Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Ephesians 3:7, The Message
Just a quick post to say hi. Also, to confess some jealousy of Paul.
First, he was able to determine exactly what God called him to, his life work. How specific is his calling? What would it be like to know deep in your bones that you are doing your 'life work'? I imagine that Paul didn't find himself wondering 'what's the point' so often as he went about his daily activities.
And second, that it basically fell into his lap (or I guess you could say it hit him between the eyes). It came on him as a gift, a surprise. God worked out the details, then handed him the ball, and Paul ran with it. Now, I know he was figuratively clotheslined, facemasked, and otherwise abused while taking the ball to the end zone -- and I'm not suggesting that I wish God would put me through anything like the kinds of trials Paul faced -- but at least he knew where the end zone was.
I'm sure that the few people who read my blog are probably tired of hearing about this. (I'm hoping God's getting tired of me knocking, too.) In the meantime, I have hope, because 'All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus.' (Eph 3:10 MSG)
Thursday, November 03, 2005
...even some liberal lawyers and judges who know Alito are wholeheartedly supporting his nomination, calling him an impartial jurist. ... Former 3rd Circuit Court Judge Timothy Lewis, who had a liberal record on the court, says, "contrary to what the Republican right is saying about him being a 'home run' Alito does not have an agenda."
This Lewis guy seriously missed the point, in my opinion. Speaking for myself, as a member of the Republican right, we DON'T WANT a guy with an agenda. We were hoping for someone with a clear record of interpreting the constitution based on what it really means, and allowing lawmakers to be the ones to push agendas. We had nothing against Miers except that we could not be sure that she would keep her personal agendas to herself -- whatever they may be.
Not that agendas are bad -- there are good ones and bad ones, and some that are neither here nor there I suppose. However, the way this is supposed to work is that 'we the people' push our agendas through Congress, and they pass laws to reflect the agendas of the majority (numerically, not racially, speaking; e.g. the agendas with the most votes). The role of the Supreme Court (or part of their role) is to ensure that those laws are not contradictory to the Constitution, and if they are, the Court nixes them. If 'we the people' are not satisfied with the result, we can attempt to Amend the Constitution to clarify the matter. There are, oh, a few examples of these 'Amendments' already in place.
So I guess I'm saying that this Lewis guy is very confused. The Republican right is saying Alito is a 'home run' PRECISELY BECAUSE he has no agenda.
My 2 cents,
P.S. I love the way Scott Wilder put it the other day: Supreme Court Justices should not, must not represent the American people. They represent the Constitution. Period.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Looking forward to this weekend (as if I don't look forward to EVERY weekend). Celeste and I will go on a little retreat with 2 other couples from church, sort of a 'thank you' to our wives for putting up with our absence so often (as in, pretty much any time the band plays). We'll bring Christian along, since he's joined at the ... uh ... hip with his mother, but other than that, no kids for about 24 hours. Seriously, though, there are some people that are so much fun to hang out with, that you just don't need an excuse. You know?
I am reading a fiction book called 'Knife of Dreams' by Robert Jordan, book 11 in a series, and this is supposed to be the next-to-last book. (Anybody reading my blog who is familiar with the series?) I started reading this series around 1995, when only the first few books had been written. The characters are practically old friends of mine. So I must say I'm really revelling in reading this book. (For those who know me well, my committment is to be in the Word and in prayer before being in any other book on a given day, and so far so good.)
This week has brought some interesting news at my work. Lockheed Martin is apparently looking into purchasing Computer Sciences Corp (where I work), absorbing the Federal contracts, and selling the rest of the company in pieces. These things take time, and it may not even happen, but it seems like half of CSC is speculating about it amongst ourselves, and the other half are probably already on Monster.com. I know that this frightens some of my coworkers, but very candidly I am so ready for a change that, far from frightening me, this only perks my interest. We'll see where things go.
Anyway, that's the latest. If you haven't seen our family website lately, you'll want to see the latest pictures of Christian and Piper. Check it out by clicking here.
Monday, October 10, 2005
It struck me that while we often hear preachers calling people to 'give your life to Christ', what that often seems to mean is to 'give your death to Christ', in that you're really just accepting that Jesus will save you from hell when you die. And while that's certainly part of it, its only the future part.
I think I prefer my theology the way I prefer weather forecasts -- let's not focus on what might happen a year from now, or a hundred years; let's talk about what affects us today, tomorrow and the next day, and that will probably be just about as much as we can handle.
A few random thoughts for a Monday.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Over the last week I learned about a woman, a wife and mother whom I've met briefly, whom I've seen many times, who had contracted a very sudden illness. She wasn't old and feeble. The illness wasn't cancer or any other disease that I hear people dying of on any regular basis. And yet, yesterday, I heard that this woman died, leaving a husband and young children.
Having experienced so little death in my life, I found that I was really surprised by this. Shocked. I mean, after all, old people die. People with long-term illnesses die. Cancer patients sometimes do. But middle-aged folks? And suddenly? Its not supposed to happen like that, is it?
And very bluntly, how does a Dad explain to his young children that mommy isn't coming home?
There are other questions that come to mind, but I can't stay in that vein. The tightness in my throat won't let me. May God forbid that I ever have to deal with those questions first-hand.
Meanwhile, what I will do is allow events like this to shift my perspective from the 'urgent' to the 'important'. I took extra pleasure in the time I had with my wife and children last night. And I lifted a prayer for the people I know, the people close to me, who don't know Jesus.
May he continue to draw men and women to himself. And may he soothe the broken-hearted.
