Sleeping Giggles

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.

So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.

My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.

Prayer:
God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.

Repost: Tassels

Our Pastor spoke on these same concepts today, so I thought I’d repost this article from May 3, 2006. Tassels

photo credit: ratterrell

tzitzitRead Numbers 15 – 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’ “

God tells Moses to tell the people that they are supposed to put tassels on the corners of their clothes so that they can be constantly reminded that they are supposed to live like God has told them to. Anyway, if you were a Jew in those days, you’d see people wearing these tassels all throughout the day and when you saw them, you remembered that you were one of God’s people.

The Hebrew word for “corners” is “kanaf” and the Hebrew word for “tassel” or “fringe” is “tzitzit.”

Tzitzit_1 Many Jews wear a prayer shawl today in order to keep this commandment. The tassels today have 5 knots in them representing the 5 books of the Torah (Our first five books) and the four spaces between them represent the four letter for God’s name YHWH. Along the shawl there are also 613 knotted strings to remind them of the 613 laws of the torah.

Now check out Malachi 4 – But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.

The Hebrew word translated “wings” is “kanaf.” Now what do you think?? This means that the verse could be translated “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its ______.” (Tassels.)

Now because of this there was a legend that people began to believe about the coming Messiah which said that there would be some kind of mysterious almost magical healing powers in the tassels of his prayer shawl.

Now read Luke 8 – As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Pretty cool huh? Did you catch it? The woman believed the legend and actually touched Jesus’ “tzitzit,” His tassles, His “kanaf.” In her actions she was proclaiming that she believed He was the Messiah. This is why Jesus was so quick to say “Your faith has healed you!” Her action alone was a huge expression of faith.

True Fear

KasenMiranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.

Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.

Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.

As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.

Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.

Planting a “Practice”

“What if church planters quit planting churches and instead planted church “practices?” Like a doctor’s practice, I believe the church shouldn’t be about building some institution, but about practicing the faith that has been given to them. It should be about “being” the church – not about building the church. The analogy breaks down in the sense that at a doctor’s practice, the only one “practicing” is the doctor. The church should be a place where everyone is “practicing” – maybe more like the imagery of the doctor’s “clinic” on Patch Adams. Everyone was a patient (in need of something), but everyone was also a “doctor” who helped others – sometimes he helped by listening, or by picking up trash, or whatever, but he contributed to the health of someone else and that made him a “doctor” by Patch’s definition.

I think these are important ideas for church planters. If a planter begins his ministry working to build/grow a church, then things are going to get really confusing – think about it – everyone has a different idea about what a church should be. And everyone has a different need that they want to see met by the institutional church. Instead, if the planter works to “be” the church and works to equip others to “practice” their faith, then won’t that church naturally become whatever it’s supposed to be? If each member is doing the ministry that God has called him to, then when they are assembled, it wouldn’t be about building the institution, but simply about celebrating the things God has been doing throughout the week.

This was just a random thought I had in the car today. I thought it was worth sharing.

Christian Parenting Statistics

stetzerCheck out this article from Ed Stetzer’s blog. It describes some pretty interesting research on the state of affairs for most Christian parents today. What does it mean when less than 10% of Christian parents think that “being Godly” or “having faith” is one of the marks of parental success? That means that over 90% of “Christians” believe they can be successful parents without passing on their faith to their own children – those whom they love more than anyone else. Huh?

The research also shows that 83% of parents believe that they are the main spiritual influences on their children, but 48% (almost half) of them don’t consider their own faith as an important influence in their parenting. This means they recognize their influence, but don’t see their faith as a priority in parenting.

All this stuff got me to thinking. I’m gonna sit down with Miranda see if together we can write up a “basic” list of the things we want to instill in our children – I’m sure there will be more, but if we want to be successful, and we want to be intentional about what we consider to be the marks of a good parent, then writing it down certainly can’t hurt. Even if it’s an incomplete list, it’ll be better than nothing.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

Trembling Hands

IMG_3189The trembling hands awkwardly grasped the air. . . faithfully reaching into the unknown. I stood there again, behind the cold glass, looking in on my precious new baby. Kesleigh Anne was born last night around 11:03pm. It was now about 2:30am. The hospital halls were silent and I just watched. I watched my baby girl tremble. Her tiny hands grasping the air. . . groping for something. . . something she didn’t know or understand. It was a new world to her. Just hours earlier she had been protected within her mother. . .floating effortlessly in a forever nourished state. Now she was breathing with lungs which had never tasted air before. Her skin was drying and she was missing the touch of her mother as she lay in this cold plastic box. Unable to see yet, she reached out. . . . longing for a touch. . . . longing for something to comfort her.

I watched behind the glass. I felt so proud. Proud to be her father. Proud of her mother. And yet. . . there was something else underneath. . . something which took the edge off the pleasure of the moment. I was scared. Scared of responsibility. Fearful of what it would be like to have a 2nd child in the house. I imagined brushing her hair as a little girl and tucking her into bed at night. I imagined the day when I would one day walk her down the aisle and give her away.  I wondered if I could do it. I wondered if God would give me the strength to be the father that she would need?

