Transformed People Transform People

Last year our small group read 'Falling Upward' by Richard Rohr, a Catholic Priest who ministers in Albuquerque, NM. While I do not always agree with him. I often find his words to be inspirational. This first quote seemed appropriate for this time of year. Please let me know if any of these ring true for you.

As you look back on a year almost ended, recall the ways in which God has been inviting you to return, again and again, to Love which is the same as returning to God.

Religious belief has made me comfortable with ambiguity.

You come to God not by being strong, but by being weak; not by being right, but through your mistakes.

Jesus is the very concrete truth revealing and standing in for the universal truth.

It is so important to balance orthodoxy with orthopraxy.

Transformed people transform people.

All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.

Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.

The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.

Maturity is the ability to joyfully live in an imperfect world.

We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.

I think my great disappointment as a priest has been to see how little actual spiritual curiosity there is in so many people.

Jesus is much more concerned about shaking your foundations, giving you an utterly alternative self image, world image, and God image, and thus reframing your entire reality. Mere inspiration can never do this.

It is at the bottom where we find grace; for like water, grace seeks the lowest place and there it pools up.

Faith and Explanations

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."

Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic priest, philosopher and theologian, penned these words more than seven centuries ago. On one hand I find it to be somewhat of a religious cliché that falls short in many ways. Surely a person of faith wants and desires explanations. When we are hurting the most we often desire an explanation concerning the things that are happening. So, in that sense, Aquinas can be misunderstood when he says that "no explanation is necessary".

On the flip-side, I really resonate with the idea of not needing an explanation. The Psalmist challenges me when he writes "Be still, and know that I am God". In a very real reality I have found faith to carry me in times of depression and despair. Knowing God has helped me to persevere when life has overwhelmed me. Knowing that God is good and loving inspires me to live better. And when I consider the life of Jesus I understand what life is all about.

...originally posted December 28. 2013

The Buck Stops Here

I am thinking about President Truman, Kansas City's favorite son, and hoping that the next president will be one that, like Harry, embraces a "buck stops here" style of leadership. Lets all hope that our new president will be a leader who does not pass the buck but accepts responsibility for decisions made in his administration.

...originally posted in October, 2008

The Question of Questions

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." -Albert Einstein

"If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask?
|Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?" - Scott Adams

"A prudent question is one-half of wisdom." -Francis Bacon

"Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers." -Anthony Robbins

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." -James Thurber

"No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions." -Charles Steinmetz

"Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them." -Leo Tolstoy

"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." -Thomas Paine

"He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked." -Voltaire

-originally posted October 2009

Keeping X in Xmas

Yes, the title of this post is a bit provocative - are you confused by it? As Erin Wathan, Senior Pastor of Foothills Christian Church in Phoenix, AZ, points out in her post titled "Top 10 Reasons Christians Should Stop Whining About Secular Xmas": “Xmas” is not a dirty word. In fact, “X” is the Greek letter, Chi–which, in the olden days, was often used as a literary symbol for Christ. Here are a few other thoughts from Erin:
  • Do you really want the public school system to be responsible for your child’s faith formation? No? i didn’t think so. ... Let’s just say, while i think many public school teachers model wonderful values and moral behavior, and many are model Christians, I’d much rather my kids learn to read and do math at school, and get their language of faith from my family and the church of my choosing.
  • We might often feel that the secularization of our favorite holiday has deprived it of all meaning. But on the contrary, Christmas is the time when many who would qualify themselves as ‘non-believers,’ feel a stirring of the spirit that leads them seeking. If we are truly disciples of Jesus, we should celebrate any element of the season that urges people toward the holy. It may start with the mall or the Hallmark channel, but it often lands them in church.
  • Speaking of shopping–if you are bothered by all the secular expressions posted around malls and big box stores this season, might i gently suggest that you spend less of your Christmas season at the freakin mall? If you don’t like the signage, spend more time serving the poor, going to worship, getting out in nature, and spending time with the people you love.
I suggest that you catch the rest of Erin's thoughts here. I resonate with this insightful conclusion that she comes to: "When you get right down to it, the best way to “keep Christ in Christmas” is to model Christlike behavior."

- originally posted December, 11, 2012

Not Everything that Counts can be Counted

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." -Albert Einstein

Love this quote. I mean really. Who can put a number on love? Who is smart enough to rate a sunset? Or wise enough to discern the origins of the universe? So much of life has so little to do with the things that we can see or hear. The things that shape us so often are the things that cannot be seen with our outer eyes. These require inner vision. Eyes of faith are need to discover important spiritual truths. Imagination often takes the invisible and makes it visible. Not everything that can be counted counts.

Embracing a Nonlinear Timeline

"If you could see your life from start to finish, would you change things?"

This is the question from yesterday's movie review. The query helped me to see my life from a different perspective. It enabled me to get past the chronology of past events and see my life in a nonlinear fashion. Caused me to see my past decisions in light of the bigger picture. See an image of how these decisions have shaped my life. Helped me to understand, at a macro level, that: 1) I would not really change things in my life; 2) God has worked my past for good.

It makes sense when I think about it. God created time and therefore exists outside of linear time. If we are to understand life from a heavenly perspective then it is productive to see life in a non-chronological nonlinear way. Easier said than done. Yet so important. I guess what I am saying is the sum of our lives are so much great than a sum of their parts.

