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Archive for March, 2012

SWEET, LOVING MARY GAVE THE BEST SHE HAD TO JESUS BY ANOINTING HIS FEET WITH EXPENSIVE PERFUME, AND BOLDLY SWEEPING HER HAIR ACROSS HIS PRECIOUS FEET. JUDAS REPRESENTED THOSE WHO WANT TO PUT LIMITS ON LOVE

One of the sweetest acts in the gospels–literally and figuratively–has to be that of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume, and her sweeping her hair tenderly over his feet.

It was also a bold act on Mary’s part, in light of the context of the times, since a Jewish woman was forbidden from loosening her hair in public in such a way. It was a measure of her extravagant love for, and devotion to Jesus–he whose love for Mary and everyone else (you and me included, of course) was and remains without bounds.

The scripture points out that the entire house was filled with the sweet smell of the high-dollar perfume that she popped open.

And leave it to a grouchy, greedy man, Judas, to be upset enough to denounce Mary for her loving behavior.

Here’s the entire scripture from John 12:

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Judas had a corrupted view of what is precious and valuable to God.

Mary gave God the best she could give.

There’s more wonderful theology to be mined from this wonderful story, and a lot of bad theology is taken from it by those who seem to take it as a license to show limited love and generosity toward the poor, not the unlimited love and generosity of Christ.

Jesus, after all, does say, “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

But people in those days knew their Holy Book in its entirety. Christians today–not so much.

Jesus, who after all was a rabbi and knew what we Christians refer to as our “Old Testament,” was pointing back to a scripture from Deuteronomy 15:

“There will never cease to be poor people in the country. . . .
“And this is why I am giving you this command: always be open handed with your brother, and with anyone in your country who is in need and is poor!” (Dt 15, 11b).

Those who heard Jesus say that “the poor will be with you always” knew very well the inference from Deuteronomy.

Jewish law required that the community share its good with the needy.

Judas was not about “opening his hand to help the poor.”

Sadly, the corrupted Judases are always with us.

Thank God Christianity does, however, have its Marys as well.

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REGARDING THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN: What if we Christians and others of high-minded faith and morality were good Samaritans with every word we spoke? How different would this world, this country, our communities, even our homes be? Maybe our politicians and leaders would follow our lead.

Jesus said . . . .

“He who loses his life will gain it.”

Or, put in modern terms we might better grasp:

“He who loses his ego will have life.

Imagine if our political leaders and wannabe leaders, most of whom act and talk as if they’re in a heated competition to out-Christian one another, actually lived by the teaching and example of the Lord, starting with the surrender of their egos.

(I know–we can only imagine, but read one . . . )

Imagine if our leaders and polticians all worked together in a harmonious stream of good will, for the common good of all people, of all faiths and no faiths included.

Imagine if they debated and argued by choosing words that are constructive, uplifting and harmonious-more high-minded than even the civil language that bespeaks dignity.

As it is, we have leaders who speak and fuss like children engaged in tit-for-tat and so much gotcha.

Political debates now echo the language of snotty-nose kids: “Gotchoo last!!! Ninny-ninny-boo-boo!”

Imagine if their rhetoric and the language they used in describing the American people that they lead–each and every one of the citizens they lead regardless of race, creed, gender or economic status–was uplifting and hopeful–an never denigrating.

Imagine if we all–you and me both–walked and talked in such a way that every word we said, everything we did, was about surrendering the attitude of “I-Me-Mine,” about yielding the ego at every turn in order to build up with compassion and kindness and generosity of spirit.

Would the God of this supposedly Christian nation be pleased?

We get the leaders and politicians we deserve.

And if only we Christians could get our Christianity right…..

God only knows what a great nation we would be, because we would be a far better people.

Questions I’m going to try to ask myself today and from now on:

1. Are the words I choose in speaking and writing (and yes, here at this blawg) uplifting, constructive, sometimes tough-minded but never mean-spirited or destructive in any way?

2. Doesn’t God’s will for peace on earth, good will to all, begin with me? And with you?

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In his epistle to the Philippians–Philippians being one of my favorite of the 66 books in the bible because of all the rich theology, wisdom and practical advice about how to live a moral and contented life it contains in so few words–St. Paul wrote:

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

I can even run a half marathon, which I did yesterday, through Christ, who strengths me.

Good training and nutrition also helps if you want to do things like run 13-mile foot races, but still.

Having deep faith in Christ strengthens me now, more than ever, in my lifetime commitment to always take on new challenges, to grow stronger in every way–mentally and emotionally and intellectually and physically.

Read on for more rambling notes and stuff about the 2012 Rock N Roll Dallas Half Marathon, which I ran with 14,000 other people of every age and physical capacity imaginable.

IN THE PIC: Me & Baylor trainer and running coach Nikki, who advised me through 12 weeks of training specifically for my first half marathon–advice that helped me build up speed, strength and endurace for the 13-mile grind and more importantly, to train without injuries from all the pavement pounding that can plague long distance runners. Because of her counsel, along with lots of online research on my own and still more advice from doctors and nutritionists I have the pleasure of knowing and working with at a Baylor hospital, I lost 20 pounds and had enormous fun.

What you all want to know, of course, is did I pass by Troy Aikman, who is a well known Dallas area foot race runner as well as a NFL and Dallas legend.

Fact is, I didn’t even see him in the sea of bodies at during the race or at the Rock N Roll after-party at the parking lot of the Cotton Bowl.

I’m figuring he may have dropped out this year after word got out that I planned to pass by him with my dazzling fleet-of-foot speed. He no doubt would have been humiliated and reluctant to ever go be so visible around the city at the Mavs games and other events where he graciously acknowledges his fans and admirers while he carries on with his life.
———————–

I did see the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, however, some of whom reached down from a platform near the finish line to high-five me as I approached the finish line.

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders inspire me to new heights.

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Hope that readers here will be mindful of why I took on his challenge.

Naturally, I took it on for personal reasons–as a challenge and a way of working hard toward a goal that would get me in top condition and give me a sense of accomplishment with its completion. And, for sure, I got that out of it. And it was so good and, in the end, so pleasurable an experience that I see myself traveling the country for running events as a way of keeping in shape and getting to sightsee around the country.
The Rock N Roll Half Marathon series holds events in just about every major city in the country every few weeks, and it’s not unusual for people with the ways and means to do it to run–and party–in every city year round (The Rock N Roll run series has also expanded overseas to Brazil and other countries.)

But I also did this as a way to call attention to the crushing effects of the epidemic that is diabetes in this country.

As I noted here in other postings, I have a hard time with all the deaths, the amputations, the pain and so many other crushing effects of diabetes in my ministry as a chaplain at a the hospital.

I’ve also noted that it’s a major contributor to the outlandish costs of health care in this country. And sadly, more often than not, diabetes can be avoided with a sensible, reasonable healthy diet–one that entails old-fashioned counting of calories and even moderate exercise a few times a week.

I want to emphasize, yet again, that you don’t have to go crazy and transform yourself into a fanatic runner, like I did, to avoid diabetes as well as some cancers and so many other crushing maladies.

And we now know that a sensible diet doesn’t mean that you have to starve yourself. Eating the right foods with the right calories and carbs and fats and all that reduces the food cravings that all of us in this fat and happy nation have.

For sure, strict nutrition and diet and vigorous exercise like running is greatly to be desired. And I can’t recommend that enough.

But, again, the operative word is “sensible.” McRibs from Mickey D’s and copious amounts of Tex Mex helpings–Tex Mex cravings being one of the food addictions I shook off in training so hard for the marathon goal–do not sensible health habits and disease prevention make.

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"Man, the Jitterbugger's still planning to run that Rock N Roll Foot Race through the streets downtown Dallas this coming Sunday morning. doesn't he know they have light rail trains you can ride down there?"



In this photo: Dallas Cowboys legend Troy Aikman, who is old and broke down from years of having his person used as a target by 300-plus pound gorillas and linebackers charging him at the speed of Patriot Missiles, still managed to finish the Dallas Rock and Roll Half Marathon (13.1 miles) last year with in impressive time well under two hours. . . .

However, yer worthy leader of the Cult of the Jitterbug–he who is old and broke down from tearing down his body all those years with strong drink, games of chance and women of questionable virtue while Aikman was living a virtuous life playing football and sitting in whirlpools–yes, that Jitterbugger is aiming to pass by Aikman in this year’s Rock N Roll Half Marathon Foot Race with a big thumbs up and some snarky little comment like, “Eat my dust, Aikman! Hahahaha!!!!”

My goal in this 13.1 mile Pain-a-Thon is either to do that–to beat Aikman–or to cross the finish line of this Second Annual Rock N Roll Half Marathon Foot Race without being pulled by paramedics dragging an oxygen tank.

Always have backup goals in life I always say.
Grace & peace & God’s blessings & mercies on you who are reading this

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Wall Hanging at St. Scholastica Monastery, Fort Smith, Ark.

Christ beside me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ within me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me.”

— St. Patrick

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"Play that funky music, white boy!"

