Saturday, July 29, 2006

Soulshine Is Better Than Sunshine . . .

Last night, or rather early this morning, Julia and I walked in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Almost a year ago my brother in-law died because of cancer and yesterday Julia's father was diagnosed with cancer. We thought it would be good to participate in the walk. It was a good night and there were several people there that we knew from town and from the church. We walked with our good friend Steve Lehew whose nephew died a while back and whose niece, just a few weeks after her brother died, was diagnosed with cancer.

I bring this up because I was listening to one of my very favorite songs "Soulshine" by the Allman Brothers Band. This song was played at Don's, my brother in-law, memorial celebration. Everytime I hear this song I smile and sometimes I cry.

"Life can take the strongest man and make him feel so alone . . . I think back to what by daddy said, he said it's always darkest before the dawn. Gotta let your soul shine, it's better than sun shine, it's better than moonshine, and it's damn sure better than rain. Oh, the people don't mind. We all get this way sometimes. Gotta let your soul shine, shine to the break of day."

I've been thinking and writing about John 6, just after Jesus feeds the five thousand with a boys lunch. Evening had come and the disciples crossed the lake. They had trouble because the wind picked up and it was dark. They had rowed a few miles out and that's when they saw him and were terrified, scared out of their minds. It's always darkest just before the dawn. It was of course Jesus they saw, walking on the water, toward the boat. No wonder they were so frightened. Jesus said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then something else amazing happened. The disciples wanted to get Jesus into the boat, but immediately the boat reached the land where they were headed.

We walked from 11:00 until almost 1:00 am. Certainly not the darkest time of the night, especially with the football stadium's lights at full blast. It was a good time for us. A real means of grace as we thought of Don and Julia's dad. God is a gracious God and he is a faithful deliverer.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different

I realized that our blogs had been a bit more serious than expected recently. With that in mind, today's topic is the Candy Bar. I am going to talk about some candy bars, rate and rank a few of my favorites and maybe others can comment with a top three favorite candy bar list.

Now, I have two friends who lived in Europe for a while with their families and they swear that chocolate from the United States is horrible compared to their European, particularly Swiss, counterparts. They say it is as though chocolate here in the U.S. is watered down compared to other world chocolates. However here, we are not going to discuss chocolate bars per se; we are going to discuss candy bars and chocolate only as it pertains to the specific mentioned bars. Well, let's get started!

First, I would like to mention my very favorite candy bars. This candy bar hails from Australia/New Zealand. The Violet Crumble, made by Nestle now, is a "honey comb" center covered in chocolate. This ambrosia candy bar is not to be confused with it's lesser Cadbury made rival the Crunchie. While both are similarly made and styled, the Violet Crumble has this sort of melt-in-your-mouth texture that tastes and feels fresher than the Crunchie (Cadbury 1939). Just to give an idea of my feelings for Violet Crumble, if I were in the woods and my left arm were caught in a bear trap and there were a Violet Crumble just out of reach, I would naw off my left arm in order to reach that miracle of a candy bar. You can purchase this candy bar at some specialty candy stores as well as Jason's Deli. There you have numero uno in the candy bar list.

Second place goes to another Nestle product. This bar has recently reemerged and because of the popularity of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is Nestle owned Willy Wonka's Wonka Bar. The Wonka Bar is Wonka milk chocolate (reminds me a bit of Tobler chocolate because of the texture and chew quality) with crumbled up graham crackers. It is the perfect candy bar to eat while playing board games. I don't know why, but I enjoy them very much while playing Settlers of Catan. You can purchase this bar at some convenient stores, movie rental counters, and the occasional grocer.

The final candy bar on my list to round off the top three is a Cadbury product. Caramello has been one of my favorite bars since I was a kid. I can't tell you how many Caramellos and Mt. Dews I've had. All that sweet caramel and chocolate can't be bad for you! This is also a good board game candy bar, although I'd be kidding myself if I didn't say all three of these candy bars are good with a board game and a glass of milk (whole, of course).

There you have it, the best three candy bars in the history of candy: Violet Crumble, Wonka Bar, Caramello. What do you all have?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dayton, Oh

It's official. Julia and I have accepted ministry positions at Parkview Church of the Nazarene in Dayton, Oh. We are very excited and yet sad. We are looking forward to working with Rev. Dave Ringhiser and being a part of his team. However, we know we are leaving behind a church and folks we love very much. We do feel God's direction in this decision. Please be praying for us and for our churches during this time of transition.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Clarity In the Arms of Christ

I spent some time with those wonderful Irish Jesuits at Sacred Space today. They reminded me that in all of this decision making, all of the prayer and conversation, all of all of it, I had not yet really taken the time to rest my whole self in Jesus' lap and just listen. It is about time to really listen, don't you think?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Where Is God in Decisions?

This question has been plaguing me for some time now. When I talk to great men and women of faith and hear of the clarity with which God speaks to them, guides them with what seems to be an iron clad control, I can't help but feel a bit jealous. It is different for those of us who espouse the openness of God. We believe that God knows all that is possible for him to know, which of course leaves out the future. As we have free will, the future cannot possibly exist without it being decided and thus exempting free will. What is left is the God who has determined what he will do in the future, leaving open the idea that he might change his mind or the possibility of folks standing in the way of that will. Thus, God in his choiced goodness, gives us direction that can be altered by our choice or others.

That is where we stand today, trying to discern what God might have for us, knowing that he might have a choice between two or more valid options. How do we as Open Theists pray for God's will and at the same time feel honored by his redemption of bad situations and recognize his deliverance of us from situations gone bad? I have asked for clarity, peace, and always sought God's will. This has meant, for me, giving up things that I would have loved to do, such as the academy, for something that I have grown to love, pastoring. Now, I wouldn't trade pastoring for anything. However, we stand at a crossroads and I have no guitar and there is no devil there to whom I can trade my soul for guitar playing skills (nor would I want to, I just wanted to point out that I have mundane knowledge of Robert Johnson and his bluesy mythology).

What we really need is focus and clarity. We are praying that God's will be done. Please pray with and for us.