Monday, December 11, 2006

Head in Heart

"I wish I could get my head in my heart daddy", one of my 4 yr. old sons declared after we'd prayed together at bedtime last night. "Why do you want to do that Bub?" I questioned. "So I could see God because God isn't real" he answered.

Man I wanted to dig way deep and give him something, something in a 4 yr. old's frame of reference that he could wrap his fingers around, that he could weep at the beauty and simplicity of it and cry out "God you're here". The best I could come up with was to blow on his hand and offer a lame metaphor of God being like the wind. I said God isn't the wind but he's like the wind, he can go in and come out and be everywhere yet not be seen. He asked me about heaven and God's house and whether its in our town (he's always real concerned about going "out of town" for some reason). He understood everything I said but finished the conversation by saying, "Dad, God is not real. I'm tired and am going to shut my eyes".

I lay there between my twin sons on the Queen-sized bed they share and imagined myself 2000 years ago, hearing for the first time that a baby had been born in Bethlehem who is thought to be Christ the King. I imagined being a Samaritan in a dung hut, hungry stomach, parched throat, swatting at flies and thinking, "God is not real". Or maybe I was a Roman centurion, months from being able to see my wife and children, blood on my hands from the last three Jews I'd just flogged and thinking "God is not real". But instead, as I listened to the breath of my sons grow deeper and more rythmic, and felt the warmth of their small bodies on each side of me as I stared into the sea of stars out their bedroom window I was drawn back to the feet of a near God, an up-close and personal God, a God of peace and order in a world of storm and chaos and I found him, as beautiful as before creation and creating as never before.

What does the real God look like to my town? my county? my state? my region? my country? my world? What does the real God look like to the hungry? the thirsty? the naked? the aids-inflicted? the elderly? the lost? the lonely? Does the real God look like us?

Friday, December 08, 2006

The New, Soft Paternalism

Okay, this article shows that the self is not to be trusted (they keep studying stuff like this even though it was proven true so many thousands of years ago). It also shows that people are willing to surrender their freedom to the state because of it. Who runs the state? SELVES.

We can still trust Jesus.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Evangelicals on 'Revolutionary' Movement for HIV/AIDS

This weekend I was fortunate to drive two hours, to meet with some family, work for about 10 minutes, then turn around and drive two hours back home. I picked up my dad and he was with me for about two hours of that time. My dad is going through his own faith journey now that all he had planned for has changed. I used to try to evangelize him but now I simply love him and Jesus is calling to him from several areas in his life.
While I was alone I finally got the chance to listen to an audio book that I've had for six months (the roads a little too slippery for driving and reading), "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard. I've read "Renovation of the Heart" by Willard and recommend both books very highly. All weekend my heart was asking the question "How then shall we live?". Willard gives an account of a test pilot pulling into a steep ascent only to fly her jet into the ground for thinking she was flying upright when she'd been flying upside down. I also began reading Leslie Newbigin's "Proper Confidence" which discusses "faith, doubt, and certainty..". I was also inspired by a Steve Coan comment in Cracked Vessels Dripping Time about evangelicals being concerned more with what they consider right and good than actually searching daily for the log in their own eye (not Steve's words but what I gleaned from his comment).

About a year ago I got hungry. I started studying my bible like nobody's business and I'll have to be honest with you, I hadn't read a book all the way through without skimming in many, many years. When I say I got hungry I mean I was given a VORACIOUS appetite and consumed book after book after book searching for God only knows what. I'm still hungry. I still couldn't really put my finger on it if you were to ask but I can certainly convey what I've learned. From St. Peter to Tolstoy to Colson and perhaps tens of thousands of sermons in between and thereafter the question "How then should I live" has been asked. I was pondering that question with my wife yesterday and it hit me. Jesus said he is "the way, the truth, and the life". Not many disciples of Christ would deny seeking Jesus and trying to follow in his footsteps yet to non-Christians we often don't look that way. We often don't represent "the way, the truth, and the life". We can never be the way but our whole lifestyle should point to the way. We cannot be the life but our whole lifestyle should point to the life. We can, however, as Christ's Bride, his body, be a pretty strong representation of the truth. Most would say the truth lies in the scriptures or the truth lies in tradition or we must seek the truth but I say we are the truth, or rather we are becoming the truth.

The word 'fact' comes from the Latin word factum which means "something done". If we are to be the "truth" we must become the Christian 'fact'. Every facet of our life must be a facet of the life of a child of a king. How does that look? It looks like the widow giving out of her poverty, it looks like the samaritan, it looks like the heroes of the parables that Jesus taught that I don't have the time to put in here.

The truth is moving. I don't care if you are one of Barna's revolutionaries in a non-denominational mega-church or a mainstream denominational church or you are an organic christian in a home church or a monk in a monastery whenever we talk to someone we must use the words and tone that we'd enjoy someone using with us (wow did Willard change my views on anger), we must serve others as serving Jesus himself, we must be in the culture but not of the culture, we must represent beauty, art, charity, and all that emanates from Love, the pure kind of love, the kind of love that drives a shorebird to flap around as if wounded to draw danger from her tender nest of hatchlings. Who can tell us how to live like that. Jesus. Only Jesus. My words, thoughts, and deeds are flap. Only Jesus, moment by moment, breath by breath.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shout Out

Like alot of mornings I'm thinking mostly about my relationships with my children. I mean, God put 6 other lives in my life for me to influence. What a joke that was. It seems only yesterday that I thought Jesus was just hanging out around me waiting for me to include him when I needed him. Its amazing how my view of Jesus has been so strongly echoed in my older children's view of me. "Dad, don't bother me unless you have a blessing or unless I have a crisis." or "So what if you just learned one of the most valuable bits of wisdom you've ever heard in your life, it doesn't affect me NOW so keep it to yourself." or "Who the heck cares about all the stuff in the Bible, it doesn't make this pimple go away like the antibiotics that the dermatologist prescribed that you won't let me use unless my whole face looks like an add for clearasil"

If you really want to know how Jesus feels about you raise a teenager to adulthood. That is one way you can appreciate the depth of that love in spite of the ways we break his heart.

Thank you God for teaching me that I'm not living for today or for popularity or to be liked. You created me to love. You created me to love you above all others but to love others regardless of my own needs. They are not the pitcher from which you've called me to drink. They are not the living water that you've promised. They are only part of the story. Even if they think the story is "stupid and boring".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Podcasts I Listen To

Since I'm tuning in week after week to the free content that Itunes supports from these great sources I thought it was probably time to get some links on the page so others could enjoy them also.

My favorite Pastor is Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Seattle. There are links to many resources on their site. You can listen to Mark also on Resurgence. There is a link to the Resurgence website also. Mark is the cussing preacher that Don Miller mentioned in "Blue Like Jazz". Don's home church is also the church pastored by

Rick McKinley (who unfortunately is on Sabbatical for the next 3 months but he has some great people filling the pulpit for him) of Imago Dei. Rick would is my No. 2 all-time favorite preacher.

Running a close third is Ravi Zaccharius, he probably needs no introduction but listen to him, he is very wise.

Next would have to be a tie between Irwin McManus of Mosaic church in Los Angeles and Pastor Bob Coy of Active Word Daily.

I also listen to anything I can find by Timothy Keller, John Piper, the Catalyst Podcast, International House of Prayer, and various sermons by dead guys on Sermon Index.

I don't always listen to this stuff on my computer but I copy them to my MP3 player and play them in the car. My wife is very happy about that because she'd rather I do that than read while driving. I'm not a dangerous driver. I have a half an hour commute through farm country and my peripheral vision is above average. Its cool how there is justice in the ridicule I took for having big eyeballs as a child.

I'm starting to read through the Acts 29 Network book list. My book budget for the year is maxed out (and well into next year) but I'm fortunate to live an hour from Grand Rapids where you can't throw a dead cat without hitting a Christian publisher. Our hometown library is in the same network as all the Grand Rapids public libraries so I can go online, request a book and within a couple of days I pick it up on my way home from work. How sweet is that? I included that information mostly for those from my hometown that read my blog. Sorry to bore the rest of you.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Creator God

Why would I want to question my role in creation to a God that is infinitely better at it than me or any other human? Science should be viewed as other art forms, a way of realizing God's beauty and revealing his creativity to allow his will to manifest itself on earth to his glory, not as a means to make life easier for humankind.


