Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Ever Lengthening Bucket List

Five years ago my wife and I wrote our "lists for life" that I have commented on previously in this blog. These lists had their names changed to "Bucket Lists" after the movie came out several years ago.
I just found my original list and laughed that only a few items from my 80+ item list had been checked off and many more have been added. Just for fun and my own personal documentation, here is the update:

Since writing the list I have accomplished the following:
1. I have been to 6 new countries and 4 new states. I only have approximately 80 more countries and 3 more US states to visit.

2. I have eaten Alligator in the South.

3. I had communion in Israel.

4. I ate big game in Africa (elephant).

5. Learn Hebrew.

6. Visit 2 new baseball stadiums

7. Scuba Dive in the Carribbean

That's all I have done. Here are the following things that I have done that probably should have been on my list:

1. Live in Israel for about a year.
2. Eat a Gyro and Baklava in Greece
3. Drink Arabic Coffee in Ramalah.
4. Ride a Camel in the Sahara desert and look at the Ancient Pyramids.
5. Climb the pyramid in Chichen Itza (mexico)
6. Celebrate Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas in Israel.
7. Have a third kid.
8. Work in a coffee shop
9. Help plant a new church
10. Lose my family in London (for four hours).
11. Drive the Road to Hana and swim in a waterfall with my wife.

It goes to show that the best made plans are simply plans and we never know what other great things may come. In the year ahead I am excited to see what things I might actually check off (or add to be checked off).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Career Progress

My first job during college (other than serving tables at a restaurant) was working with JH students at a local church. It didn't pay much, but it was a great place to learn and grow in my career. I had great mentors, amazing opportunities, and I even had an office.
My office was the old kitchen from the church building that was in use from 1908- 1952. I had to gut it out and throw away 40 years of stuff that was "stored for future use" in my soon to be "state of the art" office. I nearly had to wipe the tears when I threw away Myrtle's flannel graph from 1965 that showed Jesus coming back and defeating the Communist bastard Khrushchev. I'm not sure the word bastard was on there, but any flannel graph depiction of a Russian president as the anti-Christ assumes such language. Once we gut it and cleaned it up, it got some paint and carpet and was ready to go. The problem with the office was that it was in the basement of this old church away from everyone else. The room was heated by an old boiler (covered in asbestos!). Since I was the only one down there the facilities guy refused to turn on the boiler "just so I could have heat". Did I forget to mention that this was in Washington state where it does snow from time to time and when the winter temps never go above 50. This means that the office was seldom warmer than 50 degrees.
I would use a space heater and every single day the facility guy would come into my office and tell me, "The most common cause of fires in churches is the use of space heaters". I would usually respond with something like, "The most common cause of death of youth pastors is hypothermia right in their offices". He would then say, "It beats burning to death" and then he would walk away.
Why do I tell you this story today? Here I am, one Bachelor's degree, one Master's, and some preparatory work towards a PhD later. I have worked full time in various positions for the past 12 years all to now reach the pinnacle of my career. I am in my garage, it is 50 degrees outside and raining (just like old times), and I am wearing my winter coat, my wool hat, and my Christmas snuggie. I breathe hot air into my hands when my fingers begin losing their feel. My paycheck isn't even that much higher than it was when I was 20 years old and my job entailed challenging kids to feed their friends spam while only using their feet and a rubber mallet.
And for some reason, I am content. Like a young punk who is excited to work in the job he wants, I am okay with the cold air and the plywood board resting on bricks for my desktop. I'm okay with working a second job (not unlike serving food) so that I can be a part of something I believe in.
I have all I need in life except for maybe a space heater... but I of course would hate to see the house burn down.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is so funny about rain?

I live in Southern California where we are in the midst of a 5 year drought. I don't know the exact numbers so I will simply fabricate them but I think we have received around 5-7 inches of rain each of the last 5 years. For friends and family living in my former home in the Seattle area... that amount of rain is what you call a normal winter.

This week we are expecting 7 inches of rain in our town. As I sit in my "office" which is a local coffee shop that has huge windows down the entire wall on two sides I have an amazing view of this rain.
When living in Washington I never really just looked out the windows at the rain. It would be as futile as my looking out the window at the sun in my location. Why stare at something so common?

But today I am amused. Not that it is raining, but the fact that everyone who is getting out of their vehicle comes running through this foreign substance falling from the heavens with smiles on their faces. Surely they are not overcome with joy simply because our reservoirs are filling. (This doesn't really matter because we steal all of our water from Colorado anyway). It can't be that they are elated because the $150 Uggs finally make sense in our Sub-Saharan climate. Perhaps it is possible, but nonetheless dubious that the smiles are coming because the rain tickles.

I think we are all smiling and laughing because all nature declares the wonders of God. The majesty of jagged cliffs, the serenity of bright colors of Spring, and even the terrors of earthquakes and roaring waves. All these declare that we are just small players in a magnificent creation called earth.

In Orange County we hear this symphony declaring God's wonders everyday of the year. We hear the colors of the evening sky declare that God has a preferred palette and we listen to the waves tell us that God's might can be terrifying. But we seldom hear what the rain has to say. We are rarely reminded of the sound of the parched earth gasping with satisfaction after a nice long drink of water. I don't think many of us realize that this makes us smile, but certainly the sound of nature declaring that God is here must touch us all deep in our souls even when we are not looking. It is in these moments that even the most serious face can't help but to grin.

I'm off to splash in some puddles and to listen to the ground laugh along with me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Matters Most?

"[The problem for evangelicals] is that we place doctrinal purity over unity, or we place relational unity over sound doctrine. The reality is that Jesus wants us to be equally committed to both- the peace and purity of the church. When this is not the case, our disunity is a major hinderance to our evangelism and witness to the world. We fail at the final apologetic, our love for one another. If we can agree on the essential matters, the unity of the gospel, then we have a shot at rebuilding the trust and moving forward.


"When we become humble in our beliefs, we are willing to see that our own denominations or traditions do not have a corner on all truth, and we become more open to dialogue with other traditions. We might find that we are sometimes wrong and the different perspective will correct our error. But even where we are right, the dialogue can improve, sharpen and enliven our perspective and give nuance to our understandings."

- Jim Belcher in "Deep Church"

Friday, January 08, 2010

What lies ahead

Para mi:
1st draft.
6 schools. Hopefully 3 classes.
One new baseball stadium.
Hebrew Advanced.
Clay stuff.
25 books.
The Bible.
2 Camps.
Fewer Lattes.
3 videos.

For our community:
Stained Glass.
Eph 4.

I think this is all for now. Are we clear?

Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 In Review

* Our new church began meeting in a semi-permanent location
* I baptized 4 people during our Easter Service
* Camped in the Sequoia Forest
* Traveled to Washington State with family
* Traveled to D.C. Baltimore, Virginia, N&S Carolina with Sara
* Checked off two more baseball stadiums on list (D.C. and Baltimore)
* Kids made it to 4th grade and 1st grade
* 12th wedding anniversary
* Only completed about 17 books (I think)
* Watched my dog die
* Began learning German

I did not:
* Complete about a dozen other books laying around the house
* improve my Hebrew as much as desired
* Complete my review of Basic Greek
* Complete writing goals
* Sleep

My "bucket list" for the year is coming soon. I don't make resolutions... just bucket lists in case this be my last year.

Friday, January 01, 2010