Saturday, December 30, 2006

A thought for 2007...


It's been a long time since I posted. Lots of reasons, I guess. But I'm back...I think. I found a great quote from Archbishop Oscar Romero and figured that if I was coming back to blogdom that this would be a great first step...

"It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that can be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. That enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results. But that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers, not the master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Can the Bible be trusted?

How can we trust the Bible? How do we know that it really is solid and true? That’s a great question, and one that deserves consideration from any thinking person. Many Christians are quick to say, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” While I can appreciate their confidence, the question still remains, “How do we know that ‘God said it’?”

The answer to this question has been the subject of thousands of books over the last couple of hundred years. The authors of these books have spent countless hours of research and study to set out logical proofs that support what I believe to be true, the Bible is the Word of God. And while I am thankful for their time and effort (and have bought and studied many of their books), I find it interesting that Paul didn’t use logical, academic proof when he was reminding Timothy of the truth of the Scriptures.
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Tim. 3:14-17)
What did he base their reliability on? He told Timothy that these "God-breathed" Scriptures were trustworthy because Timothy had seen them lived out in the lives of his mother and grandmother ...
v.14 – “…you know those from who you learned it…”

...and Paul himself.
v.12 – “…You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life…”

Paul said to Timothy (in the Jeff Kuhn Version),
“Timothy, you know that this is solid cause you have seen the fruit of Scripture in the lives of those around you.”

Why am I making such a big issue of this? Maybe we spend too much time trying to logically prove to people that the Scriptures are the Word of God; that they can be trusted in our search for truth. Maybe our words are just words. People hear thousands of words everyday when they watch TV commercials. They are inherently skeptical of words that promise something. They’ve been burned before. But what really catches people’s attention is visible proof. It’s not a commercial that sells a product, it’s the fact that their neighbor used the product and they saw that the product worked.

Perhaps we would testify to the truth of Scripture more effectively if we built our lives on the truths contained in it and then let the fruit of our lives speak. Maybe our words need to take a back seat to our lives. Maybe what we need to do is not defend the Bible, but apply it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A metaphor for my life...

Yes, it's me. And as I looked at the picture I realized that this picture is a metaphor for where I am in life right now. An exciting experience or hanging on for dear life? Exhilarated or dreading the shock of cold lake water? Enjoying the view or questioning my own sanity? You be the judge.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm away from the blog right now...

I'll be here until September 6th... And odds are I won't be online. That sounds pretty good to me right now...

My job as a pastor

According to Eugene Peterson (who I agree with fully):
"The biblical fact is that there are no successful churches. There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor's responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades."
Read the rest of the quote here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Journey

A couple of years ago when I started this blog I called it "The Journey" because that has been for me the most meaningful metaphor for my own spiritual life. Just today I spent time reading a Newsweek article about Billy Graham called Pilgrim's Progress and I was reminded once again that we need to allow God to shape us for the whole journey. We never arrive, but are in a constant state of "arriving" as we allow the Holy Spirit to illumine the dark recesses of our hearts and call us to transformation. As a young man I thought that I "got" this Christianity thing. I knew the Bible, the answers, and anything else that you could imagine. I was quick to offer solutions. Christianity/Faith was a system to be mastered. The goal was to be spiritually mature and then to help others do the same. But as I have actually matured, I've realized that I often thought I knew a lot more than I actually knew. (My sister-in-law writes a perceptive blog entry on this idea here) I realize that it sounds like a cliche, but the more I learn the more I realize how little I know. I guess that's why I felt in good company today when I read this quote from Billy Graham:
"Much of my life has been a pilgrimage—constantly learning, changing, growing and maturing. I have come to see in deeper ways some of the implications of my faith and message, not the least of which is in the area of human rights and racial and ethnic understanding."

He talks about learning humility. That's a lesson that seems to be hitting me in the face all the time. I think one of the best explanations of "the journey" is something that I read by Brian McLaren in his book Finding Faith. He talks of four stages of spiritual belief. Daniel Clendinin writes about them saying...
In his book Finding Faith, McLaren suggests four stages of faith development, not as a linear movement from one to the other, but as an "ascending and widening spiral"— simplicity, complexity, perplexity, and finally humility.

When we first come to Christ we often enter into a stage of simplicity. Everything is simple. God loves me, Jesus died for my sins, and now I'm on my way to heaven. There is great confidence in these truths, as there should be. Everything is black and white and simple. The big question for the practice of our faith in life is simply. "Is this right or wrong?" But eventually, as we begin to weave following Jesus into everyday life we enter into "complexity". There are some questions that aren't so cut and dried. Sin seems to have complicated this thing that we call life and we realize that maybe our faith is a system that needs to be figured out. We look for pragmatic answers in Jesus in order to make life work. As long as we work the plan it will all work out okay. That seems to be okay for a while, but the Jesus moves us on into a place where we are forced to be honest that there many things about Him, His teachings, and how they relate to the world that we live in that we just don't understand. Welcome to "perplexity". It is often triggered by meeting someone who has no interest in Jesus and Christianity, but is living a moral life, filled with peace and fulfillment. At times this individual may be bearing more "fruit of the Spirit" than you are. All of the sudden you are confronted with the fact that maybe what you believe is only something that helps you to cope. In perplexity you often become so overwhelmed with trying to reconcile faith in Jesus and life in the world that you come close to the point of abandoning the entire process. And that's okay. Perplexity is were you grow. It's where your spiritual roots dig deep into the soil that is Jesus. It's a vital part of moving you onto "humility". Humility is the place where you acknowledge that Jesus is to big for you to completely grasp, but He is so true that you can completely trust. McLaren reminds us that this isn't a one time process and that it may be repeated several times in different areas of our lives.

