Monday, November 29, 2010

Today in History

"Mom. We're in lockdown. I'm in the library, in the room in the middle. Someone shot their police guard, took her gun, and ran from the medical hospital in this direction. He's six foot seven, Mom."

Stunned, I didn't know what to say. I wanted to get to the school and get her out. I'm not sure I heard anything else she said.

"Are you okay? Who is with you?"

"I'm okay. I'm really hungry and I have to pee. We can't go to the bathrooms, though. Mina is with me. There were two classes that were in the library. There are five teachers with us."

"How long have you been there?"

"Since 10:30."

"It's 1:00 now. I haven't heard from the school or anybody."

"It will be okay, Maddie. Let others use your phone if they want to call somebody. Call me back. I love you."

"Bye Mom."

That was the first phone call I received today. The television had no reports of what was happening, so I looked on the local t.v. station websites. I found one small article. It confirmed what Madeline reported to me. I called Larry to tell him what was happening. We were still in unbelief or denial. Not sure which.

Then came the second phone call.

"Mom, we're still here. I'm so hungry."

"It's noisy. Are the other kids being loud."

"They're on their phones, too. I'm scared. We've been here so long."

"I know. I've been praying. Now is a good time to pray. Tell Father on the gunman and ask for safety."

"Okay. I'll talk to you again. I love you."

"I love you, too. It will be okay."

I had so much pent up energy, but wanted to stay home. The police did not know where the gunman was. The hospital is in between the school and our home, so I locked all the doors; prayed; did chores; prayed. Then I texted Maddie this verse: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

The school sent out an automated call telling us the school is in lockdown, as the sheriff's department ordered. Another half hour passed. I called Maddie.

"Hi Maddie. You doing alright?"

"Yes. I want to leave. They announced that the man has a hostage over on English Street."

"It is good they know where he is. Now, you know he is not on campus."

"Yeah. I have to go. They're making an announcement. I love you."

"I love you."

The next phone call was from the school. They were releasing students and parents should come pick them up. I texted Maddie "I am on my way."

Maddie called, "Don't come to the usual pick up place. They won't let us go to that part of the campus. I'll meet you at the Dry Cleaners on Soquel."

"See you there."

I was so happy to see her walk up the street. We hugged.

"Where do you want to go? Home, or get some lunch?"

"Lunch, Mom. I'm starving. Can we go to the bakery?"

"Yes, let's go!"

We ordered lunch for Maddie, a coffee for me. She devoured her twice baked potato and iced tea. When she was telling me of the ordeal, she was wiping away tears.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So, I Heard About This Guy

No, this guy didn't walk into a bar. His story is completely different. This guy came from a really large family. All of his half-brothers chased him out of their father's house because his mother was a prostitute. They didn't think he was respectable enough. He ended up being a mercenary. He was a strong warrior. In fact, he was a leader of mercenaries.

Eventually, his brothers and the town they lived in were in trouble. Their enemies wanted to take over their land and the town. Someone approached the mercenary and asked this guy to come lead. Can you imagine? After kicking him out, years later they seek him out to rescue them! What would you do, dear reader?

Lo and behold, the mercenary chastized them. Saying, "After you kicked me out, you want me now to save you? I wasn't good enough for you then, but now I am?"

He relented, heard their pleas, and became their salvation.

Oftentimes, we reluctantly admit our need for our Savior, Jesus Christ. This story of Jephthah gives us yet another picture of our relationship with Jesus. We want to hang onto and harbor our sin, but when we are exposed we see our need for Him. We'd prefer to save ourselves and do it our way, but we cannot. We need Him. We need a mighty warrior who will save us from ourselves.

We become our own worst enemies. We need deliverance from our own pride. We need a mighty warrior who will save us from ourselves. God came to earth. We could see, feel, hear, and touch Him. We rejected Him. We still wanted to keep our sin, so we nailed Him on a cross to die. Yet, He resurrected for us and our sake! For you and me, that is how strong Father's love is for us.

