Sunday, June 29, 2008

islands wait expectantly.

Take a good look at my servant. I'm backing him to the hilt. He's the one I chose, and I couldn't be more pleased with him. I've bathed him with my Spirit, my life. He'll set everything right among the nations. He won't call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right. He won't tire out and quit. He won't be stopped until he's finished his work—to set things right on earth.

Far-flung ocean
islands wait expectantly for his teaching."

The God Who Makes Us Alive with His Own Life the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies, laid out the earth and all that grows from it, Who breathes life into earth's people, makes them alive with his own life: I am God.

I have called you to live right and well. I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe. I have set you among my people to bind them to me, and provided you as a lighthouse to the nationsTo make a start at bringing people into the open, into light: opening blind eyes, releasing prisoners from dungeons, emptying the dark prisons.

I am God. That's my name. I don't franchise my glory, don't endorse the no-god idols. ISA 42

There is a city near to our hearts, where franchised glory is the best that more than 6.5 million people know. The God Who Makes Us Alive is breathing His life into many hearts, who see the potential, recognize the coming Kingdom, and respond with "Yes Lord". 

One day, we hope to walk alongside others already there to "make a start" at bringing people into light, where franchised glory dissipates, and Eternal Glory is known, loved, and enjoyed. Forever. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

grayton beach + us.

After being away from home for two weeks... it's great to be back. We spent the past week with family in Grayton Beach, FL. Here some of my favorite moments of the week. 

1. Dad and I trying (unsuccessfully) to collapse a portable shade tent. While following instructions, we somehow managed to sheer metal, screws, and disassemble what used to me a square-like canopy into a mangled mess of metal. 

2. PF Changs @ Sandestin. Two words: Hec-tic. 

3. "Fishing" via nets with April during low-tide. Perhaps a new hobby. We did yield about 11 small minnows. 

4. Basmati Asian Restaurant with April, Daniel and Lindsey. Great food, better conversation. 

5. Everyone in our family having fun on the beach. 

6. The Bucket List and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. 

7. Bike rides to Seaside with Dad, Josh, and Daniel. 

8. Reading to Josh about Mei-Mei and Happy Hens. Playing the flying hand game with Caleb. 

9. Breakfast with Dad, hearing about his parents, grand-parents, and childhood memories. Not to be forgotten, is the mason jar, Wilma, "special silverware", hong kong trivia, and really good bacon.  

10. Breakfast with April @ Another Broken Egg Cafe. Conversations about future plans. 

11. April got her best haircut ever. 

12. Mom saying, "I feel like we haven't really had a conversation..." Not yet at least. 

13. Losing my car keys. Driving home 4 hours and realizing I left my office keys there. Classic. 

14. The Wedding Ceremony of Pinky and Bluey by Rev. Josh Dean.

15. Low-Country Boil. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

camp lee, starbucks, and the FBI.

For the past few days, I've been part of a youth retreat at camp lee, in Anniston, AL. While here, I read a book I have been wanting to read, but never seemed to have to time for. This morning, while sitting at the local Starbucks (who knew there would be one here?) I finished a book called "The Heavenly Man", the true story of one mans journey to love Christ in China. Unbelievable. The testimony of how God was and is working in the hearts of His Chinese children. Humbling and exciting. 

Yesterday at Starbucks, I was reading and saw at least 5 armored vehicles, with blacked-out windows, and boxes, antennas, and UFC-look-alike agents within 100 yards of me. One staked out at Arbys, McDonalds, one behind Starbucks, one on the highway nearby, and one across the road at a hotel. I confess this peaked my interest. What's up with that many agents in Anniston? I also confess that when I left, I followed them.... but quickly remembered I was not actually a law enforcement office. Just a curious guy who secretly thinks those are pretty cool jobs to have. I turned around, and went back to Camp, where I ate a fantasticly mediocre lunch in the mess hall with new friends.

At camp, I've been walking through the story of God, from before Creation to the Eternal throne, trying to shape these young minds around a bigger story than their own. A couple nights ago, I spoke on faith from Hebrews 11:1 -- the call to focused confidence in Christ,in things we hope for and the assurance of things unseen. 

