Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eggs


Which came first the chicken or the egg?


People still laugh when I tell them that I am the proud owner of 14 chickens. Buff Orpington chickens to be exact.


They are the most wonderful pets you can have. You seldom have to clean up after them. They don't need to be house broken. They don't keep you up at night and they never have to got to the veterinarian.


And they produce eggs. 14 fresh eggs daily!


We make omelets, scramble them, fry them and make yummy deserts with them. Martha Stewart would be proud.


Periodically I take a dozen eggs to friends and they look at me with a puzzled expression on their face. "Why would you bring me eggs?" Then I get to tell them about my chickens and they are amazed. Usually they are more than willing to take the eggs.


Oh, by the way....the eggs are brown eggs and they are phenomenal.


I am never going to get rich selling eggs. Truth be told, if I actually sold them for the money that I have invested in the girls the cost would be around $14 a dozen. So I give them away. And I get more than $14 worth of excitement in seeing people's faces.


This afternoon a family is bringing their grandchildren over to visit the chickens. We will collect the eggs, package them and send them home with several dozen. It will be fun to watch their expressions and to see the joy that chickens and eggs bring.


The simple life.....aaaaaaahhh!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brew Crew


3:00 AM

25 servants

1000 cups of steaming hot chocolate.
These are the ingredients for the 2008 Brew Crew.


The idea began two years ago when I was snugly sleeping on Black Friday morning. My phone rang about 4:30 AM and the voice on the other end was my daughter who was standing in one of the long lines waiting to "save lots of money."

She said, "Dad, it's freezing will you bring me some hot chocolate, pleeeaase?"


Dutifully I got out of bed and bought two cups of hot chocolate. I delivered them to my daughter and niece. All of a sudden I realized that everyone was watching me as I drove up and gave the hot chocolate to them.


Then it hit me. What would happen if I could bring hot chocolate to everyone in the line?


The Brew Crew was born.

This year the Brew Crew arrived at the church and begin the arduous task of serving our community.


By 4:30 AM we were at Circuit City, PetsMart, Old Navy, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Dukes where people had been waiting in line since 1:00 AM.


In 30 minutes we gave out nearly 1000 cups of hot chocolate. Free!

People were shocked. People were grateful. And we were blessed.


There is an old scripture that says something about "offering a cup of cold water" in my name. Today we offered a cup of hot chocolate.


I think we brought a smile to His face today.




Monday, November 24, 2008

Nostalgia


On Saturday my wife and I took a trip back in time…

We spent the day with friends in Marshall, Michigan. It was founded in 1830 and was designed to be the capitol of Michigan. It is a town of less than 8,000 residents, but it is a town that has over 800 buildings listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

Most of the buildings are from the mid 19th century and beckon you back to an era in time that has long past.

We walked the streets and went in and out of antique shops, drank coffee and ate in a historic restaurant in the town.

The weather was cold but the time was accentuated by awarmth that cannot be recorded by a weather thermometer.

While I was walking down the main street I thought,
“if these buildings could talk.”

There were Dry Goods Stores, apothecary shop, old theatre and beautiful churches.

It is obvious that the work of people’s hands from the mid 1800’s has stood the test of time. It makes me wonder what I am doing today that will be here 150 years from now. What buildings are being erected that will still be standing in 2150? What thoughts am I thinking today that will last 150 years from now?

It’s funny what kind of thoughts pop into your head while you are walking down the street.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pizza


This evening I went into the local pizza palace to order a pizza for dinner.


I must have been invisible to the young man behind the counter as he talked on the phone. Finally, after what seemed like forever he motioned and whispered, "be with you in a sec...."


Several minutes later he took my order.


He wanted to know my name. I usually tell people my name is Mephibosheth because I love their reaction. But tonight I was in a "low blood sugar" moment so I gave him my real name.


He placed the order and mumbled that it would be ten or fifteen minutes.


I retreated to the car to wait for my pizza. Ambitiously I went back inside at about 8 minutes 42 seconds. Another guy said, "may I help you?' I gave him my name and he went behind the counter and pulled out a pizza from what appeared to be a stack of filled orders. It made me wonder if my pizza was fresh.


