Saturday, December 22, 2012

What do the Hobbit, Sandy Hook and CCCA have in common?

We all know about The Hobbit and many of us in the USA on the East Coast know what Sandy Hook means.  CCCA, however, may not be a familiar acronym to you.  It stands for Christian Camp and Conference Center.  Bethany Birches, where I work, is a member.

So here's what the Hobbit, Sandy Hook and CCCA, especially this video, have in common: they all show us what we already know.  That life isn't safe. And furthermore, a meaningful life requires risk, challenge, struggle.

I love this section starting right here.  Take a look...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Servant Leadership, Marketing, Jesus

Reading a post today from Tanveer Naseer's blog I found the stuff of Jesus. I love when this happens!

In this post he's talking about Peter Drucker and an ancient book ('Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War'). In the book, a father asks his son: "Tell me how best to get a man to do something that must be done..." The son replies with an answer that is inferior. 

 The father's reply:
“’Simply take care of those you lead better even than they would or could take care of themselves. Always put their needs before your own.’”

Jesus said (as recorded in Mark 10):
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

Think leadership that changes things.  Think people like MLK, Ghandi, Lincoln. More recently, we have Steve Jobs who was a bit of a tyrant and was not a slave to others but was certainly a slave to his vision and arguably his customers, or at least his idea of what they would most like.

Friday, December 14, 2012


From one if my fav blogs - Generous Matters - Excellent post:

” . . . before there was original sin, there was original blessing. And that blessing, aided and abetted by the living Spirit of God, is still a powerful force in the world. Each and everyday, we’re invited to make a choice: we will see lots of things – beautiful and terrible, wonderful and awful, good and bad, encouraging and discouraging. Which will we focus on, remember, and share with others? Which, that is, will we really see? Much hinges on our decision.”

David J. Lose, Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary and Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching, from his blog In the Meantime

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Living is so dangerous! On the highway today I saw an accident in which a car was drug around by a semi that it got stuck under.

The question is not how will I stay safe but rather how will I live fully?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Elections: Good Samaritan & Zombies.

Last week, my good brother-in-law wrote asking how I understand the elections and the candidates.  A few points from my reply (it should be noted that I haven't followed the pres. race closely or often):
  • Does it make a big difference who you vote for this year? It seems Romeny's and Obama's policies are not so different in many areas, as demonstrated in the debates.
  • Our presidential election process seems broken:
    • It's greatly influenced by whomever can buy the most air time.
    • The candidate that gets put forth by their party is the one the party most believes will win, not necessarily the one they most believe will govern best.
    • Voting for a third, fourth or fifth party candidate (if they're on your states ballot) may get that nominee up to 2 or 3% of popular vote.  How'd we get to only 2 choices?
  • It seems the Democrat bias toward social programs aimed at the poor best line up with Jesus' words in respond to the question: "who is my neighbor?" (of course, typical Jesus, he was speaking about a personal responsibility rather than a corporate one)
  • Thinking Obama is turning the country into a socialist nation is misdirected. First, our economy does not employ pure capitalism. Second, there are broad cultural shifts toward blending of various types of economies (much like has happened in Europe).
  • As this post points out, Obama hasn't messed it up and we have made some progress under this administration (of course not as much as promised!).

Two videos - an important warning about the Zombie Apocalypse in the second:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Army of lovers - Shane Claiborne

As a Mennonite and Pacifist I get nervous about the term "Army." Yet Shane uses it in a way I like. He's talking about a group of people that present a strong force. While God doesn't seem to use force an Army of lovers is the best kind of army tere could be. His sentiment below reminds of what we talk about at camp - a community of love (

An Army of Lovers (excerpt from his book: Irresistible Revelation).

Shane Claiborne

Lovers are hard to come by. And I think that's what our world is desperately in need of--lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about. We are trying to raise up an army not simply of street activists but of lovers--a community of people who have fallen desperately in love with God and with suffering people, and who allow those relationships to disturb and transform them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Barak Obama and Mitt Romney - third debate

The presidential debate tonight between Obama and Romney was interesting.

