Saturday, January 31, 2009

All I ever needed to know...

...I learned coaching High School girl's basketball.
  • Just because you think something is important doesn't mean that everyone thinks it is important.
  • Some days you are "on" and some days you are not. Be thankful for the "on" days and remember that the others all end when you go to bed.
  • You play like you practice. (trans. Who you are behind the scenes is who shows up on stage.)
  • Everybody joins the team for different reasons and nobody will stick around if it's never any fun.
  • No matter how well you communicate with your hands there are always people who aren't even looking.
  • Sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do. Coaches too. Stop complaining about it.
  • A close game is way more exciting than a blow-out...regardless of whether you win or lose.
  • People tend to listen better when you are talking quietly than when you are yelling.
  • One of the greatest joys in life is being a part of helping someone else grow.
  • The score really doesn't's bigger than that.
  • You can disagree with the referee, but it's important that you do it respectfully.
  • In the end, what the referee says is what really matters.
  • You can (and must learn to) respect and work with people who are different than you, even people that you don't like.
  • The best stuff happens just after you get past your ego.
  • There is something great about fully giving yourself to a cause that is bigger than you.
  • Lectures aren't bad, they just need to be timed properly.
  • We all blow it, and in the moment we blow it, we need a smile, not a lecture.
  • You should always help up those who have fallen down.
  • The value of an individual has nothing to do with their skill level.
  • If it weren't for the grace of God we'd all be toast.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Super Bowl Ad that you won't see

This is an ad that NBC has rejected for play during the Super Bowl. I thought you should see it anyway.

Hat tip to 9 Marks.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote of the week...(early addition)

My wise High School friend Richard Isaacs deserves to make my quote of the week with this jewel, even if it's not Monday...
"If you sound like a gerbil in a blender, you shouldn't go on American Idol..."

What he said...

My interest in and voting for Barak Obama has drawn many looks of disbelief from my Christian friends and family. I get it. It was not a decision I made lightly. I was not happy with either candidate. If you want to read what thinking lead to my decision and what shaped that thinking feel free to go here, here, here, here, here, and here. And even through I am glad that Obama was elected for many reasons (all listed in the 6 "heres" of the last sentence), I am still both deeply saddened and concerned by his support of the right to abortion on demand. My feelings were expressed well by Bob Robinson, who runs a great blog at Vanguard Church. His entry, "I supported Obama, but not this..." is well worth reading. The election is over. We are citizens of a Kingdom more powerful and more captivating than the empire of the United States of America. It's time to speak truth to power in a way that clearly communicates the priorities of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One of the reasons I love my wife... because she enjoys being just who she is.  That's a gift ... one that I treasure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just wondering...

...why it is that I can be given 6 months to complete a Distance Ed course from my Seminary and can't seem to get started until I have 6 weeks left? Any ideas...except for the fact that I am lazy procrastinator?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quote of the week...

"We don't think ourselves into a new way of living, we live ourselves into a new way of thinking." -- Richard Rohr

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Now this is Canadian...

Take a good look at this picture of the boat dock at Kawkawa Lake about 5 minutes from our house.  Then watch the video taken in the same spot this week-end.


After 16 years of living in Canada you would think that I would have experienced this before. But not before this week-end...and I feel like a real Canuck now

Enjoy the video, although wearing gloves made it a challenge to turn the camera off and on.

For other Kuhn Videos (and a few more of the frozen lake) check here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A touchy subject...

This past week I began preaching a series on the book of Amos. God uses Amos to challenge some of the economic practices of the northern Kingdom of Israel @ 750 years before Jesus. They were "selling the needy for a pair of sandals" (Amos 2:6). As usual, the questions of our financial obligations within the Kingdom of God have provoked some discussion within our church body. I have tried to summarize some of my thoughts in our bulletin's "Pastor's Corner" for this coming week. Here's what I wrote...

Well…to say that last week’s sermon has provoked some thought in my own world and in many of yours would be an understatement. If there’s one thing we can count on, it is that when the Scripture starts challenge the financial aspects of our lives we sit up and take notice. As I have reflected on the text, my own life, and the feedback I have heard from others, there are four things that I’d like to say to help us move forward.