I paid and left.


Here are some thoughts about buying pizza on Friday nite at the local pizza palace.


1. I miss the days when the dough would be cut from a mound, rolled out and tossed in the air. All this was done without wearing protective handwear.


2. I miss the days when the choices were "the special" or cheese pizza. There are combinations available today that make me wonder if some of the concoctions were designed by a committee.


3. I miss the days when pizza parlors were run by Guido or one of his relatives. No high school work force, just Guido and his paesanos.


The one thing that has remained constant is my love for pizza whether it comes from an olde pizza joint or from the franchise fiascos.


I ate pizza tonite and remembered the good ole days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tape


Today I walked in a “snow globe” snowfall in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Thursday’s are my writing day and I was invited to a lunch meeting with a fellow colleague at the original Cottage Inn in Ann Arbor. I spent time before lunching writing and researching a project that I am working on. Then I had lunch. Then back to Borders for an afternoon of writing and thinking.

I drove home in a “snow globe” snowfall on 23 North. It was a magical mystical hour ride as the sun set on the horizon.

This evening I joined my daughter at Mongolian Bar-B-Que for a fund raiser dinner for the University of Michigan Nursing School. The meal was superb and the company was equally superb. We tipped the guest “g’rillas” and ate the dinner they prepared.

My last stop this evening was a meeting with several others to discuss ways to fulfill His mission within our community of faith.

That is the checklist of the activities that filled my day. Beyond that, something else happened.

In the middle of the morning one of Border’s staff began the arduous process of peeling masking tape and applying it to the carpeted floor. You know the annoying sound of masking tape being unrolled.

She was making what appeared to be a pathway along the floor. The giveaway was little arrows intermittently along the tape line. My curiosity was aroused. But I decided not to ask what was going on.

After returning from lunch I realized that Borders had hosted a “young, up & coming, GenY” singer. The tape guided the fans to her table for a CD signing following her gig.

I was back at Borders for my afternoon writing.

Then it happened.

The lady that applied the masking tape to the carpet was now ripping it up and creating a masking tape ball. Meticulously she applied the tape and recklessly she ripped it up.

I am not sure why I find this little episode so fascinating. Maybe it is because part of my calling is to put masking tape on the floor of people’s experiences and point them toward a destination. Weekly I put little arrows on the tape line as cues. Then I realize that the culture tries to rip up the direction that I lay down.

No complaints, just an observation. By the way, I got a lot of work done today in the middle of this object lesson.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Do


Have you ever had a day in which you got everything done that you wanted to get done?

Today was one of those days. I began the day with a long list of things that I wanted to get accomplished and at the end of the day I look back and realized that I got them done.

Now, there are one of two possibilities that would explain this phenomenon. The first is that my list was small and I could easily accomplish both items on the list. And the other is that my list was long and I accomplished it completely because I tenaciously stayed with it.

The truth is that my list was realistic and everything came together so that by the end of the day I could look back with gratitude.

Why is this kind of day unusual?

More often than not I have more items on my list than I have time to accomplish. That seems to be the norm, but today was different.

Before you think that I am an expert on Time Management, let me assure you that I am not. Maybe you think that I am never bothered with interruptions, be serious! Or you may think that I only put things on my list that are easily accomplished, again…uh-uh.

So how did I accomplish this feat today?

The only thing I can attribute it to is that today was one of those days where grace was at work in a way that I can’t explain. It surely wasn’t me, so the only other explanation is, you guessed it…God.

I am trying to practice His presence and that means moving at His pace rather than mine.

I am anxious to see what happens tomorrow. I already have my list and He is at the top.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Risk


J. Hudson Taylor wrote, “unless there is an element of risk in the Christian life, there is no need for faith.”

I copied these words into my personal journal on February 3, 2004. I do not remember all of the details of what was taking place when I wrote those words, but in re-reading my journal I ran across these words today.

Taylor is right.

Risk gives faith an opportunity to be displayed.

Here’s a funny poem to end the day.


There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed.
And when he one day passed away
His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never died!



