Verse of the Day

Tuesday, December 29

A Year in Review

I am old enough to know I don't have to reinvent the wheel so here is an article well worth the reading and chewing.

If you're willing perhaps you could post your answers as comments. I'll post mine a bit later. Hat tip to William Vanderbloemen for the link.

Peace,

Alan

Monday, December 21

Danny's Story

Hat Tip to Tyler for a God inspired post and link.

Take ten minutes out of your preparation for Christmas. Read the blog post. Then click on the video. It will be worth it. God is speaking in this exchange.

Merry Christmas

Alan

Tuesday, December 15

Eighteen Month Difference

Eighteen months ago Wordle showed this blog like this:



2009 brought about a change as you can see.







We have changed the direction of the church. We are now able to move ahead without worry that the latest "denominational drama" will threaten our church and it's members.

We have changed the vision of the church. Our urban congregation is on the verge of doing great things for our community. There is a new confidence as we step out in faith that the structure is there to help not hinder such work.

We have changed the energy level of the church. We're not bigger and we're certainly not younger; but there is a new found vitality to attempt to tackle bigger things for the sake of Christ. No longer is our energy used up in fighting against heresies disguised as truth and promoted as God's will.

Today I don't make excuses for the General Assembly or Presbytery, nor do I have too. Today my stomach doesn't know up when I read Presbyweb, Outlook or read "Presbyterian" in the news. Today, when I read about the latest PJC decision and the rest, I pray for those who have chosen to remain behind and fight the fight.

It has been a new day for Kenton Church. We're focused on what's most important and going about sharing the gospel in hands-on, powerful ways. What's more, 2010 will only get better.

Peace

Alan

Sunday, December 13

Advent 3


A few years ago a young man who attended our church got meningitis and was found by friends just hours from dying. A fast acting doctor got him into a clinical trial and the medication they pumped into him saved his life. As we've been hearing H1N1 is nothing to scoff at as it is highly contagious as is MRSA and a many other diseases running around the human race.

God's love is equally infectious. When infected with it we find ourselves loving others, even our enemies. When we've been caught by God's infectious joy we discover that no matter what life hands us we face it the assurance God is in charge.

The shepherds that first Christmas embraced the infectious joy of God and went to see the miracle of Jesus' birth. King Herod, faced with the same news, grew upset and along with him all of the city was troubled.

very few people are like Herod. Very few people are like the shepherds either. Most find that they've had "just enough" Christianity and church to inoculate them from the joy God has for them. They've heard the story enough so that they can tune it out without it affecting their life...sometimes while they're sitting in a pew.

Here's the way we diagnose how well we've been infected. If we find ourselves in love with Christ and the things of God like prayer for others, Scripture and loving others unconditionally we can be pretty sure the God's love is breeding well in our hearts. On the other hand, if we really don't care about people who are different than us or if we're too busy to help those in need we need to wonder what we've missed along the way. Remember what John wrote:

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Christ's people are people who are infected by God's joy to the point of laying down our comfort for the sake of others and who find real Joy in those actions. Kenton knows what this looks like and this week we prove it as we step out in faith reach out to those in need.

Peace,
Alan

Tuesday, December 8

Advent Week 2

What does it mean to have our lives "redeemed"? From what are we saved? From what do we need saving or rescuing? Redemption is the beginning, end and at the middle of God's intent when it comes to Christmas.

Christ's birth isn't illustrative of how innocence wins over the powerful and connected.Christ's birth isn't about victims rights, political theory, or the vulnerability of infants in the "big, bad world". No! It is about God's desire to make us His friends once more. It is about such a deep, gut-wrenching, fundamental goal to see our rebellion paid for in full. So great, that Jesus, God's Son, comes to die.

The result of that truth in our life makes us other oriented. It promotes a generosity we can't imagine and it allows us to be used by the Holy Spirit to reflect the redemptive power of God to the world in which we live.

Consider Philippians 1
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,7 but made himself nothing,taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Be in prayer for others using the prayer in the Advent Folder, and take note of those times when God has used you, or spoken to you in special ways during this time.Also don't forget to read the daily heart passage.

