Archive for August, 2007

Creede and Creed.

Creede, Colorado (8,852′)

We are in the Rio Grande valley in southern Colorado in the old mining town of Creede (info here).  We are here with my brother Mike and sister in law, Vicky.  It has been in interesting time.  We just had the heaviest rain, thunder and lightning storm I have been in, in a long time, if ever.  It just poured and the thunder was so loud and the lightning so close it was a little unnerving for someone from the NW.  Mike and I had just returned from fishing so I put my raincoat on and washed the truck!

Moving around at this altitude (8,852′) leaves you winded but the area is really beautiful.

Our new puppy Jake, was a little frightened by the thunder so he just went to bed.  We are having a fun time with him.  He has a real personality and lives up to the breed’s rep of being a bit stubborn.  He fits in well with the two of us!

Speaking of fishing, it has been interesting.  The water is the color of chocolate milk, because of all the rain and so catching fish is a little difficult.  We went upstream this afternoon and the color was a little better and I managed to land a few nice browns.

We have spent some time getting our trailer back in shape after the long trip out here from Washington.  It was so dirty. I washed half of it this morning and will do the rest tomorrow. 

The connection is remote but I couldn’t help thinking, while we are here in Creede, about the Apostles Creed.   A number of years ago I did a series of messages on the Apostles Creed, which I think is the best synthesis of Christian beliefs ever written (find it here).  Not sure if Creede, the town, added the “e” to separate themselves from a statement of Christian belief or not, but the name has made me think of these values important to my faith.

Wes King has a great song called Common Creed (lyrics here) that is a musical adaptation of this great creed.  I have it playing on my iPod, while I write this.  If you haven’t heard it, you might want to download it and hear the musical Creed as a way to learn it.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. 

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.

The rain has finally let up, the Mariners have lost 7 in a row and the Huskies are rolling.  Guess you have to take the good with the bad.


August 31, 2007 at 8:03 pm 1 comment

Prayer for the week.

I usually include the Prayer for the Week in Monday Morning Meanderings but since I didn’t get it out till Tuesday, I was in a hurry and forgot to include it so for those of you who enjoy these prayers and those of you who might find them helpful for your prayer life, here it is:

O God, the protector of all who trust in You, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon all your faithful people your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen  (From Divine Hours. Prayers for summertime.  Get it here)

An answer to this prayer and the implantation of this desire in our hearts is the need of the hour for all of us who choose to follow the Master.

We are off this morning to Creede, Colorado of some time with my brother and sister in law.  They have a fifth wheel too, though they don’t live in it full time.  We will spend some time fishing the Rio Grande River which has it’s beginnings in these mountains.  It will be a new river for me but I think it is the same as anywhere else, find the right flies, present it right and the fish will be interested.

More on Creede tomorrow.

August 29, 2007 at 6:57 am Leave a comment

Monday morning meanderings. (Tuesday) Vol. 9

Colorado Springs, Colorado

We left South Jordan, Utah and our kids Sunday afternoon about 2pm and drove to Fruita, Colorado, about 250 miles.  We stayed at a nice Colorado State Park on the Colorado River.  We didn’t leave too early yesterday morning but arrived in the Springs in time for dinner at my dad’s, with my brother and his wife.  It was fun.

Item one.  It was hard to leave our Utah kids in one sense but in another I was tired out and needed a break!  I have said before I don’t know how young mothers do it, day after day.  Sloan and Sean our great boys, they behave well, are happy and have fun but they are go, go, go.  We spent Saturday and Sunday morning watching the boys while Traci and Brandon had some time away.  They haven’t had much of that recently and with the addition very soon of a new boy (get info here), they really needed the time.  They are doing well but really busy.  Brandon works long hours, Traci is the coordinator of the MOPs group at their church and they are finishing their basement among all the other things young families do.  In addition they are waiting for the word to head to Africa to pick up their new boy.  They are all so excited and anticipating this new addition.  Linda and I will return to Utah while they are in Ethiopia to help watch the boys.  Linda will go back in a couple of weeks to help Brandon with the boys while Traci goes to Florida for the MOPs convention.  Busy, busy, busy.  Even though they tire me out, I miss them already.


Item two. There are all kinds of websites that are nothing more than a list of other websites.  If there is a bigger collection of Christian websites any where I would like to know about it.  This site has thousands of “Christian” sites.  If you are looking for something you can probably find it here.

Item three. Should baggy pants be bagged?  If you live in Atlanta you might get the chance to vote on it.  Read about it here.

Item four.  How about those Mariners.  How they have hung around as long as they have is more a testement to how bad the American League is.  Last night may have been as big a game as they have had in 3 years and they laid an egg.  Anyone think they will still be around in a month?