When was the last time you took a risk? Take a risk! Go ahead….live! Don’t wait for tomorrow. Be fully present in this moment and live!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Instant


We live in an “instant” age. We want “instant” results. We desire “instant” gratification for the efforts that we exert in our daily lives.

I ran across a website that I found very interesting. It is an “instant” create-a-story web page that allows you to be a writer by simply inserting a few words.
http://www.world-english.org/instantstory.htm has all the details. Try it for yourself.

We have instant messaging. We have instant mashed potatoes. We have instant pudding and a hundred other instant examples.

Gore Vidal, writing in Matters of Fact and Fiction describes most people today as having a
“a passion for the immediate and the casual.”

The “immediate” and the “casual” are enemies of what another writer called “a long obedience in the same direction.” Although Eugene Peterson of The Message fame has written a book by that title, he borrowed the phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche.

If you are on the Christ-follower journey you already know that there are no shortcuts. You have already discovered that the journey requires more than mastery of the facts of the faith. It requires taking one step after another in a lifelong journey. No room for an “instant” faith on this road.

There are no benchmarks just footprints. Benchmarks indicate that you have arrived at certain points in the journey. Footprints are living reminders that you are walking on the journey.

Christ-followers are on a journey….lots of steps…no “instant” recipe to get you to your destination.

Don’t let the “immediate” and “casual” rob you of experiencing the joy in the journey.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Donkeys


This morning I talked about Donkeys, Detours and Deliverance from Numbers 22. I am not jazzed about the alliteration, but when I shared my thoughts with the worship team someone said, “Oh good a 3-D” message.

The message was a humorous one.

The story was funny. It's the story of a talking donkey, an angelic appearance and a couple of friends who stood in amazement at the whole process.

Every Sunday we broadcast live on the internet through
www.nexuslife.org and then archive the messages for those that cannot be in attendance.

Live broadcasting is fun but each week there are images shown that are not available to the listener.

This morning I showed an image that illicited a great response.

There was a snicker, a chuckle, then laughter broke out. The picture was funny and I promised that I would post it to the blog for others to see.

Imagine what went through the donkey’s mind as the last box was loaded and he felt himself floating upward. Think your job is tough?

The message this morning was a reminder that we often walk through life with lots of information about who God is and very little experience of Him.

I closed the message with this thought.

“Once your life is in sync with the story of God you become out of sync with any story that attempts to ignore or eliminate God.”p. 93 The Barbarian Way

No more talkin’ to donkeys for me…I am listening for His voice…When I do, my story gets in sync with His Story and I’m lovin’ it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bucket


Tonight the whole family was home and we ate a wonderful lasagna dinner together. It was like "old times" except just 10 years later. After dinner we sat around the living room and popped a dvd in the player.


Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman entertained us with the story of two terminally ill patients who break free from a cancer ward and take a trip around the world. They create a list of things that they want to do before they "kick the bucket." Thus the "bucket" list.


While still in the hospital they created a list of things they want to do before they die.


Witness something truly majestic

Help a complete stranger for a common good

Laugh till I cry

Drive a Shelby Mustang

Kiss the most beautiful girl in the world

Get a tattoo

Skydiving

Visit Stonehenge

Spend a week at the Louvre

See Rome

See the pyramids

Get back in touch


I don't want to ruin the movie for you if you haven't seen it. But it is a story of faith, life and questions.


Edward Cole, played by Jack Nicholson describes his difficulty in believing in a God who exists. He says, "I envy people who have faith, I just can't get my head around it." Carter Chambers, played by Morgan Freeman responds with a profound statement. He says, "Maybe because your head's in the way."


That is a great line and is illustrative of why so many people struggle with their faith. Often times our heads block our hearts in our journey of faith.


Tonight I want my heart to be wide open and my mind to be open as well. Think I will put that on my "bucket list."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Huxtables


After a long day I came home tonight and took a quick trip down Memory Lane.


The Cosby Show was on.


There was Dr. Huxtable, Clair, Sondra, Denise, Theodore, Vanessa and Rudy. It brought back great memories from days gone by.


The story line was always the same. Dr. Huxtable was always trying to teach his children responsibility in a "Father Knows Best Kind" of way.


