Tuesday, September 30, 2008

turtles, trail running and transformation

Hey, so i'm back from my Mid-West trip and i'll start to write about that tomorrow...so much happened. But check this out....

I've been cranking at a pretty hectic pace and my right knee has been really sore (old surfing injury...honest!) and i just haven't gotten to see a doctor about it yet so i've been really light on the miles i run and the intensity. i've even been riding my mountain bike a bit (gasp!) because i've just missed flying over trails so much.

So yesterday i really needed to hit the woods to clear my head and focus. I had only gotten two minutes into one of my favorite six mile hill routes when i notice this baby snapping turtle in the middle of the trail...so this thing is kinda outa place, and as you know i have a deep passion for lost things that need help, so i pick this critter up and run back to where my truck is parked...right next to a swampy area by some flood control dikes. I plopped the little bugger onto the weedy edge and headed back out.

Now i'm running and the Holy Spirit starts to remind me of the fact that i've personally been called and gifted to see the lost that others step over, and have been given eyes that scan the corners of places where others don't look to encounter the things the Lord wants me to. I thank the Master for the reminder and pick up the grind as I start a three mile uphill. I hit the section where i found the first turtle and look down a bit thinking "ok Lord, if you want me to change my agenda a bit for you, that's ok" of course this is half-hearted, i mean heck, what are the odds of finding another turtle from the same hatch in the middle of a trail with the closest water-source hundreds of yards away, right?

100%...those are the odds when God does something. So i stop and pick up the other turtle, annoyed that God actually listened to me and wouldn't let me run. I contemplated leaving this one on the trail and coming back to it, but thought better of that (Jonah kinda freaks me out...surfer, big fish, being eaten...you know) so back to the start i go again.

I took a picture of these two guys (i had a camera in the truck) and plunked them both in the drink, again thanking the Lord for having his way with me and when i turn around and begin my little climb up the dike there's this guy right at the top. You could tell he had been out running a real deal... he was wearing technical clothes, was drenched in sweat and filthy (fun, fun, fun) so I told him i just found these cool turtles running and he said all he had seen were a couple of White-tails (deer). I noticed he had a water bottle from Crested Butte, which is in CO so I asked him if that's where he was from..he said yeah, he was home for some family stuff and had gone out for a run...i mentioned that i spent a summer living in Fort Collins (CO) and dropped a few names of places where i climbed to let him know i wasn't a poser...

"How long did you run" he asked...and i told himI justed an hour when i found the turtles... "my knees been bad and i haven't had much time since i had just launched a non-profit helping folks out in Africa. what about you"

"I was out for three today (hours), I was out for 8 the other day. I run ultra's (minimum of 50 miles)... "dang" i said, "i've wanted to run an ultra for ever! That's been my dream!" "I'm living the dream" he said...and we parted ways...

so while i was sitting on my tailgate sucking down the last of my water i was struck by the fact that if that dude had my knee his dream would be over...

And i found myself thankful that i'm living out the Lord's dream for me and for His people through me. So I thanked God for the chance to plant some seeds in this guys head, for the reminder of the turtles. I asked him to keep me from feeling smug that i was able to see the little turtles in life while all he could see where the big deer...and when i awoke today my knee hurt again, and i got freaked out by the market, and was short with my wife as she left for work...and had to repent for being focused on the deer today already, and ask the Master to help me see the turtles.

Philippians 2:3-5 Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. 5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.



Monday, September 15, 2008

in the midst of the storm

...so this is where i seem to spend most of my life, and that's ok because this is where Jesus spends His time. The moments in the harbour are for gearing up to set sail again...
now, if you've ever spent time at the sea, you know that the ocean is "a fickle mistress".

i spent years as a surf-rat so I've seen the ocean in pretty much every conceivable mood it can have....and i've seen it during every season of the year as well. Honestly, there is little more "magical" than surfing during a snow storm with seals to keep you company.