By embracing this view we are given the freedom to forgive ourselves for past mistakes and release the accompanying pain. To embrace a nonlinear timeline means that we embrace the totality of our uniqueness in ways that set us free from the constraints of linear thinking. We are enabled to envision a future that is so much different than our past.

Arrival | ★★★★★★★★★★

Every once in a while a movie comes along that makes you really think. This is one of those movies. For sure it has a SciFi backdrop but this is so different than Star Wars or Star Trek. I felt that I really had to watch it in full before I understood the plotline. The story is so beautiful. So deep. So emotional. It hit me right where I live.

         "If you could see your life from start to finish, would you change things?"

This was asked my Dr Louise Banks, played flawlessly by Amy Adams, to Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner. It hits to the heart of the story and why I loved this movie so much. Arrival left me a bit uncomfortable with my level of questioning about my past choices. It helped me to see my life in a non-linear timeline.

The movie is certainly a creative investigation of the relationship of time to life. It is well written and well acted. I loved it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

To Forgive is to Let Go

I saw this image on Facebook this morning. The words that popped out to me was "I can let go". It reminded me that there are many facets to forgiveness. Yet at the heart of it is the idea that one person releases another of something. Sometimes it is in the form of a financial debt. Other times it is the letting go of bitterness.

In a very real sense forgiveness is letting go of the things that we cannot control and embracing gracious mercy. I find this idea to be so liberating. For the one forgiven and for one forgiving. It puts forgiveness in a healthy perspective. Instead of one of emotional weakness it presents an image of a tremendously powerful person. One willing to let go of the bad things that control them.

I was going to post this yesterday ...

How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'. -Martin Luther

Procrastination is the thief of time. -Edward Young

Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. -V Kiam

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. -Spanish Proverb

Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow. - G. Vaughan

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. -Don Marquis

...originally posted November 25, 2012

On Thanksgiving Day we Acknowledge our Dependence.

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. ~WJ Bryan

If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share. ~W. Clement Stone

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. ~Cicero

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. ~Oprah Winfrey

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. ~William Shakespeare

If you think Independence Day is America's defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down. ~Tony Snow

Thanksgiving Funnies

What happened when the turkey got into a fight?
He got the stuffing knocked out of him.

How many cooks does it take to stuff a turkey?
One, but you really have to squeeze him in!

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all.

Why did they let the turkey join the band?
Because he had the drumsticks.

Why did the Pilgrims eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
They couldn't get the moose in the oven!

Teacher: "Why do we have a Thanksgiving holiday?"
Student: "So we know when to start Christmas shopping!"

-first posted November, 2012

Letting Go of How it “Should” Be

Those of you who read here know that this idea of letting go of control has been a recent recurring theme for me.
So my interest was peaked when I came across "7 Mantras for Letting Go of How Life “Should” Be" [read it here] from Mark and Angel Hack Life. Here is a sampling of their mantras:
  • You must accept the fact that things may never go back to how they used to be.
  • If you want to be effective and bright, let go of your need to always be right.
  • When you hear only what you want to hear, you’re not really listening.
They end the list of seven item advising each of us to be humble and teachable.

I suggest that you read their post in full here. Especially if you need to let go of how life should be.

Fun with Fours

Four names I go by:
  1. Bob
  2. Robert
  3. Dad
  4. Bobby
Four places I've lived:
  1. New York
  2. Texas
  3. Kansas
  4. Missouri
Four things I love to watch on TV:
  1. Homeland
  2. The Americans
  3. Modern Family
  4. Elementary
Four places I have visited:
  1. Hong Kong
  2. Niagara Falls
  3. Acapulco
  4. Vancouver
Four things I love to eat:
  1. NYC Pizza
  2. Key Lime Pie
  3. Alaskan KIng Crab
  4. KC Barbecue
Four favorite drinks:
  1. Nespresso Intenso Coffee
  2. Boulevard Beer
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Water

Take one of the fours and share your answers in the comments. ツ

You are not entitled to your opinion.

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” -Harlan Ellison

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...” -Thomas Jefferson

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.” -Isaac Asimov

“Nothing is more conductive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.” -Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

“If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.” -Thomas à Kempis

... originally posted August, 2014

Honoring Service and Sacrifice

I am reposting this to commemorate Veterans Day. I am not sure that I have ever seen a more moving image representing what it means to honor our soldiers. Those who have served in uniform really understand what it means to honor those who have served us and have sacrificed, and are sacrificing, their all for their country.

I know that my three years in the US Army changed my whole image of military service. That time gave me a peek into both the mundane and extraordinary aspects of serving the country. Years later I learned a lot about the struggles of military families when my son courageously served two tours on the front lines of Iraq.

The truth is that military service can go from risking your life one day to doing menial tasks the next. Soldiers like my son do what needs to be done. They respond to terror attacks by volunteering to fight and to serve. For that I honor them all today.

An Election Benediction

May you remember that all politics and all platforms and all legalities and all borders and all leaders are temporary.

May you recall that political movements and boundaries and personalities and programs are here one day and gone the next. All of these are passing away.

May you resist the temptation to place ultimate trust in any person, policy, party, movement, or nation—even a beautiful idea that is embodied by a nation—because there is no nation with an eternal foundation.

May you know that your kingdom is not of this world but of the world that is coming to this world and that is not yet here.

May you in the same breath grasp that engagement with the things of this world—not escape from its harsher, darker realities—is the sacrificial pattern of Jesus Christ.

May you discover your role in the just and merciful governance of the world God made good and pursue that cosmos-converting vocation with love amid the world’s brokenness and grittiness.

