Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comfort - relational God

This is from a daily devotional app I have on my phone - Baptist Bible Hour. I appreciated it this morning and thought I'd share it. It highlights the possibility that our God is one who is willing to pursue personal relationship with all of his children.


Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God - Isaiah 40:1

Have you ever noticed that parental tendency to repeat important words or phrases to our children, especially in a moment of crisis? "It's okay, it's okay"... "don't be scared, don't be scared"... "be careful, be careful."

It may be partially due to the assumption that the child is not at first listening to us, especially if some other loud or frightening object has temporarily captured his or her attention. But it may also result from our desire to plant our words firmly into their minds and hearts in the midst of the crisis.

Similarly, God speaks here in order to comfort His people in the midst of their otherwise frightening surroundings: comfort ye, comfort ye. He purposefully impresses upon us the fact that His message is not one of alarm, but of consolation.

And perhaps the most comforting words of all are found in the two phrases that follow: "my people" and "your God." God assures us that we are no less His when we are trembling under some terrible trial, and that He is still our God when our feelings may betray us and tell us otherwise.

No matter the loud or frightening trial that you may be facing, no matter the fear or discouragement that you may be feeling, listen carefully to these comforting words from your heavenly Father: "you are still mine, and I am still yours." It's okay. It's okay.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adversity and beauty

It started off slow - we (Yoyo and I) got up late and got to Killington even later (10am).  Once we got there, I couldn’t get my season pass.  They showed no record of it.  I got upset.  I tried not to yell (but I did use that indignant tone that my voice is so used to).  And then, after exploring Cheek's record and mine, the clerk told me they just didn’t have record of any season pass purchase this year.  I told her I planned to ski that day and she said I’d have to pay.  It really bothered me that after 5 years of season passes, they couldn’t give me a comp day.  But, I said fine and paid.  

One other related thing - I couldn’t find my blue shell.  The jacket that rarely has a use except for on semi-warm ski days.  Couldn’t find it.  Still don’t know where it is. Then, when we finally got to the slopes and started skiing, I got a text from Amber that they didn’t have the tire I ordered at Tire Warehouse.  I got so upset... why had they lied to me and told me yesterday that the one I ordered was there, in their shop?  Why would they take advantage of her?  What the heck!?  

Three strikes for today.  I’m getting very angry.  I want to flip out at anyone who’s nearby... I want to give everyone a hard time.  Being frustrated is contagious.  It’s easy to pass it along!

So in the car ride home from Killington, Yoyo and I were talking.  The question that was made silly by the bracelet came to my mind.  What would he do?  Yoyo asked, would he even be skiing at all?  We agreed Jesus probably wouldn’t have used a lot of money to go skiing... unless of course, it was a way to spend time with people or a place to teach or learn.  We do know Jesus thought that what comes out of your mouth is what defiles you.

My mind went to Ned Flanders.  There is something Jesus-like about this character.  I say this because Ned sacrifices at every turn.  He offers his things to his neighbors, exactly as Jesus suggested. If Ned is wronged, he seems to consider in his heart of hearts, that maybe the person who wronged him was misguided, or, that there was an explanation that was not yet known.  I started thinking like this - maybe Killington’s ticket system screwed up when we bought the passes in the spring.  We didn’t have a printer at that time so couldn’t print a confirmation so who really knows what happened after we finished the online buying process? Our credit cards weren't charged - why not? The fact that I didn't follow up the day after when I didn't get an email confirmation makes much of this irrelevant.  

Turning my attention toward the many possibilities rather than the blame of another led me to ways that I contributed to the problem (I didn’t get a screen shot of the ticket confirmation, for example, and, I didn’t confirm with the tire guys whether it needed to be the AT or the HTS).  I started remembering my identity as a fellow human, that gets it wrong too.  My desire to blame Cheeks for making the wrong choice on the tires or to yell at Killington diminished.  What’s even more interesting is that my lack of blaming allowed Cheeks to feel her own concerns.  Her heart got heavy.  She felt partly responsible for the season pass issue (she was the one buying them in the spring) or the tire (she was the one at the shop making the decisions).  And while her own conscience was working on her, I was feeling genuinely bad for her (and my prior anger).  What a beautiful change from me getting upset with her, giving her a hard time and her shutting down.  This is how we were made to learn and grow!  To recognize our own shortcomings and deal with those and to let others do the same and to care for them as they do that work. Thanks to Matt Groening for creating Flanders!

Thank you Lord, for the adversity I experienced yesterday, and the goodness that came from it. Help me to remember!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Service and Humility

There's quite a bit of service happening in central Vermont.  Everyone I meet is wondering how they can help and what they can do.  By the way, there's no better way to meet people than through a catastrophe like a flood.

I'm noticing something today.  I'm extremely attracted to the people who are willing to help however they can be used.  I'm also attracted to the people who share willingly about their abilities and then start offering those talents in various ways.  I'm not particularly attracted to those who are annoyed or bothered if the type of work available is not important or what they expected to do.

