Monday, October 31, 2005
Wow what a busy month. I haven't got a chance to write much. God has been teaching me some awesome things I hope to get up soon.
Today I ran across a great picture of my Dad. This was taken several yeas ago when he was out west fighting a fire. I thought I'd put it here to share with all of you.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
God wants to transform your life. Did you know that? As I have let the Father step by step take over my life there are some areas that are very easy to let him step into and cover with his grace and his strength. There are other areas which I struggle with in a cyclical fashion. There is a Chris Rice song “Clumsy” that my heart identifies with every time I hear it.
I’m coming to grips with the reality of sanctification and regeneration as processes not as completed acts. I look at the ideals laid down in scripture and at time feel so unworthy and then I am reminded that God’s grace covers my weaknesses and I am strong because of Him not by myself – AND THAT’S OK! I am in the process of becoming the person I was created to be – I am not there yet nor will I achieve it on this earth. All I can achieve is to continue in the process and to revel in grace.
For many years Romans 12:1&2 have been verses I have tried to live my life around. Phil. 2:12&13 parallels it and the concept is this: by presenting my self as that living sacrifice daily (working out my salvation with fear and trembling) I am continually being transformed into what I was created to be (God works in me to will and to act according to his good purpose).
Transformation is real and it is possible but it is also rarely instantaneous. The scars of our own sins and the sins of others go away slowly (if ever in some folks). To be transparent, many of my scars come in a way from being raised in the church. I never felt I could be quite good enough to earn people’s love and respect let alone God’s and so I learned how to appear holy and yet lived terrified on the inside that people would find out that I was not this perfect person I tried to project. This irony is that as I began releasing the expectations of others many of the hidden sins began falling away. I was being held in captivity by my own self imposed isolation. The voids that the sin had once filled were replaced with relationships.
I think that while we are exploring the past and some of the issues that have brought us to where we are we must work even more actively on building the spiritual disciplines into our lives that will transform us. Our church worked through “The Purpose Driven Life” last year. I was not hit with new truths or lightning bolts form heaven but my life was refreshed and reinvigorated because I was reminded of the basics. I had learned
May you let God’s transforming power run wild today!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
Culture, I've got culture on me!
A friend recently sent me an e-mail pondering our cultural influence on the issue of anger. As I was reading it mind flashed back to my theology professor in college. He said it very simply, “The core of sin is selfishness.” Madison Avenue and the marketing culture has perfected tapping into this “hidden” sinful selfish nature we have. “That’s nice” becomes “I want that” which turns into “I need that” which turns into “I deserve that”. We then break out our credit cards and buy the object of our desires because it will make us happy, fulfilled, smarter, thinner and (insert adjective here). Not only are we left with something that does not meet our true needs but we get to keep paying for it long after the item of our desires had been left by the wayside in a closet or the trash.
Madison Avenues messages are wrapped around “entertainment” on TV and in the movies that compound our problem. In years past TV and Movies tended to try to express the “ideal”. We saw perfect families, well groomed children, hard working moms and dads all in situations that were wholesome, moral and uplifting. Some people saw this and said I want that – if I only had that perfect situation I would be happy. Other people watched that and said this is not truth. I don’t see anything I relate to here. This doesn’t match my life. Many of the people in this second group are behind much or our current media. They have chosen to depict life “accurately”. We now see the broken, immoral, hurting existence that many of these people experienced. One of my wife’s favorite shows is ER. I hate watching it because each time one of the characters begins to find a healthy growing relationship the writers feel the need to tear it apart. I suppose it makes more dramatic television but it is also symptomatic of what I am taking about.
So what is the solution? What is the antidote to the messages we are bombarded with. We are told on one hand by our entertainment that life sucks and then you die and then Madison Avenue steps in and says but if you only have this, look like this, smell like this, drive this car and live in this neighborhood your life will be perfect. If “the core of sin is selfishness” the antidote is living outside oneself.
