Showing posts from December, 2014

counting my blessings - perseverance of the podcasters

In 2014 I embraced podcasts.

Some of them give me hope theologically, usually the anabaptistic chaps, orthodox protestants who are not evangelicals.
The peace Christians.
Brian Zahnd at Word of Life Church
Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church
Bruxy Cavey at The Meeting House

The liturgical Christians. 
Nadia Bolz Weber at House for All Sinners and Saints.
The Daily Office

Some preachers are no longer at their churches and I miss their podcasts.
Jonathan Martin at Renovatus Church
Ken Wilson at the Ann Arbor Vineyard, I still listen to his associate pastor though, Donnell Wyche.

Some Christians do not speak for a church but podcast about grace, life, and hardships. They talk with each other, scrap with each other, and talk gracefully to those they disagree with and then learn there is very little to disagree about. They also use language not normal in church, but plenty normal outside of church.
Drunk Ex-Pastors
Bad Christian (Great Savior)

I also like stories.
This American Life
The Moth

I li…

counting my blessings - perseverance of family movie night

I'm thankful that our family has a tradition of going out to the movie theater together once a month. The theater we go to has $6 tickets on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Sometimes the movies are great, sometimes they don't live up to the hype. Either way, I really like still going out together as a family like we used to when the kids were younger.

We did it tonight. It was opening night for this highly anticipated movie, and our theater does not get crowded, ever.

Great theater. Great family. I am blessed.

counting my blessings - perseverance of public parks

I really like hiking. But there aren't much in the way of mountains here on Connecticut's southeast coast. But we do have great parks. Today, I walked the dog around the big loop of Bluff Point State Park. It was beautiful. I love the coastal forest. I am blessed to have so many great places to take long walks.

counting my blessings - perseverance of the annual get together

For years, before the kids were all adolescents, we had our first Advent gathering with a couple other families. We ate well, the kids played, we sang carols, and went home happy.

We do this almost every year. We talk about getting old. We talk about our kids getting old. We still eat well, the kids don't "play" anymore though, they hang out, and we sing carols (or not).

I'm blessed to know these friends. I'm blessed that our kids are friends. I'm blessed we do this almost every December.

counting my blessings - all my cubs are home

I like my kids. I brought the oldest one home from school tonight. Now I get to be with all of them at dinner for a few weeks. I am grateful for my nuclear family.

counting my blessings - the perseverance of the saints at my job

I have worked at the same location for over 20 years now. I have been part of the weekly Bible study there for nearly half that time. As layoffs come and go, as companies are bought and divisions are sold off, the body of Christ has gathered every week to pray together, learn together, and share our spiritual lives together.

Some have a high school diploma and some have Ph.D.s. Some of us are administrative assistants and some are department managers. I am one of the few white males who usually attends; we are Asians and Africans. Many of us learned English as a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th language. We are Protestant and Catholic. We are male and female. We are new Christians and seasoned disciples. Some of us quit the job to go to seminary. Some took seminary classes in the evenings and kept our day jobs. Some of us are heavily involved in our churches, and for some of us this is our only church. Sometimes one of the local pastors comes to help our study. Sometimes we do it on our own.

We read …

counting my blessings - Christmas carols

I play in a church band. We play once a month and practice once a week. It is fun for me. This month we are working on Christmas carols.

They are older music.
The melodies are more complex.
The timing is different.
The lyrics are often profound.
They take me our of this decade.
They place me in a bigger context.
They enlarge my world.

They focus me on Jesus.

counting my blessings - perseverance of friends

Today, I met with an old friend and told him I was sorry.

He is a wonderful person and accepted my apology. He had never held that offense against me. He recalls the incident more charitably than I do.

I was apologizing for something I did two decades ago. It had been bugging me for at least a year. I finally overcame my shame of apologizing for something twenty years ago that should have been acknowledged back then.

But this guy is a stand up guy. He forgave quickly and easily.

I know a lot of stand up guys and gals.

I have many, many generous friends. They are generous in love for and tolerance of me.

I am grateful for my friends.

