Sunday, August 20, 2006

Start of a New School Year

Yesterday we enrolled new freshmen and transfer students. We had corporate worship in our chapel today. Matt Proctor will be "inaugurated" as the 5th president of OCC at our convocation tomorrow night.

Matt preached this morning, and brought a message about not quitting, from Hebrews 12:1-2 and 2 Timothy 1. His major question was this: "If the Christian life is like a race, have you ever thought about quitting?"

In the worship time, one of the songs that was sung grabbed my attention. I'll insert the words here:

Amazing Love
Words & Music by Billy James Foote
©1997 Songs / Administered by EMI Christian Music Publishing

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken.
I’m accepted. You were condemned.

I’m alive and well,
Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love, how can it be
That you, my King would die for me?

Amazing love, I know it’s true:
It’s my joy to honor you.
In all I do I honor You.

You are my King.
You are my King.
Jesus, You are my King.
Jesus, You are my King.

An old-time hymn (one of my favorites since my grad school days in the mid-1980s has a similar idea:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Words by Charles Wesley, Psalms and Hymns, 1738.

Truly amazing! I'll appropriate Paul's prayer as my own:

18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, S. Eph 3:17-19

Peace to you, my friends!


Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Different Kind of Oliver Stone Movie

Yesterday afternoon we went to see the movie World Trade Center. When I found out that it was an Oliver Stone movie, I almost decided to pass it up. I have seen others of his movies, and while they are done with excellence, Stone is not above taking artistic license with facts to tell his story.

All of us bring our biases with us on a daily basis, and it is difficult to leave them aside and look objectively at reality. I, for example, am very much a product of Midwestern U.S., Ozarkian Stone-Campbell movement, with a bit of a broadening because of exposure to other parts of the world. Though I want to see the world objectively (I was taught that we should approach Truth with a clean slate mentality), the fact is that I cannot divest myself of all that which I have learned/experienced/read/received. The best I can do is to be aware of my biases.

Oliver Stone, in producing the film World Trade Center, has done a pretty good job of wiping the slate clean, and telling the story without inserting his point of view. Tragedies reveal character. When tragedy strikes, we see two kinds of people: 1) those who watch out for themselves; 2) those who take good care of others. Tragedies also unite. Our nation rallied together on Sept. 11, 2006. We rally to help those affected by tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, or any other unexpected tragedy. Personally, one of the most powerful emotions I have ever felt was the solidarity with people on a bus travelling from Santiago to Maipú after the March 1985 earthquake in Santiago. All of us had been affected to some degree by the earthquake. All of us had doubts, not knowing how much destruction we would find when we got home. It was a powerful sense of belonging to one another. I will never forget it.

An earthquake in Santiago, Chile pales in comparison to the events of 9-11-2001. What happened in NYC and Washington was exponentially more powerful. World Trade Center essentially tells the story of two survivors (officers with the Port Authority Police Department) and their families. Stone tells the story of their survival and rescue without inserting politics into the equation. The result is a powerful movie, that, though not fun to watch is worth seeing.

The Bible tells us that man was created in the image of God. It didn't take long for man to tarnish that image. Was the image destroyed, or just contaminated? The answer to that question is far too complex for this blog entry. World Trade Center shows us, however, that that image of God stamped into our DNA was not destroyed completely. We have the capcity to do both evil and good. Though perhaps we see much evil in world, and in ourselves, we were born with a desire for more (a la Augustine's God-shaped vacuum). WTC shows the results of man's worst, and an example of man's best. There is something worth redeeming (pardon the religious word) in mankind. After all, God did send His son for that purpose.

By the way, before I spend my money to watch a movie, I try to check Christian movie reviews. I read this one about WTC. I thought you might enjoy it too.

Peace to all!


Friday, August 18, 2006

Arizona, Where I Saw a Humongous Hole

We spent about a week and a half in Arizona, visiting Rose's parents (she has a brother there as well, who housed some of my kids--Thanks, Steve!). It is a looooooonnnnnnngggggg drive out there. I'm glad that I don't have to drive that far very often.

We attended church one Sunday at Paseo Verde Christian Church in Peoria, AZ, and the following Sunday at First Christian Church in Albuquerque, NM. We also got to visit Ricardo and Ely Quevedo (Chileans!) during a nice lunch in Mesa, AZ. Ricardo is the Spanish minister at the Chandler (AZ) Christian Church, where my friend (and boss Roger Storms ministers--Roger is a newly appointed trustee of OCC, and for that reason can be considered my boss). Ely was a very good friend of Charissa during our last years in Chile. She got to spend that Saturday night with Ely, while we were driving eastward to pass through Tulsa, OK about the same time her flight from Phoenix would land on Sunday night.

All of our kids made the trip, and one spouse (she even brought those cute grandsons with her!). We had a side trip to Sedona, AZ and the Grand Canyon (referenced in the title as a Humongous Hole). God our Father made that--what a wonder it is! Here is a photo of our adult children on the southern rim:

Peace to you all!


PS--Tomorrow I'll be busy with enrollment of new students. Rose and I took a couple hours this afternoon to see the movie World Trade Center. I think I will have to write a short blog about it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Deeply Moving Memorials

We (Rose, Kim, & myself) left Joplin this afternoon at about 3 PM. I'm writing these lines from a La Quinta Inn in Del City, Oklahoma (near Oklahoma City). Tomorrow I plan to drive (or travel) 1098 miles, to Rose's parents in Sun City, AZ. Greg's family will fly there on Saturday. Charissa will fly there on Wednesday. We will be visiting Rose's parents (our kids' grandparents, and my parents-in-law).

We decided to spend the night here in kind of a fractured way. Rose worked today, which is why we left in the afternoon instead of in the morning. Kim wanted to visit a good friend in Oklahoma City, who knew that sometime in August we would be coming through. Rose and I wanted to get a motel, whether Kim stayed at her friend's house or not. We booked this nice room at the local La Quinta Inn (by the way, did you know that La Quinta in Spanish means Free High-Speed Internet?) on Hotwire, so it was paid for from the moment the reservation was made. Guess what, Kim's friend thought it would be next week. She and her family are vacationing in Florida.

We checked into the motel, and drove about 10 minutes to Bricktown in downtown Oklahoma City. We had a nice meal at Zio's Italian Kitchen on the Riverwalk. From there, we drove just a little bit to the north, and visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I live just about 4 hours away, but I had never visited. As I walked onto the grounds, where the Oklahoma City bombing took place on April 19, 1995, I was deeply moved. As I began to look at the names engraved on wall displays, my eyes teared up. Generally I can rein my emotions in fairly well, but I was overcome with extreme sadness.

I have not been to Ground Zero (in fact, the closest I have come was as an in transit passenger at JFK, or flying through Newark, NJ, where I was able to see the Statue of Liberty). I am certain that a visit to Ground Zero would produce the same emotions. I think the only other place where I felt similar emotions was when I visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. All hatred springs from a common source. Adolf Hitler and Timothy McVeigh both bowed to the enemy.

I am a baby boomer who no longer is an authority on contemporary music. As I walked through the memorial, a line from a Petra song kept coming through my head, "When will the world see that we need Jesus?" It is obvious to me, but I know Him!

Tomorrow will be a long day. I've been enriched, however, to visit the place where innocent people died. The testimony of faith in Jesus Christ lingers in the very site where unthinkable evil was wrought. May God be praised! May God have mercy!

Peace to you all!