Wednesday, November 22, 2006


This is a only one day of 365 for us to be thankful and though it is sappy sentimentality (that's my synical self talking) here are my cheepened-by-the-internet thank yous.

I thank God for his gracious provision and deliverance in my own life. It is by his grace that I am alive.

I have supporting, liberating parents who helped to teach me that independent thought and search for answers is better than being told what to think. I am sure not to be in the church today had they just told me to be Christian or else. I thank God that he let them teach me and that he gave me so many uncomfortable questions to ask them.

I have a family, though loud and obnoxious (with special emphasis on obnoxious), is still the best family in the world. I thank God for them.

I serve in an international church that at times seems to act injustly, favoring rich Americans over the poor and sick here and in the rest of the world, yet is still willing to change (however slowly) seeking out new ways of helping the poor (this includes an uprising of a generation of pastors and laity who seek to reflect the influential power-under of Calvary and right wrongs of social injustice, God help us to do that more). I thank God for the Church of the Nazarene, may God help us to never put down the cross in favor of the sword.

I specifically serve a local church whose people have shown us grace and love and support. I thank God for a church that does so much for the poor of Dayton (Target Dayton) and throughout the world (Dominica) and who is open to the idea of ministry to the whole family, whatever that family may look like. May God continue to bless Parkview Church, so that it may bless the world.

Lastly and most importantly, I have a beautiful, loving wife whom I do not deserve. She shows me the very grace of God even when I'm in a bad mood and short with her. I thank God for her, every day. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Skinny Dave or I Will Be Your God and You Will Be My People

Yesterday, Julia, Paul, and I went to a lecture with Tim Green. It was a refreshing reminder of the prophetic voice of undividedness in the Deuteronomic (Deuteronomy) and Deuteronomistic (Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Hosea, and Jeremiah) texts. This was a bit of a review of my first masters class at SNU last year with Tim. During the class, I was reminded of a friend of mine in Florida. I call him a friend, but I haven't really put forth any effort to stay in contact with him. Which of course, speaks more about my lack of friendship to him, but nonetheless, I'll call him friend even though it's been eleven years since I've seen him.

Skinny Dave was a crack addict. He was older than me by a few years. He had a wife and two children in another state. I don't remember how he had begun, but while I knew him, he was more than definitely an addict. He would be fine, we'd hang out, talk Rock and Roll, The Smiths, Morrissey, Elvis Costello (still my favorite), Pearl Jam, Midnight Oil, Living Color, the Clash, Green Day, and theology. We'd drive around, eat at Taco Bell, hang out, whatever. It's what we did. Then, every two or three months, he'd disappear.

He was living with his mom and dad and I'd get a call from them, "Hi Evan, have you seen Dave in the last couple of days?" I would tell them no, and they'd thank me and hang up. We all knew it had started. He'd go missing for a week, sometimes longer, and then he'd call his parents from jail or he'd show up somewhere strung out and broke. It didn't matter, though, Skinny Dave was my friend.

One time, in my naivete, I asked him what crack had that God didn't. Skinny Dave said, "There's no feeling in the world like it. There's no high like it. and when you're up, you are the most generous person in the world. Then, the bottom drops out from under you and you there's nothing you won't do to feel that way again. Nothing!"

Skinny Dave sometimes lived in a halfway house. A guy in the church, who did this sort of thing, would work with him. The guy talked to me about Dave a lot. One time he told me that what Dave needed was some tough love. I think it's tough to love a crack addict in the first place, but I don't think that's what he meant. After the binge, Skinny Dave would come back, penitent, and he'd be fine for a few months, ridding his body of the drugs, cutting out that crap inside of him.

We worked our way through the Deuteronomistic texts yesterday (and this is most clearly illustrated in Judges) and Israel would be going along fine, then they'd slip back into their old ways of worshiping Ba'al. God calling out to them, "I will be your God and you will be my people." Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, Josiah, and sometimes even God himself would remind them of God's deliverance and provision. Israel would fall into the tyrannical hands of some other nation who would enslave them and when they were tired of it, they would repent, and cry out. Once again, God would deliver them.

I hear Joshua saying "make your choice, God or Ba'al. Me and my clan will serve God." Israel would respond, "Of course we'll serve God, we wouldn't be God's people if we didn't." And Joshua would say, "Okay, but you can't do it." They couldn't either. I can't either. And Skinny Dave sure couldn't do it. Three months later, Skinny Dave would disappear, this time with his mother's car, using it to buy more crack.

In Moses' sermons in Deuteronomy he constantly tells Israel, "The Lord God is One, Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." But they couldn't. Toward the end of the sermons, Moses finally gives them the answer they've needed. Deuteronomy 30:6 "The Lord will circumcise the foreskin of your hearts and the hearts of your children, so that you can love him with all your heart, with all your soul in order that you may really live." I can't do it, but God can.