Peace officers

After Mike Brown's murder in Ferguson, I wrote here about the possibility of a different response to critical situations by police. Since other countries have far fewer fatal police - perpetrator engagements, there must be another way for the United States to do it. De-escalation is possible. Today, I came across an article discussing this very topic, it's implementation in the US, and its impact so far.

Can Different Training Make Police Officers Guardians, Not Warriors?
Here are a couple highlights.

By January 2014, more than 8,000 Police Academy graduates had been schooled in the new curriculum — which teaches officers to be responsive, impartial, respectful and fair....

“The most common corresponding emotion to fear is anger, and anger does not facilitate ongoing compliance,” he adds. “We teach recruits that when they mistreat people they actually may make that person more dangerous.”.........

In the wake of the Mike Brown shooting, one city, Richmond, California, emerged a…

counting my blessings - perseverance of the bicycle commute

I bought myself this bike around my birthday in 2009. Wintertime is a great season in New England to find bicycles on sale. I wrote a review on it back then.

I bought another bike a few years afterwards, but this one is my favorite.

I ride in all seasons, as long as the path is not icy, or unplowed, or wet. Wet is no fun, but cold can be dealt with by more layers.

My ride to work is only 6 and a half miles. But it can take me 30-45 minutes, depending on how my legs are feeling. It's all hills. I'm riding in comfort, not speed. Also, I am less about the destination and more about the journey. This journey is my blessing.

I listen to a podcast, or the news, or some music. I get to hear the critters on the parts of the path that are off the road. I see the same faces over the years. Some have nicer bikes than me. Some are older than me. Some are walking. Some sleep in the woods off the path. In the winter, I see fewer people out, mostly those who do not have options. A couple ar…

my blessings - Perseverance of the Lord's Prayer

When I'm left speechless, I have this gift from Jesus that keeps on giving.

Our Father who are in heaven......I need someone bigger than the most powerful country in the world, who is above all, knows all, and can bring justice to all.

Hallowed be your name........all other names are corrupt, the United States of America, the justice system.

Let your kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven......bring to earth the ethos of love of neighbor, of justice, of mercy.

Give us this day our daily bread....because in weeks like this, our food is tears, where justice is denied to minorities, where men of color are presumed guilty until proven innocent, if they survive to be proven innocent. Without hope in you our souls will starve.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.....Forgive us of cynicism, despair, nihilism, self-righteous anger, selfishness, and forgive those who murder out of fear and selfishness, cynicism and nihilism. Becaus…

my blessings - perseverance of the gay saints

Keeping with my commitment to count my blessings this Advent season of 2014 I raise my glass to the gay saints in America. This group knows how to persevere despite the buffeting from the wider culture as well as the smaller church culture they don't quit on. When I want to quit, I think of their struggle to see Jesus when his people, their brothers and sisters, represent him as hateful and bigoted, as I have in the past.

This blessing stood out to me yesterday as I listened to an interview with Jennifer Knapp, a Christian singer/songwriter who lost her very large church fan base when she came out of the closet. Her interview appeared on the BadChristian Podcast # 48. Two things in this interview lodged in my memory. The three guys interviewing her asked her how she felt about them believing homosexual activity is a sin. (To be fair to them, they think elevating sexual sin over any other is wrong of the church, and they all admit to their own sins.) She responded with so much grac…

my blessings - perseverance of the black saints

My personal challenge for the Advent 2014 season is to count my blessings.

I saw on Richard Beck's blog today a post on counting our blessings as the cheapest form of therapy. I tend to see the shadows instead of the light that makes them possible. Thus, I miss the light and the ensuing joy.

Today's blessing is the perseverance of the black saints. I am not speaking in Calvinistic terms though. I'm speaking of the black american saints, who persevere despite the social opposition they endure daily. The opposition that has come to the forefront of a national conversation sparked by Ferguson. Many of their white brothers and sisters in the church, and some of their non-white brothers and sisters, are not interested in their painful stories. But they persevere.

Jesus talks about them. They are the proof to Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 5.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be…