Friday, May 30, 2008

I Love Travelling To San Diego

I flew to San Diego yesterday on business. I had several meetings at our firm's San Diego office and some other work to do. It was a down-and-up trip, not overnight. I love San Diego, and so does Mrs. Scott. We took our honeymoon there and until multiple children hit, we used to vacation there every year, staying in Little Italy. We also travelled there many times each before getting married.

Just walking out of the airport into the ocean aired breeze was wonderful. There's both a certain smell and certain feel to the air. The beaches are great, and the freeway signs for I-8 westbound simply say "Beaches." Only in San Diego. On the way back to the car rental place the commute traffic was light, so I drove through Little Italy which is only a few blocks away from the airport. Just feels like home in some way.

The flight between Oakland and San Diego hugs the coast all the way down, so there are many landmarks that can be seen from the air. I saw Monterey, downtown LA and our Little Italy hotel which is just a hundred yards off the landing path or so. I also saw three baseball parks (read about it at my baseball blog), and miles of beach. I have a fear of flying, although I love flight and aviation. I get freaked out at little bumps and any change in engine thrust.

All in all, I was up at 5:30am and arrived home at about 10:30pm. A long day, but fun in many ways.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 23) - Member For A Day

In previous posts in this series I've made the point that the church is an assembly of the body, and those who assemble (i.e. baptized Christians) are therefore members. Some of the objections to this idea from those who advocate formal membership center on the idea that those who they wouldn't deem members, but I would, might have some influence on the way a church operates. A formal membership, then, to them, is a safeguard against unwanted "drop-by" type of influence.

What about voting privileges? What about selecting a pastor? What about involvement in a building program? What about serving in the choir or nursery? If people that just drop in or only attend occasionally voice their views on important matters, it would have a negative affect on our church.

I think a problem with these kind of objections is that they are based on the idea that the church is much more than an assembly of Christ's body. It is viewed also as a building, a bureaucratic institution, a certain form of government. I don't think this is what the New Testament had in mind. These are secondary issues that shouldn't take precedent over the core idea of church. These things are outside of the idea of assembly. They are traditions of men. Jesus warned of placing traditions of men on par or above the Word of God.

I've visited dozens of churches in my life. Each time, I have submitted to whatever liturgy was followed, whatever a leader asked of the assembly. I called upon the name of the Lord just like everybody else, prayed just like everybody else, sang just like everybody else, listened to the preaching just like everybody else. Many times I fellowshipped with others there, just like everybody else, and encouraged others (and received encouragement) just like everybody else. I was a member for a day.

Read parts 1-10 here, parts 11-20 here, and parts 21-30 here.

Part 22 . . . . . . . . Part 24

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Family Camp

This weekend we went away to (choose one) our church's "family camp", aka "all-church retreat", aka "family retreat", aka I'm sure there are others. From late Friday through mid-day Sunday on this weekend each year we stay at a campground nestled in the redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains near the Pacific Ocean. Each cabin has bunks with a full bath (showers, sinks, running water, electricity), so it's not camping in the pitch-a-tent sense.

There's no smell quite like a redwood forest. It is amazing. Calm, soothing and fresh. There's a clear cut space in the middle of camp with a grass field for playing, but the dense forest and very tall trees limits the sunshine. Near the coast it's cool. This weekend saw a heatwave in the Bay Area with temps in the upper 100's. It cooled down to about 90 at the coast (extremely hot for them). We (my family) always spend Friday at the beach town of Capitola. Our ten month old loved the sand, and our other kids loved the ocean waves. We ate dinner at the beach before driving up into the mountains to the camp.

We have five or six sessions of teaching/preaching during the weekend from a guest speaker and take the Lord's Supper on Sunday just before lunch. This year saw thick swarms of lady bugs filling the air in the early afternoons. The kids went nuts. Our three year old stunned the entire church with his amazing ability to hit the ball and run around the bases. The kids slept all through both nights so we were blessed exceedingly.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Busy Week, Few Posts, Family Camp

It's been a very busy week with late nights and such. I haven't been able to blog at all. Now, we're leaving for family camp all weekend with our church. I hope to be back on Monday. Thanks for tuning in. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Boundaries and Freedom (2)

In my first post, I noted that boundaries, properly placed, actually promote freedom for man, rather than hinder it. God places boundaries for man that promote the greatest freedom for us. This shouldn't be a surprise, because God knows everything about human nature, and He also knows the entire history and future of the world and everybody in it, so His boundaries are the best ones.