First, issues regarding wealth and poverty as well as a Christ-follower’s responsibilities in those areas are extremely complicated and not prone to quick answers. There are no three steps to resolution when it comes to God’s plan for the blessings that we have been given. The complexity of economics is something the whole world is wrestling with at present. Just because a Guatemalan only makes $2000 a year may not mean that I have a moral obligation to help him make more. And just because there is great need in Guatemala and other places around the world doesn’t deny that there is serious need here in Canada as well. Determining what is “need” and what is “want” is extremely complex.

Second, this complexity doesn’t mean that we ignore these difficult issues. Just because they are complex issues and not easily resolved doesn’t mean that we don’t need to wrestle with them. I think that is why books like Amos are so important. They force us face to face with issues that we would prefer to leave on the sidelines.

Third, we should be quick to analyze our own hearts and motives in regards to finances, but slow to make pronouncements in regards to others. One of the problems with preaching through texts like the first two chapters of Amos is that many listeners want to know the bottom line. Please be assured that I am wrestling with that in my own financial life and not seeking to manipulate you to do my bidding in your checkbook. All I can tell you is that the Bible is clear that we can’t separate our finances from discipleship. I see my role as a pastor to be that of reminding us all (starting with myself) of the teaching of Scripture and then calling us all (starting with myself) to respond to the voice of God. That may look different in each of our lives…and that’s okay.

Fourth, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves why we get defensive when these issues are discussed. As we talk about our prosperity and blessing and God’s thoughts on them. I find myself seeking to justify why what I am currently doing is okay. It’s not that I don’t want to surrender, I think I’m just a bit scared of what surrender might actually look like. Maybe I need to sit with the text before rushing to make myself feel better? Maybe my defensiveness and self- justification closes my ears to what the Spirit is calling me too? Maybe God is more concerned about the process of walking with me through these issues as a means of changing my heart than He is about getting me to certain economic level?

To sum it all up, I hope we can all do exactly what I tried to stress last week.
  • Be thankful to God for what we have been given.
  • Be willing to open our eyes to needs all around us.
  • And finally, to be willing to surrender our whole life - dreams, relationships, and even finances - to the "Kingdom of God"
The issues of finances and their role within the Kingdom of God are huge. I am struggling with all the implications of Jesus and His lordship over my checkbook. But that's okay. It's the struggle that clarifies the Spirit's leading in our lives.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Deeply connected...or just more shallow from a distance?

Time has an interesting article on the Facebook phenomena. One of my soap boxes is that digital communication is actually breeding a more shallow type of relationships. One person says...

"It makes you feel like you're part of something even if you're neglecting people in the flesh."

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Optimism, Hope, and the Struggle with Empire...

I watched the inauguration yesterday...along with what appears to be everyone else in the wired world. I was impressed by Obama's speech and his focus on the fact that change comes through individual people rolling up their sleeves and living differently. I was also encouraged to see a definite change in the implications of what it means to be American. One of my struggles with my own American citizenship has been that the policies of our government throughout the world have seemed often to be more about power and economic control than about service flowing from the blessings that we have received. So I was pleased by what I saw. I voted for Obama, (See my line of reasoning here) even though some of the policies that he supports made it difficult for me to do so. My fear was that a McCain presidency would continue the foreign policy of the Bush administration which in my opinion has failed to objectively think through some of the implications of American activity abroad, especially military action.

Even before the race came down to the final two I struggled with voting in a way that would effect the change that I wanted to see. One of the worst things that happened during the Bush years is that the church often refused to speak prophetically against the actions of a "Christian President". We seemed to be more concerned about maintaining power (which I contend we never had) than in speaking truth to power. Even a couple of years ago I entertained the thought of a vote for Hillary Clinton just so that the church would be willing to speak against the government and recover its prophetic role. In the past 8 years I have watched the American Church appear to write a blank check to the Bush administration, unwilling to weigh the actions of their country against the teachings of Jesus. They have let the government hijack scriptural phrases such as "city on a hill", "the light of the world", and "the darkness has not overcome it" without calling them to account in regards to the real meaning of these passages. The evangelical church will most likely not be so slow to question the Obama administration.

