Archive for February, 2008

Back in Sayre

Sayre, Oklahoma

We arrived back in Western Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon and after some difficulty backing our 5th wheel into our place we settled in to our second or is it third home?  Thanks to all of you who commented or sent emails about my homesickness for Washington.  I know, things change, nothing ever stays the same, you have to move on, you have to know when to fold them and all the other true statements of life but no matter where we roam there will always be a tug on my heart for the place and the people in the place called Mason County, Washington.

One of the things that being in Sayre allows me to do is write.  I have some current responsibilities here and hope to have more, but putting some of my time into writing for the Juniper Tree is part of my calling that is affirmed by those who I serve here.

After more than 260 individual posts to this blog over a 14 month period, finding topics to write about is not the biggest problem, the problem is to keep them readable, interesting and helpful to the 200 or so regular readers of the blog.  I not only value your input I need it to keep my end fresh and worthy of the time you give to it.  The only real disappointment I have related to the Juniper Tree is that there are so many consistent readers but few consistent commentators.  My friend Doug wrote recently “write interesting stuff and you will get comments”.  Doug has never been shy in telling me how things really are!

But comments or not I will forge on because blogging at it’s core is about the blogger.  This is not a commercial enterprise, in fact the blogs that make the blogger an income tend, it seems to me, to become more about what people will read than what the writer wanted to say, this is, however a place for me to write what is on my mind and in my heart and the invitation is there every time I post for you to read what I write.  I am always pleased that what I write gets read, but at the same time if I am going to do this right, it have to do it because value flows back to me when I do.

I will be writing more on the Kingdom as I am convinced it is Everything the person of Biblical faith is to be about.  I want to critique the church and church people.  I have some political things to rant about and I want to bring some thoughts to bare on the culture both Christian and secular, among other things.  There will continue to be Monday Morning Meanderings and my friend Leslee is pushing a Friday Funny.  Will have to see about that one.  Just being in Sayre is always good for a post or two as well. 

Blessings to all of you and thanks for reading and when it is interesting in whatever way, bring your comments to the table.  I might even respond to them and make the journey even more interesting.

February 29, 2008 at 12:21 pm 5 comments

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.33

Chanute, Kansas

It isn’t Monday morning but it is still Monday so that is better than last week. The wind is howling, it is supposed to snow tonight and this free RV park has no water in the winter.  Fun times.  We are here to have some service work done on our 5th wheel before the warranty runs out next month.  Not the time to be in Kansas.  (link here)

These meanderings will focus on where we have been the last week.

Item one.  Read Vol. 32 of M3 to find out about the first few days of our trip from Arizona to Kansas. (who does that in the winter?)

Item two.  Since we had to go east at some point we decided to do it as far south as we could, for as long as we could, in order to stay as warm as possible, for as long as possible.  After our night in New Mexico we started across the huge state of Texas.  Second only to Alaska in size, Texas is about 270,000 square miles, and second only to California in population, Texas is just plain big (about 30 million Texans).  773 miles wide and nearly 800 miles from top to bottom it has an amazing amount of diversity.  Deserts, gulf coast, mountains (the highest point is nearly 9K ‘) pine and oak forests, prairie and grass land not to mention some of the largest lakes in the country.  While it is sometimes considered a part of the southern region of the US it is also very much a part of what we think of as the southwest, but really Texas is it’s own region because of it’s size and diversity.  One could spend months in the state and never see it all.  Really Don’t mess with Texas it’s just too big.

Item three. Lordsburg (NM), Van Horn, Big Spring, and Abilene, TX and Ardmore, OK.  These are the stops we made a long the way.  We try to stay in state parks whenever possible but the Lordsburg and Van Horn stops were at KOAs.  Here are links to the two state parks we stayed in while making our way to Kansas. Abilene State Park and Lake Murray State Park.  Both were great places and if we had time we would have stayed multiple nights at both parks.