May you see your work in the world—all of your callings and activities—as a participation in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.

May you have strength and beauty and determination and wisdom as you love your neighbor and your enemy as Christ has loved you, seeking with all persons to bring justice, mercy, and lasting peace.

May you comprehend that your salvation is not dependent on who you vote for in an election, or in whether or not you vote; that you are under no biblical or theological or moral obligation to vote for a person or party or proposal or initiative if that vote violates your conscience.

May you be grateful for the opportunity to participate in your government and if you choose not to participate in the election may you find ways to make that non-participation more than a protest, and may you find tangible ways to help and protect the poor and oppressed who might have been helped or shielded by your vote.

May you realize that the kingdom of God is within you and that the Son of God sets you free even as you vote for whomever your conscience dictates, without anxiety or fear, for the Spirit the Father gives us does not make us timid, but bestows on us power, love, and self-discipline.

May your posture toward every human leader be driven by respectful prayer, and where protest and prophecy and non-violent resistance are needed, may you have the courage to speak and oppose and critique in humility and charity.

May you perceive God’s love for creation in sending Jesus to embody a New Humanity, and may you join in Christ’s care for the earth and all its creatures and resources, for we await with patience not only the coming of the Son in the flesh but his perfect bride, a people who beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

May you trust that Providence is working behind the scenes of history to draw all things to a good and fitting and proper end with justice and mercy.


Hacksaw Ridge | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Thanks to my Facebook friend Dustin Siggins for today's movie review.

"Hacksaw Ridge" is a tremendous movie of courage under literal and figurative fire. It stars Andrew Garfield as Seventh-Day Adventist, Army medic, and conscientious objector Desmond Doss, who became the first person to win the Medal of Honor for reasons besides combat action.

The movie succeeds in highlighting a man who braved pressure and torment from his fellow soldiers -- before facing down gunfire from the enemy -- to save 75 soldiers in 12 hours during one of (if not the) the bloodiest battles of World War II.

The movie does have its issues. It is excessively gory, with at least 20 minutes of what one friend would call "violence porn" that offsets the great visual effects seen in those same scenes.

Additionally, Vince Vaughn struggles in the role of Basic Training Drill Sergeant, and while flashbacks to Doss' childhood provide an appropriate backdrop to his beliefs against violence, they are often awkwardly inserted.

The most powerful scenes in the movie might be:
  1. When Doss saves multiple Japanese soldiers in addition to his own men; and
  2. When the unit refuses to re-engage in battle until Doss, who they had previously mocked and declared their weakest member, finishes praying for them.
As a movie, on a scale of ten, I'd give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

Dustin Siggins is Associate Editor for The Stream and a public relations consultant.
He previously served as the public relations officer and DC Correspondent for LifeSiteNews, and has been widely published on important issues of public policy and culture. Follow him on Twitter: @DustinSiggins

Catch other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Election Day Predictions

I predict that these things will remain true on Wednesday:
  • America will remain a great country built on diverse views;
  • People will be divided on candidates but unified on freedom;
  • Our constitution will still be an amazing and enduring document;
  • The hardest change will be the change in my attitude;
  • Politics will continue to dominate the news - and Facebook;
  • Squawk Radio pundits will still not be all that influential;
  • I will continue to be a bit too much of a political junkie.
How about you? Do you have anything to add to my list? ツ

What Control Freaks don't want to Control

This cartoon cracks me up. Not that I can relate. Just don't ask my wife. ツ

I think that many control freaks like me often do not understand that one of the few things that we can really control is ourselves. A few years ago I wrote that about self control.. here is a clip from that post:

"Self Control is not mind control ... actually it is the opposite of mind control. Self Control is the exercise of the inner man over the outer man."

I find it interesting that so many of the things we control freaks want to control cannot be. And at the same time we do not want to control the very thing we should. Here are a few thoughts about the power of self control.

He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king. - John Milton

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. -Lao Tzu

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. -Proverbs 16:32

I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself. -Pietro Aretino

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. -Brian Tracy

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power. -Seneca

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. -Tennyson

- first published February 6, 2010

When you let go, you allow yourself to grow and heal.

This year it has become increasingly clear to me that I am only trusting God when I am letting go of control.

Marc and Angel offer some tips [here] to us on what it means to let go. They write that when you let go:
  1. you allow yourself to make the best of what you’ve got. 
  2. you get to use your resources more effectively. 
  3. you free your mind from needless worries. 
  4. you learn more about how life really works. 
  5. you get to appreciate others for who they truly are. 
  6. you get to focus less on pleasing others, and more on just doing the best you can. 
  7. you allow yourself to grow and heal. 
  8. it gets easier to forgive yourself, and love yourself again. 
  9. you get to enjoy more of life’s pleasant surprises. 
  10. you live more gratefully (and gracefully).
You can read the rest of their post here. I like what they have to say and recommend it to you. I especially resonate with this from their post: "the root cause of most human stress is simply our stubborn propensity to hold on to things".

It is so hard to let go of control and trust God. Yet it is so necessary. Can you relate?

Presidential Checklist

My Facebook friend Duane offered up criteria for his ideal candidate. Here is his list combined with a few of my own.

The President of the United States should:
  • be a person of demonstrated high moral character;
  • support equal rights for all citizens;
  • have plans to strengthen the middle class of Americans;
  • make the path to the middle class easier for those less fortunate;
  • change our leadership role in the world from one of police officer to one of peace officer;
  • have plans to strengthen Social Security and Medicare;
  • have specific plans to make government more efficient;
  • enforce existing immigration laws and go after people who hire illegal workers;
  • appoint people to the Supreme Court who understand the constitution and are not politically biased;
  • be a leader who can bring consensus to controversial national issues.