I've seen it happen in mine. I wrote about it here, here, and here. And it looks as if this is what has happened in Billy Graham.

Following Jesus is a journey. And we have a more than capable guide. The important thing is that we keep following. Even if you haven't committed your life to Jesus yet, keep seeking. Humble patience is what is needed to keep moving in the right direction.

A little child shall lead them...

My sister-in-law Cyndi writes about something that my kids were a part of here.

The joy they found in doing this was an inspiration to me...and I hope will be to you as well.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Most Creative Music Video Ever...

No fancy camera angles, no pyrotechnics, no computer graphics, just good old fashioned creative entertainment in the form of a music video here. (Real Player required)

P.S. The band is called OK Go. Don't know anything about them, but their site is here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Either/Or or Both/And

I've been reading alot by Parker J. Palmer lately. In his book The Courage to Teach he quotes Niels Bohr saying something that has challenged my thinking.
"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."
Now maybe that doesn't strike you like it does me, but let me tell you why I think that this is such an important idea. Far too often in our hurry to defend the Christian faith we kill the mystery that is God. The reality is that God is bigger than us (and we really should be thankful for that - I wrote about that here) and that often two aspects of His nature may seem to us to be opposites, at times even contradictory. In our struggle to eliminate the tension between two profound truths we often deny things that are visibly true.

These discussions have been seen lately regarding the natural disasters we have been confronted with in the world. The question always seems to surface - "Did God cause these hurricanes/ earthquakes?" Automatically we jump to God's defense. We assume that if He is a loving God that these types of things must come from some other source. And maybe they do. But I'm just not sure that we can assume that everything that we think is good comes from God and everything that we think is bad doesn't. One of the things that I'm "re-learning" recently is that we have to be skeptical of our own assumptions. I talked a bit about this in my sermon yesterday - one of my "subpoints" was that we need to learn to question our questions and stop accepting our assumptions as infallible.

Maybe when something difficult or "bad" happens in our life our first reaction needs to move from questioning where it came from to seeking how God wants to use it to make me who He is calling me to be. Maybe it's an opportunity to show forgiveness to someone else. Maybe it's an event that allows you to visibly show the compassion of Jesus. Maybe we need to begin to consider the possibility that God can transform even the most horrible of events into something beautiful and amazing. Maybe somehow He encounters the evil, soaks it up and transforms it into good. Seems like I remember something about an innocent man and a cross...

The more I understand the more I am aware that I really understand very little. But that's okay. The realization puts me in a place where I am slow to speak for God but hungry to listen to God. And maybe that's where He wants me to be anyway...

Friday, August 04, 2006

You have to read this book

I love books. I read a lot of them, sometimes up to two a week. And I recommend books. I think they are very important to stretching our thinking, exposing us to ideas that we need to be shaped into the person that God is making us to be.

And while I always recommend books, I usually do it with a disclaimer. I usually tell people that books are much like shoes. They are made to fit. At times in your life you may pick up an excellent and worthy book, but for some reason it just doesn't fit you at that time. I always tell people not to stress about that or feel bad that I loved a book and they didn't. Reading is often a matter of timing.

But today I'm throwing all of that into the wind. I just finished a book that you have to read. It's called Same Kind of Different as Me, and you have to read soon as possible. I'm not kidding. This is an amazing book.

Amazon says this about it...
A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery.

An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel.

A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream.

A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.

It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana . . . and an East Texas honky-tonk . . . and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda . . . an upscale New York gallery . . . a downtown dumpster . . . a Texas ranch.

Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.
And I say this...
This book is a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God as it moves into the hearts and lives of several individuals, setting them free, making them more like Christ, taking them places they never thought they would go, and proclaiming a powerful, real, and captivating Jesus to a world who needs to know Him so desperately.

You need to read this book.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Three quotes that bring some perspective...

The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine — which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.
- Wendell Berry

If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change! But now the silent succession suggests nothing but necessity. To most men only the cessation of the miracle would be miraculous and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less wonderful than its withdrawal would be.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A sermon illustration from my office manager

I found this story on my desk today - a gift from the office manager at our church. She prefaced it by writing, "This is very moving, and would make a great sermon illustration."
In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from college. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.

The elephant seemed distressed so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot, and found a large thorn embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked out the thorn with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down his foot.

The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For several tense moments Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away.

Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later he was walking through a zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe and lifted its front foot off the ground then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man's legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

You see what I have to endure at work. Feel bad for me yet?

I think that this is true...

A great quote from Carl Jung, shared by Darren over at Thin~Spaces
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

That's why the "church" and the relationships that being the "church" forces us into are so important in our own spiritual growth. We need a little irritation every now and then to force us to deal with our own life. What do you think?

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Church and Politics...

A great discussion of the Church and it's role in politics is over at Jesus Creed. Thanks Scot, for opening this up, and thanks to all who are discussing it online. Big questions.

Learning about leadership...

One of the best resources I've found recently that has clear thinking about leadership is Slow Leadership. A good source of ideas and questions to help you in any area of your life where you are called to lead.

A great prayer...

...from The Divine Hours (a guide to fixed hour prayer).

O God, you both comfort me and disturb my complacency through your Spirit. May I recognize the blind, the lame and the prisoner in the circumstances of my life, and understand my call to proclaim the good news to the poor. I ask this through Jesus who is my way, my truth and my life. Amen.

Praying this is great. Living it would be even better.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

This is so wrong...

Christian Retailers Put Their Print on Products - LA Times

Virtuous Woman perfume comes packaged with a passage from Proverbs. But what makes the floral fragrance distinctly Christian, Hobbs said, is that it's supposed to be a tool for evangelism.