Item five.  Now for the big news. We are back in the dog ownership business.  We decided some time ago that when we were in or near a big city we would look for a puppy.  After years of having Labs we knew we would not be able to have another one since we live and travel in our RV.  So we started the research on small dogs and settled on a couple we would look for.  Linda found some puppies in the Salt Lake area and while we were there Traci, Brandon and the boys joined Linda and I in going to look at some Cairn Terrier puppies (read about them here).  If you are looking for a puppy and are undecided about whether you should buy one or not do not take two young boys with you.  So, we are now owned by a little fellow named Jake.  The Cairn is described as a big dog in a little dog’s body and that discribes Jake.

jake.jpg    jake-2.jpg

August 28, 2007 at 9:56 am 3 comments

Market driven church.

Many of you who read this blog attend church somewhere but there are quite a few of you who no longer attend at all.  There have been a lot of moments during these last months where I have wondered if the church has ceased to be the Church Jesus said He would build and become just another institution trying to get it’s market share.  I have not given up but I am asking totally different questions about the church then I used to.

Here are a few quotes that got my attention last night. 

Author Bill Easum writes in a his book A Second Resurrection, that the fix for the what ails the American church may be more invasive than we might think:

Is it possible we have underestimated the seriousness of Western Protestantism’s situation? What if the metaphors of reformation, renewal, and revitalization don’t get to the heart of the problem? What if the situation is much worse than those words describe? What if the vast majority of congregations in the West are spiritually dead and God no longer considers them churches? What if God has one foot out the door of most of Western Protestantism? What if the vast majority of churches are like the church of Laodicea in the Book of Revelation? What if God is about to spit us out of his mouth?

Reformation, renewal, and revitalization assume some pre-existing foundation of faith from which to raise up a true Church. But what if that assumption isn’t correct? What if that assumption is part of the problem?…

Easum concludes that most institutions have “ceased being the church,” and that except for a remnant, the people who make up the institution are spiritually dead.  Yikes!

Then this from Kevin Ford’s book Church Transformation:

The problem is not whether or not a church has a dynamic preacher, a worship band, or liturgy. The problem is that too many churches, consciously or not, have emphasized production of spiritual goods to satisfy individual appetites. As people who attend church, we may not have asked yet if we would like to add fries to the order of faith, but we have learned how to look for what we like. And if we don’t find it or it mysteriously disappears, then, like the members of focus groups, the next step is obvious: Head down the road a mile or two to the next McChurch.

Fast food will no doubt always get its share of the market and I suspect the McChurch will too for the forseeable future.  But the more we know about fast food the more we look for something a little more substantive and healthy.  Already people are looking for faith communities where the fare is deeper and healthier too.

An excerpt from The Gospel-Driven Church, 27 Theses

10. If the entirety of your churchy desires consists of filling a seat to experience a good service, you are not a congregant in a church but a consumer at a concert.

11. What you win people with is what you win them to. Win people with flash, spectacle, presentation, etc., and that’s what you win them to. Don’t be surprised if, like all consumers and what attracts them, they eventually get tired and move on to the next attraction. Don’t be surprised if, provided they remain, they continually request more, better, higher . . .

16. You cannot program a church into success. Programs are great, but they are applications. They are the “how” of doing church. Give up the tyranny of results and start with the “what” and “why” questions first.

Anyone have any thoughts about this?  What is your church like?  Can we expect any results other than what we are getting when the pressure to be attractive and get “win” people is greater than the pressure to introduce people to what it really means to follow Jesus?

Can market driven churches really be called The Church?

August 24, 2007 at 8:03 am 4 comments

Fear of sharks.

 My friend and soon to be pastor, Andy Taylor just forwarded me this excellent word by a man named David VanCronkhite (find out more about David here).  It was really excellent and resonated with me in a huge way.  In fact, though I wouldn’t have said it exactly this way or this well, I have spent considerable time thinking about this cultural and “religious” reality a lot lately.

Thank you for taking the time to read David’s timely comments.  I reformatted this document to fit my template.  The original is available here by registering for email newsletter.

Pondering the Journey
Caught in the jaws of morality

August 21, 2007

It’s always a favorite time for me just hanging out with DJ. We were pondering how his generation had a totally different view of sharks than my generation. But then, his very first encounter with a shark was the movie Jaws and it forever set a mentality: sharks are devastating, life taking, attacking, blood hungry, destructive, prowling about the deep and off the beaches of the seas. Jaws created a fear not only of the shark but of the waters.

