Monday, December 31, 2007

Day Two, San Francisco

We spent a great day in the city today. Paul, Terry's brother took us into the city. Just a lot to see. One of the pics of the boats and the Golden Gate Bridge behind was taken from the table where we ate lunch.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. The wind was blowing offshore, meaning the cool waters of the pacific weren't being used to cool off the city, so with the sun out, and it clear as a bell, we got some great pictures of the bay, and ate some seafood for lunch.

Another great day. 2 down, 6 to go! Big Sur is right around the bend, I can't wait.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day One, Yosemite

We traveled today from Bakersfield through Yosemite, and are spending a couple of days with Terry's brother, Paul in Concord. It was a great day, as you can see with the pics. I'll let them speak for themselves. Yosemite is unbelievable!

Tomorrow, San Francisco with Paul and Rosita. Should have some more pics tomorrow night for you.

Words don't do these pictures justice. It was absolutely gorgeous. We drove over the pass from the south, through clouds, rain, and snow, only to have us drive into the clearest, brightest, sky you could ask for. It became obvious to us that we weren't in "Illinois anymore", driving by several "play areas" in the snow. There are a lot of people who don't see snow much by the looks of things. It was really funny.

Hoping our weather holds out this week for our drive down the coast. Tomorrow is supposed to be great, not sure about later this week. Our drive could be a wet one.

Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Site added to our trip!

I've never been to Yosemite, and I'm not sure when I'll be this close to it again. I figured out today that it only adds 120 miles to our trip, and will probably add 4-5 hours with our messing around in the park, but it should be well worth it. We won't have much time to hang out, and will probably just drive through, but when you're only 150 miles from this, it's pretty hard to pass up.

So, off to California we go. Yosemite, San Francisco, and the Pacific coast via Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Ventura. What a ride and week it will be! I can't wait. Here's hoping we get a lot of time with the "top down". (I rented a convertible)

Darrel, I'm looking forward to a lot of sacred space over the next 10 days. Hope it goes slow enough for us to enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

California Here we Come!!

Terry and I are frantically making plans for our upcoming vacation. We just arrived home from Michigan, where we spent Christmas with my mom, Chris and Linda's family, and Kelli's boyfriend joined us this year. We missed not being with Kristin, Luke, and Brayden, but know that Luke's family is more than taking care of them.

Our two quick days in Michigan were dominated by Hand in Foot, watching the classic movie A Christmas Story, and lots of Wii. You'll be glad to know that I've reached pro status on golf, and Terry did on bowling; never dreamed a video game could leave you sore, wow.

We leave Saturday for San Diego, will take two days to drive to Oakland where we will spend the 31 and January 1 with Terry's brother Paul and his family in Oakland, then spend five glorious days driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from Half Moon Bay to Ventura. We hope to see things like the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Pebble Beach, The Lone Cypress, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Bixby Bridge, Redwoods, Hearst Castle, and lots of whales. We'll be spending one night in Santa Cruz, two nights in the Big Sur section, and one night in Ventura before arriving back in San Diego on Sunday the 6th. We are real excited about this, and like South Africa last year, hope to keep you up with our trip, and will have lots of pics during and after.

Terry will the come home on the 7th, I will be staying in San Diego for meetings the 7 and 8, before flying home on the 9 to begin school here for the spring semester.

Well, that gets you caught up with what's happening, and hope to help you experience the trip with us as we go. I'll be talking to you some time this weekend from, hopefully, sunny California!

Friday, December 21, 2007

This is what they do to my grandson these days!

poor kid, he doesn't have a chance.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

American Examples of Integrity and Response

Jose Canseco - "I used steriods and human growth hormones, helped teammates use them, and it's an epidemic in baseball."

Response: "Canseco is a dirty creep!"

Barry Bonds - "I used some clear creme and HGH unknowingly."

Response: "Bonds is a jerk and a liar!"

Roger Clemens trainer
- "I personally injected steriods in Roger several times."

Response - "Why should we believe him?"

Roger Clemens - "I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life."

Response: "It's Roger, let's believe him."

Maybe the blame needs to be shared in where we find ourselves in this game and as a country.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Well, we spent the day listening to the sounds of students leaving campus. They are heading literally all over the world for Christmas. Joshua is going to Ethiopia. Hector is going to Mexico. They are going to Great Britain, Canada, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Ohio, and some even to Bourbonnais.

