Thursday, December 03, 2009

Check this out...

My brother Mike has written an excellent book...and followed it up with what looks to be a great blog. Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Prayer for the week...

My wife found this one from John Wesley:
I am no longer my own but yours,
Put me to what you will
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal
And now glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And this covenant now made on earth, let it be satisfied in heaven.
This is one we should pray slowly and often...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The bottom line is the moral question...

I am not a big Newsweek fan, but this article really summed up to me the difference between the Canadian and the US perspective on Universal Health Care. It's a question that doesn't get as much play as "How do we afford it?" (another great question) and "Shouldn't the government leave me alone?", but it is, from my perspective the most important question - "Is for-profit health care really a moral option?"
The fundamental truth about health care in every country," notes Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt, one of the world's preeminent health-care economists, "is that national values, national character, determine how each system works."
Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's in all of us...

My prayers go out to all the wounded and the families of the fallen from the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, today. Although no one can know the motives behind something like this, it reminds me of what Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago as he writes about what he took to be the great moral gift that he had received in prison.
"It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains . . . an uprooted small corner of evil. Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person. And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: they destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them (and also fail, out of haste, to discriminate the carriers of good as well). And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself, magnified still more."
I am convinced that we cannot continue in the path we are heading without destroying ourselves. The way of Jesus is the only answer that deals with both the beauty of the image of God in humanity and the transformation necessary for the evil that lies within us.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Quote of the week...

No explanation or introduction needed...
"Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back - in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."
--Frederick Buechner

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Taking my brother to Hell...Hell's Gate, that is.

Well my brother and his family have safely arrived and my children made it through their arrival with no heart attacks from sheer excitement... although it was close. Today we laze around the house through the morning and will head out to Hell's Gate in the afternoon. I have a pass that let's me take in as big a group as I want for free, so it you want to join us show up there @ 1:30....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

My brother Mike and his family come for a visit today. This makes him the third and final sibling to come for a visit since I moved to Canada 16 years ago. I love it when they come and realize what a blessing it is to have siblings that I really like and love to spend time with. Thus this week's word -
"Funamily" - The experiences you have when you are enjoying time with family. I realize that some people are sorely lacking "funamily" in their life. I feel sorry for your loss. But I must admit I am looking forward to the next week of "funamily" in my life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This week's sermon...

Not from this past Sunday, but from September 2007, but one that I liked, especially as I prepare for communion this week at our church.

Full study guide online here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quote of the week...

Here's a good one for this week. A long one from Barbara Brown Taylor, but well worth the read.
”Several summers ago, I spent three days on a barrier island where loggerhead turtles were laying their eggs. One night while the tide was out, I watched a huge female heave herself up the beach to dig her nest and empty herself into it while slow, salt tears ran from her eyes. Afraid of disturbing her, I left before she had finished her work but returned next morning to see if I could find the spot where her eggs lay hidden in the sand. What I found were her tracks, only they led in the wrong direction. Instead of heading back out to sea, she had wandered into the dunes, which were already hot as asphalt in the morning sun. A little ways inland I found her, exhausted and all but baked, her head and flippers caked with dried sand. After pouring water on her and covering her with sea oats, I fetched a park ranger, who returned with a jeep to rescue her. As I watched in horror, he flipped her over on her back, wrapped tire chains around her front legs, and hooked the chains to the trailer hitch on his jeep. Then he took off, yanking her body forward so fast that her open mouth filled with sand and then disappeared underneath her as her neck bent so far I feared it would break. The ranger hauled her over the dunes and down onto the beach; I followed the path that the prow of her shell cut in the sand. At ocean's edge, he unhooked her and turned her right side up again. She lay motionless in the surf as the water lapped at her body, washing the sand from her eyes and making her skin shine again. Then a particularly large wave broke over her, and she lifted her head slightly, moving her back legs as she did. As I watched, she revived. Every fresh wave brought her life back to her until one of them made her light enough to find a foothold and push off, back into the water that was her home. Watching her swim slowly away and remembering her nightmare ride through the dunes, I noted that it is sometimes hard to tell whether you are being killed or being saved by the hands that turn your life upside down.”

I love that last is just so true.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The spiritual benefits of diabetes...

This week I had my lab work done, specifically my hemoglobin A1-C test. I have to have it every three months to monitor my sugar level. As much as I hate it, it's a good thing for me. Most days I check my sugar at home. I do the old finger poke and the machine tells me if I'm eating right or just fooling myself. If I work at it, I can manipulate this daily routine. I can choose to test my blood after not eating for a bit, or just after exercise. In short, I can often make it say what I want it to say. Not so with the dreaded A1-C test. It reports on the average level of sugar in my blood over the past three months. It easy to play games for a daily check, but the A1-C takes a hard look at what's been going on inside over the long haul. The problem is that this tends to make me want to put it off. I find great excuses to not get the blood work done. After all, I have a busy job, four kids, a yard to keep up, etc. But finally I run low on medicine and need to go back to the doctor, or the guilt overwhelms me and I give in.

My numbers this week were okay. Could be a bit better, but could also be a lot worse. That's good. But it has started me thinking. What if there was some way to have the condition of our soul tested...kind of a spiritual hemoglobin A1-C? What if every so often all the illusions we present to ourselves and those around us were pulled back so that someone could see what's really been happening inside over the past three months. I think for all of us that would be a bit scary. Nobody wants others to see what actually happens in the depths of our heart and mind. But it's in that openness that we actually begin to find the power to change. The truth is that the A1-C forces me to watch what I eat, even though I don't want to. I know my cheating will eventually show up in my blood. So I eat better. Not perfect, but better than I would if I knew I could hide it.