A whole generation gained such a fear of sharks that it greatly impacted not only the shark family but a generation’s ability to see through the shark to the beauty of the beach, the setting sun over the vast ocean, the gentle waves, the thunderous surf, the sand made fresh at every tide. It is a generation that cares little to venture out and look below the shark inhabited waters at the beauty of the coral and the fish; the colors, the sounds, the movements of this vast expression of creativity.

Later, I was suddenly pondering similarities between Jaws and another greatly impacting, life changing documentary being written. It was called the Moral Majority. Though it is now defunct, its impact on a whole generation has been equally devastating. It has proven to be as negative for sinners as Jaws has been to the sharks.

I was pondering the first time I became aware of what was to become the Moral Majority. I was sitting in my dad’s office. He was one of the best in our nation at getting men elected to political offices. I listened as Christian leaders came to him to put together plans to get conservative men with moral standards elected.

A generation later we have the fruit of that effort. Moral Majority Gone Wild might be a good moniker.

What seemed to start out as an effort to warn the nation of liberal theology, social, and political issues has after some 40 years redefined Christianity. It made sin more prominent than love; fear of being found out more prevalent than love of brother; and, maybe most damning, it redefined sin singularly as a sexual or moral based issue versus the core faith issue.

Christianity was no longer about a Kingdom and a King, community, signs and wonders, grace, mercy, faith and love, justice, righteousness, compassion and the poor. No longer did people think of widows and orphans being taken care of when they heard the term Christian. I am told the surveys of the masses reveal what they think of us today: Christians — those are the people who hate homosexuals.

In less than 40 years we have transformed what Jesus said about repenting for following the systems of the world, the kingdoms of the world, to repenting for sexual immorality, as if everything else my Jesus stood for and walked out is insignificant.

The questions regarding the leadership of and fellowship with Jesus seldom conjure up the image of the Samaritan, the goats and the sheep, the looking over the city and weeping, the proclamation of a Kingdom, the statements about a new command I give you, the 70X7 stuff of grace and mercy and his solidarity with the sinners and the poor, the oppressed and aliens, the widows and orphans.

So I have to ponder whether we have created a generation that so fears being caught in sexual sin and its connotations that it never ventures into the deep of knowing the beauty of the Kingdom thinking some shark called sin is lurking to exclude them, shun them, chastise and point out with a scarlet letter, a generation that has never seen what is below the surface of flesh and disappointment yet is the reality of a loving creation of a loving God.

I ponder the recent encounter with a moral majority-like pastor who said of my stance, “People like you are usually in sin!” And in a moment, to his dismay, I got it. Yes, you’re right. It’s only sinners who need grace, only sinners who need mercy, only sinners who are looking for a God of love.

I choose to confess. I am but a sinner, saved by grace yesterday and today and, by grace, from my sins of tomorrow. I follow a God who is Love! And who loves people like me: 3 time losers, sinners unable to maintain the standards of the systems but believing God will say to us like He did to my namesake, a sinful king, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

Pondering. It’s a big Kingdom filled with a lot of love for a lot of losers.

David VanCronkhite

August 22, 2007 at 9:04 am 3 comments

Following without understanding.

Being a follower of Jesus is, it seems to me, by definition,  following without understanding. If we have chosen to follow Jesus as Lord, as Leader, as Master then we have signed on to follow Him even when we don’t get it.

This is an area of great challenge for me.  For a lot of years I was able to do something as a profession in which I was proficient and quite comfortable. It wasn’t as if I didn’t try to do what I thought the Spirit was leading me to do, I normally was just in a zone for which I was trained, competent and comfortable.

The last two years all of that has been stripped away and I am in a position where I am learning to follow even though I don’t understand.  It is a good place to be and one very few of us ever get to because we tend to stay in those places where we are competent, where we are comfortable and where following Jesus is generally doing what we want and asking Him to bless what we are doing.

We don’t have faith because we understand, we understand because we have faith.  This is the place I am being called almost everyday.  I am being called to accept some really important things even though I cannot always satisfy my intellect.  I am learning that understanding is seldom a requirement for obedience.

Take healing for example.  I was raised and trained in a movement where Divine healing was relegated to a time past. Primarily the training I had was directed at my intellect rather than training my spirit to stay in step with the Spirit.  Never in all my years of theological graduate school did we ever ask why Jesus would teach us to request that the norm of heaven would become the norm on earth if He did not intend to answer that request.  Instead we spent our time fitting our understanding into the text, explaining away what Jesus said on the basis of what we could understand.

Healing is part of the normal Christian life.  God put it in His Book, He repeatedly illustrated it in the life of Jesus and since we are called to be like Jesus… 

Today in many churches and denominations, including the one I am most familiar with, praying for people to be healed is often considered to be consorting with the devil while disease is considered a gift from God to make us better Christians.  When understanding is required for following it is no wonder we seldom pray for healing.  Healing defies understanding.

