Political conventions are in full swing and the partisan facebook posts are flying fiercely. We’re a couple of months away from the Presidential election and there are things being spoken about that I get riled up about, almost as riled as Melissa Harris Perry (you have to watch that clip – she lost her SH*T!). There are a lot of important issues facing our country and I have some strong opinions. I’m a pretty staunch Democrat and have a lot to say about what looks to me like an out-of-touch, delusional and dishonest Republican nominee. However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded that life is so much more.

First, a good friend and her partner are splitting after what seems like forever – seriously, it’s almost 20 years. She’s really a mess and having a tough time, and rightly so. Pray for her when it comes to your mind.

Second, one of the pastors from my childhood church is dying of brain cancer. He posted on facebook:

“This specific brain tumor/cancer is TERMINAL. Nothing can be done for it. IT WILL RETURN. We can’t be sure when, but it has made it clear it will be fatal. Therefore I am drawing from God’s strength “God is big and He does big things!!”,deep friendships, a great staff, and a gracious pastor.

I told my precious wife who has been my constant support, “I will now see things in a different way. You know, I am a planner. Things to come will be” is this the last birthday with Bo, my last birthday with Steph, John Mark, my precious family, last thanksgiving, last Christmas, last meeting with the staff I love so much. Don’t want to be morbid….just my new normal. I pray so hard that what my words, actions, teachings, dear relationships have been well-lived and well-said and square up with my life. We WILL take this a day at a time trusting Ina BIG BIG God who does.”

Yeah, I’m fine. No problems here. When I read this, the thought that came to mind was that we all really have the same sentence – we’re all dying. He just has a clearer timeline. Death is much less real to all of us who go about our days without a diagnosis but there are those with that hanging over them that we encounter every day. We need to live like this is our last….whatever.

Finally, Dieter Zander. Dieter was a sort of celebrity pastor and worship leader. He started New Song church in SoCal, then moved to Chicago to start a GenX ministry at Willow Creek in the mid-90s. After that he moved to the bay area and was one of my seminary professors and I sang with him at a number of events and worship services. He was by far the most talented musician I’d ever worked with plus he was very much a genuine guy, into his wife and sons, smart, funny, just awesome. He was friends with people very high in the Christian stratosphere – e.g., when Dallas Willard was in town, he stayed at Dieter’s house. O. M. G.

Then Dieter had a stroke.

It was in the middle of the night of February 4, 2008, a bizarre congenital thing in his carotid artery and bam – right hand crippled and aphasia – lost the ability to speak. It’s been a few years now, and still, his speech is halting and sometimes confused. He’s become a keen photographer as a way to communicate worship and beauty now that he has lost his musical gifts. He’s no longer on stage. No longer a celebrity. He’s got a youtube channel and a book about his post-stroke life coming out that I will probably buy everyone I know. Here’s the latest video he posted. I dare you to not cry during the Trader Joe’s part. Seriously – you’re dead inside.

So this is what I’m thinking about. The real life stuff. Yes, I’m voting for Obama – big shock. Yes, I believe in the Buffet plan. Yes, I am a fan of Healthcare Reform. That’s how I live out my American citizenship. But that’s not what makes me a person. Sometimes it takes these things to remember that. Lord, hear our prayer.


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