Overheard in a seminary classroom...

These bits of wisdom were passed down to me about 12 years ago, from some unknown seminary, and I think they are OUTSTANDING:

1. Hebrews draws heavily on Leviticus. That's a big help, NOBODY reads Leviticus.
2. Novices think they get holy in 2 days.
3. If you read the Hauerwas article, then you don't need to remember it.
4. The ten lost tribes of Israel were not just casually misplaced.
5. By the 7th time you've gone through the 3-year lectionary cycle, a new idea is a blessing.
6. There's a blessing on intelligent guessers.
7. Here I am, send him. This is NOT my call.
8. Nobody ever comes to a priest and asks if it is substance or essence.
9. My Bible begins, "Once upon a time..."
10. That's a waste of time unless you are planning to write your own Gospel--and I'm highly discouraging that!
11. Whenever you want to quote something in the Bible, use a foreign language.
12. Bad biology produces bad theology...but let's not go there right now...
13. The church is allergic to the Holy Spirit.
14. ...but I don't want to get off on that important and very interesting topic.
15. That's not a verb you would want to meet in a dark alley.
16. The Roman Church has its home in the Anglican tradition.
17. Christianity is something you catch...like a disease.
18. One good thin is that this issue isn't going away--sex will be with us forever!
19. It's a necessary thing to take an exam..given that it's a fallen world.
20. A comfortable monastery: That's just an upper class men's club in Benedictine habits.
21. It's like baseball. You put your good hitter up first [Matthew], then your worst hitter[Mark], and you close with your clean-up hitter [John].
22. Bishops are important because they are Bishops and not because you are supposed to do what they say.
23. There are certain times we don't need God. Especially at a party.
24. A slowly deteriorating religion--that's the one I believe in.
25. I need to press on so that we don't get bogged down in sin for the whole semester, no matter how much some of us might enjoy that!

Live Like a Christian...

Great Advice...even today:

Love from the center of who you are: don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil, hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply and practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out. Keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times, pray all the harder. Help needy Christians, and be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies, no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they are happy; share tears with them when they're down! Get along with each other, don't be stuck-up! Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great "somebody."

Don't hit back, discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even: that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God, "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go that person some food. If he's thirsty, get him something to drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you. Conquer evil by doing good.

From THE MESSAGE, Romans 12

My "family"....

I grew up without the benefit of two parents in my home....actually, without any parent(s) in my home. But I grew up with the benefit that many "intact" homes have never experienced: a church family that has loved God, loved me, and shown me what it means to "belong."

I came to Jesus when I was a little more than six years old...this June will make that FORTY-TWO years ago...and my life truly "changed"--big sinner that a six-year old, backwards, awkward, farm boy that I was! I'm eternally thankful that the LORD transferred from the kingdom of darkness to His kingdom of light at such an early age.

From that very day until this day, the "family of God" has always been my family. God's people have always been my mentors, my teachers, and my heroes. It was the family of God that made sure I had "something from Santa" when my destitute, poverty-stricken grandmother had nothing to put under the tree for me. We had an old tree, but nothing to put on it--and certainly nothing to put under it. But God made sure that HIS people always "put something" there.

When I was a teenager, and we finally had moved into a mobile home a little closer to town, it was the family of God again, who made sure that I was able to go to a good local church, and also that I would have decent clothes to wear to school. (My grandmother never knew anything about welfare, or public aid, or any of the other "agency benefits" that so many rely on today). It was the family of God who always told me that I could be just about anything that I wanted to be.
It was the family of God who helped me survive (and thrive) during those turbulent teenage years, and the confusing college years.

It was the family of God who loved me during my ten-year stint in the United States Air Force, regardless of where I was stationed. So many always remembered birthdays, holidays, and other times when the LORD wanted me to remember how much HE cares for me. His (my) family always came through. Even though many, many miles separated us (those I knew the best, anyway), these precious people were always close to my heart. And they proved that I was close to theirs.

My local church family now...The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) is just fabulous beyond words. These people love me in a way that I'm not sure I have ever experienced...and it means the world to me. Hardly a day goes by that someone from my "Moody family" hasn't contacted me to just say "we love you and you are precious to us."

I've wept many tears of thanksgiving for these precious saints of God over the last few months. Knowing that I am loved, cared for, cherished, and that I bring "something to the family" means more than I could ever explain or describe. Knowing that I am valuable and valued...no price can be attached to that.

I was sharing (with some of my friends at the church ) my plans to go to nursing school. Some of these people interrupted, "You are not going to leave us, are you? You can't leave us!" And right then and there, I knew that I had no reason to look elsewhere. This is where I belong at this point in my life.

My family. I thank God for them. I love them.

A Food Revolution...WE NEED ONE....Badly...

This nation owes a HUGE DEBT OF GRATITUDE to First Lady Michelle Obama. In less than 15 months, this elegant and influential woman has brought "FOOD" to the forefront of the nation's consciousness.

Medical studies are showing that CHILDHOOD OBESITY is a growing problem in the United States. And this is something that "medical studies" didn't have to show me. I see it almost every day. When I go into drugstores (normally either Walgreens or CVS), get on the public buses and subways here in Chicago, and attend other events, I see people are having problems with their weight.

Most of them are under 30 years of age. Many are under the age of 20...WHY?

I was on the bus last Sunday morning, headed to morning worship. A lady sitting in front of me was feeding her four-year old daughter a bag of chips, a candy bar, and a can of Mountain Dew...it was only 8:45 a.m ! What habits is this child learning? How often is this being repeated around the country--with little, if any, variation?

