Sunday, January 30, 2011

Restoration and Redemption

I like to restore old furniture.  I learned it from my Dad who refurnished an antique of one sort or another - a few days out of any given month.

Truth is, I haven't done it for years - for a number of reasons.

But, my lovely bride wanted a new coffee table and after we found this beauty for a few dollars at a thrift store - I spent just a few hours and a few more dollars on a new gallon of stripping product.  My old stripping product had dried in the can, but my old varnish was "good as new."  The weather cooperated - not too hot - not too cold - not too sunny (to dry the stripping product too quickly) - and, within a few hours my lovely bride had her "new" coffee table.

There is something about most things - clothing, furniture, cars, persons, relationships, churches, - that, if we "strip" down the bad and blemished - we can find that which is redeemable - and even beautiful.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

David's Kingdom alternates to Josiah's Reform

David, according to Biblical account was the unifying King (1000 BCE) who assembled the nation of Israel out of early tribal experiences and early failed attempts at monarchy with characters like Gideon (Jerubbaal), Abimelech, and Saul.  Some four hundred years later king Josiah (621 BCE) - led by priests/scholars - reformed the Kingdom in line with Davidic hopes and aspirations as he alternated between the serpentine issues facing his kingdom.  What Josiah did, was informed by careful scholarly and priestly authority.

And, so it was tonight, Josiah needed a reform.  It could have taken four hundred years - but only took four hours - as the "scholar-priest" - me - helped Josiah (an SNU student) negotiate the serpentine belt to his alternator - and Josiah reformed not the kingdom, but the alternator on his Ford Mustang.

I was supposed to be re-reading Steven L. McKenzie's David:  A Biography (and I did get portions of it read as Joe ran back and forth to the auto store)  - but most of my evening was invested as Joe and I were mechanics (in the cold!) - saving him $400  as he and I changed out his broken alternator for a new one.

Shortly after Josiah's reform in 621 BCE, the Kingdom headed into its darkest days - and ultimate demise.

I hope, for Josiah (of SNU) his Ford Mustang is not headed into its darkest days and ultimate demise!

Monday, January 17, 2011

10-10-10 - and Linchpins

I got through these books in the last days of Christmas break.

Both were simple, easy reads.  Neither was terribly "good" - or "significant" but every book I read makes me think, and that is always a good thing.

10-10-10: A Fast and Powerful Way to Get Unstuck in Love, at Work, and withYour Family by Suzy Welch was a quick and easy read.  A very simple premise.  In fact, so simple that the length of the book is quite amazing.  It is essentially story after story of persons who have used Suzy's "method" for getting unstuck.  The basic premise is as follows - when you find yourself in a situation where you are "stuck" or where you find yourself frustrated and confused - do the following - think about the dilemma and decision you have - and determine how your decisions will shape the next 10 minutes of your life, the next 10 months of your life and the next 10 years of your life.  Or, said more simply - what are the immediate consequences to your decision - the consequences in the foreseeable future - and the imagined (though probable/possible) consequences for the next decade.  Pretty simple.  And yet - I would note that I've used similar methods for constructing and imagining the future in other situations of my life. 

When I was "stuck" with my dissertation work several years ago - one thing that helped me process my daily work was a similar framework articulated by Tony Robbins - based on the Christmas Carol.  Tony notes that what helped Ebenezer Scrooge change his future is the fact that he had to be motivated by enough pain or pleasure to see a different future.  Motivated by the pain of not finishing my dissertation - and the pleasure(s) of what might emerge if I did complete it - was indeed motivational to help me proceed with my work then. 

Robyn and I try in our personal/family/professional lives to plan our lives together.  At the end of 2009 and start of 2010 we spent some time together planning this next decade of our life.  Of course we can't know what will happen - but we can know certain things we must do to move forward.  This past year we've each made efforts to write and engage and think and apply for opportunities that have been moving us forward to our hoped for goals.  We've had a great year.  Blessed - looking forward to thinking about how to do some more 10-10-10 planning for our life!  =)

Seth Godin's latest book is entitled Linchpin. A linchpin is indispensable and this title instantly made sense to me.  Another quick read - the premise is quite simple.  Linchpins connect things, people, projects, ideas together.  They are indispensable.   A longer review - from a person who liked the book more than I, can be found here.

Great Family and Great Friends!

My parents sent me money for Christmas to get myself a "road bike."

And, a former student and friend took his time to search craigslist - and purchase for me, and get upgraded for me, a Greg LeMond bike!

Thanks Mom and Dad - and thanks Taylor C.

I grew up riding BMX on the BMX track near the University of Oregon at Autzen Stadium.  I would peddle my 20 inch P.K. Ripper across town on bike-paths (some 6-7 miles) just to be able to enjoy time on the burms and jumps at the track.  (I never entered BMX competitively.)

I rode a Mtn. Bike - and loved single-track trails - while I lived in Colorado and for portions of my life in Oklahoma - though more like a Hill Bike in Oklahoma!  ha!

And, for more than 20 years I've had a Cruiser that I ride most days to/from/around the various University campuses where I have lived or worked.

