Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas huh

Working retail this year. Never had done the retail industry before. Done the fast food nation. Done the church business, but retail that is another beast. I have found myself unmotivated about Christmas and I think it is working retail. I asked my coworkers if they felt that way and we surmised it was the store. We like work, but retail sucks the spirt of Christmas out. Part of the retail engine is that it paints the picture that world walks into of Christmas lights and specials. Muzak blaring in the store. As Old Navy says this is the season to "Get the Fash ON" I guess that is right. I am not sure.

After this experience of retail life, I empathize greatly with folks in retail who suffer to paint the illusion of Christmas that is really fake. Mid January the Christmas stuff will be put away or thrown away. The associates and clerks will breathe deeply as January will bring slower sales. So, I am not experience the awe and wonder of Advent and Christmas this year and for that I am joyful. I now understand a segment of the population that struggles with it.

In my previous days as a pastor, I saw retail as the bane of Christmas. It was the source of materialism and now I see how the employees are effected as well. I am one of them.

Fearless Joy,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Red One

These are the folks who spent the last half year running with me.
Great folks who taught me a great deal about grace and joy.

Oprah goes down 4:28

Oprah goes down.
Laura and I finishing the marathon before the rain settles in.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Race Week

It is race Sunday before the marathon. I have spent the last few months training for the White Rock Marathon It is a hometown marathon and I have set five goals. I have set them in order of importance.

A.) Have a great time and keep the joy of marathoning.

B.) Beat Oprah 4:28, I believe

C.) Beat Guido 4:40:59

D.) Help Courtney who has been running with me across the finish line.

E.) Five Hours

I may not meet my time goals, but I need to make sure that I keep my joy goals. It is race week and I feel pretty calm about this race. Very calm, not very anxious at all. See how I am doing on Thursday.
Fearless Joy,

New Church

I heard a sermon last week from Keith Stewart at SpringCreek Community Church It talked about consumerism and our desire to want new things. The sermon really touched my heart, because it forced me to realize at this moment in my process, I do not have a heart for people that I need to serve in this area. My heart is not fully into the new church process at this moment. I think my motivation is somewhat selfish. So, I need to wait.

Fearless Joy,

Friday, November 03, 2006

November 3, 2006

Isaiah 55:6-11

Seek the Lord while he may be found.
There are moments in my ministry when I have had the opportunity to do some new ministry. There was a moment that I could pursue it or let it go. When I did not pursue it, it went away.

I wonder if the call to ministry is that way. Called to ministry, but do not respond to the call…it fades. Is this what God is saying. This is the moment to follow the call? How do we have patience but have a sense of urgency? This is the mature point of faith and I pray for wisdom to know, to feel in my gut, in my bowels the call of the Lord.

Last night, I talked with Val and he had signs from God to start a church. I am not so huge on signs. They are true for Val. I believe God spoke to him through those. That is his faith. My faith is different. It does not demand signs, it relies upon nudges and whispers and the feeling in the pit o fmy stomach. That feeling, “I am being true to the gospel at this moment.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

November 2, 2006

Proverbs 22:17-21
“Apply your mind to my teaching:
For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.”

As a planter, I must be able not only to have the words within my mind, but the words and convictions must live in my guts, my bowels in Hebrew language, the center of my being. There will be time when my head will spin, my heart will grow cold, but in the very seat of my being I must have the faith and confidence that God is calling me, yes me, to this mission of being a church planter.

I am not there yet. It is not rooted in my gut. It is in my head.

fearless joy,

November 1, 2006

Isaiah 6:1-6

“Holy, Holy, the earth is filled with his glory.”

A reminder that the whole earth is God’s. It is in need of reclaiming.
"this place is part of the Kingdom of God."
Also, God is the one who take away my sin and make me useful.
It is God who makes me ready for ministry.
Trust that.
When God calls, I will go.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

new beginnings

In July, I resigned from my position as pastor for various reasons. Primarily, my vision of church did not mesh with the church I was serving. I could work at imposing my vision, but was that healthy? I took a step back and let go. For my own health and the health of the congregation. It happens at times when pastors are called for their strengths to complement the weaknesses of the congregation. However, the strenghts of the congregation are sometimes the weakness of the minister. At times, those strengths and weaknesses are so central to belief and call that to capitulate is not possible. Both are good, but together are bad. It is like lemon juice is good. Milk is good. They suck together.

In the interim, I left the church without a position to move into. So, what do I do.

I told myself that I would have to get a job, but I was scared to get a full time job. I would want to make a commitment to stay in a place for awhile before moving on. My wife and I talked about me doing some CPE work and so in September I applied for a CPE position. CPE is clinical pastoral education. It is a process of learning predominantly in hospitals where a person works on pastoral skills and pastoral identity. I thought that I needed to do both. So, I am doing an extended unit of CPE.

I find CPE pretty neat experience and environment. There is a structure to chaplaincy and also a sense of freshness. I do not know if I want to be a chaplain, but I am searching that part out of my call. It is about 12 hours a week. So, I get to hang out with dead bodies at times and people who are going through trauma. It is interesting work.

So, I have filled my other time with a retail job. I needed something that simpler and had some structure to it. I started tonight at the store. It is a clothing store and I enjoyed the work. Made my first sale tonight, woohoo.

In a way, I am excited about these two developments of my life. It means that I have worth and to be honest I was not sure if anything I did was worthwhile. However, I notice I do have some good skills working with people and perhaps that is what God is calling this time. A time of healing, purification, and perhaps this is my own little diaspora.

God is faithful, so I will continue to trust.

Fearless Joy,

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Barber Dan

POOL, DAN A., Of Garland passed away May 24, 2006. Mr. Pool, aka "Barber Dan" was Owner/Operator of Spring Creek Barbers in Garland. He is survived by his wife, Gretchen Duersch; mother, Ferne Pool and brother, David Pool & family all of Emporia, KS; sister, Elaine Wilson & family of The Colony, TX. A Memorial Service will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday June 4, 2006 at Spring Creek Barbers, 3848 N. Garland Ave. Suite 400, Garland, TX. Memorial contributions may be made to charity of choice.

During the summer, I have been having to go Supercuts or Sportsclip to get my haircut, because the barber shop closed. 'Barber Dan' was my barber and I realized a few years ago, I love the four barber chairs lined up, the row of chairs on the other side, rattlesnake hide on the wall, and the right wing cartoons on the coke machine. Did not always agree with any of it, but it was a place to be a man. Not that women with children were not welcome, but they came because they had boys who needed a haircut.

Barber Dan did a good job on my hair, was kind and friendly had good stories and was kind. This summer his van was gone and there was nothing on the door about what to do. Just a note to go to another barber shop. We were without a barber and all of his stuff was gone. I thought he may have had a problem with his hip. Dan had a hip replacement in the early spring, but it was not successful. So, I told him that he needed to get that taken care of. He was not doing well. I almost called his house during the summer to see how he was doing.

Today, I took my son to Kool Kuts/Cool Cuts something that is full of video games and stuffed with kids. The wait was going to be an hour to get his hair cut and I was not going to wait that long. I am impatient as my one year old who was in my arms. So, we went to the barber shop to see if anybody was there. Barber Glen was there and he shared that he told the kids that Barber Dan had gone to heaven. I was a bit shocked.

Then I went home and checked the obits online. There it was.

I lamented to my wife that I had lost my barber and that was traumatic. I did not realize that I had lost a friend and a part of our family. Dan was a blessing and I thank God for him. I mourn his loss and I have to share with my son that Barber Dan has died.

Fearless Joy,

Monday, September 11, 2006


Part of today will be moments of somberness and extreme sobriety.
We will be told to remember and never to forget.
Hold this tension of not wanting to Toby Keith and put a boot in the butt of everybody, part of me wants to remember 9/11 as it was a day the world changed, and part of me wants to forget because it hurt.

I recall when the first plane hit the tower. I was watching CNBC and they broke to World Trade Center and there it was smoking. I thought to myself, "Must have been an oblivious Cesna or something that ran into the tower." I turned off the TV and got my son ready to go to Ms. Becky's house and was listening to Sports Talk Radio and the weather guy was on for his segment and he told Jason Whitlock, "Sort of just matter of factly in shock, another plane hit the tower." I quickly went back to the TV to see what had happened and the video showed a jetliner crashing into the tower. My eyes widened and I felt the cool air on my dry eyes then I squinted. That was no accident, it was on purpose.