Some boundaries that God gives are absolute. "Thou shalt not commit murder." Others are a bit vague, like, "Do not get drunk with wine." (Ephesians 5:18) What does it mean to get drunk? One drink? Two? Twelve? Any alcohol at all? Boundaries like this require work on our part. They also might require work on other people's part for us. God gives us the responsibility of knowing ourselves well enough to know our own limits. Other people can know these things, too, and hold us to those limits because they love us. If God gives us a boundary, but lets us establish exactly within a range where that boundary goes, then He isn't going to be very harsh in letting us stumble a few times during the process of establishing that boundary.

Jesus said that if our hand causes us to stumble, cut it off, and if our eye causes us to stumble, pluck it out. It's interesting that He's instructing us in this with the understanding that we already know something causes us to stumble. He's not condemning us for having stumbled, but only if we repeat the stumbling with full knowledge of our stumbling. This is merciful. He's not an overly protective mother that doesn't allow her child to learn from his mistakes, but knows that the cuts and bruises of having stumbled will have a greater affect on our growing. Many boundaries that God gives us are to be set by us ourselves; He doesn't have a "one size fits all" set of rules.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Boundaries That Promote Freedom

"But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does." James 1:25

A few years ago I read a story about a school where the administrators determined that the fence around the playground was too limiting to the children. It was a hindrance to their freedom. So they had the fence removed. To their surprise, the children afterward voluntarily played in a much smaller area than what had originally been allowed by the fence. They suddenly had no boundary and weren't able to figure out how to limit themselves, so they stuck together for the sake of safety. Also, the new arrangement no longer prevented the outside world, such as strangers, from getting in.

The lesson here is that the fence, properly placed, actually promoted freedom for the children. They could play right up to the fence without facing danger. The playground was large enough for them to play in comfortably, and the fence kept them in and strangers out. This is how God's law works. He provides the proper boundaries for us to promote our maximum freedom. Another example of this would be the barrier on the observation deck of the Empire State Building or the railing at the rim of the Grand Canyon. People can go right to the edge and even lean against the boundary because the boundary was constructed to allow leaning against it. Now imagine these railings suddenly being removed. How many people would venture to the edge of the top floor and look down? Far less than with a boundary.

An opposite example would be Hal, the super computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hal arranged for Dave, the astronaut, to float out into space in order to take control of things himself. Dave was now free of any and every obligation to family, country, mother-in-law. He was even free from the law of gravity. But he was doomed to death because of his limitless freedom. God's law allows us freedom to live within his creation, but prevents us from killing ourselves.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Shelly's Tag

I have been tagged to share 10 bits of information about myself.

1) Four jobs I've had in my life: car smasher, DJ, stock boy, architect.

2) Four places I've lived: Concord, CA; Berkeley, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; Martinez, CA

3) Four TV Shows I Love to Watch: Giants baseball, uhmmm... that's it.

4) Four Blogs I Read Regularly: John Armstrong, Independent Country by James Leroy Wilson, St. George Blog by Vache Folle, Blessed Economist by Ron McKenzie.

5) Four Favorite Foods: Mrs. Scott's oven fry chicken, La Tapatia's chicken enchiladas, Barney's ribs, a good Caesar salad.

6) Four Places I've Been: Haiti; Wrigley Field; The Bronx alone at night; Laramie, Wyoming alone at night.

7) Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now: Fenway Park, Mission Beach in San Diego, Puget Sound, Guinness Brewery.

8) Four Friends Who Will Respond and/or Add to Blog: I'm not sure how this differs from #10.

9) Four Things I Look Forward to In This Next Year: staying alive, keeping my family alive, having a job, Giants games.

10) Four People I Tag To Add This To Their Blog: Gene, Keith, Jason and Jason (honorable mention: Richmond Roadie)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Tagged For The First Time In A While

My friend Shelly tagged me on her blog. It's way too late at night to answer now, so I'll do it later sometime.