I really wanted to ask a couple of the women we met in Abilene if it was true that “the women there don’t treat you mean” but I chickened out.  Can’t say Abilene is the “prettiest town that I’ve ever seen” but it was nice.

While we were in the Abilene area we saw one of the big B1 bombers, based at nearby Dyess Air Force Base, fly over.  I had never seen one in the air before and it was a cool treat. 

Item four. Maybe it is my reflecting on the old song Abilene I just mentioned that got me thinking about and singing in my head the song Detroit City.  Somebody out there has got to remember it.  The simple chorus goes like this: I wanna go home, I wanna go home, Oh, how I wanna go home.

It doesn’t happen a lot but there are times, like tonight when I get this overwhelming desire to just go home, to go back to Washington, to Mason County, to Shelton, to Webb Hill Road, to the place I lived longer than any other place in my life.  There is so much sadness, loss, disappointment, shame, anger, and other strong emotions attached to those places yet there is also a strong, at least tonight, a pull to go back, to go back home.  Before coming to Washington, I never lived any where longer than 5 years and Mason County was my home for more than 18 years, so like no other place it is my home.  I miss my job, I miss the people I worked with (hard to believe, given how I came to find out, they felt about me) I miss our house and property, I miss my little Whaler, I can’t even put into words how much I miss the kids and grandkids and having us all together, I miss a whole lot of people who are too numerous to mention but most of all I just miss the life I had there that was a mixture of all those people and places.

Don’t get me wrong, this life we have is a good one.  How many people in their 50’s get the chance to do what we are doing.  To meet new people, to see new things, to travel and to minister the grace of a Loving Father to a whole lot of people.  I love Trinity and the people there, I love the people in Arizona that we just spent nearly 2 months with and I am mostly happy with life as it is, but for tonight…

Oh, how I wanna go home.

February 25, 2008 at 9:29 pm 6 comments

Monday Morning Meanderings. Vol. 32 (Wednesday edition)

Lordsburg, New Mexico (info here)

We left Arizona a day later than planned and then several hours later on Tuesday arriving here in western New Mexico on I-10 later in the afternoon.  It was an easy drive and good weather.  We will leave sometime soon headed to El Paso, Texas and on into Midland or Odessa for the night.

Item one.  It was a great time in Arizona.  I never would have thought I would like the desert as much as we did.  After years of mountains, trees and green the contrast was dramatic but it really grew on us.  We took daily walks out into the desert, among the huge Saguaro cactus (pronounced swaro) and the many other smaller cactus.  Over the months we have been gone we have learned to really enjoy bird watching and are actually getting pretty good at identification.  There has been a lot of rain in Arizona, this year, so the place is very green (in it’s own way) and just as we were leaving the wild flowers were beginning to come out.  All in all the desert was great.

Item two.  We really enjoyed our time with the people we met here in Arizona.  The park we stayed in had a lot of good people and we enjoyed that interaction more than we have before.  One man was an excellent guitar player and another a really fine classical piano player.  So we enjoyed their music.

What brought us to AZ was to try and be an encouragement to three families that have a relationship with Trinity.  Spending time with Destry and Terri, Clay and Amy and Chuck and Nancy was the highlight of our time here.  They are really great people, all doing what they have been called to do in building Kingdom right where they are.  All of them are different and are approaching what they are doing in different ways, so it was fun to make our weekly trips to help them with their fledgling ministries.  We will be back.  A part of us is now invested here and we love seeing what the Father does with what we are able and willing to invest.

Item three.  We are on our way back to Sayre, though we will not be there until the 28th.  The warranty on our trailer expires shortly and there are a number of things that need fixing so we are on our way to Chanute, Kansas to the factory for service.  Yes there are dealers who could do the work but they don’t seem interested nor timely in their approach so we will just take it to the factory where we have had such good treatment in the past.  We are scheduled there on the 26th.  We are looking forward to seeing all the great people there and getting back into the “flow” there.