Monday, October 03, 2005
I've lamented quite a bit that I felt like God was preparing me for something, and I even had the impression that He gave me a particular scripture in Daniel that indicated a 3-year timeframe before a big change would come. Candidly, I don't know that that was God; perhaps I just had a bad slice of pizza that night. But I have been choosing to believe that it was Him -- in faith, right? -- recognizing that if I'm wrong it's my misinterpretation and not His miscommunication.
And that has been a great comfort for me from time to time, as I feel more and more that while my job of the last 9 years+ is very challenging, and while I make a comfortable living for my family ... I just don't know that I want to do this for the rest of my life. And yet, each time I've considered leaving, I've felt at the time as thought God was saying 'stay put'.
But its October, 2005, and in February of 2006 it will have been 3 years since I found that scripture in Daniel. And I don't see anything changing, at least not in the direction I inferred from the passage. I had interpreted that scripture and some other things to mean that I would end up 'working for the King'. That could still happen, if God makes it so, but in my gut I don't know how, or what that would look like ... and I'm beginning to second guess much of what I thought I heard from God.
Rewind. Some 2 years or more ago, I was spending a significant amount of my time reading science fiction novels, and I was convicted at the time that I need to cut that out, not because the books are somehow 'evil', but because my tendency is to make time for those books at the expense of time with God.
Fast forward to the present. A few weeks ago I had a business trip to take. I picked up a fiction book to read, hoping that would keep me from other temptations that hotel cable television brings. It worked (sweet!), but I didn't finish the book before the trip was over, and I found that (as before) I was totally focused on reading this book and not The Book.
How do I express the sense of guilt I have for reading that book? It's not an evil book. It's castles and swords, underdog heroes and overwhelming odds. And yet I literally lost sleep over it, because I was more interested to read that than the Word, and even while I felt that way, it broke my heart.
And that's when I got so frustrated. If this guilt (or, to use a 'church' term, call it 'conviction') came from God, if He can so easily communicate with me about what not to do, why is it that I don't seem to get even a whisper from Him about what's coming up? Neither a confirmation nor a refutation of what I thought I heard before.
Around this same time, I've been in Colossians. (I would tell you that I think God led me there, but the growing cynic in me wonders about that. Not because God can't, but because I'm not sure that I don't attribute my own thoughts to Him, at least sometimes. Put another way, I trust Him, but I don't trust me to hear Him.)
But I've been in Colossians, and I'm reading verse after verse that sure seems to say 'stay the course'. See for yourself:
- Col 1:5 - The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.
- 10b - As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.
- 11 - We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul -- not the grim strength of gritting your teeth [this is how I've felt for some time now] but the glory-strength God gives.
- 2:1 - I want you to realize that I continue to work as hard as I know how for you... Know that I'm on your side, right alongside you. You're not in this alone.
- 2:6 - My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given.
- 4:12 - [Epaphras has been] praying that you'll stand firm, mature and confident in everything God wants you to do.
But I'm sure of one thing. His plan is better than mine. If it weren't, he wouldn't be much of a God, would he?
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
Having passed them at this point, I wondered if it was the punchline to a joke, but I didn't hear any of them laugh. Turning the corner, none of them looked particularly tickled, nor did they look bothered about anything.
So what did it mean? I may never know.
Katrina. I wonder if that name will continue to be used -- for newborn babies -- as it has been.
You know, when the Tsunami occurred on the other side of the world, it was morbidly fascinating, but in the end it seemed like some other galaxy.
But Katrina practically happened next-door. My wife and I know people who live in Long Beach, MS; brothers and sisters in Christ who have had us in their home; people who have not been back yet since the pre-hurricane evacuation, but who do not expect to find much left of their homes when they return.
I tried on my way home yesterday to imagine what that would be like. My home destroyed. Keepsakes and treasures, and just things I took for granted, gone. I can't go far down that path, even in my mind. Its not real. It can't be. And let's not even get into the what if's about spouses and children dying.
But for those of us who can see the devastation but aren't directly involved, there's a danger as well. In our process of empathy and, inevitably, analysis, we must be careful where we choose to see God in this. You see, I just heard someone say that 'you know, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, too -- and New Orleans was sin city if there ever was one.'
I have to say that this kind of comment makes me really uneasy. I know that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because he told us that's what he did, and he told us why; I haven't heard from God on this one, and until God decides to tell us so, I'm pretty sure he doesn't need us to speak on his behalf.
So as far as trying to find meaning in this, trying to find the root cause -- all I can say is, 3 dead snakes and a billy goat.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
- This past Monday evening the Search Committee interviewed the 2nd of our 4 'final' candidates.
- Tuesday evening there was a soldering party at church, prepping to move the sound booth from a very in-the-way spot to a very out-of-the-way spot.
- Wednesday evening the band practiced, and a few of us hung around till ... er ... well let's just say we hung around working on lyrics for a new song.
- Friday evening the band will play at a coffee house in Grapevine.
- Saturday evening the band plays at the Southlake Town Center.
May God give peace to my family as we seek to use our time in the best possible way -- and may He help me ensure that I don't have a habit of giving my wife and children the short end of the stick.
Still praying for God to help me know what to do about my job. It's really a good job, but my heart isn't in it, and hasn't been for several years now. Anyway, I've been asking God to talk to me, to interact with me, to show me what He has in mind for me to do, and I think he led me to Colossians and I and II Thessalonians. (I know that's kind of a broad leading, but I'll take whatever He wants to give.)