As she grasped the air, so did I. Trembling, I awkwardly stretched out my arms and decided to reach into the unknown. . . . longing for a touch. . . . longing for something to comfort me.

And God found me there once again.

Anne Lamott Quotes

planbAnne Lamott is one of the best writers I think I’ve ever read – and funny too. Anyway, this morning I started listening to her audio book (she reads herself) called “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.”

Anyway, I just thought I’d share a few quotes that struck me:

Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on it’s feet.

One of the top five most annoying things about God is that He rarely answers right away. It can take days or even weeks. Can you talk about God like this?

Maybe it was the ‘Ham of God.

She describes how seasonal showers fill up potholes in the rocks in the desert and frogs live in them. Then she says, “it seems you can go from parched to overflow in the blink of an eye.”

Here’s another quote from a talk she gave to a bunch of Pastors:

She explains that cat’s fur is highly flamable, but God has also placed an oil in their skin which puts the fire out. Then she says, “Cats ignite, but luckily there’s grace.”

Faith and Fear

paulIn his book, Paul the Leader, J. Oswald Sanders says, “The man who does not know fear cannot know courage.” (p.44, 1986, 4th printing, Navpress)

 

I have always believe myself to be a courageous man. My brother and I grew up daring/encouraging/shaming each other to try the next more dificult feat. I want my son to grow up seeing a father who is a man of courageous faith, and yet, I must admit that I’m not sure there’s anything that I’m attempting right now that’s scary. (Besides my roles as husband and father – and by the way, those are the most important roles I will ever have.) I’m not sure I’m exercising my faith too much right now. I know that I’ve gotta be faithful with what He’s given me in order to be given more, and yet there’s also this timing thing. I know I can’t wait ’til everything is perfect to step out in faith ’cause it’ll never be perfect, but. . . I also don’t want to step out in my own strength before the Spirit prompts me in His power. This whole “following Jesus” thing is hard.

 

Anyway, this one statement from Sanders has sent me on a journey into my own perceptions of life and faith. I share it here, hoping that it will stretch your mind a bit too.

ER and real Faith

Hey guys – here’s a really good article I read on Ed Stetzer’s blog talking about the kind of faith people are really longing for. Check out the video clip from ER first.

Terry Mattingly writes:

Non-attendees (to church) want to ignore a generic God, but when/if they follow a faith, they want one that has robust beliefs and is worth following… Since growing churches tend to have more defined belief systems, when people start a journey to faith, they want something they see as worth believing and giving their life to. A generic god is hardly one worth committing to… As best I can tell, those who are not a regular part of a faith community still want to be “spiritual” people, but without a clear faith… Many fashion a tame God in their own image– a generic god for a generic spirituality, not a God who actually intervened in the world through the death of Christ and calls us to follow and live differently… For many, they want to get all the benefits of spirituality without any of the truth claims of a rigorous faith… I think the Oprah-ization of American spirituality has glorified “searching” for spiritual meaning but de-emphasized “finding.” In other words, it is good to be looking for spirituality, but it is intolerant to actually believe you have found a right faith and want to invite others to such. In “I’m O.K., You’re O.K. Spirituality,” the only sin is intolerance… and intolerance is defined to mean actually believing your faith is the correct one. 

Behold: even NBC knows that a generic faith in a generic God does little good
when it really matters.


My Questions: What is the Godly way to express this appropriate intolerance for a false gospel? Why aren’t we (leaders in the church) telling those who are espousing this kind of “faith” to “Get out?” What kinds of precautions can we take to make sure the true “Gospel” is what we’re all about? What are the “answers” that people are looking/longing for?

Tightrope Walking

There’s a classic story about a tightrope walker who rolls a wheelbarrow across the wire. When he asks if people believe he can do it again, they all say, “Yes!” but when he challenges them to get in the wheelbarrow and prove their belief. . .well, I guess it reveals their true belief. If we don’t step out in faith every once in a while, does that reveal our faith too? When we live our lives always always making the “smart” or “safe” choice, or we go after the goal that we’re sure to achieve, what does it reveal about our relationship with Christ? Do people look at our lives and wonder, “Is that all their God has called them to? Is this really all there is to being a Christian?”

What would it be like to have someone look at your life and say the opposite. . .”Whoa! He’s got this insatiable desire to change the world! He’s crazy to attempt that! What is it in a man that compels him to be that way?”

Could it be that our “Christian” lives are lacking the intensity and risky nature that God requires from a people who have been given faith? Is it a lack of exercising the faith we’ve been given or do we blame God and say He didn’t give us enough faith?

Warren Bennis quotes Karl Wallenda saying, “Walking the tightwire is living; everything else is waiting.”


Prayer:
Lord, may my life be that of a tightrope artist. I want to honor You with a life of not only walking the wire, but one of enjoying the trip and dancing through the process with You by my side.


PS – My first set of wheels – Here’s a pic of me @ 9 months. (June 1970 – I look like a girl.) As a kid, I had really good balance. Mom said I was walking at an early age. I can remember that learning to ride a bike, skate, walk on stilts, etc. came pretty easily to me. I wonder how good my balance is these days? Of course the “balance” I need now is a little different.

.

.