Thanks again to Duane for the first seven on the list. Let me know what items you might add or subtract from the list.

Halloween in KC

Halloween 2016: Little did I know, when I shared this 4 years ago: the Royals would go to play in two World Series and win one; the Chiefs would see a resurgence with a new head coach (thanks Andy) and go to the playoffs. Reminds me to be a bit more hopeful about the future. Never know what tomorrow may bring. ツ

Halloween 2012: This cartoon reminds me that it is great to be able to laugh - especially when it comes to professional sports in Kansas City. When life gets hard and nothing seems to be working folks in KC will always have the Chiefs and the Royals to make them smile. Guess you have to either laugh or cry.

When Virtual Friends Meet

It is always such a joy to actually meet friends who I have only known through their blogs. This year I met Stephanie (pictured left with Ann and me) and Kelli (pictured right with us). I met both of them about ten years ago in the Blogosphere.

Stephanie still blogs here. She did a Q&A with me [here] in May. We met Stephanie when she was in KC this Spring.

I keep up with Kelli via FB. I have shared her thoughts on my blog here, here and here. We met last week in Fort Worth.

I loved getting to know these two amazing young women. They both are great examples of people of faith.

Have you ever met a virtual or blogging friend? Care to share a few words about the experience?

Rolling on the River

Loving my vacation on the San Antonio Riverwalk. I have enjoyed the riverside restaurants and walking by the water. If you are interested in leaning more about the restaurants there, please check out my reviews at Tripadvisor [here].

That said, the time has been a bit challenging with my wife is in a motorized wheelchair. We really enjoyed our multi day visit to the riverwalk area but feel that it could be a lot friendlier to people in wheelchairs. A few thoughts:
  • Many unlit areas make it difficult to navigate the walk at night.
  • Narrow passages are a bit dicey for a disabled person.
  • Many pathways are without curbs. This makes for tense traveling in a motorized wheelchair. Concerns about going into a ditch or, worse yet, into the river are a reality for a disabled person.
  • Some elevators, especially at the street level, are unmarked and hard to find.
  • We visited in a slow time and the Riverwalk attendance was fairly low. I do wonder what it would be like for a person in a wheelchair if attendance was high. Seems like it might not be a great experience.
  • A person in a wheelchair would do well to carefully plan their time on the Riverwalk. Once on the Walk it is very difficult to travel to the other side of the river as all bridges have steps. To make the trip you need to elevate to the street then crossover and find another elevator. Not as easy as you might think.
In addition to these points, we could not find a good map of the riverwalk that listed attractions and restaurants. It was good, however, that the broken elevator was clearly identified on the map we got from our hotel.

Finally, on the positive side, most of the riverside restaurants were easy for a wheelchair to access. And the area is really beautiful and a great place to kick back and relax. I recommend it to you if you are looking for a place to relax.

Shimon Peres, 1923-2016

“It’s better to be controversial for the right reasons, than to be popular for the wrong reasons.”

“Israel is moving from the realm of poetry to the realm of prose.”

“You don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.”

“There are two things that cannot be achieved in life unless you close your eyes a little bit.
And that’s love and peace. If you want perfection you won’t obtain either of them.”

“For me, dreaming is simply being pragmatic.”

“I was learning, as I did in the Ministry of Defense. I never knew, but I always learned.

“The Jews' greatest contribution to history is dissatisfaction! We're a nation born to be discontented.
Whatever exists we believe can be changed for the better.”

“If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”

Buck's Bridge

I can see this bridge from my loft. I love that it is being renamed for one of my heroes.

One of the highlights of my life happened about 20 years ago when Buck came to speak at a Diversity event at the company that I worked for - Buck embodied both Diversity and Love. Buck began the meeting by shaking the hand of everyone in that place - he was so warm and caring. I will never forget that day when this beautiful gentleman spoke to us all about his experiences growing up in segregated America and about how he learned to love people.

I remember Buck talking about his friend Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League. He closed the meeting as he did on many occasions by asking everyone in the audience to hold hands and sing a song with him about loving each other. He had everyone in Cooperstown singing it when he spoke at the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Here is the way that he concluded his speech:
Now, I want you to do something for me. I’m fixin' to get off this stage now. I think I done my six minutes. But I want you to do something for me. I want you to hold hands. Whoever’s next to you, hold a hand. Come on, you Hall of Famers, hold hands. All you people out there, hold hands. Everybody hooked up? Everybody hooked up? Well then I tell you what. See, I know my brothers up here, my brothers over there -- I see some black brothers of mine and sisters out there -- I know they can sing. Can you white folks sing?

I want you to sing after me:

The greatest thing -- come on everybody --

The greatest thing in all of my life is loving you.

The greatest thing in all of my life is loving you.

The greatest thing in all of my life is loving you.

The greatest thing in all my life is loving you.

Thank you, folks. Thank you, folks. Thank you, folks. Thank you, folks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now, sit down. Now, sit down.

I could talk to you 10 minutes longer, but I got to go to the bathroom.
Thank you Buck for a life filled with grace and love. I will remember you when I see your bridge. See you in Heaven!

Citizen Einstein

On October 1st, 1940, Albert Einstein was sworn in as a United States citizen in Trenton, New Jersey.