I drove my son to Ms. Becky's listening to the radio. The news guys and gals were working with facts and I could tell they were shook up. I got to Ms. Becky's and I asked her, "You heard what happened?" She said some other mothers were talking about it when they came in. I let Samuel go and she picked him up and held him pretty close.

I went to work at the church and I had the radio on, tuned into the internet, and the TV with no cable was giving me some fuzzy pictures. I remember hearing about Washington DC and I was scouring the internet for anything about the Flight 93. It was unconfirmed at the time and I was told it was near Pittsburgh, but there was a crash.

I called Amy to ask about her sister who was flying out that day of LaGuardia. She got word back that she was alright. Then I had this feeling that every city was going to be hit. The Sears Tower, the Arch in St. Louis, L.A.. All day planes were going to be flying into buildings. I felt that vunerable.

I heard on the radio as Peter Jennings shared with us all that first tower had fell and I could hear the grief in his voice. I turned the TV on and watched the replay of the fall and waited for the next one to fall. I had hoped and prayed that somehow a miracle would happen and the second one would stay up. It did not and when it fell, I turned off the TV and sat in my office for a few moments and went home to watch the TV on cable. There was not going to be any work done.

My wife was working at home and I talked with her. I asked if anybody was at the office. About 2:00 PM, I quit watching, all plane flights had been cancelled there was no more danger. The towers were down, the Pentagon was under control. I went for a run and it was a beautiful fall day in Kansas City. I ran and it was the most normal thing I could do. To see that life was still continuing.

I was supposed to have an interview with a church that night. I called the search committee chair and asked him, "Do you want to do this interview tonight?"
He responded, "I don't see why not?"
It was the worst interview ever. There was no energy on my side of the phone and none on theirs. We all were thinking of something else.

I picked up my son that afternoon and there was a line of 30 to 40 cars at the cash station blocking the road. There was this tremendous fear that we would be out of gasoline. I just said, "What idiots." That was the irrationality of the day.

I recall that sports talk radio went off the air for three days. The world stopped on Wednesday and normalcy started returning Thursday and Friday. I just remember afterwards, conversations being about that day, dinner parties and such. That weekend, we had a company dinner and some of the folks were not there because they were still not able to leave where they were at.

I recall wanting to join the State Department to help out. I thought about the Army, but I had a son. I just recall that I felt more American. I could not find out how do that without being reactionary.

To be honest these reflections are not that spectacular, but just an ordinary person's remembrances.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Running and age

The last three races I have run, I have placed.
The funny thing is that two of those races, have been my slowest times.
The competition is scarce.
I told Amy that i was really concerned about my speed. "Am I slowing down with age that much?"

This morning I got up early and did my 2.8 course that has been my standard for testing myself. I got up and hit the road hard this morning and completed the course in my second fastest time. Of course that is a minute off of my fastest time, but it is my second fastest time. I was proud of myself and decided there was still some hope for my legs.

So, I have placed and medaled in the last three races. That is cool, because I busted my hump in some other races and got nothing. That is why running is joyful and frustrating. But that is the good thing. I go home with a medal and I feel good. If I run a good time, my best time, then I say, "Wow, look at what i have done?" It works both ways.

I am off to sleep, so I can run in the morning.

Fearless Joy,

Thursday, August 24, 2006

essentials and non essentials

Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote: "In essentials, unity; in non essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." This is my tribe of the church's motto, slogan, credo.

As I was reading Velvet Elvis last night something struck me. Rob Bell talks about that notion of God for Moses was that Yahweh was extremely different from other gods. Yahweh was unseen. There were no graven images of Yahweh, because he was without form. I think Rob is going somewhere else, but those words provoked something in my mind.

I began thinking about "What is essential in my own practice of worship?"

As Disciples we have a few things that we hold as sacred, but are they truly essential or just sacred cows that keep the faithful or the want to be faithful from a deeper spirituality.

Is a cross essential in the sanctuary?
Is an American flag flanked by a Christian flag?
Is a candle?
Is a robe?
Is the lectionary?
Is the hymnal?
Is the table and communion?
Is Baptism?

As I begin to say, "No." I know I am bordering on heresy, but alright Campbell and Stone were heretics. However, only those who are close minded fundamentalists who don't allow a discussion to begin. At least that was what I was taught in seminary. You can be a liberal mainline fundamentalist as much as a hard core fundamentalist. Both are lifeless faiths who depend more upon orthopraxis and orthodoxy than the beautiful mystery of faith. Yeah, I mean to be a little belligerent, but perhaps I see a church that is sinking and is rearranging the chairs on the deck to solve the problem. Bail or swim!!!

As I come to understand my faith, here are the essentials.

Jesus Christ
The Bible
The doctrine of grace
Christian Hope
God's hand in creation

That is basically it. I am not sure there is much more. Putting my faith in a crucible, this is where I cannot waiver.

What are your essentials?
Do you agree or disagree with this list?

fearless joy,

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Floyd news

Floyd Landis' father-in-law committed suicide yesterday Really sad news. It is a reminder that sport is sport and life is life. Life is more precious than sport.

fearless joy,

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Processing through Floyd

Today, I finally could put together what I thought about Floyd Landis' situation with steroids. I have thought for the last couple of weeks that he was guilty. I suspected earlier, but I hoped I was wrong.

I am disappointed and feel cheated. During the awards ceremony, I stood a mile away from the podium. However, they blasted the ceremony down the Champs-Elleyes. They began playing the national anthem and I remember hearing the murmuring of other Americans quietly mumble singing the National Anthem. It was the first time that I had been outside the United States and heard the National Anthem. I had a better understanding that I was American. There was a sense of pride that the US had won 8 straight Tours. Had won 11 out of the 20. We are the most dominant country in the Tour. Then all the jibes from the others were made correct.

Floyd had cheated and all that is wrong with America, he made evident. People who lie, cheat and cut corners. Whole team was probably cheating, but Landis was so dumb that he did not have his masking agent that day.

Do I wish he would have not got caught and still cheat. No, I think it is good for him to get caught cheating. He was. He is acting like some high school kid changing stories constantly. Sorry Floyd, but I think you cheated.

Man that hurts to say.

Fearless Joy.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fishing with my son

When I was a kid, I never caught a fish. I went with my grandfather every year to fish for trout but I never caught a fish. I was not patient enough.

So, my son wanted to go fishing. He loves fishing. We have a fishing game on PS2. I took him to a trout farm so that he could have the joy of catching fish and I could shell out a few dollars to make it more conveinent for me. The response from Samuel was, "Wow that easy, I am a good fisherman." My response was "You have no idea about real fishing, boy."

Yesterday, I told my son that "We will go fishing tomorrow." This morning, we got up and headed out the door around 7:15 to go to a neighborhood pond. My goal was that we could catch some carp. Not to eat, but just to enjoy catching them. So, I put some bread on his hook and he tossed the line out. Within seconds the boy was hollerin' "I got a fish dad." He was reeling the fish in and out on the bank was a 3lb catfish. A nice fish. I take the hook out and we throw the fish back in.

Next cast and there is a wiggle off the bobber. Then it goes under. He pulls in a smaller carp.

Two casts and two fish. This whole idea of real fishing was gone. He says, "I got some fish Dad and you did not."

Thanks Kid!

A funny day and I chuckled that God was not going to make life any easier. I will be fishing more often, because he caught them quickly. Interesting thing was that he took it seriously, got very still after that watching the line. A good morning for a beautiful kid.

Fearless Joy,

Friday, July 28, 2006

culture camp

My son and I are attending culture camp in Tulsa. It is an opportunity for families to gather to celebrate the joys of adoptions and also navigate the difficulties. It is awesome to be in a room of 200 Korean kids adopted. In this room they run, jump and celebrate each other. I am not sure how they process their uniqueness as a group, but they do in some child like way. I hear stories from parents, my son or daughter looks forward to this week all year long.

As a parent, it reminds me that my family is different. It reminds me that my family is special, unique and tremendously blessed. We are a Korean-American family. I try all year long to be the same and fit in with American culture. However, we are a thread that makes the tapestry of America beautiful.

