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. http://search.hankooki.com/times/times_view.php?term=toby+dawson++&path=hankooki3/times/lpage/ 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 faith...my 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