Archive for the 'Personal Musings' Category

32 Years

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

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Thirty-two years ago this evening, Patty and I tied the the knot at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL.

It’s been a great ride! Never in my wildest imagination did I ever presume God would give me a life-time companion of such grace, inner beauty and elegance. It has been an enormous privilege to enjoy 32 years of her presence.

In recent years, she’s weathered severe illness and limitations that neither of us would have anticipated. While it has not been the script we would have written or chosen, it’s obviously been the script divinely and uniquely designed for us. We would wish these events on no one but regret none of them in what they have taught us about ourselves, each other, and the all-sufficiency of God.

Through it all, Patty has grown deep in a relationship with Jesus that is marked by a contemplative even mystical life of prayer and a ministry of inner/emotional healing for those wounded in soul and spirit. God flows through her with gifts of mercy and compassion that are uniquely coupled with strong leadership skills and a heart for loving and mentoring younger women.

Because of what we’ve been through, we consider each day a gift. With more of life behind us than lies ahead, we are committed to making the most of the future and most excitedly, doing it together, much more in love than when we said “I do” 32 years ago.

From a Hospital in Denver

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

Patty At Torrey Pines

We have been in Denver for Patty’s regular check-up and evaluation at the National Jewish Medical Center.

Four years ago, Patty was diagnosed with a lung disease called MAI (Mycobacteium Avian Intercellulare) and we go to National Jewish because it’s the leading respiratory hospital in the nation with doctors who specialize in this type of infectious disease. This bacteria is a cousin to TB and especially difficult to treat. Three years ago, Patty had a lobe of her left lung surgically removed and she’s been through several years of grueling regimes of multiple, potent antibiotics.

This visit was encouraging. Her lungs appear stable and no further indication of damage was seen on the CAT scan nor indication of the MAI in cultures. While no doc will ever use the world “cure” for this disease in women, this visit was probably the best check-up we’ve had.

TIME magazine ran an article several years ago on this bug. One of the physicians referred to in the article—Gwen Huitt—is Patty’s doc. We are immensely grateful for the professionalism and the quality of care we’ve received at National Jewish.

Compared to where she was three years ago, this is a remarkable recovery for Patty. While it has been slow and arduous, she’s about 80% back and functional. We are both grateful. In many respects we believe that God has graciously given us our lives back to a degree that we had not anticipated possible three years ago.

This experience has also given us a whole new perspective on people with disabilities and physical suffering. And the implications for our understanding of God, his presence and purposes in our lives have been profound. While we wouldn’t wish this affliction on anyone, we wouldn’t trade the lessons learned.

Logo Link to TIME magazine article on MAI

Isaiah 6

Friday, July 7th, 2006

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I had the privilege of speaking the opening night of the CRM Conference.

As I had prayed and thought for months in advance about the content of this important evening, what evolved was an illustration from my own life of what it means to be a “sent one” in an apostolic, missionary vocation. Hence, this message from Isaiah 6:1-8.

It can be downloaded as an MP3 file.

Sustaining Dynamic Community

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

Horizonta[2]

We arrived today at Westmont College for CRM’s World Wide Conference in Santa Barbara, CA. This unique, every-four-year event brings together all of those serving with CRM around the world and their families for five days. Close to 700 people will participate.

So why are we doing this? Why go to all this effort and expense?

In May of 1997, during a discussion prior to the first such event in Hungary, those of us in CRM leadership were wrestling with this very issue. John Hayes (who leads InnerCHANGE, CRM’s order among the poor) eloquently articulated (as only John Hayes can) the importance of such a gathering and why InnerCHANGE staff – who probably have the least amount of money available to apply toward such an event – were committed to attend.

I was so impressed by his arguments, that I asked him to put those words into writing. What resulted is a timeless explanation of why getting people together like this is an essential in an apostolic movement such as CRM. John’s words today are as timely as when they were written almost a decade ago when he said:

“Years ago, I ransacked the gospels for practical insights into sustaining dynamic community over the long haul since that was important for InnerCHANGE (and CRM as our larger apostolic community) if we were to survive in our ministry.