I've read each several times now, particularly Colossians, and in various translations. And He has spoken to me through each of those books -- lots of very applicable advice, perhaps particularly including advice to stick to the basics of what God has already called me to.
To top it off, if this verse doesn't articulate the prayer I've been lifting to God for approximately 3 years, I'm not sure that any verse will:
2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV (bold text mine): With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
I hope to be counted worthy of his calling -- and worthy to fully hear and understand whatever He may call me to. I hope, by His power, to fulfill whatever good purposes He planned for me from before I was born, and to obediently carry out every act prompted by my faith in Him.
Been prompted by your faith lately?
Monday, August 15, 2005
Saturday we had some professional pictures taken at the Botannical Gardens in Fort Worth. If you'd like to see some of them, go to imagesofgracephoto.com , click on Galleries, and then select 'Family' from the list. Also, there are some pictures of Piper in the 'Children III' and 'Hand Tinted' areas.
Friday, July 22, 2005
In other news, my family and I have been traveling quite a bit lately, and this week, while I've been off work, we've spent time at the Fort Worth Zoo, the Dallas Aquarium, swimming at the neighborhood pool, etc. Also, I bought the new Harry Potter book last Friday night, and finished it at about 3:30 am Wednesday morning. Frankly, I feel like I'm tired all the time. I guess I need to go back to work so I can get some rest. :-)
Haven't been in the Word much in the last couple of weeks. Need to do better about that. God has been far too good to me, for me not to spend time with Him.
For now, though, I'm going to bed. Be blessed.
P.S. Celeste and I posted a fairly extensive number of new photos on our family web site this evening. Click here to pop in and have a look, and then click on Trip to Grandparents to see the new photos.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
But this morning as I was leaving for work she had another surprise for me.
I told her and Celeste goodbye, and gave each of them a kiss (Christian was fast asleep, his first nap of the day). I started to leave but realized that I didn’t have my phone, and I said as much to Celeste as I began to look around the house for it. I finally found it, and tossed another ‘bye’ as I walked past the kitchen on my way to the door, when Piper called a question to me from the kitchen table.
“Da da phone?”
I stopped and looked back, then smiled and said, “Yes, I found my phone, Piper. Bye bye.” I turned back toward the door.
Stopped again, I turned back toward her. We had never discussed the things I take inventory of before I leave each day, so she apparently had noticed on her own. Wondering if she’d ask about my wallet next, I pulled my keys from my pocket and jingled them where she could see them.
“Yes, I have my keys sweetheart. I love you! Bye bye!”
This time I hadn’t quite begun to turn before she spoke up.
“Da da … Bible?”
I opened my mouth, closed it again, and I think I cocked my head to the side. I don’t normally take a Bible when I leave for work. I often already have one in the truck, and at the office I can always pull up biblegateway.com if I find a few minutes to get in the Word. But did I want to tell Piper that, no, I didn’t have it because I didn’t ‘need’ it? How would that play out as she is putting together the puzzle pieces of words, language, and things going on around her?
And for heaven’s sake, what caused her to suggest that I take one in the first place?
I only paused a moment before stepping back down the hall, picking up a Bible, and returning to where she could see me holding it up.
“Yes, Piper, I have my Bible. Thank you! Bye bye!”
Folks, don’t tell me God doesn’t speak to us today. He spoke to me through my nearly-2-year-old daughter this morning. And need I tell you that when I got to the office today, I couldn’t help but read a chapter and pray before climbing out of the truck and coming into the office? God is good.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Well, thanks to Celeste, we finally have a new family web site set up.
You may or may not have heard about the old one; last fall sometime I found I couldn't log in to edit it, and when I finally contacted the web hosting company they explained that the software they'd had us using had corrupted, that it had been replaced with a new software, and that we could recreate our website from scratch but we would not be able to edit the old pages (at least, not easily) because they were built using the corrupt, outdated software.This was, of course, quite frustrating, and at this point we're planning simply to try to get a copy of the old site (with its hundred or more pictures, etc) onto a CD for posterity.
Anyway, Celeste found a web company called Parent Shack (hop in my Chrysler its as BIG AS A WHALE!), and it is pretty much focused on pictures only (none of that other stuff about bios on Celeste and me, etc, which we never updated anyway. So check out our new site by clicking here.
Other than that, I've begun to read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, and it certainly has me thinking. I'll post more on that shortly, but there's a question that's really bothering me right this minute: why is it that Don Miller, Brian McLaren and others who seem to be on the cutting edge of Christian spiritual thought these days are all so far left leaning from a secularly political perspective?
That will probably be the topic of an upcoming post, but if anyone out there happens to have an answer to this question, or even an opinion, I'd love to hear it.
Grace & Peace,
Monday, June 20, 2005
I've complained about this, and I've literally begged God to give me some new direction. I'm well past the point where the best part of my weekday is when I leave the office -- not even walking in the door to see my family is so energizing as walking OUT of the building where I work. I find myself cruising Monster.com, Dice.com, the US Government jobs website, etc etc etc, although even when I find something that is a possibility, I am reminded instantly of the last time that I ran ahead of God. Let's just say that when God convicts me of something, he's really good at it.
So today's blog is just a textual white flag of surrender. Its not what I want, but I will choose to be content in my circumstances. I still believe God has a bigger plan for me than this job, but I'll bloom where I'm planted until he decides to move to a different part of the garden.
So help me God.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
In discussing this with him, several things were impressed on me.
