Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Trinity for Dummies

At the request of my wife I have read The Shack. I did not read any reviews but I did run past several reviews and noticed that they were over the top in the positive column. I noticed a few reviews that let’s say were less than five stars. So I thought I would add my two cents about the shack.
I found several positive thoughts set forth in the book.
1. God loves me beyond my ability to understand.
2. God desires a relationship with me.
3. The intimacy of our relationship is mine to cultivate.
4. The trinity is active in our world.
5. All things work together for good.
6. We need to discover ways to live in the moment.
I am not going to elaborate on these thoughts but I think all of us would do well to spend time contemplating the richness of each thought.
I of course found several items in the book that I cannot put a positive spin on. You had to know I would find something.
1. First we must keep in mind that this book is a work of fiction.
2. It is not well written.
3. The trinity is pictured as way to human.
4. When we find no answer or confront a situation we don’t understand we have a tendency to bring God down to our level.
5. When we humanize God we set aside his divinity.
6. We lose the awe factor or reverence that God deserves.
Some might say if it helps to view God as portrayed in the shack what is the harm. Well we spend a great deal of time trying to justify our actions and putting God on our level is harmful if we twist and turn the nature of God to suit our needs.
The book by the way is about the trinity. Maybe a better title would have been The Trinity for Dummies.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Prostate Cancer -

From the Horse’s Mouth
Eleven days ago I sat in a doctor’s office waiting for him to come in and give me the results of my prostrate biopsy. The door opened and before he reached his chair he said your test was positive. I have prostate cancer.
A journey I had walked with many others has now become my journey. The conversation was filled with rapid fire options, terms, and questions posed without much time to absorb what was being said. This was not the fault of the doctor he answered my questions and provided many options most of which I had learned about on the internet. I did contact the doctor several days following my diagnosis for clarification and he graciously answered all my questions and addressed my concerns. Then the ultimate question what do you want to do?
I wanted him to leave the room and return a moment later and tell me I did not have cancer. Short of that nothing he could say would make me happy. Based on my Gleason score 3 + 4 and the grade of T1a I made the decision to have my prostrate surgically removed. The surgery is scheduled for December 2nd.
Let me speak to the guys for a moment. Many cancers caught early present the best chance for a positive result but there are always exceptions. Putting the exceptions aside early detection through the PSA test and DRE (digital rectal exam) are the key to early detection. So men get the PSA test as often as your primary care physicians recommends and don’t skip the recital exam.
Consider my case. A normal PSA test range is less than 1 to 4. My latest test was 3.8 still in the normal range. The digital rectal exam was negative. But my last three tests went from 1.8 to 2.7 and finally 3.8. So a biopsy was ordered and the rest is history. In some cases a rising PSA though normal can indicate cancer.
So if you have any questions or concerns about your test results talk to your doctor. If you are still not satisfied get a second opinion. My doctor recommend additional testing and consequently it appears my cancer was caught early.
Please keep me and my family in your prayers. Remember there are exceptions when you talk about cancer and cures. Prostate cancer has a high cure rate 85 % in my case. So pray that I don’t fall into the 15 % category.
I will post as soon as I am able after surgery. Thanks again for the prayers.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lessons from a sock drawer

My wife has had both of her knees replaced one six years ago and the second three years ago. In preparation for the first replacement she turned to the internet to gather as much information as possible. She found a web site she calls the knee board.

The board was not only a place to find much needed information but she discovered two unexpected blessings.

First she found that sharing her experience was a comfort to those who were days from knee replacement and had many more questions than answers.

Second she found many new friends, a relationship built on a common experience more often than not runs its course as the need for comfort or information diminishes. But in her case one friendship has stood the test of time.

She has kept in touch with Eddie and his family for six years. Email, instant messages phone calls and cards have moved the relationship from a common experience based on a common need to a friendship.

Over the year’s getting together popped up in conversation from time to time. Eddie and his family live in the Midwest we live in Atlanta. So they would promise to get together neither believing it would happen.