Home. Going home. There's something special about going home, or at least there should be.

I've also been reminded that there are some going home, who would rather stay. Home is painful for them; a place of failure and lost innocence; a place of abuse and heartache; home. My heart breaks for you, and it makes me more grateful for what I have.

What does home mean for me? It's where my family is. What does Christmas mean to me? Ove the years it's been things like marathon video watching; snowmobiling; dominoes; breakfast casserole; yeast rolls; sleep; cinnamon rolls; Dutch Blitz; snow; food; sleep; family; remembering; mourning; living; sleep. Christmas for me is all those things rolled into one. This year should be no different.

This year it's Christmas in Michigan; Kelli's 21st birthday; San Diego, California; visiting Paul and Rosetta in Livermore, CA; a 5-day drive down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Ventura; Big Sur; Redwoods; whale-watching; sunshine; expecting the unexpected; driving a convertible for the first time in my life; back to San Diego; BCS National Championship game; meetings; then finally home for another semester.

My Holiday's are full and rich. A time for family; a time for friends; a time to play; a time to remember; a time to reflect.

Let's get going!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wisdom from Calvin and Hobbes

We're getting a pretty good snowstorm here in Bourbonnais. I wouldn't call it a blizzard, people can still get out if they want, but we'll have 6-8 inches before it's done some time tomorrow. I thought I would post some wit today, in honor of the storm, from Calvin and Hobbes.

1st Frame
Hobbes: "Look at all this snow!"

Calvin: "I'm being tested. "

2nd Frame
Calvin: "We got this snow so I'd be tempted to smack Susie with a slushball and forfeit all my Christmas presents."

3rd Frame
Calvin: "To evaluate my character, my immediate pleasure is being pitted against my future greed."

4th Frame
Hobbes: "Poor Susie."


Thursday, December 13, 2007

We're lost, every one of us.

One of the themes of Advent, as I've been reading, is just how sinful a lot has been cast for us. Reading through some of the traditional Advent passages this week from Amos, Revelation, and Matthew, is leaving me in a pretty dark place. But I think I finally got it this morning.

As I look forward with anticipation to our break from routine around here at Olivet, celebrating Christmas my family, Kelli's 21st birthday, and Terry and my trip to California, there is much to look forward to.

But scripture is reminding me today that in all my anticipation of what the holiday and Christmas break brings to me and our family, and to all of us, without our receiving the Gift, we are lost. Lost to ourselves (which is really scary), lost in our search for meaning and purpose, lost in our ability to love and forgive, and ultimately lost in our search for God.

So, what's the good news in that? It's that we don't have to look. That's the story of Christmas; he sought us, he came after us, he looked for and He found us.

So, if your world on this day is dark and bleak, know that God still seeks. If you have a sense of how lost you are, know today that God is finding you. If you can't seem to find your way out of the situation life has thrown at you, either because of your will or the imposition of another's, know that in that there is hope, forgiveness, and the ability to forgive.

It's never too dark, we're never too lost, we're never beyond hope, and if we're at the end of our rope, He throws us another in the shape and form of a baby.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just Call Me Jesus

"When God chose to reveal himself, he did so through a human body. The tongue that called forth the dead was a human one. The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. The feet upon which the woman wept were calloused and dusty. And his tears. . . oh, don't miss the tears. . .they came from a heart as broken as yours or mine ever has been.

'For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.'

So people came to him. My, how they came to him! They came at night; they touched him as he walked down the street; they followed him around the sea; they invited him into their homes and placed their children at his feet. Why? Because he refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit. He chose instead to be Jesus.

There is not a hint of one person who was afraid to draw near him. There were those who mocked him. There were those envious of him. There were those who misunderstood him. There were those who revered him. But there was not one person who considered him too holy, too divine, or too celestial to touch. There was not one person who was reluctant to approach him for fear of being rejected.

Remember that.

Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures.

Or the next time acidic accusations burn holes in your soul.

Or the next time you see a cold cathedral or hear a lifeless liturgy.

Remember. It is man who creates the distance. It is Jesus who builds the bridge.

'Just call me Jesus.'

