Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year 2008 in review

New Years Eve and ringing in 2008 was awesome as we were at Casa De Elizabeth orphanage. Something to be said about bottle rockets, orphans and dry grass. I thought the place was going to burn down.

2008 also brought change in our lives. We went on a church plant and teamed up with another couple in leading the Youth Group. It was challenging and fun. But then things got a little bit weird for us as far as the leadership went. It started being a very authoritarian form of leadership that in my opinion was just wrong. So instead of stirring up the masses, we just stepped down gracefully and moved on. The sad thing about this is, there are some there that refuse to have anything to do with us even after attempts at meeting with them and continuing friendship. Sad but so true.

We ended up back at the mother church, Vineyard Community Church of Gilbert, and I must say that we were welcomed back with wide open arms there. It was touching to say the least and I can say now that we are "home". It is such a genuine community of people.

I personally have grown so much in my journey this year. To me, it is all about being a follower of Christ and doing the things that He did. It's all about Grace, Mercy and Love. Not about rules, religion or authority.

I have become friends with some really cool folks and gotten to know them better. The folks I am about to mention have had very positive influences on me. Obie, Lonnie, Leo, Jeff F., Sharon W. and Bryant. All of these folks love instead of judge. Pastor Jack and Pastor Danny have also preached some damn good sermons this year. Obie did one too that was probably my favorite and I was not even present to hear it. But thanks to technology, I was able to listen to it.

I also asked God what He would want me to do. I will no longer take a position of leadership in a church but I will always serve wherever He wants me to. I am not a teacher or Biblical scholar, but I am a Christ Follower and will "do the stuff" to the best of my ability. I like to help people that need it and I believe that is what I am called to do. To help and be an encouragement to others. God will do the rest in His timing.

2008 also brought much sadness and hurt. We had been serving at an orphanage for almost two years. But through some people that are on power trips or are control freaks and through some outright lies that were spread and also still some unanswered questions, we were told not to come back. To this day, I still have not received a reply to our formal letter that we wrote asking for details and answers as to why this decision was made. But God knows what is going on and He knows truth and I am comforted by that. What was so hard about this entire ordeal was what it did to my wife. I blogged about it a bit and I can tell you this, it was a very difficult time for her and our family. She went into a very deep and dark depression. But God is good and He got her through it. We are going down there on the 3rd to speak with the Director since we have not received a response to our formal letter. Who knows how it will turn out? But it is something we have to do to get some answers.

Shannon went through some personal struggles but we were able to get some counseling and we are still going. Mainly her and I. She has had a steady job and is doing well.

Patty continues to work at the eye doctor's office and I am still with the NWS and managing the Cooperative Weather Observer Program as well as being the Local Office Union Steward. At the end of the year we were able to negotiate a major change in the schedule that I think will be good for the office morale. Beginning in 2009, I will also be the Diversity Focal Point in our office which I am looking forward to.

For all of my friends and family, here's wishing you all a very Blessed and Happy New Year. If you're out this evening and celebrating a little bit too much with your favorite alcoholic beverage, PLEASE PLEASE do not drink and drive. There are many other options that you have to get yourself and others home safely!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


QUOTE: “What this church is starting with is very on trend with the culture right now and the desire to be very integrated and involved with communities. People are looking for a church that authenticates the Gospel.” —Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, on the “unusual” financial setup of Waterfront Community Church in Schaumburg, Ill. The nondenominational church, which meets in a high school auditorium, relies heavily on service from most of its 200 members, operates on a shoestring budget, and gives 100 percent of its tithes and offerings to those in need in the surrounding community. Waterfront, which just started in October, pays its bills and salaries via eight sponsors, half of whom attend the church. “We started asking around, ‘What are the needs of the community?’” said Waterfront pastor and founder Jim Semradek. “When you present that need to people, they’re very responsive. People have very generous hearts.” [AP, 12/27/08]

While I respect what they are doing at Waterfront, I believe that this is their choice as a church. As a matter of fact, I think it is awesome what they are doing. They are really doing the stuff.

But on the other hand, I firmly believe that pastors that are pastoring fulltime should receive a generous salary.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Traveling Mercies-Some Thoughts on Faith

I am reading a book right now written by the author Anne Lamott. The title is Traveling Mercies-Some Thoughts on Faith. She grew up in the Bay Area and had a pretty good addiction to drugs and alcohol. The part I want to share with you is what she wrote about her coming into a relationship with God. I found it quite real and in some way very comparable to my experience when I had run away from the Lord for so long, but was welcomed back when I was ready.

Here is an excerpt from pages 48-50...

That April of 1984, in the midst of this experience, Pammy took a fourth urine sample to the lab, and it finally came back positive. I had published three books by then, but none of them had sold particularly well, and I did not have the money or wherewithal to have a baby. The father was someone I had just met, who was married, and no one I wanted a real life or baby with. So Pammy one evening took me in for the abortion, and I was sadder than I'd been since my father died, and when she brought me home that night, I went upstairs to my loft with a pint of Bushmills and some of the codeine a nurse had given me for pain. I drank until nearly dawn.

Then the next night I did it again, and the next night, although by then the pills were gone.

I didn't go to the flea market the week of my abortion. I stayed home, and smoked dope and got drunk, and tried to write a little, and went for slow walks along the salt marsh with Pammy. the seventh night, though, very drunk and just about to take a sleeping pill, I discovered that I was bleeding heavily. It did not stop over the next hour. I was going through a pad every fifteen minutes, and I thought I should call a doctor or Pammy, but I was so disgusted that I had gotten so drunk one week after an abortion that I just couldn't wake someone up and ask for help. I kept on changing Kotex, and I got very sober very quickly. Several hours later, the blood stopped flowing, and I got in bed, shaky and sad and too wild to have another drink or take a sleeping pill. I had a cigarette and turned off the light. After a while, as I lay there, I became aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I had felt over the years when I was frightened and alone. The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there---of course, there wasn't. But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him as surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this.