If we meet God on His terms I'm sure we will see our hearts grow huge this Advent

Peace
Alan

Wednesday, December 2

Advent Interruption

A War Tax is on the table in Congress introduced by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis). I'd like to know where the $250,000 limit comes from. If that's middle-class then I should be below the poverty level along with most everyone I know. And why just those over $250k. Do the rest of us not have to share the sacrifice being made by U.S. men and women?

At the same time, how come Obey didn't promote a tax to support the bank bailout and auto bailout. Shouldn't we too share the golden parachutes of high salaries and bonuses? Then there is the "Stimulus act" and "health care" just passed. We too should be able to share the sacrifice incumbent in these programs.

It seems to me the best use of the stimulus would be to give a check to every American family to bring them over the magic $250k mark then any taxes would be fair and equal.

I am a born and raised Democrat. I vote a mixed ticket but my mantra has become, "if you can't help us for heaven's sake don't hurt us."

Peace
Alan

Monday, November 30

Advent Week 1

Yesterday we started our annual Adventure of Advent. This may not have much impact for those who aren't part of our congregation but our goals for this season is to have the Holy Spirit grow our hearts "three-sizes".

God's generosity has been apparent in our congregation for years but yesterday it was demonstrated wonderfully as 12 of you signed up to be involved in our outreach, [side-note: only 2 people forgot to put their names on the sheets]. Twenty-four percent of those present took this step of faith.

Don't forget to use the advent insert for seasonal scripture readings. Consider just a couple of verses from Monday's reading in John 1.
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
I was reminded by these that the blessings I have because of my talents, position, wishes or hard work. They are acts of God's grace poured out in Jesus.

Read, grow strong and feel free to comment and share your stories of how God's Advent is becoming an adventure for you.

Peace,
Alan

Friday, November 27

Black Friday Update

"Hope Springs Eternal" wrote Alexander Pope and I have to believe that was the mantra of the two ladies trying to have Target employees load two (2) 40" Apex LCD TV's in to their red 2009 Kia Optima.

Best wishes for them both on the drive home...




Peace
Alan

Thursday, November 19

Truth is truth!

I have a strange mix of blogs on my Google page. Among them is "Hello, my name is" by Scott Ginsberg. In is post today he steps on my toes and probably a lot of others. It would be a simple thing to attache a Bible verse to each of his points and preach them.

So what do you do when you're brought up short by an unexpected source? What if the source is not in your political arena? What if it doesn't wear your religious name tag?

Is truth, truth? Ok, gotta go get my office cleaned up... thanks Scott

Peace
Alan

Monday, November 9

A Personal Manifesto For Congregational Singing

Hat tip to Chuck Huckaby on facebook. Personally I think "worship wars" is a bit overstated but there are some musical issues being felt within the church. Here's a bit of wisdom to get the focus off of us and onto God where it belongs.


A Personal Manifesto For Congregational Singing

Posted using ShareThis

Thirty plus years ago during a Televised Christmas Mass the priest made the following comment just before a hymn. "Scripture says make a joyful noise to the Lord. If the Lord has given you a good voice it is your opportunity to praise Him. If he has given you a lousy voice, it's your chance to get even." Some sayings are worth remembering

Peace
Alan

Wednesday, November 4

Gutsy Move

I do not use the words "pro-life" or "pro-choice" because both terms carry more baggage than I care to be a part of. I am married to an RN who works with children, some of whom have babies long before they should. I've known people who will testify that the abortion they had saved their lives. And I know others who deal with post traumatic disorder from their abortion. I am aware of Sanger's eugenics background as she started Planned Parenthood and am not surprised that Portland's big, new Planned Parenthood center is on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in a mostly African-American community.

Now having said all of that I felt it was necessary to post a recent news story out of Bryan Texas. Watch, comment if you want, and pray through your response.



Peace
Alan

Wednesday, October 7

Do the Wave

I have no idea when this is going to roll out from Google but can you imagine what a church of any size might be able to do with such a tool.




Peace

Alan

Thursday, October 1

Church History in 4 minutes

I wish I'd had done this but hat/tip to Rev. Bosco Peters of New Zealand for blogging and tweeting this video...



Peace
Alan

Thursday, September 24

I'll give this one to the Aggies

I spent four years in Texas. It was a good four years. I came to love both UT and A and M however my sympathies usually ran with the Longhorns [hook 'em horns]. Having said that, this video is simply amazing. I imagine it was part of an applied physics class [cough, cough, choke, smile].