He was a an OB-GYN who never seemed to keep office hours. He was always home to give guidance to his family.


There are several thoughts that are on my mind as I wrap up my day.


The Cosby Show portrayed a simple innocence in families

The Cosby Show was good clean fun

The Cosby Show always ended up "happily ever after"


I know that life is not simple and that there are bumps along the way, but for a few moments this evening The Cosby Show brought a respite from the demands of life.


One of my favorite interchanges was between Theo and his dad. He tells his father that the kids at school told him that he was rich because his dad was rich. With a crackling voice, Theo says, "Dad are we rich?"


Cosby looks incredulously at his son, and says, "Rich?" No son, you are not rich, your mom and I are rich, but you are not rich."


So much for the wit and wisdom of Bill Cosby.


I enjoyed my journey down Memory Lane tonight.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Innocence


In a Time magazine article on April 26, 1999 entitled, "Of Myth and Men" the author makes a startling statement....


"The central ethic of our culture has been the Bible...But

the Bible no longer occupes that central place in our

culture today. Young people in particular are turning to

movies for their inspiration not to organized religion."


When I read that my mind was taken back to a story that I read in Resident Aliens, Life in the Christian Colony, by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon.


Willimon describes his early boyhood days in Greenville, South Carolina and the mischief of early adolescents. He relates a warm Sunday evening in 1963 when the Fox Theatre opened its doors in defiance of the state's blue laws. Along with six of his buddies they entered the front door of the Methodist Youth Fellowship but slipped out the back door to "join John Wayne" at the Fox.


He says that evening was "a watershed in the history of Christendom, South Carolina style."


He goes on to say, "on that night, Greenville, South Carolina-the last pocket of resistance to secularity in the Western world-served notice that it would not longer be a prop for the church."


On that night the Fox Theatre went head to head with the church over who would provide the world view for the young.


"That night in 1963, the Fox Theatre won the opening skirmish."


All of this made me think...young people today are being shaped by external forces. Their worldview is being formed by factors that were not in play in 1963.


What is the church doing and saying today that shapes the world view of those that fill the seats on Sunday?


Youthful innocence today is often jaded by the press of cultural forces and vices. My prayer is that the church will celebrate the Kingdom of God in such a way that people of all ages will bask in the aroma of His glory.


What do you see from your perspective?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Hold


Yesterday I spent time "on hold" waiting for a friendly customer service representative to answer an insurance question.


It is frustrating to listen to silence or to be subjected to elevator music while you wait for the person on the other end of the line.


Finally, the representative returned to the line and asked another question. More waiting. In a few minutes she returned and asked a clarifying question. More silence.


While I was waiting on the phone I had several thoughts....


I wondered if the representative was actually researching my question or whether she was going down to the candy machine to purchase a candy bar?


I wonder if the representative has a stack of paper on her desk that she can shuffle while she plays solitaire on her PC?


I wonder if the representative is in an office in the US or somewhere in the Pacific Rim?


Finally, she came back on the phone and said, "I have no record of the information that you are looking for."


I could not believe what I was hearing.


Sure enough, there was no record of the information. So I was stuck with the impression of the receiver on the side of my face.


"On hold" means a state of temporary interruption. Everybody has experienced it from time to time.


If you are in an "on hold" moment, make every second count.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clueless


"Don't pay any attention to him....he's clueless."


"What would they know? They're clueless"


Clueless means, "totally uninformed about what is going on." Do you know anybody that fits that category? Have you ever met someone that was clueless and didn't even know it?


Douglas Coupland, author of J Pod, tells the story of a group of slackers who walk through life in a state of "informed cluelessness." He calls them "wage-slave hamsters in the wheel called life."


It really is a funny novel that speaks to the culture and experiences of today's young work force. As I read it recently, I was reminded of all of the external media sources that seek to shape our life experiences.


I think I may have reached the saturation point of media information. I can't bear to watch one more report on the economy, the election results, the decorating budget for the new White House residents, the bailout, the presidential transition, the murder rate in my community, the status of the Big Three, and a thousand other topics. I long for a cessation of media coverage of every possible topic.