I think God for this week and I am blessed to be part of this group. Especially the beauty of these wonderful families.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The longest birthday

July 24th began for me waking up at 6:00 AM in Paris to get a shower and finish the last details of packing as we headed home. But the story begins in May.
Amy booked me on her flight to Paris, but did not buy the ticket. She just did not pull the trigger. She was waiting as she sometimes does when she purchases tickets. The hold lapsed and the ticket price went up 2 grand. So, I could fly on her flight if I wanted to spend 3000 dollars. She was going to be sitting in Business class and I in stowage/class. I told her that she should sit up front, she would be more comfortable. She felt guilty, but I told her. I want you to do sit up there.

Well when the ticket lapsed, she had to have me connect. So, I connected through Boston on a separate plane from my wife on my birthday. We arrived early for our flight, but Amy got us into the Admiral's club where we could COLD Diet Coke, water, and wine for free. Also, we could use our laptops since there were plugs on the walls.

Well, Amy's plane left first and I had time to wait. So, I put in Braveheart and watched the Director's commentary with Mel Gibson, never did that. So I had time.

TIme came for me to board, so I went up to my gate. I boarded and used my cool headphones that have better sound than the worthless earbuds of American Airlines. Flight came and went, I was awake the whole time. Arrived in Boston and left Boston.

The gist of this longest day. Somewhere over Kentucky, I looked up in my extreme tiredness and thought, "Guido, what a great day. YOu have watched Braveheart, guilt free. You have finished two books, guilt free. You have been to Paris. You have two great sons. You have such a relationship with your wife that you can send her alone across the world and both of you can have a sense of no guilt about that decision. Your relationship has a sense of pragmatism in its romanticism. Who cares that your meals for the day have included plane food and a dry tortilla wrap in the Boston airport. Your life is good."

The second longest day of my life was about gratitude and I turned a year older. If this is what growing up is about, then I gratefully welcome it.

fearless joy,

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The French

Interesting place, France. It was the wealthiest and greatest country in all of Europe. Before the 18th century, it was more poplulated and wealthier than any country. Ending World War I, it was the most dominant country in the world, but it had no resources to make it stick.

It was the center of philosophy, with Aquinas and Voltaire. It was the center of wealth with French Nobility. It was the center of Art with Monet, Manet, Picasso, and others coming here.

Funny thing to remember from history is that French Revolution was a reaction to the nobility that was corrupt. The revolution brough Guillotines and Napoleon. Neither were much for democracy. Unlike the American revolution which was a move to democracy that worked, the French revolution stalled and started. It reminded me that democracy is a hard task for people who do not know how to be free. Imagine Iraq and the countries where democracy is just trying to be learned. Perhaps, America is the anomaly and France is the standard. Perhaps, we cannot expect everybody to figure it out without a few failures. It took a generation in France to understand it. So Putin...might be Russia's Bonaparte.

Just an interesting thought as I walked through Musee Carnavalet, the history of Paris.

Fearless Joy,

The ancien regime

Louis IVX, the great Sun King of France thought highly of himself. He put his statue above the bust of Caesar. Louis had a chapel in Versailles. The nobles turned to worship him as he sat on the balcony worshipping God. That is the Divine Right of Kings on steroids. It also gives some reason why France went into Revolution.

Amy in Paris

Amy on top of the Arche d' Triomphe.

A mennonite in Paris

Flody Landis, the anti Armstrong, is going to be in Yellow tomorrow as he heads up to the Arch de Triomphe and down to the Plais de Concorde. I will be on the old Champs Elleyses watching him.

Fearless Joy,

Friday, June 30, 2006


Yesterday, my son taught me about trusting with a cookie.

For lunch, I got a bagel and the combo on the bagel was a drink and cookie for a couple of bucks more. I wanted a drink and I thought I would give my son a cookie for after school.

The cookie was beside me, so I snitched a piece after I finished my bagel sandwich. When I picked him up, I decided that I as preist of the house, I would take my tithe, so I snitched a piece.

My son requested as we drove home, that I look forward and put my hand in the back seat. I did. He placed a cookie a piece of cookie in my hand. He gave me what I wanted. He then finished all he wanted of the cookie and gave me a bite left in the bag.

My son would have taken care of my desires if I would have trusted him. As I sat in the driver's seat, I felt like I was the child and he was the parent. That kid reversed the roles quickly on his pops.

I began thinking about this level of trust in my relationship with Jesus. How much do I trust Jesus to fill my needs and even my desires. How much trust is there? It is a growing edge for me and perhaps, I will no I am further up the road when I had a full cookie to my son next time.

Fearless Joy,

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A month later here is a picture from Nathan's birthday. He was sick on his birthday and we had to delay the party until Memorial Day.

In the Tol, he chose a rice cake which means wealth and a book which means intelligence.

Thomas Friedman would be delighted with such a choice.

Fearless Joy,

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nathan's birthday

My where had the year gone.
When it starts at eight months, it moves quickly.
My son Nathan turns one.
Last day of school for Samuel and Nathan's birthday big day.
Luckily he is one, so nothing big is expected and he is clueless that today is special.

The weekend will involve a Tol celebration, a traditional Korean celebration.
He will choose his destiny in life will he be a scholar, a cook, wealthy, or such.
Don't put much stock in it, but it is a traditional celebration that is fun.

pictures of ceremony done by two dopey Texans Sunday.

fearless joy,

The Chicks, part deux

I have heard a couple of folks talk about how this album is change for the Chicks. No, not really.
They are marketing this album heavily.
They are working on the blue state folks who make up 50% of the country.
They are being anti-country, because there are two folks in the world. The anti-country crowd and the country crowd.
They have worked out, got their hair done, and look better than they ever have. Gone is Natalie's mullet. They are selling sex appeal, something they have always done. They are selling it harder than ever.

If they were looking for a smaller audience....they would not play major venues.
They would wear sweat pants on the album cover
They would be on an indie label.
They would not be on Time.

No, they are just moving on after spending a couple of years calculating when to relaunch their careers.

This is a soap opera and the album plays into the soap opera a bit. So it is a bit plastic, but even plastic things have moments of grace.

It is still a good album, because they had to be absolutely precise in what they were doing. They did well.

fearless joy,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Chicks

I have been a fan of the Dixie Chicks before Natalie Maines arrived on the scene. I have 'Thank Heavens for Dale Evans." I go back 12 plus years. I like the old sound, because it was Texas Swing. However, I did not player hate the new sound and moved along with it.

I really enjoyed the last album, but after the fiasco in London I did not pick up any of the Natalie albums and play them. I am not sure why, but I just did not.

The last few Sundays, I have been preaching a sermon series on "Mending Fences, fixing broken relationships." I finished up the series last Sunday and I did not compute the Chicks album coming out. However, in the midst of mending fences, i decided to pick up the album. Not that I have anything against them other than they were fairly foolish.

Have I been foolish? yes.
In a spirit of being a person who has said the wrong thing at the wrong time and wanted to make amends...I bought the album. Having been a person who was not forgiven when I asked to be forgiven...I bought the album.

It is the best Chicks album so far. It is painful, poignant, and lacks some of the fun of 'Earl.' I liked the Earl song, it was humorous. It is clean musically and well produced. The words of the songs have a purpose.

so, if you have needed forgiveness in your life and your friends have you let down...this album will speak to you.

Fearless Joy,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

running, why i do it?

I am not a natural runner.Running is not something that really was a part of my life. I used to run and I would four blocks dying of exhaustion and come home feeling very dejected and worse than when I left. So, I began strolling for fun with my dog.

Then I decided that I would run in a 4 mile run when I was 29 or 30. I found out 6000 people were there and thought if 6000 people were there then I would probably not be the slowest person there. So, I ran with a couple of friends and had a blast. Over the next year, I ran on the treadmill at the gym and worked out. Just to maintain life. I then got a flyer for running a marathon in Dublin, Ireland for the Arthritis foundation. My wife has had Arthritis since she was 6 years old. So, I raised money and trained to run this marathon.

In the midst of the training, I ran with folks and began developing these relationships. There is something about running in the heat of August for 18 miles that I began sharing part of my life. I still have friendships with a couple of those guys. There was something about rising at 6:00 AM running for 2 hours and coming home to say, "i just ran 12 miles." I impressed myself.