In the same way, maybe the opening up and exposing of our soul to another on a regular basis, no matter how humbling it can be, would do wonders for our own transformation into Christlikeness. The forced acknowledgement of what is inside to another who loves us and wants the best for us pushes us to be honest with ourselves. It lets the light shine into the dark corners. It doesn't let us play games with matters of the soul. And just like ignoring my blood sugar will eventually kill me, ignoring what is actually going on in my heart and soul can have even nastier implications - for myself AND for those around me.

So here's to the development of a spiritual A1-C. I think it's already there and we call it authentic living within a community. But maybe this blog is a call to not avoid it, but to embrace it. We need it to survive...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"I'm way too close..."

From the "Dumb things that I will never do" Department...

Any reason that He keeps driving toward the storm?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This week's sermon...

I Samuel 15:1-35.  Tough always is when God endorses genocide...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Quote of the week...

As much as I don't really like appears to be very true.  So much for easy decisions when it comes to living a life that counts...
"No great deed, private or public, has ever been undertaken in a bliss of certainty."
--Leon Wieseltier in The New Republic

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

Ever stepped out of your comfort zone? While what stretches me may not seem difficult to you, you have to appreciate the fear I face tomorrow. This week's word expresses what awaits me in the morning...
"agefright" - The fear of interacting with a specific age group for an extended period of time. One example (purely hypothetical) might be going along as a parent volunteer with a class of third grade children on a field trip to the Vancouver Aquarium. Agefright is often prompted when a tremendous love for your own child (who is in the class) collides with a glaring lack of skill in working with children that belong to anyone else. Symptoms include sweaty palms, disaster scenario dreams, and an occasional slap to the forehead while exclaiming, "What was I thinking?"  

Monday, June 08, 2009

Quote of the week...

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.
--Henry David Thoreau


So I finished reading Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess by Will Samson.  I have read Will's blog for some time (although he hasn't posted in a while), and have always found his writing to be insightful, incisive, and practical.  Enough was even better.  Will takes on our culture's obsession with stuff, pulling back the blinders that we usually use to hide it, and not only points out the dangerous implications of living this way, but also uses Eucharist as a model for a different type of life.  His points are well researched, his suggestions are clear and very practical.  His own words will give you a clear inclination of what it is he is attempting with the book.
Is there enough for everyone? This is an important economic question, and in our discussion here I am certainly going to try to address the question from an economic perspective. But it is not just an economic question, is it? In fact, the question of whether there are sufficient resources in this world may be one of the most important theological questions of our time. How we answer it reveals much regarding our belief about the character of God: who we think God is, how we think God provides for the creation, and what role humans play in that work—this all relates directly to our understanding of God.

In this book I hope to narrate two distinct visions. The first is a vision of people and communities whose lives are out of whack and who are consumed by stuff. Our view of God and our understanding of the way we participate in God’s work in the world have become distorted, and we have transformed ourselves into unthinking consumers of products, ideas, and cultural narratives about what will bring us happiness.

The second is a view of people and communities who are guided, and even made more whole, by a vision of God and God’s work in the world by which they are consumed. Our decisions regarding what resources and how many of those resources we use are not rooted in oversimplified categories of “more or less,” but instead are nourished by a story of a God who is sufficient, active in the world, and forming a community of co-laborers to manage the created order.
This book is so worth the read.  Will challenges assumptions that we aren't even aware that we have.  And he presents a way forward that is faithful to what God envisions in the renewal of all His creation. There's a lot of stuff that we don't need, but this book is something that we do.

Want to read more for yourself? Go here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

Actually posted on'll see why.
"Absilence" - The act of abstaining from saying anything because you have nothing to say.  A scary practice for preachers and bloggers (or maybe most of us), but one that might just be necessary. Sometimes when we say too much it says too little. Less is more, as my friend Wes keeps telling me.

Worth the read...

"War is Sin" by Chris Hedges...
The crisis faced by combat veterans returning from war is not simply a profound struggle with trauma and alienation. It is often, for those who can slice through the suffering to self-awareness, an existential crisis. War exposes the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. It rips open the hypocrisy of our religions and secular institutions. Those who return from war have learned something which is often incomprehensible to those who have stayed home. We are not a virtuous nation. God and fate have not blessed us above others. Victory is not assured. War is neither glorious nor noble. And we carry within us the capacity for evil we ascribe to those we fight...

The Rev. William P. Mahedy, who was a Catholic chaplain in Vietnam, tells of a soldier, a former altar boy, in his book Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Vets, who says to him: “Hey, Chaplain ... how come it’s a sin to hop into bed with a mama-san but it’s okay to blow away gooks out in the bush?” “Consider the question that he and I were forced to confront on that day in a jungle clearing,” Mahedy writes. “How is it that a Christian can, with a clear conscience, spend a year in a war zone killing people and yet place his soul in jeopardy by spending a few minutes with a prostitute? If the New Testament prohibitions of sexual misconduct are to be stringently interpreted, why, then, are Jesus’ injunctions against violence not binding in the same way? In other words, what does the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ really mean?”

Military chaplains, a majority of whom are evangelical Christians, defend the life of the unborn, tout America as a Christian nation and eagerly bless the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as holy crusades. The hollowness of their morality, the staggering disconnect between the values they claim to promote, is ripped open in war.

I'm not trying to minimize the heroics of soldiers who lay down their lives for others.  I just think there are a lot of questions that we refuse to ask.  And to ignore those questions both hinders true patriotism and dishonors the troops we send to risk their lives on our behalf. Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

This week's sermon...

We really want to take control of our lives...but the dilemma is that in taking it we lose it.  Here's last Sunday's sermon on I Samuel 8.

Full study guide online here.

