can do whatever I want. . ."?
- People tend to fall on one side or the other - they only think about the Jesus who loves everybody, even prostitutes, or they preach the Jesus who is harsh and demanding. Which do you most identify with? Which have you heard more? How do you think we can keep a balance between the two?
- How would you describe what it means to be guided by the Spirit? How does that work in your life? How would you explain this to a young Christian?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Positive Signs

Lakebay, like all churches, has its struggles. I would say we have had more than our share of struggles over the last 15 months (which, coincidentally exactly parallels my tenure here). Some would say it has known more than it's share of struggles over the last 5 years. But. . .all churches struggle, all organizations have their ups and downs, all Christians face good times and bad. So we're not going to dwell too much on those hardships.

What I find interesting is this: since late last year, Lakebay has lost some of its biggest givers to death, to moves, to differences of ministerial philosophy. Since late last year, Lakebay has lost a number of members - some have died, some moved, some were unwilling to follow the leadership of this church.

Yet late last year we welcomed in 5 new members, last month we welcomed in 6 more, and I just finished a New Member's Class with 5 more interested men and women. Our latest quarterly report shows our giving averaging about $2000/month more than our spending. Our attendance has been steady, our visitor flow remains strong. Our worship the last few months has been powerful. We've seen direct answers to prayer time and again, even in the last weeks.

And I know this - I have never known a healthier, more spiritually-driven board than the one that is now leading this church. God has raised up a healthy leadership, which truly extends beyond even the board. We have people serving in all sorts of places, leading in their own ways in our various ministries inside and outside the church.

Yes, I am sorry for those we've lost. I miss those who have passed and moved on. I grieve for those who, in their anger, have refused to hear God speaking to them. But God is up to something here at Lakebay, and I, for one, am thrilled to be a part of it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Life in Lakebay

Yesterday I sat in our Administrative Assistant's office, looking over some paperwork, when I was attacked by a bat. A little furry thing. But have you ever had a bat flying around your head in an enclosed place? Gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Said bat eventually ended up on the floor. I grabbed a pot from the kitchen and threw it over the bat. Then slid a piece of cardboard under the pot, trapping the bat inside the pot. Except when I went outside to release Mr. Bat, he was no longer in the pot. "Creepy," I thought. "I hope he's not a vampire who did his voodoo disappearing thing on me." I figured maybe he flew away so quickly I just didn't see him. (Side note: Why do I assume it was a male bat? I have no idea.)

20 minutes later I was in my office, working on an important letter preparing for a tough meeting, when the bat flew in and attacked me once again. No heebie-jeebies this time; just a case of the willies.

Once again, said bat ended up on the floor, once again I threw a pot over the bat, and then let him sit for 30 minutes to think about his actions.

Eventually, I found a flat piece of glass, like a small table-top, which I used to seal the bat inside the pot. Once again, I took the whole thing outside. This time, I pulled off the pot and the bat just sat their looking recalcitrant. I took him over and tossed him into a bush.

"There. Let that be a lesson to you."

Do other pastors ever have to battle wildlife in their offices?

Oh, by the way. I took a bike ride to clear my mind before the meeting, and I was attacked by a big black dog. I think nature is out to get me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

As if we needed more on generation gaps

Yesterday the members of the Key Peninsula Pastor's Association were enjoying a pleasant lunch out on our church's back deck. The discussion turned to building projects, and the 'joy' of working with all the various county and state agencies. Said one pastor, "It's like working with the Keystone Cops."

Shift focus to the lone youth pastor at the table. Notice his perplexed facial expression. Hear his query: "The Keystone Cops? Who's that?"

Listen to the wind blow through the trees, the solitary chirping of a bird high overhead, the moment of pregnant silence as everybody else realizes the enormity of what just happened.

I answer: "They're pre-'A-Team.'"

He: "Ahh, okay."

Wait a few more minutes for the universe to regain its equilibrium.

