You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

The drive home from Southern California to San Francisco is a long one. Our GPS notified us that it is a six-hour and seventeen minute journey. To factor into our return home, we had to accept the fact that it was Memorial Day.

On a holiday the traffic would be much more congested than usual. If we made an early departure from Burbank, it would be a wise decision. Everyone else from Northern California who was visiting in LA would also be heading home.

Gasing up was important. That got us a bit nervous. We passed on a local gas station advertising prices in excess of $5 per gallon.

In my rearview mirror I could see that our son had already started his sleep. Over in the shotgun seat, Yvonne was being overcome with fairy dust. Her eyes were already at half mast.

Now, it was up to me to entertain myself. I had a bottle of soda pop, a caffeine drink right in its beverage holder. Next to it I had snacks within reach, both sweet and salty.

We climbed the Grapevine. Civilization was left behind and the desolation of the desert shrouded mountains passed by quickly. 18 wheelers made their slow ascent.

Then, I was in the valley. It was flat. Irrigation had the desert blooming with orchards heavy with citrus fruit.

Hours crept by even though the miles rolled by quickly. It is a long drive. But, a rest stop gave us the breather we needed to press on toward home.

Another stop was at a shed. Colorful fruit from the valley was for sale. Cherries fresh from the trees were only a dollar a box.

We added nectarines. Strawberries were luscious. Artichokes were fresh from the field next to where we parked.

Just before we connected on to Highway 101 we made a quick-lunch stop. We stopped at Wendy’s. Have you noticed the great upgrades in their food?

I ordered their Chicken Tenders. They are very good. Unlike other restaurants that serve chicken that are pressed together Wendy’s serves actual slices of tasty morsels.

Talk radio keeps my mind going. Memorial Day took over. Conversations about our brave military who gave themselves for our freedom was the theme of the day.

Finally, we made it! With one final turn off the street and into our drive way was a welcome moment. Safely home, God’s grace was our blessing.

photo credit: google image

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I jumped off the freeway, made my way through the edge of downtown San Francisco and made it to Washington Square Park.  My GPS indicated that I was near Mama’s Restaurant, my final destination.  A parking space was right in front of me. 

Once I was parked I walked the block and a half to the eatery.  The variety of people who shared the sidewalk with me was beyond calculation.  Dog walkers, joggers, bicyclists, elderly, skateboarders, scooter riders, motorcyclists and more. 

The sign of the restaurant came into view.  That’s when I caught my breath.  A line of people waiting to get into Mama’s stretched up the block and looked to be moving very slowly.

I took my place at the end of the line.  My appointment sent me a text.  He was running about 30 minutes late.

This line moved at a snail’s pace.  But, there was plenty of entertainment on the streets.  Have you been amazed at people around you?

A man in a Prius did a U-turn that turned into a three-point turn.  He saw a parking spot on the opposite side of the road.  To grab it he held up traffic going both directions until he could manage a city-style-feat of parallel parking. 

His parking technique was unbelievable.  He backed in at an angle that was too severe.  That required him to pull out and again impede traffic. 

Then, he guessed the right angle to back in but totally missed his spacial location to the car behind him.  He was using the stop-when-you-bump technique.  Once is understandable.

Then, he turned his wheel hard right and pulled forward.  Again he misjudged the car in front of him and bumped into that one.  Surely he was going to grasp the tight quarters he was in. 

He did not.  Instead, he bumped into the car behind him a second time.  Then, he put his car into drive and pulled forward  until he bumped into the car ahead of him again.  It was bumper car mania.

No it did not stop at three bumps.  He backed up into the car behind a third time.  Again he nudged the car ahead of him. 

Finally, he nudged the cars around him for the last time.  When he climbed out his car, I could only think that I was glad that I wasn’t on either end of him.  I guess that’s why that clumsy driver thinks other cars have bumpers; they are his guides for parallel parking.

photo credit: google image

Ancient wise men coined the phrase “A picture is worth ten thousand words.” The human mind can process far faster than words alone. A picture communicates so much so quickly.

On this Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have given their lives so that the rest of us can bask in the blessing of freedom, I share with you the pictures of the season that have moved me.  Linger over each one. 

Let the lives of those involved and the sacrifices given by these lives touch your spirit.  If you’re like me, then, a deep appreciation of gratitude will develop and permanently find a place in your identity.  This is an amazing country with astounding military personnel who courageously have stood and fallen for freedom.

   

These images grabbed my attention.  They put other thoughts for this weekend on hold for a moment.  Our family activities are a huge priority, but for a moment it was important to remember those who gave everything so that I could be with my family.

