I was thinking about the church in Acts 2, and wondered what it was really like. I experienced a group of people a few weeks ago that I think may have come pretty close. Joe, the guy who was my youth minister when I was in High School, holds a Bible Study at his house on Tuesday nights. I was in Ft. Worth a few weeks ago for a conference and dropped in on them – I surprised Joe – It was great fun to see the look on his face when I walked in. It’s a beautiful community of people. They truly celebrated Jesus and seem to really work/walk through life together. I witnessed accountability, support, discipleship, joy, passion, prayer, fellowship, worship, concerns for mission and ministries. Acts talks about how the people had everything in common – I sensed a true sharing among them that night – like if someone had a need, together they’d find a way to fill it. I know it’s only from the outside looking in, but it seems to me that what they are enjoying is truly what church is supposed to be. I wonder what it would take to develop that kind of community right here where I am? I wonder what else God would desire for a community that my imagination can’t even dream? How can I really invest in people and simply give myself “to” them and “for” God’s glory?
Joe, If you’re reading this, thanks for letting me sit in – I’m encouraged by my experience with you.
Miranda and I just celebrated our 2nd anniversary! It’s a miracle that anyone could live with me for that long. Thank you Jesus! I don’t do very well at the whole “romance” thing – well, not since we got married anyway. Anyway, I thought I’d make a real effort this year. I spent quite a few hours making arrangements and shopping and getting things set up with some youth from our group and planned a candlelight dinner in a park. Meggaen came to the door and picked us up as our chauffer and she brought flowers which I had pre-arranged and placed a card in. We sat in the back of her little car which was filled with flower petals and she drove us to the park. It was just about time for the sun to set as we park and we were escorted to our table which was covered in white (along with the chairs) near the water where the sun would set across the lake from us. We enjoyed a candlelight dinner as some other youth (Katie, Cristy, and Tiffany) served us. They had also placed a CD player there which played music which I had recorded for the occasion. After the sun set and we had finished dinner, (still not completely dark) we fed the ducks and made our way to a little dock. The girls had placed tealight candles around the dock and set it up for a great little dance floor. After dancing, we made our way back and helped pick things up – we also tried to leave a big tip for them of course.
Anyway, it was a beautiful night. I hope Miranda knows how much I care for her and love her. This was alot of fun to plan and arrange (I don’t do it enough) but it still wouldn’t even come close to expressing how much I feel for her. She is my bride! She is my friend! My encourager! My love.
All this is to say, I wondered afterwards about how I express my love for God. Have I gone the extra mile like this to tell Him I care about Him? What would it mean to Him if I did? How could I do that? It all reminds me of the Ten Shekel Shirt Song “Unashamed Love.”
You’re calling me to lay aside the worries of my day
to quiet down my busy mind and find a hiding place
Worthy. You are worthy.
I open up my heart and let my spirit worship Yours
I open up my my mouth and let a song of praise come forth
Worthy. You are worthy.
Of a childlike faith
and of my honest praise
of my unashamed love
Of a holy life
and of my sacrifice
Of my unashamed love
Worthy. You are worthy.
Dec 21, 2005
My sister just got married this past weekend. I must admit (something you will rarely hear me say) that she was beautiful.
The wedding was at Chain of Lakes near Livingston, Texas. It was nice, but not quite what she had hoped for. The original plan was to be married on a a beach in Cozumel, but Hurricane Wilma destroyed both the resort and her plans. It was pretty funny to see my sister in a wedding dress designed for the beach and Schonn wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the middle of winter. It was about 40 degrees outside too.
Brenda and Schonn have been together for a long time, but finally made it official. It was a small little service (family and close friends) and Mike (my Father-in-Law) and I kinda tag-teamed in leading the whole thing. Brenda wanted a personal, informal service and she hads given me permission to tell a few stories on her. I was able to say a few things that only a brother could say, and we all laughed, but I tried to be quick to point out the beautiful things about their relationship and the commitment they were making. In addition to asking them about their commitment to each other, I also thought it was important to have the “family and friends” make some promises. We promised together to encourage them in their relationship and even told them collectively that we believed in them.
Anyway, I guess right now as I reflect on the whole thing – I’m hit by the feelings that come when you watch your little baby sister making a truly adult decision. I’m proud of her, excited about her future, and yet I will be sad to never know her as a little girl again. I don’t think I’ll ever see her cry over an Ewok (Star Wars) stuffed animal again. I might never double bounce her on a trampoline again. And calling her “baglady”. . . . – well, that’ll probably never change.
Another thing that hits me is the thought of my dad. Brenda stressed over this day for years ’cause he wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle, but you know, I never felt like he wasn’t a part of it.
Dad, you are still very much a part of who we are as a family. Schonn may have never known you, but then again, he knows us and we are just an expression of you. If we laughed, (and we did) it was because you taught us to share the joy we have. When we hiked with the boys, it was with your example before us. When we cried, it’s cause you showed us that men could hurt too. Even the simple fact that we wanted to be together for such an occasion, is a testimony to the love that you had for us and that you taught us to have for one another. The older I get, the more I see you when I look in the mirror. I love you Dad!
Alright – something strange happened the other day. I was at Lowes with Miranda and we were buying wood so I could build some end tables and a coffee table. Anyway, we got everything we needed – by the way – Lowes is cool! – anything you could ever need – I even found an orange cone so I could put them up around the area where I was working – How cool is that? OK – so I steered our little buggy palette to the car and started loading the car. Uh oh! You guessed it. A 4X8 sheet of plywood won’t fit in an Explorer. I thought it would ’cause we had put a 4X4 in the previous week. So now I’m in trouble and Miranda is getting embarrassed as people watched and laughed at us when they went into the store. Then, out of nowhere this man just kind of appears behind me and asks, “Where do you live?” As I turn around to look at him, I kinda mumble something, I’m not sure what I said.
Then he says, “You live in Lake Jackson?”
I say, “Yes!”
and he says “Here, take my truck.” and hands me his keys.
A TOTAL STRANGER HANDS ME HIS KEYS! – never even asked my name.
I try to talk him into coming with us, but he says he trusts us, and insists on giving us his keys. I decided it was the only way we were getting that stuff home and Miranda doesn’t need to be embarrassed anymore, and take his keys. I tell him my name and that I work in a church and then he says he’s a Pastor of another church. We take his truck with his little wennie dog “Katie” to our house and then bring it back to Lowes and give him his keys back. End of story. . . . .
Now here’s my take on it. We were studying John 4 the next day with the youth. That’s where Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus broke down all kinds of stereotypes and laws when he spoke to her. Jewish men didn’t speak to women in public, they didn’t speak to Samaritans, and they didn’t speak to “ungodly” people (remember she had had like 5 husbands) Anyway, Jesus crossed all these lines just to give her a better life.
This man (“Alfredo” was his name) broke the unwritten law of not trusting strangers to make our lives better. He even trusted us with his dog.
“Alfredo” – wherever you are today. You should know, you were Jesus to me that day! Thanks! God bless you!