In Philippians 2:3 & 4 it says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
There is something miraculous that happens when we get our eyes off our own situations and onto others. We begin to become the people we were intended to be. The selfish core of us begins to weaken and we begin to become the vessels of grace and love and hope that God intended. Sin keeps our eyes focus on us and separates us from those around us in the process. When we begin to focus on the needs of others along side our own we begin to find ourselves connected in relationships. We find that what really matters in not the stuff but the people.
Bill Gates' High School Address
Bill Gates gave a speech at
Rule 1 - Life is not fair -- get used to it!
Rule 2 - The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3 - You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4 - If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5 - Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.
Rule 6 - If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7 - Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8 - Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 9 - Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10 - Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11 - Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Go out and build some family memories of your own.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Bill was not famous. His name will not be remembered in a any book, there will not be monuments erected to him. He did not get elected to office or perform a public act of heroism. All Bill did was live his life, serve his God, love his family and reach out to those he came in contact with. When Bill died at the age of 60 as a result of a car accident - over 450 people came to his funeral. Family, friends, coworkers and aquaintances all came to honor a man who had impacted their life.
A year ago as a church we worked throught the Rick Warren book The Purpose Driven Life. This book is among a few that I think should be required reading to be a human. This idea of having a purpose was a part of Bill's life. This "purpose" was not a grand scheme or plan but rather a life quietly lived in harmony with how God had created him. It has been a challenge to me to make sure I am living my life to make a difference in the lives of those around me.
Live the life you were created to live and you will make a difference.
Friday, August 12, 2005
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts today - Chuck Chat (I have a link to it on the site) - Chuck was doing an interview with a gentleman and they were talking about the sense of community that podcasting can create. As a posted earlier this week God has been teaching me again how important making connections with other people is. In that post I focused on what can keep us apart - namely sin - but what do we gain from connections.
We were created to be a part of other people's lives (remember the Adam and Eve thing). The author of Ecclesiastes says that two can keep each other warm and alone we're cold and overpowered (Dan's paraphrase See Ecc. 4:11-12).
Even Jesus surrounded himself with other people. He wept with them and laughed with them. His example of a fully connected life is awesome. He took intentional time to be alone with his Father. He took time to build into those around him teaching and mentoring his disciples. Living this way not only fulfilled him but it helped fulfill the lives of everyone he came into contact with.
Can we do less? We were created to be part of a body of believers. We cannot survive on our own. In John we're told that the branches that are separated from the vine are tossed into the fire. The question we have to ask is "Are we connected?" Are we connected to the Father and to those around us - or are we floundering around alone - cold, lonely, vulnerable and scared.
Thanks for reading - stay plugged in.
I'm the father of three wonderful, beautiful fun little girls. I would not trade them for all the riches in Asia but I am so excited to be having a boy.
Well just a quick post today - Keep Smilin'.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I've been teaching a Sunday School class this month. One of the reasons I love teaching is that it forces me to grow myself. I discover and rediscover truth every time I prepare and teach.
This week God has been reminding me of the nature of sin. Sin always separates - it separates us from each other and it separates us from God. If we go back to the beginning God said "it is not good for man to be alone" and so he created Eve. God knew we are at our best in community - connected with spouses and families and churches and friends and co-workers. Part of the definition of sin is that these actions result in less than God's best for us. Part of the consequence of sin is that every time we sin - in big and little ways - it divides us from those people we love. It divides us from those people we need to be connected with.
The entire path of scripture - from Genesis to Revelation - is God's plan and path at restoring those relationships of reconnecting with Him and with each other. We were made for relationships and yet most of us spend our days very lonely. We feel alone, tired, scared and are hoping for someone to connect with. Someone who we can be real with and not feel judged or condemned for not being perfect. Even with our spouses - that person who we should be most real we can be guarded and hidden.
The hope is only found in Christ. His sacrifice grants us forgiveness in the eyes of God. It allows us to reconnect with our Holy Father and through the gift of his Spirit to live holy lives ourselves. When we are right with Him it frees us to live rightly with others.
Help me to connect with those around me. May I be a friend and a connection point for others. Help me be vulnerable and open to my wife and my friends and them to be. Give me the strength to make connecting with you a daily priority.
Thanks for reading
Monday, July 25, 2005
The last time I worked for "church people" they hurt me - more importantly they hurt my wife and family. Part of me is so afraid - and yet I know the joy that ministry brings. The passion when I'm leading worship or teaching, the thrill of digging into God's word with people and seeing them respond is so awesome.
The question for me is "What voice will I listen to?" Will I listen to the voice of doubt and hurt or will I let God heal that past hurt and listen to His guidance in this process.
Father - give me your peace and let your will be clear.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Like it or not, right or wrong, I have come to believe that most of us are defined by the tragedies in our lives. Last night this came back to me in a flood.
Eight years ago my wife and I lost our first baby. At about 11 weeks Deb had a miscarriage. The child we had wanted, hoped for, prayed for and already loved was taken from us. She was ripped from our lives and our hearts and while we have other children there is still a hole where Hanna Marie should be.
Last night Deb had some bleeding and immediately both out hearts jumped back eight years. Right now we don't know for sure if everything is OK or not but things look fine initially - only time will tell. What has struck me is how is how much my reactions continue to be defined by the pain of eight years ago. We are each a walking history. We respond to our daily triumphs and tragedies through the filter of our experience. As much as I intellectually know this time is different and this doesn't mean we are losing this baby, my heart is preparing itself for that.
There must be a balance between living bound by my past and living informed by them. I think it is only in community that this balance is found. Last summer I taught a class on the "one another" statements found in Hebrews. There are twenty-some statements that show us how to live in community. I think the culminate in Hebrews chapter 11 when we're given this great list of heroes of the faith and realize that there lives were filled with hardship and tragedy. It was there perseverance in spite of tragedy that got them listed in that "who's who" of faith - not the absence of hardship in their lives. I believe we need to share our stories of triumph and tragedy with each other right along side of those folks listed in Hebrews. Remind each other of the perfect hope we have that lies on the other side of our current darkness.
God, help me to rest on your strength and you eternal perspective not just my earthly one today. Help me to triumph over my tragedies and not be bound by them. Help me connect with others for my support and for theirs.
Thanks for reading,
Practice His Presence
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Well it's been a bit since I've posted. Life is busy as always at the
Right now what is really taking our time and energy at home is preparation for
The biggest project has tuned out to be painting the flats for the backdrop of the stage. We are painting a sunset scene on them with a dark horizon and silhouettes of trees and animals etc. IMPORTANT TIP - if you think using permanent marker to outline something you might want to paint over in the future is a good thing - IT'S NOT!
The flats were painted to look like a bookshelf at some time and the books were outlined with marker. Even with two coats of primer and three coats of regular paint the books are still coming through -this is not fun. Well we'll get though and the kids won't ask too many questions about why there are books in the sky in
Until next time
Practice His Presence
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Growing up we got together at the farm with this side of the family at least twice a year - in August for a family reuinion and at Thanksgiving (deer hunting don't ya know). I have such great memories of spending time with my cousins playing in the woods and the barns. It was awesome to see my kids playing with my cousins kids the same way we used to.
The farm has always had spiritual overtones for me as well. I count myself lucky to have a family who have modeled a life of faith for me. The bible says the Christ is preparing a place in a mansion for those who know him and one day will call us home to be with Him. I've always felt that that masion would look a little bit like that old farmhouse in Michigan. That one day I'll drive up the road and see Grandpa and Jesus wave at me from the driveway and say "Good to see ya. Your room's ready and dinner's on the table. Come on in." I'll walk into the dining room and see my family sitting down for one great big eternal Thanksgiving weekend. We'll play in the woods and sing on the porch. My uncle will be telling stories and grandma will be cooking bread in the kitchen and all will be right.
Thanks for permitting me a bit of sentimentality. God bless.