And I was appalled. I thought about my life and my brilliant hilarious progressive friends, I thought about what everyone would think of me if I became a Christian, and it seemed an utterly impossible thing that simply could not be allowed to happen. I turned to the wall and said out loud, "I would rather die."

I felt him just sitting there on his haunches in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, but that didn't help because that's not what I was seeing him with.

Finally I fell asleep, and in the morning, he was gone.

This experience spooked me badly, but I thought it was just an apparition, born of fear and self-loathing and booze and loss of blood. But then everywhere I went, I had the feeling that a little cat was following me, wanting me to reach down and pick it up, wanting me to open the door and let it in. But I knew what would happen: you let a cat in one time, give it a little milk, and then it stays forever. So I tried to keep one step ahead of it, slamming my houseboat door when I entered or left.

And one week later, when I went back to church, I was so hungover that I couldn't stand up for the songs, and this time I stayed for the sermon, which I just thought was so ridiculous, like someone trying to convince me of the existence of extraterrestrials, but the last song was so deep and raw and pure that I could not escape. It was as if the people were singing in between the notes, weeping and joyful at the same time, and I felt like their voices or something was rocking me in its bosom, holding me like a scared little kid, and I opened up to that feeling---and it washed over me.

I began to cry and left before the benediction, and I raced home and felt the little cat running along at my heels, and I walked down the dock past dozens of potted flowers, under a sky as blue as one of God's own dreams, and I opened the door to my houseboat, and I stood there a minute, and then I hung my head and said, "Fuck it: I quit." I took a long deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in."

So this was my little moment of conversion.

I remember nearly 8 years ago, feeling that presence in the room with me while I was going through withdrawals. He just kept telling me to let Him in, let Him do the work. It was the Holy Spirit moving on me at that moment, nudging me and convicting me. Tugging at my heart and begging me to just LET-HIM-IN. It really is that simple.

Anne Lamott is a very gifted writer. I would recommend any of her books to anybody.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

A letter and a prayer for President Obama

Instinct and Intellect

Every room I have ever been in with you was a much easier room for your presence. It's rare to meet a person like you, where intellect and intuition make such a perfect rhyme. Your intuition tells you that the well-being of the American people, spiritually as well as physically, is connected with America?s role in the world. I know you know that the prosperity of your fellow Americans, though hard-fought, is less fulfilling knowing there is so much more that can be done to alleviate poverty and suffering in the developing world.

You know that less than 1 percent of government income as a contribution from the world?s richest economy to the world?s poorest is not a fair tithe?even in times like these?which is why you have promised to double foreign assistance. As with our own personal sojourn, so it is with country and community: We discover who we are in service to others.

I know your intellect?fashioned in the halls of Harvard and on the floor of the United States Senate?has weighed up the evidence on how effective American tax dollars are when converted into smart, targeted, focused aid. Putting children into school where they can think freely of freedom. Giving farmers on the parched land seed varieties that double the size of their crop yields. Giving mothers 20 cent immunizations to protect their newborns from the deadly virus that they pass on through childbirth.

I know your intellect has taken in the data and seen the analysis on the transformative power of effective aid in places where the U.S. flag is currently not smiled at. I know you know how much cheaper it is to make friends of potential enemies than to defend yourself at a later date. I know you know all this stuff.

My prayer for you is that your instinct and intellect stay in harmony in the difficult months and triumphant years ahead.

Bono is lead singer of U2 and co-founder of The ONE Campaign.

A Prayer for a New President and a New America

God of love, grace, and hope, thank you for creating a perfect world. Forgive us for the mess we have made of it. Forgive us for the groaning of creation, for the millions who die of hunger and curable diseases, for warehousing people in prisons and using them for labor, for the scandal of billions wasted in war, for an economy that mirrors the seven deadly sins, for the violence and greed in our own hearts. Save us from ourselves.

Give us the courage to bless the poor in a world that blesses the middle class, to bless the meek in a world that admires aggression, to bless the hungry in a world that feeds the already fed, to bless the merciful in a world that shows no mercy on evildoers, to bless the pure in heart in a world of clutter and noise, to bless the peacemakers in a world that baptizes bombs.

Give us imagination that we might not conform to the patterns of this world, that we might shatter indifference and interrupt injustice with grace, that we might choose the cross over the sword, that we might be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves, that we might consider the lilies and sparrows as they shame Wall Street?s splendor, that we might choose the dream of God over the dreams of nations, that we might cling to the God who so loved the world, not just America, that we might allow our Jesus to change America rather than America to change our Jesus.

Shane Claiborne is a founding partner of The Simple Way, a radical faith community in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President.

Written to Read at a Peace Rally

I found a beautiful piece in Sojourners written by Jacob Bathanti who is a student at Wake Forest University...

Who am I to cast light upon the human soul?
Sitting down to write peace verses for mercenary gain,
Hunting for poems and hoping against hope that I need not
Kill them in the hunt, as it seems is so often the case.
Hunched over a school-issue laptop, mining news-clippings for material:
The starving in Zimbabwe and North Korea;
The lame men thronging Varanasi, praying for renewal
Of their shattered or clubbed or twisted limbs;
The shy students who die in Afghanistan or old Sumeria,
Die by misdirected field guns or the bullets of fanatic assassins,
Die in schoolhouses without ever having seen a portable computer.

