Thursday, August 28, 2008

Donald Miller Prays at DNC

Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, as well as some other great books, gave the benediction at the Democratic National Convention. Cameron Strang, the man behind relevant magazine, was originally asked, but declined. Watch it, and let me know what you think. On one hand, we need to be engaged and involved. On the other hand, we have so often maligned Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc. for their over involvement. Is this healthy, or does it cross the line?
video

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Moving On


We are in the middle of moving. We finished cleaning out our old house last night, and turn the keys over today. It's so funny how we can get attached to a building. We've lived there for four years, and it has been my favorite house that we've owned up until now. The neighbors are excellent, the best we've ever had. We loved the neighborhood, and the house fit us well.

I think about how God tells us that this world isn't our home, and we shouldn't get too overly attached, that we will move out one day. I don't manage that well. I get very attached, and invest inordinate amounts of energy and time into trying to establish my own kingdom. But this weekend reminded me that one day, I'll pack my bags and leave this place. Done. Finished here. Moving on.

And I think about our new house. It's not heaven, but we are blessed beyond words to have it. I am so grateful for it, and know from experience that soon we won't miss our old place at all. I knew this going in, and it is what kept me going through some rough waters in the sales process. It would all be worth it. I could do anything, knowing it would be worth it at the end.

So too will come that day when, as much as I love my little kingdom here, I'll move on, and not look back.
And it will be worth it. His Kingdom there is much better than mine here.

So, for today, I will once again pray that ancient prayer; "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth like it is in heaven." I want to begin letting go now, embracing His Rule today. I'm gonna pack boxes, and live like I'm moving. It will all be worth it. It always is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Malachi - (ma-LA-che) Noun; "the Italian prophet"



Brad has me reading Malachi today, getting ready for a new sermon series coming up. I'm not going to go verse by verse through it, or anything. But a couple of things stuck out to me.

If you look in chapter 3, verses 1-5 you'll see this prediction of Christ's coming. Man, did Jesus ever fulfill these verses. They are worth reading, just to remind yourself that Jesus' coming was a plan from the very beginning, and His power and presence were completely under God's control.

Then check out verses 16-18 of chapter 3. I love how God listens in on a conversation among people who love Him. It's like He bends over and listens to His kids. The point is clear, if you love God, you'll obey God. If you obey God, He will bless you. Period. Man, I need to hear that sometimes.

Gotta love Malachi.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Crash Heard Around the ...


When I was a kid, one of my best friends in the whole world was Sam Carper. He lived down the road from us about 1/8 of a mile. (Actually, my parents sold his parents our old house when we moved up the street). We met in pre-school, and were friends for our entire lives growing up.

I remember once when we having a camp out in my backyard, we got rather bored around 2 am. (What do you mean "Why weren't you asleep?" We were 12 years old!) So we headed down the road. Now you have to understand, our neighborhood was built on the side of a hill, so there was an "upper road" with houses on both sides, and a "lower road" with houses on both sides. Sam and I lived on the upper road, but the Angel girls (two lovely girls with the last name "Angel") lived on the lower road.

Sam had a crush on Stephanie, who was a year older than us. So we had the bright idea to go through pebbles on her window to see if she would come outside. We didn't really know what we would do if she did, but we'd cross that bridge when we got to it. (12 years old, remember?) So, we went and sat on the hill over looking her house, and began throwing pebbles at her window. Unfortunately for our weak throwing arms, it was too far to get the pebbles anywhere near her house, let alone to lightly strike her window. So we moved to a little larger rocks, and thought maybe we could land them on her roof over her bedroom. We made it across the road and into her yard this time, but still nowhere close.

I was getting bored of it all, since I didn't have a thing for either of the sisters. I was ready to move on and go scare the begeebees out of one of our other friends. But Sam wouldn't be turned away in his romantic pursuit. As a sat on the crest of the hill, I heard him digging through the Killen's garden behind us, and then listened as his feet softly, but increasingly quickly, padded through the grass to my left. I looked over just in time to see Sam launch a rock the size of a basketball off of the hill towards their house.

"What are you DOING?!"

"I just want it to hit the road at the bottom and break. It will make enough noise to wake her up, and then I can talk to her", was his reply. (We were 12, remember.)