A few other notable immigrants and when they became US Citizens ...

  • Comedic icon Bob Hope in 1920 from England
  • Physicist Enrico Fermi in 1944 from Italy
  • Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel in 1957 from Transylvania
  • Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang in 1978 from Taiwan

Anyone notable that you might add to the list?

Jesus will choose the next president?

The next president will receive 100% of the vote- Jesus alone will choose.
Whomever He chooses will be better than we deserve. -RC Sproul

A friend posted this quote from Sproul on Facebook yesterday with this verse:
"The LORD says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool." (Psalm 110:1)
Here is our dialog about it [my friend's comments are in indented].

Jesus will choose the next president?
More like "has" from the foundation of the earth.
I know that Sproul is a Calvinist. Are you a Calvinist too?
For 30 years I have believed in the sovereignty of God.
Yes, I would consider myself reformed theologically.
When I think about the word sovereignty I see a pyramid where God has delegated sovereignty to nations, to communities, to families and finally to the individual. Both groups of peoples and people themselves exercise an incredible amount of sovereignty in the world. Small wonder, with this amount of sovereignty (even at a micro level) that the world is not worse than it is. Perhaps that speaks to the overarching (macro) level of sovereignty that God exerts as He brings beauty from ashes and works all things together for our good? That said, I do think that many embrace Job's theology.
I believe that nothing has touched my life that did not pass through the hand of God. I believe that God is continually working all things together for my ultimate good and His purposes. I believe that whatever Satan or people have meant for evil, God is simultaneously working for good. When I do not understand why various things occur, I still trust in God's wisdom and goodness.
No problem with that. Yet the idea that God chooses presidents is a bit outside of the definition of sovereignty. And it presents a troubling image of God not only appointing presidents like Reagan but also despots like Nero and Hitler.
Jesus said to Pontius Pilate. "You would have no authority over me unless it were given to you from above." (John 19:11).
Yes. Leaders have delegated sovereignty. No argument there.
I guess I am missing your point then. Did God, at least permit, Hitler and Nero to have authority?
Since the beginning God has delegated sovereignty over creation to humans. US citizens exercise their God given sovereignty when they vote. Regarding Nero and Hitler, humans made them sovereign over others by their actions and inactions.
Are you saying God had nothing to do with it? Could have God intervened and stopped it?
You bring up issues regarding how God interacts with the world.

1) Firstly, he acts through creation. Natural laws of physics constrain much of what we do. Delegated sovereignty to humans also impact creation. The effects of Adam's sovereign actions (and humans since him) affect us still.

2) Secondly, history has proven that he also directly intervenes in the affairs of men. Miracles sometimes, albeit rarely, happen.

The existence of one form of sovereignty does not negate the other. In the end, God is more about influencing us and not controlling us. He wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit in the way that we exercise our sovereignty in the world. I think Ernie once put is this way: God leads. Satan controls.
Man's sovereignty is limited - "The heart o the king is in the hand of the Lord and he turns it wherever He wills." Prov. 21:1
I do love that verse in Proverbs. LOL. Not surprising that Solomon saw himself in that light. Many times leaders sense that their heart is being directed by God. Yet I am not sure that Solomon's heart was being turned by the Lord when he was amassing wives and concubines. In reality, no person is perfectly led by God.

I am not saying that human sovereignty is unlimited. Delegated sovereignty by nature is limited. Yet it seems obvious that God has delegated the election of presidents to the limited sovereignty of human beings. Which is where we began.
Brother I think this discussion could go on indefinitely due to the fact that my view of God and how He orders creation differs with your own. Here is how I see it based upon my understanding of the Reformers:Contrary to the “deistic” approach that some Christians take regarding God and His creation, the Biblical worldview insists that God rules over every aspect of nature. God is not like the “clockmaker” who creates the clock, winds it up, and then walks away. God has not walked away from His creation allowing nature to function by the “laws” that He established. Instead He is the One who moves the “hands of the clock.” According to the Bible, nature does not function by “scientific laws” but by the action of God. What we refer to as “scientific laws” are in reality the way God normally does things. Science is the study of “God’s pattern of behavior.” He is quite predictable. In fact, He is so predictable that you stake your life and occupation on His “routine” hundreds of times each day. We can be fairly certain that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, because that is “normal” way God functions. But it is God who causes the sun to rise (Matt.5:45, also see Ps. 147: 8-9, 15-18). The sun does not operate independent of God according to the “laws of nature,” that is deism, not the teaching of Scripture. The Bible never uses the term nature in the sense of an autonomous entity, with unity in and of itself. The unity of the created order is in the Creator. The world works according to God’s acts and decrees. (See Isa. 45:7; Lam. 3:37-38).
The view that I presented you is not Deism - just read what I wrote about God directly intervening in the affairs of men. That is not Deism.

Yet the one that you present looks more like Pantheism because it really does not separate the Creator from the created. When the scripture speaks of God causing the sun to rise it is speaking of how God created the universe and not a divine micromanager of atoms. Really, if you are speaking about God manipulating atoms then I am not sure that you are making a clear distinction between the energy that moves the atoms and the God who created the energy. In my view God is not the energy who moves the sun but the One who created the energy.

That said, I do appreciate the dialog. And I can see where it could go on indefinitely.
I likewise appreciate the dialog. Let's end it for the time being, but I'm
So what do you all think? Will Jesus choose the next president?

