Wednesday, June 28, 2006


As I prepare for my road trip (see previous post) there are a number of details I need to do. One of them was to make a little video for some friends.

That's YOU!

I was thinking about church (I missed last Sunday because of Jeremiah's Special Olympics), I will miss this Sunday, and perhaps the one after that. I haven't missed that many Sundays in a row in over a decade!

A friend of mine asked me to make something that would help put people in the mood for worship and communion for this Sunday. I was thinking of them as well as you when I made this.

It is only 4.2 mb.


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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Testing, testing... 1-2-3

I've had some trouble with Blogger lately. The last post hung it up for several days until I finally deleted it.

We are going on a little road trip Friday. We are headed east (it was south last time), in the general direction of Yellowstone.

I will try to post while I go, but who knows?

We plan on being gone about a week or so.


P.S.: This little post hung it up again! So I changed the settings, reducing the number of posts displayed at a time from 10 to 5. Now it works again. I thought I'd pass on that little tid bit in case anyone else is having similar problems. Also, if you haven't been by in a few weeks, you'll have to check the archive for older posts (but you knew that already).


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

It’s Father’s Day.

Twice as I walked into the kitchen the ongoing conversation come to an awkward halt, my wife and kids smiling nonchalantly. I’ve been good not to look under the blanket hiding large boxes in the bedroom corner (how’s that for self control?!).

Despite the commercial hoopla, something about Father's Day makes me feel warm inside.

Becoming a father was very important to me.

It wasn’t easy.

For ten years my wife and I tried to have kids. Those dreams dimmed in ‘87 when she had an infection resulting in the surgical removal of her left fallopian tube.

In 1989 there was laughing and hugging and excited phone calls when Brenda tested positive for a new life within her. There were fears and tears when we discovered it a dangerous tubal pregnancy.

We went ahead with the move to the house in Canby, the one with the empty swing set. That was 1991, a grey year, an overcast season in our lives. We began attending a church led by a pastor my age. The first sermon we heard from him included the announcement that he and his wife were expecting their first child after many years of prayer.

A year later we refinanced that house to hire lawyers, and do a home study, and buy the things we needed to adopt a child. I took that pregnant teen to her appointments, made sure she had enough to eat. And when that little boy was born in August, on Brenda’s birthday, gave him my name.

Three and a half months later, on the morning I took him to see me cut down his first Christmas tree, he died. That was 1992, a dark year. A year that was winter for us.

A year and a half later, after refinancing the house again and jumping through local, state, interstate, and international hoops, we stood in a living room in Fort Meyers, Florida. “Mama Annie,” dashing between laundry, cooking spaghetti, taking out the trash, and running the orphanage, pointed out one of my new sons. He was across a patio, on the other side of two sets of sliding glass doors, and jumping with glee to see me. He was shouting “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”

My heart nearly burst, it was so full.

Becoming a father was very important to me.

It wasn’t easy.

There have been struggles. Many of those struggles I have shared on these electronic pages. There have been greater joys.

Being a father is very important to me.

I have a program at school to teach kids (and parents) about study skills. It has a lot of features to it, honed over a half dozen years. One feature is a talk I give to help the kids look at what they are doing from different perspective. A part of that little speech includes how their parents want to help them. I tell the kids I know they think adults have some secret knowledge. That there must be a time when someone gives them the secrets of adults which changes them forever, giving them the power, the authority.

I tell the kids that they are right. That there is a moment when adults do get that secret.

I tell them that there was a moment when someone handed their parent a small bundle. And that little bundle was them. That their parent looked down on them and something clicked. Something within their hearts changed and they were no longer the person they had been. That in a single moment all their previous identity had been swept away. They were no longer man, or woman. They were no longer employee or employer, or son, or husband, or man. They were father.

Being a father is very important to me. I dreamed and prayed for it for years. One pregnancy nearly killed my wife. That is a hurt that echoes still. Brenda cried the other night during a show about tubal pregnancies. I have had the dream of a child granted, and had it taken away. I have two children now which give me the worries and challenges and joys and grief of parenting. It is the best of all gigs. Being a father is very important to me.

My son Isaac tells me he is sorry for other kids.

