Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Boring is Good!"

I'm doing my second overnight volunteer stint at Simpson house tonight (You can read about my first night here). Right now I'm listening to about 40 guys sleep....complete with snoring, coughing, and some general restlessness from a few. I am praying for peace for them....

One of the shelter staff told me as she left that she hopes my evening is boring. Then she paused, looked at me and said, "Because boring is good." Yep....striving for boring is my goal for the evening.

The other background noise is in the TV room - NBA finals are blaring complete with guys cheering for their teams. It's all good....

As long as I can keep the sleeping guys asleep and the NBA guys from getting to loud. Otherwise "boring" may be lost....

The last time I volunteered was about a month ago and I was happy/sad to see some familiar faces. I recognize at least 4-5 of the guys. I don't think any of them remembered me.

When the guys were let in tonight I was surprised that about 6 of them were riding bikes, one brought in a pair of crutches attached to his bike, and another man brought in a fishing pole with him. Seeing these guys and how they value what they have is humbling.

Back to praying for peace....and for a boring evening.....Lord, send Your peace.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Awkward Questions about Jesus

Man, I feel like this a lot of the time when I'm trying to talk about my faith to my own kids. (This vid is from an English sitcom entitled "Outnumbered".)

ht to Scot McKnight

Monday, June 08, 2009

Minding my P's and D's

My son, Alexey is in 4th grade. His report card doesn't have the traditional letter grades yet but rather P's and D's. P = Proficient and D = Developing. I'm proud to say that generally he gets straight P's. (That just sounds wrong but I digress.)

I've been thinking of the P's and D's in my life as it relates to serving and being in a faith community with others. I'm in transition right now - having been worshipping at a new church for about 5 months. As I have reflected on that journey some I've come up with 3 P's and a D.

Planner - The previous two churches that I have served at I became quickly involved in many ministry areas. I have the gift of helps so that is a natural occurrence for me. I was involved in youth ministry, praise band, worship planning, small groups....served as elder, worked on search teams, and generally tried to jump in to help as needed. In most areas that I served I became involved in some degree of planning, leading, and directing. I discovered that I generally experienced my most times of intimate worship with God in the developing and planning process and that when an actual event occurred I was unable to worship with the community. I was too caught up in the evaluating, coordinating, hoping, praying, thinking what's next, etc.

Performer - For much of my time on Sundays over the past 10 years I have played drums in a praise band. Again...many times the most intimate worship times for me occurred during rehearsal, thinking thru music, etc. Once Sunday rolled around my thoughts were usually tied to questions like, "What's the right tempo" "Are we together" "Do we repeat the chorus" "How do we end the song". With all of that rolling around in my head it was usually very difficult for me to worship while playing - at least on Sunday mornings. Yes, I "perform and play" my best for God, but on Sunday...with the added layer of responsibility of leading others in worship my focus becomes split. (It is very cool when you do totally engage and a whole community invites the Holy Spirit to inhabit their praises...but for me those moments are the exception rather than the rule.)

Participant - Here is where I have found myself the last few months. I am not involved in any formal ministry. I have simply been a participant. It has been joyful, refreshing, and challenging. It has helped me learn again how to focus my attention on worshipping - not planning or performing. It has been a blessing to worship in community with my family and friends - to dance alongside (in my awkward ways), raise my hands, bow down, be lifted up - together. It has helped me re-discover the joy or communal worship and to see and experience just a little slice of heaven.
Desire - But now what? That is the question that is haunting me as I try and best discern where and how God wants me to serve. I have come to see some of the gifts, challenges, and dangers of my three P's. My desire is to serve God in the ways He wants me to go and become the follower, man, husband, and father that He wants me to be. I can see Him building into me in new ways, with new experiences, and new relationships.
I pretty sure I'll never get a P = proficient. Nor would I want one as that sounds like an end point. I hope I am always a D student. One who is developing and becoming more like Jesus. Yeah....I'm striving for a D!
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Star Wars vs. Star Trek!

No wonder I like both of these movies so much....