First of all, my knowledge of the scriptures is woefully inadequate. Dad had book, chapter and verse in mind as he explained his understanding of the scripture. My side of the conversation basically amounted to 'I think it says somewhere that...' and 'so-and-so commented once that...' Honestly, I was more than a little embarrassed. (And what a blessing to have a Dad who knows the scriptures, as mine does!)
Second, while I don't think my Dad and I have the same perspective on the purpose of baptism, my Dad (as usual) was so patient and calm throughout the conversation -- so graceful, really. That's not much of a surprise -- Dad is one of the most level-headed and patient people I know -- but I guess it was particularly impressive because I've had other conversations about faith issues with people who disagreed with me, and often I've seen them turn into angry, awkward discussions, or even angry, awkward relationships. So to see my Dad be so open to hear my point of view, even though he clearly disagreed ... I don't know how to describe it, but it made me proud to be his son.
(Incidentally, I suppose someone might be inclined to wonder what our perspectives are with regard to baptism. I would characterize my Dad's position as being that baptism places us into Christ, and it is essential for salvation. My position is that baptism is a command of God and should be obeyed, but that it is an external action representing a decision made in the heart, and that a believer can be 'unimmersed' and still reach heaven, although this is of course disobedience to God's command and is therefore sin which would have to be covered by the blood of Christ.)
I am so thankful for my Dad, for the faith that he and my mother passed on to me, and for his heart for God.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?
What if I had been committed to God in high school and college, instead of only toward the end of college and beyond? Would I hear God better today? Would I be more obedient?
What if God were to teach a class on the 7 days of creation? How long would the class take?
What if I had joined the Air Force as I considered doing during my 3rd year of college? Would I have seen the world, and have more appreciation of my homeland?
What if the amount of human weight in the world were constant, so that when you lose a pound someone else has to gain it? (And vice versa!)
What if I made a better effort at being a good husband and father, every single day?
What if we used a number system based on 12 instead of 10? Would we have a $144-dollar-bill? (Did I lose anybody on this one?)
What if God really has me right where he wants me, and this is really it? Could I get past this feeling of discontent about my career, and get back to looking for His will in my everyday existence? (And I must comment here that a 'normal' person would probably be very happy with the career God has given me thus far; I am quite blessed.)
What if blue was actually green, green was actually red, and someone read my blog on a regular basis?
What if, when I spoke to a close friend a year or two ago about whether God could be calling me to ministry, and when he asked me to give him my resume so he could pass it to a few people...what if my answer (no, no, this isn't the right time, I think God wants me to get my house in order first) was just so much smoke, and I was (am?) too afraid to step out and see what God might have in mind for me?
What if God made our nostrils the same size as our fingers for a reason ? (Hey, its a valid question.)
What if I just go to bed and figure all this out later?
Friday, May 20, 2005
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very Word spoken to me
And I...I'm lost without You
And I...I'm desperate for You
I'm desperate for You
For some reason God has used Michael W Smith's song Breathe to convict me over and over about the fact that, while the lyrics reflect who I want to be, my life often says otherwise.
The air I breathe smells more like my work or my family or worship ministry in general rather than God's presence. My daily bread tastes suspiciously like friends and family rather than the Word of God. And to really hear His word spoken to me? Not just to read the Word like a newspaper, or to hear a good sermon or discover a deep thought, but for God Himself to speak directly to me?
My faith tends to be less like breathing and more like bathing -- something I do regularly, but not constantly; something I do because I know I should, even because I sometimes long to be clean, but not because I realize that I would whither and die without it.
And so the chorus becomes a cry to God, to say that I long for the verse to apply to me, to describe me, but I'm lost, desperate, if He doesn't help me get there. There have been times when I've been singing this song, particularly when its been just between God and me, and if I let Him He'll sometimes use this song to...well, to ruin me. In a good way.
In the last couple of weeks I've seen this 'breathing' theme appear over and over again -- relating to the need to consistently surrender to God all day long, the need to continually communicate with my wife, the need to 'pray without ceasing', and on and on.
Oh that I would fully respond to God's Spirit rather than pulling away and getting wrapped up in anything and everything else. If I would more fully engage with Him, surely He'd resolve this ache, this longing for more purpose and direction in my life, for a career that makes a real impact on the world.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Similarly, as I've posted a few times, things are so busy for me personally that I feel like I'm hurrying all the time...and yet I am most definitely waiting on God to point me in a new direction. I'm asking, begging, pleading, and even feeling what I think are leadings that that is coming. Just not yet.
So I wait. Oh, gotta run, too much to do.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
It's been a stressful couple of weeks, with my work in its peak season, and most weeknights taken up with church activities, not to mention redoubling my efforts to get close to my family. But for some reason, at this time, I really feel pulled toward God, a strong desire to seek Him, and I can't tell you how much I love that. Worship gets sweeter, prayer gets more passionate, and trust deepens.
The trust is probably the best part. I tend to like to be in control of things, or at least to have a plan, and when things are going so fast like this it often feels so chaotic to me that I don't make time to spend with God. Not that I shouldn't be spending more time with Him than I do, even now, but I feel like He's beside me sometimes lately, more often than in the past.
If he'd just talk a little louder. :-)
Sunday, April 24, 2005
My mother came down Saturday for a few minutes, mainly to see her grandkids, but while she was here she planted a few flowers in the front flowerbed and directed me on moving a tree in that same bed so that it wasn't so close to the house. Once the tree was moved I attempted to brace it the way it had been, only to find that of the 3 or 4 stakes, only 2 were left, so the two I pushed back in the ground probably won't be enough to keep it from leaning over. I guess I'll have to go buy something to take care of that, but I must confess that my expertise in this little project was at the breaking point the moment I picked up a shovel...