“I feel bad for kids in other families who just get borned. We’re adopted. We got picked!”

Every night I sit on the bed beside my sons, and talk gently about their day. I place a little anointing oil on a finger tip and I pray a prayer for them. I pray for protection, for rest, for the gifts from Him which will help them through the coming day. I give them a quick hug or a small tickle, and tuck them in.

One is a junior, one is a freshman. And though they are practically young men, they are still my boys.

I would do anything for these kids.

I would gladly take their suffering, except I know that suffering usually comes from our own mistakes and they need to learn how to deal with their choices.

I would gladly pay their fines, if the debt was too big for them to pay and there was no other way for them to move on.

I would gladly put myself in harm’s way if it meant protecting them.

All of these things are acts my father has done for me.

Not my biological father.

But my Lord did those things. The triune God sent a part of Himself, His son, to suffer in my place. He paid my debt. He put Himself in harm’s way.

So, on this Father’s Day I have a present for my dad. Not the one in Southern California, but the one everywhere.

Dear Father:

Thank you for all You have done for me.

Thank you for giving me my family, this awesome responsibility. I hope the job I am doing with them pleases You.

Thank you for the many times You have rescued me from the difficulties in my life, even from my own mistakes, my own sins.

There isn’t anything I have that is truly mine to give You... except for one thing. I give You my heart. I dedicate my life to You. You have given me free will, the ability to truly choose. And I choose truly. I choose to follow wherever You will lead.

Thank You Lord.

I pray that the life I live will be pleasing to You.


Friday, June 16, 2006


As a literature major in college I thought cycle tales fascinating. Many stories have circles, or cycles, within them. The central character goes out on a journey, and the narrative follows the adventures. The character goes out, and eventually returns. The journey is about more than moving from place to place. It is always a story about how the character changes.

Little Frodo Baggins leaves home to take an awesome power, a frightful tool of deception and doom, away from his home. He travels further than he could have dreamed, over coming many obstacles, showing that a true heart, a good heart, can turn a tiny person into a giant. And when he returns, he finds he is forever changed.

Dorothy looks wistfully at the sky, and complains about her dreary life where all is plain, ordinary, and no one understands her. She dreams of going somewhere beautiful, magical. And when she is suddenly transported there she begins a journey that makes her realize the best things in her life are the things she was running from. She comes home grateful for family and friends.

The old man sets out from his home, to go fishing. And he catches a fish. A great fish. In this tale filled with religious metaphors the old man battles the fish, sharks, the elements, and returns with nothing to show for his ordeal but the bones of the animal. He goes out an ordinary man and returns larger than life, a living legend.

Cycles are a natural way for people to think. We fill our lives with cycles. There are the cycles of our days. Going out to earn our livelihood, and returning to rest each night. The weekly cycle is the same... going out to work, receiving our rest at each week’s end. The moon spins through her cycles, waxing and waning, giving pulses and rhythm to our lives (largely ignored by cultures that no longer pay attention to the natural lights of the sky). The year swings around and around, leaving changes on and in our bodies. We go through the cycle of birth and death making our mortal existence a single generational pulse of humanity’s heart.


The Romans used iron. They were good at it. They were iron-like people.

Iron is fairly easy to work, is rather plentiful, and can hold an edge better than the copper and bronze used by previous cultures.

On Jesus’ last mortal day on Earth iron took part in His sacrifice. The soldiers wore swords made of iron at their waists, an apt symbol of their power. The whips which tore across His back were tipped with iron. The nails driven through his wrists were hammered to sharp points on a Roman anvil. Finally, the spear thrust into His side was iron-tipped.

To make their weapons and tools stronger the Romans turned the iron into steel. They did that by forge welding. They heated the ore and pounded the impurities out of it. They beat the metal into long bars, heating them to an even yellow glow, sprinkling them with borax, folded them over, and with just the right amount of pounding, hammered them, welded them, together. They repeated the process, over and over, until the carbon was spread throughout the steel, making it harder, stronger, more resilient.

I imagine that when a sword was damaged, bent, the soldier took the weapon to the smith to be pounded straight. I also imagine that though it would look straight, the warrior would be keenly aware of that spot, perhaps still able to feel where it was bent and pounded on the anvil.