In the short term, I sensed community would come naturally and easily. . . as we were all pioneers thrown excitedly together in some difficult, challenging contexts. But I was concerned that we would fall prey to the deterioration of relationships that seems to mark so many movements or organizations with the passage of time.

Luke 4:24, in which Christ references the proverb, “A prophet is without honor in his home town” seemed to speak a warning to our hope of maintaining a close, relational atmosphere for the long haul. What we wanted was more than “team,” more than “organization,” it was family. (more…)

My Genes!

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Spotlighting the Best of Local Music: Bodies of Water

by Evan George
(Review appeared in the Los Angeles Alternative, June 2, 2006)

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The best time to get into a band is, generally, not when you’re famished on a street corner waiting for a man named José to finish baking the extra large pizza that a dozen stoned college kids have sent you out to fetch for a birthday party. Which may be the reason that the first time I heard Bodies of Water diligently bashing out some earnest four-part harmonies from their garage—which happened to be not a hundred feet away from the pizza parlor that I was sitting in front of—I muttered the kind of things under my breath that only a man intent on eating deep fried eggplant would mutter.

Since that day nearly two years ago, the L.A. transplants that make up this gospel-pop four piece have honed their vocal chops, their hand-wringing melodies and their spunky instrumental acrobatics, but more importantly, I am no longer waiting for José’s pizza. I am ready to receive their message of “Love All.”

According to the band itself, three of the four members had no experience on their chosen instruments at all and all four were acquaintances through various degrees of luck and happenstance. David (guitar/vocals) and Meredith (keyboard/vocals) had been writing songs in the comfort of their own home for a while when they decided they’d like to perform them for an audience bigger than a street corner pizza joint crowd. Meredith knew Kyle (bass) from high school where he played the violin quite competently. And their recent friend Jessie said she’d love to try playing drums… for the first time ever.

Their simple beginnings as a band stay with them today. Bodies of Water prides itself on being as natural in its aesthetic and sound as its name portrays. Songs of joy, songs of pain, but mostly just good old fashioned testimonial songwriting. And if there’s a religiosity to the band’s songs it seems to be more than just the trappings of a bunch of indie rock kids trying to play gospel. When they say that a divine hand moves us in ways we can’t understand, it ain’t ironic. And when they squeal together in upward spiraling melody mountains, it sounds like truth seeking, not posturing.

The Highland Park foursome have released an E.P. to little fanfare but are in the process of recording a full-length that will be released later this year. In the meantime they’re playing more than a few shows that—even if not technically—will land them on a street corner near you.

In Praise of Cool Docs …Who Make House Calls!

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

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Tim Schmidt, came to see my daughter today as she is recuperating from a week in the hospital.

He is a very cool doc and deserving of praise. And not just because he came to see Christine.

Tim has served on the CRM Board for over a decade and has done a couple of terms as chair. He’s also affectionately known as “Compudoc” to hundreds of CRM staff serving throughout the world. An excellent physician, he is always available to them on email and accessible 24-7 if there’s an emergency. He’s been a virtual godsend for everything from life-thretening illnesses to pre-natal exams and spider bites.

He’s also very much in the know about things missional and astute as they come in understanding the type of ministry to which God has called CRM. Couple that with a deep, abiding and mature walk with Jesus and we’ve got a package for whom all of us are grateful.

Home from the Hospital

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

We brought Christine home form the hospital today.

We got a call this evening with the definitive diagnosis …an acute attack of Epstein Baar virus (infectious mononucleosis) aggravated by a bacterial infection. Quite a cocktail. We are relieved that it is nothing more serious in the long haul and are glad to have her under our roof as she begins what will be a gradual recovery.

We’re appreciative for the many who prayed. We began the week with considerable anxiety. But as I wrote to CRM folks in an email on Tuesday: “It seems obvious that folks have been praying. There is a settledness that has rested on us, and even in the hospital room, that was not there yesterday. We’re grateful.”

