Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011- It's Only A Number Now


Happy to be vertical for 2012. Everybody wants to go to heaven, nobody wants to die, now there is a cliche that I can relate to. And here is another that rings loud and clear: It is all about the family. True, true. In June, when I was on the brink, I wasn't thinking about the unfinished projects on my iPad. I wasn't texting my assistant from the ambulance, I was alone in Miami and I wanted to reach my family. So at the close of 2011, the people in my family and not projects are on my heart.



Larissa- 2011 at our favorite coffee shop in Miami



Valentines Day 2005

Where are they now? L-R: Daniel & Leanne live in ABQ, Daniel is working on his first feature film, Leanne teaches piano, and they are expecting soon! Jason & Becca, just moved to Denver with Jaxon & Brigette, mixed emotions for me. Levi & Jennie live in Montana, where Levi is pastor of Fresh Life Church, with Alivia, Lenya, Daisy and another one on the way! BTW: Alivia is in this photo, she just hasn't been born yet!

MIA: Josh, (works at Apple at ABQ Uptown) married to Tamara with sweet Aisley. Heidi, still at home for now, went to UNM this fall, attending Bible College in York, England in February. Jesse works as a pastor at Calvary. Bekah leads worship and attends UNM.

Most of the growing fam

Larissa- teaching at She, the women's ministry at Calvary

Aisley, what a doll




What can you say about a boy named Jaxon?

Hi! Brigette



Levi & Jennie with the girls in Whitefish

Pedro Garcia, younger brother I never had!

The Fab Lusko Five, smiling and styling, Knob Hill, October 2011

Bekah & Jesse-dog

Daniel, Leanne & Co.

Okay- here is one project I completed in 2011, Never Surrender, the documentary story of General Jerry Boykin.




And if I had a bucket list (I don't) hiking rim to rim across the Grand Canyon last May would have been on it. Check.
Now, let's move on, shall we?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Does God read the sports page?


Tebowmania has swept the country, this we know: From SNL to the Wall Street Journal to NFL Live, I have never seen anything quite like it.

Kurt Warner was faith visible, and dozens of NFL players gather for prayer mid-field after all games, but Tim has taken it to a new level.

Never before has a players character affected sports commentary in such a severe way.

As a Christian and a Bronco fan, I was taken aback by the virulent anti-Tebow rhetoric from ESPN etc. Is he over the top? Should he dial it back a notch or two? I don't think so. Seems to me, this is the genuine Tim Tebow. The larger question that arises from all the credit the Lord gets from NFL wins is, 'Does God care about football?'


The answer is easy, of course He does, not because He is a Bronco fan though. God cares about football because we do. What concerns man, concerns God; He cares equally about polo as He does about the Super Bowl, as He does about chess. The heart of man is always the issue in heaven.


During the recent improbable Bronco winning streak, nearly one thousand people died from flooding in the Philippines, while hundreds were massacred in Syria. Meanwhile in the Sudan, famine is a daily life and death issue, and I am thinking that kind of story should capture our attention, emotion and support.


I lived in Colorado during the Elway years, as a whole region was swept along with Bronco fever, it was fun, but I do not think it was all that healthy, and I am sure it was not balanced in terms of a worldview. After all, pro sports is largely made up of spoiled millionaires playing a game. So bravo to Tim Tebow for his boldness and his balance.


And yes, God reads the sports page, but I think He first turns to the obituaries. That's the real news.


Jesus wept, not at a soccer game, but at a cemetery.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Finale from Christopher Hitchens


Dec 16, 8:09 AM EST

Christopher Hitchens, militant pundit, dies at 62

His ideal way to die:
"Fully conscious, and either fighting or reciting (or fooling around)."

Hitchens was an extremely talented writer and a huge contradiction. He authored, 'God is Not Great,' and numerous anti-God essays. He hated Mother Teresa and supported George Bush. He spoke boldly against radical Islam and tried to have the Pope arrested. He reveled in a debauched life and faced cancer defiantly. Now he knows.


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Cancer weakened, but did not soften Christopher Hitchens. He did not repent or forgive or ask for pity. As if granted diplomatic immunity, his mind's eye looked plainly upon the attack and counterattack of disease and treatments that robbed him of his hair, his stamina, his speaking voice and eventually his life.

"I love the imagery of struggle," he wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. "I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient."

Hitchens, a Washington, D.C.-based author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes left and right, died Thursday night at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer, according to a statement from Vanity Fair magazine. He was 62.

"There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar," said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. "Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls."