Torture and the Eucharist

This is a long piece by William Cavanaugh, writing about the use of torture today.  It's really worth reading.  Here's the crux of his point...  
“Torture” and “Eucharist” denote two different types of enacted imagination. Torture and Eucharist are not imaginary, in the sense of being unreal, but rather are ways of seeing and narrating the world that are integral to ways of acting in the world.  Torture is both a product of—and helps reinforce—a certain story about who “we” are and who “our” enemies are. Torture helps imagine the world as divided between friends and enemies. To live the Eucharist, on the other hand, is to live inside God’s imagination. The Eucharist is the ritual enactment of the redemptive power of God, rooted in the torture, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
...but I would encourage you to read it all here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Quote of the week...

This week's quote is one that has a bit of bite to it...
"Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two roads converged...mental intersections.

It never ceases to amaze me the way that God brings mental pathways together.  Follow me for a minute here.  

First, Madison, my 13 year old, and I are delivering her flyers.  We do it together every week-end. She makes a little money and we get to spend some time together.  Our conversation drifted to clothing, specifically girl's clothing.  Not my favorite subject, but as the father of four daughters in a sex obsessed culture, one that I have some definite opinions about.  Suffice it to say my opinion's differ from Maddie's.  But she still surrenders to my leadership in this area and is always curious about why I think what I do.  In her own words, "Dad, I'd never wear anything too revealing, that's icky.  But you are a bit to strict on these kinds of things."  I respond by reminding her that I am a bit more qualified to understand the thoughts and intentions of a teen-age boy than she is.  She says she thinks I am over-reacting.  "Sure some boys are gross," she agrees, "but most are not."  I agree that most are not, but that she is far from the expert of the mental patterns of the average teen-age boy.  She smiles and says she disagrees.

Fast forward to just before bed last night.  I'm digging into a new book I got from the library, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges. It's already a fascinating book and one that I would recommend just after reading the introduction and table of contents.  One of the ideas in the book is that war has an addictive aspect to it.  It's something that we turn to when we feel something is lacking in our lives.  It makes reality a bit clearer when we can delineate clearly the good guys and the bad guys.  Too bad that the line between those two is never as clear as it appears to be.  Far from rejecting the need for war, Hedges simply says that we must be aware that it has deeper powers over the human heart than we can imagine.  And those who choose to go to war must do it with a greater understand of our own weaknesses when it comes to this force.  In short, we don't know as much about it as we think we know.

And so I started to wonder...

Madison thinks she is an expert on what boys think.  Despite the damage it may do to her self-esteem I have the need to tell her she's wrong.  But there are so many times that I am in the same boat.  I am the spiritual teen-ager telling God, "I get this, I know what I am doing."  I know what is best for me. And He looks at the situation and says, "There is more going on here than you realize.  You'll have to defer to my leadership in this area or it's going to come back and bite you."

Humanity suffers from an overestimation of our own ability to discern reality.  Far too often we think we understand.  I see it constantly in the church (not to mention in my own heart) where we refuse to let our overly simplistic understandings of what God is up to in the world (what He wants to do and HOW He wants to do it) face the deep scrutiny of reality.  We need a healthy dose of "I don't really get what?" if we are to keep growing and learning about God and His world.

Madison needs to dethrone herself when it comes to her expert status on understanding the male species.  Humanity needs to rethink the deeper reasons and implications that come from war.  And me, I need to admit that in reality I am a spiritual teen-ager who thinks I know a lot more than I really do.  

Humility is often in short supply. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Faith and Pop Culture

I just finished reading Faith and Pop Culture, a Bible Study guide edited by Kelli Trujillo and put out as a part of the Christianity Today Study Series.  The focus of the study is to engage thought and provoke discussion about the relationship between our faith and the culture that we live in.  The guide takes on topics that are relevant, focusing mainly on forms of entertainment including television, movies, sports, and literature. 

I liked the format of each study as it used editorials and articles from Christianity Today to start to engage the issues.  It also had a strong section on Biblical passages that need to be studied around the issues that were raised.  I found the best chapter to be the last (which I think should probably have come first) on our culture’s obsession with being entertained.  The rest of the studies were interesting and thought provoking, but would have benefitted from asking the questions of the last study as a foundation to actual critique.  The weakest study was the one on sports.  While I see the value of sports in regards to health and social development, I felt that the attempt to link the concept of Sabbath with competitive sports as they exist in our culture today was too big of a stretch.  

In a nutshell I found most of the studies thought provoking and well written but it was hard to escape the nagging sense that at times we try too hard to make the Scripture compatible with what we know as culture instead of allowing it to critique culture, calling us to live as citizens of a different Kingdom.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word comes from an experience I had during a funeral today. The funeral was for Lynn, an almost 50 year old woman who had lived her whole life severely physically limited by cerebral palsy. She was a close friend of our family and will be missed more than can be imagined. I was reading the following text...
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for tItaliche old order of things has passed away."He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"  (Rev.21:1-5)
...and reflecting on how one day evil will be ended and all things will be made new when I had a bit of a...
"glimpisode" - A momentary glimpse at a deep emotional and spiritual level of life the way God really intends it to be.  It is characterized by a sweet sorrow that both mourns for the way things are and hopes for the way that they will be.  Celtic Christians called these moments "thin spaces" - places where you could touch and experience God in a deep and profound way, where the wall that divides human and divine grows thin.  It can happen in many ways at many times.  Maybe you've experienced it while reading a good book or watching a movie.  Maybe it has flowed out of deep love for someone or from someone.  Or maybe, like me, it overwhelms you to grasp how far we have come from what God intended and yet how lovingly He is calling us home. May your life be filled with glimpisodes that draw you closer to the One who gave His life for you to set you free.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This week's sermon...