I have sometimes felt that I have been placed on an anvil and beaten straight again. There was the death of Willy. When I think back to that terrible day it is like running my fingers over a spot where I was severely bent. But the Lord pounded me smooth again. Still, I can touch that place and feel the place where my soul was tested... where I was placed in a fire and pounded by life and the sure hand of my maker.

One year ago today I was sitting in a meeting at my church and the fire alarm went off. One year ago from this exact moment, as I type these words. That alarm was the first sign that my life was being placed once again in a fire... a fire lit by my son as he played with a candle in a stairwell.
Earth has swung once more around the sun, another cycle has been completed. 30,000 people have looked over my shoulder to glance at these words that have crawled across my screen, dancing to the tapping of these keys beneath my fingers. 80,000 words have marched across virtual pages glowing from this flat screen, this window I have placed in my life for others to peek through, into my little online journal.

This cycle has carried me out from my home, and in the journey I have changed once again.

How have I changed? A certain tenseness flexes with my chest at the thought of that evening one year ago. But I look at my son, out in the yard picking cherries with my wife, so eager to please... I know the goodness in his heart. And I know the challenges he has faced and the darkness that chases after him.

And I think it is all worth it.

There have been and will continue to be sacrifices in this life. But I would not choose another.

Because the smith who created me, who beat me into this particular shape, and restores my ability to function when I am too bent to continue, is trustworthy. He restores me... restores me.

And I am willing to be put to any service He desires.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Cutting Through

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Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Prayer has always been a part of my life. I was taught several prayers as a child (but I was praying my own all along).

“Dear God. I’m sorry I stepped on that bug. It was mean and I’m sorry. --Amen.”

“Dear God. Please make Michael stop punching me. --Amen.”

“Dear God. Please help me walk through this fence. --Amen.”

Many weren’t answered, or answered in ways I did not expect. Most were prayers of request, a plea for help, a desire for something I wanted. The ones that made me feel good were the ones of gratitude.

“Dear God. Thank you for my mom. --Amen.”

“Dear God. Thank you for all the good stuff You give me.--Amen."

Not the rote prayers, the ones for bed time, for meals.

God is great,
God is good,
Now we thank Him
for our food.
By His hands
We are fed
Thank You Lord,
For our daily bread.

They are simple, easy to say, but soon, through repititions, tend to lose meaning.

For many prayer is about requests. Nothing wrong with asking God about or for anything, anything. But if we limit Him to an automated treat dispenser we are missing real blessings.

People ask Him for things frequently. But I think they recognize prayer is more than that. I think people see prayer as communication with an all hearing, all knowing God. Which is true, as far as it goes. But some thoughts occurr...

I think prayer is more. I think prayer cuts through everything. It cuts through the boundaries of our four dimensional universe... it cuts through the realms of angels, and into the place that binds all things together... the realm of the Lord God Almighty.

(Perhaps the Pillar of Fire & Smoke of Moses was a tear through space-time, revealing a part of what is hidden?)

I suspect spiritual realms are every bit as physical as this one.

I believe they are more physical, more real than this “reality.”

I think this reality is embedded within the other.

I surmise we are enclosed by a greater reality, one in which time stretches into two dimensions, permitting us to move about in it, tarry in it. All of creation is enclosed within an even greater reality, one which holds the entire universe together, including the realm of angels.

Perhaps prayer travels to the one place where we are true, where we exist beyond what we know. It is the power of a conscious mind, powered by a believing heart, expressing who we truly are: eternal souls.

We are more than we believe. I think a physical body, constrained to four dimensions, blinds us to who we truly are. Our minds are hampered by an organic brain, our spirits are entrapped in a carnal cage, Hamlet’s “mortal coil.”

Prayer has the power to move mountains because, in the larger, truer view, mountains are small things, merely 4-D matter.

There are vertical prayers. They exist to connect us to the Lord, to open ourselves to Him, to offer worship, praises, gratitude.

And not because He is a megalomaniac demanding praise, but because He is worship, praise, gratitude... In a word, LOVE personified. we feel like such things (worship, praise, gratitude) when we draw near to Him. Even when we draw near while we are hurting.