He had enjoyed his drink (enough to "to kill or stun the average mule") and cigarettes, until he announced in June 2010 that he was being treated for cancer of the esophagus.

He was a most engaged, prolific and public intellectual who wrote numerous books, was a frequent television commentator and a contributor to Vanity Fair, Slate and other publications. He became a popular author in 2007 thanks to "God is Not Great," a manifesto for atheists.

"Christopher Hitchens was everything a great essayist should be: infuriating, brilliant, highly provocative and yet intensely serious," said Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. "I worked as an intern for him years ago. My job was to fact check his articles. Since he had a photographic memory and an encyclopedic mind it was the easiest job I've ever done."

Long after his diagnosis, his columns and essays appeared regularly, savaging the royal family, reveling in the death of Osama bin Laden, or pondering the letters of poet Philip Larkin. He was intolerant of nonsense, including about his own health. In a piece which appeared in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, he dismissed the old saying that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

"So far, I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline. I repeat, this is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slower motion," he wrote. "It is our common fate. In either case, though, one can dispense with facile maxims that don't live up to their apparent billing."

Eloquent and intemperate, bawdy and urbane, Hitchens was an acknowledged contrarian and contradiction - half-Christian, half-Jewish and fully non-believing; a native of England who settled in America; a former Trotskyite who backed the Iraq war and supported George W. Bush. But his passions remained constant and targets of his youth, from Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa, remained hated.

He was a militant humanist who believed in pluralism and racial justice and freedom of speech, big cities and fine art and the willingness to stand the consequences. He was smacked in the rear by then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and beaten up in Beirut. He once submitted to waterboarding to prove that it was indeed torture.

Hitchens was a committed sensualist who abstained from clean living as if it were just another kind of church. In 2005, he would recall a trip to Aspen, Colo., and a brief encounter after stepping off a ski lift.

"I was met by immaculate specimens of young American womanhood, holding silver trays and flashing perfect dentition," he wrote. "What would I like? I thought a gin and tonic would meet the case. `Sir, that would be inappropriate.' In what respect? `At this altitude gin would be very much more toxic than at ground level.' In that case, I said, make it a double."

An emphatic ally and inspired foe, he stood by friends in trouble ("Satanic Verses" novelist Salman Rushdie) and against enemies in power (Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini). His heroes included George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Gore Vidal (pre-Sept. 11). Among those on the Hitchens list of shame: Michael Moore, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Sarah Palin, Gore Vidal (post Sept. 11) and Prince Charles.

"We have known for a long time that Prince Charles' empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant," Hitchens wrote in Slate in 2010 after the heir to the British throne gave a speech criticizing Galileo for the scientist's focus on "the material aspect of reality."

"He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way. But this latest departure promotes him from an advocate of harmless nonsense to positively sinister nonsense."

Hitchens was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1949. His father, Eric, was a "purse-lipped" Navy veteran known as "The Commander"; his mother, Yvonne, a romantic who later killed herself during an extra-marital rendezvous in Greece. Young Christopher would have rather read a book. He was "a mere weed and weakling and kick-bag" who discovered that "words could function as weapons" and so stockpiled them.

In college, Oxford, he made such longtime friends as authors Martin Amis and Ian McEwan and claimed to be nearby when visiting Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton did or did not inhale marijuana. Radicalized by the 1960s, Hitchens was often arrested at political rallies, was kicked out of Britain's Labour Party over his opposition to the Vietnam War and became a correspondent for the radical magazine International Socialiam. His reputation broadened in the 1970s through his writings for the New Statesman.

Wavy-haired and brooding and aflame with wit and righteous anger, he was a star of the left on paper and on camera, a popular television guest and a columnist for one of the world's oldest liberal publications, The Nation. In friendlier times, Vidal was quoted as citing Hitchens as a worthy heir to his satirical throne.

But Hitchens never could simply nod his head. He feuded with fellow Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn, broke with Vidal and angered freedom of choice supporters by stating that the child's life begins at conception. An essay for Vanity Fair was titled "Why Women Aren't Funny," and Hitchens wasn't kidding.

He had long been unhappy with the left's reluctance to confront enemies or friends. He would note his strong disappointment that Arthur Miller and other leading liberals shied from making public appearances on behalf of Rushdie after the Ayatollah Khomeini called for his death. He advocated intervention in Bosnia and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Rushdie posted on his Twitter page early Friday: "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops."

No Democrat angered him more than Clinton, whose presidency led to the bitter end of Hitchens' friendship with White House aide Sidney Blumenthal and other Clinton backers. As Hitchens wrote in his memoir, he found Clinton "hateful in his behavior to women, pathological as a liar, and deeply suspect when it came to money in politics."

