Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

I will just admit it now, I forgot to mention Memorial Day at our gathering this morning.  It wasn't intentional.  I had it on my mind to speak about.  I was thinking about how thankful I was that my daughter made it back safely from Afghanistan earlier this year.  Well, I added another brick paver to that road that goes no where.  Then again, there are many intentions I have that go undone.  For me it is the power of distraction that is illuminated.  I get distracted and my good intentions turn into vapor that dissipates quickly.
There were many things I didn't remember this morning.  I forgot to remind people that we had prayer stations for them to be prayed with and over.  I forgot as part of our lesson to share a dream I have of a ministry center that fosters a connection space for people.  A place where people have a safe place to come and drink coffee, search the web, have conversations, pray, sit, relax, serve, and well... so many other possibilities.  I forgot my computer this morning.  I forgot to, well, I guess I forgot what else I forgot.

So on this Memorial Day, I am so thankful for the many who have sacrificed and served.  I am proud of my daughter who is part of that group who have willingly put themselves in harms way for the safety of others.  But mostly today, I am overwhelmed by the one who overcame, because he sacrificed all to honor our Father.  We received the benefit of His sacrifice in that we are adopted into the family that is forgiven.  Today and everyday, let's live thankful lives for others who serve, but let's live sacrificially thankful lives for the one who redeemed us!  And while we are at it, let's not forget that!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

living out what we know

I love to learn.  There are many different ways to learn.  While I am not bemoaning classroom learning, I have come to a place where all learning has to be put into action.  For those who know so much and expound on it so eloquently, there has to be a place where we just live out what we know.  To talk in theory about what works or doesn't work, to float ideas and possibilities, to debate isms and fads, at some point has to to be overcome with our lives walking out the faith we profess.

Too many are talking about that day, one day, when we get to heaven, etc... and not enough are living today!  The great goal of our faith is that Christ be formed within us and in turn we impact the people and places around us.  By having Christ formed in us we then participate in the divine nature and reach out and into people.

I am watching this happen in a strange environment but in a profound way.  There are some guys meeting each Wednesday in a local pub.  They have embraced people they encounter with genuine care and friendship.  A new friend they met a couple of months ago is now suffering through the tragic death of his teenage son.  They attended the funeral and have been supporting him with the love of Christ.  He was having a particularly tough day two weeks ago and showed up at the pub for one reason:  he was hoping that group of guys were there for him to lean on.  They carried his burden, cried with him and brought laughter into his darkness.  They are living what they know.  In doing so, they are practicing the presence of Christ to the world around them.

It isn't just a technical knowledge that we need.  It is the knowledge that Christ brought hope to the world by being present with the world.  He lived what He knew.  We do well to do the same!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

after the wedding

Last week, our daughter Nicole married.  That meant Jennifer going to Tennessee early and me following the next day with our boys.  Just a note of caution, these next words are therapy for me so don't be offended if you follow the ways of Dr. Spock.  Traveling with three four year olds and a thirteen year old revealed a lot about me as a father.  First, I think I only wanted to turn around and return to California about thirty times.  I then realized that wasn't a good idea because mom was at the end of the journey to Tennessee so I persevered.  Then I learned that three four year olds, cramped all day on a plane or confined in an airport is torture of the worst kind.  They are like bombs waiting to explode and I continued to detonate myself so as not to be arrested for abuse.  The poor cleaning people in Atlanta that are still trying to get the mushed down french fries out of gate 02 carpet all the while cursing whoever did the deed.  My apologies for a three terrorist french fry war that had no survivors.  The lady sitting there viewing our tribal rituals was extremely amused until I began restraining the cannibals.  She had that uncomfortable squirm about her.  I almost volunteered to loan her the three for the next flight.
Of course nothing could compare to the Circus that ensued at the Huntsville baggage claim.  It was late, everyone was tired, everyone except the three who were working off of delirium.  They effectively pinned down my friend Lee Jackson while they took turns running the people obstacle course.  I should have charged an admission fee for the entertainment.  Yes to say the least, it was an adventurous day of travel.  Did I mention that we were doing this because my daughter was getting married?  I kept reminding myself how much I love her and wanted to be there....
The wedding was beautiful.  Nicole was a gorgeous bride!  The wedding was held in Fayetteville TN at The Lodge at Gunter Hollow.  It was a really nice, peaceful place.  Until...
Needless to say the owner had to lay the law down on the three.  Not sure they really ever comprehended the law.  I loved being with Nicole for the wedding and getting to watch my grand baby for a few days.  I hated seeing the wedding end.  I knew that meant I had to fly back with the boys to California without Jennifer again.
Lets just say that the first part of Proverbs 31 was written for dads who travel with that many kids.
Now we are back and continuing or work of planting a new church.  Pray!  Pray for our ministry and the work of God.  Pray for our home in Alabama to rent or sale.  Pray for God to be glorified and heaven to touch earth.  And pray for there to be no lasting and permanent damage to my kids traveling five thousand miles round trip with their dad.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pepperdine and back

For the past sixteen years I have made a trip to Pepperdine to study, visit with friends and network.  This past week I spent a few days on campus with my friends Buddy Bell and Joe Beam among others.  A gracious friend that is part of our new church family provided me with a reward ticket to make the flight down to LA.  Conversations, challenging topics, laughter and a reminder that the life of ministry is always challenging.   As I returned back to Northern California I had that feeling of being back "home".  That may not seem like a big deal to most, but for a guy who is still in transition having moved West two months ago, it was a good sign that my mind is getting used to calling this place home.
Being back at Gold Country Church today was excellent.  The worship today was especially inspiring and intimate.  I am feeling at ease preaching in a new place to new faces.  So yeah, Pepperdine was good, but it was even better to come home.