Enjoy
Peace
Alan

Here's the longer shot

Friday, September 18

Friday, September 4

Apostles Creed

Hat Tip to Chuck Huckaby for the video.

There's just too much truth in this... Enjoy

Okay here's another one just for the heck of it.


Peace,
Alan

Saturday, August 29

There but for the grace of God...

This video is making the blog rounds and I understand the sentiments being dumped on Officer Cheeks. BUT, I can't help but wonder if the same segment of the American public would be aghast if Officer Cheeks confronted Ms. Cindy Sheehan of Camp Casey fame? I doubt it.

Background for where I'm going.
I've voted for 9 presidents.
I've liked and disliked most of them at one time or another.
I was raised a democrat, have often voted a party ticket and will die a democrat, although saved.
My undergraduate degree is in Political Science because I really like the chaos that revolves around political systems.
My politics are not where they once were and they aren't where they will be and that's okay with me.

For followers of Christ we walk a thin line between Acts 4:18-20 and Romans 13:1-8. Of the word and ideas that jump out at me are speak, teach, obey God, established by God, God's servant (3 times in Romans), pay taxes, respect, and honor.

God has been doing a number on me with how many times what I want, believe, think and feel are simply reflections of the fall in Genesis 3 and trying to be "like God." When you are tempted to blog, preach, "share your concerns" or protest for or against something.

Where does one's ego end and God's will, as revealed by His Spirit, begin? I've found usually these are mutually exclusive. Second, does what you plan to say, write or do fulfill Christ's law of love or are you just being mean? Imagine everything you said, thought and did were viewable on YouTube. What would your congregation; grandmother and friends think about you? Would it help or hinder God's people.

I feel for Officer Cheeks much as I do about Joe the plumber. They are folks caught up in the moment and demonstrated the fact that they are humans. And Americans will make them pay the price for that too.

Here are two prophetic words for the Body of Christ. Treat people with GRACE and of course Matthew 7. I have a second word for the People of God, don't be a butt about things. If we don't like something fine but don't confuse what we like with what God likes.

Peace out
Alan

Wednesday, August 26

Pre or Post Poodle?

As a pastor I've had to deal with the tough question of whether or not our pets go to heaven when they die. I try to be consoling to the kid who lost their guppy, puppy, kitty or whatever and still be somewhat theological consistent.

But now, the ultimate question has been answered. What happens to your pets when Hal Lindsey [that dates me] is right and the RAPTURE occurs. A hat tip from Jack, a OLD senior high kid from seminary day sent me Eternal Earth-Bound Pets.

I don't if I'm more concerned for the Christ followers who will fork out the money or for the spiritually blinded who are willing to take the money and run. All I know is that it is just too doggone funny to not share.

Thursday, August 13

A Bit Strange



Got an email today from Portland's Rose Garden that sparked a memory from a week ago. I had driven by and on the reader board I just caught the end of an announcement of an up and coming event. Immediately after it was the event for Rev. Osteen.

The quick glance made it appear that they were linked. Then again, perhaps that's not so strange.

Alan

Friday, July 31

WOW and I'm not talking the game.



Updated August 4, 2009 because I thought the picture was worth the work.

Here's a little news story that I haven't seen on Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or the other pundits of either liberal or conservative. Florida court rules Fox News can lie.

The reason no one mentioned this is quite obvious, it's money. If the Russ' and O'Reilly's can lie then they'll get more people upset and sell more advertising. If the New York Times or NBC can lie then they can sell more advertising and make us either feel better or more worried about things.

When I mentioned this to Mr. J, my youngest, he said, "What, that's just stupid." And his succinct, insightful and thoughtful response was exactly right. One comment on the Fox news was great, "they should change their motto from "Fair and Balanced" to "Telling You What You Want to Hear."

Does is surprise you that the yellow journalism of Hurst fame is now legally protected? And what's more if you don't lie, spin, direct or edit a show in such a way to make the editor happy you can get canned for it.

It doesn't surprise me because as a follower of Christ I am well aware of how nasty, cruel and evil people are. I also realize that this decision makes perfect sense in light of the way our culture is going where truth is malleable, relative and never true.

