Thursday, October 27, 2005

All the Latest

Made a trip to Tulsa over the weekend, to see my family there. Also got to see my younger brother Kyle play soccer -- unfortunately, Tulsa University fell to SMU 3-2, but it is notable that Kyle scored both of Tulsa's points that night. Anyway, Piper and Christian were very good all weekend, and the only rough patch to speak of was the last 60-90 minutes of the 5 hour drive home on Sunday night. We are seriously thinking of staying overnight at a hotel on our way back from the December holiday trip -- Salina, KS to Keller, TX is about 8 hours of driving, and we just don't know that we're up for a battle during the last half of the trip.

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 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

Have you given your 'death' to Jesus?

Great lesson yesterday from Mickey Ashlock, one of our shepherds, on personal transformation. That is, we are called not only to accept Jesus as our 'savior' from hell, sometime in the future, but also to accept Jesus as our 'Lord' right now, today, changing us even today and tomorrow.

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

Hard Questions

I really have very little experience with death. Several of my grandparents have died, but (unfortunately for me) I wasn't as close to them as I would have liked to be, and so when they passed it seemed distant, disconnected from me.

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

Two Cans and a String

I've been frustrated with God lately.

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.
So. I'm still frustrated. Why did God set up such a confounding system, where the 'communication' we have with Him leaves so much room for misinterpretation? Surely this is the 'two cans and a string' method of communication, when I am so longing to 'instant message' with God?

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?