Knowing deep within my DNA that we should be running away as fast as we could, I stood there transfixed in a stupor as everything went into slow motion, just like in a cheesy action movie from the 80's. We watched the huge rock roll downward, towards the road in front of the Angel's house. Then it began to catch air and bounce as it gained speed. And then... then it began moving downhill and towards the right. Straight towards Mr. Angel's pickup truck parked in the ditch at the bottom of the hill.

"Ah nuts...."

One last bounce, and the rock was airborn off of the edge of the hill and over the ditch. With a horrendous crunch, it landed square in the truck bed, and broke into what seemed a hundred pieces. Needless to say, Sam's plan, while altered, worked. Stephanie's light came on, and the front door opened. But so did every other light in the house, and it wasn't the lovely Stephanie or her sister who came through the door.

By the time this transpired, we were about half way back to my house, running with the legs of a 21 year old Olympic sprinter. We never actually saw Mr. Angel in the doorway, but we heard him yelling as he tried to figure out exactly what had happened.

We never said a word about it to anyone after that.

What got me thinking about this story is the way in which our actions lead to other actions in life, for both good and bad. I'm in a situation right now with two sets of people, and watching how their reactions ripple into my life, and my reactions ripple into theirs. It's not unique by any means. It's everyday life. But it's simply easier to see in this scenario.

This is what God calls us to be. We are to be rock rollers. Only, we are to begin chains that work for good for others. We are to roll rocks of forgiveness, generosity, mercy, joy, hope, kindness, and laughter. Even great rocks like these will take their own course once we send them out. And they are destructive in all the right ways. They have the power to crash through pain, anger, hurt, confusion, loneliness, and despair. So, send the rocks flying. It'll be the crash heard around the neighborhood.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sweating the Details


I so easily get distracted by the unimportant. So easily. Jill and I have been having to make a long series of decisions lately dealing with a variety of issues. As we've walked this road together, she has managed to keep her head about her. I, on the other hand, have gotten completely distracted by them and off center. I've been worried, stressed, putting myself under pressure. I have allowed these decisions to dominate my conversations with virtually everyone, and been a total drain and a pest in the process. If you've had to listen to me lately, I'm truly sorry.

But God has been reminding me of how unimportant these details are. He has reminded me on two levels. One is how small my challenges are compared to virtually everyone around me. I am worried about details, while others are fighting for their children, their marriage, or even their lives. My worries are tiny, and theirs are substantial. I have nothing to be stressed about.

Secondly, God is more than faithful. I've been worried because I have put my "god" hat on, and not allowed Jesus to be in charge. I mean, He has been in charge. I've just been living like I was. And I couldn't handle it well. I never do. So, He reminded me to be still and listen, because He is God. I'm so glad He is. I'm so glad He loves me when I am so incredibly small minded and stupid. I'm so glad.

So, today, I am breathing easier. I have absolutely no clue how all of these decisions are going to play out. In fact, they have gotten even MORE complicated today. But, for the first time in a long time, I'm actually not worrying about it. That's God's job. It's just my role to be faithful. And that's enough.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Time is Passing


School started for our kids today. Even though the weather will be warm for a couple of more months, summer vacation ended yesterday for us. I know, I know, depressing and sad. Last night as I was getting the girls ready for bed, and they were all juiced up about new pencils, notebooks, and friends, I got to thinking about time and how it moves by on us. We are all aware (at least everyone over the age of 12) how fast time goes. We talk about it, sing songs about it, lament about it, and even complain about it. But what actions do we change with that understanding?

Yeah, this is another one of those "time goes fast so do something" discussions. Even though we have them regularly and hear them often, they are no less true. So today, I'm not making any huge life changing commitments. I'm just going to remember that the folks around me won't always be here, and neither will I. I'm going to try to be a little more patient with a couple of people, watch just a little more of the detail of life, and listen maybe a minute or two longer to a couple of people today. I've got nothing to lose.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Clarification

I have been posting on the book of John for a while. I had decided yesterday that I was going to let the blog go for a while. It just felt heavy. I even posted that I was closing it down.

But then I thought I would just change direction. Honestly, the daily posting on John felt a little preachy after a while. I may come back to it, I don't know.

I always enjoy writing. I'm just going to write a little more widely. So, for those of you who I confused, maybe this will clear things up a little.

Thanks.

We've Moved Past Heartbreak Hotel


Spent some time this morning with my girls. We were on our way to Nana's and had some car time in the Trooper to talk through some stuff. They wanted to know about dating. I was game, and we had a great discussion.