Coffee Day Q&A

Today is National Coffee Day. Supposedly sponsored by Juan Valdez. ツ
To honor the Day I offer you a few caffeine flavored questions and answers.
  1. Favorite Brand? Nespresso by the cup and Starbucks by the bag.
  2. Favorite Blend? Nespresso Intenso by the cup and most Starbucks dark blends.
  3. Cups per day? I usually have one cup coffee in the morning and occasionally a decaf latte in the afternoon.
  4. Cream or Sugar? I do like sugar but can live without it - not!
  5. Favorite Specialty Coffee? Foamy decaf latte in the afternoon.
  6. Favorite Cafe? I like Starbucks but enjoy the Opera House down the street from my place.
  7. Alone or with Company? I enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with my fabulous wife Ann!
I did this in (2011) and (2014). My answers have changed a bit since we bought a Nespresso Italian coffee maker.

Please chime in, answer a few of the questions and share a bit about your caffeine addiction.

How To Avoid Getting Picked for a Jury

Last night Ann and I watched Bull, a new TV series about an expert in picking and evaluating jurors.
Interestingly enough, my friend Barbara wrote this on Facebook today.
I had jury duty today and right off the bat was sent to a courtroom. I was there most of the day and as they chose the ultimate 12 jurors and 2 alternate jurors I definitely saw a pattern. Both attorneys asked a lot of questions and the people who were very opinionated and refused to answer yes or no were the ones who were dismissed.

For example, the case involved a guy getting a DUI while on Norcos and Xanax and one of the questions was it possible to identify if a person was under the influence, most people were able to say "yes" one said "no" and several wouldn't commit to either (possibly, maybe, it depends) those people were dismissed. People who kept asking a ton of questions got dismissed too. And then there were the obvious ones who just came out and said they didn't trust cops. Very interesting experience.
Been 40 years since I was on a jury. Have you been called for jury duty lately? What was your experience?

Just Mercy

Our small group just finished reading "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption" by Bryan Stevenson. It is a story about our broken criminal justice system. Here are a few excerpts from the book.
Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.
We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us.
We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.
There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can't otherwise see; you hear things you can't otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.
The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent—strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering. It has the power to heal the psychic harm and injuries that lead to aggression and violence, abuse of power, mass incarceration.
The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.
This book is heartbreaking and troubling. It is an essential read for all who love mercy and desire justice.

How to Respond to Questions about Terrorists and Terrorism

Some advice from my old blogging friend Danny Sims:

I was asked, by a Christian,
"What should I do or say about terror, refugees and
all the trouble with radical Jihadism in the world today?"
That's an important question. Here are a few guiding principles:
  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
  • Doing something is often better than doing nothing, especially if it is kind and helpful.
  • Saying nothing is always better than saying something unkind and hateful.
  • If many people tell you again and again what you say is unkind and hateful, it probably is.
  • You can personally stand against evil, including radical Jihadism, without returning evil with evil. 
  • The only thing that will overcome evil, in your heart, is good. And we are talking about your heart, right?
The odds are, you are not in charge of anyone's policy but your own.

Choose goodness, prayer, kindness, and helpfulness in all you say and do.

Seek justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Please pray for my friend Mike

One of the joys of blogging is the virtual relationships I have made over the years. One such friendship is with Mike Erich - the Mad Theologian. I have had so many wonderful conversations with Mike over the years about the bible and our shared faith. Today Mike posted this on the Daily Prayer blog.
Last Thursday I went in for surgery for my pancreatic cancer. I believed and prayed right up to last minute that surgery might be possible and that this could be God's way of healing me. But I found out that the cancer had spread and it would do no good to operate. What that leaves me with is either God is going to do a miracle (I believe in miracles, but I believe God does them according to His will. I have no reason to be convinced He will do so in my case), or it is my time to go home. I appreciate all past prayers and all continued prayers, and I am trusting God for His will in this situation.
Mike posted a prayer at Daily Prayer that you can pray with him. Please pray for my friend Mike.

Why I Read the Bible

In September 1975 my newly born-again wife Ellen approached me one evening asking if she could ask me a few questions. Ever since she had become a Christian the month before I had become wary of these "conversations" but in my typical New York manner I invited her to bring it on. Her first question was
"Do you believe in the Bible?"
I answered like this:
"Of course I believe in the bible ... all Episcopalians believe in the bible".
I hadn't practiced my faith in years but I wasn't going to let her get the best of me.

Ellen followed up with another question:
"Do you believe in evolution?"
I told her that all intelligent people believe in evolution - it is science!

Ellen then said something that rocked my world ... she said this:
"Then you don't believe in the Bible!"
I quickly retorted:
"Well, I don't know about that but whatever the Episcopalians believe is what I believe."
That conversation really shook me because I had never read the bible and really didn't know what it said about evolution ... or about anything else for that matter. This haunted me for months. The idea that I had been an Episcopalian for most of my life and I really didn't know what the bible said really bothered me. In April 1976 I gave my heart to Jesus and almost immediately began reading the bible. I ate it up ... it was like food for me ... and within a year had read the whole bible. My life began to change as God used the scriptures to teach me how to live.

The scripture is powerful. In Hebrews it is described this way:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The way that the Holy Spirit uses the scripture to speak to us is simply amazing. He lifts the words off the page and penetrates the deepest recesses of our hearts. I have found the Bible to be a great source of comfort in times of trial. It has been a great encourager when I have been depressed. But reading the bible is more than a quest for knowledge ... reading it has done more than informing me about it's contents ... it has introduced me to God and helped me to know Him ... to know His ways ... His love ... His mercy and compassion. Reading the bible helps us know God like nothing else can.