"It should be enticing enough to provoke questions: 'What's that you're wearing?' " Hobbs said. "Then you take that opportunity to speak of your faith. They've opened the door, and now they're going to get it."

More than 400 vendors packed the Colorado Convention Center last week to showcase the latest accessories for the Christian lifestyle. There were acres of the predictable: books, CDs, greeting cards, inspirational artwork, stuffed animals wearing "Jesus Loves You" T-shirts. Many of the newest items, however, put a religious twist on unexpected products — marketed as a means to reach the unsuspecting and unsaved.

Christian Outdoorsman was taking orders for a camouflage baseball cap with a red cross. In Booth 235, Revelation Products of St. Louis was pitching golf balls and flip-flops. Follow the Son flip-flops have patterned soles that leave the message "Follow Jesus" in the sand.

Gospel Golf Balls are touted as "a great golf ball with a greater purpose." Manufactured by Top-Flite, the golf balls are printed with well-known verses from the Bible, such as John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…. "). Dave Kruse, president of Revelation, said they were meant as "conversation starters," to help men share their faith while teeing up.

An added bonus: Duffers need no longer feel bad about losing a ball in the rough. "If you're playing great, good," Kruse said. "If you're spraying the ball, well … lose a golf ball, share the gospel."

How can we expect people to take the Kingdom of God seriously when it's all about "the stuff". These things make me queasy.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Real Spiritual Transformation...

Kevin Miller over at Out of Ur echoes some of my thoughts from over the past 7 years of working to bring about spiritual transformation in the lives of people. His starts by saying,
"Spiritual Formation: we’ve already got a proven model, but do we want it?"

He then proceeds to ask a question that I think the church leaders of today have to wrestle with.
"What would happen to your life if you lived in close geographical community and relationship with other people; if you lived in submission to authority; if you practiced silence and simplicity and discipline; if you regularly read the Bible and prayed and meditated on what you read; if you made study part of your life; and if you worked hard in some daily occupation, seeing your labor as full of dignity and offering it to God?"

Do we want to be changed? Are we willing to live counter-culturally in order to allow that transformation to take place? It's a question I am asking of myself and thinking through on behalf of the congregation I lead. The jury is still out...

Read the whole post here. He has good ideas, and ones that we need to work out in practical ways.

"I've been everywhere man..."

Well, not everywhere, but lots of places in the US. Check it out here...

Create your own visited states map

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Gift of Giving...

My mother and father-in-law spend time each week visiting Lynn. Lynn is a "40 something" year old woman who has been confined to a bed her whole life. I'm not sure what all her conditions are, but her limbs are twisted and contorted, she can only eat food that has been mashed, and she very rarely gets out of the extended care hospital facility where she lives. She can't talk, but she can communicate by making noises and facial gestures for "yes" and "no". At first glance you might think that she isn't very smart, but you'd learn quickly that Lynn has an incredible intelligence. Once my wife promised to visit her "two weeks from Tuesday". When my wife was delayed and didn't actually arrive for a visit until Thursday, Lynn had a scowl on her face. She made it clear to Angela that she had been expecting her all day on Tuesday. One other time Lynn told Angela and I that her sister Sandy was sick and that she wanted us to take her to the hospital gift shop to buy her a get well card. We did that, feeling good that we had helped out. Truth was that Sandy was just fine and Lynn got a lot of laughter out of playing us for the fools.

Sandy is a wonderful sister who has loved Lynn throughout her life. Lynn has her, and she has my in-laws. My mother-in-law used to work with Lynn and introduced her to my father-in-law over the phone once. My father-in-law, the big tough logger type of guy, was hooked at once. I've watched them as they have given their lives to Lynn over the past 15 years. And I've learned something. They give to Lynn, but they receive so much more. When Lynn lights up as they walk into the room, when she has something to communicate to them and they have to work it through (sometimes for over an hour) to figure it out, when they smile as they tell us stories about Lynn's most recent "prank" all these moments my in-laws are receiving blessings from God. They started out this relationship by wanting to do something for Lynn. Who would've guessed that as time went on that they would receive so much from her?

I've spent a lot of time working with people with mental and physical disabilities. One thing that I have learned is that we are the ones who are blessed by being a part of their lives. They are gifts from God that come in unlikely packages. I think that's why I was so moved by the video below. It's the story of a father who brought his disabled son along for the ride as he ran a triathlon. Take a look...

Moving, eh? Let me encourage you to open your heart to some of those "unlikely gifts" from God. I promise that you'll never be the same again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Simply amazing...

Hat tip to Rudy at Simplify who points us to one of the coolest ideas that I have ever seen...

"A small wheelchair car you drive with a joystick. This Hungarian car is designed as a small vehicle for wheelchair users. The wheelchair-bound user rolls her chair right into it and drives with a joystick. The car's interior space has no front seat -- just a space built to house the driver's own wheelchair so all she has to do is roll in through the extra large car doors and into position. The wheelchair locks into place within easy reach of the car's controls which are centred around a joystick."

Wheelchair car at Simplify

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How the Kingdom Comes...

Tim Larson writes really well. And not only does he write well, he also has something valuable to say. Take for example what he writes about the coming of the Kingdom of God…
It seems to me that I have, for a long time, considered the Kingdom of God as some type of all powerful, impregnable force that would conquer by spiritual (military) might, the forces of darkness that pervade our society. It would conquer our culture and way of life with the sword of the Spirit, of course...And then I am faced with the words of Christ, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” and “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you.”

The Kingdom is subversive, always moving in secretly, quietly overwhelming defenses. It absorbs and consumes evil, transforming it into good. The Kingdom of God is the not only the most powerful force in the world, it is often the most surprising. Those who think they control it will often be crushed by it. Yet those who surrender to it will never be the same again. Thanks Tim, for your thoughts. The Kingdom lives and breathes in them.