I was fairly disgusted to find that the mulch was covering piles of clumped-up concrete, which apparently was left in the bed after the construction ended.
'Just for fun', I took a career assessment test online yesterday, and was rewarded with a list of the 10 best careers for someone like me. Of the 10, 5 were variations on a theme of either professional musician, actor, or writer (translation: in my dreams).
Two were totally unexpected: decorating and art work and occupational safety. ...o...k...
And the other 3 were:
- Psychological Research
- High School/University teacher
- Trade Management, which is described as 'managing design and implementation projects, such as ... computer programs' - which is, ironically, what I do today.
While the 'other' 2 above are interesting, both would require moderate to extensive additional education, so ... let's just say probably not right now.
Well, gotta run. God is still good, y'all.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
For several weeks I've been finding myself frustrated with my job, longing for some more meaningful way to make a living. Wondering again about the 'calling' that I wondered about, that I wondered if I was hearing or was being prepared for. So I talked to Celeste about what I'm feeling.
Basically, here's what I said:
Here I am wondering again about the leadings I've thought GodThe interesting thing is that after talking to Celeste about this, a few minutes later I was on my computer, reading through some old files where from time to time I journaled. And the thing is that the text above came from one of those journal entries -- from March 11, 2004, a little more than a year ago.
has given me about my calling, or the calling that he may be
preparing me for. All the verses that I thought he gave me, all
the personal interpretations I found for them that made me
think he was preparing me for some kind of role in full-time
ministry – was that really God speaking to me? Or was that some
part of myself, longing for something as simple as a career
change, imagining things that God was not really saying?
Tonight I still think those things were his voice, I still
believe that – with the caveat that while I trust him, oh how I
want to trust him fully, but I absolutely don't trust my own
heart and my own ambition to sit down and shut up and let him lead.
And so I am forced to face the fact that I am mentally and emotionally in the very same place right now that I was in 13 months ago. Apparently I've made no progress related to my job and this elusive and possibly imaginary 'calling' that keeps circling my head like a spray of steam, one moment there, but the next moment maybe not.
What I wouldn't give for God to just tell me if that's my imagination or not. Fifteen months back I was seriously looking at applying for a job with a different employer, but I really think God told me to stay put, so I did. But he never said why, and he never said for how long. Past experience has taught me that I really need to obey the last directive he gave me, until he releases me from it or gives me a new directive.
So I sort of feel stuck.
I am left with the last statement from that journal entry a year or so back. I still want this to be my heart on the matter.
If these 'leadings' are of Him, they'll come to be. If not, they won't, and He's still my Lord and Master, and He still has the best possible future in store for me, and I will still trust him to lead the way.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Rewind. I've been working from home for the last couple of weeks, since Celeste has been unable to pick up Piper while she's been recovering from her C-section. So anytime Piper needed her diaper changed, or to be put down for a nap or to bed at night, or to be taken from her crib in the mornings, or to be put in her carseat to go to church, etc etc, that was my designated job. Not that I didn't do those things before -- but before I wasn't the only one.
Candidly, I really thought this was going to be a dreary chore. I enjoy working - on my computer, or on conference calls. I wasn't really looking forward to being Mr. Mom.
At the same time, Piper had to adjust from being our only child with all our attention to being one of our two children with half our attention. (And she continues to adjust to this, although she's doing very well.)
The combination of these things had an interesting result: I became the 'favorite parent', perhaps even the 'primary caregiver' during this time. She hugged me more, gave more kisses, asked for me more than she ever has. If she was crying, she came to me to be soothed. It was...wonderful.
Not to mention being here with Christian, my tiny son, getting to help take care of him. That's been awesome also.
Fast-forward to the present. Celeste has started to pick up Piper, change diapers, etc. Last night she put Piper to bed. Today I was working in the office and I heard Piper crying loudly in the kitchen; Celeste soothed her, and in the end she had Piper watching the popcorn pop in the microwave, and all was well.
Thursday or Friday, things will really begin to go back to 'normal'. I'll go in to the office, and I will stop working from home each day. Celeste will become the 'primary caregiver' again, and she'll probably start to pick up the 'favorite parent' status, at least most of the time, as she was before.
This is exactly as it should be. I wouldn't have it any other way.
So why is my throat tightening while I type? Must be allergies. I'm sure that's it.
Friday, April 01, 2005
I put my 20-month-old daughter to bed earlier this evening -- always a precious time also -- and holding my son Christian now, I realize how much I've already forgotten about newborns. How they have so little control of their little heads; how their bright eyes scan about when they're awake, taking in the world for the first time; how totally dependent they are on their parents.
(I must pause and comment that Christian is softly moaning in his sleep. I wonder if he'll talk in his sleep as his mother does?)
I think and pray about rearing my children, about helping them see the God of heaven through my own relationship with Him. How awesome of a responsibility is that? It's epic, really. I'm just glad that He is faithful to help.
Ephesians 2:10 proclaims that 'we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' Lord, how great is Your workmanship, how amazing Your blessings! I lift up my son to You, both my children, and I pray that You would guide their steps into the good works You have prepared for them. May they know You intimately, Father God, and glorify Your holy name. Amen.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
First, we're in the new house. Celeste was an unpacking machine the last few days, to the point that if you didn't notice the lack of pictures on the walls, you might not realize we just moved in. There are about 5 boxes remaining to be unpacked in the whole house. Not bad for a lady who's 9 months pregnant.