Can you imagine Jesus looking at the blind man, named Bartimaeus and saying, “this blindness of yours is a gift from your Father so that you can become a better person”?  Since we cannot intellectually process how God could actually open his blind eyes we pray instead that God would open the eyes of his heart.

Why is it we are so afraid of being seen as anti-intellectual or being seen as excessive or outlandish when we pray that heaven would break out on earth?  Many churches fear being excessive way more than they fear lacking something.

There is so much about healing I don’t understand. For example: why isn’t everyone I pray for healed?  For most of my life that one question kept me from praying and following.  I didn’t understand so I just didn’t follow. 

I still don’t have an understanding of that question but I know a key ingredient to seeing healing take place is following the Healer without always understanding His ways.

I cannot find anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus expressed concern that upon His return He might not find His followers with excessive understanding.  He does, however, express concern that when He returns He might not find His followers with an excess of faith.  (Luke 18:8)

That is where I am.  I spent most of my life in training for ministry and doing ministry trying to understand.  Now I am just trying to follow, even when I don’t undertand.

August 21, 2007 at 10:37 am 3 comments

Monday morning meanderings. Vol 8

Draper, Utah

We are staying in a park about 1 minute from where Traci and Brandon and the boys used to live!  They moved a few months ago north and west of here about 10 minutes to the community of South Jordan.  Unfortunately the only RV park any where close is this one right next to their old apartment building. 

Here are a few meandering posts for Monday, August 20, 2007:

Item one: Last Saturday we visited the Mormon Temple in downtown Salt Lake. It was interesting and disturbing in so many ways.  When we walked on the grounds I prayed for spiritual protection for and over all of us and prayed for the salvation of all those I believe to be caught up in the deception of Mormonism.  There were about 10 weddings in some kind of process while we were there. They stack up outside waiting for entrance to the temple so their marriage can be sealed, whatever that means.  All kinds of dressed up people milling around waiting for their turn.  Seemed strange to me but they all seemed OK with it, though there seemed to be little or no excitement about the whole deal.  The visitor centers are like museums with statues and paintings about mormon history.  There are all kinds of Biblical scenes painted on the walls but all the people in the paintings look like white Americans.  Weird.  That visit will be my only visit. 

It has come to my attention since I wrote this post that a number of members of the LDS Church were offended by my remarks, especially about praying for protection as we entered the temple grounds.  While I did in fact pray for spiritual protection and for the people who I believe are victims of deception from the evil one, I did take some literary license in the way I told the story in an attempt to be humorous.  My apologies to those who were offended and thank you to those who have written me to express their sentiments. I do have rather different viewpoints from those who follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and others but that does not give me the right to be offensive and I do apologize.

Item two: I want to do a full post on this great book another time but I found this quote outstanding.  The book is called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (read more about the book here).  It’s premise is that you cannot be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.  It is a terrific book and Linda and I are almost through reading it together.  The quote is actually from Richard Rohr’s book Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation, but how Scazzero uses it is excellent. Here are five essential truths about life (page 133): Life is hard. You are not that important. Your life is not about you. You are not in control. You are going to die.  If I have learned anything in my life worth remembering almost every day, in fact several times a day, it is that I have to get over myself.  If I don’t I cannot grow emotionally or spiritually.  When I was a pastor, almost all of the problems I encountered in counselling families, couples, teenagers and seniors, could have been solved if I could have pursuaded the individuals involved to get over the need to be the most important person in their life.

Item three: A couple of more “jokes”.  Heck is where people go who don’t believe in gosh and this I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

Item four: Thou shalt not commit reincarnation. Apparently China has decided to exercise governmental control over reincarnation.  This quote from Newsweek magazine:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.” But beyond the irony lies China’s true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region’s Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country.

But before you laugh to loud consider this: A 2005 Gallup poll found that 20% of American adults believe in reincarnation and the number is steadily increasing as a more recent Barna poll shows.  Barna discovered the figure was now 25% and 10% of born again Christians embrace reincarnation as their favored end-of-life view.  (I found this story first here.)

Item five: The Scandretts are all finally out of Mason County.  No cheering please.  Brad, Summer and Canyon moved into their new digs in Gig Harbor over the weekend.  You can read about the move here and get the new address here as well.  We can’t wait to get back and visit.

Item six: Prayer for the week: Grant to me, Lord. I pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that I, who cannot exist without You, may be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever . Amen

Well, I am off to see the boys!  Happy Monday!

August 20, 2007 at 11:20 am 1 comment

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