Friday, March 29, 2013

Thy kingdom come

God created the universe, and it was good.

To display His glory, He has allowed an enemy (the Accuser, the Satan) to mess it up.

All of us have gone astray and played into the Accuser's hands.

God chose a people, the descendants of Abraham, to reveal His love and desire to rescue us.

He exercised His justice and mercy on them again and again, He chose them to be a picture of how His kingdom comes - through suffering and submission.

He promised to extend his kingdom to all people, tribes, and nations through his people Israel and their Messiah.

Jesus was the promised Messiah, and announced the arrival of the kingdom in Luke 4:16-21.

He was declared by God to be the King through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

He has rescued us from the Evil One, forgiven our sins, and made his resurrection power available to us, the citizens of His kingdom.

We now are charged with advancing his reign, spreading the word that He is King, and bringing about change.

One day, the kingdom of God will be revealed in power, every knee will bow in worship to Jesus, and we will reign forever with Him.

And this is why we are celebrating the... Biggest. Holiday. Ever.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said, "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Loving it

It's got to be my favorite city. I'm talking about a city as a city. Does that make any sense? There are other destinations more majestic due to creation (e.g., Rocky Mountains) or that have it beat because of people there I love (e.g., Ethiopia). And of course, home is home - nothing like it. But for the sheer joy and energy of being in a great city, it's London.

Everything I love about New York - high energy, great theatre, awesome food - London has it. Then you throw in the fact that it's like, more than a thousand years old and has the architecture to prove it...well, you can't beat it.

We have worked hard while we've been here. But that's why we're here, and even that is pretty cool. And, well, when I step out on the streets of London as the sun goes down, energy pulsates through my veins. I was just walking down Shaftsbury last night saying to myself (and those with me, to their chagrin), "I love this city!"

What a place.

Work is done, and there's one more night before catching a flight home. And the sun is setting...

Yep, I love this city. Time to soak it in.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hi from London

My first international trip was in 1994. It was a doozy, one that can never be topped - I went with my church to the Holy Land. Three days in Galilee, four in Jerusalem. What an amazing thing to have walked where God walked when he took on flesh.

But the reason I thought of it today is the fact that it was so difficult - and expensive - to stay in touch with home. There was a hotel phone with extremely expensive rates and a sequence of numbers to remember that was confusing. I talked to my family twice, and both were brief. It felt like I was a million miles away.

Then came Russia in 1999. This one was truly surreal. We spent 10 of our 12 days with no phone anywhere on the property. And the two days in Moscow where we did have a phone, well, considering the language barrier we almost never got through.  It really felt almost like I was on another planet.

So skip to today. Hi from London, everyone! It's still not close to the same as being at home. I have to be real careful to use wifi when it's free so as not to accidentally pile up a big bill. And there are places I travel (like parts of Africa) where the connection is either unreliable or non-existent. But I'm so thankful that right now - at this moment - I can let my friends and family know how I'm doing. So....hi!

And yes, it's me. I offer two pieces of evidence...I think you'll recognize me:

  • We were getting in our car at the airport today and I was the last one to get in. So the one seat remaining was the front passenger seat. But noooo - I had to try and get in the driver's seat.  Dummy...the passenger seat is on the left side of the car in England!
  • I ordered lemonade at lunch; it was listed as one of the soda choices. When the server brought the clear liquid out, I let it sit there 'til she came back and pointed out that I wanted lemonade instead of water. Dummy...apparently they refer to a Sprite-type soft drink as lemonade. Drink your soda, Donnie!
It's been a great day, glad I could tell you about it. Maybe you'll hear from me again while I here...because I can.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Going back for

Well, it's been a few days since I posted here. One reason is that I wrote a guest post for the Frazer OneFamily blog. It was a word picture of why one community in Ethiopia is so important to me, and why I keep going back.

They shared it, in lieu of a post, here it is:

Going back for more

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life of Pi: What is truth?


