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Intimations of Mortality

Originally published August 13, 2010.

William Wordsworth’s most famous work is Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Reflections of Early Childhood.” It is one of my favorite poems, exploring the lost pleasures of childhood that Wordsworth believes are hints of the immortality we left behind:

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

And again,

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Setting aside theological mysteries and controversies for another day, what has preoccupied me for that last month and a half has not been immortality, past or future, but increasing intimations of mortality:  My own,as I have experienced an unusual and thought provoking spell of genuine illness, something unusual for me; but also increasing intimations of mortality in the world in which we live, highlighted by the Gulf oil spill but buttressed by a host of other events. Continue reading

Black Friday and a very good Friday

Originally posted Nov. 29, 2011.  Not much has changed, except that stores are now starting their Black Friday sales at 6 pm on Thanksgiving.

Last Friday was  “Black Friday”, when the world goes crazy over shopping.  There was a lot of controversy in the days leading up to the event concerning stores opening not at 5 am, not at 4 am, not even at midnight, but as early as 10 pm the evening of Thanksgiving.  This controversy was misguided.  The issue should not have been Black Friday “invading” Thanksgiving’s time slot, but Black Friday happening at all… As for me, my experience of Black Friday was different and unexpectedly blessed. What did I do on Black Friday?  I went to a funeral.  

I am an incurable news-addict, so I suppose it’s my own fault that I had heartburn before breakfast on Black Friday.  I woke up to a story from the Los Angeles Times that many of you probably saw in some form sometime during the weekend:

Matthew Lopez went to the Wal-Mart in Porter Ranch on Thursday night for the Black Friday sale but instead was caught in a pepper-spray attack by a woman who authorities said was “competitive shopping.” Continue reading

“Our Father’s World” documentary with Pastor Joel Hunter, Bill Hybels, etc.

Originally published March 20, 2013.  Enjoy!

We haven’t had many really quality creation care video products come out recently; this one is an exception.  Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Orlando narrates, there are clips from Bill Hybels, Scott Sabin, Tony Campolo, Mark Liederbach and many others, along with beautiful photography and a consistent powerful message:  It’s not our world, it belongs to God.  And we have to take care of it.

The film runs about a half an hour, but it is worth the time.  Highly recommended for those of your friends who might be wondering about this creation care stuff but aren’t quite sure.  (Also recommended – the book of the same title that has no connection to the film… !)

Enjoy!

Drought and famine (again)

 

Originally published July 18, 2011.  Farming God’s Way in Kenya is going strong today, continuing to provide “famine prevention” skills combined with discipleship training.

It has been a year of flood and drought.  This spring’s floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are old news to most of us, as is the ongoing drought in Texas, which is breaking records set as long ago as 1917, long before the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.   

 But nowhere in the world are things as bad as what is happening in East Africa, not far from where Craig and Tracy Sorley are serving in Kenya. 

 The Worst Drought in 60 Years

“Once More Into the Abyss”.   That’s how the Economist news magazine described the developing drought in Kenya and other East African countries a week or so ago:

BLOATED bellies with stick arms and legs; huge eyes staring out of skeletal heads; gaunt mothers trying to suckle babies on withered breasts. The world thought it might never see such scenes again. Famine in Africa, absent for many years, appeared to have gone the way of diseases for which we now have cures or vaccines. Continue reading

Discovering John Stott’s Special Place

hooksesMy wife Susanna and I recently returned from a four week working trip to the UK. (See my last post). One of the highlights of that visit was a week in Wales staying, just the two of us, at the Hookses,  an old farmhouse and outbuildings purchased by John Stott in 1954.  This was his personal retreat – he wrote all but the last of his books here – and is now a small retreat center. Our stay was a profound experience for me… Continue reading

A Church, a Smartphone and a Sin that has to stop

2014-09-23 13.13.36A church stands silent, hiding in the woods, surrounded by leaning, moss-covered gravestones, as it has for almost a thousand years. I use my ever-present smartphone to snap pictures of this monument to an ancient faith that still guides my own life. As I seek to capture the mood of the place, I am struck by the juxtaposition of time frames that I am experiencing. The device in my hand, one of the latest Android devices, was only invented a few years ago, and will likely be obsolete and useless within two or three more. Everything about my life changes in a year, often even more quickly, but this place has stood for centuries and will likely be here for centuries more.

The contrast between a church a thousand years old and the smartphone that will last less than two is jarring and disturbing.

Let me explain… Continue reading