What's the point? Jesus could have been a 'Joe.' If Jesus came today, his name might have been John or Bob or Jim. Were he here today, it is doubtful he would distance himself with a lofty name like Reverend Holiness Angelic Divinity III. No, when God chose the name his son would carry, he chose a human name. He chose a name so typical that it would appear two or three times on every class roll.

'The Word became flesh,' John said, in other words."

Max Lucado from God Came Near

Monday, December 10, 2007

What do you say?

I'm reading a book called, Families at the Crossroads, by Rodney Clapp. He is probably most noted for his book, A Peculiar People, but I've been pretty fascinated by this book as well. It is not what you might expect the title to suggest; a combative, cultural confrontation of postmodernism and it's effects on the home. It's rather a mild indictment on the church, and it's misuse and misinterpretation of what a family and home is. It's a reclaiming of it's true biblical roots, not it's nineteenth century post-industrial American definition.

There is a lot of insight in this for the church, but there is one quote I want to look at today, thinking in terms of youth ministry. On page 64, he says:

"The home once served major economic and social functions. Now it is a 'haven' from the 'real world'. It is a retreat for the wage-earner and a nest for children who await true personhood in the form of intimacy, which tend to be cheapened and diluted because they are not seen to have a tie to the truly significant wider world."

I couldn't help but think of youth ministry as it functions in most churches moving in tandem with the direction of the family that Clapp notes. In the, what Chap Clark calls, "ghettoizing of youth ministry", we have removed the significant role of children in our churches, much like has happened in the family. They are placed in a holding pattern, where we shove them off in their corners until they are "mature" and ready for "real ministry". Of ministry along these lines, I am the chief of sinners, and believe the time for correction has come.

It's no wonder students leave the church in droves, graduating from high school, youth group, and the church all in the same summer. They are growing up without us. Because of this, we don't need to just rethink how we do youth ministry, we need to rethink how we do church.

Do you remember the day when students were depended on and necessary to make sure Sunday School, the nursery, choir, and other ministries in the church happened, let alone functioned? Now, we don't allow our students near the nursery, they have to audition for the choir, if they are allowed to sing in them at all, and we certainly wouldn't allow them to teach Sunday School. I'm not advocating they become the theological experts in our churches, but have you heard some of the theology taught by adults in Sunday School? Maybe the best way for students to know what they believe, is to learn and wrestle with it while they teach it. Put them in partnership with an adult to mentor and guide them. Sure it might be messier, but I'm not sure it could be any worse.

I'm becoming more and more an advocate of moving back to an integrated, cross-generational church; one where students are just as involved as the adults in the day-to-day running of the ministries. I think it's one of the ways we will see students stick around; they won't leave something they are invested in, passionate about, and willing to die for.

Maybe they'd rather teach a class than play a video game. Maybe they'd rather change a diaper than play Bible bingo. Maybe they'd rather feel engaged in worship by helping lead, than always shoved in the first three rows of the church for the effect of showing how successful we are because "they" are "here". Maybe we allow them to be the significant contributers to the kingdom now, because they can.

The one's who have the most to lose in the long run, the adults who are their parents and grandparents; also have the most to say about whether this happens or not. So, what do you say?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Well, here in Bourbonnais today we're getting freezing rain and drizzle. So, Terry and I have chosen to stay in, and are watching the Monk marathon on the USA Network. That's a great way to spend the day for two tired, old people.

It made me think of a couple of things. One, we don't slow down very often. It's usually the weather that shuts us down, anymore. When we can't move, when we have to stop, that's when we slow down. Terry said this morning that our stopping has made her realize how tired she is. I look for excuses to slow down at times, and I suppose the weather isn't really that bad yet, but it has given us the opportunity, or excuse, to stop, and that's what we've chosen to do.

That leads me to my second thought, that when we do slow down, we usually feel guilty. We've already had the conversation this morning about whether it's okay to not go to church, even when the weather makes travel difficult. Maybe we don't slow down because we don't know how. We don't live in a society that makes room in it's schedule for rest. I live in a building filled with 50 college students, and the activity at all hours of the night remind me that the patterns of activity are set very early in our lives. We don't stop, because we don't know how to stop.

The last little thought regarding this, is that we when we do slow down, we don't do it well. Is watching a Monk marathon the "right" way to slow down? The fact that I'm asking that question shows me even when slowing down, there is a checklist of things that I need to accomplish that make slowing down worthwhile. Maybe a day of nothing every now and then is good for the soul.