Item four. Our son Brad is leading a mission trip to Mexico this week.  He has over 100 students and staff with him so it is a big project.  Please pray for them and especially for Brad’s health.  This is his first trip out of the country with diabetes and getting sick is not fun when you have diabetes.  Also pray for his leadership and for safety and good results building houses.  There is a little info here.

Our daughter, Traci has some more posts and pictures about her family and the ongoing assimilation of Eyob into their life.  They are entertaining reading.  Find them here.

Item five.  Here is Henri Nouwen for today: To be able to enjoy fully the many good things the world has to offer, we must be detached from them. To be detached does not mean to be indifferent or uninterested. It means to be nonpossessive. Life is a gift to be grateful for and not a property to cling to. A nonpossessive life is a free life. But such freedom is only possible when we have a deep sense of belonging. To whom then do we belong? We belong to God, and the God to whom we belong has sent us into the world to proclaim in his Name that all of creation is created in and by love and calls us to gratitude and joy. That is what the “detached” life is all about. It is a life in which we are free to offer praise and thanksgiving.

February 20, 2008 at 8:22 am Leave a comment

Obama over?

Had a long conversation with good friend Kasey the other day about all kinds of things.  It was one of those conversations he and I have periodically that dredge up all kinds of interesting thoughts.  Both of us remarked that we thought Barack Obama would make a great preacher and we both wished he had some kind of platform or ideas or history we could draw on so we had something to like about him other than his great sermons (oops meant speeches). 

This line after Super Tuesday is a classic: We are the change we are waiting for… almost made me stand up and cheer, but what left me in my seat was wondering just what it is this man has ever done to commend him as president.

This morning I was reading another of my favorite blogs The Scriptorium Daily, which you can find here, and came across this essay which speaks well to the thoughts Kasey and I were expressing the other afternoon.  I know I won’t get a lot of hits off this post nor will many of you take the time to read this well thought out essay but it is worth your time.  Especially if the eloquence of Barak Obama is turning your head. Find the essay HERE. 

By the way this blog features the writing of several professors from Biola University where Brad graduated.  (read it anyway Kasey)

February 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm 2 comments

Father God.

 Still in Fort McDowell, Arizona

I had an email from a reader who wondered why I always refer to God as Father and I thought this morning I would attempt an answer, albeit short.

First, as far as I know there is no place in the written Word that tells us to refer to the Creator as God but there is clear directive to address Him as FatherWhen you pray, pray this way. Our Father, who is in heaven…  This of course from the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus said …only God in heaven is your Father. (Matthew 23:9) Then the verse I quoted in a post on adoption last week from Romans 8:15 You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into His family–calling Him Father, dear Father.  Spend some time in the story of the prodigal son and see if you don’t see the desire of a Father for His children.

It seems reasonable to me that if we are to be His children, and His family than we should address Him as our Father.  If He had wanted us to be something other than children or family, He would have asked us to call Him something other than Father.

God is a title that addresses what He is.  Father is a term of intimacy describing who He is.  God speaks of Deity, authority, power, dominion, rule and all of those descriptors are accurate and important to describe what our God is like.  God says “this is what I am as Creator and ruler”. It tells us that there is no other being that is like Him.  On the other hand Father sums up the desires of our Creator’s heart to enter into our lives and live with us and love us with unconditional and perfect love.  Father is a word of endearment that says to us “this is Who I am” for you and in you.

God is a title to study, to categorize and describe.  Theology is the fruit of knowing God.  Human beings taking the things they have learned about God and attempting with words to tell what we can know about this Awesome God.  Father, however is a term of affection, intimacy and safety.  He is our daddy, our Abba and it is not so much what we know about Him as it is what we can experience with Him.  God is knowledge while Father is experience.

Father indicates relationship while God speaks of the Wholly Other, the all knowing, all powerful, all present that is our Creator.  We enter into relationship with the Father while we stand in awe of the Almighty God.

