Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sonrise Bible Study Summer Schedule!

Friends... please note the schedule change for our Tuesday Ladies Bible Study. This summer we'll be meeting on Tuesdays from 8:30-9:30 at 121 Community Church in Grapevine. Visitors are welcome!

A couple near-term adjustments, though...

1. Next week, we're meeting on Wednesday the 28th at 8:00 a.m.

2. The beloved and beautiful KP is leading us on June 2 at 8:30.

3. On June 10 and June 17, we need to meet at 8:00 a.m. (sorry about that... I sense the tomatoes and lettuce heads flying...)

See you on Wednesday for more on the subject of biblical context...



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bella is Beautiful

An unusual, gently paced film that leaves an echo in the heart. Lead actor and producer Eduardo Verastegui gives an understated but moving performance. Hiding behind a mountain-man beard for the balance of the film, Verastegui acts with his eyes, exposing in ways more powerful than words the character's passage from pain and hopelessness to love and redemption. Despite mature themes, Bella is refreshingly devoid of sex and violence. Filmmakers took the high road here, as Bella abounds in grace.
On my iPod... All I Need Is You by Click Five

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tough Choices

When we're trying to encourage our boys to make good moral choices, we use a lot of "path" imagery (e.g., Psalm 27:11). But I've come to realize that we need to make sure that we're not painting a picture for the boys of rose petals and gentle breezes and marine skies along that right path. Because sometimes there are land mines and thickets along the good path, too. Other times we will find ourselves, quite frankly, off track where corrective measures follow painful choices.

We found ourselves stuck and nearly halted in traffic the other day. We'd gone after school to a bookstore in Lewisville and were on the early end of rush hour on the highway. But traffic was moving in slow motion. "Must be an accident," I speculated. Sure enough, as we passed a strip of familiar restaurants off to the right, we could see that a huge 18-wheeler had turned the parking lot of the Macaroni Grill into a junk yard. Cars were compressed like squeezed accordions and I prayed that the people involved by some miracle could have survived.

Turns out, there were no injuries at all. The driver had sustained a medical crisis of some sort that made him lose control of his truck. While he still had a breath of functionality, he made a split-second decision to careen his truck to the right and take out a phalanx of parked cars. If he'd gone left, instead, he would have plowed into Dallas highway rush hour commuters. So his decision, though it proved costly to property and restaurant income, undoubtedly saved several if not many lives. This is a case, I told the kids, of when the right decision proves better than the wrong one yet both options resulted in distress.

In Luke 14:25, we find Jesus en route to Jerusalem where he pauses to teach a swelling crowd that there is a cost to following Him and that they are wise to assess this cost before signing on. In verses 31-33, He relates to the people a parable about a king who wants to wage war against another king and emphasizes the importance of planning ahead:

Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14: 31(b)

If the war-minded king determines that he can't win the battle, Jesus teaches, he must surrender:

If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. (Luke 14: 32)

The point of this story is to show would-be followers that discipleship requires an all-out surrender to Christ, and there will be suffering and rejection and pain and abandonment of that which glorifies the self. Jesus wants people to know this up front so that they can assess whether or not they will are willing to submit to the burdens of discipleship.

But let's get inside the mind of the earthly king for a moment as we explore the subject of choices, in general. Within this parable, we have a person who has two possible courses of action or "paths." The first choice, to clip at the heels of the bigger dog, would most assuredly result in personal destruction. The second choice, which amounts to rolling over with a whimper, would result in enemy domination but, presumably, the preservation of one's life. Two choices which involve pain and sacrifice, yet one is clearly preferable to the other.

Sometimes in life, we are faced with a choice of two paths. Oftentimes, the benefits of being on the "right" path versus the "wrong" path are strikingly obvious. If you steal a car, you're going to jail. That's a no brainer.

Other times, it really comes down to making the best choice along the path we're on. If we find ourselves on the wrong road, by victimization or accident or our own personal sin, the only way back to the right track involves a decision that will result in pain. Though it appeared he was not at fault, the driver of the truck that plowed into a parking lot was the instrument of mayhem. But his choice to crash one way versus another, though calamitous, undoubtedly saved lives.

So what's my point? If you're reading this and it's sounding like I'm making the case for choosing the nicest bad behavior or a "little" versus a "bigger" sin, that's not the case. But I'm enough of a broken vessel and realist to know that all of us and all of our children will find ourselves at various points on paths that are torturous, either by our own actions or the engagement and interference of others. God allows people to wind down these roads and oftentimes we are stronger and more mature, and our consciences are fortified and sensitized for having been challenged and affronted. Learning from our mistakes can make future choices--the right ones--easier.

In all of my "right path" and "wrong path" discussions with my kids up to this point, I've focused on the absolutes: If you do "x," you will ruin you life. If you choose "y," you will stand to benefit. While there is always truth in this lesson, more and more, I see the need to build upon this instruction with the message of choosing sometimes as best we can in a given circumstance, recognizing that the right choice may have uncertain or even painful consequences.

What's our guide on the "bad path" patches? It's certainly not our human nature or reasoning, which will always drive us further into the deep, dark woods. It is love of God and one another--the twined cord that bundles God's Commandments--that will right a wrong course, making our paths ultimately straight.

My Dream Band (today, anyway!)... Chad Kroeger, David Cook, Rick Astley (I know, I know...) Chrissy Hynde on vocals... Mark Knopfler and Carlos Santana on guitar... Stewart Copeland on drums... Rick Wakeman on keyboards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sonrise Session #9: Cultural Context

We've had a couple weeks of great discussion... off topic... but good stuff. Re. next week... I'm at the school on Tuesday and will need to re-schedule... could do Thursday, maybe? We'll chat. In the meantime... see notes for next session below.