All the while, I'm reading the incredible story of faith in people's lives who have NOTHING but trust in the things they hope for. More thoughts on this another time. 

Last night, I shared on worship, responding to the worth of God in our everyday living. I came back to the verse in Colossians 1:16 -- being made by Him and for Him. Personally, I've been learning the necessity of my mind "being renewed" because without renewal, there is conformity to the world. It's the subtle, less visible conformity to the world, where I'm growing more sensitive to God's Word. Like so many other times of growth, I crave for the renewal of my mind in Christ -- and I know one way I can respond to the worth of God in my life -- is by agreeing I increasingly need His truth in me. 

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love" - John 15:9

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

t-ball and tears.

See what kind of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God, and so we are. 1 John 3:1

We reflect love like we know love. 

The other day at t-ball, Josh was having a hard time. Partly due to exhaustion and partly due to him being a little a stubborn he was reluctant to play. This moment for me initially was a pivot point. Flesh or Spirit.  I confess my pride of “What will people think of a coach whose own son doesn’t even play” went across my mind. Then God’s mercy did. How many times have You seen my junk and been filled with compassion, interceding in my messy little tball game to show me Your love? 

As this little scenario unfolded, I chose to walk in the Spirit. I did the best I could to encourage Josh, but after barely hitting the ball, and crying all the way to 1st and 2nd base. I realized he needed rescue. No amount of encouragement would help. So, I walked out to second base, still denying my pride, especially to the overly helpful coaches on the other team decked out in their coach shorts and tball cleats. There’s honesty. But then I realized again, that this was not about me. Never was. Why let it be about me anyway? This was about Josh having fun on a team. Humble me. April gives Josh the choice to be a part of the team or not play. After seeing the rest of the team playing, Josh wants in, kinda. The next at bat – I promised Josh I would swing ride beside him, and run all the bases beside him. That made the difference. Every dusty little step of the way, I was right there. Encouraging him with words, and encouraging him with my presence. Maybe that’s what he needed in the first place. To be reminded by me, that whether he plays or not – I love him. I do.

Fathers - do not provoke your children, lest they grow discouraged - Colossians 3:21

I noticed as we rounded the bases, that his little heart grew more confident. Before long, he was back to normal… reflecting on this little team, what he knew about himself and about me; That I loved him and would be beside him. I do love him. What a joy he is to be around. The thing is – nothing changed in my heart for him. I knew, no matter what, his worth in my eyes. He is worth any awkward moment on a 100*F tball field. 

I think the Oh-God-moments begin in my mind, when I think that even in his “worst” moments --- my love for Him is not open to debate (even when my pride rears it’s ugly head) – and then I think on a Heavenly Father scale – who does not wrestle with pride because HE IS THE BEST, how much joy He experiences when we don’t lost heart, and when we do stay in the game, swinging the bat, running the bases, remembering He is here. 

Thursday, June 05, 2008

God of All Comfort

The God of all Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Who likes trouble? It’s not that we should enjoy it, but it is essential we embrace it. Trouble comes from many angles. Sometimes we choose poorly, and we have to face the music. Sometimes, other people choose poorly, and we have to face their music. Sometimes, bad things happen. There to, we have to face the music.

So often we confuse the gospel as insurance. Insurance that will pad our fall, insulate us from harm, inoculate us from suffering. The life we now have in Jesus however, means assurance. The confidence that in the storms, troubles, hardships… we are not alone, nor is our difficulty without purpose – and purpose that goes beyond our own lives.

We are comforted so that we can comfort. We have assurance in Him, so that we can remind others of our strength for the day, hope for tomorrow. The thing about comfort – is that it must be received. There are times, where we would rather not be comforted, hoping that our self-absorption will get us through the moment, hoping that our self-abasement will be seen as strength or dignity. But, self-reliance is man’s great stumbling block. Comfort must be received. From Him.

So for me to received comfort from God – means I have to be in relationship with Him. This means I need to be still long enough to know He has my attention. Maybe because I believe I can always have the attention of the Perfect Father, means I take Him for granted. A lot. Often. Daily. This is sad and humbling – but this is also great because He is committed to me – and extending me comfort, in all my troubles. All of them.