"Beauty is Pain"

Saw this Yahoo vid about how "skinny jeans" are causing nerve problems in people's legs. First, this is not a problem I have to worry about (my kids have told me I look REALLY bad in skinny jeans). But in the vid a woman who appears to be representing a fashion magazine of some sort says "beauty is pain".

It makes me think back to the Dove ad campaign a while back.

I have two daughters and two sons. My prayer is that they each see themselves as "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14); know they were created "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27)....and find their true identity in Christ.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Red In The Face

I have a genetic pre-disposition toward skin cancer. I have gotten into the routine of having a "skin check" every 6 months. Usually that leads to a biopsy being taken, a number of small spots being burned off with liquid nitrogen, or other such fun stuff . On rare occasion it leads to a small surgery to remove an actual lesion. None of it is horrible - but most of it is uncomfortable. Of course the option of NOT taking care of those small spots as they come up really isn't an option.

Recently my doctor recommended I undergo "Photodynamic Therapy" or "Blue Light" treatment. I had my first session two days ago. It involves having your face first prepped with acetone to remove the oils on your skin. Trying to breath while someone basically washes your face with an acetone (think fingernail polish remover) soaked washcloth is nearly impossible.

Then an ointment is applied. It is a clear ointment but pretty greasy looking. It has to stay on for an hour. Of course, you can't take up a treatment room for an you go back out to the lobby with a very shiny, greasy face and try to keep your head down while reading old magazines - luckily I like Midwest Living...

After your hour is up it's time for the light therapy! I have never been in a suntan booth. But my face has been now. First you get to put on the really cool looking swim goggles to protect your eyes. (Can you keep your eyes open with those on? Will the rays penetrate at all? Just a few of the questions I had!) Then you sit on a stool, in a room cooled to a ridiculous temperature, with your face in a hot dog bun shaped fluorescent light device. Your nose is almost touching the plastic surface. "Are you comfortable?" the nurse asks....don't even get me started!

Then, while your face is immersed in this hot dog bun shaped light, they place one of those small battery operated fans in your hand. Of course, your face is in a plastic tube and you can't see your hand or how to work the fan. Then you are told that if it gets too hot you can use the fan to cool your face. face is surrounded by plastic - I don't know if I can even turn the fan on let alone get it to blow on my face! Grrrrr.....

Okay - time to turn on the light. It's very bright. It starts out a little warm. The nurse says, "I'll check on you in a few minutes" and leaves the room. I'm all alone. The warm moves into the "I'm being stuck with thousands of tiny needles" stage. I try the fan. I get it turned on and can't really get it to blow on me. Man it is getting hot on my face. This is NOT fun.

The nurse returns and asks how I'm doing. I take the high road and say I'm "moderately uncomfortable" rather than "my face is melting off!" She says, "that's only have 11 minutes left" and leaves the room again.

The sensations and treatment continue. It sort of surges in intensity - from hot to prickly. I think at some point I sort of zoned out because my nose touched the plastic surface of the light machine - does that mean I got too close?

It's finally over. The nurse turns off the machine. She has me wash my face - which is very red now. She says that's good and I should get a good result from the treatment. She then applies a steroid cream and sunblock. Great - Mr. Greasy face heads out into public again.

The rest of the day....and still at this face is red, feels tight, and has that really good sunburn feel to it. I'm supposed to stay out of the sun for at least 3 days. The instructions actually say "Wear a large brimmed hat when walking to your car". Wow.

Here is the picture of me that you have been waiting and reading so patiently for....

I'm thinking I may go back to having my small pre-cancerous spots burned off with the liquid nitrogen again. We'll see....

Study Break - Enlarging How I See Life

I've decided to actually allow God's word to impact me - hopefully daily...but at least more regularly. To help me follow through with that I thought I'd post some thoughts here on the passage I'm reading. Feel free to comment and share how the passage impacts and/or speaks to you - and please know that I have no formal training in this. I'm just asking God's spirit to speak to me and allow me to see more through His eyes and heart than mine. (For me, this is also part of responding to Tony Myles' challenge for the summer.)