Christine

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Christine

As I write, I am in a hospital room in Pasadena, California where our daughter, Christine has been admitted for a severe infection, the source of which is puzzling the docs. There is apparently something going on with her that has them stumped, according to the CAT scan and other tests, and we are awaiting an array of consultations today with specialists.

Of course, anytime a parent hears the team “oncologist” or “surgeon,” your knees get a little weak and the inevitable knot begins to form in your stomach. That’s what yesterday felt like.

But when I had a chance to walk and pray, God brought to mind again a decision we made when Christy was less than a year old. It was when we had her “dedicated to the Lord.” In some traditions, it carries similar meaning to the baptism of a infant (as it was with our oldest, David). From God she came. And to God, we entrust her.

She is 23 now. But when she was 2, we almost lost her to a severe allergic reaction. And back then, when words failed, God brought the same event of consecration to mind and reminded me “I thought you gave her to me. My care for her exceeds yours.”

We wait today for more information from tests and the doctors’ evaluations.

Three Anglicans

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

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In the early years of my spiritual growth, there were two Anglicans that God used to make a rich contribution to my development. First was John Stott, (left above) rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. In that generation, no one could rival him for his clear, articulate, and gracious exposition of the bible applied to the pressing issues of the era. John Stott represented everything that was the best in the Anglican tradition. His writings did much to shape and form my convictions as a young follower of Jesus and the several times I was privileged to hear him speak were highlights.

David Watson (above middle) was his charismatic contemporary and the rector of St. Michael-le-Belfrey in York. I had the privilege of studying under him during my doctoral studies at Fuller Seminary in the early 80s. He was an Anglican and a charismatic which, at the time, was an oxymoron to me. I had a tough time putting the two together. Exposure to David Watson did much to open me to the reality and power of the Holy Spirit.

And now in this decade, I am growing to appreciate the writings of N.T. Wright, prolific New Testament scholar and the present Bishop of Durham. As the Church struggles to navigate the transition from modernity to postmodernity, I suspect N.T. Wright may make an immeasurable contribution in keeping us grounded in historic biblical orthodoxy yet engaged with our culture as effective ambassadors of the living Christ.

Influences like these could almost persuade to become an Anglican.

Formal Education and Leadership

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Education

“The most extensive, pervasive strategic error in the Christian tradition lies squarely in our coveted and generously supported, but unquestioned, concept of years of “schooling” as the way for leaders to develop and be trained ….In this country and abroad, every church movement which has come to depend solely upon residential school products for its ministry is dying.” – Ralph Winter in “Mission Frontiers”, March-April 2003

The fact is, information rarely transforms lives. Relationships do.

While accurate information about God is certainly necessary, it’s relating to God in a deep and personal way that actually produces substantive change. And if I want to see genuine transformation in the lives of others, it’s most effective through the power of a relationship, not through the passing on of facts or concepts regardless of how true they may be.

Truth becomes most powerful when it is embodied in a person and made manifest in a relationship. It’s called the incarnation.

Why a blog?

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Why a blog?

I’m not an outstanding speaker. There are many who have real gifts in public rhetoric: Tony Campolo is astonishingly capable; John Stott (in my parent’s generation) is one of the best of an era when it comes to biblical exposition; and John Piper has studied and emulated the great preachers and combines solid theological insight with superb rhetorical ability. The list could go on.

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But that’s not me. I’ll probably never be on the public speaking circuit and such public notoriety and visibility is not what I have ever aspired to. When I do speak, it is usually “one-night-stands.” My prophetic edge is not exactly endearing and few find me entertaining or humorous. I’m not a popular repeat performer for institutionalized American Christianity. So I’m rarely asked back.

However, part of God’s clear calling on my life is “to challenge the Church to holistic obedience and giving of our sons and daughters to a missional life.” That’s what I do in the warp and woof of daily life and relationships. And through a blog, I hope to utilize the pen (or actually the keyboard) to stimulate, influence and perhaps provoke on a broader level.

So welcome to Under the Iceberg where one discovers that reality is rarely as it seems on the surface.