Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hagia Sophia Church

The Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) has been the site of a church or mosque since the fourth Century. The structure pictured and still standing was the third such church built on this site. Originally the largest Christian Church in the world, built by Emperor Justinian, this was a place of Christian worship for one thousand years. This was the spot where a thousand years of Emperor coronations were . Until the Ottomans captured Constantinople, removed the Christian elements and frescos were placed over the Christian icons (see picture of uncovered images of Jesus). It became Ayasofya (Holy Wisdom Mosque) in the mid 1400s. It remained an active Mosque until 1935 when Ataturk designated it a museum.

We are having an incredible time with wonderful hosts learning much about Islam and Christianity, making friends along the way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

On the ground Istanbul

Our plane dropped out of the bright sky and into a black cauldron of
Istanbul at night. lights did not appear until just before the runway.
Lights if a city heading into a holy day and light if boats on the
Bosphorous River. We touched down at 5:20 pm. As I type the call to
prayer is being sung this will probably be the fourh of the five daily

Already I could jump on a plane and return home having experienced
great conversations with our guides and with a professor I met on the
plane this is an amazing place. Tomorrow the sun will rise and the
black cauldron of mystery of this historic land will meet the light of
the son. Then I will actually see in the light what I've heard and
read from afar. A long night if sleep will be wonderful.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Turkey Trip

We are about to board a plane for Istanbul. Donna and I will spend almost two weeks abroad with a group meeting with religious leaders in Turkey. Amazing sites, amazing stories, and lots of fun are ahead. Please say a prayer for peace and for safe travels. I will (as internet allows) post info about our experiences here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Attention Bono - Set list Dallas 10/12/2009

In 1991 three crazy ACU Freshman drove to a bar to win a U2 Achtung Baby CD. We weren't even old enough to enter, but they gave us the disk 4 days before it was released to the world. We were shocked to hear the difference.

Months later those same freshmen drove to Dallas to buy tickets. The returned to Dallas in February of 1992 to experience U2. Since that time I've been to every concert tour. Tomorrow night, Bono, here are the songs this long time fan would love to hear in a U2 Dream Set List. I've been singing and preaching your tunes for almost 20 years. Today was a good day to "Stay" which found its way into worship and sermon this morning. I will sing whatever you sing tomorrow night.


U2 Dream Set List

Magnificent No Line On The Horizon 2009
Desire Rattle And Hum 1988
Seconds War 1983
Until the End of the World Achtung Baby 1991
Out of Control Boy 1980
Please Pop 1997
Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World Achtung Baby 1991
Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car Zooropa 1993
Wake up Dead Man Pop 1997
Gone Pop 1997
Love Is Blindness Achtung Baby 1991
Stay (Faraway, So Close!) Zooropa 1993
Drowning Man War 1983
With or Without You The Joshua Tree 1987
Two Hearts Beat as One War 1983
One Achtung Baby 1991
Red Hill Mining Town The Joshua Tree 1987
Walk On All That You Can't Leave Behind 2000
I Will Follow Boy 1980
Kite All That You Can't Leave Behind 2000
Where the Streets Have No Name The Joshua Tree 1987
All Because of You How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb [Bonus Track] 2004
A Sort of Homecoming The Unforgettable Fire 1984
Always 7 2002
Rejoice October 1981
Surrender War 1983
Gloria October 1981
Indian Summer Sky The Unforgettable Fire 1984
Yahweh How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb [Bonus Track] 2004
All I Want Is You Rattle And Hum 1988
Falling At Your Feet - Bono And Daniel Lanois The Million Dollar Hotel 2000
40 War 1983

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Six Feet of Shelf

There is a shelf in my home that is about as tall as I am. In looking across the inches of this shelf I found a great diversity of books from bird watching to marriage, from philosophy to novels, from cycling to banking, from prayer to short stories.

I kept looking back and forth across this shelf and realized that is was something of a book graveyard. The tombstones rooted downward to a host of disconnected people, united only by the soil that pointed them upright.