Samuel steps up to the role of prophet and helps lead Israel back to the worship of the True God...even when the challenges come.

Full study guide online here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote of the week...

Not the usual source for a quote of the week, but one that should cause us to reflect a bit...
"What luck for rulers, that men do not think."
--Adolf Hitler

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wipe Out!

As much as I hate to admit it, it's the possibility of wiping out that makes the ride so much fun. What is true of tubing is also true of life. A little adrenaline is good for the soul every now and then.   As inspiration, enjoy Becca's big wipeout on Kawakawa Lake today!

Friday, May 22, 2009

About as successful as the cross...

Story of Clarence Jordan and the Koinonia Farm, taken from Holy Sweat by Tim Hansel.  
Clarence Jordan was a man of unusual abilities and commitment. He had two Ph.D.s, one in agriculture and one in Greek and Hebrew. So gifted was he, he could have chosen to do anything he wanted. He chose to serve the poor. In the 1940s, he founded a farm in Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia Farm. It was a community for poor whites and poor blacks.

As you might guess, such an idea did not go over well in the Deep South of the ’40s. Ironically, much of the resistance came from good church people who followed the laws of segregation as much as the other folk in town. The town people tried everything to stop Clarence. They tried boycotting him, and slashing workers’ tires when they came to town. Over and over, for fourteen years, they tried to stop him. Finally, in 1954, the Ku Klux Klan had enough of Clarence Jordan, so they decided to get rid of him once and for all. They came one night with guns and torches and set fire to every building on Koinonia Farm but Clarence’s home, which they riddled with bullets. And they chased off all the families except one black family which refused to leave.

Clarence recognized the voices of many of the Klansmen, and, as you might guess, some of them were church people. Another was the local newspaper’s reporter. The next day, the reporter came out to see what remained of the farm. The rubble still smoldered and the land was scorched, but he found Clarence in the field, hoeing and planting.  “I heard the awful news,” he called to Clarence, “and I came out to do a story on the tragedy of your farm closing.” Clarence just kept on hoeing and planting. The reporter kept prodding, kept poking, trying to get a rise from this quietly determined man who seemed to be planting instead of packing his bags. So, finally, the reporter said in a haughty voice, “Well, Dr. Jordan, you got two of them Ph.D.s and you’ve put fourteen years into this farm, and there’s nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?”

Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter with his penetrating blue eyes, and said quietly but firmly, “About as successful as the cross. Sir, I don’t think you understand us. What we are about is not success but faithfulness. We’re staying. Good day.”

Beginning that day, Clarence and his companions rebuilt Koinonia and the farm is going strong today.
Helps to redefine what we mean by success, doesn't it?  May God help us to live faithful lives.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An education on poverty that...

... moves past cliches and exposes some difficult truths.  Like this idea - 
You have to be rich to be poor. That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand.You have to be rich to be poor.Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain. So we'll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.
From the Washington Post.  Read it all here.  One thing is for sure.  We often tend to oversimplify the problems and difficulties that others have to live with. Shame on us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word inspired by death and funerals...
"griefeducation" - The process by which grief educates and reminds you about what is really important. It shakes your foundations in order to see what areas of your life are really solid and what areas are just fluff that look good but have no substance. It's a truth that inspires verses like this - "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." (Ecc. 7:2) and incredible presentations like this one. (It's long, 55 minutes, but one of the most moving presentations that you will ever hear.)  It's a painful gift, but grief opens our hearts to truths that we would refuse to see any other way.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This week's sermon...

"Speak Lord...for your servant is listening." Eli's advice to Samuel is pretty good advice for us too. Here's last weeks sermon from I Samuel 3 - Learning to Listen...

Full study guide in online here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quote of the week...

"Christ put his classroom of redemption among the poor–not because money is evil, but because money often makes slaves of those who worship the things of earth and forget about God."
--Oscar Romero (December 25, 1978)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary to us...

17 years ago yesterday I made the best decision of my life.  I married Angela Davies. Neither one of us knew what we were getting into at the time, but it has been a blessing everyday since then.  Angela is not only my greatest fan (everyone needs one of those), the one who inspires me to be more than I am, and the most beautiful woman I know, but she has also been a driving force in helping me to seek to live more like Jesus each and every day. Whereas I tend to sit and think, she tends to question and do.  Her spiritual questions keep us both thinking and growing...and keep me honest.  Without her I would far too often slide into theological reflection that does nothing but contemplate.  With her I am constantly challenged to live out what it is I think God is saying.  She is my best friend and I can't imagine ever not having her around.  I often tell her that she is the island of calm and serenity in the midst of my ocean of chaos.  So I am thankful for 17 amazing years...and praying that God will give us 117 more. 

Last weeks sermon...

Here is a unique Mother's Day sermon about Hannah, the mom who gave her child to God by leaving him with Eli the priest and his immoral sons...not your typical mother's day message.

Full study guide online here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This could be said about more than just preaching...

“When I was in my 20’s I would read McCheyne’s Bible reading calender, and I would get some great ideas – and I would preach on it. And I do it now. And I hate to tell you: I’m a lot better preacher than I was.  And I really don’t think its a matter of exegesis skills. Its the fact that you don’t see all kinds of things in the text because you haven’t suffered. You haven’t had much experience of life. You haven’t had any major failures, where you’ve realized your a lot more sinful than you ever believed. You haven’t had major sicknesses. You haven’t suffered. You haven’t been broken. And you know, the very same exegesis skills – bible reading – that you do in your 50’s gives you all kinds of insights… And then you preach, and you’re way better than you were 30 years ago.  The real difference, I don’t think is usually exegesis or theology…its the fact that you’ve been in life, you’ve spent time with people, you’ve watched people die.”
--Tim Keller
(Thanks to Unashamed Workman for the link)

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's a close race...

