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Sorry that my blog was relatively quiet last week.
I was a bit busier than normal.
Although I’m sure almost no one will be interested, here’s what kept me from blogging:
- Had a workday at our church’s future space.
- Taught at CNX’s Sunday gathering.
- Had 7 meals/appointments with people & leaders from CNX.
- Got connected with a guy who sold us some sound gear at a rock bottom price. (That’s a great story- but probably another post.)
- Worked on 4 different projects around the house.
- Had a CNX board mtg.
- Taught at CNX’s Sunday gathering.
And then there was all the normal work stuff as well.
Hopefully this week will be a little slower and I’ll be able to post a bit more.
Just a short post to let you know that Jared was released from the hospital at 11am this morning.
That’s just 40 hours after having brain surgery. Crazy!
I had the chance to swing by Jared’s place this afternoon and hang out for a bit.
He’s in good spirits, but is very tired and moving slowly.
Thanks again to all who have prayed for him and his wife Janet.
Please keep them in mind as they wait for final biopsy results- likely to come on Friday.
Janet just sent me this pic of Jared’s scar.
He is now officially the bravest person I know.
Not to mention a good candidate for a mohawk.
Jared’s doc- who is one of the leading brain surgeons in the country- is blown away by Jared’s recuperative powers.
In fact, he’s doing so well that he may be discharged as early as 11am tomorrow if he continues making this kind of progress.
Thanks to God and all who are praying.
…my friend Jared.
Four months ago he was just a newlywed in his mid 20′s with a bad headache.
Tomorrow he’s having surgery to remove a tumor that is sitting on the part of his brain that controls speech and language.
Jared and his wife Janet believe that God is with them in all of this.
After all, they had no intentions of ever moving to Raleigh- but they did. Which means that they are just 1/2 an hour away from one of the best hospitals in the country when it comes to dealing with brain tumors. (Jared’s surgeon treated Ted Kennedy last year.)
And they never intended to become a part of a smallish church community like Connections. But they did- and got to know Paul- a guy who’s also had a similar brain surgery with the same world class surgeon that is working on Jared tomorrow.
Some would call of these things happy coincidences. Jared and Janet know better.
So if you’ve got a couple of minutes on Monday, ask God to continue to watch over and take care of my buddy Jared.
Ladies and Gents- meet my date for tonight. Jen and the girl are off to the circus this evening. (Just for the night, they aren’t joining and running away as far as I know.)
So the boy and I are hanging out until his bedtime. Which means we’ll be reading books, cuddling, spinning in circles to music and doing some cavorting.
Whew. After a couple of busy weeks, this is just the kind of night I need.
Check back in the next day or so for a report on the ladies’ evening w/Ringling.
Now that’s a pretty big question in my opinion.
But as I opened my email last week- there it was. Staring me in the face.
A new friend to our church community had been checking out our website and couldn’t find the answer there. So she asked.
And while I’m glad she posed the question, I found myself wondering how to answer it. Should I give her a few bullet points? Some scripture references? After a couple of minutes of thought, I started typing. Here’s what came out:
As a church we believe that people are broken and sinful. Each of us- in one way or another- has bought the lie that was told in the garden: We can be God. Maybe not of the universe mind you, but at least of our own lives. So, we’ve taken charge and charted our own courses- ignoring God and His wisdom.
Our selfishness and rebellion have screwed up our relationship with our Creator, ourselves and the rest of Creation. At times we might miss this- because life is good and things are going on nicely. But watch for any amount of time and it becomes apparent that we (and the rest of the world) really aren’t OK. When suffering, conflict, cruelty, emptiness and decay raise their heads we say (either out loud or to ourselves): “I don’t think things are supposed to be this way.” And we’re right.