Have you ever been to the beach in the winter? I mean the ocean beaches, ones that take the full brunt of the winter weather. The beach gets real steep then due to the heavy seas. The sand moves fast, rip tide are strong and the wind carries off what the water doesn't want to claim

and there is unstoppable change there, where water impacts the shore. i kinda think this is what it looks like to be formed into the image of Christ, at least if you're living where the front lines are. Parking lots don't change much, although they do get flooded and dirty....

so, are you being drastically carved, or is there no change in your life?
If not, why are you staying in the parking lot?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Please Join in Prayer

I ask you all to please pray deeply for those who are under the shadow of Hurricane Ike.
Father, all things are under your control, for you are the Author and Sustainer of all life. We ask for Mercy, gracious Lord. Look down upon us Master, and rebuke the winds and replace the chaos with calm, the fear with Hope and the desperation with assurance.
In Jesus' Name.

Monday, September 8, 2008

church in the parking lot

Do you ever get the sense that you're living out your faith in Jesus in a vaccume, or maybe in a bag like my daughter? Well last Sunday i started a seven week series on the Images of Jesus, starting with the "The Reality and Necessity of Christ's Humanity" and with out even trying The Lord took me out of my bag.
As I was driving in (it takes me about half and hour as I'm helping a parish a good bit away) I found myself almost sad in that the week went by and I hadn't had any very public acts of ministry. I wasn't down or anything, it just seemed like my ministry has taken place on street corners as of late.

So while I was waiting for one of the congregation to show up with a key (we're borrowing space at another local church) i was enjoying the weather and praying for the service in the parking lot.

...so i look up and this guy is walking across the far end so i say "good morning" and comment on how nice the weather was. He agreed and we started talking a bit and i mentioned that he was up really early walking (or service starts at 8a).

"Yeah" he said "I wake up early every day and walk down the street to the store. I was in a comma for two months after I had a stroke almost 12 years ago. The doctors said I shouldn't have woken up, or if I did I'd be a vegetable and never walk again. So I walk each day down to the store to prove them all wrong!"

"wow, that's a story and a half" I said..."well someone was looking out for me Father" he said....

"sure sounds like it, but His name is Jesus.
..."Oh I know that, but I lost my faith 12 years ago when I had my stroke. How could God let this happen to me? I had moved down to North Carolina to live with my girlfriend and her kid, I had a good job from an old boss of mine. I had everything going great and then bam, I have a stroke. Besides I'm Catholic and I got fed up with the church, it seemed like it didn't care about people, just raising money". (big note, I am NOT against the Catholic Church)

"wow, what's your name?" "Andy" he said, "Andy, sounds like you got beaten for a few years, really sorry about that. I know what it's like to think all is going for you and then have the rug pulled out of ya." So I proceeded to tell him the story of losing my son two days after graduating from seminary...and that I didn't know what it was like for his situation, but I know for me it was rough.

"I still don't get it" he said. "Why?" Ya know Andy, we all wonder why bad things happen to folks that are living good lives. The deal is is that we're living in a really busted world...."

...so we talked about sin, the person of Jesus and how New Hope Anglican Church is about loving the man named Jesus who was God who came into this busted place and at the same tiem trying to love and take care of each other as well.

...so we said goodbye and I walked in and preached on the reality of Jesus and it seemed a bit odd to be preaching indoors to folks who already know Jesus...

Church in parking lots....i love them



Friday, September 5, 2008

restored to greatness...Hitchcock in the 'hood

When i was a little kid my uncle used to restore antique furniture. He'd find or buy old pieces of junk and then bring them up to his attic and bring them back to their original glory. He'd strip paint, sand,scrape and stain but his specialty was re-caning chairs...you know that reed-looking stuff on the seats of chairs that starts to sag with age (ours as well as the chairs)...

...so he taught me a bit of this trade and as a kid I was of course more fascinated by the process than the product. This stayed with me and i still marvel at seeing hidden beauty uncovered. We all see and feel this to some extent each day when we clean the house, shave, wash the car (or kids or dog). And we always seem to step back and look and that grin creeps onto our faces....