Read More

The Honesty of Children

A friend (Thanks, Randi) sent me a group of pictures of kid's letters to God. I was amazed by what I saw there. There is an honesty that children have that we need to recover. They say what they feel and think and don't realize that they shouldn't. One of the most telling pictures was this one...

We would never say that, but the truth is that many of us want to follow God on our terms, not on His. He asks for all that we are. May He give us the grace to not hold back.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Learning to Pray...

Church may not be the best place to learn how to pray. I've suspected this all along, and Philip Yancey gives my theory some strong support in his article, The Word on the Street. (Read the full article here.)

"If you're writing a book about prayer, you should hang around the homeless for a while," said my wife, a veteran of inner-city ministry. "Street people pray as a necessity, not a luxury."

Her advice made sense, especially after I interviewed Mike Yankoski, a Westmont College student who, along with a friend, left school for five months to live on the street. (His book, Under the Overpass, tells the story.) Mike told me that homeless people, having hit bottom, don't waste time building up an image or trying to conform. And they pray without pretense, a refreshing contrast to what he found in some churches.

I asked for an example. "My friend and I were playing guitars and singing 'As the Deer Panteth for the Water' when David, a homeless man we knew, started weeping. 'That's what I want, man,' he said. 'I want that water. I'm an alcoholic, but I want to be healed.' As I spent more time with David, I realized that a connection with God is his only hope for healing. He simply doesn't have the inner strength. He relies on prayer as a lifeline."

Prayer is more about honesty that flows out of need (even desperation) than it is about saying the "right things" to God. Just as our human relationships grow from complete (and sometimes reckless) authenticity, our relationship with Jesus grows as we honestly interact with Him. We need to pray by laying all pretense aside and opening our heart to the One who knows it already, but waits for us to willingly share it.

Yancey's Full Article

Friday, July 07, 2006

Educate yourself

Want some MP3's that will stretch your thinking in regards to spiritual growth and the church? Then check out Radio Allelon, a great source for ideas that challenge and stretch.

Humility needed...

Here's a fascinating post from Willzhead. Read it slowly and let it impact you. And don't miss Will's conclusion...
"What ideas are we still holding on to because of social conditioning, culture or other factors? What things do we believe that are utterly inconsistent with the call of Christ on our lives?"

Read the post

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Trouble with Email...

Email is the best and worst thing that has happened to the church in the past few years. As a pastor I spend a considerable amount of time helping people communicate better with each other. And email, while it increases the amount of communication, doesn't always increase the quality of the communication. Here's my words of wisdom: be careful in regards to what you say, and in your interpretation of what you think they said. Wired news writes...

"According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time."

Read the rest here

Good Music...

I'm pretty picky when it comes to music. I find that so much of Christian music today is nothing but drivel and trite lyrics. I like a song that has some meaning. I want to be able to reflect on the lyrics and see multi-layered meanings...profound metaphors. And I want the music to fit the lyrics. For a long time I thought that the only person who could do that was my great friend Matt Auten. (If you aren't familiar with Matt's music you are missing out.) But I've found another one. Chris Rice. I started listening to Chris a couple of years ago and am continually amazed. His music moves me. God speaks to me through his lyrics. You should check him out.

He has several songs that I really love, but one of my favorites has to be Smell the Color 9. It took me a while to love this song, but I have grown to appreciate both the honesty and the fun of someone who is learning to trust a God that sometimes seems far away. Here's the lyric...

I would take “no” for an answer
Just to know I heard You speak
And I’m wonderin’ why I’ve never
Seen the signs they claim they see
Are the special revelations
Meant for everybody but me?
Maybe I don’t truly know You
Or maybe I just simply believe

‘Cause I can sniff, I can see
And I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren’t getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin’
So I know I’m doin’ fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Now I’ve never ‘felt the presence’
But I know You’re always near
And I’ve never ‘heard the calling’
But somehow You’ve led me right here
So I’m not looking for burning bushes
Or some divine graffiti to appear
I’m just beggin’ You for some wisdom
And I believe You’re puttin’ some here

‘Cause I can sniff, I can seek,
I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren’t getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin’
So I know I’m doin’ fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Smell the color nine?
But nine’s not a color
And even if it were you can’t smell a color
That’s my point exactly...

You need to hear it to do it justice. Do yourself a favor. Let God speak to you through Chris Rice's (and Matt Auten's) lyrics.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The thing I love about preaching is that it forces you to wrestle with the text of Scripture. You can't (or maybe I should say you shouldn't) just look for a message to share. The goal is to see what truth is there and try it on for size. I'm currently working on a sermon series that shows the parallels between the Jews journey out of slavery in Egypt to the "Promised Land" and our own spiritual journey from slavery to sin to freedom in Christ. I've always loved the metaphor of the wilderness journey as one that speaks to where we live right now. Our lives are often filled with struggle and pain, just as the Jews struggled wandering through the desert. We feel like God is hiding sometimes. They felt it too. But perhaps the most powerful idea that I've seen lately is that God uses all the circumstances of the wilderness to make the Jews the people that he wants them to be. He painfully strips away the parts of them that are not dependent on Him and helps them to see that He is their God. Here's what He says to Moses in Ex. 9:16 -

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

God uses our experiences, both wonderful and painful, to show us who He is, to show the world who He is, and to make us into the people we need to be. We miss this shaping process too often in our own lives. Our experiences are not just experiences, they are one of the ways that God shapes who we are. They are difficulties that drive us into His arms and remind us of our own powerlessness. They make us followers. It would be nice if life were easy. But easy lives make for weak people. Easy lives make for people who think they could probably handle this thing all on their own. In the wilderness, however, we realize the truth. We learn that if it wasn't for Jesus we would be hopelessly lost. He shapes us through the difficulty.