There are horizontal prayers, times when we seek to spread His blessings to others.

There are prayers of joy and rejoicing. Prayers through which we pour out our happiness. (Those are so good for us!) Sometimes I pray while walking in the woods and fields nearby, usually along the Willamette River. When I sing out there, in His creation, the worship becomes prayers of gladness which replenish me. (What a privilege!)

This isn’t to say that memorized prayers are not wonderful prayers in themselves (but they should be said from the heart). They are prayers designed to guide us. Some are better than others:

Our Father, who Art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name! Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, Forever. --Amen.

Each day about a dozen of us find a conference room each morning to hold hands and say this prayer. We've been doing so for six years. A great way to start the day.

We have a prayer room at church. The first year it was packed with images, scriptures, prayers (click to enlarge all pics):

I made a few contributions. I prayed, and when I felt the urge, I drew,

or wrote my prayers on the walls.

I did The Lord’s Prayer around a figure of Jesus I had made behind the door.

The prayer wrapped around the corner, over and around the door, and back up between previous prayers.

When Easter came around again we painted it over and I started over. I did the Lord’s Prayer again in Sharpies. A circular prayer.

A few of the words were illustrated. A drawing of the Earth, a loaf of bread, the word “FOREVER” flowing around a mobius strip.

Drawing this prayer was meaningful. It drew me. I became a little more by spending this time with this prayer. Awesome prayer. Said with intent, not habit, it is powerful. It covers everything... our fallen nature, our promised afterlife, how we treat others, the bounties the Lord showers on us. Spending hours and hours drawing this, praying this, provides its own circular rhythm in my heart.

So as the year came around I was eager to see it painted over so I could begin again... another cycle, another circle.

I have started. I’m excited. So far I have put about 15 hours into it. Fifteen hours of saying The Lord’s Prayer, thinking through its meaning, interpreting it with images, gestures of color, rhythms of words and thoughts.

I have completed the background:

I have made some changes to its design.

It is still circular but there are many more details. It is set against a backdrop of stars... the closest we come to seeing eternity in this life. God the Father is represented by a golden triangle at the top, the center, the triune God. A beam of bluish light traverses the painting to shine upon Earth at the bottom. To the right, the sun, its rays illuminating bluish clouds, representing morning, beginnings. To the left is the moon, surrounded by reddish clouds partly concealing a green snake slithering through (“...but deliver us from evil...”) which turns at the last moment away from the central cross. Though this symmetry gives a stark balance to the image, it is broken up by smaller details.

This prayer, memorized, and repeated by countless believers through twenty centuries, is once again repeated. A prayer I know very well, taught to me by my mother before I ever set foot in a school, it is fresh today.

This is so exciting!

While I paint I keep it fresh (in my heart and in the painting). I am doing preparatory sketches. Yet I am leaving plenty of room for spontaneous details.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to share some of my thinking. Here is the sketch as of today:

Do you see how the scroll containing the word “AMEN” seems awkward on its right side? I had wanted to have the folds taper in on the left side so it would form a sort of visual arrow toward the cross. Like this:

But the scroll just doesn’t feel right. So, with a couple of minutes on the computer I made this alteration:

By moving in the other side of the scroll the focus is moved back along the outer circle and it tends to better balance the words surrounding “Our Father.” Here “heart” speaks truer than mind, creativity wins over logic.

So where is the spontaneity? It will be in the execution. I am free to push colors and try new techniques. I can write words of praise in areas which need darkening, shading, blending.

I’ve a lot more to share about this work in progress, and I will keep all of you apprised.

Here are a few thoughts about the first part of this prayer:

Our Father...

Yahweh. Eloi. The great I AM. The CREATOR!
The source of all things, the triune God, my Master, my Lord.

Who art in Heaven...

He who dwells above all, figuratively, spiritually, literally, the highest of all, holiest of all...

Hallowed be Thy Name...

May your name be always set apart. (Please forgive those who take it in vain, who use it casually.) I understand why your people have been so reluctant to even write it down. May I always, always use it with reverence!

Thy Kingdom come...