My heart was opened two days ago.  We went to visit a man who's trailer was right next to the river.  Can you believe his trailer had no water in it?!  The water went under the trailer and messed with some out buildings but didn't damage the trailer.  I started to sense disappointment, that there was little to do here, especially little that didn't require some kind of machine/equipment that we didn't have (apparently our high-tech world has made me forget about the wheelbarrow).  On top of my disappointment, this dear brother was telling us story after story.  Half way through story time, I realized that listening may be helpful too.  My heart and mind kept opening up to that possibility.  The more I considered listening, the more I became interested in listening.  And then I didn't want him to stop telling me stories.  As long as he could heal and share through his stories, I wanted to listen.

Dear God, open me and whomever read's this, to the possibility that the work you have for us today is different than the work we expected to do today.  May it be so.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Praying Life

Last night, Cheeks and I read on the deck.  It was a beautiful night.  Just amazing.  Moon was bright, humidity was high so the 56 degrees felt more like 65.  And we read a few pages from our book, A Praying Life. I continue to appreciate the way this book draws me near to the heart of God.  In this section (page 199) Paul Miller talks about story.  He talks of how God is telling, sharing, weaving stories, and when we enter those stories, life becomes rich and wonderful and challenging.  When we try to tell a story and pretend it’s the one God is telling, we get lost.

My prayer for today is simple:
Lord, I know you’re telling stories in my life.  I want to listen to your stories.  Will you help me hear them?  What’s the plot?  Maybe it’s the plot that are in a lot of your stories - helping us see, saving us from destruction, drawing us near to you.  Help me be willing to sacrifice, give up, change or otherwise do what it takes to enter your story.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Recently, I started reading a book called Orthodox Heritic with a friend of mine.  I really like it so far.  The first parable is this one.

This story disturbs me.

Today, I came across this statement below from A.W. Towser. It speaks to the issue that Rollins brings out in this video.

A New Type of Preacher
Print Version / 
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. --Acts 20:24 
If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. 
Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many), he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt- spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the One and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath. The Size of the Soul, 128-129. 
"Lord, in the first half of this current century this need is even greater. Send to Your church today many who have 'seen visions of God and...heard a voice from the Throne.' Amen."


Friday, April 22, 2011

Just do it

One of my friends recently wrote to say Happy Birthday.  He added:
Hope you have a year full growing in Jesus and obeying and following him!
I replied by asking if he'd pray for me, specifically for obedience.  This past winter I was sensing God inviting me to let go of a few habits I'd been developing. In talking with my friend, he said, why don't you just do it? Just give up whatever God invites you to give up.

My answer was: because I don't want to!

Lent is almost over.  But, before Lent I remembered this conversation and decided to just do it.

I've remembered that sometimes "just doing it" is the only way to do it. For example - Jesus says "love your enemy." Generally, waiting until you feel like loving your enemy won't accomplish the task (I often prefer to procrastinate). Picking an action that is loving toward that person and performing it will cause the obedience Jesus asked for. I believe as I practice, it will get easier, and eventually, I will actually like to love my enemy. And, on top of all that, the joy that comes from being near God is great.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

All winter long I've been trying to get myself some wax-less back-country skis. What's interesting, is that I've been avoiding doing the activity those skis are used for, even though I already have equipment to do that activity (which is ski around wherever you want).

Today, when I was out skiing (Skiing in April? How cool!) I remembered how silly it is to be waiting for the right gear. I already have an able body, a pair of telemark skis, boots, bindings and skins AND I live in the land of snow. We have snow for 4-6 months/year! So, I have everything I need to ski right outside my door and the only reason I didn't do it more is because I was looking online for the exact right ski to do it with. Weird.

Here's to spending more time doing the things we love and less time coveting the things we don't have.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Staff Recruiting Trip 2011

Every year in February we (used to be just me, Tuna) make a trek around the East-Coast and dip into the Mid-West for some staff recruiting fun.  We go to EMU, Goshen, and then usually one other school.  This year, it was Bluffton (thanks Bobbi for setting up the party!).  We'll be at Gordon on Friday.

Well, this year, there were three of us: Me, Cheeks, YoYo.  And, we had plenty of time in the car.  So, we decided to post a few video clips of our journey.  If you watch each one, you'll learn a few things and spend about 20 minutes.

What a job we have!  Visiting friends and sharing the good stuff of Jesus.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Congressional Reform?

A friend of mine just emailed me this thought and proposal.  It was one of those emails that you are instructed to send on to x number of people and then the world will change.  I'm not a huge fan of those emails so I didn't forward it. However, I think it's a good idea, what was contained in that email.

In short, the concept involves moving our civil service positions away from profession and toward service.  It often isn't the right answer to  just go back to a prior way of doing things.  So I'm not sure we should simply revert to the early ways we did governance.  It's also not usually the right answer to leave things the way they are (unless they became that way naturally... sometimes that is a good answer).  Some of the ideas below are good ones, I think.  One other thing I think is that the Church would probably achieve it's mission more fully if we weren't only using a professional model for our pastors.


Congressional Reform Act of 2011
1. Term Limits. 12 years only, one of the possible options below.
  A. Two Six-year Senate terms
  B. Six Two-year House terms
  C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms
2.  No Tenure / No Pension.  A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.  
3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. 
4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people. 
8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.  

The American people did not make the current contract with members of Congress.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work. 


Click here for all sorts of pictures from parts of our lives