So chew on this and when you watch your evening news just remember seeing is NOT believing.

Peace
Alan

Sunday, June 7

Better than I could do


H/T to Agnusday for a great post this Trinity Sunday. Also another great example of the new technology coming to terms with truth at Church Crunch.

Read and enjoy.

Peace
Alan

Wednesday, June 3

Compassion

Where does compassion come from? For some, it apparently springs from having superior fire power.

For your wonderment:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An owner of a New York store thwarted a robbery only to take pity on the perpetrator, who claimed he could not feed his family, and gave the man $40 and a loaf of bread, a video of the incident showed.
A video posted on Tuesday by the Newsday newspaper on its website www.newsday.com showed a masked man wielding a bat as he entered a convenience store in Shirley, Long Island, just after midnight on May 21 and demanded money.
But when the store's owner, identified by the local Channel 12 TV station as Mohammad Sohail, pulled out a rifle, the masked man dropped to his knees and appeared to beg for forgiveness.
"He said 'I am sorry, I have no money, no job, my family is hungry,'" Sohail told the TV station. "Then I feel bad for him ... I take $40 for him."
Sohail said he was not planning to press charges.


Peace,

Alan

Saturday, April 11

Easter is Real

Continuing Easter theme check out this Christianity Today article. It is really good in light of the Jesus Seminar type arguments.

Don't forget to go back and listen to the music by Keith Green in the previous post. They are GREAT Easter songs.

Peace,

Alan

Thursday, April 9

Easter Song

Hat tip to Viola for a great video of Keith Green. Enjoy and worship freely.

What the heck here's another great one for Easter

Peace,

Alan

Sunday, March 29

ONE Trillion Dollars

Got a deacon who is fond of saying, "a billion here, a billion, there...pretty soon you're talking some serious money.

H/T to Soundslikelife a pastor who moved to Mississippi posted a great visual to help us think about our economic life. Hope you enjoy it, pray over it and come to grips with what our grandchildren owe the world. http://www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html.

Have a great Sundayjavascript:void(0)

Alan

Saturday, March 28

Shout out for Prayer

We all have friends, family, worshipers and the like that need our prayers. I want to ask the blog community to be in prayer for Will Jackson and his family. Seth, his son, is need of a touch from our Father. You can read about it on his blog.

Peace

Alan

Monday, March 16

Where did all the people go?


Just noted the recent tallies on voting for 08-b and seeing how badly it was passed this past weekend by the Presbytery of the Cascades. The vote wasn't a surprise; the presbytery is blue across the votes. What did catch my eye was the number of those voting.

I couldn't help but wonder why a loss of 210 voters over 11 years. We have had a number of deaths among retired ministers but have also gained more than a few who want to come to the Pacific Northwest.

Maybe people are just tired of the fight. Some are just too busy being a pastor to their members. Saturday afternoon I ran into one member of Presbytery who didn't attend the meeting at an event for one of his members because being with his member was more important. Sadly, I might assume that some figure if they don't go they're not to blame for what happens.

With a presbytery of some 65,000 square miles the place where the vote is held might be an issue as well. The largest turnouts for meetings take place in the Portland area, which is where most of the people are. This last vote was in Salem, only 45 miles from Portland and the worse turnout yet. Hold one out in Klamath Falls or Brookings, way down south and the attendance falls off a whole bunch.

I don't have any great insight or lessons but just sort of surprised and interested what others thought about such a decline.

Peace
Alan

Friday, March 6

Spinning Transparnency 2

From the "Transparency Website" we see listed 288 billion under "Tax Relief" has an * that says:

"Tax Relief - includes $15 B for Infrastructure and Science, $61 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $25 B for Education and Training and $22 B for Energy, so total funds are $126 B for Infrastructure and Science, $142 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $78 B for Education and Training, and $65 B for Energy."


There are 214 references to "train" and Training. Linking that with "taxes" and I can find no references where the two words are in proximity to one another. There is some reference to training people for jobs but I did not note anything about "tax" incentives in that section of the bill. Section 1828-1833 starting on page 267 is one of the most detailed on "training" I could find. In this section the part dealing with "relocation" section 1833 seems to speak of changing allowances for those who move due to new jobs.

