Sunday, November 30, 2008

blurry blur.

Life has been moving at a rapid pace these days. Here are some highlights :: 

11/20 - Encounter - It was all I prayed it would be. Being able to share the story of how God has been moving in our hearts, and do so in a way that was memorable and influential. Couldn't ask for more. The bottom line of the night? Say Yes to God.

11/21-11/22 - Scott and Catherine's Wedding. These people are dear to us. We love them and are so excited they are alongside us for the journey to HK.

11/23 - Cornerstone - We haven't been to our church home in 7 weeks. Sad. Not because we feel shame (we don't), but because we honestly miss our church family. Cornerstone is one of the few places that still feels like "home" in Auburn. 

11/23 Our friends who serve in East Asia came over for dinner. We hadn't seen them in years, but it was so great to catch up, hear what was happening in their lives, and what was ahead for them.

11/24 The Hitch Family from New Orleans comes over for lunch. We had six children under the age of 5 in our home. Madness. We had a great time catching up with old friends.

11/25 We have our friends from Auburn, Turkey and Korea, as well as a new friend from Colombia over for Thanksgiving dinner that night. Lots of fun. Smoked turkey was a hit.  

11/26 Drive over to Columbus, GA for some family time at Monkey Joe's. Cook for Thanksgiving Day in Montgomery. An amazing moment happens in Josh's life. Worthy of it's own post. But the short version, is that April shared the whole story of Jesus with him, and he expressed genuine faith in His redeemer. 

11/27 Thanksgiving in Montgomery. First, a great lunch with April's family. We went fishing (but caught no fish), and later that afternoon, dinner with my family. Good stuff. 

11/28 Back home. Breathe. Our friends, Jay and Anne, along with their daughters came over for dinner. They have been living in Hong Kong for the past 18 months, so we had a lot to talk about.

11/29 April's birthday. Her gift? Time. My day? All-day fun with dad. Good times. Later that night, Christmas decorating. 

11/30 Church. Lunch with our local family, the Blounts. Home. Good. Tired. Thankful for so many blessings, people, conversations, and at this moment, thankful to rest, for a minute...

Monday, November 17, 2008

grace for glory.

It is surreal to think encounter will be ending in a few weeks. For about 7 years, my weeks have revolved around thursday nights. The community known as grace campus, has been meeting on thursdays nights around 8:30 since 2002. The journey has been amazing. What began as the worship overflow of several small groups is now approaching a significant turning point in its history.

I can remember the first night at encounter. We met in Langdon Hall on Auburn's campus. Around 60 people were there. I remember being scared and nervous. I remember the message I spoke on about grace. I remember breathing deeply and diving in to what would be some of the most amazing memories of my life so far. I remember setting up for that night, how much trash was in the room, and how the group of us there didn't care, we just wanted encounter to be as good as it could be. Serving together towards a goal greater than ourselves was enough to keep us focused on Him. 

Turns out, things like production, excellence, planning, etc -- aren't prerequisite for God to move. It was rough in many ways -- but the heart of it all shined through. In simple terms, we wanted to invite people to worship God for who He is and what He has done on behalf for those who believe. 

Grace for glory.

The journey from Langdon Hall, to the Auburn University Chapel, to the AUMC Youth Room, to the AUMC Epworth Center, to the AUMC Sanctuary, to Lakeview Baptist, and finally back on campus in the Auburn University Student Center is one I will carry in my heart forever. In so many ways, I see these years as a gift, for me to experience God in ways I never could have imagined. 

To think about how many lives have walked through the doors, each one with the potential to change the world in the name of Jesus, to think about how many holy moments have occurred that no one will ever know about, to think about those who have listened in via podcasts, to wonder how many prayers of confession and adoration have been expressed, how many anthems and hymns of praise have been raised to our Father, to think about the people in countries around the world who are different because someone from the grace campus community touched their lives, these priceless memories live on in the unending story of God.

I want to thank everyone who has been a part of the journey so far, for those who have given financially, prayed faithfully, served selflessly, participated consistently, volunteered tirelessly, and for those of you found a community here at Auburn in grace campus, thank you. 

As I prepare for one of the most unpredicted messages in my life thursday night, I am filled with joy at the thought of being able to look back, and really see what God has done. The greatest part of it, is that we can't even calculate what God has been orchestrating through this little community of faith in Auburn. To think He would call some of us, to leave here, and go to Hong Kong, and serve there? Wow. To think that many more will remain here, and in time, leave Auburn for wherever is next, I pray each of you will give your lives for the namesake of Jesus, saying yes to Him... wherever that leads. 

Say yes. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

walmart tents really work

This weekend I took Josh and Caleb on their first father / son camping trip. It was awesome. The first night it rained pretty hard, but the Wal-mart tent held her own... The next day my Dad joined us and we took the little guys to Callaway Gardens for the day. That night, we braved the elements again, the temperature dropped to around 30, no one really slept, but it was worth it for sure. All in all, a great weekend filled with hilarious moments, good conversations, and quality time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

samoset and squanto

stop. rewind. live. again.

Well, it's that time of year again. The semester is winding down, the weather is changing, and generally speaking, people are growing weary. I'm not sure what it is, other than the thought of if we can "just make it to Thanksgiving" or "just get through the semester" --- Yep. Me too. It's not to say I don't love my job, or life as a family. I do. I've caught myself thinking that though.

The all-too-familiar-get-by-mentality. DANGEROUS.
But I don't have to convince anyone else, what crazy schedules do to people: EXHAUSTION. Too busy to be stiil. Too busy to slow down, enjoy people, enjoy God, or whatever else.

I remember reading Mark Buchanan's book The Rest of God, which was life-changing.
April and I both are different people from that book. Seriously. If you are busy, and approaching burnout - stop. Get the book.