Well you guessed it Eddie called and said they were on the way. A short four day visit had been planned. They are far from strangers on one hand but on the other had we had not met in person.

I figured if I could tolerate family getting along with Eddie and his wife Lorna would be a piece of cake. After all we would be on our best behavior. I am happy to report all went very well.

We picked them up at the airport and for three days Beckey and I did our best to show them Atlanta as only a life time resident can. In the short time we had together we had the opportunity to share our life stories. They learned about us and we learned about them.

Having had long distance information sharing for six years we discovered we had the job and kid thing settled, so we moved to sharing thoughts and concerns that good friends feel comfortable sharing.

For example Eddie told me about his sock drawer. You need to know that Eddie has OCD obsessive compulsive disorder. No he is nothing like Monk on TV. He just has a need to have new socks in a drawer that he never uses.

I have reflected on their visit and I found Eddie taught me a thing or two when it comes to maintaining a sock drawer. Understand that Beckey washes and dries my socks and puts them in the clothes hamper for me to match up. They may stay in the hamper a couple of weeks before I get around to matching them up. It drives Beckey crazy I think it would push Eddie off the deep end.

Things I have learned from Eddie’s sock drawer:

1. I need to do better with my sock drawer.

2. Being a bit compulsive is a wonderful gift.

3. Looking to the past can provide a clear picture of the future.

4. Little things often forgotten can be priceless if the need arises.

5. There is nothing wrong with being prepared. The boy scouts live by this motto.

6. I have gone to the sock drawer to find the cupboard bare. My friend Eddie has never had this problem.

I discovered many things over our time together none more important than this - I found a new friend and if I need a pair of socks I know who to call.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lazarus Come Out!

Fifth Sunday of Lent John 11:1-45

Homily: Lazarus Come Out

Two weeks ago the woman at the well found living water. Last week the blind beggar receives his sight. This Sunday’s gospel reading relates the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus is sick. Jesus remains where he was two more days before returning to Judea.

When Jesus arrives he discovers that Lazarus has been dead for four days. The Jews believed that the spirit remained with the body for three days. There was no doubt that Lazarus was dead.

Martha tells Jesus that if he had been there their brother would not have died. Jesus tells her that her brother will be raised. She replies that she understands that he will be raised on the last day.

Martha projected her faith into the future. But Jesus was not talking about the last day. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead this very day.

We project our faith into the future. We believe that if we are faith full we will find eternal life at the end of our journey. But many are in desperate need of conversion and the freedom conversion brings today.

For we find ourselves trapped in tombs of our own making. The key to freedom is Jesus setting us free. His words are life giving.

Consider our self imposed tombs.

1. SIN – We live each waking moment trying to satisfy the desires of the flesh. The world would like for us to believe that sin is not a problem. That in fact sin no longer exists. You can do as you please as long as we do not harm others.

2. SELF INDULGENCE – The Hollywood crowd are the poster children for living a life of self indulgence. Seems we can’t get enough no matter how much we spend.

3. ADDICTION – Drugs alcohol imprison us in a world of darkness and misery.

4. FEAR – There are many today who fear tomorrow to the point of losing today. The joy of today is lost in what might happen tomorrow.

Jesus asks those present at the grave site to roll away the stone. He was moments away from raising Lazarus from the dead. He did not need help removing the stone. But this request points us to the ministry of the Church. We are to assist the Lord in setting people free.

The stone rolled away Jesus calls Lazarus to come out. Lazarus appears bound hand and foot with a cloth over his face. Jesus instructs those present to set him free.

Jesus called Lazarus to come out. He was bound hand a foot. He faced a challenge and struggle to respond. It was not easy. But he did what was necessary to find life and freedom. The Church stands ready to help one and all who seek true freedom but the first step must be theirs. They must desire to step out.

Have you found yourself imprisoned in a self made tomb today? Jesus wants to set you free. Not only on the last day but today. The stone has been rolled away. He is calling your name.