Dead Snake - 128
Jeff Kuhn - 130

See here for explanation...


I am one of those weirdos who thinks preaching is actually really important.  I have wrestled with the fact that maybe it's only because that is what I do in the body of Christ.  But I always come back to believing that when it is done right that God accomplishes something valuable in the lives of both the preacher and the listener.  So when I saw this clip from John Piper I thought I'd share it here.  

It's a great explanation of what he calls preaching. The full text is below or on their blog here.

Some of you may have little or no experience with what I mean by preaching. I think it will help you listen to my messages if I say a word about it.

What I mean by preaching is expository exultation.

Preaching Is Expository

Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God’s word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it.

The preacher’s job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people's lives.

The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can’t see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God's word.

The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will

  • make your spiritual bones more like steel,
  • double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,
  • make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God,
  • and awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn’t even know existed.

Preaching Is Exultation

Preaching is also exultation. This means that the preacher does not just explain what’s in the Bible, and the people do not simply try understand what he explains. Rather, the preacher and the people exult over what is in the Bible as it is being explained and applied.

Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. The preacher worships—exults—over the word, trying his best to draw you into a worshipful response by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My job is not simply to see truth and show it to you. (The devil could do that for his own devious reasons.) My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That’s one of the differences between a sermon and a lecture.

Preaching Isn't Church, but It Serves the Church

Preaching is not the totality of the church. And if all you have is preaching, you don’t have the church. A church is a body of people who minister to each other.

One of the purposes of preaching is to equip us for that and inspire us to love each other better.

But God has created the church so that she flourishes through preaching. That’s why Paul gave young pastor Timothy one of the most serious, exalted charges in all the Bible in 2 Timothy 4:1-2:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.

What to Expect from My Preaching and Why

If you're used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, you won't find that from what I've just described.

  • I preach twice that long;
  • I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful;
  • and I am not relaxed.

I standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.

That's what I mean by preaching.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's super pastor...

Several things have converged in my life at the present to help solidify my thinking in a specific area.  It has to do with the role of the pastor in the local church.  This is something that I care deeply about, as it is what I sense to be my calling, but I am concerned that what we currently are doing is far from what we should be.

It started with the fact that I have an upcoming job assessment.  This will be my first in 10 years. I am looking forward to it and have been asking for one for the last 7 years at GBC.  I love and respect the Leadership Team that I work with and am hoping for some honest assessment that will help me grow in my job, but that will also give me some clarity as to what it is that I need to see as priorities in my role.

At the same time I have been re-reading The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk.  This is a fascinating book that talks about both a theology of church leadership and some shifts that are needed in the way we do things.  My thinking was further stirred when Len Hjalmarson of NextReformation posted two entries (here and here) on the same book.

But it all came to a head yesterday as I read this classified ad.  (No, I'm not looking for another job, just always curious what church's expectations are for their pastor.)
Church X is seeking a spirit-filled, spirit-led visionary leader to serve as Lead Pastor of our multi-cultural congregation of approximately 450 Plus.  We are looking for a Lead Pastor whose personal and pastoral life is characterized by a spirit of prayer. The Shepherd we are seeking must have a passion for God, His Word, and His people.. Administration, team building, assimilation experience are essential. Our Lead Pastor must also possess Bible-based preaching & teaching skills that are relevant to today's challenges without compromising God's word. We are seeking a Pastor whose leadership style includes a focus on evangelism, modeling, mentoring and continually speaking the word of God. We desire a Pastor that BI for God's purpose.
Who can do all that? In fact, if someone thinks that they actually can that just might disqualify them for the position.  I understand that this church is seeking a gifted individual, but no one can fill those shoes.  I read this ad to my wife and asked her the same question, "Who can actually do all of that?" Her response was, "It sounds like they are looking for a church."  And I think that may sum up how I feel. Pastors can't do it all.  The way to make this thing work isn't to find the ultra-gifted spiritual's for each part to do its work.  

In the past 2-3 years I have realized that God has given me gifts to do what I do.  But with that has come the truth that there are certain areas in which I am not gifted.  This is not about always loving your job and not wanting to do things you don't like.  Some of the areas that I sense gifting in are areas that I really don't enjoy all that much. Overall though, I love what I do, but in some ways I fear that my very presence as the "paid pastor" enables people to look to me to accomplish what they are called to contribute.  

So wherever you are, if you are a part of a church, do me a big favor. Realize that your pastor is a lot like you.  Strengths and weakeness, ability and disability, and that this is just the way God planned it.  If anything, the pastor's role is prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up... (Eph. 4:12)
His or her job is to help you get moving so that the church can fully participate in the mission of God.  But they can't do it alone.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word...
"Suffathering" - A word describing the process (inherent in being a father or a mother) of literally feeling the pain of a son or daughter. There is an invisible connection that forces parents to share in the suffering that their children are going through. It can be the mental stress of a big decision, the hurt that they bear from relationships, or even the pain that follows a bad choice. It is constantly undervalued and misunderstood by children, but is far from imaginary. It's why Simeon said to Mary, the mother of Jesus, "...and a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:35) And to think I never believed my dad when he said, "This is going to hurt me more than it does you..."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just for fun...

I love this.  It may not be profound...but it definitely qualifies as amazing!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quote of the week...