Some of these books I have never even looked at the opening page. Others lack only a few chapters of being completed with their bookmarks sticking up at mini tombstones demarcating where the words fell dead. With a handful of exceptions most of these were unfinished words.

Each was receive with anticipation and excitement, brought home and either begun immediately or place in view for just the right moment to buy. These purchases and gifts were collected with joy and anticipation to diving in.

Today I’m thinking about why it is that we would much rather read than live, collect than engage, and consume then dwell. Books are like people. Some received with excitement and others silence. Some are checked out and others lost. Imagine the number of books that never make it off the shelf, or through the checkout or even off of the discount table. Many many books simply have no life. Today on my favorite day, I am going to attend to the words of the people that God puts in my life today. Today I will be present and available to their hearts and lives. I will read even only the few sentences and paragraphs people offer me, treating their words as novel to be enjoyed today. Fall is coming, summer is passing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


A week of meetings – hour after hour, day after day – is the wake of my week. I had been looking to this week in dread of a looming inability to get anything done thanks to the quantity of meetings.

The word means the “act of coming together” or and “assembly” or a place or point of contact. After completing a week of meetings, I’m drained of life and sapped of excitement. Yes, I came together with others. Yes, I was part of a large body. Yes, contact was established. However, relationship does not always result from “meeting.” Relationship goes beyond introduction, beyond contact, and beyond the surface to a deeper level of community.

Certainly things were done or accomplished at one level. Information is exchanged and contact is maintained and tasks are delegated; yet people remain disconnected. I fear that the weekly or daily encounters in our lives are often not more than a mere rendezvous.

A parallel might be drawn with meeting God. We have those points of ‘meeting’ God at church, in a Sunday School class, through a quiet time, or some other ritual point of contact. But what is the connection or disconnection created by these meetings.

Meeting is different than communing. To commune with someone is to “talk together usually with profound intensity” or “to be in intimate communication or rapport.” Today I am thinking more about what our lives would look like when large groups of people communed with God and one another. I wonder what small groups of people would look like who communed with God and each other.

Meeting and communing are worlds apart.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kicked Through the Night

There is one thing that I’d like our family to lose this summer – the stomach virus. What is the point of having a family vacation if one by one by one our family is reduced to a convulsive outflow of everything inside moving quickly out. Living at the mercy of the toilet for 24 hours is no fun. But when you have to anticipate it, observe it, and then endure it, 24 hours is not the proper description for this virus.

Okay, so Nathan got it first and I held trash can after trash can for him (home). Then, my daughter coated her great grandmother’s room with it (Altus, OK). Finally, my wife greets me opening the door of our hotel with “gimme a trash can” (Quartz Mountain Lodge, Lone Wolf, OK). You get the picture. This is common to humanity.

Well, that night we were split guys and girls. My sick wife and daughter in one bed and my recovered son and me the lone wolf still healthy. It is hard to sleep with your kids when they are well (let alone ill or in a strange place). Nathan simply treated me as an extension of the bed – a pillow, a blanket, the mattress, a punch bag, a trampoline – but certainly not a human being.

I was laying there in bed and it felt like as if my spine was an escalator that he was running up to catch a connecting flight at DFW. As I felt him sprinting up my back, I thought, “he has no idea what he is doing.” We are right her as close as to humans can be and he does not know that he is making me into a human concourse. He has no knowledge that I'm here.

And then a connection flashed through my mind. I wondered about the times in my life when God is so close that I am running all over him, but I have no recognition of God all. Maybe you could say this was my "footprints in the sand" moment. Ha! These times when the separation between me and God is indistinguishable to God but completely lost to my oblivious sleep. Sure, I know, this is “all the time,” right? When we look at beautiful solid quartz rock mountains that pop up out of a flat farmland reaching for the vast blue sky, we see God. When we hear the laughter of a child squealing with delight, we hear God. When we go to a work at a job that we may hate, we thank God for a job in this sunken economy. Even when we are with out a job, in the midst of looking for work we can thank God for a healthy family. God is as close to us as our skin and we hardly notice.