I thought a lot about Skinny Dave yesterday and today and will probably think about him tomorrow. He reminds me of, well, me. I can't do it either. It is only by the grace of God that I have life. All that I have is his, but I can't do it. So, I pray that God circumcise my heart that I may love him undividedly. "Lord, I believe, but help me in my unbelief." I know without God's grace, I'll be back to my church growth, manipulative, productive, baalistic, idolatrous, consumerist ways in just a few months no matter the measure I take to purge all the poles, pillars, and priests of Asherah and Ba'al out of my life.

I don't know what has happened to Skinny Dave, but I hope he hears God's call as clearly as Skinny Dave has helped me to hear it. "I will be your God and you will be my People."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Norman Borlaug

Heroes are great. The people we look up to and who influence us are so important. Our parents, pastors, great theologians and teachers, all keep us going. I want to introduce you to one of my heroes, Norm.

Norm is a great guy. He was born March 25, 1914 and while his birthday will probably never be celebrated the way it should, you will remember his name when this story is finished. Norm was the descendant of Norwegian parents. He grew up on a farm in Iowa and attended a one-room school house until the ninth grade. Sports were important to Norm, as to any kid his age. He played baseball and wrestled in high school.

It was his grandfather who pushed him academically. He wanted nothing more for his grandson than to get a good education and to work hard. As a result, after high school Norm attended the University of Minnesota. Because of financial strains, though, he frequently had to dropped out and earn money for tuition, room, and board. During one hiatus from school, Norm worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps where he helped jobless men work federal projects. While working for them he discovered that many of the men were starving and malnourished.

When he returned to school, he studied agricultural biology and plant pathology. In 1942, Norm earned his PhD. It was in 1944 when he started his work in Mexico. The Rockefeller Foundation needed someone who could figure out how to increase wheat yields in the agricultural areas and to help starving folks out of poverty. He did just that. Norm genetically altered wheat and corn to grow on shorter stalks, bigger heads with increased yields. Because of his work literally millions were saved.

By 1960, Norm was looking somewhere else in the world. By the mid Sixties, he was in India and Pakistan where one of the world's worst famines was killing millions of children, women, and men. Again, using the altered strains of wheat and corn, Norm saved millions. The decade was not without adversity. Between politics of the region, Mexico, and US Customs, Norm almost failed.

By 1970 it is estimated that Norm literally saved over 1 Billion people. For those of you in the UK that's a thousand million. That was also the year that Norm won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts. But the award slowed him down. According to an interview with David Turrant of the Dallas Morning News, Norm said, "It was a disaster as far as I'm concerned. You get pushed into so many things. A lot of your energies are cut off from the things you know best. Some of them you have to do. Because you end up being the spokesman for science in general."

Now while Dr. Norman Borlaug fights to keep hungry people fed in Mexico and Africa he is forced to fight extremist organizations like GreenPeace who convince corrupt governments in Africa from receiving genetically altered seeds. GreenPeace calls such food "frankenfoods" and protests, at times violently, their use. GreenPeace supports the strict use of organic foods in supermarkets and in homes. What they don't tell you is that if all of the earth's farmable land (that would include cutting down every rain forest in the world) were used to grow and raise only organic foods, two thirds of the world's population, that's over 4 billion (4 thousand million) people would die. While Dr. Borlaug feeds the world, GreenPeace would starve it to death and they're not alone. There are other organizations (such as Organic Consumers Association and Rainforest Action Network) that allow people to die in the same way. I prefer to allow people who are starving to death go ahead and eat while GreenPeace searches for evidence (any . . . at all) that genetically altered foods can hurt us. Thank you GreenPeace for caring so much.

However sarcastically I treat GreenPeace, my prayers are with Dr. Norman Borlaug. May God bless him as he does what the Church doesn't even seem to be able to do. Perhaps we, the Church, could see Dr. Borlaug as a hero and may he inspire us to follow in the footsteps of the Christ of Our Lord in feeding the hungry! If you would like to find out more about Dr. Norman E. Borlaug go here or here or here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This Is a Casting Call for One Thing

What that one thing is I don't know. What I do know is that I received one forwarded email this morning and it sparked my interest. How one email sparks interest, I'll never know, especially considering it was a forward. You've all gotten one before. I know you have. You delete it, or ack, you read it. Some of you do something even worse, you forward it to everyone you know. That one becomes many. Some of you, and I among you on this one, think yourselves discerning and read it. Then, again thinking yourself discerning, you choose one among many forwards to forward and maybe you only forward that one to only one other.

All of that to say, today I recieved one that sparked in me the idea for "One Thing." This will be a post theme for our blog. Occasionally when I find an appropriate "One Thing" I will post it under that heading here on this blog.

So, without further discussion, here is the One Thing that caught my breath today. It is an artist by the name of Peter Callesen. Apparently he makes things with One sheet of paper. So, enjoy. If you would like to see more of Peter Callesen's work visit him here. If you come across One Thing that catches your eye, email me at or comment here.