...but the hair grows back, bugs get splattered on the car and the kids chase the filthy dog across the floor. But we saw it, didn't we? The beauty under the scratches. It was there, right? We could of course cover our lives in vinyl, or set up a glass case, or put up red-velvet ropes, but that wouldn't last long. Never-ending perfection will come and we'll live lives where the lines in carpet from vacuuming will never end. But until then we have this different kind of restored perfection to live....

...so this begs the question, where does greatness lie, where does the beauty reside? In doing what we were created to do and being who we were created to be...

...here's a how it happened with a set of Hitchcock Chairs and a rent-subsidized apartment.
I was given a table and four chairs from a very kind person. As i was leaving i was told "those are Hitchcock Chairs, painted over, but Hitchcock". Now i know that each chair had was worth a few hundred dollars (with four, you do the math) and i was tickled by the irony as I unloaded this precious cargo in the parking lot of what many people might call "the projects".

....the "created value" of the chairs attributed to the name was hidden under the paint, their intrinsic value as a simple place to sit was restored. Could I have refinished these chairs, sold them and used the proceeds to purchase many more chairs for other people? Yes I could have.

...but to me that day it seemed as if God was restoring the greatness of those Hitchcock Chairs. Their purpose was restored, and they in turn brought joy.

The Westminster Shorter Catechises states that the "chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." This simply means that we're covered in paint too, and the name of the Master Craftsman is covered. One day all of the junk will be totally stripped away, but until then we are still called to glorify God and we do this by living out our intended purpose...plain and simple. We're not called to put our label on display under glass, we're called to be useful in bringing many daughters and sons to glory in Jesus.

...That day as i brought those chairs into that woman's apartment i actually felt moved to tell her they were Hitchcock Chairs; "hey, these chairs are Hitchcock" I told her, "they're really nice". "Oh yeah?" she replied with no sense of comprehension beyond that fact that she now owned a table and a set of chairs and she and her two children could actually sit at a table to eat. I just wanted to let her know that we were bringing her nice things, not junk.

...kinda like what the Father did by giving us His best in the worst of places, Jesus in a broken land is far greater irony than Hitcock Chairs could ever be in the projects
...of course you can't restore others until you've been restored yourself...check out this out.

happy antiquing


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

illustration from an illustrator

...so i'm a huge fan of trail running. On my fridge i've got this picture of a guy from the calves down in running shoes splattered in mud.
The caption underneath it reads "some people take the straight and narrow, others chose the road less traveled, me, i prefer to cut through the woods!"
...but i tend to run a bit different that others, see i can be flying down a trail with really quick leg turn-over (feet moving fast, but cool term) and i'll see those orange newts that spawn in the humid summer days all over the trail and i'll stop and to say good morning to them, or i'll move the ones that are like an inch small.
i also have this habit of finding hawk feathers, so often in fact that when i come home with one i burst through the door beaming holding up my treasure to show my wife and yelling, "Lisa, guess what I found!"....she just looks up with a half-grin...
...so when i notice things i get really excited, and my mouth kinda goes ahead of my mind. well, that happened yesterday when i wrote about this wonderful book...see i kinda burst into your kitchens and said "hey, check this book out!" and in my excitement i said about the illustrator "i don't get his name"... simple it seems, but ya know, there's some real power in names.
...so i got a note from him telling me about it. The name is Cornish for James and pronounced Jay-go.
...know two things i gleaned from this...first, ya never know whose around when you speak (that shouldn't matter anyway) and second, learn before you open your mouth.
...i try really hard not to open my mouth about anyone or anything until i walk around in their shoes for awhile. ya never know how they got there or why. i think that most of the problems we have are from assumptions...and we can never truly enter into lives until we know what that life is about.
...so i was reminded of the grace Jesus gave me by a simple little comment from a man who's got a great name in a country across the pond from me who draws pictures that make my daughter giggle and me stop...
.."what's not to get" he told me, plain and simple and explainded it...and when you take the time to enter into the live of others, it gets just as plain...perhaps not easy, or acceptable, but at least you understand...and then when you open your mouth to make a comment, even if it meant no harm...you'll find a whole lot less feet in there.

Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17
...blessings all....ask some folks about their names today

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

and God said "to be continued"

A good friend of ours gave us a copy of an incredible book "The Jesus Storybook Bible...every story whispers His Name" written by Sally LLoyd-Jones and illustrated by by Jago (still don't get that name). I've started to read bits and pieces to (or should i say at) my daughter...if she manages to stay still for long. The more i read, the more i was blown away by the depth and honesty of this book...so i read the acknowledgements to check this person out (i trust the friend who gave us the book, she is a brilliant theologian who is living out grace with her family).
This is what Sally writes in her acknowledgments...
"I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to...Dr. Timothy Keller (of Redeemer NYC) whose teaching informs every story and from whom I have liberally borrowed: for his wisdom; for giving me a vocabulary of faith; for opening my eyes to the wonder of Grace". No wonder this book is so powerful. It's like the Shack, but for kids, and from Keller through a Master Story teller....

...so how did it hit me today? Well i woke up today and ran for the paper to read about the hurricanes and on the front cover there was a picture of the Hands of God (interestingly enough they looked like a thin concrete levee) holding back the forces of broken nature as the Gulf once again wanted to prove how broken this world was...

and i was struck by the fact that the story is being continued, in concrete, in New Orleans and God gave me proof right there. See I often need reminders that God's story continues in, on and through me. Don't we all though? Like Peter, we get lost, but the Hand of Providence always pulls us back in...my soul was sick yesterday as my friend wrote me, a humble, loving, powerful man of God who said his soul was deeply troubled by what appeared to be the inevitable unthinkable...and the Hand said no...

Are you here today, looking for the "to be continued" in your life? Here the words of John's Gospel as told in my daughters Bible...

"....and he knew then that the ending of The Story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem like just a shadow that is chased away by the morning sun.
"I'm on my way," said Jesus. "I'll be there soon!"
John came to the end of his book. But he didn't write "The End." Because, of course, that's how stories finish. (and this one's not over yet.)
So instead, he wrote: "Come quickly, Jesus!"
Which, perhaps, is really just another way of saying...
To be continued....

Monday, September 1, 2008

prayer and help for the broken

Hey Friends,
This letter was sent from my very dear friends James and Mary Giles who spent a a huge amount of time in the Gulf after Katrina helping thousands sort out some type of life. Please read, pray and respond....send this message along.
Dear Family,
You are probably aware Hurricane Gustav is predicted to wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast within a matter of days, as a category 4 hurricane.I'm hearing from several friends on the Coast. The mental and spiritual burden upon them right now while evacuating their homes is almost debilitating. I have so many mixed feelings myself, I can't begin to express my thoughts clearly.

For those who are not aware God's Kitchen has established a first response ministry, Cavalry for Christ (formerly God's Katrina Kitchen) and I would like to invite you to visit our new website as we prayerfully anticipate response to this potential disaster. Whether you are interested in volunteering as an individual or leading a volunteer team now is the time to provide us with your information, so we are able to keep you updated should we respond, and better inform you of the needs and opportunities for your volunteer services.We will be looking for local churches or city officials to partner with in the area where our services will be needed, when we make the decision to respond. Should you have personal contacts in these immediate areas which are affected by this tragedy, sharing our information with them, for services would be a valuable blessing to all concerned. Solid dedicated partnerships are already forming which is very heartening. The GK board will meet today to discuss our options. Please keep us in your prayers as well as those in the path of this storm. We hope and pray that our services will not be necessary. But if and when they are, we want to be ready and that is why we begin to prepare now.....Here are links for easy access during this time of preparation......Our website www.c4crelief.orgTo Sign Up As A Volunteer (then hit "click here to sign up to volunteer"): http://c4crelief.org/Volunteeering.html