I think I would like to be clueless for a little while on what the media thinks is important.


But we continue to be bombarded daily. This constant barrage of images and sound bites hinders the "quietness of His presence."


Coupland says, "I think people in the year 2020 are going to be nostalgic for the sensation of feeling clueless." p.248.


It's 2008 and that feeling is already rushing over me. I want to stand up and say, "Enough is enough!" Let me just experience life through the prism of my experiences and His grace rather than having the media tell me what to think and feel.


Maybe its an "age and stage" issue, but I am meeting people on a regular basis that are longing for a simple life lived at a pace that allows you to be fully present in every moment.


How goes your journey?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sheep


At the end of a busy day I am reflecting on a great day of worship and being with others who are pilgrims on the journey.


I have been reading through my own personal writings over the last ten years and looking back over my journey. It has been fun, exhilirating, disappointing, challenging, hilarious and honest. There have been times over the last ten years where I have written something that has become a recurrent pattern reflective of where I am on my journey.


While traveling through my own personal words I ran across a poem that I copied into my journal. The poem is by Billy Collins and is taken from The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems. He tells the story of reading a statement from an article on printing. "It has been calculated that each copy of the Gutenberg Bible requires the skins of 300 sheep."


Reading those words prompted the following poem entitled Flock...


I can see them squeeze into the holding pen

behind the stone building

Where the printing press is housed.


All of them squirming around

to find a little room

and looking so much alike,


It would be nearly impossible

to count them,

and there is no telling


Which one will carry the news

that the Lord is a shepherd

one of the few things they already knew.

page 35


I am thinking about Advent and this poem caused me to think about the Good News of the Gospel.


45 days until Christmas...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Adventure






Today my wifes kindergarten Sunday School class came over to the house for a fall party.




The whole class was unable to attend, but the class was well represented by the four guys that showed up.




The morning started off with rainy/snow blowing across the backyard. Winter is near and the event was "rain or shine" so we were excited when the kids began arriving.



We began with a hike in the woods. We looked for bright colored leaves, sticks, artifacts, aninmal tracks and other signs of life. We would have gotten lost except one of the guys brought a compass which we consulted several times.




Near the end of the walk the kids heard what sounded like squawking sounds. Imagine their surprise when they discovered our chickens. They fed them and collected eggs. Even the parents were surprised by the chickens.






A few more steps and we were back in front of a roaring fire and eating hot dogs. We talked about all the things we saw on our walk. We laughed about the chickens. We enjoyed the brisk fall air and created a hundred new memories.




Finally it was all over and they were headed out of the driveway and I began to think about the afternoon.




Here are some observations that hit me while I was with a crew of five year olds on a cold fall day.




Life's simple pleasures are the best

We enjoyed ourselves and there were no video games involved

We had a great time and all we did was walk in the woods

Five year olds live life with their eyes wide open

Parents have fun when they see their kids are having fun.




One final question....why do hot dogs taste better over an open fire?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Narrative


Narrative speaks to the heart in order that the heart, so tutored may direct and
inform the mind.


I love this sentence. It makes my heart sing. It sends shivers through my cerebellum.


Here's why....


I love stories, tales and narratives. I always have and I think I always will. From the time I was a child when stories were read to me until I was able to read them for myself, I have had a thirst for stories.


A good story can make your heart sing and bring a change to your mind.


Narratives can wedge their way into the crevasses of our heart when our minds are closed.


Narratives can make an impact while idle words leave a dent.


Narratives can lift our eyes when circumstances drag us down.


One of my favorite memories as a young dad was when my kids would say, "Daddy, tell us a story." I would spin tales, yarns, epics, and weave stories as they drifted off to slumberland.


"Stories only happen to people who can tell them."


Some of the best stories I have ever read or heard caught my heart off guard. When I wasn't looking, the story sneaked up on me and brought a change to my way of thinking.


Jesus was really good at it. Check out the parables in the New Testament.


Oh, by the way, our life is a story and people are watching and listening to the narrative.


I pray that His Story living through my life will make people think about the Author.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

LaMott


Anne LaMott has recently written a book entitled, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.