I just finished watching the movie Life of Pi. Beautiful story with amazing cinematography, and very powerfully told. I enjoyed the journey every step of the way. If you are looking for a story that inspires the imagination, you will certainly enjoy it.

But it is also a story told with an obvious point in mind - a point with a meaning that goes to the heart of one of the biggest questions facing us today. The question: What is truth? Is there any such thing as absolute truth? Or is it just a matter of preference?

 It's not a new question. We can see it being asked by Pilate in John's account of Jesus' trial and crucifixion. Jesus states that he was born to testify to the truth, and that everyone on the side of truth listens to him. Pilate simply asks, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38)

Indeed...what is truth?

It's pretty clear to me after watching the movie that the answer of author Yann Martel and director Ang Lee is, "Whatever works for you."

(Last warning: Here's where plot spoilers are!)

In the opening moments of the movie, Pi prefaces his shipwreck story by talking about his journey to learn about multiple world religions. He is a "Catholic Hindu" and also follows pieces of Islam. He picks and chooses the parts of it that he likes.

Then he tells the story. Most of the movie is a fantastic tale involving a tiger that became his friend, miraculous rescues from adversity that could only be the hand of God, a carnivorous island with thousands of meerkats, and a tearful parting from the tiger who saved his life. Then, because the insurance adjusters say that can't put a story like that in their report, he tells another story of heartache and strife that seems very real as he is telling it.

So the key moment comes after both stories have been told, when the man is who wants to write a book about him points out the parallels in the two stories. Pi agrees, points out the basic facts that both stories explain, and comments that nobody can prove which story is true. Then...

Pi: "So which story do you prefer?"
Writer: "The one with the tiger; that's the better story."
Pi: "Thank you. And so it goes with God."

And a knowing smile comes to the writer's face.

And at that moment, we encounter the biggest lie of our time: the lie that there is no such thing as objective truth.

I remember writing about this before. But it is so important! Here it the crux of the matter: Something is either true or it isn't. It is not just a matter of which story we prefer. It is, which one is true? Either Jesus rose bodily from the grave or he didn't. Either he is the unique Son of God come to fulfill the prophecies that a Messiah would be King of the world, or he isn't. Either he demands our full allegience or he doesn't. We can't just pick and choose parts we like for our own unique a la carte faith. Well, actually we can and we do, don't we? But that doesn't make it true.

Now, I could be wrong about Jesus and his mission. About his establishing the Kingdom of God through his death and bodily resurrection. About his ultimate authority over the universe. But - and this is my only point here - I am either right or wrong. It is not possible that I am right and nonbelievers are too.

On this point even, I am either right about objective truth, or I am wrong. If you think I'm wrong, then you've just agreed with me that there is a true answer.

So enjoy the movie - I did. Let its theme stir thoughts about God and faith and your story. But I beg you not to fall into the trap of believing that truth is just a matter of what we prefer. Contemplate with Pilate, What is truth? And realize that there really is an answer.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pippin 2013

Pippin is back on Broadway.

Check out this video promo:

I could not possibly be more excited about this!

I was introduced to this powerful show in 1984, when I was a student teacher at Lee High School. (That's right - a student teacher. I've got layers, people.) Buddy Murphy directed the school's performance of this 1972 musical, and I was privileged to work with him and his students on it. I fell in love with the music, the script, and the powerful message of a young man searching for meaning in his life. How far will he go?

Here is a clip of Ben Vereen performing the opening number in the original production:

And now it's on Broadway, for the first time since I've even known it existed. Before you ask - oh yeah. That's gonna happen, God willing. Gotta find my corner of the sky.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


It was one of those days.

Yesterday it just seemed that I was a little out of sorts at work. Just a tad off. For example, I left a cup of coffee in a colleague's office and then accused everyone of hiding it from me. Goodnaturedly , mind you, but I did throw out the idea that they were messing with me.

And then I got the message above from our scanner.