My thought is that I want to live my life so in the presence of God that I am kicking him with my concerns in the middle of the night. I want to live so close to God that even my unconscious motion is affecting him. I want to live so that God indeed reigns over my waking and my sleeping, my eating and my walking. Prayer is not just for church, at the table or in a moment of desperation. Prayer is a lifestyle of seeking the presence of God. Prayer when it permeates our subconscious can and will kick a loving God who is always silently right here with you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Donald Miller Commits Suicide

My heart sank as the news hit. I was stunned that it the news did not come from a more official source to me. How was I just now hearing that Donald Miller, the famous Christian writer and New York Times Best Selling author of Blue Like Jazz (and what I will believe will be another top selling hit “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” due out this September). I had planned an event that featured Donald Miller and already thousands upon thousands were eager and planning to attend the ACU Summit 2009.

I had to shake myself awake. This was not news at all, but a dream (so far as I knew). It was so vivid that I had to google news services just to make sure. No, Donald Miller had not committed suicide!

However, what if it did happen? To let you know how shaken I was by this (false) news - I already began to plan what I would do as Director of Ministry Events if this were to happen. I do not mean “administratively” or “to rescue the program.” That really is not my first reaction. I began to consider what would people need to explore given the news that a “rock star” Christian author had given into the worst lie pitched to humanity – that death is a better option than life. That any death is better than anything about the life I have to live. A lie. The worst lie!

My heart began to explore how we would probably still meet, but without Donald Miller. We would meet but we would explore how it could be possible that the Christian world could exalt someone while at the same time allow that person to be left without hope and community and a friend. At times there seems no difference between the Christian celebrity culture and the pop celebrity culture.

My hope is that the Christian – any and every Christian – is so connected to their relationship with God and seeking God that any success or failure is irrelevant when compared with being in the presence of God. A Christian finds their entire identity from God (not from sales figures, enrollment numbers, poll results, or leadership popularity percentages).

The difference between a follower of Christ and a follower of billboard or red carpet or box office snapshots is the kind of person that we are becoming for all eternity. It is not a moment in time, but a life of time invested in God.

So many of us are plodding through life. We have an image of what success looks like: a raise, a job, a location, a car, an office, selling a book, writing a screenplay, having money, being on the screen, or whatever. This is usually something that is out of reach or just out of reach. It escapes the present moment in which we find ourselves as we are before God. We don’t live in the future or in an illusion. We don’t even live in the past of good or bad decision. We live in the here and now.

This unreal dreaming is an escape from the reality that God loves us right now – as we are. Not when we get a little better. Not when we actually amount to something. Certainly not to when we cross some benchmark of what we or others think of as "success." God loves us as we are right now. No, God won’t love us a little more if we loose a few pounds, spend a few weeks in the gym, improve our language, read that book we must ready or take that class we ought to take. God loves us as we are.

When we let God love us in the moment as we are then and only then can we find our identity. We are beloved by God. We are God’s child without any extra effort or special action. We simply are. From that identity we may become who God intends for us (and it is better than our wildest dreams). We are God's child, whom he loves dearly. Each day we are making life choice that will allow us to become the kind of person we will be for all eternity.

So live. Choose life (not death). Choose to let God love you. Live with God now.

[. . . and once more for the record, Donald Miller is alive and well as far as I know. Sorry for any shock, but believe me I was shaken]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lost and Found - Open Thursdays

In the early morning hours of Saturday, I was reflecting and thinking about life and God. Several ideas came to me in a short period of time. They all seemed appropriate for this “lost and found” space. Here is a place to share ideas, thoughts, and people that I am both finding and losing. One thought, "Thursday is a great day to find something." Maybe it is something you have forgotten or maybe it is something brand new. But Thursday is simply a great day to find something.