While rides in and through the mountains or terrain are of greater "thrill" to me - I have accepted the fact that, in Oklahoma, the best ride for me is the road bike.

What is more - I have several student-friends who are planning a Summer 2011 trip from Maine to Washington - and they have invited me to peddle and train with them this Spring.  (They have invited me to travel with them - which I would love to do - but due to another opportunity for this summer that I will detail later, that won't be working out.)

So, I have a new road-bike.

I am excited to have it.

I am excited to ride.

I am thankful for family and friends to help me get the bike, to ride with me, and to invite me into shared opportunities for extended friendship!

Oh - and my bike riding may take a little bit away from my reading - but should give me more time for reflection!  (I hope!)  So, still appropriate for this personal blog's theme!  =)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our Extended Day in the West Bank

We had a great time entirely in the West Bank today.

Had a great meeting in Taybeh with Father Raed in the only entirely and intentionally Christian community in the West Bank.  (Note, they are Arab, Palestinian Christians, who school and nurse Arab, Palestinian Muslims - so their Christianity is not exclusive.)

We viewed the city of Shechem from the Heights of Mount Gerizim (Gerezim).

We played soccer (some of us) did - and sat for a cold Coca-Cola on the mount that was the Capital City of Israel, Samaria.

We celebrated a birthday of a trip participant - and it's not yet dinner time.  And our meals have been excellent so we look forward to dinner soon!

Another delightful day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What a long, wonderful day - in and around Jerusalem. But, the Palestinian Wall.

It takes a long time to lead a group of 27 other persons through the old city of Jerusalem, up to the Al Aqsa Mosque, down the Via Dolarosa, out through the Dung Gate, down the hill to the old city of David - through Hezekiah's Tunnel, back through the Western Wall Heritage Museum, up and out of the city through the Damascus Gate, to the Garden Tomb - and then on a late night tour of Jerusalem with friends who live here and are associated with the Church of the Nazarene. Finishing off the night with a tour of graffiti (including several Banksy originals!) in Bethlehem - but it was a great day.

Pictures include participants Pastor Doug and Andrea near the Dome of the Rock; Pastor Paul touching a rock in the Herodian wall, weighing an estimated 570 tons.  Yes, 570 tons.  My dad and I at the Garden Tomb - and, Allison and I in front of a Banksy.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bethlehem & Herodion (Herodium)

We woke for worship in Bethlehem - and spent the morning in worship with Orthodox and Catholic Christians in the Church of the Nativity.

We drove out from Bethlehem to Shepherd's Fields - "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:8-10)

Then, up to the Herodion - one of my favorite spots - for it's great views and the magnanimity of Herod's construction campaigns!  Great pics of several travel participants with the Judean Hills in the background!

We had time to return to Bethlehem, since we are lodging here - and in the late afternoon a friend and I, Paul Metcalfe, had opportunity to enter the grotto that commemorates the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus.  We had the place to ourselves. In the morning it was filled with, literally, hundreds of tourists, pilgrims and others.  Tonight - we had it to ourselves for moments of reflection. 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A great day on the Sea of Galilee and then to Bethlehem!

We had a great time for reflection - and fun on the Sea of Galilee as we journeyed out into the water.  No one in the group managed to walk on the water, though!

Time to think, pray, reflect and share a sacramental meal at the Mt. of Beatitudes.

When we arrived at our hotel in Bethlehem - there was room in the Inn - and we were greeted with delightfully refreshing fresh juice drinks as we arrived!  Treated better than Mary and Joseph, it seems!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Nazareth and Megiddo

Woke up to a beautiful morning in Nazareth and took some time to reflect on this place with the few who woke early to watch the sunrise.

Caught this image of one student looking out over the old city of Nazareth.

A few minutes later snapped a shot of our breakfast.

Spent a portion of the day in Megiddo (Armegeddon) - and got this great shot of being in this place with my dad, Don Michelson.

Jordanian Former Student & her son, Mt. Nebo and Jericho Meal (without Rahab!)

We have had great experiences here.

I can not explain how wonderful it was to meet in a house church with former students (who I taught in Madaba, Jordan a few summers ago) as they were leading worship!  Fantastic. 

And the students have a handsome young son who I was able to meet!

Perfect days of weather (though a bit hazy). We crossed from where Moses saw the "Promised Land" and entered the land in and through Jericho. In Jericho, we had a wonderful meal on the rooftop near a palm tree! 

I love my job.  I really, really, really love the long and short term experiences of teaching and shaping persons for the church.

I love the fact that I have been privileged to teach students around the world - who are now shaping the world.  And I love the fact that I know - without any doubt - that this trip to this land will forever shape the teaching and preaching of the students who are with me!  And, what is more - it will help them to be more open to other cultures, and more discerning of issues of peace and peacemaking in the world!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Travel Abroad

Monday, January 3rd, I will lead 26 others for 11 days in travel, education, enculturation, and spiritual reflection as we travel through several areas in Jordan, Israel and into Palestinian areas.

What a delight!

I love my life's work!

Wish my wife and/or kids were going with me (as with a trip a few years back when Robyn came with me) - but so very happy that my Dad will be traveling with me! Super!