We were fashioned in God’s image. We were created to live in harmony with God and the rest of Creation. We were made for paradise. We were created to live with joy. To love. To thrive. Many of us seem to sense this and the disparity between God’s intent and the results of our choices to rebel can be overwhelming. Maybe even disabling. Which might explain why many of us don’t like to think about it for very long. Those of us who do acknowledge the brokenness sometimes try to fix it. We work the steps, we forgive, we peace-make, we self-actualize, we become activists, etc. All good stuff, but still lacking. While it feels good to try and the occasional patch sometimes sticks, it becomes clear that sweeping repairs are needed that exceed our skill set.
Fortunately, we aren’t the only ones who long for things to be made right again. God loves His Creation. Although He allowed us to choose a path that warped all that He made- He’s never given up on us. Knowing that we can’t make things right on our own, God does the heavy lifting.
Throughout the course of man’s story, the Creator works to help people understand. He give us laws and a system of sacrifices. He provides the Scriptures. He provides miraculous signs. He sends prophets. He speaks through nature. He works in hearts and minds. He is patient. Then, when the time is right, He steps into Creation Himself.
God becomes one of us. He’s named Jesus. He is humble and gentle. Jesus shows God to us in a way that we haven’t seen before. He teaches. He heals. He loves. He speaks of a Kingdom that sounds like the very thing we’ve been longing for our entire lives. And then He does something that no one understands. Instead of harnessing His power, charisma and growing band of followers to take the world by storm- Jesus allows Himself to be captured, tortured and murdered. Later, this will make sense, but in the moment it seems like all hope is gone.
Three days later, Jesus is back- risen from the dead. He’s faced our most feared enemy- death- head on and won. He fills us in on the implications. A new day has dawned. Jesus has provided the fix that eluded us. The Kingdom of God has come by His death and resurrection. The rules have changed. The Creator has sacrificed Himself for the Creation. He has paid our debt. The slate is clean. Through Jesus we can have a fresh start. We can be innocent again- like newborn babes.
But this isn’t just about cleansing our consciences or punching a ticket to a better eternal destination. God is reconciling us to Himself. Jesus is offering us another shot at a relationship with God that isn’t hindered by our sin. We can learn to live like the people God made us to be. God Himself will live with us- even inside us somehow- and will continue to work to shape us back into His image. Here. Now.
And God doesn’t play favorites. This good news is offered to all people. As God allowed us all to choose rebellion and walk away from Him- He allows us all to choose relationship, reconciliation and restoration. Just like the prodigal, we find the Father’s arms wide open when we come home.
Even though the gift is free and can’t be earned, it does come with a price: desire, humility, and complete surrender. In the end, this new relationship with God costs us everything- just like it did Jesus. This will become a common theme. Living life with God means following Jesus. Walking in His steps. Submitting to His leadership. Taking on His character. Depending on Him for life itself.
Then Jesus tells us that we can’t do this by ourselves. That we won’t make it alone. That we need to love each other. Jesus groups us together. He gives each of us gifts that benefit others. Tells us to support each other. And to keep spreading His message of love, hope and restored relationships- with God and all of Creation. Even though a day is coming when God will put the finishing touches on all of this work- Jesus tells us that He’ll use us to do some of it in the here and now.
So we live to love- God, each other and the world Jesus cared so much for. We strive our best to follow Jesus and trust God’s mercy and grace to make up the difference. We work and pray for the Kingdom of Jesus to be establish today. And we look for the day when God will wrap things up here and bring us to live with Him face to face.
I ended by apologizing for rambling.
I wondered why I felt so compelled to write so much.
Then it hit me. I was trying to communicate that salvation is all encompassing. To me, it isn’t a business transaction where we trade guilt for grace. Or a status we achieve where we’re in instead of out.
Salvation is about following Jesus. About learning to depend on Him. About allowing Him to sustain us. Now. And forever.
I’m not saying that my description is the only way to see it or that I understand completely how all of this works. But then, I don’t think God needs me to.
And I’m grateful for that.
I had lunch at home with the family today. Jen and the kids had leftover pizza. I had a meatloaf sandwhich.
Sliced thin, with mustard and mayo. Just as God intended. (But not as pictured here.)
For my money, meatloaf is better the next day.