Thought #2, "Thursday is also a fine day to lose something." It could be something that you really need and must find. The frantic-ness of losing something on Thursday would drive you to find it on Thursday (but probably not till Saturday would you actually find it). Whatever this thing is that you lose on Thursday might be something that you hope you will never see again. Example: the Kids Meal toy with the noise making whistle is lost to the abyss of the mall's lost and found. That is a loss that brings joy. It will make some other child happy and send some other parent to the insane asylum.

Basically, Thursday is a good day to lose or to find things that need finding and loosing. So, after 6 years of people bugging me to do something regular (most of you say “every day” – and I just shake my head thinking . . . who has the time?). So, after many years of displacing your desire to see something regular. I am going to try Thursday. It is my favorite day of the week. It always has been my favorite day of the week. I don’t really know why Thursday is my favorite day but it is. Favorite things are like that. Favorite things don’t often have an explanation; they just occupy an irreplaceable position in our hearts.

So, I'll see you Thursday and we will share some things that are being lost and found. Maybe you will find something here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The 'Last Battle' for U2

Since the moment I first heard the song 'Desire' blaring through my high school gym in Colorado, I've been a fan if U2. That relationship has carried me with them over two decades and I have seen them in person on every tour since 1992.

To give an idea of what a nut I am for my Irish brothers... I got my ear pierced as a conservative Bible major, ministry student before going to see them for the first time. I have listened to all 11 CDs and 145 release songs 4 times straight through Boy to Horizon in the last 2 weeks. I have almost 400 songs by U2 on my iPhone. I like them.

I am worried about Bono. Is this their last hurrah? Larry says it cannot last forever. He says he hasn't told the band his feelings, but they must know.

I am worried because the CD us the exact opposite of what Larry expresses. No Line on the Horizon suggests no end in sight. The disc begins with a big kiss for the future (one that personally, nationally and globally looks darker with each shady back-alley bailout).

The disc even ends with a challenge that both politically and spiritually invites us to love our enemy and keep them as close as neighbors and friends. This is more than the guidance of a messiah. These are the words of children in the last battle by the great C S Lewis. Not only has Bono been a reader of Lewis through the years but U2 have been at times the rock n roll embodiment of the great thinker and author. That is why I am worried. Because the end of "Horizon" is a page from Lewis' last children tale about Narnia. Book 7. Choose you enemies wisely because they will define you. Too bad George W. Bush did not read Narnia at Yale. Our world might be different right now instead of a firy ball of fury.

I am worried that U2 us telling us something through a mixed Larry & Bono message. Which drum beat do we hear? If ticket sales mean Anything then this band is at the absolute top of their game or any other game in the history of this world. Period. That should get the attention of the eternal, like those shepherd boys songs have four thousands of years. Obscurity doesn't suit these boys with their eyes always beyond the horizon to something beyond. They make you want to pursue something beyond belief.

So I am worried if this is the horizon. But the music tells me otherwise. This is a disc that captures sound and elements from 30 years of their music and moves forward. The lyrics are deep and reverberate on the soul. By are they finishing? Have they moved from one white album to a final white album?

I hope that like Lewis' "Last Battle" this is only the beginning of a new horizon with many more expanding horizons in the future.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Birds of the Weather

Hope flooded my heart last week that winter might be over. The temperatures have been erratic - one day 80, the next day 30 degrees.

However, even when temperatures were in the 30s, the sight of birds flying north in Vs brought hope. Could warmth be coming. Forget the groundhog's shadow visibility. These are the instincts of a real animal, giving me hope that winter is over. I could trust birds migrating.

However, that hope washed away when on Monday in 30 degree weather . . . I noticed "V" after "V" of birds flying south. Wrong direction!

So, with flags standing at attention for more than a week, I must find hope in some other horizon than the weather. How about U2's new disc? "No Line on the Horizon" is the all-world band's 12th studio album. It will be for sale at 12:01 am tonight.

As a U2 super fan, I have already listened to the entire album online. The first single "Boots" sounds vastly different from what we've heard from U2, but that is true to form. Reinvention yet faithfulness to what is the core for these Irish lads.