I've just started reading Enough, by Will Samson.  It's an awesome book thus far.  I'll do a little review here when I finish it, but I knew right away I was in for a treat when I came across this quote in the forward.  Words of wisdom for those of us who would concern ourselves with the spiritual growth of our own life and in the lives of others.
"Guilt can be a good indicator of where things are wrong, but it's a bad motivator toward getting things right."
-- Shaine Claiborne.
That's why Paul would write to Titus...
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It (the grace of God) teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:11-13, NIV)
We change not by feeling guilty enough, but by grace.  The guilt only lets us know that the change needs to come.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Congratulations to Maddie

We just found out this week that Madison has received quite an honor.  She prepared a project for Historica, an educational program that works with elementary and middle school students.  She had to choose a topic (Japanese Internment Camps in Canada during WW II), prepared a written report, and also a "creative component".  She then presented at her school, and was chosen as one of nine to go on to regional competition.  At the regional competition she was selected as one of only 12 students in BC (and only 100 in Canada) to go on a week trip to the National Fair in Ottawa. Wow!  She's pretty excited and we are very proud of her.  We have to work out some details.  It looks like she might have to make the trip without Angela or I (due to Historica's policy) but we're checking into that.  We're not sure if she should make a trip like that without a parent...but whether she goes or not, she has done an amazing job.  And we've all learned something along the way.  I've posted her creative component below so that you can get a sense of her project and how it impacted her.  Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Confusion and Clarity

Tomorrow morning I teach our Adult SS class again. I have taught it many times over the past 10 years at our church. But the last two times have been a bit frustrating for me. Not because of the class - they are awesome and really a great cross section of people that I love "being the church" with. And not because I am unprepared - I have been working through these ideas and concepts for the past 7 years and have spent a lot of time thinking, praying, and reflecting on them in light of Scripture. My frustration is in what happens between me and the class. I am having trouble clearly communicating what it is that I am trying to say. What I mean by the words I choose is not what people are interpreting from the words they hear. For someone who communicates for a living that is a pretty frustrating place to be.

My focus is on how we read the Bible. The way to come to the text often shapes what you will see there. I have a friend who once told me that if the only tool you have is a hammer then most of what you see will look like a nail. When we approach Scripture as a repository of promises and blessings, that is often all we find there. When it looks like a rule book to us, that's all it will be. When it's a complicated theological puzzle, we can spend hours and hours trying to make the pieces fit, almost to the point of missing the picture. And if it's a story...? (For more on this you really should read The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. I wish I could get him to come teach the class!)

I think we need to read the Bible all of these ways, but the best way is to read it as story. To enter the story of what God is doing in the world and just soak in it for a while. To strap on Joseph's sandals, go fishing with Peter, preaching with Paul, to the tomb with Mary, and just let it impact us like we've never heard it before.

That's what I am trying to communicate in this class. But I'm failing. So tomorrow we're back at it. That's what I do. I try to help us all listen to the text...myself included. And sometimes what I need is a good dose of frustration. It's the spiritual castor oil. Tastes horrible, not sure why we need it, but good for what ails you.

Friday, May 08, 2009

This week's sermon...

Here's a message from last Sunday on Simplicity from Luke 12:13-34.

Full study guide is online here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bumper sticker truth

Today I saw this bumper sticker on a car parked at our local hospital.  I laughed out loud (LOL for all you text speak people). One of the aspects that struck me as funny was that even though years ago I would have loved it, I would have understood it differently.  It would have been a way to say God bless those other weirdos that I don't understand, and if I was honest, those that I didn't want to understand.  

But the years change you.  I am learning more about people...and more about me.  I'm learning that we are usually more alike than we are different. And far too often I have refused to admit it as a way to feel better about my own preferences and idiosyncrasies. As much as I hate to admit it, the older I get the more it becomes clear to me that the freak is me. Before you laugh too hard let me remind you that it's you too.  There is no "normal".  We all have our freakish aspects.  For years I used myself as the definition of normal, and your level of "freakishness" was derived by how far from me you were on the normal scale.  Today I think we're all a bit weird.  We all have our hang-ups.  We all need a lot of grace. So yeah, "God bless the freaks." That's a great prayer.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How the internet affects us...

You should really read this post by Tod Bolsinger, and the article from The Atlantic Monthly that it references.  At least, I think you should. Pop on over and you will see what I mean....

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word has a theological bent to it. Something worth chewing on for a while I hope...
"Imaginashun" - The shunning or rejection of another person due to a refusal to see them as created in the image of God. This is usually done for justifiable reasons, including their actions (which may have caused us pain), their belief systems (which may be false and even harmful), or their past failures (which are usually way worse than ours). The truth is that loving people because of the divine imprint in their nature is just too difficult. If we loved people merely because God loves them (and created them in his image) then we would have to love people like Osama Bin Laden, George Bush, Barak Obama, Jerry Springer (heaven forbid), or even worse, the people we come in contact with everyday. We'd have to love Miss California AND Perez Hilton, the contest judge who has made her life so difficult. Surely Jesus didn't mean for us to love people unconditionally? That would have severe implications for our thoughts and actions. Imagine what might happen if we did that...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This week's sermon...

The audio from my simplicity sermon is still not posted so here's one from the past called, "The one who could throw, didn't."

Full study guide online here.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Quote of the week...

“We have the nicest garbage man,
He empties out our garbage can.
He’s just as nice as he can be,
He always stops and talks to me.
My mother doesn’t like his smell,
But mother doesn’t know him well.”
--Peter Marshall (I think)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

This is ironic...

In light of my last post and my sermon topic today you just have to wonder...