This Memorial Day I am thinking of those who lost someone close in the fight and defense of freedom.  The last picture touched me deeply.  Feelings emerge from that picture like few others can.

This woman lost someone dear to her heart.  There is a pain that the rest of us do not know.  But, to sense what she is feeling through this photograph makes the rest of us pause. 

We are thankful in our enjoyment of freedom.  The liberty that marks our lives we celebrate this day because of the courage and sacrifice of our service men and women.  Our great country is built not only on what the current events of today may mean but on the history of what has already been spent. 

Thank you to all who lost a loved one fighting for the privileges that the rest of us so thoroughly enjoy.  Blessings on you from our God whose grace also knows such personal sacrifice for many.  God bless America.

photo credit: google images

The McCormick Conference Center in Chicago is a good hike from O’Hare airport. Our plane was scheduled for take off at 2:20PM. It would be tight as we planned our schedule for the day.

We watched the clock. The speaker was not done. But, we had to leave in time to catch a cab and plan for the unpredictable Chicago traffic.

Both of us wanted to stay. The speaker was fabulous. But, who wants to miss their flight home?

Outside of the conference center, a long line of cabs waited for a fare. We hopped into the next one in line. Everything was going smoothly until we merged on to the highway.

It’s like jumping into a swimming pool full of sludge. We made our way up the acceleration ramp by slowing down. Traffic was jammed up. Fabulous conversation kept us distracted. Still time marched on and the fare kept climbing.

Once at ORD we checked the departure board. Our flight to SFO from ORD flashed on the screen. The departure time was different from our memory.

Our flight was delayed by 25 minutes. Hopefully, it would be the only reschedule for our trip home. When I see a delayed or rescheduled flight my heart sinks. I want to go home!

At least we had time for lunch. We paraded past all of the fast food offerings. None of us opted for any of the national chains.

Instead, we stopped in at Wolfgang-Puck’s. There I scanned over the menu. I selected a spinach salad with goat cheese, beets and pecans. It was refreshing and delicious.

Once on the plane I was relieved that there were no other delays. The plane was packed and of course our seats were jammed, tight quarters and with few options to vary my sitting position.

I was ready for the long 4+ hour journey. My Kindle was in hand. It was loaded with great books to read.

Also, my I-pod was fully charged and filled with music. Good ear phones dulled the sounds of the jet engines. Nothing like personally chosen cool sounds to soothingly pass the time.

Just to get some variety in my distractions, I picked up a snack for the journey. It was a vegetable tray with ranch dressing. The food was gone, the music played through a round and I knocked off a lot of pages of my reading to get done. Hey, I’m home!

photo credit: google image

The best advice is often the most simple advice.  A proliferation of words, big words, doesn’t always make the most profound verbal presentation. Rather, the basic words, briefly spoken but wisely chosen can often be the best to both impact lives of others and be memorable as well.

Paul begins this segment of his letter to the Corinthians with a simple yet powerful word of advice.  He is not arrogant but dutifully humble.  As he follows the example of Christ, so he urges other believers to follow his example in life.

An example doesn’t always require a visual or geographical presence.  For Paul if believers chose to mimic Paul’s life based on his teachings, that was a duplication in itself that is most satisfying.  This was beyond pleasure, this action deserves praise.

There is a divine order for life.  God is the ultimate head, even of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is then the authority over every man.  If a man is following this pattern then he is God’s representative head of his wife or daughter.

Headship is important in life.  When it is properly followed then it is also worth visually displaying it.  That’s what head covering was design to do in the historical culture of the Corinthians day.

This perspective and practice was not  just about authority.  It also was a display of glory.  God who is glorified in our lives when we follow His example, is also glorified down the chain of headship. 

Creation illustrates this order.  Sequence is important in the beginning.  As the woman came from man, so the order of headship and glory should reflect this too.

God’s creative process is intricate.  It is never a basis to support superiority or inferiority.  Rather, there is a divine blessing on the relationship component of women and men.  Mutual respect as a support to this dynamic relationship.  No one should miss this.

Whether someone wants to push the visual features of hair length or argue order in the place of the spiritual priority of God being the head is misjudging the teaching of the apostle.  Men and women are distinct.  God is over both.  When we follow His order, life in relationship is amazing.

Attitude is a test for accuracy.  Sour judgmental attitudes over others is spurious.  Rather, reasonableness reflects spiritual priorities.  Those who want to fight over details at the expense of God being acknowledged as our final authority can never be convinced, even by God.

1 corinthians 11.1-16

photo credit: google image

For most of my life the term “tenderloin” referred to the choicest beef or venison.  It was huge in flavor and definitely tender.  A serving of the tenderloin was a treat at any meal.