In Remembrance

In remembrance of those who died in the terror attacks of 9/11.
And for our dear ones that we miss so much.

Woman in Gold | ★★★★★★★★★☆

I really enjoyed this movie about Maria Altmann (played by Helen Mirren), an elderly Jewish woman who tried to reclaim family paintings that were seized by the Nazis. Sixty years after fleeing Vienna, Maria enlists the help of a lawyer (played by Ryan Reynolds) and returns to Austria to retrieve 'The Woman in Gold', a famous and valuable portrait of Maria's beloved Aunt Adele. In her quest for justice she encounters many difficulties.

The movie spoke to me on many levels. I loved the flashbacks to Maria's youth in Vienna. The images of her close knit and loving family were very moving. I enjoyed seeing her lawyers journey of change as he reconnected with his Austrian roots. The movie had strong messages of love, healing and persistence. I thought it to be an inspiring story.

I loved the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★☆.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

The Day I Became a Cliché

It was about 10 days ago. A Friday morning. Headed to an appointment about 12 blocks from my place. I missed the Streetcar. I decided to walk. A few blocks from my destination I tripped, fell and landed on the edge of a raised manhole cover. I remember feeling my head bounce off the sidewalk. My first thought was good, I do not have a concussion. My second realization was that I was in a lot of pain. Shockingly, I had fallen and could not get up.

I heard the voice of a stranger. "Are you okay? Can I help?" I told my Good Samaritan that I needed help. He took hold of me, got me to my feet and led me to a place that I could sit. Before I knew it, Patrick, one of our pastors, came and brought me to the Emergency Room where my son met us. I sat in the ER for a long time before they found the cause of my intense pain. I had suffered a few pelvic fractures when I fell.

In thinking back over the past week or so I am very thankful for all of the ways that I have been helped. I have sensed God with me from that first day when the Samaritan picked me up, Patrick brought me to the ER and my son stayed with me all day. I was grateful when a good friend stayed with Ann that first night and when my sister-in-law stayed the second night. My stay at the hospital was filled his presence as nurses, aides, technicians and doctors helped me begin to heal.

I am beginning to be able to get out of the wheelchair and use the walker more. Healing seems to be happening and strength seems to be returning. I am thankful for this. Also very appreciative of the food that has been delivered and the care that has been shown to me by so many friends. In reflection, the "I've Fallen" cliché is probably more accurately stated a "I fallen but I will get up with the help of others". And perhaps it is a lesson we all need to hear. ツ

Mother Teresa | Amazing Quotes from an Amazing Saint

Today this amazing woman became Saint Teresa of Calcutta. As a person who believes that every Christian is a saint, I was so happy to see this beautiful follower of Jesus honored by Pope Francis.

"Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness."

"We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."

"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

"There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for bread."

"The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it."

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."

"Peace begins with a smile."

"Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus."

"Love is repaid by love alone!"

"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."

"Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work."

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving."

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

"Intense love does not measure, it just gives."

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

-first posted March 10, 2007

The Lobster | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Thanks to my good friend Scott for writing this great movie review.

The Lobster is to 2016 what the Grand Budapest Hotel was to 2014. While not quite as good, it was just as unique and quirky, yet in totally unrelated ways. The Lobster is a dark dramedy about a society in which single people are a scourge to society. Those that find themselves single for any stretch of time are forced to reside in a resort for 45 days, whereby at the end of those 45 days, if they are still single, they are transformed into an animal of their choice. The protagonist of the story, played strongly by Colin Farrell, is a single man that arrives at the resort to find his match or become an animal, which he elects to become a lobster if he is unsuccessful. The whole scenario at the resort is played out in total deadpan. It includes skits conducted by the staff on the dangers of being single so as to motivate the guests to enter into a relationship. Other quirky elements of this universe include daily hunts where the guests shoot single people that live in the woods with tranquilizers so as to turn them into animals (not of their choice). For each single person you bag, you get a one day extension on your time. All this happens with a degree of seriousness and it is so well thought through that you almost believe such a society could exist.

After our protagonist tries an extreme measure to find a match, he is busted out of the resort to now dwell among the single forest people. The great twist here is that you would think he would find freedom with this new single society. Instead, he finds a whole different set of rigid and quirky rules. A sample of those rules include no kissing or touching longer than a certain time period. Kissing is punishable by tongue mutilation. At no time does anyone ever question why society is the way it is, for both the greater society or forest people. The plot never questions this fact and it makes the story work well. As a viewer, you aren’t cheering for a revolt or a societal change, instead, you are just following the character’s lives as they navigate what is.

The second half of the story with the forest people is a love story. It takes living in a society that punishes togetherness for Colin Farrell to find his love interest, played by Rachel Weisz. How they manage to grow a relationship within the confines of these rules and the ever watchful eye of their ruler is ingenious and engaging. You want to see how they pull it off. No matter what set back they face, and there are some extreme ones, no matter how the rules impact them, they choose love. On a scale of ten, I give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

What not to say to a Person in a Wheelchair

Thought I would repost this as I have been in a wheelchair since I fell and fractured my pelvis a week ago.