This Sting video from his MTV craze days still gets my jitterbug feet all itchy. Loved how he got some of the coolest soul brothers and sisters in town together for this rockin’ little dittie.

Read on.

Not to mention Rock on.

It’s been interesting to watch His Greatness Sting mature and grow into a full-grown adult of an artist over the years, as some of these old hard rockers (i.e., Rod Stewart doing “Stardust” anyone?) do.

This occurred to me I was putting together a playlist for my 5 mile training run today around that oasis of beauty and nature in the middle of Dallas that is White Rock Lake.

That would be a training run for that 13.1 mile Rock N Roll Half Marathon Footrace here in Dallas–the one where my goal is either to finish the footrace with a pulse, or to pass by Troy Aikman and taunt him with some snarky remark (“Catch me if you can, Cowboy!”), whichever comes first.

(Aikman burned it up last year when he ran the first annual Rock Half Marathon here in his beloved Dallas where he is so beloved and almost bowed down to when he shows up someplace like the stands at a Mavericks or Rangers game. He could be the mayor, the county judge or the Grand Poohbah of North Texas. He ranks up there with local Dallas-Fort Worth treasures like Roger Staubach and Nolan Ryan. Too bad Houston blew its opportunity to have Ryan as the King of Hot & Humid Houston. He likes even the weather up here better than Houston anyway, it turns out.)

Anyway, I’m talking here about the half marathon I’m running to raise your awareness of the lethal and/or debilitating effects of diabetes, which is an epidemic that is also draining the health-care system of kazillions of dollars a year. And what I hate about this disease–notwithstanding the pain and agony I see every day at the hospital as people die or suffer from diabetes-related maladies–is that so much of its crushing effects can be prevented with sensible diet and exercise.

I want to remind you once again that just because I signed up for a half marathon to finally shed some lingering poundage that my regular exercise couldn’t wipe out because of my bad diet–that doesn’t mean I want you or anybody else to go all radical crazy and sign up for a footrace against Troy Aikman and way over 10,000 other half marathon runners in the Rock and Roll Half Marathon through Dallas streets on Sunday morn March 25.

No.

I just hope so much as one reader might be inspired enough by these blawg postings to be more mindful of how many calories they take in every day, and the food containing those calories. We now know that no fad diets or anything else can beat old-fashioned calorie counting, but we also know you don’t have to starve yourself in counting calories if you eat the right kinds of foods throughout the day.

And just walk every day, even if you start out baby stepping to the end of the block and back.

We’ve got to change eating and exercise habits in this country–and instill good (and tasty) nutrition, and real exercise habits in our kids from early childhood. A lot more apples and bananas and genuine fruit and a lot less Fruit Loops.

End of my sermonette and sorry I got carried away–I intended with this blawg posting today to share some older Sting music that I like, that helps me relax through a footrace training run, and if you like any of it too–cool beans, dude. And if you don’t like it what do I care–I ain’t making no money off this blawg stuff anyway, you know, which breaks my Life Rule No. 1 (from Dr. Samuel Johnson) from back when I was a professional writer:

“None but a blockhead would write for anything for money.”


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“We need to pay for the less fortunate. We need to have coverage for the indigent population.

“They need to have access to care, because then they can get the prevention and wellness [education they need].”

— Joel Allison, CEO of Baylor Health Care System–where yours truly is employed as a chaplain–quoted in a profile of him in the great and very great Christianity Today magazine.

THIS IS JOEL ALLISON: HE SIGNS MY PAYCHECKS: GOD BLESS HIM

Joel Allison, the CEO of the Baptist hospital system where this Methodist minister has been employed going on five years now, is a very interesting man and influential voice in the ongoing debate about health care reform. He’s featured in a terrific article in Christianity Today, which includes this quote from him about the issue:

” ‘This is really bipartisan, ‘ ” Allison said [about the need for health care reform and the political debate surrounding it]. ” ‘It rapidly devolved from intelligent debate to very partisan acrimony and sound bites, and we lost the opportunity to really look at how can we address a need and provide access to quality care for all people. ‘ ”

“Allison had been an early advocate for health care reform and preventive health management well before the recent debate over Obamacare. His high profile in the field has landed him on Modern Healthcare’s “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” list from 2005 to 2010. And B’nai B’rith (a Jewish service nonprofit) awarded him its National Healthcare Award last year.”

The article also quotes my boss in pastoral care at Baylor, Mark Grace, talking about Baylor under the leadership of Joel Allison, who is a genuinely Godly and compassionate man.

I hope everyone will read this very readable and not too lengthy piece about him in CT the magazine.

Click here to read the whole enchilada.

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