But, now that I live in the city of San Francisco, the term Tenderloin is completely redefined.  The Tenderloin is an area just a few blocks from downtown.  I was on Jones St. near Eddy.

The sidewalks were filled with people, humans, fellow souls living each day with zero expectation for tomorrow.  They were very different.  You could sense and gather that something marked this part of town.

Clothes on most was dishoveled.  Their hair was unkempt.  Some were pushing grocery carts filled with a variety of earthly things.

I waited at a green light because one young man who fit my previous description was animated.  He was alone.  But, he looked to be in a struggle with an imaginary opponent or two.  Maybe it was three or four.

Others didn’t even give that young man a second look.  A police officer kept on with a conversation that he was having with another local.  Nor did a woman pulling a wired grocery cart even wince once.

So much around me was abnormal.  But, everyone was acting as if everything was normal.  There was no fear in my spirit but I was definitely saddened.

My destination was in sight.  I pulled over into a parking space.  There were several to choose from. 

I called my appointment and she answered with cheer, “Great! You’re here!  I’ll be right out.”  The main door to a heavily used building opened again and Ruthie came out to greet me. 

Together we walked back into her building.  A large room with a tall ceiling was filled with men.  They were the same those wandering around outside. 

Some were playing pool.  Others were watching, conversing, staring or passing the time.  No one stared at me.

We talked for over an hour.  She told me the stories of many of the women that they serve: abused, trafficked for money, victims of violence, abandoned and alone.  It made me sad.

Her service to these overlooked lives was the ray of hope that so many of them need.  Day-in and day-out she gives out a cup of water in the name of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The Tenderloin is blessed to have her.

photo credit: google image

His anguish thrust him into a chaos that was inconsolable. The pain in his life was excruciating. Massive rocks were being dumped on to his wagon of life.

Questions flooded his mind. Doubts crushed into his spirit.  He was panicked, grieving, angry, denying, weak. 

Tears were his only minor relief from the pain of being betrayed.  Most wouldn’t call it relief.  More accurately, it was an emotional desperation, a physiological release to find some mooring while losing complete equilibrium.

His wife had abandoned him and their children.  She had hidden her adultery for months.  Lies, secrets and immorality were her routine.  It was time for a confrontation.

She looked unsurprised.  Almost cold.  There was a matter of fact look on her face.  She did not deny the charge.  In fact she admitted to it. 

Oddly she assured her husband that it wasn’t him.  She took all of the responsibility for the “affair.”  Quickly, she apologized.  She did that several times.

He was broken, hurt like he had never the depth of that kind of pain nor even imagined its searing intensity.  Words eluded him.  He wanted it to all just go away but the horror would not leave.  Instead, the emotions took on more forms that took their toll.

There were a few glimmers of hope.  But, they disappeared quickly as the days passed by.  She became hard in her spirit. 

Openly she left at odd times.  She no longer bothered with the domestic chores that she had done for years.  The children were neglected too.

Her attitude turned sour.  She freely showed her anger over selfish issues and demands.  Unbelievably, she flaunted her immorality with verbal abuse towards her husband.

Once a righteous pursuer of spiritual values, she was now a vicious and mean-spirited personification of evil.  Her children were frightened and confused.  He chose to stay strong and call her to a decision.  Tough love was full of agony.

He came to me and I listened.  Every day he was making good choices.  They were tough, forced him to wonder if he was acting too harshly. 

In the end she chose to abandon her husband and embrace her illegitimate partner.  By the wonderment of the legal system, the judge sided with her, ordered her husband to pay massive alimony, give her half of all assets and repeated this penal judgment in increasing increments over the next months.  Betrayal was rewarded by the court.

photo credit: google image

Wednesday is tomorrow!  That night we are having guests over for a meeting.  Yvonne and I talked over some possible items to serve to our company.

That’s when we pulled into the parking lot of our local grocery supermarket.  Together we reviewed what we were looking to purchase as we walked into the store.  I was pushing the buggy and she was checking her list.

First, we stopped at the deli.  There she grabbed two bags of chips.  Inside of our grocery cart we had corn chips and tortilla chips. 

I was over at the refrigeration section.  There I smiled when my eyes found humus, family size of course, with fresh garlic sauce on top.  We added that to the stick of summer sausage to our collection.

Then, we gazed over the cheese selections.  There was jack, cheddar, swiss, gouda and cream cheese.  We made our variety selection.  

Next, we headed for the produce department. We added a sweet-smelling red onion.  For more God-created color we added a red bell pepper and a yellow bell pepper. 