That was 2001 and five years later, I run because I enjoy the people. I enjoy that part of my week where I get up and run around the lake in the cool of the morning. I enjoy the hills and I enjoy the people I run alongside. They are good people and there are stories of life that are shared. In fact, the marathons are not equal to the training. The marathon are joyful, but I rise at 4:45 AM on Saturday to see people who I have learned to love.

in a couple of weeks, I am going to run a grueling 1/2 marathon in Kansas City. I am not prepared physically, but I will run because for two hours I will get to hang out with friends. They will make an unpleasant experience, awesome.

fearless joy,

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moussaoui and McVeigh

I was on the treadmill yesterday afternoon when I saw the screen flash the news that Moussaoui was going to get life imprisonment.

There will be much debate on whether or not this was the right decision and some will complain to the jury about it. However, that is the system.

I have been thinking about this for a long while. I recall when Timothy McVeigh was sentenced the death penalty for the OKC bombing. My thought at that time was that McVeigh needed to die to heal the wounds of the country. An American killing Americans as an act of terrorism as horrible as it felt, he needed to die. I remember when he was executed. The sun rose the next morning and there was nothing different with the world. The anger, the hatred, the violence, the grief all still hung in the air. His death did not heal the country, it did not restore life, and it seemed to me from my point of view to do nothing. I felt no great joy nor great sadness over his death. He was just dead.

As Moussaoui was denied the death penalty and the chance to be a martyr, I really had been thinking about McVeigh a lot. Killiing Moussaoui was going to do nothing to end terrorism in this world. Killing Moussaoui was not going to ressurect towers or people. His death would not change the world for better or worse, it would mean nothing.

His life in imprisoned, perhaps he will feel the power of a country who has given him a life that is really no life at all. All bars, hard concrete, and a sliver of light. Also some of the worst food in the world. I am not sure on all of this, but I know from last experience of death penalty and national justice...the world did not change when a terrorist was executed. If it did, the world changed for the worst.

Fearless Joy,

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Aliens and the Spirit

I called into a talk show today to speak from the point of view of faith. I know that there is no such thing as dialogue. There is only a monologue with callers either being cheering fans or straw figures. I was a straw figure today. I am upset, I called. I am upset I am not more eloquent in my faith. I took the bait and was made a fool. Should have left the talking of the faith to Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo. I do better in my corner of the world. However, for my own therapy this is my response what I wished I would have said.

From Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
"You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather starnage and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, "how can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others.?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just and there are unjst laws. I would agrewith Saint Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is man-made code that squares with moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with moral law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust."

Now, the debate is whether or not the law is just or unjust. I think they are not just. They might be right and correct, but not just. The issue of poverty means I must stand with the poor. Sort of like the statue of liberty, (tongue in cheek, but also half true)

The problem is that Jesus who was an alien in Egypt, Matt 2:13-15. He fled Israel to find safety in Egypt. He was a 'wetback.'

Leviticus 19:33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourslev, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord you God."

Jesus says in the great commandment, "Whenever you do it to the least of these, you do it to me." The least of these in this society are illegals who are being exploited. Jesus has concern for them.

As I look at the scriptures which are a higher authority than the Constitution, I see that my role as a Christian is to care for those who are here. They could be drawn here by the very will of God. I am not sure, but I care for those who are in need.

There is a difference between a murderer and an alien. The scriptures are very clear on that.
What i recommend is that you ask your pastor friends to open up the Bible and study with you. I know you disagree and you and I will talk until we are blue in the face. I hold scripture as the ultimate authority, you hold something else. That is alright. You have your right to your opinion, it is not just on the side that God is on. That is OK, God will win. He always does.

This is a very complex issue and it would be good if you let your faith worked it out. I am just one of those red letter Christians that believes in Jesus more than America. Sorry, but my Lord is Jesus. I love you Mike, but you need to go deeper in your faith.

Finally, in 1890's my great grandfather came to Galveston from Denmark. My other great grandfather hated my grandfather, because he was a "Danish Speaker." The issue today is not new, it is old. I stand with the folks who brought people into this great country and welcomed them. Those folks were the heroes, not John Birchers, the Know-Nothings, and the other bigots, like my great grandfather, who were wrong. This country is better now with folks like my family than without them.

I am not an American Christian, I am a global Christian. I am united with my pentecostal, conservative, and liberal brothers and sisters by the power of Jesus Christ that transcends borders or biases. I believe this and it shapes the way I view the world.

Fearless Joy,

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Being Dad

Last night, my son's t-ball team played a game and they won. My son was the pitcher and he made an outstanding double play meriting him the game ball.

The cooler thing was the whole team contributed. It was not just one player, so I think the whole team should have put their small hands on that ball and said, "Awesome."
There is this one kid who has ADHD and when he loses focus, he is hard to work with. If somebody cuts in line, all he can do is focus on that issue. He does not listen to me when I tell him to run, he does not bat well, and he is not that great in the field. He is the kid you would pick last on the team. This kid knocked in the winning run.

I stood on the first base line and I saw that if this kid who is often relegated to the side actually got this hit...he would knock in the winning run. He stood up to bat and I just yelled and yelled. "You just hit that ball hard. Hit is as hard as you can."
He swatted that ball right by the pitcher. He ran to first base and was safe. We now had a seven run lead and the other team could not catch us. He was a hero and my player of the game. I went to the dugout and said to his mother, "You noticed your son knocked in the winning run. You need to tell him that he caused us to win." It was awesome. A mother who felt awful often about her son's behavior and was totally stressed could now beam that her son had worth on that field.

That is why I coach. I coach to love on those kids and to tell those parents they are doing good work. Often, I am too hard on my own son. Sort of sad, but many folks tell me that. Those that are closest have many demands. However, when we went home, I let him be the star player. Lifted him up and beamed a bit of pride myself. He is growing up and hopefully this wonderful kid will not be screwed up by some overbearing father.

Fearless Joy,

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pinpointing Jesus

One of the issues about reading scripture is that it forces us to do some things we don't like to do which is be challenged with who Jesus is. I have friends who I know what they are going to do, but Jesus is not like that. He changes. I read the gospels and there is another time when Jesus pushes the envelope of my understanding. Todays is Matthew 18:10

"Take care that you do not despise one fo these littles, for I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my father in heaven."

I really had that verse starting at "For I tell you"

You see that whole guardian angel thing really has no place in my spirituality. It is hoky to me. It is Capital One commercial schlock?, sentimentality of "It's a Wonderful Life" good movie, bad theology.

However, here comes Jesus, the very Word of God, blowing up my ideas and my viewpoints. So, I have to wrestle with that notion. I have to entertain these angels a bit in my thoughts and minds. I have to come to the darn frustrating conclusion that I do not have a full grasp of the scriptures. Bothersome, but I think i like it this way. It keeps me humble and it keeps me from becoming all keep me from becoming a god to myself.

fearless joy,

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter End Day

Another Easter day is over. 2 Services. In fact, Holy Week was problematic all around.
Maundy Thursday, the Christ Candle that had been rigged had become unrigged. Note to self, I will buy a new Christ Candle and we will quit trying to save money with putting votives in the candle. So, I solved that problem, but was bothered by it not working perfectly.
Good Friday, had a great video that died and the media presentation died. Oiy!!!
Easter Sunrise, the sound equipment was a miserable mess.
Easter Breakfast, the Men were awesome and a guest brought potatoes to share. Awesome.
Easter Main, great service. It was a good day.
So, I said a couple of things. I will quit messing with sound equipment and let the pros mess with it. As a control freak that is hard. However, I will give it up.

I will do media right or not do it all.

I vistited the visitors this afternoon.
I had family lunch at the in laws.
I dropped off leftover breakfast at SafeHaven, an intermediate housing facility for the homeless.
It was a full day and it was Easter. Easter is easy. It like a hanging curve ball. An elevated Tee with the wind at the back. A 50 degree overcast, still Marathon morning. At the end of the day. I am tired. However as I was disappointed with myself. I thought every contigency this week had been done.
A couple of folks said, "Good Friday service was awesome."
"The video messed up and it was really good."
"I know, but I really like that service. It made my day. You all do worship well."
I needed to hear that. I beat myself up pretty good about not being perfect and for a person to say..."You know that made my day, reminded me that Jesus is more important than I am."

