Juno

Without a doubt, I’m the last American to see Juno. What a powerful film. She has a wonderfully smart mouth, a blended family, a nerdy boyfriend, and an indelible pregnancy test. The little Chinese girl protesting outside the abortion clinic greets her and then reminds her that the baby has fingernails, a memory that haunts her in the sleazy clinic and drives her out to find adoptive parents in Pennysaver news paper.

I feel very virtuous for not mudering her dad for his response to her struggle to tell him she’s pregnant. Vanessa starts terribly perfect, controlling in every detail, but draws Juno in as she plays abandonedly with a little girl. She knows what deserves to be framed. Mark begins so likeable but . . . He deserves the murder I spared Juno’s dad, who utters two of the most caring lines in the whole film to his tearful daughter. Paulie. Well, there’s rumor he may just grow up and really be the man, because Juno gets it and taps into his heart with many boxes of red Tick-Tacks and loving, admiring words that awaken him. The lost little girl looks up for a smile and

Life never quite works out the way one plans. Despite best efforts, love often eludes grasp but then shows up where you’d least expect. Sherry and I walked out of the theater, smiling, holding hands (are we too old for that??), reminscing about the movie. She’s the embodiment of Dad’s advice: Find someone who just loves you the way you are, who will stay close even when you are being a jerk, care deeply even when the distance between is infinite. Hope someday the children may play and smile again.

It’s amazing that this super pro life film is gathering all kinds of awards. The quality is clear, but the message isn’t PC. One must keep watching life. You can miss grace surprises if you aren’t looking.

I’m writing on the third book. Not a fun thing to do at all. But there’s a fulfillment to see how the material I sent Mark’s way is showing up in his chapter drafts that he’s sent to me. There’s a satisfaction to see that a high powered guy like him respects and uses the input I give. Seems unlikely, but there it is.

The sermon for a week from Sunday is on Luke 8:22-56. It’s a press since I have the weekend science and theology class next weekend. I’m also teaching at Living Hope and RiverWest as well as under pressure to finish the ecclesiology book. Oh, yeah, and there’s students and the upcoming D.Min. class and teaching at the Multnomah Missions conference and going to the Resurgence conference for the official unveiling of Vintage Jesus. I see it’s gone from about 10,500 in the Amazon sales rank to about 2,500 rank . . . and it’s not out yet!

Fortunately the crisis I mentioned a couple of posts ago has resolved as well as possible. There’s still lots of pain, but the crisis is at an end. Many hours invested had positive results where things could have been total a disaster.

 

Newness

Sherry’s 1993 Geo Metro blew its second head gasket as she was coming home from her Saturday haircut. Fortunately she was only a mile away from home, so she was able to drive it home. I was tied up in Troutdale at an elders’ retreat (why do they call a day long elders’ meeting a retreat??). I would have left, of course, but didn’t have to. Even if the Geo could be repaired for a reasonable price, the car is done, since Sherry can’t trust it. So what to do? Our normal way is for our friend, Peter Dodd, to find cars. But he’s in Taiwan. So we ended up going to Gresham Toyota. The 2003 Olds Alero made her smile. So now we own it. It’s ten years newer and has 100,000 fewer miles.

The experience made me think of trust. I trust Peter deeply. I know he cares a lot about us. He’s competent in mechanics and shopping. He smiles when he’s doing it. But we can’t wait until he gets here at the end of June. Neither Sherry nor I like car shopping at all. If we take time to shop, in my compulsive way, we’d have to invest a lot of time, rent a car, and that’s an expensive process too. So we decided to trust a Christian car dealer. That dealership asked me to do a Q & A time with their staff after the Passion of the Christ came out. Today, the salesman and I talked aobut the movie as we tested the vehicle. I’m a little nervous about it all, but there is a need to trust, even when there’s not really adequate basis for it.