I've never been obese...a few extra pounds last year, and getting them off was one of the most exhilirating challenges of my life. (Okay, EXHILIRATING, was a bit of a stretch--but it was good for me.)

When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that some of our locales are the most "unhealthy towns in America" and this nation (in some places) gets in an unrighteous uproar.

While these same people are FURIOUS about healthcare reform (which was recently passed and signed into law), they are completely oblivious--or at least tolerant--of the horrible health habits in their own homes, schools, and neighborhoods. We can fuss and fume, and scream and holler, and protest....but we REFUSE to monitor our own lifestyles. And we certainly don't like it when someone else points out what we should have paid attention to all along.

What did I have for breakfast? Some yogurt, an egg sandwich, and a glass of water. I'll have an apple and a banana later in the morning for a snack.

Healthcare begins in our refrigerators. And in our kitchens, and in our homes.

Almost FIVE MONTHS ago...

October 28, 2009 was a "red-letter" and life-transforming day for me...in so many ways.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009, at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital, GOD allowed me to give my left kidney to a very precious friend who desperately needed a transplant. This was something that God put on my heart (in answer to prayer) almost one year ago...actually exactly ONE YEAR ago in April.

I'm still stunned, awed, and humbled that GOD would trust me with such an assignment.

This Sunday, March 28, 2010--will be five months anniversary of this event exactly. I feel great...have had NO complications, and am rejoicing in the "land of the living."

And I am a strong advocate for living organ donations...for obvious reasons.

Healthcare Reform....

One of the most contentious issues in the last 25 years is finally seeing some "finality"---for now at least. When then-First Lady Hillary Clinton championed "healthcare reform" in early 1993, she was demonized by the already-enemies of the Clinton Administration. (Now for the sake of full disclosure: Mrs. Clinton didn't exactly work in transparency then...and she made many mistakes that were later admitted, but she gets MAJOR kudos for even tackling the issue).

President Barack Obama is the first president in more than 100 years to see any semblance of "reform" (right, wrong, or indifferent) of the nation's healthcare system.

There are SO many angles to "healthcare" and only a few of them were addressed in this rather heated time of the nation's political life. Many were not addressed:

1) Portability
2) Personal Responsibility in preventive care
3) Flexibility
4) Tort Reform
just to name a few.

But where do we go from here? Is the sky falling? Was CHICKEN LITTLE right, after all? Can the nation withstand all the stupidity (from both sides of the "debate") that some of its' citizens are now displaying? (Full disclosure: STUPIDITY is not a disability.)

There are lots of things in this legislation that are probably not good. And there are probably many things in this legislation that are exactly what we need.

NOW, let's just sort them out.

So Forty-Eight Years ago today....

It pleased the LORD for me to enter this world that HE made, and to bear His image....and what an adventure it has been!

Born to a severely dysfunctional family (the exception way back then, the RULE now, it seems), I never really knew what "normal" was...and sometimes I still wonder if "normal" is some nebulous concept that everyone wants, but no one really ever achieves.

I've had a very full life.

Growing up dirt poor (and I do mean DIRT POOR), we had to trust the LORD and the good will of those HE would send our way for our most basic needs. But I never went hungry, and never had to sleep out in the cold...for that I'm most grateful. God has always provided.

The LORD has given me a good mind, and a strong spirit. I'm eternally thankful. I am humblemd by so many who embrace me as a friend, brother in Christ, and a fellow pilgrim on this journey to Heaven. I am so undeserving of such grace and love and mercy. But I am thankful beyond words.

Some of my favorite words:

"He knew me, yet He loved me.
He, whose glory makes the heavens shine!
I'm so unworthy of such mercy!
When HE was on the Cross,
I was on His mind."

What else can I say?

Central Falls High School was done DIRTY!

One of the main headlines in today's news is the firing of more than 90 personnel at the Central Falls High School in tiny Rhode Island. This number includes at least SEVENTY-FOUR teachers.


I was listening to the interview on NPR's "Morning Edition" and heard one of the newly unemployed teachers say, "These students bring so many issues to school with them every day...how can we possibly make sure they learn everything they should be learning?"

And the simple answer is..."they can't." The powers-that-be have alleged this particular school and its faculty/staff have been "underperforming." And this time, I really, really may agree with them.

But the question that NO ONE asked is this: "Which one of the teachers' 1000 jobs are being underperformed? Lawyer? Social Worker? Adjudicator? Banker? Psychologist? Referee? Medical Assistant? Crisis Manager? Abuse Counselor?

While I am all for schools doing what "schools should do best".....we must look beyond the "schools." Where have these parents been? Has anyone told them they are "underperforming" as the PRIMARY EDUCATORS of these young people?

Maybe someone should. But who will dare fire them?

Of course, our 'chickens' really are coming home to roost now. Back in the 1960s (when I was still a VERY SMALL CHILD), the United States gave GOD the "left foot of fellowship" right out of our public school systems, and made sure that no moral compass/standard/guidance would dare 'damage their young minds.'

Of course, when there is no "compass" of any kind, then every student will do what is right in their own eyes....be it stealing, cheating, lying, killing, robbing, or just not showing up. Why have a "righteous standard" when we can let these "free spirits" dwell in a prison of their own making, and reap the disastrous results for YEARS to come.

It's so easy to blame the teachers...really it is. And yes, some teachers really shouldn't be in the classroom....but that percentage is miniscule....very, very miniscule.

Maybe the "powers-that-be" should go back and handle these classrooms for a few days....

They will GLADLY hire these hardworking men and women back.