Last evening Celeste's parents arrived from Kansas, and my mom came down from Farmers Branch (or whereever she lives in that area :-) and we went out to dinner. Piper managed to be the primary source of entertainment, which is no surprise considering she was the only grandchild at a table including her parents and 3 grandparents.
This afternoon is Celeste's pre-op at the hospital, followed by a final pre-birth appointment with her OB. I'll leave work at 2:30 and meet her there.
And tomorrow morning we'll be at Harris Methodist hospital in downtown Fort Worth, bright and very early, to have our bouncing baby boy. I think the plan will be to have Celeste's folks bring Piper down when she wakes up, and if I recall the timing correctly from Piper's birth 19 months ago, that means they'll probably arrive just as the baby's being born.
I'm at the office now, waiting on a data process to finish, and I thought I'd post one last time before going from being the father of 1 to being the father of 2. I ask that you hold our family up to the Father above during this exciting time.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Our small group from church (and one or two others) came over to give us a hand moving, and we moved virtually everything in under two hours! It was really amazing to behold. It reminded me of the barn-raising scene in Witness, with Harrison Ford, where they showed the method used by the Amish (or Mennonites?) to build a barn from the ground up in a single day.
So I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to our church family. I've read a lot lately about the church being a 'community', and I'm thrilled to say that I saw it in action today (and not for the first time).
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Anyway, the purpose of my little 'fast' was to try to snuggle up to God once again. I have this tendency to go several months where I'm in His word, spending daily time with Him, and then get wrapped up in other things and go for months without spending much time with Him at all. So when the time came for the 40-day fast, I wanted to participate in order to end the self-imposed drought and reconnect with my God.
I'm ashamed to confess that there have only been about 7-10 days over the last 35 when I've really spend quality time with Him (away from church, anyway). I have plenty of 'good' excuses, but in the end even a 'good' excuse is just an excuse. After all, I still find time to watch '24' every week, even if I have to record it and watch it late into the night. But I haven't been making time for the One who saves me.
And its not like I don't feel Him prompting me to hang with Him. I'll find myself thinking 'I should get in the Word', and then... [insert excuse #1436 here].
So I'm going to make a commitment now, right here: I will spend time with God each day the rest of this week. I was in the Word yesterday (and it felt sooo goooood!), and I spent a little time today. Anyone reading this, I invite you to ask me on Sunday whether I've followed through.
Oh, to have the mind of Christ, and His heart as well.
Monday, March 07, 2005
We sold our house in January and moved into a rent house while another house is being built. In the meantime I went on business travel for 2 weeks, which left my wife home with our 18 month old, Piper. When I finally came home, Piper picked up some kind of stomach bug, a nasty little virus that lasted a week or so. About the time she got better... I managed to get sick with what appeared to be the same bug. It hit me Friday, I was pretty pathetic Saturday, and felt better yesterday. Today I'm at work, but I'm a little queasy.
I have to say that my wife -- who happens to be 8 1/2 months pregnant! -- has been amazing through all of this. (Speaking of the pregnancy, some good friends threw us a baby shower last night at Spring Creek barbeque, and we had a great time.)
Meanwhile, the new house is finished except for inspections, so we'll do a final walk-through this Thursday or so, and barring something unexpected happening (please God don't let anything unexpected happen) we'll close on the new house the following Thursday the 17th. Then we'll move in the weekend of Friday the 18th.
And then the following Thursday the 24th, we'll have our second child (scheduled c-section, so the date is pretty firm).
Did I mention that I'm responsible for a corporate-wide project at work that was supposed to wrap up just before the new baby is born, and that events have transpired in such a way that the end-date was moved till early April? You would think that the end-date slipping is good, but actually it means that I'll probably have work pending on March 24 and the days to follow, when I'd rather be focused on my family. No pressure, though, right?
A friend of mine told me one time that he was under a lot of pressure in several ways, and that he wondered about bleaching his hair and escaping to Mexico, never to be seen again. Honestly, three things keep me from stealing his idea:
- Despite all of this mess, my wife and daughter are so awesome. Celeste almost never complains, despite my absence for those two weeks, despite having to change 9/10ths (or more) of the nasty diapers Piper had with the stomach flu (I wasn't home much to change any diapers that week), etc. Celeste is phenomenal. And as for Piper -- have you seen my daughter's smile?
- I also get a lot of peace from spending time with my 'extended family' from church. In particular, worshiping alongside the rest of the worship team easily recharges my batteries, whether on a Sunday morning with the whole body or on a Tuesday night in practice, or anytime inbetween.
- Perhaps most importantly: I think I'd look pretty silly with bleached hair.
What else is keeping me up lately (as if I need something else):
John 12:49 (Jesus speaking) "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."
Can I put a bow on that for ya? God didn't just tell Jesus what to say... God told Him how to say it. God apparently had some very specific objectives, even in the way that Christ said what He said. Could the same be true in my life? I find myself praying a lot about what to do, and often don't feel like I get a clear answer -- dare I pray for the how as well?
Sunday, February 20, 2005
There was one evening, Thursday I think, when we finished testing just before 10:30, and as usual I was too wound up to go to bed. I considered turning on the TV, but figured that was a bad idea in a hotel room by myself. I also considered playing a game on my computer, and booted it back up with thoughts of 'just playing for a few minutes' (I rarely play PC games these days, because if I start I can't seem to stop).
