Sunday, November 22, 2009

Postcard Collection-Bear Band Vacation Show

Because, when life's a bear, you need to crank up some tunes....

The Disney Gallery
New Orleans Square-
Dave Feiten, 1984

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cedar Breaks Nat'l Monument

More pics from the road trip to Utah in July. Finally. These are from Cedar Breaks, a small national park outside of Cedar City.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Plea For Compassion

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."

“God pulled through,” I said.

“Really, God pulled through?” My friend John said, sarcastically. As if to further say, “Duh, of course God pulled through. Doesn’t He always?”

God doesn’t always ‘pull through’ in the way that we expect or hope for. To miss this fact is to miss the heart of a person in the midst of significant struggle. God did not save my marriage or heal my friend Erik of cancer. My brothers and sisters in North Korea are still martyred daily.

Well meaning Christ loving brothers and sisters often recount the story of Job with those going through a season of trial. They remind us that God restored Job, giving him seven sons and three daughters. They quote Isaiah 61 to the hurting brother, saying that God will bring ‘beauty from ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning.’ Yet we mustn't fail to recognize that Job initially lost his first children in a tornado. Acknowledging beauty from ashes means that something burned in the first place.

If we are to encourage people in their sufferings, we must be willing to meet with them on a heart level. This necessitates identifying the reality of the trial. God may not heal the marriage or allow the prisoner escape from his fetters. Remember that Jacob wrestled with God and was blessed, yet suffered a dislocated hip (to this day, the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh-Gen. 32:32).

Paul tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” The day of rejoicing will come. Until then, let us not discount the fires that were walked through along the way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Go Ahead, It'll Take the Edge Off

Hell. I was going to ride anyway.

Got home from work and popped open the browser. Didn't find the email I was hoping to find. Found one from an old friend instead.

"I am in major marital and financial crisis - divorce papers filed. I can tell you more details over the phone. Very concerned about---, as our child still needs his father in his life. ---has little or no family/friends to support him during this difficult and heart-renching time. Has he by any chance contacted you? If not, perhaps after we speak, you could try to reach out to him as he needs a stable and loyal friend right now. I feel his mental, emotional, and psychological state are very low, most likely even suicidal. Don't know where he is."

A dark, dismal, grey and windy day outside which, now, suited my mood just perfectly. I jumped on the bike and furiously road into the wind. Screaming at the wind, and the world, I roared, "Come on! Is this all you've got? A little wind? Come on! Come-On."

Last night at bible study, another friend shared that while he was at the courthouse fighting his divorce, he got a parking ticket. He said that formerly, he would have stewed about it for hours. He said at this point, he feels it's just another skirmish in the battle. He just says, "Bring it on!"

Screaming, and mashing on the pedals doesn't make for good speed or an even cadence, but it takes the edge off of a bad email---or a bad circumstance of any sort for that matter.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How My Being Republican Kills People

My being a Republican could kill people. How is it that something so important to me could be so deadly?

1) My identification with being a Republican mars my identity as a Christ follower.

To illustrate, let’s say I head over to my Dad’s house for Thanksgiving. Inevitably, I will be attacked for belonging to the same party as Sarah Palin, or George Bush. We’ll have a heated discussion about something that matters as much as the weather.

If I’m attacked, it should be because I follow Christ. I believe that without a heart changed by becoming a follower of Christ, there will be no real change in behaviour, hence no change in the social structure. Finally, failing to follow Christ results in spiritual death, and permanent separation from God.

2) I give credence to the idea that doing the right thing (being a conservative) makes you a good person.

Fact is, none of us are good people. None of us is perfect; all of us are deserving of Hell. Wearing a Republican lapel pin doesn’t make you any nicer person than belonging to the socialist party or the democrat party. Here’s the strange thing-If you are a follower of Christ, your political affiliation, ultimately, doesn’t matter. You are still fully God-approved, and a citizen of Heaven. (Granted, I’ll fight you tooth and nail regarding the earthly difference it makes).

3) My energy is focused on things that lead away from God.

The book of James says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Though my energies as a Republican are much toward this end, still I wonder how much more I could focus on learning about God, and helping orphans, widows and the poor in their distress.

I imagine my wrestling with this issue will be similar to the illustration Luther gives of the Christian balancing grace and law; like a drunk man riding a horse, you tend to always fall to one side or the other.