"Energy" has to be one of the watch words in this document with over 270 references to the word. When linked with "taxes" the number of total hits swell to over 700. There are provisions for tax breaks for those who buy Electric plug in vehicles and what is being labled "Green Retrofit Investments" [page 108]. In this place I'd say there is some direct correlation between "Tax Relief" and the footnote.

Closing thoughts. I do not doubt that "Tax Relief" exists within this bill. My concern is the attempt to seemingly lump it with so many programs, ideas, projects and items which, in no way, are associated with income, FICA or Medicare taxes. It sounds a lot like a con job.

Here are my two cents worth for a beginning to get out of this crisis and it's ONLY a start. First amend the tax code to allow the interest on automobile loans for cars manufactured since 2007 to be deducted from one's income even if they do NOT itemize their deductions. Even if it were capped at $2,500 a year and fade away in five years it would be a movement to help get people purchasing in a very fragile segment of our economy.

Secondly, since so many people are coming to rely on non-profits for food, utilities, housing and the like, allow one's "charitable donations" to be deductible regardless of whether deductions are itemized or not. This would allow the smaller gifts of those who rent, who do not have a huge amount of non-insured medical bills to know that they are helping people and get a little bit out of it on their taxes.

Okay, I'm done with this bill. Hope it helps. Please point out those links between tax relief and the footnote I missed.

Peace
Alan

Monday, March 2

Spinning Transparancy...

From the "Transparency Website" we see listed 288 billion under "Tax Relief" has an * that says:

"Tax Relief - includes $15 B for Infrastructure and Science, $61 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $25 B for Education and Training and $22 B for Energy, so total funds are $126 B for Infrastructure and Science, $142 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $78 B for Education and Training, and $65 B for Energy."


BTW the repetition is in the actual footnote on the website???

Why is this "tax relief?"
Protecting the Vulnerable doesn't appear in the bill at all. In fact "vulnerable" appears nine (9) times of which four (4) deal with television converter boxes or access to broadband; and another three (3) are aimed at HIT "Promotion of Health Information Technology" section of the bill. Two of them do seem to deal with emergency monies for those on TANF "State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs" but that isn't tax relief.

Infrastructure is used 88 times and only one place does it occur near the word tax. It's on page 239 and deals with "Infrastructure Financing Tools"

Searching Education and tax I found one (1) clearly linked connection. A direct link between education and tax relief comes in an expansion of the HOPE credit from two to four years on page 199. Page 202 talks also allows a person to deduct the cost of computer and/or software if purchased for a student [see below for text *]

I'll let you all digest this then I'll take at the rest of the statements in the next week or so.

Peace,
Alan









* ‘‘(i) AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY TAX CREDIT.—In the case of any taxable year beginning in 2009 or 2010—
‘‘(1) INCREASE IN CREDIT.—The Hope Scholarship Credit shall be an amount equal to the sum of—
‘‘(A) 100 percent of so much of the qualified tuition and related expenses paid by the taxpayer during the taxable year (for education furnished to the eligible student
during any academic period beginning in such taxable year)
as does not exceed $2,000, plus
‘‘(B) 25 percent of such expenses so paid as exceeds $2,000 but does not exceed $4,000.
‘‘(2) CREDIT ALLOWED FOR FIRST 4 YEARS OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION.—Subparagraphs (A) and (C) of subsection (b)(2) shall be applied by substituting ‘4’ for ‘2’.
‘‘(3) QUALIFIED TUITION AND RELATED EXPENSES TO INCLUDE REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS.—Subsection (f)(1)(A) shall be applied by substituting ‘tuition, fees, and course materials’ for ‘tuition and fees’.

and

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 529(e)(3)(A) is amended by striking ‘‘and’’ at the end of clause (i), by striking the period at the end of clause (ii), and by adding at the end the following:
‘‘(iii) expenses paid or incurred in 2009 or 2010 for the purchase of any computer technology or equipment(as defined in section 170(e)(6)(F)(i)) or Internet access and related services, if such technology, equipment,or services are to be used by the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s family during any of the years the beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution.


Tuesday, February 24

The Voting Continues

Jack Haberer wrote an interesting piece on the PC(USA)'s ongoing vote. In the interest of full disclosure, I no longer have a dog in this fight, but if I were still part of the PC(USA) I'd push to change the wording and here's why?