As in most things we really are like little children. We don't actually know what it is that we need. And God says, "Trust me. I love you. I would never put you through pain if it wasn't something that would help you to grow."

He's making us into a people who look like Jesus. At times that can be very painful. But the process is one that makes us whole.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Good words...

My brother Mike preached a great sermon this week. You can hear it online here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Just for fun...

Here's a great link. There is much more to England than just the monarchy. See for yourself here.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Okay, I'm back, kind of...

I've been taking a bit of heat from a few people for not writing anything in over 2 months. Sorry. I know that the two of you who actually read this blog (thanks mom and dad) have missed me so I'll try to do better.

As an introspective person I've been trying to figure out why it is that I haven't posted much lately. I'm guessing that part of it was being in Mexico for a month. But I've also realized that posting my thoughts is an emotional task for me. And since we've returned home my job has taken about all of the emotion that I have to spare.

A friend of mine named Vic McMillan passed away just about 2 weeks after we got back to Hope. Vic served as a "father-type" figure to me for many years. When I first came to Hope (7 years ago), Vic and another man vacuumed the church every Thursday. They'd go for coffee at 10:00 am and I usually tagged along. As a new pastor I found our discussions to be affirming, challenging, and life-giving. The amazing thing about Vic was that he had no clue that God was using him in the lives of those around him. I once tried to tell him how much I appreciated all that he had given to me and was amazed that he found it hard to accept. In his mind he was just Vic.

In the past few years, however, Vic had not been happy with some of the changes in leadership structure at our church. He felt we were always looking for the new and improved and neglecting some of the tried and true methods. He and I had a few difficult conversations. We always made sure that we left those moments as brothers, but they were difficult times for both Vic and me; times of tears and pain. My love and respect for Vic made me extremely cautious of change, but the changes in our ministry context sometimes led me down a path that Vic wouldn't recommend. That's one of the greatest challenges of leadership, I believe. Leading even when it hurts those you love (and those who love you).

Needless to say our relationship was strained for the past year or two. But I knew Vic loved me. I knew that he prayed for me. I knew that He wanted nothing more than God to work in our church.

And watching him die was an emotional experience for me. I know he's in heaven. He has a way better pastor there than he had here. But I do miss him. And I wish we'd had more time.

I've written way more than I thought I would. Just trying to say that when I'm on an emotional roller-coaster with my job that I am not too motivated to share that with the world. But things are settling down a bit now. And maybe I'll be back around the blogosphere. Maybe what I need to do in those moments is to write. Who knows?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Great Article...

...from Andy Crouch in the most recent Christianity Today. He says what I often feel. Especially after meeting with the members of our Regional Fellowship this week. I am tired, but I am hopeful. Here's most of the article...

"Not long ago I attended a strategy session for the culture war. Participants examined the decline of marriage, the cheapening and flattening of human sexuality into contextless pleasure, the exploitation and destruction of unborn human beings. Speeches were given. Brows were furrowed. Resolutions were made. War, I was reminded, does terrible things to the warriors.

In the room were veterans of a conflict that has simmered for decades, with few victories for the conservative side. All were earnestly committed to the cause. And most, to be blunt, were not having a very good time.

I support many, if not all, of their aims. There is a time for concerted action and forceful advocacy when a culture is beset, as ours indisputably is, with violence against the weak and the disintegration of our deepest promises. There was violence and disintegration in the day of Jesus, too. Jesus was hardly shy about confronting the patterns of sin in his culture - though he was consistently harder on the pious than he was on the pagans.

But everywhere Jesus went, life blossomed. The sick were healed, lepers were touched, daughters and sons were plucked from the mouth of the grave. Jesus left behind him a trail of leaps and laughter, reunited families, and terrific wine, as well as dumbfounded synagogue leaders, uneasy monarchs, and sleepless procurators. His witness against violence, amidst a culture in rebellion against the good, was neither withdrawal nor war. It was simply life: abundant, just, generous life. And, ultimately, a willingness to let the enemies of life do their worst, confident that even death could not extinguish the abundant life of God.

...I had to leave the meeting early. I took a train to a very different sort of meeting. In a row house on a West Philadelphia street, the leaders of a small church were gathering for a weekend of study and prayer.

Their pastors are a young couple, gifted and winsome and bright, who freely admit that they have little idea what they are doing, but who have a vision for a thriving church in the heart of the city. The church's neighborhood, a bit like our culture, is a bewildering mixture of gleaming affluence and grimy neglect.

In a cozy living room furnished with well-worn sofas, we munched on Kentucky Fried Chicken and quaffed Yellow Tail merlot. Candles were flickering. The leaders were laughing, talking, catching up on one another's stories: young mothers and grandmothers, thin graduate students and amply proportioned social workers, neighborhood lifers and newcomers, their skin many different hues, drawn to one another by the gospel.

I took a deep breath. I sank into the scruffy couch. The conversation died down, and we began to pray, soaking in a comforting, empowering silence. Then we talked about their church's abundance of ministries and shortage of finances, the dizzying array of needs to be found just by going a few blocks in any direction, and the biblical stories of God's people in exile, agents of peace in the midst of pagan cities.

I left that night feeling a tremendous sense of hope, the hope I have found over and over again in the most unlikely places, in war zones both figurative and literal where Christ's followers worship and serve. There is nothing that can break your heart like the church, but neither is there anything that can so restore your heart as being among a few people whose love is transparent, tenacious, and utterly not their own doing.

