Sunday, December 31, 2006

Barbaric Faith definition

"Barbaric Faith is too give your heart to the One who can make you fully alive...to go where He sends you, no matter the cost." --Irwin McManus

Chicago is still in a festive mood

We landed in plenty of time for our connection. Thanks for your prayers!

Clear skies over CO

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for our travels. The storms cleared out, and we're off on time. All looks good for making our flight to Asia tomorrow.

Compassion and Pure Gold

It's been great to be so close to Compassion headquarters. Ken McKinney, my liason who's far left in the photo, helped me help our youth sponsor 21 kids! That's a record for me. Follow our youth's lead and sponsor a child now at RichDrama.com/Compassion.

Last night I was honored to have David and Luann McCasland in attendance as I performed my play on Eric Liddell. David wrote Pure Gold, considered by some to be the definitive biography on Liddell.

The most exciting thing about last night was after the play when I challenged the students to stand if they were willing to go anywhere God sent them. As far as I could tell, all 300 youth were on their feet.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Matt's at it again

This morning Matt's digging deeper into appologetics.

He pointed out that those who don't believe in the Lord have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Their world view is not based on Truth, so there are many contradictions to what they believe. They reject scripture but accept scientific studies without replicating the tests themselves. They take it on faith that their perception of reality and their memories are reliable.

They choose a world view that shuts out God so they don't have to deal with his wrath, but all other possibilities are logically impossible. Other world views are much more complicated and seem more sophistocated, but they're filled with flawed logic.

Atheists say that religion contradicts science. Some religious world views contradict science, but not Christianity. What they really mean is that some scientists disagree with Christianity, but most atheists haven't even read what those scientists have to say.

While an atheist has himself as the basis of their world view, an agnostic, on the other hand, doesn't know where to place his foundation: A (no) gnosis (knowledge). They say all religions are equal: They all teach the same things; all truth claims are equal. It's arrogant and irrational because they're claiming by that statement to know all truth. Agnostics say, "Truth is unknowable." That's a truth. They say, "There are no absolutes." That's an absolute.

General theists believe there's a God, but they don't believe in the Bible. They say they worship God in their own way. But if they worship God without the Bible, they're worshipping a god who hasn't spoken. An authority who does not speak has no authority. How can you worship a god if you don't know what it's like?

CS Lewis said all religions are right where they agree with Christianity.

If you don't agree with Matt and me, but you're interested in further exploration, I invite you to click on "My Passion" in the right column.

A Roger Nelson fan

Frank Penna, who ran the prayer labyrinth, recognized me from Roger Nelson's newsletter in which he wrote obout our Off-Broadway run last April. He's been a Roger Nelson fan since he saw him in 1978. He was thrilled to see him again in 2001.

At the center

They've set up a prayer labyrinth for our youth. We move from station to station, laying down distractions and focusing on Christ. I'm at the center of the labyrinth now.

"The Prayer Path" can be ordered at GroupPublishing.com or by calling 1.800.447.1070.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Throwing our grain on the altar

God will mess with your junk

Kent Walkemeyer, from Azuza Pacific told our youth we're in the most dangerous place on earth: because God is invited to be here: that can throw things off.

Kent set up an altar to help illustrate how Jesus became the final, completing sacrifice to atone for our sins. He pointed out that the grain offering wasn't to cover sins. It was a voluntary act of worship. He brought us to Romans 12:1. The post-Christ grain sacrifice is to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

Eugene Peterson: "The operating Biblical metaphor for worship is sacrifice. We bring ourselves to the altar and let God do to us what He will."

Dallas Willard said you're truly dead to self (not crawling off the altar) if, when you don't get your own way, you aren't surprised, and you're not disappointed."

Colorado Springs?

...or winter in Hobbiton?

It wasn't quite as thick...

...as Denver received last week.

There is prayer in schools

Our youth just watched a video on a movement of early morning prayer in schools. The images of young people posted at classroom doors interceding was powerful. Most encouraging was testimony of how they were praying specifically for friends and saw them receive new life in Christ. The video was produced by Campus Ministry Network: 316.733.4444.

Former SuperTones lead

Matt Morginsky, former lead singer for the SuperTones, just introduced himself as being no longer a Christian. He had a couple of students come forward to defend their faith before revealing that he really is an orthodox believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. He went on to speak powerfully on defending our faith in a secular world. He told of a friend who grew up as a Christian in a youth group. Once he got to college his profs destroyed his faith.

He pointed out how secularists have faith as well. He has two questions for people who claim they have no faith: How do you know there's a world outside your head? How do you know your memory is reliable? Encourage them to answer these questions without faith as the basis of their answer.

He's now singing us "The World View Song." "Every world view is based on a commitment of faith." When agnostics ask for proof they want a demonstration. The thing is that demonstrations only give answers to small questions.