When Anna's friend Stephen came home from Iraq
(One tour piloting tanks around the gorgeous wheat fields of Anbar)
He slept on her floor for a week because he couldn't stand to be alone.
A fine routine: him showing up at her door after dinner,
Before the sky darkened and made him feel the absence of night-vision goggles.
He called her two nights ago, to pick him up at a diner;
Caught out as dusk fell, unexpectedly he found himself again in Samarra,
Or somewhere like it. The Hilltop saved him,
Its neon hamburger and milkshake shining out of the darkness
Like a beacon. He pulled over, called her from inside the restaurant.
A chocolate malted in his other hand.
PTSD a mere acronym, brittle and unspoken as she drove him home.

The house is icy and I'm still hunting poems,
Cold coconut curry and rice an accusation in my mouth
(I try not to think about eating these days,
What with the news of misspent food aid and miscellaneous famines).
I continue with my search, the fire-squads of my thoughts
Combing the unknown tangle of my mind like a wheat field,
Groping after something profound, a candle
To light with my words, once I find them.
All I really want to think about is Anna's face,
Luminous in the glow of a beacon, any beacon.

Click here to hear Jacob read his poem

Click here to hear Jacob talk about his inspiration for this poem

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twisted Sister - Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"America's Pastor"

QUOTE: “You don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand. … Three years ago I took enormous heat for inviting Barack Obama to my church because some of his views don’t agree [with mine]. Now he’s invited me.” —Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren, on accepting an invitation to deliver the invocation at the president-elect’s inauguration ceremony. Not surprisingly, Warren has been derided by gay-rights activists for his opposition to same-sex marriages, and most major news outlets have been quick to point out his recent comments in a BeliefNet interview in which the pastor compared the “redefinition of marriage” to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse and polygamy. Even those who agree with Warren’s stance on same-sex marriages have questioned his acceptance to speak at the ceremony. Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, says the move is “tantamount to placing [Warren’s] stamp of approval on Obama and his policies that stand in direct opposition to biblical truths.” In response to his critics, Warren stated: “Hopefully, individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both [President-elect Barack Obama and I] have shown a commitment to model civility in America. … I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the president and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation's history.” [, 12/18/08;, 12/19/08; AP, 12/21/08]

I respected him when he invited both McCain and Obama into his church for an open forum. I respect Obama for inviting him to give the invocation at the inauguration. Now I would like to say to all of those far-leftwingers that are criticizing Obama for this choice, "Back the F$%! Off!" And I would also like to say to all of the far-rightwingers that are criticizing Warren for accepting the invitation, "Back the F#%! Off!"

These two guys are a prime example of how we should be with each other, even in areas where we may disagree. Kudos to you both!


Kim reviews The Shack

There's a guy named Kim that goes to my church. Kim is an awesome worship leader, musician, songwriter, and fellow follower of Christ. I've started using Facebook now as it seems to be the "in" thing these days and I stumbled upon his website which is in my sidebar. Kim Gentes thinkjump.

Anyhow, I found an old post he did back in September where he did a review on the book The Shack. Unfortunately, the book has created a controversy amongst some Christians out there. But what Kim wrote in his review would definitely echo my thoughts on the controversy, he just says it more eloquently than I.

check it out by clicking here

Here is my favorite excerpt from his post...

I do want to comment on the most controversial parts of the book, that are drawing criticism. Primarily, readers will discover that the book centers around the main character (Mack) and his weekend encounter with God. In Young's story, the Trinity is articulated through 3 distinct personalities. Specifically, the Father is portrayed as a joyful, and thoroughly loving, black woman. For some Christian leaders, even though this is a fictional story, this rendering has them railing against "the Shack". It's no wonder the truly brilliant creative voices leave the church with remarkable regularity. The point of the imagery in the story is stated and restated so that any clear-headed reader understands the portrayal. It's fiction after all, but with a purpose. It's too bad some Christian leaders who think they are "smart" have missed that point.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Please Forgive Us

I found an article written by the pastor of the Vineyard Church in Boise Idaho. His name is Tri Robinson and he wrote the article for The Huffington Post.

Please Forgive Us

As a Christian pastor who has joined the environmental movement in earnest a short four years ago, there is only one appropriate posture to take in coming to the table: Please forgive us.
For far too long, the church in America has blurred the lines between politics and faith, unable to differentiate between party affiliations and what the Bible says on certain issues. One of those issues is the environment.

Awakening to the reality that the church -- my church, especially -- had been more than silent on caring for the planet was sobering for me. Simply silent may have been easier to handle than realizing that the church had quickly dismissed concerns raised by environmentalists and then proceeded to attack them. Calling someone a "wacko environmentalist" earned an easy laugh among many in the church. How did the church lose this value
Lose this value? Yes, despite a more recent history of apathy toward caring for the earth or downright disdain for scientists calling for greater attention to climate change, the church once championed caring for the planet. That's difficult to fathom for many people who have only known the church to be uninterested and uninvolved, at best. It doesn't take an exhaustive research of the writings of old saints and heroes of the Christian faith to realize where the church once stood.

Irenaeus of Lyons once wrote, "The initial step for a soul to come to knowledge of God is contemplation of nature." Or consider Francis of Assisi's words: "These creatures minister to our needs every day: without them we could not live; and through them the human race greatly offends the Creator. We fail every day to appreciate so great a blessing by not praising as we should the Creator and Dispense of all these things."

Yet something happened. A break occurred. Christians held science suspect for certain theories that began to emerge. It challenged long-standing beliefs in new ways and instead of being handled with thoughtful consideration was simply dismissed as heresy.