Will we ever just be open to being "still"?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Playing little games

Tomorrow I preach on the discipline of simplicity.  I've defined simplicity as “Living life for what is most important, refusing to let the accumulation of the unimportant distract us from God’s call.” Once again I have been forced to think through the stuff of my life and how what I have shapes who I am, often whether I realize it or not.  I don't know who wrote this...but they said something worth saying.  
Some men die by shrapnel;
Some go down in flames.
But most men perish inch by inch
Playing little games.
In different words Thoreau said something similiar..
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
It seems that there is only so much mental head space in my life and once I have filled it there is no room left for the voice of God.  The goal has to be to clear the way, to open up space for God to speak. And that has serious implications for the choices I make from day to day.

My hope for you this week-end is that you take the time to think through your own life...reflecting how you can simplify your life and thus make space for God to speak clearly to you.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mental Illness of the Spirit...

Today I had a long interaction with Steven (not his real name).  Steven suffers from extreme paranoia.  He came to see me because he had been banned from the local Greyhound bus station. Of course, he was completely innocent.  His story was that the ticket agent had jumped across the counter and assaulted him.  He had called the police, but they had, just as he expected, taken the Greyhound employee's side.  The witnesses had seen nothing...other than the fact that Steven had become very impatient and loud with the ticket agent and the agent responded by telling him to leave the station.

As I talked to Steven his mind was hard at work making mental connections.  They were out to get him.  This incident was tied to the recent fire in his apartment building.  The fire was started by people connected to his step-mother.  She had slowly poisoned his father over that last 5 years, leading to his eventual death.  The step-mom is engineering all of this to keep him from collecting any of the inheritance.  She wants to isolate Steven in Hope (thus the expulsion from the Greyhound station) so that he has no freedom to travel.  This, he says, makes him a sitting duck for those who are seeking to kill him.  It's quite a fascinating story - and I haven't even told you how his siblings are complicit in the whole affair.

After a few minutes of talking with Steven it becomes abundantly clear that the only thing that is out to get him is his own mental illness.  He needs some intensive help, and probably some good medication in order to keep the paranoia at bay.  But because he can function at a pretty high level in society, society tends to let him be, even if that is to his own detriment.

As is often the case, my personal interactions tend to inspire reflection.  As I pitied Steven for the difficult challenge of having his own mind work against him, I was challenged to think about a malady that I often suffer from - spiritual paranoia.  When bad things happen to me, when I am not sure where God is, when I don't understand how He could allow the things that He is allowing, I begin to allow these things to make me paranoid.  What if He isn't good?  What if He isn't in control.  What if 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." nothing but wishful thinking?  At that moment God looks at me, much as how I look at Steven.  He sees the futility of my thinking.  He marvels at my ability to miss so much of what is actually going on in the middle of my self-absorption.  He hurts for my weakness.  And somehow He still loves me.   

Steven has lost the ability to trust.  Every action that happens to him is somehow suspect.  I often do the same.  Trust is a fragile object that must be cared for.  It is one that needs to be both nourished and practiced.  As children we trust without too much effort.  Maybe that comes from our lack of understanding of what the real world is like.  As adults we "know better".  But when it comes to our spiritual life, trust is the only antidote for spiritual paranoia.  If we don't learn to trust, we spend all our lives running from everything - even those things that God works for our good at a level far beyond our own understanding.
"The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."
--Proverbs 28:1

Thursday, April 30, 2009


"The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey."
So says a CNN article.  Read the rest here. I understand that there are complexities when it comes to the church and the power of the state, but can we really just write off "turn the other cheek" that easily?  It was Jesus who said that, right?

I was saving the following quote for next week's quote of the week but I think you'll agree that it's quite appropriate for this particular post.
“Christianity, with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love, is incompatible with the state, with its haughtiness, its violence, its punishment, its wars”
-- Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Go ahead...tell me what you think.

One further note...

The funny thing about the post below is that by including those words I have actually increased the likelihood of someone coming to this blog based on that search criteria.  I find that slightly amusing.  I am saying less and yet attracting more attention.

In case you ever feel too important...

Here's an interesting fact that is helping bring a little humility to my life. I can tell when people come to my blog via a search engine such as Google and also what they were searching for when they came across my blog.  The top search terms have always been my name - "Jeff Kuhn".  But in the last three months a new "hot item" has directed an incredible amount of traffic my way. In fact, it appears as if this post - World's longest dead snake - will soon surpass my own name as being the search term most used to find my site.  So while I'd like to think that people come here for the witty and profound words that I pour forth from somewhere deep in my soul, the truth may be that a good "YouTube" video has more pull. Oh well...
"Life is a long lesson in humility”  

Far from the church we often see today...

A church that doesn’t provoke any crises,
 a gospel that doesn’t unsettle,
a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin,
a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin
of the society in which it is being proclaimed–
what gospel is that?

Very nice, pious considerations
 that don’t bother anyone,
that’s the way many would like preaching to be.
Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter
so as not to be harassed,
so as not to have conflicts and difficulties,
do not light up the world they live in.
They don’t have Peter’s courage, who told that crowd
where the bloodstained hands still were
that had killed Christ:
“You killed him!”

Even though the charge could cost him his life as well,
he made it.

The gospel is courageous;
it’s the good news
of him who came to take away the world’s sins.
-- Oscar Romero - April 16, 1978

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word has to do with the way we adopt the things that we choose to believe.
"Pseudocontemplation" - The mental act of choosing to believe a certain idea or concept due to the way it is presented, our personal bias, or our feelings about and reaction to the presenter of the idea.  The converse is also included in this, where we reject an idea because it is poorly presented or we don't like the presenter. This is especially practiced in North America where we often, consciously or unconsciously, adopt the ideas presented in the news and entertainment media as our own.  Every idea seems to have great merit if it is the only idea that you consider.  There is a famine of true critical thinking in our my own life.  Edward R. Murrow said, "A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices and superstitions."  If you've never taken the time to listen to the person who disagrees with you then you are building beliefs on a shallow foundation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This week's sermon...

