Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Father Failure...?

I love baseball. I love to play it and, much to my families irritation, I love to watch it - a lot. I have fond memories of watching the Saturday afternoon game of the week with my dad and my brother, Mark, after we had spent the morning doing yard work. I love going to baseball games - little league, high school, college and especially professional.  When I have the chance, it still brings bring me great joy to watch a ballgame - live or televised - with my dad and brother.

As an adult living in San Diego I've given my undying allegiance to the Padres. Growing up, I was all in for Dodger Blue. My dearest childhood friend, Eric, who now lives in San Fransisco, is still a Dodger fan and has never forgiven me for turning my back on the Big Blue Wrecking Crew.

I share all of this baseball sentiment to confess that I am a failure as a Father. I have failed to pass my love of baseball on to my son (or my daughter for that matter - but truth be told she tolerates it more than her brother). I never tried it, but I bet threatening Kyle with having to sit down and watch an entire baseball game on television would have been an effective deterrent to just about any questionable behavior. Like any responsible, red-blooded, American Father I signed Kyle up for pee-wee baseball when he was five or six years old. He lasted half a season. He was bored out of his mind. As far as I know, he hasn't played an organized baseball game since then. He's now 18.

Alas, what I could not do, true love accomplished - sort of. At the age of 15 or 16 Kyle met Makena. They've been together ever since. Makena's dad and brother are baseball fanatics in the truest since of the word. Kyle suddenly began to express an interest in baseball. Even considered going out for the high school team his senior year. In the end, he didn't go out for the team, and he still can't sit through a whole game, but he enjoys going to the field to throw the ball around and take some swings.

So, what's a father to do? Try to make his son into his image? I've seen that movie too many times. It never ends well. I could whine and sulk. (Ask my family and friends, I'm actually really good at that). I could throw up my hands and decide that Kyle and I are just different and give up pursuing a close relationship. (I've seen that movie too - a real downer).

Or, maybe I could celebrate the uniqueness of the son with which God blessed me; Marvel at his endless energy, applaud his determination - especially in becoming an excellent wrestler and water-polo player in high school - and simply enjoy watching him mature into the man that God has called and created him to be.

That's what I'm trying to do. And you know what? It's better than baseball. Maybe I'm not a failure after all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Engage (The only poem I've ever written)

This is a little poem that I wrote a few yeas ago while attending a church conference. We were invited to respond creatively to the topic we had just discussed. One option was to compose a specific kind of poem. I do not remember what this kind of poem is called, but this was what I came up with.

Engage with Life
Life in Christ
Christ in the World
World in Crisis
Crisis of Hope
Hope for Peace
Peace in Christ
Christ in Us
Us in the World
World Loved by God


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Follow up to "Is it Safe"

Two items as a brief follow up to my last post about our obsession with safety and security, even in the church:
   First, I want to acknowledge the 28 courageous and faithful youth and adults from Vista Grande Community Church that are participating in our November Mexico outreach. They will be continuing construction on a home for disabled, Mexican children, teaching knitting and doing children's ministry.

  Second - check out this story from The World on National Public Radio about a small, Mexican town's new 20 year old, female police chief. Talk about fearless!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is It Safe?

This was my friend's immediate response when I excitedly mentioned to her that my parents would be leading a church trip to Egypt and Israel in October.
While I understand why someone would ask this question, I have to admit that I was surprised by the negativity with which the question was asked. The question and the attitude seemed to imply that not only was the trip not safe, it wasn't responsible either. I was further confused by the response, as my friend is a Christian. I assumed she would be excited for my parents' opportunity.

It seems that in today's world concerns for safety and security trump all others - even among those of us that claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Yet the very example of Jesus - coming as a vulnerable child into a very dangerous world and ultimately offering himself up to his protagonists for the salvation of us all - challenges all of his followers to be willing to risk for the sake of justice and compassion. And yes, maybe even for nothing more than the opportunity to experience first hand the historic lands of our faith.

I am not suggesting that we throw caution to the wind and rush mindlessly into dangerous or questionable situations. But, as we all know, risk is part of life, and security is often an illusion.

The tenuousness of safety and security came into sharp focus here in San Diego last week as a deranged man walked onto an elementary school campus and started shooting. Thankfully, the physical damage was limited to two children with minor injuries. But this incident, and similar ones here in San Diego, come at a time when tourist travel, and, more importantly, ministry trips to Mexico - and specifically Tijuana -  have been greatly curtailed due to harrowing reports of gruesome violence as a result of the drug wars. Many, many people wouldn't dream of traveling to Mexico at this time for any reason - altruistic or otherwise. But what do we do when seemingly random violence invades our own "tranquil" neighborhoods? Where do we hide now?

I think we need to remind ourselves, especially those of us that seek to follow Jesus, that a life without risk is a life without faith and ultimately a life without love, compassion and joy. Even people with a faith in nothing greater than themselves risk life and limb for some personal achievement or to meet the needs of those suffering the effects of war, disaster and disease. How much more should the followers of Christ that share his confidence in the faithfulness of the Father and the Father's good purposes continue to reach out in love, compassion and courage to our neighbors and the world?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Knocked Over

The other day I was speaking with my brother about a friend of his that had been involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses. This person was beginning to see weaknesses in the JW's theology and practice and was looking to my brother for answers to many, many questions. My brother asked for my help, so like any good 21st century pastor, I went straight to the internet.

In my efforts to discover cogent arguments to refute JW teaching and expound the benefits of orthodox belief, I was stunned by the history of the JW's presented in the documentary, "Knocking." I stumbled upon a brief excerpt on Youtube here -

While I do not agree with JW theology, and do not believe that what they present when they knock on our doors is an accurate representation of the gospel, I was humbled by their history of courage and sacrifice. I am ashamed of how consistently I display attitudes that are un-loving, judgmental and un-Christlike to people and situations that I disagree with or do not understand. (Or, haven't taken the time to understand).

As a follower of Christ, sometimes in my desire to be right I forget or lack the courage to do right. I think the Apostle Paul put it best in Galatians 5:6, "...The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."