I was going to give a review on J.C. Polkinghorne's book "Exploring Reality The Intertwining of Science and Religion" but I thought it best to just put a link to his website so you could go and check out his work yourself. I did enjoy the book immensely but do not agree with him on several points. I don't have to but I do believe that this man loves Jesus as well as anyone that I've met and is doing his best to use his gifts to help us to build our faith. One major point that I don't agree with is his decision to accept compromise with those wishing to use human embryonic stem cells, or as I would say it, vital parts of prenates, in research that has proven (and he says it himself) flawed. Dolly the lamb took 277 tries to clone and then she died from premature aging that no one can explain. We don't need improvement on creation to this degree and whether a prenate is 14 days old or younger (the age at which science has determined a prenate may have a soul since that is when identical twins separate) doesn't mean it isn't alive and already human. If our top scientists say we are going to need genetic engineering to provide food into the 22nd century then maybe that is a sign that we are not going to all live into the 22nd century. I don't see the same evidence as Dr. Polkinghorne for joining God in creation. I don't know many scientists, just one, but he is quite candidly as opposed to trusting humanity to preserve humanity as I am. It'd sure be nice to read a scientist that could say, "wow we've made a fat lot of mess out of what we've done so far, maybe we should ask the person of Jesus what he would like us to work on". Dr. Polkinghorne, I admire your mind, I admire your conviction, I admire your selflessness, but we don't agree on what Jesus desires of us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Raising Sons

I enjoy a great sons post. This writer has a perspective much like my wife's and has some great poetry and artwork also. Give her blog a read.

In this season of my life, my oldest son being 17, I am reminded of what an awful son I was to fit into my father's mold. The things I did and the places that I went that he still doesn't know about would be more than an embarassment. We still aren't marching to the same drummer but we can sit and enjoy each other with no bars between us so I guess he succeeded in raising me, or something like that.

I now view this whole thing as a story with no ending so that gives me alot more freedom and grace than I've ever had before and just in time for the holidays.

For my kids that may read this blog someday, I consider it a high honor to have been involved in even the smallest part of who you are. You were created for great things by humble means!

The Language of Death

I was reading "Reality" by J.C. Polkinghorne last night. I was also trying to figure out a way to engage my teenage daughters in a lively conversation without letting them know that was what I was doing. I came across a word that I'd never heard used before and it surprised me considering I'm a father of six children. The word was "neonate", or newborn baby(my twin sons stayed in the neonatal ICU for 11 days but never once were they called "neonates"). I started thinking of that word and wondered if there was also a similar word, such as "prenate", to describe the cluster of cells that make up a living fetus or fertilized embryo. I'm not a scientist or doctor so bear with my ignorance. Since both my daughters are going through a reproductive health section at school I thought it a supernatural answer to my longings as this question was posed in my mind. I asked them both, "Girls, what are the words to describe a baby that is not yet born? I mean, what is the school teaching you to call them?" They both agreed "fertilized embryo" and "fetus" were the terms that they identified with. Both of these terms are universal whether the organism is living or dead. I talked to them about this and they both agreed that they hadn't thought of that before (neither had I) and we had a great discussion on reproductive choice, preservation of life, stewardship of the lives that God has entrusted to our care, etc.. I think our family is going to start using the word "prenate" alot more often. I know its colder than "baby" but it might be a lead in for some good discussions. Besides, prenate has a certain positivity and hopefulness attached to it that cannot be described in any other one word. I wonder if the general public started thinking of these little lives as prenates whether we would see a stronger activism on the part of saving the unborn? I know of Christians that feel reproductive choice should not be legislated but yet they applaud the efforts of groups like PETA and the Humane Society for their activism in helping pets lead a more "humane" life. I say, "Save the Prenate"! They are endangered, unique to their own living environment, and regardless of how I've felt about some of those that are reaching or have reached maturity, wonderfully made by a loving God.


Friday, November 10, 2006


40,000 days and nights
our father will commence
to burning up the walls of earth
and tearing down offense

the blood will pour like a river wide
his wrath at last will mete
the storm of countless trials won
he’ll take the courts to the street

and in his wake the fall of man
and evil underfoot
the self-made millionaire in stride
his flesh will fall as soot

and in the white-hot light of love
the lambs will crawl from the cave
and from the earth will the asleep arise
and leave the cold dark grave

for the earth will be sweet and washed clean again
as it was in the days before
small man in his ignorant cowardly mind
sought his power in satan the whore

and the lambs of the flock will rejoice with glad song
and the tear-stained cheeks will be washed
as the King and his hosts greet his bride with the wine
and the bread will be broken in toast

The feast will begin and never will end
a feast of relation and heart
nevermore will we cry in the darkness of sin
nevermore will we be apart

Oh Lord, in your sovereignty we are like filthy rags. I worship you because you deserve it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

samuel - schmuel - nm1-190

samuel - schmuel - nm1-190

This is a cool site that gives you a definition of your name in Hebrew along with your name artfully painted by the owner of the site.

God's plan for the church echoed in nature

As a young boy I made many trips in the late summer checking a half-dozen apple trees that grew near my father's pasture to see if the fruit had ripened to edibility. As I remember it the trees were generally full of fruit and the branches well-pruned and healthy. I admired the prosperity in those trees and looked forward to grabbing an apple or two for a snack or eating the luscious pies or dumplings that would eventually glorify the bounty that God offered us from those trees. I also looked forward to watching the deer clean up the fallen apples in the last waning hour of daylight. The fawns bouncing about while the old mule-eared doe watched me intently for any sign of danger as I looked on from a distance they felt was safe. Those trees were a magnet for all sorts of life.
After my dad no longer pastured cattle and I and my sisters had left home the trees neglected to grow wildly, unpruned by the arborist, heavy with branch and leaf until some of those branches collapsed under their own weight.
The indicator of the health of a vine or tree is its ability to bear fruit. When a church is large it should produce large fruit and begin to reproduce itself and not be content with being just a huge mass of tangled vines with small, wormy, undeveloped fruit. I am not against large churches but when the focus of the church becomes self-centered it is time to prune, time to turn the church over to the master and release him to restore the church to vitality. Our culture has created many churches that have become centers of therapeutic delivery, weekend refuges from our sin and transgressions, a place for quick smiles and even quicker hugs while many hold back the tears of failing marriage, a broken engagement, an addiction that is destroying a life. If we just surrender all will be forgiven and we can leave washed clean and refreshed. It becomes an emotional roller coaster from one week to the next so we join a small group to provide a mid-week repreave.
When are we going to get it? So many have been teaching it but so few are getting it. Its not about US! Its not about our healing, our prosperity, our emotional tragedies. Its about HIM! Its about restoring our communion with him. Its about recognizing and rejoicing in his sovereignty. Its about being a subject in his monarchy. Its about doing what he tells us to because he deserves it, not because it will boost membership or solve society's illnesses or increase our treasures, or give us an emotional high. Its about doing what he tells us to do because we don't know what is good for us. Its about being obedient to the KING. We are so wretched that we don't know from moment to moment what is good for us and that is why ITS ABOUT HIM. We think our house is good for us, our cars are good for us, our jobs are good for us, our security is good for us but he says not to lay up treasure. We constantly ask for prayers for our financial concerns even while are bellies are full and are heads are dry. Our bellies may be too full and our heads may be too dry. Maybe what we really need is sacrifice. Maybe what we really need is to look upon all we have as the enslavement that it brings us. Maybe we should just repent of our consumerism and stop trying to find God in the middle of our cesspool. We are like children eating our self sick with candy. Our goals are based on building the numbers of people who say they believe in God and they don't even know who they believe in. I asked a couple Christians this morning what they think of when I say Jesus Christ and, from grown men, Jesus looked like a massage therapist rubbing away the pain of their own sin as he offers forgiveness. Where in the bible does this picture come in? Show me one place where Jesus was not at war with sin and those who embraced it. He did not hold the pharisees by the hand and walk them through flowing wheatfields with the wind blowing their fly-back bangs. He was FIERCE and he desires us to be fierce and find our strength in him. He commands us to turn away from sin, not reduce it. He tells us to go into all the earth, feed my sheep, feed my lambs, quench the thirst of the thirsty but he does not tell us to build big churches and pour a bunch of money into facilities and events to the end of growing membership. We'll be like the branches of those trees. There is only one of those trees left. The rest have broken under their own weight.

There are large churches that are meeting Christ's commands, Mars Hill Seattle appears to be one of them. I'm not against large churches just like I'm not agains large trees, as long as the fruit is more plentiful that the branches. How can we serve to allow Jesus to bring us to fruitfullness? The answer to that is found in the Father. Lets not reduce the gospel to a self-help book. We can't help ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to shout hellfire and damnation into the open air against all of humanity and I love the church.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Breaking the Moon

Leslie and I were talking about Loner types last night. Our son Calvin is one. He spends most of his day alone and prefers it. He does maintain a healthy relationship with the family, in no way can be considered aloof, and plays with the other two little ones but he often has fantasies much too fantastic for the other two to take part in so he’s often alone because they can’t catch his vision. Last night he saw the half moon in the eastern sky and quickly shared with us a story of how bad guys came out of the alley and he hit them so hard they flew up and broke the moon. I can’t wait to read his blogs. The children are such a source of wisdom for me. Their innocense is my teacher and when I disbelieve that what Calvin dreams about could actually happen I'm reminded that my heart must once again repent of anything separating me from that childlike faith. Noah built an ark, Abraham left Ur, David killed Goliath, Joseph married Mary, Peter hung upside down, Paul wrote from Prison, Augustine rebuked the Romans, Luther nailed his heart to a door, Suzanna Wesley had her "House Church", Martin Boehm was ex-communicated, and Loners will continue to be used to Glorify God. The cost is heavy but the reward is immeasurable.

Calvin, tell me a story.

Monday, October 30, 2006


If your goddess lakshmi can't find her way without you lighting your house up how can she help you? I find it difficult to believe this tradition will help you in your quest to do the following: "I'm striving to eliminate ignorance, become more spiritually awakened. That's my goal as a Hindu. "

The God that I am devoted to, the one true God in the three persons of the Trinity, is not only powerful enough to find his way in the dark if he likes but is so powerful no dark can exist around him. He's powerful enough to convince Abraham to circumcise himself and his whole household. In fact, I'd like anyone out there to give me one good reason that any man would do that without God giving him the very idea of it. A man so moved must be under the influence of something that represents eternity. It also is a very good argument of God being a woman (joke, I love women).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Church and State

It is rather simple to read writings written by those signors of the Constitution of our fair land and find that most of them governed their lives suject to their faith in Jesus Christ. I'm not saying that it is a good thing to have a national church because wherever that's been tried in the past the church became much more like the government, in the most negative sense, and the government less like the church. What if all of those that have attempted to shoe their horse with the open part of the shoe pointed toward the front of the horse (separation between church and state means a state with no church) were tried as criminals for violating the constitution? What if someone that sued to get the 10 commandments covered up was tried as a criminal atheist? What if free speach ultimately meant what our founding fathers viewed as free speach and not as the porn industry calls free speach or freedom of expression?

What if this country was such a nice place to live that we no longer needed a Savior?

Prayerfully consider your vote. Vote as Jesus would but don't stress over everything, its in God's hands and he's on the job.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The last cookie

I'm the one. Yes, I took the last cookie. I'm always the one. Its not because I'm greedy or because I am gluttonous but rather, because I've watched too many cookies go dry and gather the flavor of surrounding air just because there is some taboo about taking the last cookie. What is that about anyway? I was raised that way too. My mother always told me not to take the last one. I'm sorry I never asked her why. Maybe I did but didn't understand the answer. I don't get it. I understand when it is the last drink in a bottle of soda. I'd rather pour that out than drink it because surely its more backwash than soda but what about the cookie?

When we sit around waiting for someone to tell us exactly how to share Christ's love for a fallen world we are what we've been taught, leaving the cookie on the plate because someone else might want it. Its sort of like that law of non-contradiction that I hear philosophers talking about. Jesus is not a plate full of cookies he is the loaves and the fishes and we can't sit around waiting for someone to send us. Jesus already did. We can't wait around for someone to teach us, Jesus does in his word and he sent the helper to fill the gaps. Just go. Don't look for someone to affirm your righteousness or to confirm your ability, just go. The world is waiting. The world needs it. It all starts with Love. Make a plate of cookies and take it to someone. Send a check to a hungry country. Help someone rake their leaves or do their homework or paint their fence. The opportunities abound and all it takes is not passing the cookie by but picking it up and savoring every bite. All it takes is pointing your life toward Jesus.

Read "In His Steps" by Charles M. Sheldon

Monday, October 23, 2006


Satan knows right where I'm weakest but he doesn't seem to be aware of whom I serve sometimes. Maybe I'm not making him aware.

I've shrunk from the up-front ministries of our church. I simply have experienced too many issues with pride to be in the bright lights of the pulpit. Many times I'm not aware of whether it is my pride or someone else's pride but its devouring the effectiveness of some areas of our church so I chose to serve God in other ways. I'd tell you what they are but then I'd take the risk of being prideful. I will seek counsel with some trusted brothers and most importantly, hit my knees in humble appreciation for what Jesus Christ has done in my life thus far.

I was awe-struck at an article I read in Disciple Journal this weekend. The article "How Rohani met Isa" was so informative and so telling it makes me want to run out and dialogue with the whole nation of Islam. The magazine, as a whole, is so well put together that I can't say enough about it. It is solid biblical teaching that speaks to today's disciple.

Have a glorious day, in spite of yourself! :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Their forgiveness of a killer mystifies. But anger and revenge simply aren't an option.

The image is an ancient winepress. Is there any doubt that our Lord's justice is far beyond that which we can imagine or begin to distribute? It is not surprising that the Amish community was so quick to forgive. What is surprising is that the concept, in a day when there are more psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, etc. than there are judges, of forgiveness is so misunderstood.

Jesus, help us to have hearts of forgiveness and not of retribution. Help us to take the reins of the team you have put on our plow and lead us in straight and deep furrows, bringing your Kingdom to bear on this earth in peace and love. Help us to be as fierce in Love as you are and as unwavering in our faith as those fathers of the church that have gone before us. Help us to point our entire lives toward you. Amen.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Robert Randolph and The Family

Whew, they got me dancin' in the office today! Hey whitebread, if you don't wanna stomp your feet and you would rather stay in your seat don't go to Robert Randolph and the Family's site. Leslie and I were watching Christian Rock Videos the night before last (winding down after putting the kids to bed) and these guys came on with their energy, drive, and talent and flat knocked us out of our stupor. Jesus, you keep on giving. Who can know the reaches of the good you put in our lives. Every good and wonderful thing belongs to you. You are worthy of our praise. You are Holy. Your creation cries your beauty, your wisdom, your creativity, your endless Love and Joy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Augustine in 6 minutes

City of God is a short 6 minutes of audio from Learn Out Loud. The setting is during the reduction of the Roman Empire from its former glory. Barbarians had sacked many Roman villages yet were sparing Christian temples so the Romans were hiding in the temples along with the Christians and then claiming the Christians were the reason for the fall of the empire. Augustine answers these claims in his "City of God".

What do statistics say about 48811?

According to data on, a site that analyzes census data and characterizes communities according to their standardized terms, 48811 is sunk in “Rustbelt Traditions”, finds itself in “Midlife Junction”, and is considered the “Salt of the Earth”. The first two terms seemed a little offensive until I read the characterizations and discovered (to continue an overused comedy classic) I resemble that remark!

What does this mean to us? It means the majority of us are men, comfortable in our homes watching the game on pay-per-view, suiting up occasionally to hunt or fish, drawing down the equity in our home or our 401-K to buy a boat, snowmobile, quad, or big-screen television and praying that the shop doesn’t close or that the IRS doesn’t find out we cheated on our taxes and cost us our job at the correctional facility. Is that what life is? Is it all really that lame?

So we flirt with the gas station clerk or the bank clerk or the chick on-line (that is really a guy going by the name of hot_lips4u, pretending to be a chick) or maybe we pick up a copy of Hustler at the shop in G.R. and keep it behind the seat of our truck and in that find a little excitement, just a little adventure, to drive back the boredom, the mind-numbing boredom of living in lower-middle class. What could that hurt? No one is the wiser and we come off like the hero when we show up at our kid's sporting event, Mr. Stability strikes again. Or maybe we pick up a six-pack every other night and a case on the weekends, just in ‘case’ we have company and we watch our guts lap over our belt, run our car through the wash twice a week, hit the racetrack on the weekends and do wood-working in our shop to feel like we are accomplishing something. We have a sense of urgency to get something done so we bury ourselves in projects and work and convince ourselves that as long as people keep saying I’m a great guy then yes, I’m a great guy and I feel good and I’m happy and….

Its not enough. That blank stare that is part of the “quiet strength” men show when they get in a crowd of people is fear. Fear that all we’ve built our world around will come crashing down and we’ll be revealed for the counterfeit we’ve made of ourselves. Fear that finally someone will ask us to put our heart into something and all we can offer is stability.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a war for warriors today. Knights are still very much needed.

The battle is for the hearts of men. The battle is for the hearts of our kids. The battle is for the hearts of our wives, sisters, mothers. The battle is for our time. The battle plan is laid out in the bible. Throughout human history the battles have been won by blood and power. The Hebrew people were delivered by blood and power. Goliath was slain by blood and power. Abraham was tested by blood and power. Cities have been built and destroyed by blood and power and now we stand, ready for the battle, and stand living in the promise of blood and power. Blood of the Son of God, fierce in battle and fierce in Love, and Power of the Holy Spirit, the very Love and Wisdom of God placed in our hearts and the hearts of all men. By this blood and power the war has already been won but the battles are still to be fought. We can be confident that when we choose to put our faith in His blood and His power that we will endure. Nothing can defeat us, not even death itself. So don’t accept what society tells you is the next greatest thing, it is nothing but feces compared to His blood and His power. Don’t accept that you are not successful unless you are rich, the bible teaches that success is surrender and the weak shall be made strong. If you find yourself fed, clothed, and sheltered you are wealthy beyond most of the world. Its time to give back! Join the battle men of 48811! If you are in it already, stay the course!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Paradox of the Cross

The cross remains the single-most paradoxical figure of all time. Four unequal legs. Two short legs perpendicular with a short leg and a long leg, in conflict with each other, used in arguably the most gruesome and painful death known to mankind, fashioned of rough-hewn wood, perishable, yet somehow eternal. The figure that can be found in anything man builds yet is the symbol of the single-most rejected idea known to mankind. It is a reminder of Love and Sacrifice and also of the depravity of mankind. People continue to try to remove it from every public place but it is not possible. Even the trees pushing their towering heads above a purplish horizon form the symbol of our Lord and Shepard. A fisherman’s line breaks the surface of a quiet pool in the shape of a cross. The hilt of a sword, the spine of a book and the writing therein, the poles of a planet with its equatorial plane – all crying out the Way, The Truth, and the Life. A light in the present darkness where, in our constant search for identity, happiness, control, love, health, wealth, comfort, and joy we miss and mistake the message of the Cross. Thank You Jesus for the Cross and all it stands for, now and forever.

Monday, September 25, 2006


On Friday evening my survey crew found a 150 yr. old stone with china around it marking a section corner. Later Friday night I took the our three pre-school kids out and bought them cowboy boots. What kid doesn't want cowboy boots? I think they may have got up in the night and put them on because they were wearing them when the got me up on Saturday morning. On Saturday morning I had a liesurely breakfast with the troops then met with Duane M. and his family for a nice visit before stopping at the Coffee Shop for an awesome fellowship with the Esch's and a guided tour of the teen center. Duane and I then staked a couple corners on his rental property that he's liquidating to prepare for ministry and basically spent the whole morning lifting up our Lord and Saviour with genuine, transparent love for one another and the Church. Upon return home I enjoyed lunch, played with the kids, and helped my wife cook down some blueberries for homemade jam before heading out to our Autumn pre-hunt banquet and trap shoot. The rain brought people out from behind their stocks for fellowship and a good time was had by all. We all enjoyed Brent's stories from his recent Alaskan sheep and moose hunt. The kids got bored so they pulled off their shoes and ran through mud puddles the rest of the evening. I think the dads appreciated the humor in that more than the moms.

Sunday was a continuation of Saturday beginning with an awesome time together at church, lunch and a nap with my family, a trip to pick up my daughter then a dinner with the Herald's. I praise God for such a wonderful full life. I am in prayer often for some young people that live across the street from me in a rental home and I found out this weekend a way that I can approach them with Christ's love. After being ill for several weeks I still haven't gotten full strength in my resperatory system but I figure I went a long time with a tainted and shrivelled heart but a strong and capable body, I find it difficult to be reduced in spirit by the fact that my respiratory system is giving me trouble as long as my heart is full of love for Jesus Christ, family, and the body.

Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
Joel 2:23 NIV

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Blind Will See

It Blows me away when I read about how much the Pharisees resembled the management in a Dilbert Cartoon. Jesus heals a man, blind from birth, and yet the Pharisees were so intent on remaining blind that some rejected the blind man immediately. Others witnessed the man's testimony to Jesus and his worship of Jesus and still would not believe. To this day many consider Jesus a "good teacher" and a "prophet" yet would a good teacher and a prophet accept worship after healing a blind man? Only God would be worthy and no good teacher or prophet would say otherwise.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ALASKA 2006 Part I

In 1986 I worked as a Land Surveyor of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Cadastral Division. 13 other men and I dwelled in a tent camp about 2 miles outside the native village of Kokhanok. Kokhanok is located on the south shore of Lake Iliamna, 22 miles south of Iliamna and 88 miles northeast of King Salmon. Kokhanok is accessible by air and water. A State-owned 2,920' long by 60' wide gravel airstrip and a seaplane base serve scheduled and charter air services from Anchorage, Iliamna, and King Salmon.
The original site of Kokhanok, called “Isigiug”, was located 2 ½ miles down the beach from the present location of Kokhanok. This fishing village was first listed in the U.S. Census in 1890 by A.B. Schanz. The village has a mixed Native population, primarily Aleut. Subsistence activities are the focal point of the culture and lifestyle. The village is served by the Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church. (Priests in the region are scarce. In the 5 weeks that I was in Kokhanok I attended the one and only service and it was conducted by a local “reader” that chanted the readings but did not teach or offer Holy Communion.)
I woke up Dec. 29, 2005 with a burning desire to do some research on Kokhanok. One of the first pages that came up was a page created in 1998 after interviews with several residents. I sensed a thirst in each of the interviews and recognized a huge gap growing between the youth and the elders. I felt that through me God could inspire the youth to embrace their circumstances and use their time to further God’s Kingdom by developing relationships with the elders and also sharing their music with each other. The burden on my heart was to give Kokhanok a whole month of my time, time being the most valuable asset I have.
I continued to follow news headlines for Kokhanok and searched for ministry opportunities with established missions but found no one doing ministry in Kokhanok. I connected with a couple missionaries that were serving in villages nearby but no one had been to Kokhanok and hadn’t heard of any evangelical outreach going into Kokhanok. On January 26, I watched an interview with a Native American that was ministering to his people. He spoke of how his people were filling voids in their life with many things that were unhealthy to them and how he was spreading the good news not only to his own people but to indigenous peoples around the globe. His message is that God’s story belongs to everyone and we all have a place in it regardless of our color, race, or background. The whole message seemed to be God growing a place in my heart with his love for the people of Kokhanok.
On January 27, I read on a news service on-line that two young men were missing from Kokhanok. They had left on a quad, were caught in inclement weather, and a search was being conducted for them. 3 days had passed and the temperatures were -40° so there was little hope for their survival. I felt a deep empathy for the people of the village and searched the school website for an email address. I sent the school secretary an email offering my prayers and the prayers of our church. This is the full text of her reply:
“Thank you for praying for our village...both of the young men were my nephews. I will let the village people see and read your email message. Thanks again...have a nice day. Irene”
The authorities (including a cousin of our own Nancy Wilson) and local volunteers found the bodies of the young men after a few days. Losing a 13 yr.-old and a 25 yr.-old in any community is painful but in a village as small as Kokhanok it was especially tough. I decided at that time that God was paving a way for a movement of his spirit in Kokhanok and began my plans for a visit. I emailed one of the missionaries that I’d contacted and asked for his help. He was reluctant to be involved, not knowing me nor my intentions but did give me a name, Shirley Nielsen, the grandmother of one the 25-yr. old that had just died, that I could contact regarding my transportation, food, lodging, etc. He said that she’d probably be helpful. I sent Shirley a letter but got no reply. I wrote to the village council and received no reply. No one replied to me at all but the Holy Spirit continued to fuel the fire of discipleship in my heart so I studied their culture, religion, and demographics in an effort to have the most impact for the Kingdom while leaving the least of human impact.
After much planning, much weekend surveying work, the blessing from my employers at Trinity Engineering and Surveying to take a leave of absence, I finally boarded a train in Grand Rapids on May 30. I carried 140 lbs. of gear that included everything I’d need for the 5 week stay with the exception of about 3 ½ weeks of food. I counted on my wife to send the remaining food by mail. Here is a good point to thank those who helped and gave. I received $350 in cash, much prayer support, lawn mowings for the entire time I was gone, a couple youth guitars, and hours of dehydrating from my wife and daughters. My wife could make a business of outfitting with dehydrated meals. I was surprised to discover that ordinary extra sharp brick cheese would last 5 weeks without spoilage if kept somewhat cool. My diet was all planned out and packaged according to a 2200 calories per day and balanced nutrition. I packed meat (dried beef, venison, ham, and sausage), rice, pasta, fruits, and some packages of tuna and salmon. This was supplemented often with fish I caught easily from Lake Iliamna.
I arrived in Chicago and was like a fish out of water. I have never used public transportation, with the exception of a cab, in a large city. Glory be to God and his marvelous provision! Just a short time after off-loading from the train I was approached by a somewhat sweaty man as I perused the map of Chicago on the train station wall. He certainly sensed my lack of direction and offered enthusiastically to help me out. I prayed a quick prayer, gave him a once-over, searched his eyes quickly and told him what a blessing from God he was. He offered to carry my bags to the subway station or call me a cab. He recommended a subway because it was cheaper. We had a great talk about how bad Chicago needed people to love her and her people as we hustled toward the subway. He helped me get the bags down the steep steps and up to the boarding turnstile and I handed him a $20 and bid him blessings for a rich and interesting life. He likewise blessed me and was gone as fast as he had approached me. He didn’t smell all that good but I’ll remember his easy smile and seemingly limitless exuberance as much as any part of the trip.
The subway was probably the most disconcerting time of the whole trip. There were a few different men that got on and then off that were the type that seemed to challenge you with their looks. Posers with wounds so deep and a well of pain so full that I found it impossible to ignore them and I prayed solemnly for Christ to move their hearts, to wet their dry, red eyes with tears of surrender, and to heal their brokenness. There were women with children, elderly people, business men and women, almost all entering silently, riding from one burden towards another, then exiting. It was the saddest hour and 40 minutes that I think I’ve ever observed. Not my own sadness but the sadness of a people, colored like the rainbow but devoid of light and power. Slumped, sullen, angry, lost shells moving slowly from one aspect of their dreary lives to another. Chicago subways are not a place of joy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Does this really matter to Jesus?

Carlton Pearson :: Carlton Pearson: To hell and back

Please read the article and add your comments if you have any. My heart goes out to Carlton and I can't really say that whether you believe in a physical Hell can save you from it or not. Only Jesus saves and believing on him and his life has to be the common ground that we focus on, the rest is meant for dreaming and discussion. All we do should ultimately point to Jesus. I have my opininion of Carlton Pearson and Oral Roberts but it doesn't point to Jesus so its not worth sharing. Love the Lord and love each other and we'll be assured life, peace, and joy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy Anniversary Love!

To quote my 17 yr.-old son, "I hope that you two have a wonderful anniversary and I have never seen two people so suited to each other. You both compliment each other, no doubt about that. I hope one day I have a marriage that works as well as yours seems to."
I pray, Jesus, you continue to grow us. I beg you help us approach you and each other with a child-like awe. Lord lead our hearts to simple worship, simple prayer, simple study, simple living so as not to reduce the Gospel. You have taken my heart of stone and have crushed it, emptied it poured it out and then filled it. You've put new wine into the new skin and time after time fill me to overflowing. Thank you for my Leslie. I will cherish her forever. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In His Name

I've been doing alot of listening/reading about the house, micro, emergent, resurgent, macro, mega, giga, traditional, contemporary, liturgical, missional, seeker, planted, organic, simple, ancient, yada yada yada churches. It boils down to my friend Stan here. Stan had never shot a pistol before this weekend. I don't think Stan has met many men he could respect and/or trust aside from his grandfather. I value Stan and this weekend I was shown what Jesus' bride looks like and it looks like Stan. Stan, you made my day and I learned from you. Many blessings to all the men who shared some life in one of the rarest ecosystems on this planet.
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 07, 2006

Wild At Heart

Plenty of fish, steak, sweet rolls, bacon (lots of bacon), gunpowder, waves, biking, hiking, jeeping, and fellowship along with a good dose of testosterone marked our 4th annual "Wild at Heart" men's camp. This year we convened on Drummond Island in Lake Huron to just go in and get rowdy. We did manage to engage in many thoughtful discussions revolving around relationships, the Glory of God, men as spiritual leaders, and especially how nature models how we humans are to live. I can't think of a time that I had more good, wholesome fun with a group of real brothers. Yayah! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 03, 2006

meditatio at the water's edge: The Conversion of Religious

meditatio at the water's edge: The Conversion of Religious

I liked this.

Developing Discipleship

I was listening to a podcast by Erwin McManus this afternoon and heard this….

“When asked by CNN why we do what we do the way we do it at Mosaic I said,

‘I have an 18 yr. old son and a 14 yr. old daughter and I would never want to make them slaves to my present but I want to be a servant to their future….Part of understanding Mosaic is that we do not want to make you (to the congregation) a slave to the present but we want, together, to serve the future’”

I thought that statement and vision very provocative. The mission statement of the church I attend is (or was the last time I checked) "Net the Normal and Develop Disciples". What is your first thought when you read the question "What is your church about?".

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Horror of the Alaskan Bush

God, how terrible and beautiful is your creation. I blinked off the sleep and stood by the door of the sturdy cabin and listened intently. Had the terror of the night drawn away or was it waiting in the fog, waiting for me to escape my relative safety and leave myself vulnerable to its insatiable appetite for blood. Should I trust the silence. Should I trust the peaceful foggy stillness. Should I venture into the dew-soaked grasses where the most persistent, horrible, blood-thirsty, predator lies – more horrible and deadly than any monster detailed in the annals of human history, waiting to let my blood, waiting to pierce my flesh and pull the very life from my veins with its relentless attacks. The tracks of the Alaskan Brown Bear and the wolf could be found within a hundred yards of where I stood but their threat, their hunger paled in comparison to this death-dealer, this creature of the lowlands, the pilot of the night, whose incessant song of conquest could be heard throughout the world from swamp to subway, from taxi to tundra and most places between. I opened the door a crack and stepped into the morning. Dew hung heavily in the grass and willow branches and soaked me as I crept through and then it began. Hearing the low hum I bolted to the outhouse and was assailed heavily, blood flowing, as one more generation of the horrible mosquito fulfilled its destiny and mine.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Solid Weekend of Life's Ups and Downs

This weekend was a real trip. It began Friday afternoon when I found out from my son that he wasn’t going to be visiting our home (he resides with his mother and has for the past year) as planned because he wanted to hang out with his step-sister, her boyfriend, and another girl. I understand being a teen. I understand where our relationship is on his list of priorities but understanding doesn’t make a Dad’s desire to relate to his son, face-to-face, any less powerful. I did feel dejected. We’ve only been able to connect for about 14 hours in the past 6 mos. (partly because of our busy schedules but more so because of a breakdown in our relationship. I strive to get around it but I’m not quite sure he’s ready to move away from it yet.)

The next big news was a rumor that my 14 ½ yr. old daughter was going to send me a letter requesting my permission to also move to her mom’s home. I expected it from my son last year because we don’t see eye to eye on many things and one is materialism. He has more in common with his mother in this respect. I did not expect that my daughter would want to leave her friends, her little brothers and sister, and me for anything. I don’t fault her for wanting to get to know her mom in a deeper way but it still hurts to think of her not being in our household on a regular basis. So it was just a rumor and nothing more at that point so I put it out of my mind.

Saturday morning I got up early, awoke my daughter Sydney, and we hurriedly dressed, grabbed a bite of breakfast, and hit the road. Our trip to Pentwater to pick up Sophia was to be a great opportunity to connect with Sydney mono a mono and also let her add some hours of driving education (just got her learner’s permit). At 15 Sydney and I are settling into a better relationship. We had the normal difficulties faced by parents of teenage girls but some were exacerbated by wounds that Sydney received prior to my coming into the picture and also by my complete inability to understand the learning difficulties Sydney faced for the first 9 years of our relationship. I was an idiot with expectations set much to high and inadvertently overlooked Sydney’s true gifts in my zeal to teach her to be like other kids. With that behind us we grow closer each day and I sense the tension has all but disappeared. The tension had formed and shaped the dialogue between her and I for all that time and it is like walking into a newly found berry patch with fruit hanging ripe and delicious now that it has been lifted. We both have found freedom in expressing ourselves to each other in the trust that has blossomed out of the dead limbs of stress.

We had a nice visit, Sydney and I, conversing lightly of car models and colors and home sites and terrain. As we approached a hill just north of Hesperia I noticed a dark figure in the road and found it to be a very beautiful cow grazing lazily from one side of the road to the next. She was a deep, dark red with no white showing anywhere and I supposed her to be mostly shorthorn in breed but betraying some dairy breed by the large extruding hips prominent in the Guernsey or Holstein breed. I pulled over on the shoulder as I neared the cow and saw 3 lively girls milling about in a yard near where the cow was grazing. A long-forgotten memory of my sisters in the same situation as these young ladies filled my head. I had stood in a bedroom on the wide white-painted baseboard, holding tight to a window sill, and shouted at the girls through a screened window, being but a toddler at the time. My sisters’ safety was my main concern as I watched them bewilderedly trying to keep the cow from getting on the road. The girls in the present picture had already given up and were just hoping beyond hope that the cow wouldn’t get hit by a passing car while they watched. I asked them if they’d like me to herd the cow into the yard for them and they’d squealed, “If you’d like to”. Their father was working. As I moved the cow toward a barnyard gate (requiring some darting around and moving how I hadn’t moved in years) their mother and two more toddler girls appeared from a back door of their house. The mother and I got the cow into the barnyard after not a little huffing, puffing, and sweating. I returned to the trip and after an hour or so of continued light conversation with Sydney, arrived at West Michigan Camp.

I was not prepared for the flood of the Holy Spirit that was to meet me as I approached the pavilion where the young people and staff had assembled for the closing ceremonies. We were right on time and after greeting some friends we joined in the worship which was spirit-filled and brought the closing to a Holiness one does not experience many times on a Saturday afternoon after rising early, driving 3 hours and chasing a healthy beef cow. Sophia was saddened at having to leave her friends for another year and soon was sleeping in the front passenger seat. I chose to sit in the back to help restrain the urge to give Sydney constant instruction. We had both agreed she could drive on the return trip to gain experience and work toward her required 50 hours of driving time prior to obtaining her driver’s license.

I’m not going to comment on the drive home but lets just say we arrived in one piece and I’ll measure the trail and pay for the beans we drove over in the farmer’s field. West Michigan, please forgive us but where does a young driver begin?

Upon arrival the weekend turned even more bittersweet. My daughters disappeared to their rooms and my wife handed me a letter that Sophia had sent from camp. At 14 ½ she is more mature than many her own age and often as mature as some adults I know. Her letter was sweet but left my mouth dry and a lump in my throat. She wants to move to her mother’s house. Her mother recently won custody of Sophia’s 9 yr. old sister from the second marriage. Her mother is in a third marriage which has seemed to be going well for quite awhile but recently has shown some levels of stress. The court case is not final for the custody battle so I made a deal with Sophia. If her mother retains custody of the 9 yr. old I would give her my blessing and we’d enrole her in a high school in her mother’s school district. If she failed to retain custody we would revisit our custody arrangement to allow Sophia more visitation time so she could get to know her mother. When Sophia presented her request as “We’ve had 14 ½ yrs. to grow together and there isn’t much time before I’ll be too busy as an adult to really get to know my mom” I really had no argument as long as she’ll be in a stable environment. I was very impressed at the thought and love that went behind the letter she wrote me. It honors me so much to be able to call her my daughter and I thank God for the chance to be with her for the rest of the summer. I pray I can continue to have a close bond with her throughout the rest of her young adult life and look forward to the grandchildren she promises to bring to visit someday.
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lets Get Quackin

I think my soul is a tame 'ole duck
Waddling around in the barnyard muck,

Fat and lazy with useless wings...

But sometimes when the north wind sings,

And the free ones fly up overhead

Something stirs within his breast
Something that was lost and dead.

And he cocks a wary and puzzled eye,

And makes a feeble attempt to fly.

He's fairly content with the state he's in
But it's sure not the duck that he might have been.

(Author unknown)

One week from today I'll be on my way to a study, an adventure, a sacrifice, a beauty, a love, a purchase, an answer to the call "Come, follow me..." I would be lying if I said I wasn't fearful but I know that without obedience there is no faith and without faith, no obedience. Preparing for the trip has been a roller-coaster ride but I urge anyone who feels the call to lay aside theirselves and take a risk in Jesus' name to do what you are called to do, not even look back, but fall in step, letting the hem of his garment touch your shins as you follow.

For the many that are bathing this visit in prayer I thank you. To my wife, suffer all things for a season for your joy comes in the morning and your righteousness will be afforded to you as a warm sweater on your naked shoulders in the autumn evening. When I hear the prayers of my children

echoing the love for Christ that you show them I am assured that God's plan for our lives is being fulfilled and the fruits of his works will be forever evidence of that.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Preparing to Go to Alaska

The dehydrator has been going full for a couple weeks now. Please pray for me as the date draws near for my departure. As of this evening I do not have a contact within the village that will actually email me back so the mystery of whether I'll be welcomed or shunned remains. If I have to spend 5 weeks outside the village praying for the people of Kokhanok, so be it. I don't believe that will happen but I am prepared for it. I have explained the trip to so many people without really knowing what God's plan is for my visit there that it seems almost like I'm talking about someone else's trip. I've had blueberry muffins that were so full of blueberries that they wouldn't hold together and also muffins that had like one blueberry in them and to me they were both muffins and I didn't hesitate to eat them. I guess I'll view this trip like that, a blueberry muffin - God will be the one to decide the number of blueberries, if any, and I'll just make sure the coffee is hot to go with it.
Love and Joy

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I tested myself on this Orthodox page and here are the results

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. I am Chalcedon compliant. The test says I am not a heretic. I believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

Happy Birthday Son

Dear Roman,

I know you don’t like it much when I wax sentimental (you don’t like the drama) but when I think of you I can’t really stop myself from going that route because I miss you so. There was a snowball fight we had when you were about 3. There was fishing at a pond in a park in Englewood, Ohio where you caught the biggest fish and it was a catfish, while everyone else caught little sunfish. We played basketball at our concrete court in New Carlisle, OH. We went rabbit hunting and you were the dog in back of Grandpa’s house. We drove down to get your Rose and I saw the look on your face when you picked her out. There is so much more.

Some people come into your life and you think that they’ve come straight from the depths of Hell because with them they bring a load of trouble and they somehow touch every last nerve in your body. We are tempted to flee them because they bring up reactions that make us uncomfortable.

Some people come into your life and you know that somehow God knew just what you wanted and that person fits the bill and awakens in you a pleasure or a laugh or a sensual thought or maybe they just flat out make you feel like a million bucks.

Some people that seem to come and go in our lives and they don’t really leave much of an impact one way or another. We share a school project, play together on a team, share a room for awhile, party together, or go on a date with them and the time passes by and they go their way and we go ours and it seems there is some unspoken agreement that we are not going to continue the relationship past the season of life we find each other in.

Then there is your family…..

Your family somehow fits into the first two categories but unlike all other people, your family is not chosen, they are gifted to you. I know, they don’t always seem like a gift but they are! We go through life and at every stage we feel that WE know just what it is that we need to advance. First it’s the necessary things like baby rice and formula and human touch and sleep and maybe a little lullaby to sing to our heart. Next it’s the selfish needs, juice instead of water, ice cream instead of peas, a boost of confidence when we’ve just used permanent marker on the wall, etc. We cry out for these things and sometimes we get them and sometimes we don’t. During adolescence our needs from our family are mostly physical (some of the understanding of what is good for us rather than what we want begins to form) but a pat on the back for a job well done is also very much needed. Then there is the pre-teen years when we develop bonds with our family and we go to them for moral support and we are starting to mature so we want to do “responsible” things to show how grown up we are. This is the last time we really feel our family could possibly be a gift for many of us.

I don’t know where to go from here because based on my own experience there is absolutely nothing that happened with my family after that period that remotely seemed like a gift at the time. I look back now and see it was mostly because with a gift there comes the responsibility of receiving it. Sometimes the gift from our family is positive and sometimes its negative but God has a way of working it all out to prosper us as promised.

You have been a wonderful gift to me son. You spent most of your childhood trying to live up to my fantasy expectations that, even though I didn’t say much to you about them, you knew. Pridefully, I spoke about you as if what you have to offer somehow came from my genes and as if I somehow had control over what genes you ended up with (you are God’s creation, not mine, I just got the privilege of growing with you). It didn’t matter what you began, you could be above-average at it. Nothing you ever did was mediocre (well maybe baseball and basketball but you didn’t spend a lot of time on those and were still a little above average). Even when you didn’t meet my expectations you, as a gift, kept on giving by dredging up my own insecurities so I could offer them to Jesus to take with him to the cross.

You still give. Every time I extend my hand to you and you don’t accept it I realize how many times I’ve done that to God myself. Every time I send an email that doesn’t get an answer I am reminded to approach the world in humility and with a teachable spirit. Every time I hear you speak about your future plans I am reminded of how small I’ve lived my life and how I need to live more strongly “To whom much is given, much is required”. Every time my heart aches over the time we are missing that normal fathers and sons get to spend together I am reminded by the spirit within me that I am not a father of a season but of a lifetime. I am also reminded that this life we are living here is but a breath. Every time I feel that I may never be forgiven by you I am reminded that first I must forgive others.

Happy Birthday(it should be called Lifeday),

Love Dad Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Law of the Spirit of LIfe

Romans 8:1-2:
[Life Through the Spirit ] Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

What a wonderful Orthodoxy it would be. A return to the basics of life in Christ Jesus whereby Christians met in fellowship to rejoice over this good news. Where Christians met in fellowship bringing what the Spirit has led them to or from to share with the saints. Where questions of the mind were answered with wisdom of the heart and given the added value of being shared in fellowship for all with ears to hear. Where our faith, while being thick and sweet with the richness of the story that God has given us, could, at the same time, be lean and windswept and as true as a matchhead in the dead of night. Where Eastern and Western could once again see each other as persons and not as enemies of the faith. Where the Priesthood of all believers and our responsibility to God's desire to reconcile all humanity to himself, once and for all time, becomes the desire of our hearts - marginalizing our own pain and suffering as mere inconveniences rather than the center of moment by moment contemplations. We are a people both blessed and cursed. The bounty that we have enjoyed has detached us from the raw beauty of God's plan, the appreciation of the story, the excitement of the mission. We can get an "edge of your seat" experience from tens of thousands of sources in media and we drive past the VFW post, the Crisis Pregnancy Center, the RAVE office, the Drug Rehab centers, and the homeless shelters in our haste to get home to "catch the game" or "see this week's episode". God help us. God forgive us. God build us.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Draw Near

I've a terrible memory but I once heard or read about a group of Navy Seals on a mission to rescue some POWs or hostages- someone being held and tortured. When they found them the people were huddled and hid their faces from their rescuers. They would not get up, possibly over disbelief of such a blessing and fear of reprisal from their captors. One of the seals took off his gear, curled up within them and assumed their posture, with the utmost compassion(something their guards would never have done). The victims, one by one, began to trust the interloper and were convinced of the truth in the rescue.

Our hurting brothers and sisters do not need how-to books, doctrinal diahrrea, or lofty prayers. Our people need hearts full of true love and compassion. The type of love that will take us to the streets, to the jungles, to the cess-pools, to the smoke-filled rooms where despair consumes its host.

I pray to be granted the wisdom to draw alongside those in despair. I pray for the strength to be impoverished and emptied of myself and filled to completeness with the Dance of the Trinity. I pray that somehow I am not a chord of cynism strangling the life out of hope, mercy, and all that is good.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali :: Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Dutch rebel Muslim's book due out Tuesday

"We Muslims" may sound curious coming from Hirsi Ali, who was raised a strict Muslim but now calls herself an atheist. She would like to see a Muslim Reformation of the kind that remade European Christianity in the 16th century.Muslims need "to develop a different relationship, a different concept of God, of what God means," she says - not just total submission to God's will but "a dialogue with God."Such a reformation is more likely to emerge from the West, she said, because for reformers in Muslim societies "there is always the fear of being killed, of being shunned by your community, of being exiled, jailed, tortured."

Pray for this sentiment to be heard among moderate Islam. The God her heart cries out for, in spite of her words, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If she would dig just a little deeper she would see that Christ provides the completeness that Islam cannot provide.

Humility against Despair

This is a chapter in Thomas Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation". What a blessing this chapter was to me this morning.

I relish the way that God moves. Yesterday my wife and I had a disagreement. My idea of preparing for retirement is to intentionally rid ourselves of most of our possessions and the responsibility associated with them. When my wife suggested that we add some furniture to our bedroom I resisted vehemently even though the furniture she was talking about was free from some friends of ours that had purchased new when they moved into a furnished home. We compromised by getting rid of some of the furniture we have so we'd have no net gain.

While we were at odds over this issue, several other long-distance-type disagreements came up and we were using the "always" and "nevers" that Satan has taught us from childhood. I'm very good at this and WIN every time our conversations sink to this level. I wish I'd have read the above chapter before this struggle but I hadn't. I steamed, then I sulked, then I played some guitar, and finally I prayed (why Lord do I continue to come to the solution AFTER I've hurt her). I went to my beauty in humility, not contrived humility but genuine, Spirit-birthed, humility, and begged her forgiveness for sinking to the cowardice of having to win an argument. Rejoice!, Rejoice!, another victory over death at the hand of the one God whose saving Grace and boundless mercy guides me and strenghtens me and calls me on the carpet when I stray! Build in me a fortress against my own fleshy nature Lord! Give my words meaning not confusion, love not controversy, healing not wounding, understanding and not religion and chains.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Moral Theology of the Devil

I'm reading New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I was thinking about this on my way into work this morning and discovered how often I've used Satan's theology. "See, didn't I tell them that would happen, God is Just" or "If they'd have just listened to me, God has shared his wisdom" or "See how fruitful my ministry? Surely God has blessed me!" What a trap and what a load of bull. Complacency is not faith, fruitfullness is not holiness, wealth is not selfishness no more than poverty is generousity, the size of a church is not directly related to its effectiveness in developing people of God. Our judgements are useless!

I pray that with every fiber, thought, and prayer in me that I stay in the Sonstream and my comings and goings and words and deeds are central to God's overall plan for my life. I also pray that from my mouth come words of hope, life, and love.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Am I misinformed or what?

United Methodists, Muslims, form pact in Northern Illinois -

I have some strong opinions on the ludicrousness of this but I'd like to hear other's comments. I may be being narrow-minded and I won't cry that "narrow is the path" like the Westboro Baptist bunch but I seriously see flaws in the idea that Christians and Muslims can get together and "agree to disagree". Are we serving the same God as Islam? What about Jesus? What about the anti-semitism of the nation of Islam? What about Abraham being called out from Caldea to separate him from those worshipping the same God that Islam worships? Is this like a dog returning to its vomit?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Family Research Council: Thursday, April 20, 2006

Family Research Council: Thursday, April 20, 2006

I thought the article about the required reading in Maine was interesting in "By the Rude Bridge". I'm totally against our public education system leaning so far to the left, against popular opinion, but what can we really expect? Oh God, help us to be salt and light regardless of what the world is coming to.

Nigerian Archbishop Demands Justice - Christianity Today Magazine

Nigerian Archbishop Demands Justice - Christianity Today Magazine

Hey Todd, was wondering if this was talked about by the locals during your trip.

Yup Yup

Whew, what an awesome Men's group. Thank you Todd Butler for following the cheesecake to our meeting. I'll bet you weren't planning on staying the whole time but I believe the greatest work God does is in the midst of our distraction. I am convinced, as you are, that shovels are important and God has a sharp one in you. I'm coming down with some throat thing and was a little sore and feverish last night. I didn't plan on staying for the second group of men that came in but I and Bruce were the only ones that were there for awhile so I stayed and what a blessing it was. I am sure that God is going to produce a miracle in the life of a young man that has fallen away from the church and the landslide of the spirit (in a certain family) that will be birthed out of that miracle will be something I've prayed for for a long time.

My thoughts on communion....

Do you think we've been doing it backwards? Well maybe not backward but out of focus. Some have whole church services built around communion. We have denominations that center their doctrine around communion. As I read the account in Luke 22 and contemplated Jesus' instructions and the context in which they were given it occurred to me that while I enjoy the ceremony of communion I feel I've made more of communion during communion than I have of Jesus. "Do this in remembrance of me" means to me that I should be doing it as often as is practical whenever I come together and eat with other Christians. Taking a simple meal at home and adding the reverance of the Lord's Supper will be an awesome way to exhibit the presence of God in ALL that we do, for the sake of my children. No Duane, I'm not going to buy a case of Boone's Farm.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Doing "church"

My prayers have changed much over the past few months. Of course I pray for protection over my immediate family and pray for my friends, enemies, and whoever comes to my heart while I pray but lately I've found myself praying for unity in the body. If we are called to be witnesses to God's reign here on earth we need to devalue our own personal ideas about what that means and breath by breath ask the Holy Spirit to help us let go. It seems that if we belong to a megachurch we feel that is Christ's model. If we have a house church, that is Christ's model. If we worship traditionally that is Christ's model. If we have a street corner ministry, that is Christ's model. It boggles the mind at how many models we can call Christ's in an effort to defend our own preferences. I'm not the first but I want to go on record to say they are all valid. Last night I talked to a friend who just surrendered to Christ. He isn't, in his own words, the "church" kind of guy. We have another mutual friend that he avoids like the plague because he feels guilty for not taking him up on his invitation to attend the friend's Pentecostal charismatic church. My friend does "church" just fine one on one. He plays worship songs on his guitar, reads from scripture and ponders creation, lives out his new-found faith at work and at home. He lives a long distance away from me so we've done study on the phone. I suggested that the next time our mutual friend puts the pressure on he invites him to do a one on one Bible study. I think that is a powerful way to worship God. It always has been for me and this morning I witnessed it happening in our local coffee shop.

I've got men's group tonight and it happens to be my favorite way of doing "church". What is yours? I certainly am not saying that I think what my favorite way is necessarily God's favorite way to have "church" done but I think living life together in as real a manner as possible is probably the easiest way to do "church". Lets talk about communion next.

Blessings and Peace

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

UK: Science class no place for creationism, says Royal Society

UK: Science class no place for creationism, says Royal Society

When scientists can provide skeletons representing a cat and each major change from amoeba to modern-day cat I will believe in the evolution faith, until then my faith rests in Jesus Christ.

He's Got it Covered

I called my dad yesterday. He's a prime example of a "modern" believer (quotes things he thinks is in the Bible and swears that if you live by the"Good Book" you can't go wrong even though he himself has never opened it) and struggles to understand my faith. We spoke of his upcoming doctor's appointment, my sister's families, my own children, work, etc. We don't speak often so we usually spend about 45 minutes on the phone. After exchanging the normal small talk my father asked me point-blank "So what do you think of all the fuss over the Judas Gospel they just found?". The question caught me off-guard not because I didn't know what I thought but because I didn't expect him to ask me. I replied that it wasn't just "found" and that early church leaders had already determined that it was at its best a piece of literature and more probably Gnostic propaganda from the days of the early church. I told him that God's word endures not only in text that has survived thousands of years but has been tested by the hearts of men and still remains central to Christianity. I told him that every day there is a test to a Christian's faith and every day my trust in God's plan for me and Jesus as my Savior and teacher and the Holy Spirit as my sustanence and guide grows through these tests.

"You don't worry about anything do you son?" asked my Dad. "I can't say that I never worry but I worry less than most, Dad", I replied and told him I'd see him Sunday after church.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New Card Game

Hey everybody! My daughters taught Leslie and I a new card game. They call it "KEMPS" but you could call it anything you like I think. The game goes like this,

You have to have a partner and your partner and you have to have agreed upon a secret "signal" to communicate a play to each other. The object is to get four of a kind in your hand and signal your partner to say "KEMPS" before the oposing team says "STOP KEMPS" and steals your point. Each time you successfully win a hand you get a letter, much like the game of "HORSE" with a basketball.
You start with the dealer shuffling the cards and dealing each player 4 cards. The dealer then lays 4 cards, face up, for people to quickly exchange for a card in their hand depending on what they want or what they want to stop someone else from getting. When you get your 4 of a kind you signal to your partner and they say "KEMPS" and you get a letter towards spelling KEMPS. This continues until someone spells the word KEMPS. It takes skill, luck, observation, trickery, and lots of BS. It has kept me very busy during the past few evenings.

It is so important to spend time enjoying life with your kids.

I finished reading "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis early this week. I'm listening to "Captivating" as I work. I am reading "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis after the kids go to bed. I'm also breaking from Captivating by listening to Bob Coy's podcast (awesome) and Erwin McManus' podcast (equally awesome). I'm also following a couple Blogs. I feel I've been spending to much time in the head and not enough in the heart. I'm going to take some time with the guys tonight and I'm leaving for "Battlecry" Friday afternoon so I don't think I'll be on here much. Oh, Jon, your latest post is exactly what I read in 'Mere Christianity' last night. Humility, get it, be it, embrace it and leave pride forever. Easier said than done for me but much easier in Christ.

Love and Peace!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Since we're all friends here right?

First I'd like to preface this post by saying I never meant to be wrong. I have been trying to be aligned with Christ since the first day I recognized his voice calling me from my despair. Jesus continues to work on me just like he works on you. I'm not making excuses just kind of a "positional statement", or nope, its an excuse.

Monday evening I started thinking about the AIDS epidemic and my position and the church's position and realized, to my horror that 1) I hadn't thought about it seriously in a long time (even though we pray daily for Pantso LeFatso whose family has been decimated by the virus)and 2) That I changed my position on it as it relates to the church. You see, much of what I've learned from people defined AIDS as God's consequences for promiscuity, homosexuality, and intravenous drug abuse. I hate that I had that position as much as Jesus does but we are called out to feed his sheep and well, what if we don't like sheep? What if we'd been told that sheep are bad and cattle is really where God wants us. Isn't it Christ's job to change our hearts? I rejoice again and again over this simple change in heart. I told myself it probably doesn't mean much more than an outward sign of an inward growth. When I got home I told my wife that my new thought on the AIDS epidemic is that if it is of God its only to separate the wheat from the chaff of the church by seeking those with compassion for those suffering from the societal implications of this runaway scourge. She said it was funny that I should say that because she was asked earlier that day to accompany a friend to get the results of her AIDS test because she didn't really know how it would come out and she needed someone to be there with her in case she was positive.

I'm sorry humanity for denying you my prayers and my compassion. I'll keep letting Jesus take the wheel and save you from me.