I was in the Salvation Army Thrift Store in downtown Detroit two weeks ago and was looking through the book shelves tucked in the back of the warehouse when I ran across LaMott's book.


I had seen it before on Amazon.com and at Borders but I was not ready to fork over $15 for her book.


Imagine my surprise when I opened up the paperback and saw the price...99 cents.


How sad that a book on writing by a prolific writer would land in a warehouse in downtown Detroit for less than a dollar.


I purchased the book and begin reading it immediately.


LaMott quotes Kurt Vonnegut another great writer who said, "When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his mouth."


LaMott says that it is not uncommon to find the task of writing to be a difficult one. I can identify with that challenge at times.


Writing is not an easy task, but it is a rewarding one.


I was delighted to find the book for 99 cents because it is clearly worth more than that. One of the fears that I have of getting a book published is that it could end up in a warehouse downtown with 99 cents penciled inside the front page.


Fortunately I am not writing with a crayon in my mouth.


For all you artists, writers, dreamers, schemers and creators...keep plying your trade. And if you have a crayon in your mouth use it to be creative.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Word


Today I was reading and ran across a word that I had never seen before. I love words and today's discovery was akin to finding a buried treasure in a sandy cove.


I read it and passed over it thinking that it was an aberrant word inserted by the author to demonstrate her intellectual prowess.


Reading it a second time in the same book made me curious as to its meaning.


Finally I saw the word a third time in the narrative.


Sangfroid.


Before looking it up, I tried to guess its meaning. Here are my three guesses.


1. An entree at my favorite chinese restaurant.

2. A muscle in the lower abdomen

3. A quasar in the furthest galaxy


Upon closer inspection I discovered that "sangfroid" means "composure in the face of difficulty or danger." It has its roots from the French word meaning "cold blood."


Have you ever heard someone described as having "ice water" in their veins? They are the epitome of composure.


Quarterbacks facing a blitz need "sangfroid." Being alone at home and hearing a noise outside the window requires "sangfroid." Receiving a phone call in the middle of the night calls for "sangfroid."


In this day and age we need "sangfroid...composure in the face of difficulty or danger."


I learned a new word today and I can't wait to use it tomorrow. I am praying that I will not face any difficulties or dangers, but if I do, I know the right word to use.


Test drive the word for yourself and let me know how it works.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Report


I tucked my book underneath my arm and headed for the parking lot. Getting into my car I was making last minute preparations for my trip to the poll to cast my vote.


Pulling into the parking lot I had my choice of parking spaces. Where were all of the long lines?


I got out of my car and entered the polling place. Where were all of the long lines?


I showed my photo ID and filled out the paperwork to prepare to vote.


The "Election Inspector" peered in my direction as I received my ballot.


I still had my book underneath my arm in anticipation of waiting in long lines. I put it down and entered the voting stall. Opening my folder, the ballot awaited my pencil.


Seeing all of the names of the candidates reminded me that each has a story. I wish I knew each of their narratives, not the ones that are projected in their campaign advertisements.


After a few minutes I completed voting and turned around and waited to feed my ballot into the scanner so that my vote would be recorded. In a matter of a few minutes I had completed my civic responsibility, all without having an opportunity to read my book.


Here are three observations that I want to make as I reflect on today:


1. Nobody asked me how I voted as I left the polling place. Who are these people that take part in "exit polls?"

2. I wonder if John McCain will call back next week to see how I voted? He called today asking for my vote.

3. Tomorrow there will not be any campaign commercials on TV. I wonder who is going to declare their candidacy for the Presidency in 2012 on Wednesday? I guess it's never to early to start thinking about 2012.


I am at home this evening and until just a few moments ago I was reading my book that I had tucked underneath my arm. It is far more interesting than listening to a group of old geezers prognosticating about who our next president will be.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Signs


I am always intrigued by signs. I make notes of humorous signs that I have seen in my journey.


While working in New Orleans during Katrina I saw a sign that said, "Looters will be shot." I have seen funny signs on church lawns. I have seen signs with mispellings that made me chuckle.


This sign caught my attention earlier today.