At the end of the 1960s during the height of the environmental movement then, I was an ecology major. My wife and I spent the first 14 years of our marriage without electricity because we lived in an older home on our family ranch in southern California. We truly lived off the land; we grew some of our own food and always valued the natural balance of our surroundings.
Once I became a Christian in the late 1970s and entered into ministry, somehow I disconnected from all of those values and affections I once held for nature. I never stopped caring about nature, but it was somehow set aside because there was no real value for environmental stewardship in the church. In fact, many in the church held the view that "Jesus is returning and the earth is going to burn up anyway, so go ahead and use it up." During that era, many Christians slowly lost their value of caring for the earth, myself included... until one fateful day.
A few years ago during a wedding reception at our church, a woman cornered me and asked if I was the pastor. The tone with which she asked made me think maybe I didn't want to be at that moment. Nevertheless, I confessed that I was and braced for her impending criticism. "This wedding reception should be a crime," she stated. "I've never seen so many items going to waste instead of going into recycling bins." I was embarrassed and tweaked by the stinging truth: I had not led our church in this area, thus we had no church-wide recycling program.

God had already been at work in my heart about the issue of environmental stewardship, but this incident began to push me toward taking action. More than ever, I wanted to make caring for the environment a value in our church.

Since that time, I have worked diligently not only to instill this value in our church but also to help other churches across the country embrace caring for the environment. And in my work, I have found how the environment is distinctly tied to many of the world's issues today that the church does indeed care about addressing -- poverty, world hunger, poor health and disease, human trafficking and corrupt leadership.

Though years have passed, I can only ask for forgiveness from those outside of the church for the church's lack of leadership on this issue and actively engage with you in making a difference. Salvation is the heart of the Christian faith -- and Christians can no longer ignore a planet that needs saving.

Tri Robinson is the pastor of the Vineyard Boise Church in Boise, ID, and author of Saving God's Green Earth and Small Footprint, Big Handprint. He lives on a homestead that is almost fully sustainable and blogs about his adventures there at

Adam Sandler original Chanukah (Hanukkah) Song

the 12 pains of christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sound Doctrine?

There are some churches out there that are teaching "sound doctrine". What is sound doctrine? What you tell me to believe in? If I don't believe "your" doctrine, then I'm wrong? Here's the bottom line folks and it's right there in the Bible.

From Romans chapter 10

Romans 10 (The Message)

4-10The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story— no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?

The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

11-13Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."

So don't be fooled by fancy doctrines and religiosity speak. The Lord also requires two main things from us. One, Love Him with all your heart. And two, Love others. Really quite simple ain't it? But others would want to say that you need their "covering" (beware of this one and don't drink the kool-aid) in order to be right with God.

I'm glad I am worshipping where I am, because I see the Holy Spirit moving and the leadership is caring and loving, and allowing God to do the work in us.

So now I'm off to run a 4 miler and it's a beautiful day.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Week 1 almost over

So my first official week of training ends tomorrow with a 4 mile run. Only 11 more weeks to go. It's been fairly easy so far, but that is only because I have been running and going to the gym on a pretty consistent basis for awhile now. But the distances will progress upward, and I have not really run a distance greater than 3 miles at one time in quite awhile.

So tomorrow looks like this...

If we get up early enough, we'll head to the early service at VCC. We teach the 2's and 3's during the second service. After church we'll probably grab a bite to eat somewhere and in the late afternoon I'll do my 4 miler outside. The cool thing is, if you run completely around Islands Drive which is a loop, it is almost exactly 4 miles. When the distances start getting greater, I'm going to run on some of the trails they have around here that run along the canals.

Hmmm...I just looked at the training for week 2 and it is exactly week 1 repeated.

Mon...strength and stretching
Tue...3 mile run
Wed...2 mile run
Thu...3 mile run and strength (yes folks...I will be running on Christmas Day)
Sat...30 minutes cross training
Sun...4 mile run

I work days Mon and Tue then I don't go back to work again until Sun Jan 4th at 1 pm.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Excerpt for Leaders of all sorts........

I found this post over on my buddy Todd's blog who used to blog at Rag Tags Hope but now you can find him at Pilgrim Steps


"I am just a beggar showing other beggars where to find bread."
-Martin Luther

"As Jesus ministers, so he wants us to minister. He wants Peter to feed his sheep and care for them, not as "professionals" who know their clients' problems and take care of them, but as vulnerable brothers and sisters who know are known, who care and are cared for who forgive and are being forgiven, who love and are being loved.

Somehow we have come to believe that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we are called to lead. Medicine, psychiatry, and social work all offer us models in which "service" takes place in a one-way direction. Someone serves, someone else is being served, and be sure not to mix up the roles! But how can anyone lay down his life for those with whom he is not even allowed to enter into a deep personal relationship? Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life."
-Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another power trip, this time from the NAE. I've got to agree with those that think the NAE lost a great man in Rev. Richard Cizik.

Purists Insist on Groupthink and Denial of Independent Thought by Lawn Griffiths

The other day a friend was talking about the fascination of reading one of that triumvirate of powerful books about individualism and freedoms – “1984,” “Brave New World” and “Animal Farm.” It’s been more than 25 years since I read them, but they still provide some fundamental understanding about the triumph of human reasoning over the tyranny of mind control.

In this “Land of the Free,” there still remains groupthink, ironclad orthodoxy set at the top, straitjackets and threats for academicians in some institutions and the unquestioning of the top dog who somehow knows all.

We got a taste of it this week when the National Association of Evangelicals forced its vice president of government affairs, the Rev. Richard Cizik, to resign. He “misspoke,” by the association’s judgment, when he appeared on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” and asserted his support for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. That’s blasphemy in the NAE’s black-and-white world. Cizik acknowledged that he was “shifting” on the issue of marriage and now favors same-sex civil unions, if not same-sex marriage outright. Cizik had gotten in trouble several years ago when he displayed activism in acknowledging global warning when NAE was holding to the it’s-all-bunk position.

