God Bless My Alma Mater

This is pretty cool: the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (where I got my M. Div.) was just named one of the ‘Best Christian Places to Work In America.’

This is pretty cool: the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (where I got my M. Div.) was just named one of the ‘Best Christian Places to Work In America.’

Paula worked there while I was in seminary and shortly after, and I assure you that the claim is well-founded. AGTS ain’t perfect, but it sure beats most of the alternatives out there.

Congratulations, alma mater!

Homosexuality At Stanford

Yesterday morning Paula and I attending the quarterly meeting for recognized religious professionals at Stanford. Our topic was homosexuality, and so I was expecting quite an interesting meeting.

Yesterday morning Paula and I attending the quarterly meeting for recognized religious professionals at Stanford. Our topic was homosexuality, and so I was expecting a pretty vigorous discussion.

For the record, there was no shouting. It was all very civil (with the possible exception of a question that could be interpreted as honest inquiry or a cheap shot depending on how much slack you wanted to cut the questioner–I personally thought it was a cheap shot and I’ll leave it at that).

The format was simple: six representatives from six different religious traditions summarized both their philosophical stance and their practical approach to homosexuality on campus. That format explains the civility–as you’ll see there were some pretty different perspectives.

First up was the Mormon representative (Alonzo). He took a gracious but firm stance against homosexuality. Two interesting points: he rooted his attitude in the Mormon conception of the family as eternal, and he was careful to point out that thoughts and feelings cannot be sinful. I would strongly disagree with him on both points.

Next was Rabbi Noa, the Jewish representative. She took a strongly positive stance towards homosexuality, and tried to explain all the Old Testament references in terms of forbidding pagan rituals. I’m exceedingly skeptical, and after the meeting I asked her for some documentation of that claim.

After that the Catholic representative (Theresa) made her pitch. She accurately recited the teachings of the church (the orientation is not necessarily sinful but the practice is intrinsically evil), and then proceeded to tell us why her church was wrong. I thought that was… interesting.

Next up was Ron Sanders (Campus Crusade for Christ) speaking on behalf of the evangelicals. He did an outstanding job, first tearfully apologizing for the evils done under the guise of Biblical authority, and then upholding Biblical authority: homosexuality is immoral. Perhaps people cannot control their orientation, but homosexuals have the same responsibility as heterosexuals–>to not engage in sex outside of marriage. He expressed an unpopular truth in a humble and respectful manner.

Then Richard, the Lutheran priest, gave his perspective. He’s gay himself, and so it was unsurprising that he very strongly endorsed the compatibility of Christianity and homosexuality. He’s a very dynamic speaker.

Finally we had a Buddhist spokesperson. David had an interesting approach, suggesting that in Buddhism the goal is to deny desire of any sort. Homosexuals need to transcend their desire for sex in the same way that heterosexuals do. Interesting. As a Christian I would respond that desire is not bad if it is a desire for a good thing. Homosexual desire is bad because it is a desire for a bad thing.

Overall, it was clear that the majority of ministers at Stanford view homosexuality as a morally neutral issue. No surprises there. I was pleasantly surprised that the organizer picked speakers with a diversity of perspectives. I was especially thrilled that they invited the Campus Crusade leader to present the evangelical perspective.

It was also clear that people hold their views on this subject passionately. There were several tears in evidence, and you could sense tension in the room throughout the discussion.

In case anyone is curious, the Assemblies of God (and I as its representative) believe that God’s intention is that sex be expressed between one man and one woman in the context of the lifelong committment called marriage.

In a related story, yesterday there was Stanford Freedom to Marry Rally, advocating the legalization of gay marriages.

I Never Saw It Coming When I Woke Up…

This was a pretty amazing day–I bought a djembe for our ministry, I was formally invited to guest lecture in a grad class about “The Role of Religion In the Ideal Society”, I had a neat answer to prayer, and I met a remarkable person.

This was a pretty amazing day–I bought a djembe for our ministry, I was formally invited to guest lecture in a grad class about “The Role of Religion In the Ideal Society”, I had a neat answer to prayer, and I met a remarkable person.

First, the neat answer to prayer: I’ve been visiting a guy named Tom at Stanford University Medical Center. He has a trachea tube which prevents him from speaking, and so I had to work out a chart that allowed him to spell out words to me using gestures. Today he asked me to pray that he would be able to speak soon–as we finished praying a doctor walked in a placed a special attachment on the end of his trachea tube that allowed him to do some vocalization! He still can’t talk fluently, but he’s on the recovery trail.