I shared with the girls a little about how the way we have dating set up is so dangerous to our souls. It destroys us with shadows of hope and chasms of pain. Here's what I mean. We have designed a system that tells kids to be in a marriage without a promise of commitment. They are to give each other sole devotion, separate from the friends and family to a degree, and pour into each other. But when they get bored, or a better deal comes along, then they are free to move on to another person simply by passing a note or email or text which says they want to break up. It's a shadow of a hope of being loved. It never really materializes. It's a phantom.

But the pain that follows is all too real. It destroys hearts and souls. This doesn't even count in the effects of sex on kids. That's a whole other world of discussion. I promise you, almost everyone underestimates the destruction sex wrecks on middle school and high school students.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Josh Harris "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" so let's only do courtship kind of guy. I think it's a good idea for guys and girls to hang out and be friends. It's the pseudo marriage we've designed that I'm against. Is it any wonder when adults get married, they treat it like dating? "I've found someone better, so here's my lawyers note, let's break up"?

I think we can do better. Yeah, it means being counter cultural. But the church is going to have to accept that fact. We have to design and carry out better options. Not in a cultural warfare way, but in a sense of we are attached to the Wisdom of the universe. Let's use that Wisdom in Christ to come up with better, more fulfilling plans.

Just a thought.

Monday, August 11, 2008

All things come to an end...


I read John 19 today, where Jesus is crucified and dies. His suffering so eclipses anything I will ever know, yet it is written about in such a short, quiet way. Even poetic John doesn't elaborate. You'd think that He would spend chapters on the death of Christ. But he doesn't. He only gives it 13 verses.

I think it is because they saw Jesus alive after that. He died, but then He didn't. I think if Jesus had died, and never returned, then John would have memorialized Him in chapter after chapter flowing about His death. But instead Jesus comes back and hangs out with them a few days later, and His death is almost forgotten. It's just a prelude to the resurrection. I get caught up in it because as much as I know better, I often picture Jesus dead. Don't get me wrong, I completely believe He's alive. I trust the resurrection with every fiber of my being. I'm staking my entire life on the truth of it. But I haven't seen Jesus alive. I can scientifically understand that He lived, and that the crucifixion took place. His death is logical; easy to accept. But this resurrection. That's the stuff of faith. So I have to constantly push myself further into it. One day, I too will be like John, no longer fascinated so much by the death of Jesus. I will see Him face to face, heart to heart. This will all fade. But sometimes, here, in this world of shadows, I have to push to be there.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Playing Catch Up


Ok, here's the scoop. Last week, and the next four are going to be a bit crazy. Here's why:

Last week - Jill and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Actually I celebrated the fact that Jill would stay with me for that long. She is amazing. Jill celebrated the fact that she is still alive after so many of the things I have put her through. My wife is hands down the best wife on the planet! We went to Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan for a few days with a couple who are good friends of ours. It was beautiful, fun, and VERY relaxing. So nice! Got home on Friday night, back with our girls on Saturday.

This week - My mom sold her house in Virginia last week, came up yesterday, and closed on her new one today. We spent the day working on getting her stuff settled (insurance, banking, etc.) I'm so excited to have her here!! Tomorrow, she and I drive to Virginia, get a moving truck, load her stuff, drive back on Wednesday, unload, and help her get settled this week.

Next week - School starts for the girls on Wednesday. Jill is hoping to start a full time job with the school system, her first time back in 10 years. She will do absolutely fabulous, but it will be a big change for our family. I'm really pumped for her, and for the school, because she will be a huge asset to them.

Two weeks - We begin moving stuff into our new house across town. We are selling our current house, and moving to a farm house. We'll move some stuff into the garage the week before, thanks to the kindness of the family we are buying from. We close on both houses on Friday, the 22nd. (Hopefully). Then we will be moving on Saturday and Sunday the 23rd and 24th.

Three weeks - Unpacking. Then some more unpacking. Followed by more unpacking. And painting. Some carpeting. General house work. Etc. In addition to turning our current house over to the new owner.

This will of course come on top of finishing up the summer ministry schedule, kicking off the fall one, speaking at church in early September, and beginning a new position at Taylor University as an adjunct professor.

So, for the 2 1/2 people who read this, please pray for me. It is all beautiful, wonderful things. Just pray that I will walk this road well, and lean on Jesus when I'm tired. Due to all of this, my posts will be sporadic, to say the least.

Have an awesome week!