That’s the same National Association of Evangelicals that got embarrassed in November 2006 when Pastor Ted Haggard, NAE’s president and senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., had to resign after admitting to have a homosexual relationship with a male prostitute even when he has spoke out often against all things gay.

Two groups, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Institute on Religion and Democracy were quick to react to Cizik’s ouster. The HRC’s Harry Knox said NAE “lost a good man but even worse, it lost credibility as a religious organization that professes to teach the Gospel. Our faith traditions call on us to celebrate, not denounce, our most sacred loving relationships.” The IRD was far less critical, saying Cizik simply did not advocate positions that jibe with those of the NAE and most evangelicals. “The IRD hopes NAE can now focus on theological and ethical convictions that the evangelicals hold strongly in common.”

The Human Rights Campaign asserts that younger evangelicals “are overwhelmingly standing in support of equality and fairness.” It pointed to a poll taken in October by Public Religion Research, saying 52 percent of young evangelicals support either marriage equality or civil unions.

Social movements have a way of leaving dinosaurs under the debris from the winds of change.

This is BS

Woman Says Church Threatening To Make Sins Public

I was reading this article this morning and just wanted to throw up. One thing I will say though is that this is just one point of view and I'm sure there are two sides to the story. But if what this woman says is true, here are my thoughts...

She doesn't even go to this church anymore, so why not just let it be?

I remember a situation in a church I attended and there was a couple that was going through a divorce. The husband left the church and attended another church. The pastor was going to go to the other church and inform the pastor of this husbands "sins". I do not know if he ever did or not, but I believe this is just totally a control issue. The guy is gone, the pastor is pissed because he has no more control over this guy and he should just let it go. Why try to publicly slander someone? This goes on way too much in the church. I believe in helping someone and counseling someone. But if that person goes elsewhere and does not agree, then it's in Gods hands, not mine, not yours, and certainly not the pastors.

Just another example of abuses of authority in the church that really is about power and control, and little about Grace, Love and Forgiveness.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Hero in the 'New Moral Center'

QUOTE: "Rich Cizik has been a pioneer in the ‘new evangelical' movement and a real hero, especially to the next generation of young believers. The agenda of the evangelical world is deeper and wider because of Rich Cizik. ... Pioneers sometimes get into trouble and even pay a price for their explorations into new territories. But in the new moral center that is now visible, Rich's prophetic voice and leadership will continue to be heard and felt." -Jim Wallis, founder and president of the Christian social justice ministry Sojourners [, 12/13/08]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Blessing for Victor

A few members of the NWS staff in Phoenix and myself were able to deliver all of the groceries we collected for one of our Cooperative Observers this morning. He was very appreciative and it was very fun doing this for him. Below are some photos of the delivery.

Our Grocery Drop-off for Victor

Monday, December 15, 2008

Official Training begins today

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

I've decided to do it and the training starts today...all in preparation for The Valley of the Sun Half Marathon on March 9 2009.

12 weeks of following the Hal Higdon Novice Half Marathon Training guide. To kick it all off today who woulda thunk that I don't even have to run today. This is what my first week of training will look like...

Today...Strength Training and Stretching
Tue...3 mile run
Wed...2 mile run
Thu...3 mile run and strength training
Sat...30 minutes cross training (bike, elliptical or stairmaster)
Sun...4 mile run

I'm going to try and stick to this plan exactly. The week we go to Cabo in February will be the hard part and that is a month out from the half marathon. Long runs are always on Sundays progressing up to a 10 mile run the week before the race. I'll be running with a co-worker of mine who will be following the same training plan. So...wish us luck.

I'll do some posts along the way updating my progress and how I'm doing and feeling.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free. ... The vice I am talking about is Pride or Self-conceit. .... Pride leads to every other vice. ... A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. ... Pride is a spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense."

C.S. Lewis-Mere Christianity

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The State Prison

So we left the church about 10 am and were at the Prison in Florence by 11 am. I've been to the County Jail in Phoenix many times to visit someone but I had never been inside a State Prison before. There were 12 of us and the Prison Chaplain was waiting for us. We checked in and went through a metal detector. You could not bring anything in with you at all. The sound equipment had to come in through another area and be checked over. It was very eerie walking through the Prison with steel gates and doors opening and then banging shut. But I will say this, it was a lot cleaner and neater than the County Jail.

We walked through several hallways and the male inmates were standing along the walls which I was told they are required to do when visitors are walking through. We were told not to make eye contact with them. But it was hard not to do with them just staring you down. Some looked really rough and mean, others not quite so. I did not really feel uncomfortable at all or unsafe and I really don't know why. Because the guard that was escorting us did not have a weapon or anything. I am sure he had something like mace and he did have a baton. But there were a lot of inmates that were not in cells. I guess it was the Holy Spirit that gave me the Peace and Comfort about it.

We ended up on the womens side and we held a Christmas Service for about 120 female inmates. We sang Christmas Carols and then a lady from our church, Marcia gave a brief talk about how God is always with us no matter what we have done. Another lady interpreted the talk in spanish. After the singing and the talk any inmates that wanted prayer were asked to come to the front and we were there to pray with and for them. The majority of the inmates were spanish speaking. There were way more inmates that wanted prayer than there were of us so we just prayed with them one on one and then went to the next person. I had a problem with that language barrier as I do not speak spanish but I still prayed for them and I am sure that God heard those prayers. One gal I prayed with looked very young. Her name was Lori and she spoke english. I asked her what I could pray with her about and she wanted to be able to see her son. I did not ask her why she was in there but I began to pray for Lori. I just prayed that God would give her Peace and Comfort in a bad situation and that she would be able to serve her time knowing that God will be with her through this and then I prayed that God would bless her son and keep him safe and that they would be reunited. She began to cry and weep and gave me a hug and cried on my shoulder for awhile. We were not allowed to really have any physical contact with them other than put our hands on there shoulder while we prayed with them. But she finally let go and said thank you to me. While they were going back to their pods I was standing by the door they were all going through to say God Bless You and Lori walked by and I told her that she will see her son. I just felt that God wanted me to tell her that and she smiled and said thank you to me again.