1. It would stop the fighting. The liberals would have finally won and the denomination would have a pretty clear picture in what direction lies its future.
2. It would stop the spin cycle from the right. There will be NO constitutional reason to deny ordination to practicing gay and lesbians, Buddhists or anyone else.
3. Many congregations will face the hard choice which they have not wanted to face before. Leave or stay and be less than they were called to be.
4. Some "tall steeple" pastors will have to decide if they are willing to spend the energy, time and theological work to lead their congregations into a new place or to wait out their years till retirement.


Here is what I pray happens in the PC(USA). First, as the amendment passes that several more people are ordained who are currently out of compliance with our standards. I had a conversation with a pastor who said, "Well they haven't ordained any SAPH yet" to which I pointed them toward Ms. Morrison in Redwoods Presbytery as a prime example. This pastor's next comment was telling, "Well they haven't ordained anyone here." So much for connectionalism.

Second, that the pastors of larger congregations within the PC(USA) are questioned by their Sessions and members about the issues. Time has come to stop insulating people, in the name of "doing God's work". I did that for more than a few years because it was easier than dealing with the issues. Had I been upfront with my leadership we'd been ready to leave sooner, been better leaders and, I believe, more faithful to God's calling for our congregation.

Third, those who do not want to be part of this new way will cease to support the denomination and exit. The elephant in the room is money and legitimacy. If every conservative congregation within the denomination simply wrote a letter and said, we're not paying our percapita or any other money to any and all denominational projects, no matter HOW good that would get their attention. Congregations could form alternative presbyteries, not unlike the "Confessing Church" in Germany during World War 2 Like-minded pastor and elders would meet to conduct the business of the church. Without any approval or oversight from existing presbyteries they would take it upon themselves to ordain and install pastors in congregations that are among the. Such actions could create quite a stir in a presbytery if not a lynch mob.

Each congregation has to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading them. Just don't confuse His calling with the desire to remain comfortable and safe. Don't be afraid to spend the energy, time, money and integrity it will take to follow God.

Last week I saw a guy wearing a shirt on which was printed part of Joshuah 1. It grabbed my attention because Rev. Ron McHattie used that passage for my charge during my ordination in 1980. Let me remind us of the command of God, "Be strong and courageous".

Peace
Alan

Thursday, January 22

Thanks Rev. Fischler...

H/T to Dave Fischler over at The Reformed Pastor for the posting the great video and insight re: the arrangement of political constellations this past week. I'll let you read his comments. You can watch the video either on his site of below.



Makes you sort of stop and think doesn't it.

Peace
Alan

Monday, January 19

The Dream: a process of fulfillment...

I just finished watching CNN's broadcast of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream Speech". Listening to the entire speech several things struck me. First of all how much I appreciate the African-American style of preaching. Dr. King didn't give a speech he preached a sermon. Secondly, I was struck how much of a prophet Dr. King was. He spoke of the "manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination" which were/are a reality for the African-American.

Undoubtedly on his mind was one Gov. George Wallace of Alabama who declared in his inaugural speech in January of 1963, "In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." The photo of Gov. Wallace blocking the entrance to the school is an enduring reminder of the division that existed [and still exists to some extent] in our nation.

Dr. King's prophetic gift is noted in how Gov. Wallace was transformed by suffering. In his message, Dr. King said, "Some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive" [Emphasis is mine].

A 1995 Washington Post article recounts how the suffering of Gov. Wallace, following his assignation attempt had opened the door for change. Stephen Lesher tells of a surprise visit to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1979. This had been Martin Luther King's congregation in the 50's. Wallace reportedly said, "I have learned what suffering means. In a way that was impossible {before the shooting}, I think I can understand something of the pain black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain, and I can only ask your forgiveness." In 1995 he met with some 200 veterans of the Selma to Montgomery march and told them, "Much has transpired since those days. A great deal has been lost and a great deal gained, and here we are. My message to you today is, welcome to Montgomery. May your message be heard? May your lessons never be forgotten." And as reported by the Washington Post reports he held hands with black southerners and sang "We Shall Overcome."

I have no delusion about President Obama's inauguration ending inequality for African-Americans, Latinos, Christians or any other group. That is a part of our fallen nature that will be overcome totally only when Christ Kingdom comes in its fullness. There will still be unneeded traffic stops in our fair city, hate crimes and stupid people who are allowed to voice their hatred and cast a ballot.