Had another compliment that made my day, several about my sermon but the sermon was good. Sorry, not being a braggart, it was just a good sermon. I will tell you when it sucks. I also will tell you when I deliver. The last comment made my day and gave me hope.

It is a long day Easter and I told a friend of mine, "Why are they not like this every week?" Then I said, "probably some of that has to do with the pastors mostly."

It has been a good day and it is a reminder of why I am a pastor. Love the people and preach about the power of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

I am heading off the sleep and then tomorrow to pray and recharge.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

being a native border state guy

Lived in Texas most of my life and in West Texas for many years.
Before 9/11, the culture of the Rio Grande was pretty ambigious. When we went to Big Bend National Park, we used to swim across the river to Mexico. I remember rafting one time and winding up on the Mexican side as we overshot our take out location. People come across back and forth and live in between, the Frontier/Frontera. Frontera in Mexico is designated strip of land along the border. 50 Miles I believe. People who live on the Frontera are different. Mexicans or Americans who are influenced by the other country.

Illegals were part of life. I found shoes made out of tires as a kid that an illegal had made as he journeyed north. I have passed through border patrol checkpoints. Illegals were punchline of jokes. Used the term "wetback" a couple of times in my youth. Shouted, "La Megra?" spanish for border patrol a few times as well. As I have aged, the punch line has come that I have come in contact with illegal immigrants. The jokes have stopped, because they do not reveal reality.

I really hate that notion of a fence. It does not work and will not work. It seems communist to me to have a fence. As a child, I would go to our border look across the Rio Grande and think this is America. I would think of the pictures of the Soviet Union where there were barbed wire fences that kept people out. The notion of a fence just seems so unAmerican. Maybe it is America, post cold war...anxious and fearful. Valuing security and fear over freedom and hope.
Israel put hope in the walls of Jerusalem...and they fell.

I guess that is just the Ronald Reagan in me, a border state govenor who became President who granted amnesty. If we put up the fence and one day10,000 people will just cross it at one point and destroy the border. It will happen, because a border fence is not more secure than the Berlin Wall. Jeez, the Bible tells us that walls do not work.

Just a Texas boy who fears Jesus, not a Yankee. So, I know I have a different view of life.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006


One thing about illegal immigration is that it is not just. The Coyotes require that folks pay a great amount of money to come into America. They also will put them in harm's way if it means that the choice is between the death of a client and their own skin. There are stories all the time of folks dying in tractor trailers and box cars. Human Borders provides water and maps so folks will have a clue of what they are attempting. So, there is a justice issue.

The other justice issue is that illegal immigrants get paid bottom tier wages. This is creating a larger divide between the poor and the wealthy. It is killing the middle class. I am a part of this, because I contract out my lawn for service. I pay 25.00 for my lawn to be mowed. The crew is 3 to 4 people. They work 30 to 40 minutes to do my lawn. It would take me 3 hours. Now divide that twenty five dollars. Some goes to the contractor who I pay and then he takes his cut, the largest cut and he pays his workers. I don't know if they are illegal or not. Don't ask, don't tell. But, I want to give the trickle down on this. They are making minimum wage or a little better, remember minimum wage is not living wage. However, there are individuals who would mow lawns and in Kansas City, I would pay 30 to 35 dollars for a lawn mow. 50 dollars for leaf raking. It was to some guy driving down the street looking for work. It was more expensive, but the folks were not illegal immigrants. So, I am not sure what to say, but illegal immigration lowers prices on services. The market might be fair, but it is not always just.

The problem that I struggle with is this. The lawn service is so cheap that it is grossly conveinent to use them. They provide a service that I know my lawn will always look good on Wednesday. Meetings, baseball games, and other things do not interfere with the lawn being done. So, I know I have a part in this issue of justice and I condemn myself in it.


Immigration and protest

Last week, I saw several students carrying Mexican flags as they headed to downtown Dallas. There was much debate about whether or not they knew what they were doing as they marched. I think that is unfair, because I am sure that not all of the children who marched in Birmingham or Selma knew fully what those marches were all about. I doubt if the Million men who marched on Washington were all there for the same purpose.

But, I think what they are expressing without using words is that the debate on immigration has some racial overtones. Folks are not complaining about Asian or European immigration. It is Mexican immigration. I think there are several issues in this immigration debate. I want so share them in the next few posts.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Four Wounds

I was reading Henri Nouwen's "Can you drink the cup?"

Nouwen wrote as he was working with mental disabled folks in L'arche Daybreak community, he could see the sorrow in their lives and ultimately it lead him to deal with his own sorrow.
He laid out four of his sorrows.
  • The unfulfilled desire of an adolescent to be loved.
  • The need for affirmation as young adult
  • The haunting sense that life is not being fulfilled
  • The sense of grief over the loss of parents

As he laid out his own sorrows and wounds upon the soul, I began wondering if those are not most people's sorrows. Are they that universal? Then I began thinking that Nouwen struggled with these. In the world spirituality, he was the king, but he had these deep wounds. I have been reflecting upon these wounds and I am beginning to realize that these might be all of our wounds, including me.

I recall the stories of people who I loved and served, sitting in living rooms or across dinner tables. Listening to the stories and when we have got close the sorrow is poured out. I can recall a friend who had much wealth but lost it when her husband mismanaged the finances, her in-laws despised her and she as a young adult lacked affirmation she needed.

I hear stories of adults who are 20, 30, or 40 years away from being in their parent's home. They can still recall moments when parents failed to show love and affection. Those moments still shape them.

The fear and loss of parents. I hear stories of middle aged folks coming to terms with what the loss of a parent means. It means that they are now the elder's of the family and they have also lost the parent who brought them to life.

Lack of meaning in life. I recall 102 year old Kathryn who wondered why God put her on earth and if she was of any use. I listen to my friend who wonders if his job is what he is called to do.

Within all of these, I am beginning to hear my own stories.

Playing football not because I really wanted to, but because I wanted the affirmation that a letter jacket brought.

As a young adult fresh to the ministry wanting to be respected for being creative, clever, and thoughtful. How long would it be before folks came to me seeking advice?

Moments when I rush from appointment to another wandering if what I am doing as a minsiter is making a difference. Will my denomination still be here when I end my ministry? Is my work damaging my family?

As I watch my grandparents die and my in-laws and parents age, I have a sense of sadness. I ponder what my role will be.

As Nouwen asked, "Can you drink of this cup?" I don't know if I can, but the taste of sorrow is sometimes upon my lips. But, I remember that there is no Jerusalem without a Babylon. There is no return without exile. There is no resurrection without death. There is no redemption without my sin. So, I drink the cup, not because I am able...I drink because I desire to taste the goodness of God, there in our sorrow is God's goodness?

Where are the places of your sorrow?

But, I have faith in Jesus that these deep wounds in my soul, the sorrow filling my cup is not the whole story. I realize that I have today and that if I let go of the pain and embrace the moment, I am free from it in only as much as I am willing to let it go.

Are you willing to be free from the past by embracing the present?


Monday, March 27, 2006

Flower planting

Yesterday went to the nursery to get flowers. Begonias, Thrift, and other stuff. My dad, my son and I planted flowers.

We replanted a couple of bushes. Last year or two years ago, I planted these tall Indian Hawthorne bushes, poor man azaelas I call them, and they covered up the Chrysatemum and the lower Indian Hawthorne bushes. So, my dad, my son, and I dug them up and replanted them in the back of the flowerbeds.

I grew up in West Texas and flowers were not a part of life. I remember as a kid that my aunt asked me to weed her flowerbeds and I pulled up all her Marigolds because they stunk. "Flowers are supposed to smell good, so these must be weeds,"I told her. She shook her head went back inside to smoke a cigarette as she realized that having me weed her lawns was costly.

So, in Kansas City I began to find the joy of flowers. There were trees that budded and bloomed. There were tulips and Irises. It was a beautiful place in spring and I got caught up in it. It was a cool part of spring, because on that first warm week many on our block were cleaning out flowerbeds to plant. It was a community thing.

Then we moved to Texas and had to learn a whole new climate. Now, we moved from annuals to perennials. We have more shrubs and other plants that will hopefully bloom and flower.

