Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wedding In A Greenhouse

Linda and I went today to a wedding in a greenhouse. Katie's friends Bobby and Daniella wanted to be married in civil ceremony, but not at the courthouse. So, they asked Katie to marry them! In Alaska, almost anyone can officiate at a wedding. It's only necessary to become a marriage commissioner. The state of Alaska paperwork makes it legal then to perform one marriage ceremony. Dani asked that I pray for them, which I was glad to do. Katie did a wonderful job.

It was a pleasant place for the ceremony with tropical birds singing and plants all around. The "Alaska state bird" -- usually present for such ceremonies outdoors here was noticeably absent.

Later, we went to a reception where a number of other friends came and congratulated the couple. We talked for quite a while to Bobby's Filipino parents -- age 95 and 79, and both healthy and interesting. Bobby's father has been in Alaska since 1951, and in the US since the 1930s.

Bobby and Dani bring together a family of four and two children. Katie made a certificate of marriage for them to keep that allowed the children to sign as witnesses.


Yesterday was my birthday. I am 56. All of my family expressed their love in the form of birthday greetings. It occurred to me that I am indeed a rich man. I have parents, siblings, children, and many, many friends who love me. We even like each other. I have enough to eat and a roof over my head. The God of the Universe knows and loves me, and I am part of His Kingdom.

Is it possible to be wealthier on this earth?

Fighting the Good Fight and Winning the Beauty

I watched two films yesterday....which is about a 3000% increase in my normal frequency of film watching. Both were Westerns: Conagher and the Magnificent Seven, in that order.

As I was reflecting on these films, it struck me that both had similar themes, and that these themes are written in the souls of men -- which is what makes the films appealing to us, of course. I recognize these themes from the analysis of the soul of a man from a book I read last year, Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge.

The first theme is what I would call "fighting the good fight." In the case of Conagher, the lone cowboy courageously fought the rustlers, even at the cost of physical injury and risk of death. He fought for the sake of honor; because it was the right thing to do. In the Magnificent Seven, the hired gunfighters protected a small and nearly defenseless village against a force much larger than their own. It cost four of their lives. Their wages were just $20, a pittance for that kind of work, even in the 19th century.

The second theme was "winning the beauty." In both films, the "good guy" won the love of a woman.

I believe that as we men age, it is increasingly important to us to have spent our lives well, to have fought the good fight, win or lose. It is also important to us win a wife and to go through our lives with her at our side. I would say that these desires are built into us by the Creator, and it is a good thing to respond to them.

We can respond to these desires that God has placed in us at any age in life. If we are young it is possible to decide on fighting a good fight and doing so throughout life. If we are old, there are battles that even the infirm can fight. Even if we are married in a stale relationship, soured by years of failure and neglect, we can make the decision to fight for the beauty that exists in the heart of the woman beside us.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New Directions!

During this week's church meeting, we heard some unusual and exciting news. Long time friends of our church New Directions Ministries is moving in with us, and partnering with us.

So we will be two churches in one. New Directions has a strong outreach to counter-culture youth in Anchorage, and has built up a strong ministry helping teens and young adults through great storms.

Starting Thursday evenings, New Directions is going to rock the building with their style of worship.

Starting immediately, we begin working closely together blending our strengths and working together on weaknesses.

Pressing in to the pain

Phil, the consumate butcherYesterday, Linda and I helped bury a friend. Phil Roe died earlier in the week when the Service Fuel Company truck he was driving rolled on the Richardson Highway near Meiers Lake.

We drove to Kenny Lake Saturday morning and arrived before the Celebration of Life began. The Kenny Lake community was hit hard by this death, and turned out en masse. Richard Irwin (our pastor at Anchorage City Church, and a personal friend of Phil's) told us that a number of the businesses in the area closed down so people could be at this meeting. There were perhaps 400 people gathered at the Kenny Lake School gym.

Kenny Lake Community Church and others did an outstanding job of helping the family through this and preparing for these ceremonies. We heard that on Friday night, there was two hours of testimonies about Phil at the "viewing" that had been arranged in his honor.

Over my 55 years I have been to few funerals. That will change as I age; it happens to us all. At this funeral, I came to understand that I needed to "press into the pain." It hurts to lose Phil and it really hurts to see his family's pain. But this is very human, and I am less than God designed me to be if I draw away at this time; both for myself and for them. So, I let myself weep. I let myself hug his family with tenderness.

Linda reading to Felicity and Elon, the two youngest of six brothers and sisters in Phil and Linda's familyAt the grave, we who were Phil's friends had the opportunity to spade dirt onto his coffin. Dozens of men and women came forward and whispered or spoke "good bye" or, as I did "see you later, Phil."

If there is one consolation to Phil's loss, it is that this separation from his family, and from us, his friends, is not eternal. None of us, not Phil, not me, no one is good enough to earn eternity with the Creator of the universe, but it was his gift to all who would truly believe in Jesus, the Christ. There were many tears on Saturday, but Phil's family knows, and we know, that this is not the end.