The Passage - 1 Cor 1:1-9 (NIV)

1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


4I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

Stuff I notice - and thoughts/questions it brings to the surface of me.

1) Paul is writing with his friend Sosthenes.

  • Who are my friends and encouragers in my journey? Am I building into them or just waiting for them to build into me? In what ways do I acknowledge them?

2) Paul's letter is to the church and all believers. Seems to be to both "the body" corporately as well as individuals who make up the body.

3) Wow - what a prayer/message of Thanksgiving in verses 4-9. The words that jump out at me are:

  • "enriched in every way" - I LOVE that! So often I have to deal with my own questions or the questions of others about what difference does it make to be a Christian if I just try to do good things. I serve, I care, I contribute. That is such a stumbling block for me at times to answer - and this verse simply says....God can use that and do it better. Better than you can possibly imagine. You won't know the difference until you let Him in - and that's a hard wall to break down. But oh....when you surrender your "good" works to Him and let him enrich your speaking...your knowledge. I LOVE that and find great comfort and challenge in it at the same time.

  • "our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you" - who has helped lead me, through their testimony...their love, compassion, lifestyle into my relationship with Christ? Have I thanked them? And who am I sharing my testimony with? (With my words and knowledge enriched through my relationship with God) My hope is that it will help lead to them confirming their relationship with Jesus some day.

4) As a body - we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts. How cool - and points to my need to be in community to experience the fullness of Christ supernaturally. I also love the phrase "as you eagerly wait" - nice contrast to be eager and waiting at the same time. What a sense of expectation - and makes me ask is that the attitude I bring - expectant, eager, watchful, intentional. What's my attitude?

Wow - 9 verses and LOTS there. Good stuff to keep rolling around. Feel free to share your own thoughts and how the passage impacts you this day!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Do you want in?

Tony Myles offers a challenge - and opportunity - to view our summer a little differently. I'm in....are you? (I am a regular lurker at Tony's blog - and I encourage you to visit his thoughts often!)

If you are in - what are some ways we can stay connected and encourage each other along the way? Please feel free to share your ideas and thoughts!

Man, What A Race!

I ran in the Go Northside 5K this past weekend. The picture here is of me and some of my race day fans - my wife, Kimpa and son, Alexey. It was the first time I have run in a "race" since high school. I was a pretty good runner in high school and have some great memories of races and friends from those times. Even so - the 5K I ran in this weekend has moved to the top of the list of my running experiences. Here's a few glimpses of the day.
Track and Weather - perfect! 68 degrees and breezy. The course was pretty flat with the exception of a nice downhill section with the wind during the second mile. It was also well marked and easy to follow. (Not that I had to ever worry about being in front - I had plenty of people to follow!)
People - all ages and stages. Serious to casual. The common factor - was friendliness. This was truly a "neighborhood" race. The course had many people standing in front of their homes cheering and shaking noise makers. There was a drum/dance line that played before and during the race. Good dogs/burgers provided afterwards. The race had a very cool vibe.
The run - I had set a goal of running at a 7 min/mile pace and I finished the 3.1 miles (I really have never converted to metric!) in 20:50.
Friends - I ran with two good friends - Lois and her son, Peter. Peter is 10 years old. He has run lots of races and even a mini/kids triathlon. I asked him before the race for advice. "Pace yourself and breathe." Good advice. He had set the goal of running around 28 minutes and just not stopping. He ran the course in 24:30 or so. Seriously. He won the "most amazing performance" award in my book.
Friends - part 2. My good friend Mitch (Lois' husband) came along to cheer for us all. He and Kimpa kept showing up along the course cheering. It was awesome.
Best moment - after the race I was walking with Alexey and Kimpa. Suddenly, Alexey was hugging me saying "good job, Dad." I can't put into words what that meant to me for a lot of reasons. I am going to have to write a separate post just on that moment. That made the whole day move into the incredible zone for me.
Yep - a good day. I can't wait for next year's race!