May all You desire for us, of us happen in this place... may we truly set up Your kingdom, first in our hearts, and then our homes, and then our communities, and finally may it happen over all the Earth some day soon...

Thy will be done...

May it truly happen, soon, and may my hands be a part in the making of Your will for us happen here on Earth, in this place, this town, this community...

On Earth...

On this fallen world, this place filled with people who have turned their backs on You...

As it is in Heaven...

As It is in the perfection of Your dwelling place oh Lord.... Oh Lord... I would gladly spend a single day there, with You, than a thousand here. Truly... Oh Lord All Mighty! Some day I will see such glory. I will hold my child again, the son who bore my name, who went home ahead of me... I will see Your glory... I will hear Your Son’s voice, see the wounds He bears for me... I will learn to worship in a congregation which worries little about time, about weariness


I wander...



There are things on my heart. Things which weigh me down.

There are things on my mind. Things which worry me.

I am so glad to be able to pray. What a privilege to share all my thoughts, my concerns, my joys and worship with the one who encloses all of the universe ...ominpotent... omniscient... all within His reality. I am connected to everrything... to realities beyoind the ones my senses can determine. My prayers cut through it all... the messes within my life, the fears and frailities of being mortal, and cut through to a reality that is bigger than my mind can imagine, my heart can contain. I am in contact with the source of all good things. The One who binds it all together, including me, so I don’t fly apart, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven... Hallowed be Thy name...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Silence of God

Have you ever felt abandoned by God?

Have you felt that He hasn’t heard your prayers or He doesn’t want to help you or that He is unaware of how much you hurt?

It isn’t an uncommon feeling. If you are someone who prays, the prayers at such times seem like strange things. How does a person pray to God when there doesn’t seem to be any response? What is your prayer like when instead of praying in the quiet of God you feel you are praying in the silence of God?

You aren’t alone.

Job felt like that:

"Only grant me these two things, O God,
and then I will not hide from you:

Withdraw your hand far from me,
and stop frightening me with your terrors.

Then summon me and I will answer,
or let me speak, and you reply..."

--Job 13:20-22

He was praying for his misery to stop and for God to respond to his suffering.

Is this how you have felt? Have you felt that you are alone in your pain and that no one, not even the Lord God who is supposed to be merciful and loving, is aware of what you are going through? How do your prayers feel to you when you are in such situations? Frustrated? Confused?

King David felt like that:

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

--Psalm 13

Now there is an interesting twist. In the midst of his anguish, within his fear and troubles, he still praises God. He still let God know he wanted an answer, a response, not the continuing silence of a divinity giving no indication of hearing the plaintive cry.

It is wonderful that David still found room in his heart to praise God in the midst of his troubles. I think it pleases God when we continue to find room for praise, even when the giving of such praise is a painful thing.

It isn’t unreasonable to cry out to God in frustration.

Consider this prayer:

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" —which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

--Matthew 27:45-46

Even the Son of God felt abandoned.

Did you know Jesus wasn’t praying spontaneously there? He was quoting scripture:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.

--Psalm 22:1-3

I have felt like this. The first post of this blog ends with a surprising answer to such a prayer.

I think you may have felt like this too.

It is common.

What are we to make of the suffering of humanity? What are we to make of prayers that go unanswered?

I have a friend, a good friend, who is praying for me. He has been praying for me for some time. He points out the passages in scripture, especially in the book of Mark, of how the Lord wants to heal us, to make us whole. He suggests that we are not designed to suffer, that the Lord wants healing for each and every one of us.


He has been praying for my psoriasis. I have a skin condition which reddens, and itches, and flakes and cracks and splits. My hands bleed. The skin splits open. The rash on my ankle chafes under my sock. My scalp flakes, and itches, and the hair hides little sores. The skin flakes and sloughs off between my toes.

My friend believes I am to be healed of this.

Perhaps. I am willing to pray along with him.

My friend’s wife is especially prayerful. She is a prayer warrior who holds my family up in prayer and asks the Lord for blessings. For my health, for the spiritual protection of my children. There is good reason to believe that the darkness from which we plucked our children (Haiti) chases after them still.