The entire time in the prison was 2 hours. I will definitely do it again. Afterwards we went to a great Mexican Food place and then headed back home. I got back around 5 pm. If you think about it during your prayers, please pray for these ladies. Especially pray for Lori that God will watch over and protect her and give her Peace and that her and her son will be reunited.

Peace and Blessings!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm going to the Prison

I have not mentioned this on my blog yet. But I am going to the Arizona State Prison in Florence tomorrow morning with a group from my church. We will be holding a worship service for them and then will pray with any of the inmates that want us to pray with them. I am looking forward to it actually.

I had a nice lunch with Lonnie today. Great food and good conversation. He's a great guy.

Patty is doing much better now as far as her depression. I am thankful for all of those that were praying for her. She's becoming her normal self now which is the happy go lucky person she is. We are thinking about getting out of here for a night. We want to go up North and play in the snow.

I bought tickets to a concert in April. A little band called Black Label Society with Zack Wylde and another band called Sevendust. They are coming to The Marquee for two shows on April 28th and 29th. We got tickets to the second show. We're going with another couple, some good friends from Amadeo, Jon and Shelly. They're bikers, and the bikers will be out in force for BLS. When I emailed Shelly she said they were definitely interested, so we firmed up the details and we're all going. Should be a great time.

The weather is changing here for the upcoming week. It's looking cool and wet here in the Valley and the mountains should see some good snows.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Churches experiencing a downturn in giving

I've been hearing and reading an awful lot about churches that are being affected by the bad economy. In other words, they're passing the plate but there ain't nothing going in.

It is happening at the church I attend as well. I am all for supporting the church that you attend with finances. There are costs associated with running a church and bills to be paid. I also believe that Pastors should be taken care of financially. How many times do they get called outside of their office hours to visit someone in the hospital, give counsel during a family crisis, etc.?

Where I have a problem is when you are told how much to give. I am not a big fan or believer in the "tithe". I believe in giving with a cheerful heart and the amount is between the giver and the Lord. I used to attend a church where the Pastor asked me if I was giving. He not only asked me that, he also was trying to figure out how much I made and then talk turned to how much I put into my 401K. When I told him, he actually had the audacity to tell me that I should not be putting that much in. He also took a look at the giving of the members of the church, which in my mind is a huge no-no. Actually the giving should not be seen by anyone. Of course someone has to look at it because you get a receipt for taxes at the end of the year, but that should be it.

I am able to give a little more now than when I was at that church because I had some huge bills that were paid off this past Summer.

I pray that this economy will turn around, but it doesn't look too good at this time. If you're working, consider yourself blessed. There are many right now who have been let go right before Christmas. I have friends and family that are jobless right now.

Lets all take care of one another.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prop 8 The Musical

Just so I make this very clear...I am strongly in favor of marriage being between a Man and a Woman. However, I believe that they should be allowed to have civil unions. This was a very clever video and some great points were made.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blessing someone this Christmas

As some of you may know, part of my job with the NWS is that I manage the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. These folks are all volunteers that report weather data all across the United States. I have about 70 observers in my area of responsibility and the best part of my job is when I make my annual and sometimes semi-annual visits, because I get to talk with them.

One of my observers is a Vietnam Vet who lives in a trailer and doesn't have much outside of his VA benefits. Yet he does his civil service by providing us with weather data each morning promptly at 8 am, without fail! His name is Victor. The last time I was at his place was right before Thanksgiving. Victor is a talker. He's lonely. But he will talk your ear off. The guy has some stories, let me tell you. While I was there he received some food from a Catholic Charity in Tucson. 7 meals to be exact. 1 for each day. He said that is what he eats. I then began to ask him about his Thanksgiving, what his plans were. He said that one of his friends whose wife passed away this year invited him to Thanksgiving Dinner at the Truck Stop down on Interstate 10. So I was comforted by the fact that he would not be alone for Thanksgiving. The poor guy even lost his dog this year, so he's really alone.

So I got to thinking while I was driving back to the office. I thought to myself "How cool would that be if I organized a food drive for Victor?" So I organized my thoughts and then prepared a memo for the staff and sent it out. You should see all of the food and bags of groceries we have collected. I am driving it out to his place on the 16th and he has no idea we are doing this. All of the non-perishable stuff is here right now. I informed the staff that anyone who would like to donate some meat or anything perishable, to make sure they bring it the morning I load the truck up and I'll have a cooler filled with ice to pack it in.

Just another act of kindness that will bless someone that does not have much. I am taking our administrative assistant with me when I deliver the goods and we will take pictures.


Supreme Court Overturns Bush v. Gore

In his first and last 42 days as president, Gore will reportedly visit U.S. troops overseas, meet with dignitaries from France, Great Britain, China, Azerbaijan, Japan, and Eastern Europe, formalize a plan to bail out the struggling airline and automotive industries, sign the Kyoto Protocol, take a photo of himself and wife Tipper in front of the White House Christmas tree, and ensure a smooth transition between his own administration to that of incoming president-elect Barack Obama.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Comfortably Numb

Sort of how I feel right now

For what it's worth, here it is...

Many of you may remember that I was getting ready to make a major announcement that would really change our lives. Now for the outcome...