For most of my life I only knew the Creator as God.  A Being of all beings. One who could only be known through attributes that didn’t fit any other being.  The fruit of that life long learning was fear, failed attempts at trying to please and impress so as to be noticed and accepted.  It produced a sense of failure and frustration, loneliness and often despair.  But learning to relate to this awesome Creator as Father has produced a desire for His presence, a passion to worship Him with abandonment and joy.  It has created intimacy and trust, freedom and security and most of all what I know about the God comes to life in my relationship with the Father.

There is nothing more important to one who has passed from death to life, come out of darkness into light, gone from lost to found than to come into relationship with the Father who makes all of that possible.  There is a clear and discernible difference in the people I know who are in relationship with the Father and those who know a lot about God.

Only a Father would invite us to make our home in Him as He makes His home in us. (John 14:5)

February 13, 2008 at 10:34 am 1 comment

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.31

Fort McDowell, Arizona

What a beautiful weekend.  I am almost embarrassed to say how nice it was, considering the NW is having it’s usual fare and closing ski resorts because of too much snow.  Some places have gotten as much as 10 feet in less than a week.  I love to ski and love the snow but learning to really love 75 degrees and clear blue skies.

The meanderings:

Item one. Sedona, Arizona.  Bill and Leslee took us north of Phoenix on Friday to visit the little mountain town of Sedona.  Beautiful red rocks, green juniper trees, cacti all blend together for a beautiful setting.  Sedona describes itself as a spiritual mecca and global power spot (that)has drawn some of the most amazing healers, intuitives, artists and spiritual guides now on the planet. Lots of crystal sellers and other New Age stuff around and they make a big deal about the vortex(s) that you can find in the area.  A vortex, you may wonder, is a place where all these renowned spots of heightened spiritual and metaphysical energy can be found. Should you desire a map of these energetic spots you can find it here.

We went there with a primary plan of visiting a beautiful Catholic church built into one of the red rock facings in the area.  It was the highlight of the trip and well worth the time and the short walk to view it and worship in it.  Take a couple of minutes and look at the pictures here.  Frankly, I think it stands as a symbol of the power of the cross over any other spiritual power purported to be in the area.  Fun day with Bill and Leslee.

Item two.  Since we are not able to be with our children and grand children as much as we would like we have been trying to think of ways to connect, on regular basis with the little boys, especially.  So we came up with the idea of a blog featuring our Cairn Terrier, Jake who will interact with the boys and keep their Poppa and Nanny in their lives a little more.  We have only posted twice but it is going to be fun and will feature Jake’s view of our life, travels and the things we see.  If you want to check it out you can find it here.

Item three. Our “neighbors” here in the park are here from the Chicago area and the east coast somewhere and are very friendly people as many are in places like this.  Something about this lifestyle invites people to interact differently than in neighborhoods where there are garages and fences to block interaction.  Last Tuesday night (Super Tuesday) they invited us over for (I’m serious) a class of wine and to watch the election returns!  The intros went something like this: “I’m Gary” and “I’m Glen and when I introduced myself with an “I’m Greg, one of the women said “oh how fun, the three “G’s“!  For those of you who know some of my history, you understand the irony of all that.  We must have had fun since they invited us to dinner last night.

Item four.  Tomorrow I am going with some of the guys from Trinity, one of the young pastor’s from here and Todd Pierce to the Pastor’s School at Phoenix First Assembly.  One of our guys, Cody Custer has a relationship with this church and Todd will be doing a demonstration tomorrow breaking a horse.  Not sure what all that will look like but somewhere during the time we will have an opportunity to present out Spiritual Life and Rodeo Mentorship School to this large group of pastors and leaders.  It should be interesting.  We have a new website for the school, as just put up over the weekend, and while it is very sparse and there is more work to do on it, it will be really helpful as we begin to market the school outside western Oklahoma.  I still find it hard to see myself doing the things I am doing.