So while it was booting up, I opened my Bible. The truth is, I thought I'd have lots of time in my room to spend in the scriptures, but between the testing and the need for sleep, that hadn't happened. I opened up to John 11, and found myself stuck on verses 9 and 10.
Background: Jesus had learned that Lazarus was sick, and after waiting a couple of days He announced that he was headed to see Lazarus. His disciples pointed out, however, that the last time He'd been in Lazarus' neighborhood, the locals had tried to stone Jesus. They asked, 'Are you really going to go back there?'
9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day
will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10 It is when he walks by
night that he stumbles, for he has no light.”
Now, I looked at that verse for some time, asked God about it, and finally looked in the study notes in my Bible, where I read that this verse probably means that there is enough time to do what is necessary, but no time to waste.
No time to waste.
I found myself looking back at my laptop, now booted up and ready for me to play. I really wanted to play. I haven't played any PC games in quite some time.
Twelve hours of daylight. No time to waste.
No time to waste.
If this seems silly, so be it. But if there's a chance He was talking to me, even if He's not telling me what I want to hear, even if He's telling me things that seem ridiculously minor compared to the 'big' questions I've been asking Him... if He's talking, I will listen.
I turned off my laptop, and prayed myself to sleep. And I slept very well, thank you.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
God has certainly assigned me to lead my family toward Him; however, if that task has the clearest future impact and potential -- if it is really easier to see where that assignment leads than it is to see where my career is going or where my ministry service is going or my hobbies or income potential or my future in general -- then why is it that I find it so easy to get wrapped up in all those other things I have to/want to do, and I tend to let my family 'wait'?
18 Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD :
19 "The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death."
21 So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD.
When I was in the hospital a few years ago with complications from appendicitis that nearly did me in, there was a time after the worst was over that I was no longer heavily drugged but I remained in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Between surfing the limited hospital TV channels looking for something other than Jerry Springer (having already watched all the Springer I could handle), I found myself wondering about what had just happened to me.
I had nearly died, but I was spared. I wasn't really sure why, and in many ways I still don't know. I was not a faithful follower of God at the time -- instead, I'd been showing up at church on Sundays so my folks would see me, and to see a friend or two, and other than that I was living a totally pagan lifestyle. I was really living for myself -- and doing quite well at it, in terms of academic and professional success, income, etc.
And yet, over a couple of weeks time, beyond my control, my life had nearly ended, and two basic questions buzzed around my ears. 1) If I had died, would I have gone to hell? and 2) What had I done with my life that made a whit of difference to anyone?
By the grace of God, He began to pull me into worship at church in ways I'd never experienced. Verses like 'Do not take me away, O my God, in the midst of my days' (Ps 102:24) began to bring tears to my eyes. And also by His grace, I came to a point where I have a confident answer to the first question that plagued me then.
That leaves the second question, which still keeps me up sometimes. Am I actively making a difference in and for His kingdom?
And that brings me back to the scripture I started with above. I pray that God is using my gifts for His glory, even if sometimes it's actually in spite of me. I am comfortable that He has me where He wants me in the body -- I don't feel unused or misplaced or anything like that.
But I think there is one particular task He has assigned to me where I can kind of see the long term goals and impacts to an extent: leading my wife and child(ren) to know and trust and love the One who saves us. Sometimes I'm not sure what the future holds in terms of what God has planned for me, but the potential future impact of leading my family toward Him is clear.
So here's to 'a future generation'. May we be and do as He wills. Bless His name!
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
I'll describe some of the method to the overall search process, and then there was a particular issue that I'm curious about, wondering if anyone might read this post and have some thoughts.
The first part of the meeting, Ron explained what the process would look like, and in my words, it goes something like this:
First, the committee will work up a summary of what makes Southlake unique and special. This information will help us determine what qualities the minister will need to have to be successful at SBC, and it will help us communicate our attributes to prospective ministers so as to help them know why they would want to come to SBC rather than some other church.
This information will also help us in another way: it will help us to articulate areas where SBC's identity is currently undefined, so that the Shepherds and the committee can work to clarify and define those issues as appropriate, and thereby improve our sense of who we are and where we're headed. More on this in a moment.
Second, once the committee develops the information and the Shepherds have helped us shape it as God is directing our body, the process of actively seeking/vetting/interviewing candidates will begin. We haven't talked much about that yet; we've got to build the pool before we jump off the diving board.
So...one of the items that was discussed last night has been on my mind today, and I'd be interested in any input that anyone would care to give in this regard. In identifying items that make Southlake unique and special, someone mentioned one that I agree with, although it generated a lot of discussion later in the evening. The item was a 'Spirit of Freedom'.
I think that everyone in the committee agreed that SBC often gets feedback that we are a very friendly, accepting church, accepting even of people who have differing views about some (or many?) doctrinal issues. There was also valuable input from several on the committee that even while we allow 'freedom' among the beliefs of individuals in the body, the church as a whole should have some idea of what doctrinal perspectives it officially accepts and teaches. In particular, there was a comment that without defining some of these identity questions, our church has a tendency to lose some of its direction and vision as far as where we're going as a body.
So my brain is rattling away today, thinking deep thoughts. Which issues are mandatory for a believer? Which can be left to the believer's judgement within the body? What steps should SBC take to ensure that the teaching (from the pulpit or in a classroom) is consistent with the doctrines that SBC holds to (even if we don't mandate that all members must agree)?