Second, today Paula and I went to pick up a student’s father at San Jose International Airport. He’s going to be in town to see his daughter and do some research. Anyway, I realized this morning that I didn’t really know what Dr. Abegg looked like, so I googled for Martin Abegg and shortly realized that he’s the reason the Dead Sea Scrolls were published after decades of secrecy! For more info, read the fascinating commentary by Penn Jillette (yes, the magician of Penn & Teller fame) or the article The Dead Sea Scrolls: Making The Good Book Even Better?

Anyway, he’s a great guy and we had a wonderful time getting to know him better.

And I just thought this was going to be a day like any other…

More on that guest lectureship in a grad class soon–The West Wing beckons…

Gas Prices State by State

I ran across this link today: Gas Prices State by State. California, of course, tops the list for all the states–we even beat out Hawaii. I also learned recently that real estate is cheaper in Hawaii than here in the Bay Area. That just seems wrong on so many levels at once…

I ran across this link today: Gas Prices State by State. California, of course, tops the list for all the states–we even beat out Hawaii. I also learned recently that real estate is cheaper in Hawaii than here in the Bay Area. That just seems wrong on so many levels at once…

For all our friends and family, this is the current breakdown of Cali versus the other places we’ve lived.

California $1.93
Louisiana $1.60
Missouri $1.58

Reno Is Beautiful!

This Wednesday Paula and I drove up to Sparks, NV to preach at Crosswinds Assembly of God, which was a great experience.

nevada.jpgThis Wednesday Paula and I drove up to Sparks, NV to preach at Crosswinds Assembly of God, which was a great experience.

First, Sparks is adjacent to Reno–and that is an incredibly beautiful area, sporting snow-capped mountains in virtually every direction.

Second, the church itself was very cool–the people were friendly, the worship was great, and I got to use one of those cool little professional wireless mikes that fits like a headset (the kind Britney and those boy bands use). I love gadgets, and that was just plain neat.

Third, Paula and I were able to meet with five other pastors for face-to-face presentations of our ministry on Wednesday and Thursday: Rodney Waters (Lighthouse of Natomas), David Hoskins (Valley View Christian Fellowship), Brent Johnson (Reno Assembly of God), Terry and Rita Fred (Sierra Church), Stan Friend (Capital Christian Center in Carson City), and John Peterson (South Shore Christian Assembly).

Fourth, Dennis Gaylor (the national Chi Alpha director) happened to be in Reno and we got to meet him for lunch along with Terry and Rita Fred.

Fifth, the last pastor we met with (John Peterson) used to pastor here in Palo Alto. He and his wife pioneered a church here around 1989 and over a decade grew it to around 350 people, including several Stanford students. He got involved with ministry on campus and things were going well, and then he went to join the district denominational leadership team. The church dwindled and doesn’t exist anymore. Still, it was great talking to him!

Sixth, we drove back through Lake Tahoe–simply stunning!

In other words, this trip was fabulous any way you count it. Sorry if you’ve sent me an email I haven’t responded to yet, we just put over 600 miles on our car in two days and haven’t been near a computer for that whole time. I’ll begin processing the backlog today and get it cleared out by tomorrow.

Our Speaking & Travel Schedule

If you’re a pastor, you might be curious to know when we’re available to do a missions window or a service at your church.

If you’re a pastor, you might be curious to know when we’re available to do a missions window or a service at your church.

Our current calendar:

September 2003
Traveling first week in September
Wed 9/3 PM: Calvary Temple Youth Group (Yuba City, CA)
Sun 9/14 AM: Mount Pleasant Christian Center (San Jose, CA)
Sun 9/21 AM: Stanford Multi-Faith Welcome
Sun 9/28 PM: Redwood Valley Missions Convention (tentative)

October 2003 download bone collector the movie
Sun 10/5 AM: Christian Center of San Jose
Wed 10/15 PM: Assembly of God Tabernacle (Keyes, CA)

November 2003
Sat 11/1 PM: The Carpenter’s House (Modesto, CA)
Sun 11/2 AM: The Carpenter’s House (Modesto, CA)
Wed 11/5 PM: Oak Park Christian Center (Pleasant Hill, CA)
Sun 11/9 AM: Southbay Christian Center (Mountain View, CA)
Sun 11/16 AM: First Assembly (San Diego, CA)

February 2004
2/1-2/6: Spiritual Emphasis Week at Crossroads Christian School (Morgan Hill, CA)

May 2004
Sun 5/23 AM: Trinity Life (Las Vegas, NV)