Trust is one of those things that are hard to deal with. I don’t trust anyone 100%, not even God. It’s not that He’s not trustworthy, but there’s so much of Him I don’t understand. I trust Sherry as much as one can trust another human. She’ll never intentionally hurt me, but she makes mistakes and forgets sometimes. I have friends who touch my soul, to whom I constantly entrust my life, my fears, my hopes, my fragile joys. But what of a friend whom I’ve hurt deeply who can’t even talk to me? There was only intent to build, but the hurt is still there. The fallout has hurt others. Confession and repentance is past tense, but reconciliation is not even on the horizon. What does trust look like? Me trusting time and God’s work? My friend risking to come? Unknown. So prayer, waiting, and consistent repentance. And I sadly wait.

I’m at work on a major crisis situation where I’ve been investing for several months now. It should resolve tomorrow. Trust when I can’t control things is hard. But when I see the results of patient investment come to fruition, I’m glad. There’s a major intervention in the near future which will be as tough as I’ve ever done. I need to process these and other things with someone other than God, but that can’t happen now. One day.

So my goal is to be as totally trustworthy as I possibly can be. But that means saying, “No” to people in advance, which is so difficult when those people are ones who need help so deeply, ones who may well not get help if I don’t. It means keeping margin so stress doesn’t cause my intensity to blow people out. So I pray for courage and wisdom and trust.

First Look at Vintage Jesus

Michele and BooksSnowy Crossway HeadquartersThe Vintage Jesus book signing party is history. Al Fisher, Michele Bennet and James Kinnard welcomed me with warm smiles. We walked into the conference room and I got my first look at copies of the book. . . . a LOT of them.

Can you imagine autographing 1200 books? What do you write? Name of course. How legible must I be? What else should I write? Is it worth the hand wear? Which page do I sign? Which pen is best? How much can I talk and still get it right?

My name got pretty scrawly. The Matt. 1:21-23 stayed readable, but I tried to write March more than once. Fortunately, I was there a little more than an hour before Mark arrived. Since he only signed his name above mine, I needed the head start. It took only six and one half hours!

Crossway president, Lane Dennis joined us for an hour or so at lunch. I paused signing for ten minutes to eat my lunch sandwich. There was also the frenzied five minutes to rescue books when I knocked over my coffee cup! Lane gave us a sneak preview of the forthcoming ESV Study Bible. The Bible itself has about three quarter million words. The Study Bible notes, representing outstanding scholarship, will exceed that by 50%. But its graphic layout with color maps and charts that made my eyes pop out.

We also saw the drawings for Death by Love, our second book, pastoral letters applying atonement themes to real life stories. Their power moved me to amazed silence. This outstanding book will be out about October 1.

The trip got a rough start. I knew about the snow in Chicago. Happily, the web reported flight status “on time.” I got to the airport, watched the aircraft arrive on time, only to hear mention of a delay as boarding time approached. Then they announced a four hour delay! I called Michele. “It’s bad,” she said. “Cancel the rental car. We’ll send a limo.” That offended my plebeian nature, but pleased the part of me that values my intact skin. Then she called back: no limo’s available. Then they announced a six hour delay. That made the crew “illegal,” since they can only work so many hours. Then it was a firm five hour delay. Still an illegal crew, which made the flight unlikely. As I processed all that, they suddenly announced immediate departure. So we hustled on the plane for a great flight. So many people had already re-booked, most of us had a whole row to stretch out in. My nap felt good.

Shortly after I arrived, Al Fisher took me upstairs to his office. He brought the one copy of the book with its white dust jacket (you have to see it to appreciate how attractive it is). After some explaining of things, he turned to the back flap with Mark’s picture and bio. Only Mark’s. Al was really embarrassed. I found myself thinking it feels right. Part of my self identity refuses prominence. It just seems wrong to ride in a limo, stay in a upscale motel room, or fly first class. I “acquired” that copy of the book and asked Mark to autograph in it. It is a treasure.

Now I’m home, waiting to “kidnap” Sherry for her birthday. Shhhhh. It’s a total suprise for her!