Monday, April 28, 2014

Re-Calibrate or Reset?

Several years ago after transitioning from traveling the globe to traveling the East Coast of the US I was getting very used to putting lots of miles on my car.

Over that period of time I had been in cities and towns from New Hampshire down to North Carolina. I became very good at spotting the gas stations and fast food places that were right off the exit so I didn’t have to venture too far off the beaten path.

Along with my Dunkin Donuts coffee, bagel with chive cream cheese, pile of folders and my smartphone, there was another very important passenger that was joining me on my journeys. It was none other than my GPS, I called him “TOM”.

Since I was driving all over the East Coast, I found myself relying heavily on what Tom had to say. It had gotten to the point where I would just punch in the address and head out to wherever he told me to go.

I often thought, "Why do I put so much trust in the direction that Tom says is the right direction? What if what he says to do is the wrong way, or not the best way? How do I know that what he says won’t lead me to some abandoned warehouse in a rough part of town?"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just wife

Since our kids were very young, my wife and I have regularly taken both of them out for a special treat with some one on one time with mommy or daddy.

It has always been a very fun and informative time for all of us. I remember one particular occasion, my wife took my son and I had the privilege of spending time with my little girl (she's 14 but she'll always be my little girl.), and I had an amazing epiphany about the way God works in us.

I was thinking of the many daddy dates over the years, and reminiscing about how they've gotten progressively more about what she wants and less about what I want, which is pretty cool.

Early on when she was a baby, and even a toddler our daddy dates would consist of a stop at Dunkin Donuts, or Starbucks for some much needed caffeination for me, and as my daughter kept growing it would include a walk through the mall, a trip to Toys R Us and of course a swing through DQ on the way home.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Perfect Ending

1 Corinthians 15:1-28 (MSG)

1-2 Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time— this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.)

3-9 The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wonderfully Complex

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous ... You were there while I was being formed ... You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe.” Psalm 139:14-16 (LB)

Ah yes, Psalm 139. I’ve often said “if I had a dollar for every time I prescribed that passage in my ministry over the years, I’d be a very rich Pastor.”

This passage has been very influential in my life because it conveys the truth that each of us is unique according to God’s plan and purpose. He doesn’t make junk, and He has a customized plan for all of us.

In this day and age of comparison to others and a skewed view of what success really is, I love this passage even more, and I wonder if I’m doing all I can do to show my daughter that she is God’s special masterpiece, created uniquely in His image, and what about my son? Am I doing all I can do to model what a Godly man of character is all about, because his “heroes” in life don’t even begin to do that Justice.

The more I contemplate the more I realize how vital my role as a Father really is.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Big Days

Here we go again, another spring brings another series of Big Days in the life and hopefully future existence of "little 'ole me". What is so important about these upcoming days?

Well, they are my wife’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday and the Grandmother of them all – MOTHER’S DAY.

Now you’re probably thinking “come on man you’re just exaggerating, what’s the big deal?” Well, for you it may be no big deal, because you probably just ooze with ideas, creativity, romanticism and spontaneity…Good for you!

Me on the other hand, I’m telling you its hard work! I’m the guy who waits until the last minute, goes to Wal-Mart cruises into the greeting card section, looks for the appropriate crunch time occasion and grabs the first card he sees. Then darts over to the flower section, candy section and or pink aisle in the toy department, depending on which important woman I’m shopping for that day, not to mention depending on how creative I feel that day, and heads for the 2 items or less sign and checks out. In and out in less than 5 minutes that’s my goal.

Momento or Momentum?

Lately it seems like I’ve been giving out a bunch of gifts. Every time I turn around I’m handing someone a souvenir from a trip, a present for their birthday, a momento for an anniversary or a thank you note for their thoughtfulness.

All this giving has caused me to spend some time contemplating the whole concept of gift giving and gift receiving, especially as it relates to our relationship with God and His purposes for our lives.

Every time I travel to another country I look around for something to bring back for my wife and kids, you know something that represents the country I visited and will also be something they will appreciate and enjoy.

For my wife I like to bring back a nice piece of clothing, a necklace and some chocolates (she always shares!). For my daughter I look for a doll or a bracelet, or something dainty and precious, and for my son a soccer jersey, a ball cap and more chocolates.

I always look for specific things for them based on what I know they like and based on what I know represents the country I’m visiting. This has been my mode of operation as it relates to gift giving for quite some time now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why in the world?

Realizing that God allows us to go through difficult experiences as character development is not always an easy pill to swallow. I mean, why does it seem like the Godly always suffer and the wicked get away with...well you know?

One evening 13 years ago was one of those experiences for me, our ministry and pretty much everyone I knew.

It was an event that the whole world was asking "what in the world just happened? and What in the world do we do now?" After those questions came more of the same and sure enough it wasn't long and "why would a good God allow the evil of 9/11 to happen to good people?" was the question everyone was screaming!

9/11 is the "difficult experience" (understatement of all time) I'm referring to and the character development that took place over the course of the next several months and years was amazing and heart breaking all at the same time.

When I think back on that tragic time I think of tears, tears, and more tears but my mind also goes to one of the best concerts I've ever been to where the love of God was so clearly proclaimed that broken lives that walked in to the concert were met head on with the restorer of broken dreams. The restorer's messengers
chosen by God that night were a group of crazy, hyper rockers known as Five Iron Frenzy and Relient K.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Being Known

I'm reflecting today on how people young and old want to be known, loved, respected and appreciated and I'm pretty sure we all want to go “where everybody knows our name.”

Maybe that's why the the show “Cheers” was such a huge hit back in the day. Sure, the show was set in a bar, and sure, much of the conversation that took place in the show and in most bars for that matter, is not really what I’m about, but man there’s a lot of truth in the lyrics of the theme song…

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got; taking a break from all your worries Sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came; you want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Heavy set...DA

I’ve seen changes galore taking place in my life, my family’s life, the churches I’ve worked with, the countries I’ve served in and on and on it goes, but I guess it hit me that God was really doing a work in my life and attitude one time as I was returning home from a teaching trip to Kiev, Ukraine.

I got on the plane and went to my seat. Next to me there were two other guys sitting in a three seat aisle on the right side of the plane. 

As usual, the other two guys were as big if not bigger than me, and needless to say we were squished. The guy on my left spoke Russian but was trying to make conversation with me in the little bit of English that he knew.

Then a guy wearing a gigantic furry Russian hat, an extremely warm looking fur coat and carrying a bag full of vodka slid into the 5 seat center aisle of the plane, and proceeded to put his coat and hat in one seat and the bag of vodka in the other seat and then nestled in to his own seat to commence the 3 hour flight from Kiev to Berlin.