He wrote the anti-Clinton book, "No One Left to Lie To," at a time when most liberals were supporting the president as he faced impeachment over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Hitchens also loathed Hillary Rodham Clinton and switched his affiliation from independent to Democrat in 2008 just so he could vote against her in the presidential primary.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, completed his exit. He fought with Vidal, Noam Chomsky and others who either suggested that U.S. foreign policy had helped cause the tragedy or that the Bush administration had advanced knowledge. He supported the Iraq war, quit The Nation, backed Bush for re-election in 2004 and repeatedly chastised those whom he believed worried unduly about the feelings of Muslims.

"It's not enough that faith claims to be the solution to all problems," he wrote in Slate in 2009 after a Danish newspaper apologized for publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that led Muslim organizations to threaten legal action. "It is now demanded that such a preposterous claim be made immune from any inquiry, any critique, and any ridicule."

His essays were compiled in such books as "For the Sake of Argument" and "Prepared for the Worst." He also wrote short biographies/appreciations of Paine and Thomas Jefferson, a tribute to Orwell and "Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring)," in which he advised that "Only an open conflict of ideas and principles can produce any clarity." A collection of essays, "Arguably," came out in September 2011 and he was planning a "book-length meditation on malady and mortality." He appeared in a 2010 documentary about the topical singer Phil Ochs.

Survived by his second wife, author Carol Blue, and by his three children (Alexander, Sophia and Antonia), Hitchens had quotable ideas about posterity, clarified years ago when he saw himself referred to as "the late" Christopher Hitchens in print. For the May 2010 issue of Vanity Fair, before his illness, Hitchens submitted answers for the Proust Questionnaire, a probing and personal survey for which the famous have revealed everything from their favorite color to their greatest fear.

His vision of earthly bliss: "To be vindicated in my own lifetime."

His ideal way to die: "Fully conscious, and either fighting or reciting (or fooling around)."


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Of Cancer and Christianity Part Three

I have been following the story of Christopher Hitchens, an aggressive atheist who has terminal cancer. A tragic story made more intriguing because his brother is a staunch Christian, as is Christopher's brilliant doctor. Hitchens himself is well spoken and an author of slick anti-God propaganda. I still hope for a miracle, but time is running out.


Former self: Christopher Hitchens before his battle with cancer

Although he gave up cigarettes in 2008 after claiming to have had an epiphany, he once said he could 'drink enough every day to kill or stun the average mule.'



From the UK Daily Mail


Cancer-stricken Christopher Hitchens says his 'time' is coming as he makes first public appearance in months to receive atheism award

By JOHN STEVENS

October 2011

Christopher Hitchens said that his 'time' is coming as he made his first public appearance in months at the weekend.

The controversial writer and fervent atheist, who is suffering from oesophagus cancer, attended the Atheist Alliance of America conference in Texas where he was presented an award by Richard Dawkins.

The 62-year-old said that he had been determined to attend the conference because of the state's Bible Belt devotion.

Battle: Christopher Hitchens, who is suffering from oesophagus cancer, spoke at the Atheist Alliance of America conference in Texas

Receiving the Richard Dawkins Freethinker of the Year Award, Hitchens looked gaunt and his voice was soft.

At one point he struggled to speak and started to cough. 'I was worried this would happen,' he told the gathering of over a thousand atheist.

'I think being an atheist is something you are, not something you do,' he told the New York Times.

'I'm not sure we need to be honoured. We don't need positive reinforcement.

'On the other hand, we do need to stick up for ourselves, especially in a place like Texas, where they have laws, I think, that if you don't believe in Jesus Christ you can't run for sheriff.'

Dawkins praised him for showing his atheist determination even in the face of death and said he had disproved the saying that there are 'no atheists in foxholes'.



Illness: Hitchens, who has lost his hair, looked gaunt and struggled to speak at times


'I'm not going to quit until absolutely I have to,' Hitchens told the audience before receiving a standing ovation.

During his speech Hitchens said that he appreciated the fact that Texas governor Rick Perry had been open about his faith and his desire to inject fundamentalism into public life, reported the Houston Chronicle.

After being asked by an eight-year-old girl what books she should read, he recommended Dawkins' Magic of Reality, Greek and Roman myths, anything satirical by Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, PG Wodehouse, David Hume, and Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

Hitchens discovered in June 2010 that he had Stage 4 oesophageal cancer.