Here's why I can say that I am different, when I begin to approach burnout, I remember there is a different way to live, a much different way to experience life. I know the difference between leftovers and abundance.

Same responsibilities. Same work load. Same burdens. Same situations.
A VERY different perspective. Life vs. craziness.

In repentance and rest is your salvation -- in quietness and trust is your strength. ISA 30:15

Less of me, more of Him.
Less of my own thoughts, more of truth and grace.
Less of my own strength, more from His life in me.
Less of my own agenda, more of responding to Him.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

cold weather = this.

This is what playing outside for a couple hours when it's cold looks like when your mom puts the blankets in the dryer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I love my mom.

No, it's not Mother's Day, or Grandmother's Day, but for sure
this is one great woman.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

sleeping ring bearer

Our friends Will & Jana were married this weekend. Josh and Caleb were the ring bearers, well kinda. Caleb fell asleep about five minutes into the ceremony, and slept all the way through it. Could be worse. For sure.

Monday, November 03, 2008

From the Garden to the City - Part 2

God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him, male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

So, it's 2:39 am, and while I should be sleeping, my mind is racing. Tonight at encounter, I was more than overjoyed to look out on a sea of faces; the looks of desperation shown in the expressions of hundreds of college students. What a precious sight. Let me say for the record, I love what God has allowed our family to be a part of for these years in Auburn. In due time, I pray I can stand among a similar crowd of Hong Kong students, where their faces, also made in the image of God, would reflect a similar desperation to know and love God. 

Today's thought, from the Garden to the City, is one of image bearing. I've been thinking a lot about how we as people are image-bearers of our God, the One who made men and fashioned women, the same One who fearfully knits unborn children in their mother's wombs, the same One who transcends the color of skin or eyes, the same One who creatively makes different smiles, different personalities, different shapes, sizes, and textures of hair. That Amazing God, whose creativity is immeasurably expressed in the intricacies of creation, chose to place in the heart of mankind - eternity. The souls of men - restless until they find their rest in Him. The thought of creating souls that can think, feel, and choose - billions of them, each unique. Come on. That is impressive. Billions of image bearing souls walk the earth tonight. 

The Garden was a place of rest. Work. Yes. Kinda. Keeping and cultivating and loving and enjoying paradise was life. I am still perplexed how those two people, in perfect paradise, with perfect freedom, knowing perfect provision, enjoying a shame-less, guilt-less, sin-less life with God and each other --- would have chosen sin. But, they did. No doubt. 

The Garden is gone. Or at least inaccessible to man. Now, cities are filled with shame, guilt, and sin. Cities around the world are epicenters of invented gods and counterfeit glory. Now, people go to cities to find themselves, make a life for themselves, forge an identity for themselves, make a name for themselves, on a quest to satisfy themselves. 

Interestingly, one can observe this phenomenon at work: the larger the city - the less eye contact. Walk down the street of small town America and people look you in the eye. Walk down a dirt road in Buloba, Uganda - and everyone is looking at you. Hop on the subway in NYC, and you will be hard-pressed for eye-contact. Try the MTR in Hong Kong, very similar (though much cleaner and more pleasant) - you will be hard pressed for eye-contact. Something about being around a lot of people, actually makes people appear less interested in other people. 

Yet -- as image-bearers of our God -- We need to place value on the image we bear. Hello. We are made in the image of God. So, all the more, as the redeemed sons and daughters, beloved ones, forgiven ones, purchased ones,grace-changed ones -- as we fix our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith - can we look people in the eyes in the hope they will see "the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6b) 

Image bearers. Eyes reflect. Eyes receive.

What do people see when they see your eyes? 
What do you see in the eyes of the redeemed? 
What do you see in the eyes of those still searching? 

From the Garden to the City - Part 1.

Then the Lord God took man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Genesis 1:15

This week, my blog journey will be in the thought of movement from a garden to a city. Scripture unfolds the story of God and His people in a garden, and there we see man is charged to cultivate and keep it. Sin invades. The garden is off limits. Man wanders. God still reigns. Man builds towers and cities. God still reigns. God's people experience wilderness until they can appreciate the Promised Land. God still reigns. Even in Canaan, the people are prone to wander. God still reigns. Redemption once and for all is born and dies. God still reigns. Eternal Life rises from death. God still reigns. The message of the Redeemer goes out to the countryside and cityscapes. The course of history changes forever because of Jesus. Eternity is life forever in the holy city (check out Revelation 21). 

Still, all of the cities on earth, great and small, have a limited shelf-life. This generation is in the midst of the greatest movement towards urbanization in the history of the world. Millions are migrating towards the urban city-cores around the earth. Less gardens and more cities. Less cultivating and less keeping. And yes, there are great cities all over earth where very few people believe that Redemption is in Jesus. 

Yet, nothing will stand in the way of wrath and justice. No amount of neon, steel and concrete can withstand God's righteous and holy anger towards the sin of man. So, all the great cities that are and will be, face eternity. Either the Redeemer pays or eternity will be hellish beyond description...I'm thankful to have friends and family that are shaken by the reality that BILLIONS of souls are screaming towards a Christ-less eternity. Big cities. Small cities. Everything in between. Lives are all around us, but do they know Life? Will I share Life in the context of love? Will you? Am I? Are you?  

It's His word of power that spins the earth, sustains our breath, and maintains control... and at some point after unspeakable chaos and destruction, we are promised the story resumes for those who believe, in a New City, only this time there is no sun or moon, but the glory of God lights the streets. These streets are the walkways of the New City. They line the neighborhoods where the people of God from every tribe, tongue, and nation will celebrate Jesus. Forever. What an amazing City this will be. The convergence of global cultures - centered around the King of All Kings - Jesus.

And the city, has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb... Revelation 21:23