I eagerly join my friends in these prayers, for the protection of my family. I pray for them every day. I pray over them each night. I pray for them as I slip into my own sleep. Every night. Every day. Whether I feel the connection to God or not.

Has there been a direct response? Maybe. I think things are better than they have been. (I need to post about Jeremiah's recent progress.)

My wife is praying for me right now. Many of you are also. There is something strange going on with my left arm. The neurologist hints that it may have been a small stroke, a bizarre thing to happen to a fifty year old.

The doctors do not know what it is. I don’t blame them at all. The more I learn about the human body the more amazed I am. I do not think that any man can fully understand it all. I suppose that is why they say doctors practice medicine. They never fully know it all, so they practice.

But I am patient with my situation. (Ha! I’m a patient patient!)

The implication of my friend's statement is the Lord wants me healed, but I am getting in the way of that healing. That may be true. The sin in my life might be preventing the Lord from working fully to heal me.

But I think: it isn’t as simple as that.

What of hurricane Katrina? What of the misery of that event? All those people, crying out for for help. Thousands homeless. Hom many dead? How many missing? How many families disrupted and grieving? Does the Lord God hear those prayers?

Consider December 24, 2004. A tremendous earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean caused over 275,000 deaths. More than a quarter of a million people simply washed away. The Lord promised not to destroy all the world in a flood, but for many in that corner of our planet it seemed to be the whole world.


It casts Hurricane Katrina into a much smaller category of misery.

There are worse situations. In the 13th century the world went through “The Little Ice Age.”

At the end of the Dark Ages, following the Fall of the Roman Empire, the peasant population in Europe had grown from 20 million to 60 million. People all over the world had moved into marginal areas. And the climate shifted. For three centuries.

Infant mortality climbed to 50%. Try to imagine that much sorrow. I lost a child once. It hurt so badly, the ache in my heart still throbs distantly.

It grew wet and cold during those three centuries. People crowded together, becoming prime targets for all sorts of disease. The worst was bubonic plague. But there was malaria, and ergot poisoning, and all the other diseases bourne of rotting crops and corpses.

There was malnutrition. There was starvation. The story of Hansel and Gretel has its roots in the abandonment of children of this period (so others would have enough to eat). Imagine the misery! Life expectancies plummeted. Thousands were killed as witches (for bringing the bad weather). By the time it was over Europe's population was halved.

Where was God? Millions of people died slow painful deaths. Over those three centuries how many people died of plague and starvation and tuberculosis? Forty million? Sixty million? The population when it was over was half of what it was. How many suffered just long enough to have children, and left orphans behind?

It is easy to speak of natural processes. It is easy to speak of the carbon cycle of trees and the balancing act of ecosystems. It is easy to say the Earth’s environmental health is kept vital by the replenishing of materials in the crust caused by the tectonic plates moving beneath us. But it does not comfort a child who’s mother has perished along with everyone else in the village when the ocean stood up and strode over the land.

I’m not wise enough to have the answers to such questions.

But I know something that goes beyond my understanding of history and geology and ecosystems. I know, with a certainty that surpasses my belief that I have two eyes to see my world, and two hands to hold my wife, that the Lord God Almighty is a loving, caring, powerful God.

We pray because there is something within us that recognizes the truth of the spiritual realm. We pray for each other. We pray with each other. We make prayer our vocabulary to each other:

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

--Ephesians 5:19-20

So how are we to pray when terrible things happen?

We pray as we should always pray: with open honesty. We pray the prayers of fear. We pray the prayers of questions, and even the prayers of accusations. We pray the prayers of abandonment and confusion. We pray who we are, where we are.

We pray with praise, even if the giving gives us pain.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Looking Inside

They did the MRI this morning. Interesting experience. Results in a couple of days. Thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Love Makes Right

(Click pic for movie)

Mr. Beauchamp showed us the movie. It told us we could survive a nuclear attack by getting under our desks and covering our heads with our hands.

None of us talked about it.

The movie said that when we saw the flash we were supposed to jump into a corner, or roll under our desks.

I knew, we all knew, that the flash meant it was too late.

I rode my bike around the neighborhood, pretending it was a spaceship and I was flying to the moon (like the real astronauts were doing).