Part 2 on Disciplines for a Busy World - Solitude and Silence.

Full study guide and outline is here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote of the Week...

Passed on to me from my good friend Wes...
“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
--Ann Lamott

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Prayer for a Sunday...

Written by Walter Brueggemann - 

We are strange conundrums of faithfulness and fickleness.

We cleave to you in all the ways that we are able.

We count on you and intend our lives to be lived for you,

and then we find ourselves among your people

who are always seeking elsewhere and otherwise.

So we give thanks that you are the God

who yearns and waits for us,

and that our connection to you is always from your side,

and that it is because of your goodness

that neither life nor death

nor angels nor principalities

nor heights nor depths

nor anything in creation

can separate us from you.

We give thanks for your faithfulness,

so much more durable than ours.  Amen

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And never be the same...

Pastoral Epiphany

June 10, 2007

A vending machine of God

I am not

No slot for quarters

No chutes of spiritual sweetness

Dispensing divinity

Guaranteed to satisfy

At times people see me thus

I hate it

Mostly when I’m empty

When sweetness is hard to find

Quarters overflow

Yet there is nothing to give

And a line of those who want

Then, in a moment of grace

Insight comes, ripping scabs from eyes and heart

I see the truth

I like it too

Being a source 

Supplying quantities of God yet consuming none

Prepackaged Jesus, clean and sterile

Spiritual truth sealed in bags

A God contained

There is a joy in teaching 

Free from pain of being taught

Truth observed but not encountered

Analyzed, but paralyzed

You do not build another’s stones of remembrance

There is no life in living truth for others

If you handle fire you will be burned

Scars will evidence lessons learned

A vending machine God does not need

Maybe yet, a cup, albeit cracked

Filling, spilling, overflowing

Telling of the God I know

In hopes that they will someday go

To meet Him for themselves

And never be the same.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Re-Run...

Here's a post that I wrote back in 2005.  It came back to me as I sat through our denominational convention this week - excited by some of the changes happening in our Fellowship and yet still wondering about this weird thing that we call church.  As we work through budgets and by-laws and begin to discuss theological issues (while they are both important and necessary) it is so easy to lose the joy in laying it all our for the Kingdom.  We lose the focus of Jesus in the trappings of running a church.  And, as often happens with me, the same questions surface in my head.  Here's what I wrote about it 4 years ago...
July 5, 2005 - 
The more time passes the less I am sure of and the more confident I am that Jesus is all He said He is. It is encouraging for me to see others at the same point in their journey. My faith has become less about answers and more about quiet trust in the One who is leading. Anne Lamott writes,
“Another problem involves what the light looks like. I have thought over the years, that the light would look like success, a good man, a child, a Democratic president, but none of these were right. Moses led his people in circles for forty years so that they could get ready for the Promised Land, because they had too many ideas and preconceptions about what a Promised Land should look like…We have to sit in our own anxiety and funkiness long enough to know what a Promised Land would be like, or, to put it another way, what it means to be saved.”
So much of my spiritual journey has been about letting go of what I thought God was doing in order to embrace what He’s actually up to.

I never wanted to be a pastor. I thought that they were too secluded from the real world. What an idiot I was. But God is patient (and persistent), and here I am pastoring a church, never more sure of His calling in my life than I am now.

I thought that spiritual leadership was about giving people answers. Truth is that it’s more about walking with people through their questions. I’ve realized that God doesn’t need me to be His agent; He can do His own PR work. He wants me to be His hands, showing compassion, serving, loving, dying. Sure, you speak the truth, but your eloquence and insight aren’t needed, He just enjoys letting you be a part of what He is doing.

I thought that being a pastor was about discerning vision and preaching with passion. I am learning that it’s more about riding the roller coaster we call life. Let me share with you a day from a couple of weeks ago. I got to the office at 9:00am on Friday and spent the next hour talking with a suicidal woman on the phone. Our church has tried to help her repeatedly, just like every other social agency in our town. But she continually burns her bridges, abuses those who help her, and justifies it by saying that God is leading her to do these things. At 10:00 I met with another person. She has every reason to be suicidal and yet God is slowly but surely changing her heart. On my way back to the office I met with a family of a 66 year old man who had just died. They have little or no understanding when it comes to Jesus and what He intends for us. It was an hour of trying to bring some hope to a situation where there is none, or at least it feels that way. When I got back to the office I had to do the intensely spiritual work of responding to emails. That was followed up by an hour of wrestling with Acts chapter 2, asking God to speak to me and enable me to speak clearly to others. At 2:00 I did a funeral. Once again, very little hope, just a deep love and respect for a man who they will miss everyday for the rest of their lives. I wrapped up the day trying to finish off my sermon. And all of this is set against the back drop of hurt feelings and misunderstandings that surround a recent church decision. And yet I love it. I’m seeing God in places that I never dreamed He would be. And guess what, He’s getting the job done. I should’ve known that when He said that He would build His church that is wasn’t some politician’s promise, good only for the time it takes to get them in office. He meant what He said. And He’s good for His word.

I thought that peace was the absence of all these struggles. I am learning that the real peace comes in the midst of the roller coaster. You can only use a parachute when you’re falling to the earth at some insane speed. You can only trust God when it looks as if there is no hope.

So I’m learning to be sure of less, but to be more confident of the less I know to be true. It’s an interesting paradox, and one that’s difficult to explain. I guess that’s what makes it so beautiful. Easy answers lose their beauty when held up to the light. But when you experience something that is beyond describing, or at least describing fully, the truth seems to actually grow in beauty as the light reflects across the surface of the unknown.

That’s just the way God likes to do things.