Item five. I think of myself as a “word guy” because I like words and enjoy writing and speaking them so I found the Nouwen devotional today a good reminder of the power of words: Words, words, words. Our society is full of words: on billboards, on television screens, in newspapers and books. Words whispered, shouted, and sung. Words that move, dance, and change in size and color. Words that say, “Taste me, smell me, eat me, drink me, sleep with me,” but most of all, “buy me.” With so many words around us, we quickly say: “Well, they’re just words.” Thus, words have lost much of their power.  Still, the word has the power to create. When God speaks, God creates. When God says, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, “I love you,” and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage. When we say, “I hate you,” we can destroy another person. Let’s watch our words.

Thanks for reading my words and enjoy your week, wherever you are.


 

February 11, 2008 at 11:24 am 2 comments

“It’s about adoption.”

Fort McDowell, Arizona

I have been wondering why it is that our daughter Traci and son in law Brandon have had to struggle so hard with the assimilation of their adopted son, Eyob into their family.  While things are going better now then they did at first, it has not been the joy Traci expected, in fact it has been very difficult.  She has been very open about her struggles in her blog, hoping that her experiences will help others.  You can read her blog here.  We have, of course, hurt for her as she goes through this tough time and have tried to give her perspective about it that isn’t just the standard though true “give it time”.

Saturday we were talking with Traci about her struggles and the victories she was experiencing and trying to understand together what it all means when I clearly heard the Father say, “it’s about adoption”.  Of course I am thinking, “of course it is”.  But I also began to think about how adoption speaks from the natural into the Spiritual and how critical this illustration is.

The Father often uses natural illustrations to speak Spiritual truth.  For example the New Testament uses the illustration of the natural family to speak about the Spiritual Family, the church.  The marriage of a bridegroom and bride in the natural becomes a picture in the Spiritual of Jesus as the Bridegroom and His love for His Bride the church. 

The enemy hates these illustrations because they speak so clearly about the Father’s deep affection for His Family and the desires He has for each one of us to know  love in a personal and intimate way.  No wonder the enemy attacks marriages and families.  No wonder he drags our children off into gender confusion. If he can destroy the natural illustrations he obscures the Spiritual and people miss what the Father has in mind for His children.  The enemy knows he cannot change  Spiritual reality but he still has power in the natural.

So when I heard “it’s about adoption” I remembered that adoption in the natural is a huge and important illustration of a greater truth in the Spiritual.  So you should not be like cowering fearful slaves.  You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family–calling Him Father, dear Father.  For His Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us we are God’s children.  And since we are his children, we all share his treasures-for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. (Romans 8:15-17)  When we by faith, receive the promise of eternal salvation, because of what Jesus did on the cross for us, we are adopted into the Father’s family and are given all the rights and inheritance that is Jesus’.  It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, how far away from the Father you are, how poor or rich you are, what color your skin is or what language you speak.  By faith you are adopted into His Family and you will never be kicked out.  His love is infinite and eternal.  You are His and He is yours.  That’s adoption.

Like the enemy’s attack against marriage and family, because they illustrate Spiritual realities, so the enemy comes hard against natural adoptions because of the Spiritual implications they teach.  We should expect it and of course prepare for it.  Traci and Brandon are living in a culture in Utah that desperately needs these pictures, so the enemy comes hard to try and blur and obscure them by stealing Traci and Brandon’s strength and courage, destroying their joy and determination and killing their vision. (John 10:10) 

The best way to communicate truth is by illustration and natural adoption is such a great picture of the most important reality in the Christian faith, our adoption as children by a Father who is the Most High God, there is no question the enemy wants to destroy that picture.

So, we amp up the prayers, we speak truth, we fight against the discouragement and fatigue and we steadfastly believe that what the Father has called Traci and Brandon and thousands of others to do is of vital importance and so must not stop.  It is extremely vital in the natural but even more so in the Spiritual.

Take a moment to read Traci’s latest post so you can see that the enemy is not winning.  Find it here.

It’s about the marriage of one man and one woman, it’s about family,  it’s about adoption!  As a friend of mine says “that’s a good word, right there”!

February 6, 2008 at 12:52 pm 4 comments

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