Nuff' said....I will be glad when the elections are over....24 hours from now and we should begin to have a sense of who will be the President elect of the United States.


By the way, November 5th will come and America will return to "business as usual" and for that I will be thankful.


Here is my checklist for tomorrow...

1. Eat breakfast....think about how I will vote

2. Head to work...

3. Eat lunch...try to vote during my lunch hour (lines will probably mean I will have to vote later)

4. Head back to work

5. Go back to vote after work

6. Get ready to stand in line to wait to vote (bring good book)

7. Vote

8. Go home and wait for the results while I watch Seinfeld.

9. Give thanks that the campaign is over.


Aaaahhhhhhh!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Television


With less than 48 hours away from electing a new president, I have been thinking about the role of media in helping shape people's opinions.


Television has played a pivotal role in defining reality for many voting Americans.


Saturday Night Live has poked fun at the candidates and has provided levity for those who have taken the process to seriously.


Evening newscasts have provided biased perspectives through the medium of television.


Reporters will predict winners and interview losers, all broadcast on television.


There is plenty of evidence to suggest that TV has both positive and negative aspects. Unmonitored it can introduce images that are unhealthy.


I was reading this week and ran across a quote that put it into perspective. It is by David Frost who is an English satirist and was a television host when I was a kid. He said...


"Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained

in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your house."


Something to think about...

Clocks


"If I just had one more hour in the day..."


How many times have you found yourself saying that? How many times have you felt like you did not have enough time to get everything done that you wanted to do?


With an additional hour I now will have time to walk around my house and re-set all of our clocks.


In adjusting them I noticed that no two clocks had the same time.


One clock was adjusted 10 minutes ahead to insure that we get out the door on time. It makes me wonder if it really works or not.


One clock on the stove was several minutes off the real time.


One of the clocks will adjust itself later on.


My cell phone adjusts for the time change automatically.


And my computer will remind me tomorrow morning that the clock has re-set.


Recently we replaced the battery in a wall clock. For several days time stood still. Without a fresh battery the clock was worthless except for two times a day.


Walking around the house and adjusting clocks has reminded me that my life could easily be governed by time. I don't want to "punch the clock" and "watch the clock." I want to be fully present in each moment. I want to savor the moment rather than look for ways to quickly get through the minutes of the day.


The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes has it right...."there is a time for everything." I affirm again..."my times are in your hands."

Friday, October 31, 2008

S'Mores


Tonight our backyard was the destination of choice for over 140 children.

We did not do "trick or treat," rather we opened our backyard to the community and two big tractors brought hay wagon after hay wagon full of costumed parents and children.


A roaring fire + pre-packaged "s'more kits" = fun


I was surprised at how many children had never made s'mores. I was equally shocked by the number of parents that had never made them. It didn't take long for everybody to catch on.


I stood in amazement as people mingled with one another and enjoyed watching their children play together.


There were three lessons that I learned this evening.


Kids can eat a lot more candy than I thought. Glad they are going to their own home tonight.

S'Mores are more fun to make than any Wii game. Life's simple pleasures....aaaaah!

The Kingdom of God looks like a roaring fire with lots of friends gathered around.


I did not want everyone to go home...I wanted the evening to go on, but it is now quiet and I can still hear the giggles of kids licking their fingers.


The Kingdom of God is at hand!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reading


I am reading The Shaping of A Life by Phyllis Tickle.


She is a prolific author and has served as the Religion Editor for Publishers Weekly for years. She is a novelist, a religionist, and a pilgrim on the path to authentic spirituality.


She is also a keen observer of American church culture and has recently authored a book entitled, The Great Emergence. It is worth the time to journey through its 150 pages.


But for now I am journeying through the pages of The Shaping of A Life.


Maybe it is an "age & stage" thing. Maybe it is that I am tracking with her writings. Maybe it is because what she writes seems to explain some of the questions that I face.


I was reading along and ran across this statement.....


Reverence may be the road to the sacred

and wisdom may be the natural song of the spirit,

but story is the text of God

and the groundskeeper of prayer.


Reverence Road....to the sacred...I want to walk on that road. To often my road takes me through rambunctious alleys and byways. My prayer is that I will travel reverently toward the sacred.