From Tiffany Carlson at the Mobility Resource ...
Spend a week or a decade in a wheelchair, chances are you’ll be asked some pretty crazy things. And I get why –people are uncomfortable around things that are different, especially wheelchairs. ... If you don’t want to make a fool of yourself the next time you’re around a wheelchair-user, read on for the top ten things to never dare say or ask to a wheelchair-user.
  1. Slow down there. You might get a speeding ticket.
  2. What happened to you?
  3. How fast does that thing go?
  4. Do you know so and so in a wheelchair too?
  5. Is your significant other also in a wheelchair?
  6. I’d rather die than be disabled.
  7. You’re good looking for being in a wheelchair.
  8. Good for you.
  9. Can I ask you a personal question?
  10. Hey speed racer. Can you pop a wheelie?
If only more people remembered we are still human with normal functioning brains (I know, hard to believe), then a list like this wouldn’t be so necessary.
Read the rationale behind Tiffany's list here.

-originally post September 30, 2013

The Equalizer | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I recently recorded this 2014 movie and watched it yesterday. Denzel Washington plays a terrific tough guy. He is great in this flick about a man with a mysterious past who comes out of retirement to take down a bunch of Russian Mob bad guys. The plot drew me in and kept me interested.

I like action flicks and this one definitely checked off that box for me. Even so, it did remind me that justice often looks more like payback and revenge for many people. That said, I liked the way that Denzel's character was painted as flawed by his past and was trying to do better.

Overall, I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

While We're Here We Should Dance!

I love the sentiment of the saying in this image. It speaks to me of our need to enjoy life even when it is hard and difficult. Last year was a difficult one for me.. my first year of retirement and dealing with the death of a few of my dreams. Early in the year Susan Boyle made famous "I Dreamed a Dream".. her rendition of it still moves me.. I can so resonate with this last stanza:
    I had a dream my life would be
    So different from this hell I'm living
    So different now from what it seemed
    Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.
I think that there is a mourning period when we realize that our dream has died and life is different than the one we imagined.. like most grief it is a healthy phase as long as it is not prolonged. Maybe it is just the onset of 2010 but, on a personal level, I feel that I am ready to dance the dance of life again. In celebration of that I give you these notable sayings:
Without music, life would be a mistake.... I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance. -Nietzsche

In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet. -Alice Abrams

Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. -Voltaire

Work like you don't need the money, love like your heart has never been broken,
and dance like no one is watching. -Aurora Greenway
I don't know about you but I want to remember 2010 as the year I began to dance again!

... first posted January, 2010

WD-40, Rifles, Missiles, Carburetors and Bicycles

WD-40 Was Invented To Protect What?
  1. Rifle Actions
  2. Nuclear Missiles
  3. Race Car Carburetors
  4. Bicycle Chains
Click here to get the answer.

And let me know how you did. I got it wrong.

Ben-Hur | ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Thanks to my friend Dan for providing this great interview on the remake of an old standard.

My wife, Meredith, and I went to see Ben Hur in 3D at a cozy theater in Mariemont, Ohio. My wife had seen the original and I had not. She promised not to spoil the story for me before we saw the movie. The 3D parts were great!

The story centers on hatred. How do you react? What does family mean? And what would Jesus say? In the end, as any Ben Hur movie must have, we have an action-packed chariot race. I especially enjoyed Pilate's comment at the end of the race. For someone like me who did not know the story, I was happy with how the movie ended.

I could see a similar style to this movie as other stories from the Bible that were also produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Namely, there was lots of action. And you shouldn't get too caught off guard when a character says the right thing in the wrong situation, or just out of order. The spirit of the message rings true. I liked the moral message of how to deal with hatred.

As for the acting and the story, the story developed too slowly. In general, the characters were hard to relate to. Had there been more chemistry among the cast, this could have been a much better movie. Overall, I'd give the movie ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆. We went to see it in the theater to show our support for movies with moral themes.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Devotions on David

Today I began a new series of devotions on the life and writings of King David.

The bible calls David a man after God's own heart. In this new series of devotions I will share a bit about how David lived and wrote from his heart.

I invite you to join me today and in the days ahead at

The 'What About Bob' Meme

It has been a while since I have done one of these. Found this one on Facebook.

    ✓ Been Married
        Been Divorced
    ✓ Fallen in love
        Gone on a blind date
        Skipped school
    ✓ Been to Canada
        Ridden in an ambulance
        Been to Hawaii
        Been to Europe
        Been to Las Vegas
    ✓ Been to Washington D.C
    ✓ Been to Nashville
    ✓ Visited Florida
    ✓ Visited Mexico
        Seen the Grand Canyon in person
        Flown in a helicopter
    ✓ Been on a cruise
    ✓ Served on a jury
        Danced in the rain
    ✓ Been to Los Angeles
    ✓ Been to New York City
        Played in a band
        Sang karaoke
    ✓ Laughed so much you cried
        Laughed so hard you peed
    ✓ Caught a snowflake on your tongue
    ✓ Had children
    ✓ ad a pet
    ✓ Been sledding on big hill
        Been downhill skiing
        Been water skiing
    ✓ Rode on a motorcycle
        Been on the Radio
        Traveled to all 50 states
        Jumped out of a plane
    ✓ Been to a drive-in
    ✓ Rode a Horse
    ✓ Been on TV
    ✓ Been in the newspaper
    ✓ Stayed in the Hospital
    ✓ Donated blood
        Gotten a piercing
        Gotten a tattoo
        Been scuba diving
    ✓ Got a speeding ticket
        Broken a bone
    ✓ Gotten stitches
    ✓ Traveled Alone

Make this meme your own. And let me know where to find your check marks. ツ