Of course these questions aren't really new -- one person pointed out that this is how denominations came about in the first place, not because people didn't want to be unified, but because there was a strong difference in opinion as to where the line should be drawn about certain doctrinal issues. And it is curious to me that some of these same questions are raised in the McLaren books I posted about a few months ago. All in all, I find this to be absolutely fascinating. (I'm revved just typing about it.)
Clearly, we'll need the Shepherds to help us answer this question for SBC -- they have responsibility to ensure that SBC maintains doctrinal purity, and I'm glad we have them to help and lead us in this! But I think that the committee is sort of taking a role to identify some of the questions that need to be answered or clarified, and perhaps giving input to the Shepherds as to the perception of the body on some of these issues.
Any thoughts? Brian
Monday, January 24, 2005
The concept: The earth is fragile, and if we aren't careful, we'll destroy it.
Just today I read on a church website about 'protecting our fragile earth'.
Now, I'm not going to get into the specifics of the individual debates. In particular, there's plenty of information out there about global warming, 'Houdini the Vanishing Ozone Layer', etc -- I don't subscribe to these apocolyptic belief systems, but if you're interested, knock yourself out.
And I also don't want anyone to misunderstand me, as if I'm saying that we should just trash the planet. There are plenty of very real examples of men, women, companies and governments abusing the environment, and that must be dealt with. I mean, I'm annoyed by needless pollution the same as anyone else -- and incidentally, why is it that we all agree that throwing an empty McDonald's cup out the car window is littering and it's wrong, but it is apparently ok for a smoker to throw his cigarette butt out his driver-side window and onto my windshield on I-35?
Anyway, we should OF COURSE be good stewards of what God gave us. But let's not delude ourselves into thinking that we could destroy the earth. THE EARTH IS NOT FRAGILE. I'm getting to know the Architect and Construction Manager, and I'm pretty sure He made the earth to last until it has served His purpose for it. To think that we could slip up and accidentally end the world ahead of His schedule is not only hilarious, it's the height of arrogance.
Ahhh. Feels better to get it off my chest. :-)
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Last night at about midnight it hit me what that really means. We've got to nail down where we're going to move to, pack, move, and close (presumably/hopefully on both houses) in 10 days -- and that was as of yesterday...now we have 9 days! And since Celeste and I just looooove a challenge, we're checking into a house that won't be finished until end of the month or early next month, which means we may end up needing to store all our sweet stuff for a week or two.
(And of course, the truth is that this could still fall through, though that seems unlikely based on the information we have, particularly compared to the near-sale that happened in the last few weeks.)
So ... hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. We're about to kick it into overdrive. :-)
Oh, and by the way, I took the Napoleon Dynamite quiz too -- see below -- although I already knew what the results would be from my cousin who works as a ninja for the CIA.
Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
That kind of messed me up. In a few years the doctor will probably say, 'oh, you'd like to have a baby? Let's just schedule the birth now, say for a year from today. That way you have time for another vacation before morning sickness sets in.' Ok, probably not, but its still weird that we can know (or at least plan) the timing of the birth this far in advance.
And speaking of timing, last week the sale of our house fell through. We were disappointed, but we got over it -- because we know God is driving the bus.
Well, today we got another offer. It nets out to be slightly more than the previous offer, which is great. This buyer appears to have all the loan details worked out already, which is fantastic. They want to close by the 28th -- 10 days -- which is scary. The 'dream home' we had found has already sold to someone else, which is frustrating. But we have a lead on another house with the same floorplan, which is exciting...although we're trying not to get our hopes to high.
God's timing is perfect, and He has a plan. We will keep trusting Him. After all, is there really any viable alternative?
Grace and peace, Brian
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
We have had our house on the market for several months, trying to sell it and move into a one-story home, so as not to have to work to keep Piper (and soon the one in the oven) off the stairs. Additionally, we are hoping to end up with one more bedroom than we have now, to have a place to keep the computer and a guest bed.
Over the holiday week in December we landed a contract on our house. It was really exciting, but it left us (me mainly) anxious to get started on finding a new house and doing the many things that would need to be done.
Happily, we found a fantastic house, not only meeting the description above but brand new, complete with lots of upgrades, and most importantly a big discount without which the house would have been out of our price range. We were ecstatic, sending pictures of the house to friends, beginning to talk about how to arrange our furniture in the rooms. Mentally we had already moved in.
Then we got word yesterday that the financing for the buyer of our house is very probably not going to work out. And since our house apparently doesn't have a buyer, we certainly can't afford to buy a new house yet. We were stunned, disappointed in the extreme. It seemed like it should be raining outside instead of a sunny 70 degrees in January.
I went home promptly at the end of the workday. Celeste picked up some chocolate. And we wallowed.
We prayed some, mostly just asking God for peace and if possible to work this out. We also read the next bit for the weekly Bible study at church, John 8:12-30, and I'll say that I did get some peace from something Jesus said in verses 14-15. In defending His testimony about Himself, He says, "I know where I came from and where I am going," and points out that the Jews who were contesting his testimony didn't even know that much about Him.
And in my heart I realized that I know very little about where Jesus came from and where He went, and I know even less about my own life. Fortunately, He already knows the rest of my story.
Lord, I will trust You with my family, with our home, with my career. I will trust You. I will.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
The reason I hate to miss is because I love being there with my family, praising God, learning about Him, listening for Him. That was a fun day for me, realizing that I really felt that way about the body at SBC.
Having said that, I've missed being at Southlake for about 10 days now, and I'm practically itching to be there. I was traveling during the holiday week, then I was sick on Sunday and on Tuesday night. So tonight we have a gathering and I will be there.
How about you?