The writer, who is also a columnist for Vanity Fair magazine, has admitted to prolific drinking and smoking heavily for much of his life.

Hitchens whose brother Peter is a columnist for the Mail on Sunday, has repeatedly hit the headlines in recent years.

He notably tried, along with fellow campaigning atheist Richard Dawkins, to have the Pope arrested when he visited Britain for what they allege was his complicity in covering up child sex abuse in the Catholic church.

Twice married, last year he announced he had gay relations with two ministers in Margaret Thatcher's government while he was at Oxford University but refused to name them.

He met his first wife while working as a journalist in Cyprus and they have two children Alexander and Sophia.

In 1989 he met the journalist Carol Blue and they later married and had a daughter Antonia.


Note: An Atheist Award! Congratulations, you don't believe in anything. How awful to face certain death with a false sense of bravado. There must be some very dark nights for Mr. Hitchens. He certainly has heard the gospel from his brother at least. Let us pray that the truth of God's love finally breaks through, even to the last breath, there is hope.





Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The Heart of the Matter

Ezekiel 36:26

David Berkowitz

In the course of documentary filmmaking, I've been able to take part in some fascinating interviews. Benjamin Netanyahu, Tim LaHaye, Franklin Graham and Chuck Smith are just a few that come to mind. But one that is seared into my memory didn't even involve a camera. Through our radio ministry a man named David Berkowitz got in touch and requested a visit while Skip and I were in upstate New York conducting an outreach. We needed to go to him, because he was serving a lifetime prison sentence. David Berkowitz was known as the Son of Sam during a New York summer when he killed six people and shot three more. A book and movie made him even more famous after his arrest. He told us demons talked to him through a neighbor's dog and he responded by terrorizing his borough for a full year.

I did not know what to expect in meeting a serial killer, I knew he had claimed a conversion to Jesus, but I took a wait and see attitude, and I saw.

It was immediately clear that this man was not pulling a con job.

He was gentle, humble and genuine about his faith. An hour long conversation in the prison left me fully aware I had been with a changed man. While this body had pulled the trigger that ended lives, the spirit was that of a transformed person. No doubt he had a new heart.



Ezekiel 36:26

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.


It was 1967 I think, when Dr. Christian Barnard conducted the first successful heart transplant. The South African native rocked the medical world and I remember him on the cover of Life magazine. Truth be told, God has been doing much more impressive transplants for a very long time because Dr. Barnard's patients eventually passed away. David Berkowitz and all those who receive a new spirit heart will live forever.


The Best Compliment Ever

We all love compliments but most are vain ego parties.

But King David received the best compliment ever:


He was called a man after God's heart. That one sticks, here's why:


David was:

A man of the Word: Oh, How I love your law!

A man of prayer: I will call upon Him my whole life

A man of praise: Seven Times a day will I praise You

A man who hated evil: I hate every false way


Heaven is always recruiting men and women who will match their full will to God's. When that rare individual is found, look out!

Until Jesus - David was a preview, we should be a review of this dynamic life.


Okay, so I have been a little more interested in studying the heart since June 6 of this year. In rapid order I found that the Bible is blunt and clear that the heart of man is in deep trouble:

Here is profile of the more than eight hundred times the heart is mentioned. Suffice to say, man's unredeemed heart gets a wicked review.


All the thoughts of man's heart are continually wicked

Genesis

Heart is desperately wicked… who can know it

Jeremiah

Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts.

Matthew

Danger of darkened hearts

Romans

Heart is waxed gross (thick and heavy)

Matthew

False Hearts-Mouth draws near to God but heart is far from Him

Matthew

The Double-minded heart

Ephesians

Polluted & Bitter Hearts

Hebrews


No wonder then that Genesis also says, God's heart was grieved that He made man. Happily, He chose to resolve the issue by offering a full change of heart, a transplant.


Heart disease has killed millions, but EVERYBODY has this genetic defect from the fall- literally broken hearts.


The markers are everywhere, Jesus said:

Out of the abundance of the heart- your lips speak. You don't have to look long to know that mankind is far from God.

How magnificent then that a poisoned heart like mine or Berkowitz's can be demonstrably and permanently changed.


How can you change your heart? Self-Surgery is never successful and amateur surgeons are not recommended. So much of what we do to feel better or change our behavior treats the fruit and not the root of the issue. Relieving symptoms will not bring the healing we need.

Confess with your lips and believe in your heart that Jesus died and God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.


Cue Andrae Crouch: 'Jesus is the answer for the world today.'


Only God's Spirit using the scalpel of His Word can cut between soul and spirit and get to the heart of the matter.