Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It’s 4:30 p.m. in Rome so Abbie and the others doing the George Fox University Juniors Abroad Rome to Paris trip have been on the ground for half an hour. The size of the world will have changed by the time Abbie steps off the plane back at PDX in three weeks. The exposure to history will have stretched the world across time. Different languages, foods, and customs will help erode American assumptions and arrogance. She will have a new realization that while she is a resident of Newberg, Oregon, she is also a global resident with neighbors who speak a different language and who do not march to the beat of an American drum.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The passage from the Bible for today is the first chapter of Daniel. A minute ago the pastor was talking about verse two. It tells about things from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem being taken to Babylonia and put into the temple for their gods. This example of things lost in captivity has me thinking now about the movie Things We Lost in the Fire. Things lost in national conquest or in a garage fire are “things” and Daniel models the truth that values, character, convictions, and relationships have greater substance than things.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I was at an event yesterday that had a printed program. It was a hooding ceremony for people receiving a master’s degree in counseling and the items on the schedule were things like processional, invocation, special music, hooding, awards, and benediction. I don’t understand why the music gets an adjective when none of the others do. The music was good but I thought the prayer at the end was more special.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mention in the paper this morning that Pennsylvania has a comparative large percentage of people over 65 got me thinking about age and voting. I’ve ended up with the notion that it is good to think of the next generation when voting. What a president does lives long after the term of office. Perhaps an appropriate question is: “Were your grandchildren better off eight years ago?”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The title of the message is one of the first things I look for in the handout we get at the door. Today it is the Holy Spirit and I instantly wonder if the pastor has read It’s a Dance and whether he might reference the book. And now I’m asking myself if this thought is self serving because of my role in the publication of that book. Am I motivated by ego or mission? I’m putting the two on opposite sides of my mental balance scale. Neither one is light and I can’t see which way the scale is tipping.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Monday I had lunch with an out-of-town friend who has been doing some thinking and writing about the hard places in life. Where is God when everything is going wrong? Who should we blame when life is all messed up—God, ourselves, both, neither? Where is the path out of the dark night?

He doesn’t buy into the old theory that when bad things happen to you it’s a good indication of hidden, unconfused sin in your life. I don’t either.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Right now I’m building a little bridge between last Sunday and today. A week ago the topic for the message was atonement. Last night I saw for the first time the movie with that same name. It reminded me that we can make some bad mistakes and not get a “do over.” My little bridge that connects to this week’s message about poverty is that as a nation we can never atone (or get a do over) for our sins against the poor that are often well concealed, but came to light for a time with Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If I had been born female, where would I be today? This question crossed my mind last night out of some reminder of the issue of gender equity. It’s an uncomfortable thought and I don’t like my answers. For one thing I don’t think I would be the publisher at Barclay Press.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

At 7:05 one person was already waiting for the school bus where our loop meets the road on the north side of this group of homes. She lives about five houses down from us. I think she is still in grade school, but moving quickly toward middle school. We wave at each other. A few drops of rain are hitting my windshield. A little rain is nothing compared to what she has already faced. We don’t all know each other within our neighborhood, but we do enjoy a high level of care for one another.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Atonement is the topic today and it has me thinking about intimacy. God desires intimacy. That relationship was first broken in the Garden of Eden and it’s never been the same. God’s done a lot of repair and reconstruction work, but we’re pretty hard to fix.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The April issue of Christianity Today has an article titled, “How to Save the Christian Bookstore.” Any thought that rumors of the Christian bookstore’s demise may be exaggerated doesn’t resonate with me.

1. Small independent stores are in trouble whether they sell books that are targeted for Christians or they sell widgets. The ubiquitous trend toward consolidation is hard to ignore.

2. Are people reading more or less? Studies done by the National Endowment for the Arts aren’t exactly encouraging for booksellers.

3. Has the internet reached the peak of its impact on brick and mortar stores? Not a chance.

4. Maybe it would be better to have bookstores operated by Christians instead of Christian bookstores. Although I use the term Christian bookstore, I’m not fond of it. I like the word Christian a lot better when it’s a noun than when it’s an adjective.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I like order (even though you would not guess it to see my desk). I like answers that make sense.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

That’s a question that came up again yesterday. Randomness is the answer that works for me. Not everything is as logical, as controllable, or predictable as we want.

God created the universe and, it seems to me, he turned over the physical aspects of his creation to the created. This hands-off policy means that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and we don’t get to put God into some elaborate cause and effect equation.