walking portland

Tonight we encountered the most creative panhandling I’ve come across.  Andy, Petey and I were walking around downtown Portland, looking for a place to eat dinner, when this young guy (interestly enough, dressed pretty fashionably), reaches out and asks:

You have some change?  Because the bar doesn’t take shiny rocks and shells.


That almost made me want to give him some cash for his sheer creativity.


floyd’s coffee

Floyd's Coffee Shop, Portland OR

Floyd's Coffee Shop, Portland OR

This morning never really started.

My Blackjack II running Windows Mobile 6 decided that when its time zone changed, every appointment in my calendar would also be set back 3 hours.

That translates to several rude 4:00am awakenings to shut off my phone telling me to wake up to go to class.  Needless to say, Andy Sikora is no fan of my phone.

Not only that, but a friend in Spokane decided to call me at 7:30am Eastern Time, waking me again at 4:30am Pacific Time.  And I got at least one text message from a person who shall remain nameless at 5:30am.

So, already not being a morning person, finally waking about 6:15am, I was in serious need of coffee.

Enter Floyd’s Coffee.

I’m not exactly certain how good their coffee is because I was in no fashion an unbiased consumer at 6:55am.  I needed a shot of caffeine.  I needed a large coffee.

Now, I am no coffee drinker.  I prefer chai.  But I needed it straight from the drip, thick and stimulating.

And it was good.

Floyd’s Coffee.

God bless Floyd.

leaving on a jet plane

Well, my wife and kids just dropped me off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport for a week in Portland, OR.  Since we just moved from the Pacific NW and are still living out of boxes, I had to dig out long-sleeved shirts and a jacket for the trip.  Right now it’s 90F and muggy in south FL; it’s about 60F in Portland.

I’ll be spending the next week back on campus at George Fox Seminary, about a third of the way through the first semester of my second year, overloading my brain with great material, discussion and all-around good people.  I expect to return exhausted from the whirlwind of 8-to-5 classes.

Here I go…

new firefox blog add-ons

As I’m finishing up some homework, I’m trying out a new feature in the latest Firefox – 3.0.3.  It’s quite cool even on first use – it syncs up with my blog and allows posting without pulling up a new window or tab.  It just appears as a pane at the bottom of my page.  It’s called ScribeFire and you can get it for free here.  Thanks to all the open-source programming junkies out there.

the hopeful way

John 14:3-7

Jesus said to his disciples, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

I was struck today by yesterday’s Anglican lectionary reading in honor of Saint Remigius, who apparantly effected the conversion of France in the late 5th Century.

The passage above, from John 14, is a familiar one, no doubt.  I can remember many times as a teenager hearing these words, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” and thinking how dark and foreboding they were.  They sent chills up and down my spine and imbibed me with an incredible sense of urgent fear.  Those words did not relay hope to me, instead serving as a warning to the world and the wayward:  if you want to get to heaven, you have to believe in Jesus.

Not only were these words a warning, but I was taught to use them in defense of Christianity.  This was the ultimate Trump card: if you’re not following Jesus, you’re not on your way to heaven.

But this morning, reading them in context with the verses before them, they exuded something new:  not fear, not urgency, not coercion, but hope.  These are words Jesus directed to his disciples, not in an effort to convince them to believe in him, nor to use as weapons to convert the heathen, but to assure them that they would live with Jesus forever – that he would never forsake them.

Jesus begins talking about leaving the disciples for a time, making ready a place for them, and then tells them they know the way to reach him.  Thomas, fearfully and perhaps urgently blurts out, “we don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way?!?

It is in this context that Jesus speaks these well-known (and often ripped-from-context) words.  If we listen, we may very well hear the hope he offers, spoken through perhaps a wide smile, maybe accompanied by his own kind laughter:  “Why, Thomas, I am the way!  And the truth, and the lifeI am the way to my Father.”  He’s assuring his friends that they’re OK, that they don’t need to live fearfully, that because they know Jesus (and by extension, the Father), they can offer this same hope – without coercion, guilt or fear – to the world.

These words are fresh.  There is no fear in Jesus, but hope.


As part of my second year at George Fox Seminary (Portland), I’ll be researching two separate topics.  One will be Christianity and Christian history in Mexico.  The second takes a more contemporary bent and will focus on what holistic worship is.
I’m looking for resources (journal articles, books, websites/blogs, papers, etc) that touch on various aspects of worship and what worship means in the evangelical community.  Of late, “worship” has been restricted to a portion of a church service in which the congregation is led in song; it’s got to be more than that – in fact, I’m convinced we do the term and ourselves a disservice when we view worship with this shallow a definition.

I’m interested in your input.  What is worship to you?  What does it consist of?  Are their boundaries to what worship is?

responsible rights

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan

Is it a sin to be gay?” Lohan asked. “Should it be a sin to be straight? Or to use birth control? Or to have sex before marriage? Or even to have a child out of wedlock?  Is our country so divided that the Republicans best hope is a narrow minded, media obsessed homophobe?
– Lindsay Lohan

Lohans words are indicative of a society who’s chief concern is our individual selves, whose primary allegiance is to our pleasure, whose devotion is to desire.  It is unfortunate that one who so clearly lacks anything even close to a moral compass would choose use her celebrity status to make political statements on whether a potential presidential vice president would make a good television anchor.

But even Lindsay is defined by her times.  These are not, as much as she would like to think, her own original thoughts.  The mentality she spouts is the very same thinking that is responsible for the prime time  television advertisements for the purple pill and herpes treatments.

She questions:  “Should it be a sin to have sex before marriage?  Or even to have a child out of wedlock?”  Lohan betrays her ignorance of social values.  These are not Republican social values, but rather those that are subscribed to across the political spectrum.  How many times have we heard bipartisan calls for sexual promiscuity to be curbed?  Or debates on how best to reduce the number of pregnancies or abortions or STDs?  Who among us is calling for complete sexual anarchy?  Regardless of affiliation, society and history affirm that a war cry for rights should be tempered with a call for responsibility.

Whether or not abstinance should be the only sexual education taught in our schools is not the issue here.  All sides agree that abstinance is the best and most responsible decision to avoid pregnancy, STDs and emotional scarring.  That much is agreed upon.  And I suspect that even the most liberal social moralist today would prefer to see reduced the numbers of teen/unmarried pregnancies, the rate of STD infections to drop, the number of abortions lessened.

Unfortunately, Lindsay Lohan would rather fancy herself as a sexually liberated woman whose actions are her rights, whose responsibility as a role model to her fans (Shaquille O’Neal anyone?) is a farce and whose political commentary is on par with educated political analysts.

We’ve taken Shakespeare’s, “To thine own self be true” and ignored its context.  We would be a much better people and much better country were we to hear his intent, not of selfishness, nor of loudly promoting our supposed rights, but of responsibility:

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man