So I am happy for the change...but my heart is still heavy about the future of my country. I guess it all comes back to the struggle of seeking to live by the values of the Kingdom of God while living within the American Empire. I appreciate all that America has offered me and I do believe that it has much to offer the world, but I struggle with the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when Jesus calls us to lose our life for Him. As I watched the joy of the inauguration yesterday I was thankful that change is in the air. I was hopeful that what it means to be American is changing for the better. But I was also struck by the seemingly impossible mantle that the public has placed on the shoulders of Obama. He is approaching the level of Messiah in the minds of many. This is one man, a sinner like the rest of us, leading a country with a tendency to seek its own good at the expense of others. While I support him and will pray for him as he lives out this important role, I/we must realize that Obama is not the hope for the world. As I wrote here,
"...The answer to the needs of the world isn't the right politician."
And while I celebrate the fact that our country is becoming more color-blind, as well as the fact that there is an increasing sense of our responsibility to serve the rest of the world even if it costs us something, I am still a bit concerned. My fear in having another "Conservative Christian" president was that the church would not ask the hard questions. My fear in Obama's celebrity status is that the public will both question Obama too little and expect too much from him. These are times that should drive us to our knees.

I came across a great post yesterday at Inhabitatio Dei that added fuel to my fire.
"If America was an empire yesterday it remains one today despite the Obama administration’s proclamations of hope and seismic change. For my part I think Obama will be a welcome change to Bush, but that hardly changes the fundamental posture that Christians must take in regard to their view of American imperial pretensions. What is needed now, in a post-Bush America is the kind of vigilance that refuses to assume that that empire has ceased to be a theological problem for Christians in America. We will almost certainly see a lapse in the rush of anti-empire publications in the next few years. For far too many “progressive” Christians being anti-empire just means being anti-Bush. What is needed now, in light of the (false) hope of the newly inaugurated Obama presidency is ongoing critique of the problems of American empire. So that is my plea. Let us not be seduced. We lived in an empire yesterday. We live in an empire today. There are just as many idols to be unmasked today as there were yesterday. Let’s not get lax about it just because Bush is gone. (Emphasis mine. Full post here.)
Let's be thankful...for all our blessings, for a wealthy country, a new president, and a time of hope and optimism. But let's not forget that power tends to change those who wield it and that our example of leadership comes from the Slain Lamb of Revelation 4 and 5.

The best foreign aid program of all...

A friend of mine passed this on to's an amazing article that I think everyone should read.

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote of the week...

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that our day to day life is really all that there is. Carl Sandburg writes an amazing poem called "The Limited" which helps us to peel back the veneer of our everyday experience in order to see that there is always more going on.

I AM riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains of the nation.

Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.

(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall pass to ashes.)

I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he answers: "Omaha."

Times are tough...what you can do to make a difference.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good, Clear Thinking...

David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta, Ga., writes some very wise words...
"As you read this, our nation will be preparing to inaugurate Barack Obama as its new president. Half the country is thrilled; at least some of the other half is outraged. I find myself thoroughly convinced that Christians need to turn their attention now to a recovery of biblical theology, ecclesiological clarity, and missional self-discipline, weaning ourselves from the addictive focus on electoral politics. Those who are Christian leaders need to remember that our primary calling is to lead Christians." (emphasis mine)
Read more here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quote of the week...

"Bless you, prison, bless you for being in my life, for there, lying on the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity, as we are made to believe, but the maturing of the human soul."
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Monday, January 05, 2009

Quote of the week...

Will we ever realize that this thing we refer to as Christianity is something way more powerful and dangerous than we realize?
"On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return." -- Annie Dillard - Teaching a Stone to Talk

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Media Frenzy Begins...

Check out some info on our trip from the Hope Standard here.

Trip Update...

Just wanted to let everyone know that things are great here in Antigua. For all you BC readers who are covered in snow I need to tell you that we had to cross the street today for shade because it was just too hot to stand in the direct sun. Oh the challenges I have to deal with here. As most of you know the reason for our trip was to learn some about the coffee industry here and to visit some of the farms that grow the coffee sold at The Blue Moose. We're headed out to tour the Finca Filadelfia - Philadelphia Coffee Farm later today and had an interesting meeting in a coffee shop the other day with the young man who won the last barista championship in Guatemala. My friend Wes is walking on air. It's been a great trip. We head into the mountains tomorrow, but I'll try to update at least once more during the trip.