While I deeply appreciate the candidates interest in the global community not participating in or aiding terrorism, I get frustrated with the way the discussion is framed - specifically, the idea that people can be reduced to good/bad and nations as well. But it isn't about that - that's a cover. Tonights comments were about befriending the right nations so our safety and prosperity grow. That's actually domestic policy.

Another crazy idea: "this nation is the hope of the Earth." Seriously? I would say God is that hope. Even I I we're Mormon.

So often the candidates do not engage directly with the challenge of a given question but rather return to talking points and messages that if stated enough times people will believe are true.

And how about Obama giving it to Romney - "we don't need any more bayonets an horses and we don't need any more ships."


Monday, October 15, 2012

Realism and the end times

Every once in a while I'll be chatting with someone and they'll throw in something about the end times. They'll say "I know it's almost the end... just look around at what's happening."

Henri Nouwen writes:

When Jesus speaks about the world, he is very realistic. He speaks about wars and revolutions, earthquakes, plagues and famines, persecution and imprisonment, betrayal, hatred and assassinations. There is no suggestion at all that these signs of the world's darkness will ever be absent. But still, God's joy can be ours in the midst of it all. It is the joy of belonging to the household of God whose love is stronger than death and who empowers us to be in the world while already belonging to the kingdom of joy.

Amen brother!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Problem with American Presidential Races

The problem with American Presidential races, at least the one that struck me today is this - there's no Jesus! Jesus taught us to love our enemies.  That's a tough teaching.

Hold that in your mind...

Think for a moment about the two-party warfare we have been fueling for many years. At a broad level, the tactic most seekers-of-office employ is to highlight why the other side is wrong. Unfortunately, so often, there is very little detail, evidence or argument and so one must basically adhere to and believe in the story told (there is very little room for thought about specifics). The statements made are simple - "my plan is better than the other side's plan and so you should elect me."  Fine. But then it almost always goes a step further. "By the way, my opponent has a bad plan that won't work (again, almost no reason for why it won't, but rather a repetition of the story being told)."  Often, suggestion is made that maybe the opponent is even a bad person.  Stories are told about how the Republicans or the Democrats messed everything up.  This assumption is nailed fast with conclusive statements like "and it's time for a change."

Our process is full of people directing hateful ideas toward others.  Maybe a little enemy-love would cause office-seekers to actually evaluate their opponents and begin to understand them.

And who knows what could come out of deep understanding not only of the other but also of their situation and our own.  Maybe a well-run government!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mixed emotions when God is near

Wow. This week at camp we got a lot done on the cabin. With 10 people in there for parts of the week, all skilled, how could we not?! On Friday we received a check for $20,000. On Wednesday we tied up the fire alarm considerations. My aunts and uncles lived with us for the week which was glorious.

Now I am tired. In part because Dew (our dog) became very sick recently. Last night he was peeing blood (which I cleaned up multiple times). Earlier in the week he was pooping green. He probably still would be pooping green but he quit eating two days ago.  And so we head to the vet soon.Here's the thing - last night after realizing that one of Dew's organs may be failing I started crying. I remembered something God spoke to me 5 years ago about death. That made me cry harder. Yet in my tears I knew my Father was near. I felt him, sensed him. And this continues to be true for me. That God is nearer to my heart in times of challenge and change. Some say he is always near. Whether that's true I'm not sure. I am sure that struggle heightens my awareness if his presence.

May you experience God in your struggle and may your struggles leave you better than they found you.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tradition, Religion, Evangelism

Here's today's email from Inward/Outward

In some ways, it could be a response to yesterday's reading, which is directly below in this blog.  I could respond like this: Dude, chill out. They just haven't heard the news.