Some of my friends would say the same thing about pizza. I happen to disagree, but understand the position.
So I’m curious:
What foods do you think get better after they spend some time in the fridge?
How many days are leftovers good/safe in your book?
How often do you throw out full containers of leftovers that you meant to eat, but never really got to?
By sick people.
First it was Addy.
Today it finally got Jen too.
Runny noses, fevers, coughs, body aches, chills, etc. have had the run of the house at our place.
Behold- THE INFIRM:
I am the lone houldout.
And I intend to stay that way.
I will not get sick.
I will not get sick.
I will not get sick.
I will not get sick.
Feel free to chant along with me.
Let me go on record here.
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of email forwards.
Or those chains that I must keep going lest the world end or I be deemed heartless.
So when I got “tagged” on Facebook by a friend with the “25 Random Things About Me” note- I ingored it.
Then I got tagged by another friend.
And 17 more.
So I caved.
I pumped out my own fascinating factoid list and posted it- mostly so that I’d be off the hook and people would quit bugging me.
But then a surprising thing happened.
The friends I begrudgingly “tagged” started writing their own notes.
And they were interesting.
My inbox filled up with comments.
We traded compliments, questions and quips.
This was actually fun.
So, for what it is worth, here’s my list of 25 random things about me:
1. I can touch my nose to my tongue- no hands required.
2. Although I claim FL as my home state, I was born in Nebraska on an Air Force base. We moved to FL when I was 1. Since then I’ve been back to Nebraska once- driving through on my way to see Mount Rushmore.
3. If first met my wife when she 14. We did NOT date then.
4. My retirement plan is to have a small home near one of my kids and travel much of the year in an RV working in national parks. Jen is actually on board with this.
5. I have stood with 50 yards of a Florida panther in the wild on 2 different occasions. Since I didn’t have a gun with me either time, both encounters were pretty scary.
6. My first car was a 1973 VW Beetle. My parents bought it from a friend for $600 in 1986 and the floor pans were so rusty that I could see the ground beneath me when I drove. The driver’s seat was propped up on 2x4s.
7. I am pretty competitive when I play games and get pretty physical when I play sports. I try to hide this but it doesn’t work for long.
8. I’m a sucker for vampire movies & novels.
9. I once rolled a car at 55mph wearing only a lap seat belt and walked away without a scratch.
10. I don’t have any tattoos on my body, but if I ever get one it will probably be large.
11. I do have a tattoo on my brother’s arm- he got it in my honor. It’s a cross w/my initials and a scripture verse about brotherly love.
12. Aside from having my wisdom teeth out, I’ve never had surgery. Aside from my birth and the birth of my kids, I’ve never spent a night in a hospital.
13. When I was 18 I discovered all 4 of my wisdom teeth were impacted and had them broken and extracted under local anesthetic. I went camping 2 days later.
14. I had never set foot on my college campus until the day I moved into the dorms my freshman year.
15. I was 17 yrs and 52 days old when I graduated from high school.
16. I don’t mind eating meals out, going to movies or taking road trips by myself. In fact, I find it refreshing.
17. I like sprinting but hate jogging.
18. I want to hike the entire Appalachian Trail- probably in segments over a couple of decades.
19. Left to my own devices I’m more of an introvert. My profession has brought out the more extroverted side of me.
20. I enjoy shopping and LOVE getting a good deal.
21. I have never ice skated. And don’t care if I ever do.
22. I have never seen the movie “Titanic”. And don’t ever intend to. (I already know how the story ends.)
23. I’ve never been to NYC. This, I would actually like to do. Wanna go?
24. I got a catfish fin stuck in my foot on my 12th birthday. My mom (the nurse) tried to pull it out with her hemostats.
25. I have a grandma named Beulah who sends me a handmade quilt every Christmas. I think I have about 15 of them.
With all that said, I’m sure your life is more complete.
Oh yeah, one more thing.
Don’t take this as a sign of weakness.
I still won’t read most of your email forwards or keep the chains going.