I don't know why I enjoy this work, because it is not in my upraising. But, I find delight in watching things grow. It is way to view creation and to delight in the creator's handiwork. It is play, tools, dirt, and worms.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Nouwen's words

Henri Nouwen as the story goes, was asked by newly elected President Bill Clinton to be his spiritual advisor. Nouwen sent a message back to Clinton. "Thank you, but I have more important work to do hear at L'Arche Community." L'Arche was a community for mentally and physically handicapped folks where Nouwen served Jesus Christ.

Nouwen made an astute observation in his book, "Can you drink of the cup?" He says, the cup is our lives. My life is unique and it is different from every person in the world. My cup is filled with my own history, my own strengths, my own family, my own weaknesses. Nobody else can hold my cup, but me. However, in my life, I often find myself trying to add to my cup something that is not mine. I try to mix the drink of life in my cup with somebody elses.

I compare my cup to other folks' cups, but fail to realize that my cup is sufficient for me. When I do that, most of the consequences lead to unhappiness, failure, and chaos. I do not know how to be Joel Osteen, my buddy Wade, or even my Dad. I can only be myself. That is alright, because when I hold onto the cup that God has poured out for me, my life will be totally filled. I believe that, because the One, Jesus, that I follow has never left me thirsty and unfilled ever in my life. I just need to pick up my cup and hold it. Not compare it to yours, but hold and behold it for what it is, special.

Do you know how rich the cup that Jesus has given you is?
Are you willing to hold onto that cup, the life that God has provided?
Can you teach others how?

What is your experience with the cup?


Monday, March 20, 2006

Rite of Spring

Today, the day of equinox, equilibrium on a global scale. In our house, we are not pagans, so no dancing around in clover and lilacs. So, what is our ritual. It is put the Equinox Egg upright. I know like most rituals it can be done at any time, I am told. However, please don't bother this family ritual with a fact like that. Today, I remembered at dinner and told my son that I would stand the egg upright. He being a six year old, notice the lack of a teethy smile, was quick to tell me I could not do it. So, I finished up the tasty spaghetti and meatballs. Then I quickly worked with precision and a light touch to put the egg upright. We did it, and one day maybe my son will stand at the counter and patiently set the egg upright.

So, this is our rite of spring and we do it...because it is a moment to sense the wonder and amazement of seasons and the miraculous rotation of the earth. It is a reminder that God our creator is faithful. It happens two times a year on the same days. It never deviates. That is a profound miracle.


Notepad archaeology

While in college, I took a class in archaeology...I got my only D in my college career in that class for several reasons. The professor provided no syllabi for the class and was himself a relic, and perhaps I have not let go of that resentment older than a decade. Alright.

However, in the midst of that class one thing we learned was that the archaeologist usually can tell that the older material is usually deeper in the earth while the more recent materials are found closer to the surface. I use this method is finding stuff in my office. THere usually is a pile of stuff that accumulates in my office and I can tell what is older usually a magazine or an envelope will reveal a general date of the pile. This past week, I found, uh discovered, a notepad that I had written.

What I gather from this prayer is that this a prayer that I used before a dinner for runners who had just run marathons, half marathons, 10K and 5K races.

Our God is the god of the Long Run
God does not sprint.
Abraham set off from Ur on a late long journey of hope
Moses set off from Egypt on a late, long journy of deliverance
Peter dropped nets to follow on a long journey of faith
God does not sprint
God is faithful forever
God suffers blisters, thirsts with us
God travels morning trails and silent streets
God greets the evening as the city moves from frenetic day to a sigh of evening
God travels with us, so we are not alone.
God travels in morning gatherings
where the chorus is sung in hundreds of feet
laying out a rhythm that cheers the dawn
God travels in races cheering the elites and the one's who lead the push of the sag wagon
God has compassion on the Did Not Finish and the Did Not Start
Slowly we run, our bodies change through effort, faith, hope, and mighty grace.
We thank you God for waking with us, running with us, and celebrating with us.
Makes sense to a runner, others may not get it. That is the nature of archaeology, not every find is great.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A failed attempt at a Sunday excursion

Today was the White Rock Relays.
It was a 5 person 21 mile relay. I signed up with a team ROAD KILL 3 and got one of my buddies to join with me. I told the team coordinator, "Put me in the first leg or I can't do it."

This weekend, the city flooded. The race is run around White Rock lake in Dallas. In fact, one part of the course was covered in water 18 inches deep. It was insane. I arrived at 6:30 AM for the 8:00 AM start. There had to be coordinating to make this happen. The race director delayed the start by 30 minutes and having been at races with delayed starts, I knew that 30 minutes could be 45 minutes to an hour. So, I told folks, "I am out. I have to go to work."

Man, I was really depressed, because it would have been a helluva experience. They called the race after one lap around the lake 10.5 miles, because someone got injured. That was wise and wiser would have been to cancel the event. One of the guys one the team, said he ran in waste deep water along one of the trails.

For me, it was a moment to straddle that line between the sacred and profane. To hang out with folks who would rather run on a Sunday morning rather than be in church. These would be folks who would be unchurched. I live in a bubble where i really don't know what happens on Sunday morning outside of Western Heights CC. What happens at 11:00 AM in Dallas outside of my church? This was my opportunity to glimpse into it, and to glimpse into the heart of folks who I care about. Well, I had to bail and felt like a schmuck doing it. However, I needed to get to church and get my life in order. I did learn that people will drink beer on Sunday morning...which made me wonder where Christ would be?


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Doing good things

I recall as I finished up the week heading into the NYC marathon. I had eaten well. Drank a gallon of water each day, cut out the Diet Coke. Sweet Potatoes for meals, whole wheat pasta. I felt great. I had done my runs and I felt good. I wondered, "Why don't I do this all time?"

I think it is ease factor. It takes a little time to get all that good stuff. The bad stuff is easier at hand in my house. My wife and son are not with me on eating the good stuff. They have not adapted the mantra, "Food is Fuel." Eat to fuel the body, only.

Two weeks ago, I ran 12 miles and felt great. However, I forget that feeling many times and am not motivated to get up and run in the morning.

I see parallels in the body and the spiritual life. I feel better when I pray. I feel better when I read scripture. I feel better when I reach out. However, I forget how good that feels when I do those things.

May I get a better memory and better motivation to tend to my spirit and body.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why I pray

To be honest folks, for me prayer is important. However, the job of a minister demands prayer but many times conflicts against prayer. Ministry needs results and many times the tail wags the dog with the spiritual life. As I stated before, I began reading the autobiographies of the saints and realized that many of these folk were really no different than you or I. They had better PR directors.

So, I am working through a dry spell and in a couple of weeks will find some time to take a few days out of the office to pray. Next week is spring break and I am going to take a day off with my son and will use a relaxed schedule to my benefit.

But let me share a story. I have had problems sitting down and planning my lenten sermon series. I had an idea, but I had not honed it out on paper. Today, I came into the office with an intention to pray about the church and my ministry. I finally said, "God, I am anxious about some things, but I am going to give you control over them. I am going to do what I feel is the right thing, but the results are yours." I control what I can control, a good reminder for control freaks.

So, where blank paper and scriptures were not coming to put together a sermon series...they popped out today. Boom, boom, boom. Is this a miracle, no. Does it solve world peace or stop the killing in Iraq. No. But it is a reminder that with our minds and spirits that less is many times more. May you find at ease in the hand of God, today.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Too much Lent

Today begins the season of Lent. It is the 40 days, minus Sundays, preceding Easter.
I have come to this season with a different approach.
Lent can be such a downer, I know I am broken, sinful, dispicable, less than useful Christian, filled with hypocrisy, focused upon perfection instead of grace, I eat too much which brings me into gluttony, selfish. I know all of this and I am self aware of my own limitations. Even though I feel at times a god unto myself...I know that it fails.

However, there is this promise. The promise is that God will use those things to bring about Kingdom of God. The very things, I hate God will use to bring about grace. Paul as they stoned Stephen hated Christians because they were less than pure in their practice and theology of Judaism...Jesus called Paul to be a minister to gentiles. Dirty, filthy gentiles who before he was on the road to Damascus would have never associated.

So, what will I do this lent? I think I will add some disciplines instead of trying to rid myself of my baggage. I am going to eat better this 40 days. 10 days before the NYC marathon, man i ate really well and I felt GREAT. I mean, I felt really good. So, why don't I eat well...SLOTH. However, I am going to do something that makes me feel great. Yes, that is narcissistic spirituality, but I think God wants good for me. The 7-11 Brownies, ohh so tasty, are not really the best thing for me three times a week. So, I will eat better. I will exercise more.