History, PLUS... what was going down around...

o 1Timothy 2:9-10: Ancient haughties?

o 1Cor 8: Best chops can be found here, but

o John 20: 17: Mary as messenger/ref. John 4:27

o Acts 1:8/ref. John 4:9: Yes, go talk to them.

Random Comments...

"What's the rush?"

"Where is the voice in America... after all these years... that we can hear... that's speaking out against the objectification of women?"

"It's out there... being drowned out."

On my iPod... Weather With You (Live) by Neil & Tim Finn

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Simplicity

My mother, who is 83, implores me each year to recognize Mother's Day with a simple card. "It's really all I want," she's told me for, like, 30 years.

Do I listen?

Noooo. Because, somehow, I think I know best. So, off I go every year in search of a token or a trinket or something to wear or hang or otherwise display. But after so many years of accumulating things, she is running out of space and "thing maintenance" is no longer her groove.

Mother's Day kind of crept up on me this year. I realized it was approaching four days beforehand, which left me with little time to pull together a thoughtful gift. So, this year I did what she's asked me to do all these years. I simply sent a card. Mom was thrilled. She got what she wanted.

I got what I wanted this year, too. The boys, in non-matching pajama ensembles and serious bedhead, burst into the bedroom on Sunday morning to wake me up (I'd been awake for about an hour, mind you, but Todd clued me into special events that required me to stay put!). "Happy Mother's Day!" they squealed proffering breakfast on a tray which consisted of about 18 corn flakes ("I poured them myself!") in three-and-a-half-cups of milk ("I poured that, too!), a label-emblazoned banana, and a couple splashes of orange juice in the distressed plastic Pepsi cup we've used over the years as a bath toy, bug trapper and listening device.

"This is the best Mother's Day breakfast ever," I exclaimed! Todd, no doubt reflecting upon past years of gourmet muffins, omelets and fancy schmancy coffees, shot me a look that said "Oh, sure..."

But, I meant it. I really, really did. And for the first time... I understood what my own mother has been trying to say all these years... sometimes less is best.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Produce & Pesticides

Fruits and vegetables are power foods and should be abundant in your diet. But you need to be aware that some produce carries and retains more pesticide than others. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the most contaminated fruits and vegetables are (ranked high to low):

1. Strawberries
2. Green and red bell peppers
3. Spinach (poor veggie needs some good PR!)
4. Cherries (USA)
5. Peaches
6. Cantaloupe (Mexico)
7. Celery
8. Apples
9. Apricots
10. Green beans
11. Grapes (Chile)
12. Cucumbers

You might want to consider buying organics, which are pesticide free. Otherwise, it makes good sense to peel fruits if possible. Avoid non-organic potato skins. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage. Other surfaces that can't be peeled can be washed with soap and water or a commercial vegetable wash. Washing with plain water removes 25-50 percent of the pesticide residue.

Studies show that the more fruits and vegetables consumed, the less the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. So don't give up on good foods! Just make the good foods better by properly minimizing harmful residues and, perhaps, opting for organics if you can.

Source: Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman. M.D.

(Photo by pocho, see for restrictions.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Losing My Patience (Or Finding It?)

There's a sentence I'll think twice about before saying again: "I am losing my patience." Because, honestly, I now wonder if I ever really had any. I wonder how much patience you have, either!

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130: 5-6

Key word wait: quvah (Heb: to expect, look patiently, wait upon)

Scripture paints for us the picture of watchmen longing for the first glint of sunlight creeping over the horizon, a visual that would signal for them the end of a sleepless night spent on defensive alert. Only after a prescribed period of time or "shift" can a watchman release his heavy eyes to the freedom of rest. Have you ever pulled an all nighter? Up late studying? Or working into the night on some sort of deadline-driven project? Utterly spent and aching for sleep? Even more than that, Scripture tells us, the psalmist longs for the Lord.

In order to fully appreciate these verses, I suppose one would first need to understand what it really means to wait. In the world in which many of us live today, this sense of waiting becomes more and more abstract, I believe.

In 1922, it would take days by train to chug across the country to visit Grandma.

In 1942, it might take weeks to get a letter to a loved one fighting in Europe.

In 1972, I would have to live with a bad hair style two years as it grew out. (Now, if I have the money, I can get hair extensions!)

In 1982, I would be tapping away at a manual typewriter with a bottle of White-Out nearby. Now, if I make a mistake, the computer tells me about it and I click a fix.

In 1992, I was still waiting for the newspaper to land on my doorstep so I could find out what was going on in the world. Today, I type in "" and learn about events and situations as they occur.

Today, if I want to feed the family a nice home-cooked meal, I don't have to shoot anything or even simmer something for that matter. I pull up to the Boston Market, brandish my credit card, and dinner is served.

So, what's to be patient about? What does that word even mean?

When the Bible tells me to "wait" on God, how can I understand a concept that human experience no longer stringently requires? Mind you, I'd be loathe to go backwards. I like my instant headline news and Boston Market on little league nights. It's a good life. Still, gone are the days of running eagerly to the mailbox to see if that letter from a loved one has arrived. We can check our inboxes, quickly read, and click to an invisible trash can. Makes me wonder if there's something we've lost in the web of progress.

So, as I contemplate this concept of "waiting" on God, I have to wonder if, despite all of our ready access to things spiritual (the entire Bible can be found here:, if we are at a certain disadvantage as it relates to the ability to appreciate the silent spaces of God's economy--the times we're meant to stand still and simply trust.

Strikes me as a case, frankly, of when more is truly less...

On my iPod... Welcome to Wherever You Are by Bon Jovi

Thursday, May 01, 2008

We do not want the men of another color for our brothers-in-law, but we do want them for our brothers.

Booker T. Washington
(Photo from: