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.