Jesus is our Mighty Warrior, our mercenary who has killed our enemies. He has conquered sin and death because we cannot.

Praise Him!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


We were driving home through the winding, mountainous road. It was blustery, but the sun had that beautiful fall light. The big leaves were falling from the deciduous trees. It was like driving through a rainstorm of red, gold, brown, and orange. We cracked the windows open to smell the crisp air.

"Mom, can I play my music?"

Madeline showed me The Blues Travelers' "Run Around", Dispatch's "Open Up", "Flying Horses", and "Bats in the Belfry".

Then the play list went into rap.

"I like Atmosphere because he tells stories."
"You like ballads, then."

More leaves fall. We come to our favorite turn in the road. From there we can see across Monterey Bay when it's clear. It was clear.

"The mountains look like a watercolor painting."
"They do, Mom."
"You have Creedence Clearwater?"
"Yes." M laughs.
"That was my first album. You know what an album is, right?"
"Yes, Mom." Laughs again.

We started singing along with "All Along the Watchtower", and "Purple Haze." Jimi Hendrix, too. There's something about that old rock and roll.

And we kept singing until we got home. I had not heard Madeline sing since elementary school. It was a joyous ride.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Words of Love

"What is the Gospel? How can I be saved?" were the questions asked by the newcomer to the group.

"Predestination says that God chooses who He will save," came one reply.

"Election is how one is saved," replied another sinner.

"The Church tells us we must do penance."

Do you see the problem? What measly, pitiful answers! All the packaged theology stifled the words of love from coming to the fore. The answers were not clear, they were muddied. The replies were not answers at all!

Theology should always bring us to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Theology should never impede the mouths that should announce God's love for us. When theology points us to places other than Jesus, the lover of our soul, it is in need of repair.

The good news that you have been reconciled to God are the words of love from Jesus. Be reconciled!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Golden Calf Days of Yore

Remember the good ol' days? Most of us think they exist. We talk about them fondly. "Life was simpler then. Less complicated and easier to manage." I remember being young and the concerns that plagued me and others over schoolyard politics. Will I be the last one chosen for the dodgeball team? Is Suzy going to try to trip me during jumprope today? Must I suffer that embarrassment again?

Some even go so far as to think the early church had things easy; that those were the good ol' days. A reading through Corinthians should dispel one of the notion that those days were a breeze.

There are days I want to return to my fictitious golden days of yore. The times when I felt I could control God, or manage Him. He was so prettily packaged with a flower, the Calvinist TULIP. I thought it was a sure foundation; I thought it explained God in a very logical, easy-to-understand package.

Now, God is God. He hides from me, except in Jesus. I only know Him through Jesus, The Word and Sacrament. No more peering behind the cross to try to keep Him contained. Trying to look into the why's of God creates speculation. Scripture tells us to avoid speculation. Speculation causes doubt and uncertainty. Clear words are muddied, and sometimes completely turned upside down to mean the exact opposite of the word.

My vision must stop at the Gospel. The best place to stop is at the Gospel. The gospel contains my justification and my sanctification. It is at the cross where Jesus' love for me shines brightest. He loves me, He saves me, He gives me life, He gives me righteousness, He gives me faith. We must return to the assurance in the Gospel. Always.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HTML and Beyond

The text I received on my blackberry shocked me. What my friend once swore off is now being embraced as a ministry. The news was not new to him; only to me. The work I did was being jettisoned by my co-laborer. A kind of grief engulfed me.

Two years we had tried to get this Christian website up and running. The intended use was for edification of ourselves and others. Not knowing how to grow the site it never did much but flounder. The reality was it was a lonesome website to tend.

I now have to decide what to do with the abandoned carcass. Do I give the website a burial now? Do I save the work I did for future date? Do I use it for my own purposes now? It is still left in my hands to deal with, as my partner tosses it out of his mind and has already returned to the place he once rejected.

We are free.