I remember as a kid, the best news we could receive in the morning was that school was canceled because of the weather. It meant a break from our routine; a day of play, usually in the fresh snow; sleeping in; or as an adult, sitting at you computer in your boxers and t-shirt at 10:30 in the morning, writing about how much I'm looking forward to doing nothing.

Well, I guess since I've begun to work on my list of things to do, I can feel better that this day of stoppage created by freezing rain is not a total waste. Monk is waiting.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Golden Compass

I was in conversation today with a friend about this movie, and the stir it is creating within the Christian community. To boycott or not to boycott, that is the question; or it seems.

Well, I've not read this story, and you might offer some correction or help, but my understanding is that it is written by an outspoken Athiest, who as he leads us through the narrative, eventually takes us to a garden, where in the closing scene the children in the story kill God. That isn't contained in this movie, but is eventually where the story leads. I realize this is an understated synopsis, but is what this movie and the greater story is about.

Here is a couple of my thoughts

First, I don't think as someone who believes in a God who is active in this life, my life more personally, and throughout history, that this story should become something I need to fear. I kind of throw it into the same camp as the Divinci Code, where I want to be a part of the dialogue, so I'll probably go see it. But there is a difference between this and Brown's work.

What is that difference? My second observation, is we do need to realize that the author of this is unapologetic as to what he believes. Parents need to draw your own caution in that. This is not fiction to him, but it is his systematic theology, if I may say it that way. Sure, you will find the book, and most likely the movie, labeled as fantasy, but it isn't fantasy to the author. He doesn't believe in God, so that would logically lead to His death, especially His (God) being killed by children. Isn't that the ultimate, the child will lead us again, by killing off a weak, feeble, irrelevant concept of a "god". Therefore, I am, or better said, humanity is the ultimate expression of the created order, the evolutionary process, and in full control.

It is a message that will ring true in our post-Christian society. It will tickle the ears of those longing to be their own god. It will remove our need for the "crutch" that God has provided for us, and throwing it away, we will find ourselves truly free, again. The movie will be praised not only for it's technological genius, but for it's celebration of humanity, and it's ability to do whatever it puts it's mind to.

Like you, I will wait to see what is said about the themes to this story, especially by the secular press. What will be seen as the source of hope, tenderness, love, and compassion for others? Where will forgiveness, mercy, or even justice come from? I ask those quesitons because my experience with humanity is there is nothing within any of us that allow that to flow naturally. I, we, need help.

So, I'm not afraid of this movie. It's really nothing new, just a new form. Sure, some will buy into it's conclusion; not me. Because I know personally the giver of hope.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Yahtzee for Ohio State,
and LSU for that matter!

For those of you who hate my beloved Buckeyes, this weekend was pretty painful. But, come on, Pitt beating West Virginia? Oklahoma beating Mizzou wasn't a stretch for anyone, but what about the Mountaineers; must be the school colors.

Let me ask you; if you are in the place of Ohio State, with this flawed system, do you turn the invitation down because all the Big Ten haters in the world don't think we deserve it. Let me remind you where we have come from:

Lost - Troy Smith, Ginn, Gonzalez, Pittman, and 4 other starters from our offense.
Picked pre-season 4th in the big ten
Michigan pre-season 5 in the country, Wisconsin pre-season 8, Penn State pre-season 20; Ohio State, 22.

So, here we are again. We are in the envious position, playing for a National Championship, again, for the 3rd time in 6 years. I guess you all have to just deal with it. Michigan (ASU, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Ohio State), Florida (Georgia and LSU), USC (Stanford? and Oregon), and Georgia (Tennessee and Florida). And what might have been for Mizzou, WV, Oregon, Kansas, and Oklahoma's of the college world if you just finished. Won the games you were supposed to, and we're not having this conversation. Almost forgot Virginia Tech, but I'm not sure they play football in the ACC anyway, do they? (I owed you that Eric) We also don't control the events in the Big Ten. Sorry it's considered down this year, but when 8 of the 11 schools are playing in bowls, we share those numbers only with the SEC.

So, as I sit in my office this Monday morning, I can honestly say, it's great to be hated. So prognosticate all you want, but I know you want to be where we're going; to New Orleans on January 7.