Television was more wholesome then. Walter Kronkite gave us news on the square and what we watched when he wasn’t on was simpler, cleaner (there was only three channels).
(Pictures can be enlarged)

Today people watch all sorts of horrors for entertainment, and seem to not worry so much about such dangers.

I don’t think that people born after 1980 can understand what it was like. When the SALT I treaty was signed in 1991 I wept.

"I can't believe we have finally taken a step away from the brink of annihilation," I said to Brenda.

You see, when I grew up we all went to sleep each night uncertain if we would wake up in the morning. When we finished our breakfasts and walked outside, we enjoyed the sunshine, but we wondered.

My sons and I watched The Iron Giant this afternoon. It’s a cute animated film (Jennifer Aniston, Jack Angel, Robert Bergen, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel) which explores the tensions of the Cold War.

A little boy shows him comic books, and explains how he is like Superman, from another world, trying to understand who he is. He also explains that all good things have a soul and a soul never dies.
The fear of the local people who encounter the alien robot trigger defenses within it. Powerful defenses. But the little boy convinces the machine that it can choose what it wants to be. It doesn’t have to be a gun.

It sacrifices itself to save the people staring up from around its feet. Flying into space, arms outstretched, it races toward the nuclear warhead and says: “Superman.”
I don’t think younger people think much about nuclear war. They haven't read On the Beach. They didn't hear the constant repetitions from our leaders of how the communists were daily threatening us. The echoes of Senator McCarthy have now faded (though new cries are being shouted). The threat of nuclear destruction doesn’t seem real. They don't believe it will happen. Perhaps they should.

North Korea is striving to obtain nuclear weapons, and have already tested missiles that could deliver a payload as far as North America (Japan is the more likely target).

Iran is striving to obtain such monstrous weapons.

In the last few years India and Pakistan, enemies, have each developed nuclear weapons.

If these aren’t unsettling enough there are still ghosts of the Cold War which threaten. For example, Russia has had trouble adjusting to its changed role. There have been missile control sites which have had their electricity cut off for failure to pay their bills. A few years ago, a scheduled launch of a satellite from Finland was mistaken for a rising submarine-launched missile, triggering the initial steps for a retaliatory strike at the U.S.

I wish we could disarm all of them. Ours included. Swords into plow shares.


This is one of my fears. Born of being born in a time when it was not only possible, but at times, nearly happened.

This past week I considered what it should mean if I were to die. I really wasn’t too upset by it. My left arm was numb, my fingers tingled. My blood pressure was suddenly up higher than it had ever been. Now a week has passed and it is still numb, still tingles. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with my heart or with a stroke or anything as serious. But even if it had, even if I knew that I would not live another 24 hours, that doesn’t frighten me (though I am concerned for my family’s welfare).

I do not fear death as it just seems to me a passage on to my fuller life. I do not fear meeting my Creator, for I know He loves me, and though he is awe-some, intensely powerful, fearfully omnipotent, I know He will not hurt me. He is not some ultimate weapon bent upon my destruction.

So why does the idea of nuclear weapons frighten?

Because they are so permanent. Because they hurt innocents. If a nation takes such an action, it is irrevocable, permanent. It is bigger than a single life. It would be an act of such evil that would hurt, kill, thousands, millions, perhaps, in the end, billions.

There is a scene in The Passion of the Christ where the nail pierces Jesus’ palm. At that moment there is no turning back. They have nailed His body to a piece of wood. His death is a matter of time.

The threads running through these thoughts are power and weakness.

The Iron Giant was capable of destroying any attacker. Yet it chose to give up its superior position to protect those who would suffer. It chose to sacrifice itself, to be Superman rather than a gun.

You might think I’m headed to some political statement here, and it is tempting. But I’ve another thought.

Being powerful does not mean one needs to dominate. Might does not make right.

Jesus laid there on that piece of wood. His eyes watching the hands holding him down, gripping the nail, gripping the hammer.

He could have cleared them all away. He could have hurt them as they were hurting Him. He could have turned them all into pillars of salt. He could have made them feel every lash of the whip He had felt. He could have simply unmade them, have their molecules drift off in the afternoon breeze.

Instead He showed He was Superman, and not a gun.