Story....the text of God....I want my life story to reflect His story. To often my story takes precendence over what He wants to do. My prayer is that I will let my story go and fully embrace His.


EM Forster was right when he wrote....


We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned

so that we can have the life that is waiting for us.


As a pilgrim, I am learning to let go. I am learning to take His hand. Phyllis Tickle's writings are falling like fresh rain on parched ground.


All of this rain and dry ground is making lots of mud....and that's OK. Jesus did some pretty amazing things with mud.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Compassion


There's an old story of a bishop whose cathedral was about to be robbed by a motley crew of traveling bandits. Entering the church, they demanded to see the bishop who was cloistered in his study.


Upon seeing the robbers he was surprised when they demanded the "treasures of the church." He held up his hand and said, "I'll be right back."


The bishop went to the shelter and gathered up the poor.


He returned to the bandits surprise and announced, "these....these are the treasures of the church."


The thugs walked away empty handed.


In the community where I live there are pressing needs all around. The church where I serve is being inundated with calls asking for assistance in these depressed economic times.


Temptation lurks constantly to make judgments about the "less fortunate." We are tempted to look at them and make sweeping generalizations.


I am learning that there is a big difference between "compassion" and "charity."


I am learning that the old bishop was right when he stared down the bandits..."these....these are the treasures of the church."


The scripture takes on new meaning when Jesus said,


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Task


After several weeks away from blogging I am delighted to be back on line. Thanks for all who called and asked about Griots Corner. One person asked if the storyteller ran out of stories, and the answer is "no." I have been working on several other projects that I want to bring to life.


Recently I was looking through my writings and notes compiled over the last couple of years.


I found words written in my journal that I copied from a novel entitled, Chasing Francis.


The author is tracing the journey of a pastor who is searching for meaning and direction in his ministry with his congregation. In a penetrating moment, the pastor is reminded that "we have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way." p. 237


With a Presidential Election around the corner, I have been wrestling with whether or not the political process can usher in healing, unity and direction for people who are hurting and broken. My suspicion is that if this were a possibility, then it would be already happening.


I sense that healing, unity and direction will come from those who are a part of the Kingdom of God, from those who follow the King.


The people of God are uniquely qualified to address issues that have paralyzed governments. It will begin as each person who calls themselves a Christ-Follower realizes that they have been "called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way."


This is your friendly Griot, and "I approve this message."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Story


Eugene Peterson, wordsmith for The Message, has a brilliant way of shaping words. Often after I have read his writings, I muse, "why couldn't I have thought of that?"


Recently I was going through some old computer files....sorta of a trip down virtual memory lane and ran across this statement by Peterson.


We live in narrative, we live in story.
Existence has a story shape to it.
We have a beginning and an end,
we have a plot, we have characters."


That statement helps me to understand the complexities of life and it assures me that I have a part in the story.


I thought that I would make several observations and affirmations this afternoon. I just finished lunch and I am in that time of pensive reflection after a plate of ribs at one of my favorite restaurants....(lunch portion size)


Observation #1 It is exciting when you begin to see life as an unfolding story. It is even more rewarding when you realize that your existence is in the shape of a story.


Reflection....If this is true, and I think it is, then what happens in my life and the lives of those around me has a larger purpose. Sadly, what happens to me often obscures this purpose.


Observation #2 Everyone has a beginning and an ending. What happens between those two events really determines the shape of your story.


Reflection...If this is true, and I think it is, then my task is to make certain that all of life is a pursuit of meaning and purpose. To often we focus on our beginnings and miss the moments that erupt in our life daily. Sometimes we get focused on the end of life and give up when there are still many opportunities around us. I am discovering that "being full present in every moment" is a great way to live between the markers.


Observation #3 Plot and characters.....there are plenty of both. There is plenty of drama all around us. The reason is that we live with 'characters.'


Reflection...The shape of your story will change when you embrace the "plots" that arise in your life and welcome the "characters" inhabiting those plots.


How is the plot unfolding in your life?
What about the characters?
What's the story look like?


Enjoy the moments!