As many of my readers know, we were very involved in an orphanage in Mexico. We had retained an attorney and were going through the process of adoption. I was hoping that the major announcement would have been that it went through and we had legally adopted the boy we sponsor.

As you have noticed, I have not blogged about the orphanage in quite sometime. But Patty and I have continued going down once a month, Patty sometimes twice a month. In the very beginning we were going with a group, but then the group stopped going down and I'm not going to get into all of the specifics about that at this time. At that time we had a meeting with the Director of the orphanage and he told us that we were welcome to come down anytime. So we continued going down and bringing food for the kitchen. We donated a freezer and Patty bought the groundskeeper a brand new weed eater. We were regular visitors to these kids and brought them love and attention that so so dearly accepted and gave back twofold. They have enough abandonment in their lives.

So fast forward to October now, after we had been going down for quite awhile. A bit prior to that my wife Patty received an email from a lady (I'm not going to mention her name) from Tucson about her disrupting a church service there or something to that effect. This was an out and out lie. This lady was not even there and where she received her information we do not know. We have had many problems with this lady. Not only us, but several others as well. The emails she sends out to people that ask her questions are very condescending. For whatever reason, she did not like us going down there and even told my old pastor some outright lies. My wife was hurt by this email but it was only the beginning.

While I was on my work trip in October she received an email from this lady in Tucson that said we could no longer go to the orphanage and would be turned away at the front gate. We then received an email from the Board of Directors saying the same. I replied with a formal letter by snail mail and email but have yet to receive a reply. This lady told me not to speak with the Director of the orphanage as it was out of his hands. Whatever that means. Shortly thereafter we received a letter from our boy, Jesus Guadalupe, that was sort of a goodbye/thank you for being my sponsor letter. It appeared to us that he was forced to write this. This, after we had just seen him and spent time with him and making sure that he wanted us to adopt him.

My wife was just devastated. She went into a deep depression. I became very angry that these people hurt my wife so badly. I can't even begin to describe what it did to her. We have been through a lot in our 21 years of marriage, but this has to take the cake for the worst. My wife was so dedicated to these kids and we did absolutely nothing wrong, and for them to just yank it out from under her is one of the most evil things they could do to her.

Now as to why this happened? I have some ideas, but cannot be totally sure. I think this lady in Tucson was upset that we were regular visitors in these kids lives and felt threatened to some degree. I also think that us wanting to adopt may have played a part in it also. Mexico has a lot of corruption. I question where our money was actually going each and every month. We were down there once, sometimes twice a month. Only recently had some improvements been made to the orphanage itself. There were concerns about where stuff was going if you sent something to the child you sponsored. Sometimes they would not even receive it.

God calls us to take care of the least of these. The poor, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners. We did this with love and dedication. It was taken away by some selfish people that get off on power trips or something. My wife is doing better and we have pretty much given up. She can't go through this emotional roller coaster any longer. I could definitely sue for defamation of character due to what has been said about my wife. But what would that do? In the end, it is those kids that will suffer. All we can do now is pray for them and pray for those that have wounded Patty so badly.

So instead of making a happy announcement about us adopting a child from the orphanage, I regret to inform you that we will no longer be going down. We were blessed tremendously by being able to love all of those kids and we will never forget them.

To those that think you have accomplished something by taking this away from have accomplished something alright. You have wounded my wife more than you will ever realize and for that I hope you feel good. We have the Lord as our Peace and our Comfort. He alone will get us through this, and He has already begun.

Patty is doing much better, but it was tough for awhile there. I had never seen her in that condition. We will heal. We will move on. We are in a great place right now with loving people all around us.

I had to share this and get it off my chest. It is absolutely incredible to me how people can treat other people sometimes, but it's a cruel world sometimes. We can only try to make it better by spreading the love. So just spread the love folks. Do something nice for someone.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Another day of service and a very cool guy!

Last night I headed over to the Desert Ridge Marriot to meet a friend from Nebraska for some dinner and conversation. I left my place a bit after 3 pm and made it there by 4, our arranged time. Traffic from here to there is pretty bad. Anyhow, it was great to see her and catch up. We ate dinner and then went to Barnes and Noble and had coffee and spent about 4 and a half hours together. Sure wish we could have spent more time together but she was here for a conference flew back home this morning.

I was in bed by about 1030 last night knowing that I had to help a co-worker of Patty's move this morning. I set my alarm for 8 and had a small breakfast and was supposed to be at her house by 9. I popped into the Circle K on the way for an energy drink (I'm addicted to those damn things I think). As I was paying someone came in and said that a lady had fallen at the gas pumps. I went over there and helped her. She was an elderly Asian woman and she had twisted her leg real bad and fallen backwards. Thank God she didn't hit her head or anything. Another kind gentleman that was there and myself helped her into her car. It was her left leg that was hurt so she was okay driving. We kept asking her if she wanted us to call 911 for a paramedic but she absolutely did not want us to do that. It wasn't life threatening at all, but both myself and the other guy thought that maybe that would be the best thing to do. We ended up helping her to her car and the other guy was going to follow her to her house so I was done at that point and made it over to the house to help move about 930.

Sue, Patty's co-worker is going through a divorce so she was moving out of the house into an apartment because the house is being sold. She had a Uhaul truck rented and her neighbor was there to help her. His name was Tom and he was a great guy. I wish I had a camera because this guy could pass for Dana Carvey's twin. It turns out that Tom has not had a drink since 1997. We clicked right away and just started loading the truck up. There was some heavy stuff, and I can tell you that I will definitely feel it tomorrow. We had it all done and inside the apartment by 3 pm. It sure was a lot easier with a Uhaul than the move I helped with last weekend where pick-ups were used. So I served again today and met an awesome guy named Tom, who looks like Dana Carvey and was almost as funny as him too. And yes, I had fun again doing it too.