Spiritually, I am going to pray some more. One year, during Holy Week, I spent Monday and Tuesday in prayer. I said, "Its Holy Week, we eat bread, drink wine, kill Jesus, and then he is raised from the dead. Everybody knows the story and to prepare myself for telling the story, I don't need to fix bulletins, worship services, I need to pray and read that story more deeply." It was awesome, hung out at a monastery and it provided clarity.

So, be bold this Lent. Take a step back and do the courageous thing engage your faith and Jesus.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Luke 9:62

From my prayer book today

Jesus tells folks, "One who keeps his hand on the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God."

It is in response to a man who will follow Jesus if he can go home and tell everybody goodbye. It seems like a reasonable request. Jesus is very unreasonable. And that line really hits me hard. How many times have you thought about the road not taken? There are moments wh.en I really wish I was working in the State Dept. as an analyst. I love that exercise of the mind. However, I am poor at languages.

What if I had taken this job instead of this one what would I had learned and experienced? What if I would have begun the process of adoption earlier?
If I would have went on this date instead of that one?

Looking back at what was or might have been.
None of that gets anywhere. The present is what we have, no day but today.

So, I am where I need to be and I try to have no regrets.
Mary Chapin Carpenter sang once,
"Cut the deck right in half, I will play from either side."


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The sentimental part of the Olympics

Let's just say that I came up with a notion that I was going to really enjoy the Olympics 10 days ago or so. My son and I would revel in the wild sports of Luge and Downhill Skiing. Well, let's just say the boy showed little interest and that is alright. It is his life and it gave me time to do others things with him.

However, there was one story that we latched upon. It was Toby Dawson. A Korean Adoptee. It was getting close to "Gotcha Day" (The day we got our son. Gotcha) The night before, Toby Dawson was on TV doing his thing. It was pretty cool because we saw this Asian guy with White parents...Adopted. Then I went to internet to find the story.

Cool thing is Toby is adopted from Korea. A good role model for my son that foreign adopted children can be successful, not that flying upside down on skis and wearing out your knees is bad. In that tie, am I Korean or am I American what I am goop that will be my son's consciousness that he has to sort out over the next few years there is a Korean born guy who is American who has walked a path similar to my son's. Cool.

Toby was using the Olympic stage to find his birth parents. It is an interesting story more intriguing than Bode Miller or Sasha Cohen.



The empty places in the spirit

When I began my journey in faith with some earnestness, I looked to the heroes of the pastor, or that other pastor, or anybody out there who had some degree of Christian success for some insight in how to be Christian, mainly develop my spirituality.

I could see where others had not put much work on it who were close to me and I would look across to find folks and listen to them. In books that spoke of their ideals, they would provide rules and somesuch. I would follow the patterns and then...after awhile find myself outside of the pattern. Then I would feel guilty, I am not a good enough Christian...yada yada. It was a great way to be self defeated.

A few years ago, I began picking up Thomas Merton's journals. Merton was a monk in Kentucky. I began reading his journals and learning that this spiritual giant was not really that tall. He struggled with his faith and life in a monastery. He had issues with his Abbot. I then began reading some of the old masters, Augustine, Luther, and Julian. They had struggles as well. They also taught me a valuable lesson, quit comparing yourself to others. Does it matter who is holier than....?

So, I became at ease in those moments of dryness in my life. When I had a dark night of the soul. I began to realize that these moments were a natural part of spiritual growth. There will be moments when prayer will be easy and when it will not. There will be moments when I want to be confronted by God and there will be times when I do not want to encounter the divine. None of this makes me less in the eyes of my savior. It makes me more human, more dependent upon the love of God.

So, I thank the folks who released Merton's personal journals, because without those deep insights from a sojourner on the way, I might still think that I have to be perfect in my faith.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Harvest metaphor in Rev. 14

Two angels come from heaven in this vision and they reap the harvest on the earth.
vs. 19 the angel swings and sticks the vintage of the earth in a wine press of the wrath of God. creating a blood flowing five feet deep for two hundred miles.

I had always thought of the harvest as a good metaphor. The good will be reaped, taken to heaven. The harvest is plentiful, the workers few. In an agrarian world, the harvest was the climax of the year. It was what one worked for.

Revelation and even some of Jesus' parables as I listen to each one individually instead of through soupy lens I sometimes view them through share that the harvest is both. It is a blessing to the faithful and the wicked will be harvested as well.

As I work on my own salvation, my own path of santification, I am reminded that I must do the work of faith with fear and trembling. I am not sure which way the sickle swings, so my steps are important. It means that the mantra I have brought into my life. "Do the next right thing." is critical. I have no future, I have no past, let this moment be my last. (Wait, I am about ready to break into a RENT chorus.)

No day but today.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Two children

I recall Bill Cosby saying, "People who raise one child are not real parents, because when something breaks they turn to the child and know. There is not the response that begins with 'Not Me' from all voices of the children."

Two weeks into parenting a second child, all the rules and boundaries that made our first parenting excursion work are not working right now. Samuel kept within the boundaries. He never touched an electric cord and never emptied a cabinet. Now, Nathan is Mr. Handsy or perhaps we have six years of amnesia on the whole situation.

However, I must finally concur Cosby was right parenting really begins with the second child. Not going to know how much more real parenting gets with a third child though. Two is enough.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pondering Cartoons and Church burnings

To burn a church or a cross is a sing of extreme hate. Some would call it terrorism, but I don't want to use that word. Overused and carries too much baggage. However, to burn a cross or to lay down a gang tag on a piece of property is a sign of disrespect and hate. Even to burn a church is an act of hate. I listened on NPR this morning of church members who shifted through charred pews to find Bibles and heard pastors and layfolk speak of forgiveness. There was not a determination to destroy the offender, but a desire to love the offender. A sense of a wonder and awe that somebody would be so mean to burn down a church.

I am not sure folks, but I feel that is great expression of Christianity. Perhaps, that is what has me scratching my head about the cartoons. Let's be honest, the cartoons were racist and we use cartoons as way of toppling power. So, there was something being said. It would be equivalent to showing Our Lady of Guadalupe as a Mule. I think there would be anger, but I don't think there would be violence. So, as a faith who has had Martin Luther King, Jr. as a prophet who called for America to work out its issue of race in non violence, the feelings I understand. The reaction is hard to swallow.

However, as a Christian, I know my country and my savior are different. Do Muslims understand that is how I see my faith and country?


Saturday, February 11, 2006

The notorious number

In chapter 13, there is the notorious number 666.
However, I know folks spend too much time worrying about that number. Nobody wants that number for their house. Don't have those numbers in your telephone number.

Scholars would point out that it is a key number, because it is imperfection 6 is not 7. So, for folks who like the slots, you want three 7's right? Three 6's would get you nothing. It is not the magic number. 7 is good.

However, the preacher Monday at Minister's week talked that the number of the beast was 9-11. I really appreciated that viewpoint. The world changed on that day and the feel good enthusiasm of the post cold-war ended. Money got tight. Wars began. The nation divided between red and blue. The world divided between Muslim and Western world. It is the true end of philosophical Liberalism. (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Al Franken are all philosophical Liberals who believe in the goodness of people and hope in progress.) The beasts that we battle are the beasts of anger, fear, and might. We forget that we are not saved by armies, but we are saved through the blood of the lamb.

So, as a Christian in this turbulent time what do I do when people are killed for cartoons. When we readjust budgets for bombs and shortshrift schools and the poor, I stand still and pray. I look to John and he reminds me that God is in control. Even though I find it hard to believe, I will utter those words until I do.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Back to Revelation

As I looked to see where I ended, it appeared that I ended in Chapter 11 and was heading to chapter 12. Funny thing, I went to Brite's Ministers week in Fort Worth and the preacher preached upon Chapter 12 my point of reengagement.
So, as I may be self centered in this world, "This is a sign that God wants me to continue on." Or perhaps it was a sign that some folks had better things to say than I do? Signs suck, especially God's signs...he rarely writes them in English.

12:7 And a war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon, satan, the devil is defeated and cast out of heaven to the earth.