Brand New
Thomas Merton

The Gospel is handed down from generation to generation but it must reach each one of us brand new, or not at all. If it is merely "tradition" and not news, it has not been preached or not heard--it is not Gospel.... If there is no risk in revelation, if there is no fear in it, if there is no challenge in it, if it is not a word which creates whole new worlds, and new beings, if it does not call into existence a new creature, our new self, then religion is dead and God is dead.
Source: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Each day I receive an email from the Church of the Savior called inward/outward -

Here's today's. What do you think? Too simplistic? Not true? Convicting?
If You Were Christians
Jim Wallis

I remember a conference in NYC. The topic was social justice. Assembled for the meeting were theologians, pastors, priests, nuns and lay church leaders.

At one point a Native American stood up, looked out over the mostly white audience, and said, "Regardless of what the New Testament says, most Christians are materialists with no experience of the Spirit. Regardless of what the New Testament says, most Christians are individualists with no real experience of community."

He paused for a moment and then continued: "Let's pretend that you were all Christians. If you were Christians, you would no longer accumulate. You would share everything you had. You would actually love one another. And you would treat each other as if you were family."

His eyes were piercing as he asked, "Why don't you do that? Why don't you live that way?"

Source: The Call to Conversion

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jesus' call to hate family in Luke 14

Something that's always haunted me as I seek to take Jesus seriously has been his call to hate family, as in Luke  14: 26.  I've often not been able to access his message.  Why would he say this?  Because he thinks families are dumb?  Because he secretly means something else?

I read this yesterday morning and just have to share it, because it helped me.  Maybe it will help you too.  It can be found in the book The Politics of Jesus By John Howard Yoder, page 45.  Referring to this verse, he writes:
Modern psychologizing interpretation of Jesus has been bothered largely with whether the word hate here should be taken seriously or not.  This is certainly to miss the point of the passage.  The point is rather that in a society characterized by very stable, religiously under-girded family ties, Jesus is here calling into being a community of voluntary commitment, willing for the sake of its calling to take upon itself the hostility of the given society.  
So it seems that Jesus used an extreme statement to highlight the extremity of his way... the way of the cross.  If I take the opposite of his statement, I must learn to love belonging to his family, whether it means departing from earthly God-given family or social outcast or death.  Why should I love this?  Because there is nothing better than being a part of the family of God.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

So last night Amber and I got to watch a movie.  Time for things like that is tight right now so it was a true joy to sit together.  And afterward, we watched more things.  In the middle of watching more things, Amber checked her Facebook feed (a common occurrence).  On one of our staff's profiles, was posted this misspelled line: "It's Friiidaayyyy..."  Of course, Amber wrote back: "But Sundayyys COMIN!"

If you don't get it, I have two words for you:
1) Easter
2) Tony

If you still don't get it, you simply have to watch this video!  This should take you to minute 54 out of 61 where Tony Campolo starts in on Friday/Sunday.

For the whole sermon, just watch it here.  I love this guy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

More from my nifty Baptist Bible Hour app...

Youth and Old Age
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart - 2 Timothy 2:22
Youthful lusts are not limited to physical attraction. They include excessive desires for popularity, acceptance, worldly success, or academic achievement.
The lusts that Paul warns us against are any of the short-sighted cravings of youth for personal pleasure or gain, rather than for personal godliness. Youthful lusts include any hunger or ambition that distracts from our pursuit of true righteousness, faith, charity, and peace.
Interestingly, Paul is not content with our fleeing youthful lusts; he commands us, alternatively, to pursue hard after (the word follow is very strong in the original language) a pure-hearted devotion to God. We will not experience the vibrant, joyful, fulfilling Christian life until we are not only trying to avoid sin but are also seeking after Christ.
And one of the greatest encouragements for people as they pursue Christ is to follow after Him with those that call on the Lord themselves out of a pure heart. Good friends are a great help to the Christian life, and are especially crucial when you are young.
So, young people, remember to flee away from sinful temptations, follow after Christ as your Lord, and look for good friends who will pursue Christ with you.

Also posted on Bethany Birches Blog -


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