Somewhere, off in the distance, hear a gentle whimpering as the 20th-Century flows further and further away.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One final comment

Last October, in honor of Clergy Appreciation Month, Lakebay blessed Karina and I with a gift certificate to a local resort and spa. We were finally able to use it the first part of last week. It was truly relaxing, it was very refreshing, and the fact that it was a gift of love made it even more special.

Thank you, my church. I don't deserve the grace you show, but I gratefully accept it. I can truly say that your gift was one of the nicest things that anyone's ever done for us. We are awed by your thoughtfulness and generosity.

There will be no Great Sermon Experiment Week 3

No big issue. No scandal. No protests. Just this: On Sunday, June 24, Dave and Ronna Husby, Covenant Mission Coordinators overseeing our mission in Asia, will be sharing in the Sunday service, and thus no collaborative sermon. Enjoy the week off.

For those who want to be prepared anyway, Dave's sermon text will be Matthew 5:35-38.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Random 10

We start when I was back in college with #1 - I remember my friend Eric Holt playing this one from his "housing unit" as I walked by. The brass is exceptional, and he, being a trombonist, knew that I, a trumpeter, would appreciate it. #7 goes back to college as well - I played the lead trumpet in Azusa Pacific's Classical concert featuring this work as well as the Vivaldi Gloria. The Rutter Gloria is perhaps the toughest trumpet work I've ever played. #2 has some nice piccolo trumpet work as well.
#9 is in honor of Vince MP and the rest of Lakebay's worship team. They'll know why.

  1. You Didn’t Know Me When – Harry Connick Jr.
  2. Con Voce Festiva (Allesandro Scarlatti) – Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis
  3. Jann Arden – Cherry Popsicle
  4. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2
  5. No Place to Hide – Allison Kraus and Union Station
  6. Hibernia – Michael W. Smith
  7. Gloria (John Rutter) – John Rutter Chorus and Brass Ensemble
  8. The Last Testament of Angus Shane – Lost Dogs
  9. Better Than – Vineyard CafĂ©
  10. I’ll String Along with You - Diana Krall

Thursday, June 07, 2007

How to measure a life

You know, there are a lot of ways to measure a life - net worth, impact on others, accomplishments, places visited. . .the list is endless.

I was thinking the other day, what if a person's life was measured by their injuries?

Mine would look something like this:
- Broken arm from skateboarding accident
- Broken arm from bicycle accident
- Broken finger from football game
- Sprained knee from dogsledding accident
- Severely Sprained knee from mountain climbing accident
- various scars from falling down mountains, falling out of trees, decorating the Christmas tree

Other than that last one, I'd say that's a pretty impressive list. I guess I've done some pretty fun stuff so far, and at least it hasn't killed me yet. What would you put on your list?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Great Sermon Experiment, Week 2

Text 1: Galatians 2:15-21
Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3

The Galatians passage is one of the most famous in the Bible, especially the clincher: "I have been crucified in Christ, and I no longer live. . ."

The connection between the two, I think, is the idea of simple faith - there is no need to worry about the law, about being self-righteous, about earning God's favor. We already have it. So Paul's great statement of "the son of God who loved me" connects with the sinful woman embracing the love of Jesus. Paul's comments about the Law are lived out in the Pharisee Jesus is talking with. The call of the two is to live the life of faithful acceptance that Jesus loves us. End of story.

Some questions to ponder:
1) How do these texts impact you? What emotional response do you have when reading them?
2) What do you see as the central meaning of Luke's story? What is Jesus trying to accomplish with the Pharisee? What is Luke trying to get us to understand?
3) Paul's message here is a wonderful summary of the Gospel. How would you explain his meaning to a friend? co-worker? neighbor? child?
4) Have these texts had any special meaning in your life so far? How have they been a part of your story?
5) Can you think of any good illustrations that open up these texts? Any songs, films, stories you know that speak to the same issues here?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

One Glad Morning

I know, I know. God always shows up. Well, in point of fact, God is always present, so saying he "shows" up isn't exactly accurate. But sometimes the veil is lifted a tiny bit and we know, beyond a doubt, that God is present with his people.

This morning the worship was transparent enough to hear the angels singing. I wasn't sure how things would go, as we threw in a brand new song and a couple that are new within the last year or so, but the Body stuck with us and carried the worship to new heights. By the time we reached the end of "This is My Father's World," the rafters were lifting and the Spirit was moving. Later, for the second time since coming to Lakebay, I received a round of applause at the end of the sermon. I don't take credit - I just trust the Word struck a chord and people were moved.

And one more thing. Shortly before the service I was in prayer with two men, and I felt led to pray that any spirit of divisiveness, anger, or dissension would be forced from the building. At that exact moment, the one person who, this morning, was most prone to cause any division or dissension stood up and left the building in a hurry, no explanation given.

I think the Spirit cleared the way to move, in answer to a simple prayer, and we were the richer for it. Praise be to God.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Random Bonanza

The WeatherAh, the weather. The top finally came off the Jeep Wednesday. In Washington, going topless in May is always a sketchy prospect. You know rain is right around the corner. But how could I pass up this opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and 80-degree temps? Unless you've driven along the shoreline, or through the woods, in a Jeep with the top off. . .It's a Jeep thing. You wouldn't understand. The Purdy Spit was a whole new experience.

The NewsThe Key Peninsula geoduck fight makes it back into the news again, this time in the Tacoma News Tribune. For those new to the discussion, one family wants to grow geoducks on their shoreline (approximately 500 yards from where we live), in order to make some money to offset their astronomically high property taxes. Everybody else is afraid doing that will ruin the "pristine" shoreline. It's local politics par excellence. Somebody needs a class in conflict management. Or Washington needs to figure out how to stop runaway property tax increases.

Last fall, Lakebay Community Church blessed us with a gift certificate to a resort about an hour away, on the Hood Canal. We finally get to use it next week. My parents are coming over here to watch the girls, giving usI complete freedom for 48 hours. I was hoping to take advantage of some outdoor opportunities - kayaking, biking, hiking - but now they are saying the rain is returning on Monday. So maybe it will be just sitting by the fire, or in the hot tub, relaxing. One way or the other, it will be nice.

Of course, that means this place will stay a little quiet the early part of next week. The Sermon Experiment Texts might be a little late, or a little early. We'll see.

In Case you hadn't found itYou need to bookmark Nasa's Astronomy Picture of the Day. You get to see stuff like this:

That's Messier 65, a spiral galaxy about 35 million miles from earth.

Something New I LearnedI always thought cookies were only placed on your computer when you visited websites, and that only those website put cookies on your computer. I recently changed the settings on my Firefox browser to notify me whenever somebody wants to put a cookie on my computer. Turns out websites will stick cookies in your computer if you simply google them. Plus all the ads in websites? They stick cookies on your computer, too. So if you visit, say, a website offering financial information, and on the borders of said websites are a couple of advertisements for financial help seminars/books/classes - often those advertised websites are sticking cookies on your computer along with the actual site you visited.

Maybe you already knew that. I didn't.

And, lastly, the Friday Random 10Eclectic bunch today, but all good. Some bluegrass, some classical, some gospel, some new stuff, some old stuff, some ancient stuff. #1,2, and 6 are probably my three favorite female singers. We saw #3 performed live at last year's Puyallup Fair. #4 I missed out on by one year - Erich Kunzel, director of the Cincinnati Pops, visited APU to check out our choir for his Gospel Project, and was duly impressed, inviting the group out to record his album and do a live performance. Alas, I was a senior the year of his visit, and so took part in the impressing, but not the recording.
  1. Norah Jones/Dolly Parton – Creepin’ In
  2. Alison Krauss and Union Station – So Long, So Wrong
  3. David Crowder – You Are My Joy
  4. Azusa Pacific University Choir w/ the Cincinnati Pops – Amen!
  5. Ricky Skaggs and Earl Scruggs – American Roots
  6. Diana Krall – I’ll string along with you
  7. Bebo Norman – Where the Angels Sleep
  8. Derek Webb – Awake My Soul
  9. Kathleen Battle – Rejoice
  10. The Dillards – The Whole World ‘Round