What I do have is a sense of God's presence in all that has happened and will happen. I believe, and will pray for a community and nation in which justice and mercy, strength and steadfastness is forged in the lives of people throughout our nation without regard to looks and language.

Peace,
Alan

Wednesday, January 14

Imagine No Religion... huh!?!


Recently Portland got a booster shot of liberal/humanist hubris in the form o ten billboards from The Freedom From Religion's, "Imagine No Religion" campaign. As one whose life and livelihood originates from and is centered in the area of religion let me respond to such an imagination.

Imagine no religion and you have to:

Imagine no civil rights movement...Let's start with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy, T.J. Jamison, Joseph Lowery, Fred Shuttleworth and Rev. Jesse Jackson to name a few. Without such people there would have been no non-violent protests voter rights or education for African-Americans. Go to 1775 when "Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage" was organized in Philadelphia having been founded by Quakers.

Imagine no Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam, Medical Teams International, or Christmas in Action...Start with Clarence Jordan, a Christian who began Koinonia Farm in Georgia in 1942. Add Millard and Linda Fuller, who left an affluent life for a place in which they could live out their Christian values and you have an organization which has dedicated over 300,000 homes and provided shelter to 1.5 million people around the world. Oxfam, began by Quakers, help people deal with disaster, warfare, labor rights issues and situations such as clean water and access to resources.

"Medical Teams International, formerly Northwest Medical Teams came about because of a business man's TV viewing. He saw a young Cambodian refugee, about the age of his daughter, and wondered, "What if that refugee were my own daughter? He asked God about how he could make a difference and Ron Post was leading medical people overseas in less than a month.

Christmas in Action, formerly Christmas in April", happened when 1972 Bobby Trimble took a Sunday school lesson at his Midland church to the extreme and started what would quickly become a national program benefiting thousands. “I was teaching from the second book of James, somewhere around the 14th verse,” Trimble said. “To paraphrase, it says if you see someone in need of food and clothing and you say, ‘I will pray for you,’ what good have you really done that person. I told the class that that’s what the churches were doing. So we started working on the homes of some of the women of the church.”


Imagine no relief efforts and crews in New Orleans and Texas following hurricanes. A year after Hurricane Katrina blew into New Orleans faith-based groups still hand out emergency food and items to those who live in the area. To this day Presbyterian Village continues to operate as a base from which crews of youth and families are sent out to make a difference in the New Orleans area.


Imagine the millions of children who would die without sponsorship from World Vision, Compassion International and other such groups
. Both these major organizations flowed from pastors and mission people seeing the need of hungry and orphaned children. Founded at the end of the Korean Conflict their focus was on Southeast Asia but has grown to include six continents.

ChhunNa an HIV/AIDS child in Cambodia receives “school materials, pen, bag and clothes" and even "a lovely bicycle from the project; I will ride a bicycle to school instead walking. The staff members give me and my family encouragement and strength". In addition World Vision workers attempt to work in communities to end the discrimination for those with HIV/AIDS.


Anna, a six year old, in the Dominican Republic, who doesn't smile and when her mother is asked what the Compassion team could pray about, said she didn't "believe that God will answer any of her prayers or dreams for her children." But because of one Christian she has as Brian Seay says, "Melanie [who sponsors Anna] is now one of the only people in Anna’s life that will consistently tell her she is loved and it’s ok to dream big dreams because God will hear her prayers.

More could be said about the Renaissance and keeping learning alive during the "dark ages". Even more could be said about those who, because of their faith, were challenged to do what was right, [if you're an atheist I'm not sure what you base "rightness" upon] even though it was risky, dangerous or deadly. It is apparent to me that the pseudo-intellectual non-religious just don't know about what they're talking. I shouldn't be surprised.

Peace,
Alan

Tuesday, January 6

Mac World rocks the church

With both MacWorld in San Franciso and CES in Las Vegas it is time to consider how the new technology will touch the work of God's people in our daily life. Those in the pulpits and those on the pews both will have the chance to do some amazing things with these new innovations. Take a look at this new introduction from Apple and dream big people.

Peace,
Alan


Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard


LOL