There is a way to prove Christianity is true: Without it we sink.

Without a Christian faith commitment the following questions are hard to answer:

How are there absolutes in physics?

In logic?

Why are there moral absolutes?

Universals can't be based on the limited. Prov 1:7 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Starting with humanism fails. Beginning with God you can prove everything.

Christianity has no problem aswering the big questions because it begins with God and not man.

A Barbaric Faith

Joyce and I are at the base of Pike's Peak to share two plays with 300 Quaker youth from CO, OK, KS & TX. The theme, "A Barbaric Faith," is based on a book by Irwin McManus. In the book he says, "Barbaric Faith is too give your heart to the One who can make you fully alive...to go where He sends you, no matter the cost." The two plays we picked are Beyond the Chariots, about Eric Liddell, and A Clear Leading, about John Woolman, a Quaker who spoke against slavery 100 years before the Civil War in America.

If barbaric faith means fully alive and totally sold out, Liddell and Woolman fit the bill as well as any I've ever come across.

The opening speaker is Chuck Mylander, the president of Evangelical Friends Missions. His son, Kirk, was across the wall from me my frosh year at George Fox University (GeorgeFox.edu). He set me up by quoting from Isaiah: "Though your sins be as scarlet," the passage Beyond the Chariots uses at key points in the plot.

He told of a 22 year-old man who was supporting his new bride and his elderly father. He became a Christian. Muslims in his town (in an unnamed Islamic nation) carried him to their school and told him to renounce Isa (Jesus) or they would cut off one of his fingers. He wouldn't, so one at a time, with the choice to renounce given each time, they cut off each of his fingers and both of his hands. They tied him to a tree and left him there over night. By morning he had bled to death. The father and widow struggled to support themselves until two men approached them and said they had killed the man. They had become believers in Isa and pledged to care for them in his Name.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

We made it

The snow is coming down, but we're safely settled. Thanks for your prayers.

We stopped en route at Compassion's headquarters (RichDrama.com/Compassion). The more I get to know the people that run Compassion, the more impressed I am with the whole organization.

The statues in the picture were donated by a sponsor, and they tell the real story of Compassion: helping introduce children to Jesus.

Start the year off right and sponsor a child now: RichDrama.com/Compassion

Here comes another one

There's still a bit of snow, and another blizzard is about to hit. We're driving from Denver to Colorado Springs, hoping to settle in before it hits. The last time, airports here were shut down for days. Pray with us that we'll make our flight on New Year's Day to Asia (RichDrama.com/Itinerary).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yes, a very white Christmas!

The snow was a foot deeper right after the blizzard.

Merry Christmas!

After a delay in Dallas that made our total delay 88 hours, but we're now in Denver for a very white Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Liddell & suffering

I came across a great article (1 page) comparing Eric Liddell and Charles Templeton: Eric Liddell: Charles Templeton. They both faced great trials but Templeton turned away from the Lord. Liddell, as Beyond the Chariots shows, welcomed the Salvation Army band playing "Be Still My Soul" right up to the end.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Grounded again

We'll be in NYC a few more days: Not a bad place to be this time of year.

We got in a car to the airport, hoping to beat the snow storm into Denver.

We're on our way back to the city in a cab, with tickets for Christmas Eve, the earliest we could score confirmed seats. That will make us 86 hour and 55 minutes late...if all goes well.

The good news is we're on a flight that goes all the way to Denver, so we can't miss a connection, and they bumped us into First Class. That's a nice Christmas gift, American Airlines! I'm once again grateful that I didn't have a performance scheduled immediately upon arrival. We'll still have Christmas and a few days with Joyce's family before driving to Colorado Springs for performances there (RichDrama.com/Itinerary).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Wonder of It All

I'm visiting a church in Winona Lake (RichDrama.com/Itinerary).

I was surprised that the scripture reading this morning was from the Lord's adult life. Then it dawned on me that his adult life only makes sense in light of his birth. The very Foundation of Christianity is so far beyond the natural that we should be filled with Hope that we can accomplish so much more than what nature dictates.

The preacher said, "Building a life from Heaven's Point of View opens your eyes to great possibilities."

Ask the Lord what He wants to accomplish through you that's beyond what you think possible.

The Family Farm

I exchanged this view for a brick wall.

Some day when I have time I'll post the journal I kept when I moved to New York: "Farm Boy on Times Square."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Creator of enacted prayer honored

Jeff Barker, who created enacted prayer, was named Iowa Professor of the Year for 2006 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: Iowa Professor of the Year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy 90th!

Well, all the extra travel time was worth it to make it for Grandpa's 90th birthday.