It was also kind of cool that it was the second time this week that I have met someone that has been sober for quite awhile. Coincidence? I don't know. But I've met two different folks that are sober today and I can so relate to what they've been through. They've got a lot to be proud of and so do I.

Okay God, are there anymore folks that need help moving? Please let me take a break for a couple of weeks though first ;-)


Thursday, December 04, 2008

The good before the bad

I need to share something really cool that happened to me yesterday while I was moving the equipment from one location to another up in Globe. For those not familiar with Arizona, Globe is at a much higher elevation than Phoenix and is about 80 miles away. I want to share this before I start my post about some of the hurt we have been going through recently.

I arrived at the new location in Globe about 9 am and met the lady that will be doing the reports for us. I needed to look at the property and decide where I was going to plant the equipment. While speaking with her she was telling me that she works 2 jobs 6 days a week and only has Wednesdays off. She works in an office two days a week and bartends 6 nights a week. I told her that was interesting in that she was a bartender and I had not had a drink in 8 years. She smiled really big and told me that she was a recovered meth addict and has been sober for 11 years. So I asked her if I could give her a hug and she said sure. We had something in common and instantly bonded. While I was installing the equipment we just chatted away about our lives and our recovery. She lives alone and has absolutely no debt. Just pays her rent and utilities. She has some kids and even a grandkid and is just doing wonderful in staying sober and enjoying life.

After I met her, I had to drive to the home I was pulling the equipment from and pull it out and put it in my truck. This couple is wonderful. They are both Christians and he is in a wheelchair with either MS or MD. Very nice couple, but I think she was giving up the job because of her taking care of him. Anyhow, I was able to share my experience with meeting the new observer (we call them cooperative weather observers) because the current observer knew about my sobriety. She told me something that really made my day. They are an older couple and she just told me that every time she sees me that she just sees God all over my face. Whatever that means. But I think I know what she meant and it was just a HUGE compliment.

Anyhow, I had to share that.


I believe in person to person; every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment.

- Mother Teresa

When Chief Sinners become Moral Guardians

I found this post over on Kent's blog and it was spot on folks. Especially this part...

This is from Greg Boyd's book Myth Of A Christian Nation. This is from the chapter When Chief Sinners become Moral Guardians. Greg hits on something here that seems to be a standard practice among people shaped by religious ideologies. Christianity does not escape this. If the message of Jesus, the gospel, the good news, has mostly been reduced to an attempt at training people to do "good" and not to do "evil" by naming good and evil, have we not just continued what began with Adam and Eve? The focus is still on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the flesh instead of on the Spirit and we are living smack dab in the middle of the mess that has created.

"When people assume the position of moral guardians of the culture, they invite---they earn!---the charge of hypocrisy. For all judgement, save the judgement of the omniscient and holy God, involves hypocrisy. Whenever we "eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"---this is, whenever we find some element of worth, significance, and purpose in contrasting ourselves as "good" with the others we deem "evil"--we do so in a self-serving and selective manner. We always bend the tree, as it were, to our own advantage and, as a result, we do the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us to do. Instead of seeing our own sins as worse than others, we invariably set up a list of sins in which our sins are deemed minor while the other people's sins are deemed major. We may have dust particles in our eyes, we reason, but at least we don't have tree trunks like "those people." Unlike the tax collector who made no moral claims for himself, we thank the Lord we are not like other people just as the Pharisee did (Luke 18:9-14)."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Big change of plans

So it appears now that I will be able to do the station relocation up in Globe tomorrow all in one day, and it will be a long day. It will probably be dark by the time I get back to the office. This turns out to be better for me anyhow.

We have a friend from Nebraska that will be in town (they all flock to The Valley of the Sun in the winter) for a conference. She gets here tomorrow and goes back Saturday morning. She only has Thursday and Friday nights available so it looks like we will be getting together Friday night for dinner or something.

In about a week or so I am going to be blogging about some stuff that has been eating me for some time, and also has something to do with that "major announcement" I was talking about awhile back. In the meantime, stay tuned. It is going to be very hard for me to write about it but it is what it is.

Also, please be praying for Patty. She is not doing so well and is really in the dumps and she is hurting really bad. People are so cruel man. Many people that don't even know how cruel they can really be.

Peace and stay tuned!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Are you willing to serve?

Not too long ago I received an email from the Men's Ministry leader at my church. He was asking for help to help another family that goes to our church. Actually, they are fairly new to the church. Anyhow, this family was moving from one apartment to another. The move happened this past Sunday. Believe it or not, I actually had fun. I got to help someone that needed the help and I also got to meet a few new people and hang out with Lonnie too. I am always willing to serve others. I have spoke in the past about teaching. I hate it, and don't really have a desire to "teach". But I am willing to serve in other ways.

Now onto the funny part...

When Lonnie took me back to my car yesterday after we were done with the move, I told him that I actually had fun because I was serving somebody. Well I guess God heard that. Today, my wife Patty asked me if I could help a co-worker of hers move this coming Saturday. She is going through a divorce. I couldn't help but laugh on the inside. But I am going to do it, and with a smile too. The only thing I asked was whether or not she was renting a Uhaul or not. She is. That's a plus, because the move this past weekend was a lot tougher because we used two pick-ups and a car.

Also this week I am moving one of my stations up in Globe Arizona. I guess I won't need to be doing much weight lifting at the gym this week. I'll just stick to the cardio.

Speaking of cardio, I have decided to run in The Valley of the Sun Half Marathon on March 8th. I will start my "official" 12 week training plan on December 15th.

Have you served someone today? Are you planning on serving someone soon? Do it! It will make you feel good and it is something nice that helps somebody else out.