For special dip we picked some spinach dip.  When that is heated up so that the chill is gone and it is more or less melted, it is perfect with corn chips.  Or some might choose to use the cream cheese spread just for a different taste.

The chips will be the utensils and the pita bread.  They will serve as scoops for the chili, dips and salsa.  Finger foods is the name of the game.  It’s not just chic but it means that I don’t have to do the dishes or buy plastic ware.  It’s a guy thing.

We almost left the store before we were done.  For some reason I forget to load up on beverages.  Down the soft drink aisle we went. 

This was the hardest decision.  What do people like to drink?  We couldn’t buy all the flavors.  So, we followed the color guideline: we went for neutral.  That means 7-up, A&W Root Beer and of course a sample of Dr. Pepper.  Ha!  My Texas days have left a permanent mark on my tastes.

On the way up to the check out stand we paused at the seasonal display.  There everything was decked in the traditional colors of red and white.  Valentines Day chocolates topped off our refreshment plan.  It’s going to be a fun time of munchies!

photo credit: google image

The opening scene for the Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp movie happened long before the film began.  Both actors have a remarkable appeal to those of us who are avid movie goers.  They have that indescribable panache that earns them star billing.

I was intrigued to see how the two would fare.  Would they have the kind of chemistry that Angelina has conjured up with leading men in the past?  Depp is a major talent, but would he connect with this starlet?

She appeared on the screen first.  All she had to do was walk down the street, sit at a table and climb aboard a subway train.  Already she had the attention of the police, secret agents and the mafia glued to her every move. 

Anticipation fed my intrigue to watch Depp in-character.  Would the instant eye contact with his costar make fireworks explode on the screen?  Did the director of the film make the chemistry the driving force of the story?

She was knowingly being followed by the authorities.  He communicated to her with well placed written notes.  The plan called for a diversion.

In order to throw the police off of their trail she needed to find a suitable man of his similar height and stature.  His identity was a secret even to the love of his life.  Plastic surgery gave him a new face.

Millions of dollars were in the hands of the scoundrel that Depp played.  Both the good guys and bad guys were trying to get him to get the money.

On a train she scanned her options of suitable men.  She chose Depp at random.  He would be the bait, the distraction, the meaningless filler in her life until she could escape the pursuit behind her and rendezvous with her lover.

Finally, the look between the two of them filled the screen.  I was so disappointed.  There was no magic.

Jolie was stunning but Depp seemed unable to connect.  He seemed out of step, awkward, hesitant.   This superstar was being overshadowed by the other A-list actress. 

Scene after scene reinforced my disappointment.  Soon I resolved to watch the movie for the sake of the story.  Action, intrigue, multi-layered extras made the movie believable.  Jolie was a superb entertainment.  Depp was along for the ride.

But, the story climaxed.  Guns blazed, officials looked puzzled.  In the end that’s when the Depp magic happened.

photo credit: google image

Arguments that ignore pertinent values and doggedly focus only on a singular issue lack wisdom and lead to poor conclusions.

In Paul’s day the Corinthians were short-sighted just like this. Like so many weak arguments, they listened to themselves without the counsel of wiser people around them. They demanded their personal rights over what was a better way to live. Their personal monologue sounded good to them and was therefore accepted as valid.

However, the Apostle cautions them that not everything is beneficial. We can defend our personal choices so aggressively that we forget to look at the results. The life we live for Christ must have a benefit for us and others.

Furthermore, life choices should be constructive. Is our choice edifying? Can we see that our choices build something good?

A contemporary issue for the Corinthians was the purchase of discount meat in the market.  Meat offered to idols who never ate anything since they were not real, made its way into the market for resale.  Those who believed in idols wouldn’t touch it therefore, shrinking the market potential.

Christians who believed in the one and only true God knew that there was nothing to the idols.  To them the market simply offered an excellent cut of meat at a discounted price.  They could choose to exercise their liberty and save a lot of money.

This put Christians in a dilemma.  If they were the guests of others who also had the freedom of Christ to eat meat that was once offered to idols then they were free to enjoy the meal.  However, if someone who had a weak conscience was there, identified the meat as once offered to idols, then a strong Christian would refrain from eating.  They had freedom to enjoy it but they would not want to wound the conscience of a weaker believer.

The strength of  someone’s theology that gives liberty also enables a believer to act according to grace and strength.  Even though a strong believer is thankful and has every privilege to enjoy a meal, they live above their personal liberty to give a safe environment for the weaker believer.

Even the routine simplicities of life as eating or drinking must be done for God’s glory.  None of us should knowingly be the cause for other believers to stumble.  Rather, our objective is selfless living so that others might be saved. 

1 corinthians 10.23-33

photo credit: google image

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