I do not know how, or whether, the culture war can be won. Human culture, like human nature, is too incorrigible, too intractable, for unambiguous victories. I suspect we have consigned our armies to a conflict that is unwinnable by definition, and by making disciples into warriors, we have risked robbing them of the hilarious high calling that is the new birthright of every Christian: to be an agent of improbable, impossible life in the midst of the world."

Read the whole article

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wonder and Fascination...

Today my 5 year old turned 6. She’s the baby of the family, the youngest of four beautiful girls. Maybe that’s why her birthday sets me to thinking. I watched her as she played at the public swimming pool tonight. Too young to be on her own; tethered to her dad by her lack of swimming ability and the pool rules, yet happy to be close by.

As she reminded me to watch her every move, my mind drifted back to this day six years ago. I can still remember her real birthday. I watched in awe as my wife did more than I could ever imagine in order to bring Bethany into the world. Even though she wasn’t our first, she was our first Bethany, and I held her with all the wonder and fascination of a first time papa, maybe even a bit more. I mean, after all, I knew what was coming in the days ahead.

I’d never been more wrong. By the next afternoon the doctors were showing concern. Bethany wasn’t eating. She began to throw up bile and so a tube was put into her nose to drain her stomach. It was the first of many tubes and wires to come. The medical personnel said many things, “We’re not sure what this is”, “This is very serious”, “Your daughter could die.” We moved from one hospital to another for more tests. Finally just past midnight we were sent to a third. They found a large cyst in her abdomen. But we could tell the doctors weren’t happy with that. It didn’t explain what was happening to her. The next morning we’d watch as they wheeled her from the intensive care nursery into surgery. The baby just down the ward from her who had been taken into surgery a few hours earlier didn’t come back. I wondered if Bethany would ever celebrate a birthday.

But obviously she did. Six, in fact. And I am hoping for many more. But the truth that really gripped me tonight was that I am in exactly the same spot that I was six years ago. I have no idea what tomorrow may bring. I trust that God does, and while I often argue with Him as to the way He chooses to do things, He hasn’t offered me the reins yet. So I watch her tonight, once again with all the wonder and fascination of a first time papa, this time a little more aware of the delicacy of this thing we call life.

And I like it that way. I don’t want to know what is coming tomorrow. Jesus said it pretty clearly, “Each day has enough worry of it’s own.” So my goal is to savor what I have. Six years have passed like six days. Soon she won’t be tethered to me by anything, other than her own wishes, and we know how fickle little girls can be. There will be times I want to hide her away, protect her from pain, keep her safe and naive and six years old. But that’s not my job. My job is to love her, serve her, lay down my life for her. To keep that wonder and fascination alive in me and maybe even pass a little on to her.

Happy Birthday Beth. See you tomorrow.

Trading Up...

Here's a great story...

"Kyle MacDonald had a red paper clip and a dream: Could he use the community power of the Internet to barter that paper clip for something better, and trade that thing for something else and so on and so on until he had a house?

After a cross-continental trading trek involving a fish-shaped pen, a town named Yahk and the Web's astonishing ability to bestow celebrity, MacDonald is getting close. He's up to one year's free rent on a house in Phoenix"

Read the rest...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Messy, Messy Churches

I've really appreciated much that Jim Martin has written, but this post on "Messy, Messy Churches" is one of the best things I've ever read. I have been blessed to live among a church that, while not perfect, is learning to be "grace-full". Take the time for a lesson in what the church should be...

"I've learned some things in the most unlikely places. I thank God for many years spent in school. I thank him for the opportunity to wrestle with important ideas. But--it was in Florence, Alabama almost 24 years ago that I began to wrestle with the grace of God."

Read More:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Too much faith for me...

I don't think that I have enough faith to believe this explanation...

"Rare conditions could have conspired to create hard-to-see ice on the Sea of Galilee that a person could have walked on back when Jesus is said to have walked on water, a scientist said today."

Read More

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Service and Power...

Great quote from Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC.

"If you seek power before service, you'll neither get power, nor serve. If you seek to serve people more than to gain power, you will not only serve people, you will gain influence. That's very much the way Jesus did it."

That's worth reading again and again.

Thanks to Emergesque for the tip.

Read More (NY Times - free registration required)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Losing the "why" in the quest for "how"

Far too often in my discussions with other church and ministry "junkies" the topic of conversation focuses on the "how" of church instead of the "why". Brad Abare from Church Marketing Sucks writes a great blog about what really matters.

"Yet the questions remain: How much should I do? What should I avoid? What is cool? What works? Here's a simple approach I've learned...
If the electricity went out, and your walls fell down, and your biggest givers died, what would you have left? Would you have a community of people still seeking after the heart of God? Would you still worship even without a band? Would you still be able to learn about God even though you can't show a video or a PowerPoint slide? In other words, what you have when everything else goes away is what your church is really all about. I recall the words of Brennan Manning in his book The Importance of Being Foolish:

Consider how our churches have explored and exploited our need to replace the numbness in our lives with a passion for something, anything. We've created worship in which music is meant to stir the emotions but the soul is left unmoved, in which the words spoken are little more than manipulations of the heart. We have created cathartic experiences filled with weeping and dancing in the Spirit that leaves us with the sense that we have touched God but that fail to give us the sense that God has touched us. We run to churches where the message feels good and where we feel energized and uplifted--but never challenged or convicted. 'It is not surprising that spiritual experiences are mushrooming all over the place and have become highly sought-after commercial items,' writes Henri Nouwen. 'Many people flock to places and persons who promise intensive experiences of togetherness, cathartic emotions of exhilaration and sweetness, and liberating sensations of rapture and ecstasy. In our desperate need for fulfillment and our restless search for the experience of divine intimacy, we are all too prone to construct our own spiritual events."