He's been a great source of inspiration to me. He was a history prof, and all of my plays but one are historical fictions. He's still an athlete. He jogged until he was 71 and continues to walk an hour or more every day. He was a tennis champion when he was growing up, and I never did beat him at a game! He authored two books, and dedicated one of them to me: Ricky. He was a world traveler, and a missionary. And he loves the Lord.

His next goal is to reach 100, and I'm sure he'll do it in good health.

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Swingles relax after The Nativity Story

I went straight from the airport to the theatre.

I recommend The Nativity Story without reservation.

There isn't a weak link. The writing, direction, acting, cinemetography, historical accuracy are all lovingly executed with superlative skill.

It's beautifully shot. Every scene has a painting: a moment you could freeze and frame.

Without being heavy handed, screenwriter Mike Rich has laid in a number of little allusions to the life and mission of Jesus as an adult.

See it today if you can, and cast your vote for more films like this.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Let's try that again

Up at 5 to try once more to make it to Medford, OR, to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday and perform Views of the Manger for the church in which I grew up.

The lock's frozen, and no one mistook my car for their's the way that kind woman defrosted my lock in Tulsa.

Joyce's dad brought out an extention cord and a hair dryer. We're off.

Joyce's dad clued me in to a way to bypass the main security gates. Concourse A has it's own security. You just have to walk a bit further.

At Gate 51 I'm told it's been switched to Gate 26.

Gate 26 tells us we're on target for an on-time departure. I have a 50 minute layover in Portland, so things look good. And I've got in my excercise for the day.

I just overheard them say we're going to need to be de-iced. That takes 30 minutes. So make that a 20 minute layover with an airline and, probably, a concourse change.

Boarding time: no announcement.

Announcement: our crew just landed a different plane at the other end of the terminal. Now they're getting their excercise. They're still estimating an on-time landing in Portland. I like their math...for now.

Oh, that crew announcement was for a flight to Seattle. Our plane is unloading..

We're boarding.

It's snowing, but they're still talking about...oh, here we go. We'll have to de-ice.

Nope. Someone else is using our de-icer.

Flight time: 2:18. Flight to Medford leaves in: 3:17 min.

They're de-icing in short sleeves. In Tulsa they didn't have a cabin, so they were getting doused with back-spray. Flight to Medford leaves in: 2:49 min.

I just found out that we're landing in Concourse C and I'll need to get to Concouse A...in 31 minutes and counting. At least we don't seem to need to slip into a half-hour window to get our time on the runway like we did in Tulsa.

Pulling away from the de-icing station. Flight to Medford leaves in: 2:39 min.

Wheels up. Flight to Medford leaves in: 2:27 min. That leaves almost a half an hour to change concourses. No problem, but I'm still going to grab that seat closest to the door like I did, to no avail, last night.

We're coming into the Portland area. The captain said he's going to try to pick up some speed.

Touchdown. We're at the gate. Four min

Four minutes wasn't enough. They closed the flight ten minutes ago. Thankfully there's another flight out at 1:25.

Our flight's postponed because our plane is grounded in Seattle.

They've been released.

We're off the ground! Hurrah!

Touch down: 50 hours, 11 minutes late.

The first leg

It's time to board, but there's no sign of our plane.

The same gal that announced that both of my last flights were cancelled, Kathy, took the microphone, and we all held our breath. The plane is on the ground, but there's a plane that's de-icing, and our plane can't get around it because of a snow bank.

Ah, the passengers are piling off.

On board!

This flight to Denver will last an hour and 37 minutes. My connection leaves in two hours. It's possible, but they're going to close the runway to plow the snow and ice in twenty minutes. The flight attendant told us not to mistake our oxygen masks for party hats. I doubt I would do that if I needed it, but the joke might have been funny if we were in motion.

Ah: Motion.

Our 20 minutes are up, but we're still moving.

Airborne!!! The captain announced that the snowplows were running behind, so they let us sneak onto the runway. My plane to Portland takes off in...an hour and 37 minutes.

We chased the sunset most of the way to Denver.

They just announced that my connection will leave on time. I'll need to teleport to make it.

Another announcement: the connecting airplane is correcting mechanical difficulties. The captain said to make a dash for it.

We're passing our gate. They're still loading baggage into our plane to Portland!

Well, I would have made Eric Liddell proud, but they closed the door.

Sprinting with a backpack at a mile high is making me cough like crazy while the attendant is rerouting me.

Done.

Lodging secured! I get a bonus visit with Joyce's folks.

Friday, December 01, 2006

One more night in Tulsa



I got to see myself on the evening news as I was changing my ticket after the first cancelled flight. They had called us off of that plane after we sat on the tarmac for three hours! Thankfully, when they cancelled the second flight we hadn't boarded yet.

I awoke to a bit more snow, but no clouds to be seen. I'm trusting I'll make it to Oregon tonight to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday!