Posted by joel on May 23rd, 2008
I also wrote today’s devotional for 106.3 WCTL as part of McLane Church’s week for their Power Up Devotionals daily feature. Here’s the link to listen, or just read it below:
I think that WCTL General Manager Ron Raymond agrees with me in saying that one of the most impact-full authors and speakers in both of our faith journeys is John Ortberg. For nine years, Dr. Ortberg was a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, and he currently pastors at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California. He has written some amazingly simple, yet challenging books about the Christian life, which reflect his passion about â€œSpiritual Formationâ€ or how people become more like Jesus. My favorite book of his is The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. In this book, Ortberg explains that the goal of our spiritual lives is to be transformed, to undergo a metamorphosis or simply said, to morph. What do we want to morph into? Nothing less than the image of Godâ€™s Son, Jesus, as Paul says in Romans 8:29. Ortberg says that to be transformed or to morph means that we â€œdonâ€™t just do things Jesus would have done; but we find ourselves wanting to do them.â€ We can become the right sort of person, who can then be a part of changing the world for Christ. In the book he talks about concrete things we can do to truly transform our lives to be more like Christ, indeed to focus on loving God and loving people. He talks about training daily in activities that can help us gain power to live life as Jesus taught and modeled it. John Ortberg identifies practices like celebration, slowing down, servanthood, confession, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, the practice of humility and secrecy, and reflection of Scripture as being key ways how we can not just play in this Christian life, but to morph indeed into the reflection of Christ that we all truly desire. Itâ€™s morphing time.
Posted by joel on May 22nd, 2008
I had the privilege to write a devotional for 106.3 WCTL’s daily feature, PowerUp Devotionals. You can hear it here, or just read it for yourself:
History of Change
How about an Erie history lesson today? Did you know that in 1753 the French built a fort on the Erie bayfront called Fort Presque Isle with the purpose of keeping the English in their place in what was then the western frontier of the British colonies. Well their efforts didnâ€™t work since they abandoned the fort and the British took over the land only after six years of French occupation. Things didnâ€™t go well either for the British, as they abandoned their fort in Erie after only three years, fearing the imminent attack of Iroquois and Seneca native Americans. It wasnâ€™t until 1795, years after the end of the American Revolution that a permanent town was laid out and called Erie. So the land which is now Erie was claimed by three different countries in a span of less than fifty years. Thatâ€™s a lot of change for one little plot of land. Sometimes in our life circumstances we encounter change. Change is not easy, often it makes us uncomfortable to even being stressed out or angry. Fortunately, God gives us tools to cope with and even embrace change. First, we are encouraged to build a solid foundation in our relationship with God. That comes through prayer and the reading of Godâ€™s word the Bible. As we learn more about God and His character, we are able to better discern what is really happening when a wave of change comes our way. The Holy Spirit is able to bring peace to our hearts for clear thinking and perspective. Finally we can have a strong realization of Godâ€™s perfect love for us that will cast out the fear that can accompany change. God created us to be dynamic people, constantly growing in relationship to Him and to others. When change comes, our strong connection to God will help us navigate those new waters.
Posted by joel on May 8th, 2008
The gleaming white jet stands proudly on the tarmac. This is not some rickety puddle-jumper turbo prop, but a state-of-art full size jet ready to send 115 or more travelers to distant destinations. Those passengers can look forward to fast and easy direct flights to the largest cities on the continent. Hundreds of arrivals and departures are counted every day from this modern, effective economic engine.
Sound like what we have to look forward to after the $80 million Erie airport runway expansion slated to be completed in 2013? Sure, hopefully. But what I described was the scene forty years earlier, in 1973.
I recently found an Allegheny Airlines timetable from June 1973. I was bewildered when I reviewed the Erie departure schedule. Back in the day you could climb aboard a BAC 1-11 Fanjet and fly nonstop to Chicago Oâ€™Hare in an hour and sixteen minutes for $47.00! Or catch any one of five DC-9 flights to Pittsburgh daily for $23.00.
Apparent from this 1973 timetable was that Erie was considered a primary market for Allegheny, worthy of full non-stop jet and prop service to multiple locations like Bradford, Chicago, Cleveland, Elmira, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Toronto, all on one airline! Certainly the airline industry has changed several times over throughout the past 35 years, but you have to shake your head at the heights weâ€™ve fallen from. It really is amazing that to my knowledge, we haven’t seen a full-size jet in service to or from Erie since the months right after 9/11.
We can only dream what the massive investment on the runway will bring toward the airportâ€™s future. If we see shades of past glory, that would be awesome.
Posted by joel on May 2nd, 2008
The wife and I celebrated a major anniversary milestone in our marriage not with a trip to the islands but with two days of getting in touch with our urban inner selves, spending a couple days on a getaway to beautiful, downtown Pittsburgh. Some people would instantly mock at the romance of the Steel City, but we both absolutely loved it. For history aficionados like us, Pittsburgh has strong formal and informal celebrations of its past. Whatâ€™s apparently murkier is its vision of the future. Some random observations:
- What a walkable city! There is so much to see in a very small area. From our hotel in the Strip District we were able to hit restaurants, see the skyscrapers, have some Starbucks, view the amazing architecture, and even see a show.
- I canâ€™t speak for today, but there has been some amazing wealth generated in Pittsburgh, and it shows in its buildings. From the mansions of the Fricks and the Heinzâ€™s, to the investments at Pitt (Cathedral of Learning, Heinz Chapel), to the gifts of Andrew Carnegie, to the more modern buildings erected by Mellon Bank and US Steel, the vision and attention to detail is remarkable. I became very thankful for the foresight of even those robber barons that at least left an architectural and cultural legacy for us to enjoy.
- The riverside downtown is dominated by the Lawrence Convention Center, with its 1.5 million square feet of exhibition and meeting space. In the past Iâ€™ve read in the Post-Gazette about the income shortfalls and subsidies the CC needs to operate. Itâ€™s frustrating that five years after this major investment, it is not in a cash positive scenario. I hope that its situation is not prescriptive for the Bayfront Convention Center.
- Food is a big deal in Pittsburgh; I guess it is anywhere, but I donâ€™t remember too many distinctive Nashville dishes when I lived there. In Pittsburgh, the region is defined by the Primanti Brothers sandwich, the turkey Devonshire at the Union Grill, or the amazing meals at only one of two Lidiaâ€™s Italian restaurants outside of the NY metro.
- My wife and I spent many hours at the Heinz History Center, which is six floors of exhibits on Western PA history (didnâ€™t see much about NORTHwestern PA). The center is 12 years old and really well done. You get the sense of how important Pittsburgh has been to the rest of the nation, with itâ€™s industry fueling the nations growth. That is until the early 1980â€™s, with the collapse of the steel industry. Thereâ€™s a sense that the city and region must find a new way of revitalization and prominence.
- Which leads me to the feeling I have that Erie and Pittsburgh are linked in that kind of defeatist, â€œbest times are behind usâ€ attitude. Certainly it has got to hurt to lose 90% of the industry jobs that defined your city for nearly a century. But we need to embrace the new opportunities in knowledge industries and services that depend on the skills our kids are coming out of the exceptional universities that this region is also known for.
What can we glean from the past of this great city and region that can be a guide for its future?