Al that happened was this. Very innocent. I got ready to scan a document and have it sent to my email. I punched in the file mane and hit the button. But it wouldn't scan. I tried it twice, and both times the machine printed out the report above.

So I charge over to our department's machine expert and ask her, Has this ever happened to you? What should I do about it? Should I call the help desk?

Um, no. Instead of calling the help desk, maybe I should just ENTER MY EMAIL ADDRESS so it'll know where to send the stinkin' file!


Everyone in the department was roaring with laughter. It's always fun when the department head looks like a fool. Ha. Ha.

Kind of reminded me of the time when I had bad arithmetic on a staff chart. Again...oops.

I'm sure there's some sort of lesson here. Something to do with making sure you are connected to the source. But that's for another day. For now, it's enough to say that you've gotta be able to laugh at yourself, or you'll go crazy.

So laugh away...I did.

Monday, March 11, 2013

One enduring echo

One enduring echo. This phrase has been echoing through my brain since this morning.

I had the privilege of worshipping in Tallahassee this morning at Element 3 Church. During the worship music, the lyrics of a song just jumped out at me. I got a glimpse of my purpose that has stayed with me all day.

The song was Great Is the Lord by Starfield. You can listen to it here:

The last verse is what is resonating with me. If you didn't notice while listening, here is what it says:
When death becomes 
The end of all my labors 
And Christ alone my rest and reward

May all I've done
Be one enduring echo
Resounding on to shout
Great is the Lord
Yes, one day I will face death. Maybe a long time from now, maybe not. So when that day comes, what do I want? Well, of course I am looking forward to my rest and reward. To being in the presence of Christ and one day to receive my resurrection body and reign with him. That's all fantastic! But if that's all I want, I'm pretty selfish. Is that why I've committed my life to Jesus? Just so I can get a reward at the end?

I think if that's the case, I've missed the point. I've been saved not just for me, but for the kingdom. This verse brought that home. My biggest prayer for that day should not be about my reward, but the glory of the One who made me and rescued me.

The echoes are all around me, shouting, Great is the Lord. My sister's life is echoing this, and has been for almost 17 years. My mother's life for over six years. Aunts. Uncles. Grandparents. Friends. I can hear the echoes all around me.

And so that's my prayer. May what I do tomorrow shout, Great is the Lord. So that it can echo long after I'm gone.

That is a legacy worth living for.

Friday, March 8, 2013

23 days...

...until the most glorious day on the calendar. Easter!

Easter is the day we celebrate the ultimate victory in creation. God himself took on flesh and spent around 30 years on earth announcing his kingdom's arrival. And then, on the anniversary of his people's great rescue for Egypt (Passover), he took the form of a suffering servant and established his reign by dying in our place. And then on the third day he completed it all by rising from the dead, bringing the dawn of his new creation.

It is too amazing for words!

And yes, I am so excited about it that I'm writing this today. We start celebrating Christmas in October these days, so why should we only celebrate the day that gave Christmas meaning early too?? Early...and late...and always!

It was put so well by N.T. Wright in his book Surprised by Hope:

Easter is about the wild delight of God's creative power...we ought to shout Alleluias instead of murmuring them; we should light every candle in the building instead of only some; we should give every man, woman, child, cat, dog, and mouse in the place a candle to hold; we should build a real bonfire...the thing about Easter is that it is neither ethereal no esoteric. It's about the real Jesus coming out of the real tomb and getting God's real new creation underway.
Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don't throw out hats into the air...Is it any wonder the world doesn't take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?
But we should be taking steps to celebrate Easter in creative new ways: in art, in children's games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind. This is our greatest festival...Take Easter away and you don't have a New Testament; you don't have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins. We shouldn't allow the secular world, with its schedules and habits and parareligious events, its cute Easter bunnies to blow us off course. This is our greatest day. We should put the flags out.
So I'm putting the flags out! I'm anticipating. And I'm planning - maybe for the first time - to give it the celebration it deserves.

He is risen! Let's party!