Step out of the darkness into the light of Christ.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I've been a Deacon for a year! Ordination Anniversary

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

It seems these days time flies weather you’re having fun or not. People say the older you get the faster time seems to pass. Well I can attest that this past year has past in a bluer. February 10, 2008 marked the first anniversary of my ordination as a permanent deacon. I don’t know where the time went. It seems like yesterday we were preparing for ordination.

It has been quite a year, marked by many firsts. Homilies funerals penance services adult education classes to name a few. Did I learn any thing during my first year? Yes, here are a few lessons that come to mind.

1. I could not have been faithful to my calling without the loving support of my wife.

2. My pastor is a patient wise man.

3. The mistakes I’ve made have been acknowledged and forgotten by a loving parish.

4. I have grown spiritually by helping others.

5. Serving communion to the people of God is a privilege.

6. I cannot believe that God called me to serve his church but I am glad he did.

7. I cannot be all things to all people. But all deserve my respect.

8. Preaching is a privilege that must be taken seriously the parishioners deserve my best.

9. Keeping a balance between work, family and church is a challenge.

10. Prayer is an ingredient that must be cultivated for success.

11. God loves me when I succeed or fail.

These are but a few thoughts on my first year as a deacon. I have gone from feeling like a deer caught in the head lights to I still can’t believe I am a deacon.

God willing year two will be just as wonderful as my first but I don’t know how that can be.

Please keep me and my wife in your prayers as well as all of my deacon brothers.

God Bless you and yours as you strive to serve our Lord.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Baptism of Jesus

Sunday: The Baptism of Jesus

Waist Deep in Confusion

Advent and the Christmas season have come and gone. I trust everyone had a blessed holiday.

My reflection experience this year centered on the cast of characters God called to bring Jesus into our world. I found some similar characteristics in their calling as well as their response to God’s call.

The first person I considered was the blessed Mother. Her yes was the first step taken to bring about the salvation of the world through her son Jesus. I don’t think we have a full understanding of the difficulties Mary faced by her response to the angel.

She faced the disappointment of Joseph her family and the community. Divorce was a real possibility at the very least, death was also an option. Joseph in a dream learned the truth and took her into his home. She struggled with the unknown her yes did not provide answers to all of her questions or concerns. But she said yes anyway.

Next I considered the wise men. They traveled untold miles from their home to the town of Bethlehem. They came seeking the king of the Jews. They followed a star and found a stable. My pastor suggested in his homily last week that they may have been disappointed finding not a palace but a stable.

But they were not deterred they entered gave homage and presented the child with gifts. The length of their journey and the origin of the journey are unknown. What is known is that they followed through with their calling. They set out on a journey without knowing where they were going. Their reward they found the Son of God.

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. My attention centered on John the Baptist. He was the forerunner of Christ and we find him waist deep in the Jordan river baptizing those seeking repentance.

All seemed to be going well and John was fulfilling his mission and calling. Than Jesus shows up and John finds himself waist deep in a river of confusion.

Jesus asked John to baptize him. John protests saying you need to baptize me. John has been waiting for the Lord to appear. He had it all worked out in his mind as to how things would go. But God’s ways are not our ways.

Mary said yes not knowing what lay ahead, the wise men set out on a journey not knowing the destination. John the Baptist finds himself in a state of confusion.

How are we to respond when we find ourselves in a river of confusion?

Follow the example of Mary the Wise men and John the Baptist.

John listened to the words of Jesus. We also need to listen to the word of the Lord. We find those words in Holy Scripture. The daily readings offer in site for us as we seek to find our way.

Prayer offers opportunity to present our needs to the Lord. In addition prayer offers time to listen to God. We seem to spend a great deal of time asking God for the things we need. We spend little time listening. A one sided conversation to be sure.

Our journey is a winding one to be sure with many twists and turns. John the Baptist may not have had all the answers but that did not keep him from completing his mission. He was obedient and baptized Jesus.

Confusion and questions abound for all who seek to follow the Lord. But confusion and questions are no excuse for disobedience.

Follow the example of Mary John and the Wise men, and in time you will find Jesus at journeys end.