The preacher at Minister's week says, "That we as the church are dragonslayers." We are called to overcome evil, because we are the one's who conquer. We conquer with the blood of the lamb and the testimony of our word, but it is we who are the frontline of the battle between good and evil. Peace and War. Love and Hate.

So, I encourage you to be strong and be bold, be holy audacious in who you are. You can slay dragons one preacher said and as my man Lyle Lovett said, "Listen to what the good preachers says."


new laptop and the issue of culture

Tuesday or Wednesday before I left for Seoul. My laptop shot craps and died. It really sucked and Amy and I did not have time to talk about what to do. When we got back she said to go ahead and get another one.

Now I am back in the saddle. I had forgotten that there was a time in my life when nothing would gross me out. Technicolor poo. A child becoming a playdough fun factory during a diaper change. So, Nathan has taken aim at a couple of times. I have set on the couch and felt a warm sensation on me and I look frantically for vomit and i let out an expletive that is synonomous which now is on my shirt.

Now, is a time when it is a test of the wills with the child. How will the house be ordered. Are we the parents who run the house and make the decisions or are we servants to the children. It is the classic babywise encounter. So, here is my child who wants to fall asleep on me and if he does not he will cry and complain. Very flattering, but I need to him sleep on his own so work can be done. Clothes folded, dishes done, floors swept and carpets vacuumed. We did this six years ago, but we were younger and had total focus on one child.

However, we do all of this, because we believe that we can offer this child a good life and that all of this is important in helping him understand and order his world. Learn to console yourself and be self reliant. It is really a part of the indoctrination process of being American, radical individualism. However, it has some strengths especially in this culture. It is a strong ethical conunudrum? Because the sense of community in Korea prevails over individualism of Americans. However, the hand is played and we have to play it. We will play it well. No other choice.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yoido Full Gospel Church Sanctuary Posted by Picasa
Yoido Full Gospel Church. 700,000 members Posted by Picasa
National Museum of Korea Posted by Picasa
Dunkin' Donuts, a Korean treat. Posted by Picasa
Namsan and Seoul Tower. Many folks in Seoul walk to the top of the mountain everyday for exercise. Posted by Picasa
Nathan with the caregiver mother. The one who took care of him in the hospital Posted by Picasa
Street Food Vendor in Hapjeong Posted by Picasa
Typical Seoul street Posted by Picasa
Shilla crown at National Museum of Korea. You can see this and much other stuff for 3000 won, basically $3.00. Posted by Picasa
Namdaemun gate, one of the primary Korea Historical items. Posted by Picasa
Late January and Christmas lights? Posted by Picasa
Nathan and his foster mother and her daughter at the hospital. Posted by Picasa
Dr. Kim and I. Dr. Kim is the founder of Eastern Social Welfare Society in Korea. Dr. Kim prayed for my son when he left Korea six years ago. Posted by Picasa
Me, as a Joseon King with Pastor Lee
and Mr. Kim Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Got home today was greeted by friends and family.
A great day.

The plane flight was awesome. Man the folks at Korea Air, they are awesome. They are very attentive. One flight attendant walked Nathan around while I was packing up. Nathan has a high attachment effect going on right now. So, I cannot set him down without him crying.

He feels abandoned by his foster mother, care giver, and I am the only face that seems normal. My wife tells me I smell Korean. There is an Asian smell that you get. So, we will be sleeping with him in the bed for a few nights.

Last night he did well in the guesthouse. Linda, a Norweigian Adoptive mother, got her child last night. Her mother got us pizza last night. Korean pizza note...they serve sweet pickles on the side and corn on the top. Linda also allowed me to get a shower. I really needed that. I was wearing clothes for the third day. Underwear new. I packed enough underwear.

So, thanks for the prayers and sharing the adventure. Now the real adventure.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nathan was released

Nathan was released from the hospital at noon today.
So, we are likely to come home on Saturday.
This will most likely be my last post.
I am craving a hamburger with mustard. Today, the korean food texture and taste was upsetting my stomach. Red Bean Paste tasted good yesterday, not today.


Dong Dae Mun

Dong Dae Mun market is incredible.
It is 30,000 shops that sell clothes. I hate stuff like this, but I was impressed by the sheer volume of people. Malls upon malls of stalls 15 x 5 stalls filled with clothes. Amazing.

Also, a plastic surgery clinic. Koreans are getting plastic surgery to round out the eyes from what I here. I see many round eyes, but I am not sure if that is plastic surgery or genetics.

Pretty cool place. My pick up was at the baseball stadium. Korean Soccer Team jersies. J.S. Park #7. No. 1 Korean soccer star.


Saved by the Jehovah's Witness

Last night as I was going to Dong dae mun market. I lost my subway ticket. It is 9000 won, 90 cents roughly. Realizing that I am without a ticket, i figure I will just follow somebody out, get real close in the turnstile. I have seen Koreans do this, so i was just planning on dealing with the problem that way or hop the stile. Unfortunately, they have guards at this exit to Dongdaemun. I tell the guard what is wrong. Meaning, I am talking to a wall, because she has no clue what I am saying. she points me down another passageway. She thought I wanted a transfer. I am screwed.

Then comes a woman, "Can I share something with you?"
In her hand was a Watchtower. I know the drill.

"Yes, you can, but I need some help. I lost my ticket and I need to get out of here. Can you help me. I will gladly listen to whatever you want to tell me, but I need help first."


She walk over to the guard and the guard says, "Nay" meaning yes. She pushes a button and lets me through. I could have bolted right there, but I honored my side of the bargain took the Watchtower and then told her. "Your effort to help me was a greater witness to your faith than these words." I probably should have not given her that coaching, but it is the truth.

So, for once in my life having a JW intrude into my daily life saved me. Whole incident makes me a little more appreciative of those folks. Funny thing, the cover article is on angels. I wanted to tell her that I thought God used her as an angel, but she may have been repulsed by such a notion. I know she was heaven sent


Two other culinary notes

Saw another corndog configuration last night. They take a sausage/weiner and then dip in batter then roll the concotion in french fries and then deep fry. The only thing keeping these folks from falling over with clogged arteries is Kimchi

Incredible bakeries here. Imagine that. I mean exceptional pastry and sandwiches. There is a bakery in the Seoul Station, Paris Baquette. Man, it is awesome. great stuff. I do not know if I have seen a better bakery in all my travels.

Koreans do not drink much water or fluid. Small cups. The notion of 2 liters or a gallon of water a day is foreign concept. I as an American think they will most likely die of kidney failure.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The pope says no more limbo, I disagree

I am not sure when I get to leave.
The problems with my son, may last for a few more days. No one is sure right now. So, it could be next Tuesday.
It could be this Saturday.
It could be next Thursday.
So, I sit and wait for the time to come with news. I see him for about an hour a day. I am heading there after I push publish. I plan on bringing him a new toy. A teething toy. He has three teeth and is chewing up a storm.


sorry for the rudimentary sentences

This blog is just a stream of consciousness right now. I am publishing my thoughts, before I lose them. So, the sentence structure sucks. Forgive me.


A Korean hospital

Here is what this Korean children's hospital looks like.
It is a university hospital and I think it is geared to lower income folks. I don't think the wealthy bring their children here. So, there are levels of care, I am sure in Korea.

Here is what I see.

The room where Nathan receives care is a ward room. There are six beds in the room. In America, mostly the parents sit in a chair by the bed. In Korea, the mothers are all in the beds with the children. Which my first reaction is "What the hell is going on?" It looks rather sloppy to me, but that is Korean culture of closeness.

I am beginning to see an alternative to American individualism, it is a sense of community found in Korea. Folks eat together, drink together, and families sleep together. There is a closeness between people.

All the children have IV's. It might just be the room. However, Children will ride the IV stands down the hall. Mom, Dad or a nurse will pull them out. Some will get slung really fast for a "whee effect"

Each bed has a refrigirator for the families to put food.

It is an interesting place, because I think private room would be best...I think Koreans may think communal room is better than the best.

More that I travel, the more that I understand that I am American. In Haiti, I learned that I am willing to trust the democratic process no matter what. In Haiti that is not an option or a desire. Here I am learning that I am part of the American melting pot, I love diversity. I love being influenced by my son's native culture. However, that culture does not see a great need to be open to an exchange to make such an encounter happen.