We can hide behind great church brands and marketing campaigns. We can plow new grounds in getting the world to take notice of our creativity. We can even make a name for ourself in our communities. But what remains when the lights are out and the sound is unplugged? When the hurricane wipes it all way. When the earthquake swallows your best intentions. When God speaks, I'd rather be in a position to listen than scrambling for the microphone to make sure he's heard. Instead of getting so jazzed up about showing a Bruce Almighty film clip, I want to make sure I'm seeing God's real miracles every day."

Read More

Looking for a paid ministry position?

I hear the Sr. Pastor is not easy to work with, but the location is awesome...


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Numbering our days...

I love it when Mark Buchanan writes. This months CT magazine has an excerpt from his new book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring the Sabbath (Word, 2005). As always, Mark is saying things that have some umph - things that need to be said. Here's a few excerpts.

"Teach us to number our days aright," Moses asked God, "that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps. 90:12)...

...Pay attention to how God is afoot in the mystery of each moment, in its mad rush or maddening plod. He is present in both. But too often, we are so time-obsessed that we take no time to really notice. I have a pastor friend in Toronto who one day after a Sunday service received a note: "Pastor Peter, I would appreciate it if you prayed shorter prayers. Your pastoral prayer this past Sunday was 12 minutes, 43 seconds in length. Please strive for greater brevity."

The note was unsigned. The only thing we know about this man, woman, or child is that the writer is so bound by time—counting the minutes—that he has never learned to number his days. This person can tell time, but not discern seasons. Miss that, and you miss wisdom. For only those who number their days aright gain a wise heart. Only they become God's sages: those calm, unhurried people who live in each moment fully, savoring simple things, celebrating small epiphanies, unafraid of life's inevitable surprises and reverses, adaptive to change yet not chasing after it...

...Purposefulness requires that we pay attention, and paying attention means, almost by definition, that we make room for surprise. We become hospitable to interruption. To sustain it, we need theological touchstones for it—a conviction in our bones that God is Lord of our days and years, and that his purposes and his presence often come disguised as detours, messes, defeats.

I came to you naked, Jesus says. I came to you thirsty.

"When, Lord?" we ask, startled.

When he wore the disguise of an interruption.

Think a moment of all the events and encounters that have shaped you most deeply and lastingly. How many did you see coming? How many did you engineer, manufacture, chase down? And how many were interruptions? Children? You might have planned as meticulously as a NASA rocket launch, but did you have any idea, really, what it would be like, who this child in your arms really was, who you would become because of him or her?

The span between life as we intend it and life as we receive it is vast. Our true purpose is worked out in that gap. It is fashioned in the crucible of interruptions.

Read More

Friday, February 03, 2006

Some exciting news...

"Amazingly, more new churches are being established in the UK than Starbucks shops. While 481 UK Starbucks branches have started since 1998, more than 500 churches have been established during the same time, based on only 18 of the more than 400 denominations in the UK, which indicates that there may actually be more churches that have opened. "

Now that's encouraging...Hat tip to Jordon for the link.

Read More

I love passion...

...and I see it in Bono's speech to the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday.
Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives. Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone. I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. “If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places” It’s not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. [You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.] ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

It's a speech worth reading. You can find the whole text here, or at Random Musing, or for you video junkies, the CNN video is here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada

From my 9 year old daughter, Madison.

Dear Mr. Prime Minster

Hi my name is Madison Kuhn and I am 9 years old. I am writing this letter to you because my Dad is a diabetic and I don't think it's fair that he can't have choclate bars. So my request is that with your help we can make sugar free snickers. I would love to do something like this for my Dad. So if you have time my e-mail is Please help me.

Thank you
Madison Kuhn

As a Dad you just gotta love that!

A gift...

I've written here and here about struggles and the need to accept everything as a gift from God. I guess I shouldn't have opened my big mouth because often your own words come back to challenge you. A couple of weeks ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Let's just say that it was a bit of a shock. Is this a gift? Not one that I would have wanted.

Well, after some time to think it through I have to admit that it is. It's a gift that forces me to eat healthy foods, get some regular exercise, remember that the flesh is weak, and increases my longing for heaven. The more I think about these ideas the more I am sure that they are foundational to life as a believer in Christ. Everything God brings our way is done in love and for our benefit. It may not always appear that way, but that's why faith has to come in to play. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:28:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (emphasis mine)

One of the keys to life is facing it with the realization that everything that comes to me today is a gift from God. Now, if living it was just as easy as writing it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Robot cars - Now this is cool...

"The MIT team started from scratch to come up with their own concept: a stackable, shareable, electric, two-passenger car. 'Imagine a shopping cart - a vehicle that can stack - you can take the first vehicle out of a stack and off you go...These stacks would be placed throughout the city. A good place would be outside a subway station or a bus line or an airport, places where there's a convergence of transportation lines and people.'"

Read More

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A prophetic word for evangelical Christians...

First of all, sorry for the long absence. Life has been full of joys and challenges - many of which I will post about soon. But I'm back, and just to get things moving quickly, let me stir the pot a bit.

Be forewarned, what I am about to link to will push buttons. But I think that's important. We all need to be challenged to rethink our opinions and often the only way that happens is by someone making us angry.

Willzhead prints the entire text of a NY Times editorial from Charles Marsh, a professor of religion at the University of Virginia. Marsh is reflecting on the thoughts of Evangelical Christians in the US surrounding the Iraq war. It is worth the read and you can read it here.

Just to give you a sample, Marsh writes...
"What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance, but repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness."
Take the plunge. Let your assumptions be challenged. It's all part of growing.

Friday, January 13, 2006

"...those they leave unsaid..."

Found a great quote by Frederick Buechner that relates to what I posted here.
"It's less the words they say than those they leave unsaid that split old friends apart."

Don't let important words remain unsaid!


Difficult to hear but far too often true.
"The greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who proclaim Jesus with their lips, and reject him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." (Brennan Manning)

Let's pray that God helps us to proclaim Jesus with lips AND lifestyle.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Just do it!

Here's an idea. If someone has made a difference in your life take the time to tell them. And do it now! Yesterday I got a letter from a complete stranger who happened in on our Christmas Day worship service and really appreciated it. She wrote a letter to thank me and the others involved. That was a nice surprise. It made my day. Now, you have it within your power to make someone else's day. Don't just think about it and put it off. Just do it! I dare you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Atonement - Narnia style...

"The stone table cracks. Aslan, who has given his life for Edmund, returns from the dead. This was my childhood understanding of the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. In doing so, I was trading on traditional atonement theories; Jesus/Aslan as substitute, giving his life for someone else. So I was pleasantly surprised in watching the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to find a number of layers added to traditional understandings of the atonement."

Emergent Kiwi writes a great blog about the many facets of the atonement of Christ that are seen in Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Read More

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Accomplishing more -- doing less

Len Hjalmarson over at has some powerful words on leadership. Now if I could just move them from my head to my heart.

"When I intentionally seek quiet and restful space, I encounter the Spirit of God. When we separate ourselves from busyness and distraction, He comes to brood over us. In that place of shared rest I have nothing to prove, no one to influence, no way to "succeed" except to be loved. Restful people become a welcoming place for the Spirit of God, and in turn can offer peace and rest to others...The greatest hope of influencing change is not our compulsive activity to shape a world different than the one we know, but to become the change we seek. That means becoming still.. risking the quiet and empty spaces... It means facing our own fears that there will be no one to offer approval.. no voice in the silence.. no one to clap us on the backs to say "well done." I doubt if there is any greater challenge for an active people, any greater challenge for those who are passionate to see change, any greater challenge for those called to lead. But the only way we will see lasting change is if we become the answer we seek."

Thanks Len, for a great reminder.

Read more

Off the couch...

...and into life. My brother-in-law posts some good thoughts over at his blog.
"More and more I am being challenged to get off my Christian couch and initiate relationships with the people around me. Have my neighbour over for coffee, invite the guy I met last week to see King Kong with my friends, have a Christmas get-together for your office department, or help out when you find out people are in need. If we spent as much time working on relationships as we do looking for a nice comfort zone for ourselves, people's lives would be changed in Christ. I know this is true because I've seen it. I'm seeing our town transformed."

Read more

Monday, January 09, 2006

Understanding the sacred...

Sometimes people outside the faith have a better grasp on the holiness and "otherness" of God than those of us who think about it everyday. Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, posts some thoughts from Barbara Ehrenreich over at Mere Comments.

Networking with Jesus

Occasionally one finds an atheist who knows blasphemy when she sees it. Barbara Ehrenreich...writes in her latest book, Bait and Switch the (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream about attending "undercover" a Christian ministry for job-seekers in Georgia. She writes of the charismatic speaker encouraging the unemployed seekers to learn how to network. "And who should be our first networking target?" the motivational speaker queries. "The Lord."

Now we've all seen this kind of trivialization of the apostolic faith. But what struck me was the way in which this atheist feminist materialist took special offense at blasphemy against a God she doesn't even believe exists. Writes Ehrenreich: I'm sorry, this is too much for me. I endured the Norcross Fellowship Lunch as an atheist, but now, at the Mt. Paran Church of God, I discover that I am a believer, and what I believe is this: if the Lord exists, if there is some conscious being whose thought the universe is, some great spinner of galaxies, hurler of meteors, creator and extinguisher of species, if some such being should manifest itself, you do not 'network' with it any more than you would light a cigarette on the burning bush.

I hope Ms. Ehrenreich will not be offended if I say "Amen."

We need to keep our ears open. Sometimes we get so close to how we practice our faith that we can't see that we've missed something. In an amazing twist of grace God often uses an outside perspective to serve as a prophetic voice.

The Gift of a Kingdom Legacy

As I wrote in the last post, we just returned from celebrating my parent's 50th Anniversary. My entire family (2 brothers, 1 sister, their spouses and children) spent 3 days together at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. What an incredible time. Our family has spread out all over the world and it's nice to reconnect and see what is going on in each other's lives. But the thing that impressed me the most is that God is at work all over. He's impacting my neices and nephews. I heard many of them make comments such as, "I just want whatever I do to be ministry." My brother the missionary is seeking God's leading for their family as they are forced through a difficult transition. My brother the furniture plant manager is loving difficult people into the Kingdom of God. My sister and her husband (the new Dean of the College of Business at Appalachain State University) are being used in their circles to help people encounter Jesus. And I know why it's all happening.

My parents prayed for us.

My dad always says that we turned out pretty well in spite of them. The truth is that God has given them a spiritual legacy. He is using their family all over the world to increase His Kingdom. I came away from our time at the beach being overwhelmed with how much our family has been blessed by God. I've also been challenged to ask God to bless the lives of my own children as much as He has done in my parent's life. I'm asking for the gift of a Kingdom legacy.

My parents have worked hard to "store up their treasures in heaven".

My prayer is that I'll invest as wisely as they have.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Gimme a break...

Well, I took a break from blogging (we just spent 12 days in North Carolina celebrating my parent's 50th anniversary with all my family (24 of us - pictures to come soon!) Just after returning home my daughter Madison broke her wrist rollerblading. As you can see she's doing okay. I've never seen a blue cast before, but knowing Madison, she'll be able to use it as a fashion acessory with no problem. My break is over. Her's is just beginning.