Archive for March, 2008

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.38

Sayre, Oklahoma

The longer we are in Sayre, it seems we get busier, but I can’t see it ever being like it was when we were both working high stress and high responsibility jobs.  We have enough to do, the challenges are not as great or as many but there are enough to keep us sharp and provide focus.  We are beginning to think about ways to support ourselves and perhaps even the possibility of buying some property for investment and a place to park when we are here in Western Oklahoma.  Things are good, enjoyable and we feel blessed to have this life.

Item one.  For a lot of years it was my responsibility to write and deliver a message every week.  I would speak at least twice each Sunday morning sometimes 3 times and while I enjoyed it immensely, it was a huge burden for me.  Yesterday, Pastor Andy asked me to speak at Trinity, while he was out of town, and of course, I accepted.  It was really fun and the people were generally responsive and encouraging.  It was the largest group I had spoken to in two and a half years, but it was really not much different than speaking to the smaller groups, I have been lately.  I try my best to do a good job, no matter how many people are involved.  The overwhelming thought when I was finished?  I am glad I don’t have to do that next Sunday!

Item two. The Barna Group has done some new research on the divorce patterns of society including the “born again” group.  For years we have been told that 1 out of 2 “Christian” marriages end in divorce and that the rate for “Christians” is no different than the rest of the culture.  You can check the stats out here, but they do seem to debunk the myth of 1 in 2 “Christian” marriages failing.  For evangelicals the rate is 26% or 1 in 4, while the rest of the culture is at 33%, if I read his report correctly.  If you add the evangelical to the non-evangelical the rate of divorce is equal to the culture as a whole, but it is still less than 1 in 2. While those are still sorry stats, they are better than previously thought and perhaps getting better.

Item three.  My name is JakeLinda has created a blog for our grandkids and the children of our friends, that sees life through the eyes of our little Cairn Terrier, Jake.  She has just gotten started on it, but so far it is fun and seems to be interesting to the boys.  You can find the latest post here.

Item four. Yeah! It is baseball season once again. For a lot of years we would attend 8-12 Seattle Mariner games and baseball has always been my favorite of the big venue sports.  Spending our time here in Western Oklahoma means not being able to see my Mariners on TV and I am going to miss watching them regularly.  But, today is Opening Day and guess what?  The M’s open up against the Texas Rangers and so will be on TV here! I am excited.

Item five. Is anyone else bored to tears with the presidential race?  If I hear “yes we can” one more time…!! One of the best blogs I know of, that critiques things political from a perspective that is neither conservative nor liberal, secular or spiritual, but is candid and fresh in analysis, comes from Biola University and John Mark Reynold’s piece on the lost world of Democrat politics is a good read.  You can find it here.

Item six.  Glow sticks, Hip Hop and egg drops. What was your Resurrection Sunday like?  I am seldom more thankful that I am not a lead pastor any longer than I am on the “holy days” of Easter, Christmas, Mother’s Day and 4th of July.  It was such a struggle to come up with something fresh to say or do each year and the pressure, real pressure, to top the year before, got old.  But check this post out.  If I had to do this I would rather stick an ice pick in my eye than play this game.  Check it out here. (seriously look at it, it’s amazing).  I am totally fine with churches doing whatever they do. I am just so thankful, I don’t have to do it or try to compete with it.

Item seven. My friend Sumi and her family, continue to grieve the loss of their daughter, Jenna.  I so appreciate Sumi’s honesty and the depth of her commitment to trust the Father during this very, very hard time.  Because we have been through a similar loss several years ago, I am drawn to others whose lives have been rocked in this horrible way.  Take a minute to read Sumi’s heart and then pray for her and her family.  Find her words here.

Have a great week.

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March 31, 2008 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

Friday Funny. One liners.

So here it is, the first and maybe only edition, of the Friday Funny

I like one line jokes ’cause I can usually remember one line.  Some of these are even funny

Practice safe eating — always use condiments.

If electricity comes from electrons… does that mean that morality comes from morons?

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Is a book on voyeurism a peeping tome?  (this is my current favorite)

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?  (ok)

A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumor

Without geometry, life is pointless.

When you dream in color, it’s a pigment of your imagination.  (not bad)

Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.

When two egotists meet, it’s an I for an I.

If you know any other one liners that are relatively funny or at least more funny than these, pass them along.

March 28, 2008 at 9:55 am 3 comments

Kingdom.05 Independence.

If there is one thing we must learn if we are to fully enter the Kingdom life it is this: the Kingdom of God is totally incompatible with the kingdom of self.  In the kingdom of self I am preeminent and in the Kingdom of God, Jesus is preeminent. (see post on preeminence here) 

You are completely free to choose the path of independence and be the king of your kingdom.  The Father will never force you into the Kingdom apart from your decision.  Living independent of the one who created you and therefore knows what is best for you, might work for a season, but we were not created for long term independence and sooner or later sowing to our own idea of what is right for us, leads inevitably to destruction.

When Jesus taught about Kingdom life, He told stories and the story of the Prodigal Son is about the kingdom of self and independence versus the Kingdom of God and dependence.  Here is a son who had everything provided by his father and never lacked for anything.  But like all of us, he wanted to be independent and do his own thing.  So the father gave him what he wanted and the boy set out to have a good time, which he had, for a season.  Make no mistake, independence is attractive and enjoyable temporarily and for a short period, this young man had the time of his life, but eventually the money runs out and his drive for independence lands him scrounging for food with the pigs.  Finally the light goes on in his brain and he realizes that independence is killing him.  He says, “I wouldn’t even mind being a slave, I just want to go home.”

The father of course is thrilled about the return of his son and greets him with a huge party.  If we are to understand the Kingdom we must understand that this is more than simply a cool story about a Father’s unconditional love, it is a story that tells us how the Kingdom of God differs from the kingdom of self.  When you choose the independent life it is only a matter of time till you end up hungry.  No one is ever forced to stay with the Father, even though He created us to stay close to Him and promises to meet all our needs, you can leave whenever you choose and you can also return anytime you choose. But there are always consequences to your choice.

What does it mean to sin?  The first language of the Bible used a Hebrew word that means to miss the mark.  It was a term associated with archery where the goal is to hit the bulls-eye.  Anytime the archer came up a little to the left or right, fell short or went to long or simply failing to hit what he was aiming for, those misses were called sin.

Anytime we take the independent path, we are going to come up short of the bulls-eye.  The bulls-eye is …that in all things He might have the preeminence.  The purpose for which you were created is to be part of the all things that give our King the preeminence only He deserves. Independence gives the kingdom of self preeminence and independence is living out of sync with how we were created, so it always misses the mark and so it is incompatible with Kingdom life. 

True Kingdom living is living in dependence on our King.  There are many aberrations of true Kingdom living and every one is rooted in self and independence. 

March 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm 1 comment

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.37 (Easter Edition)

Resurrection Sunday

One last post from South Jordan, Utah.  We leave this afternoon to start the 1000 mile plus drive back to Oklahoma.  It has been great fun with Traci, Brandon and the 3 boys.  We will worship together in a few hours, eat an Easter dinner and soon after hit the road.  Thought I would get the 37th edition of the Meanderings out early.

Item one.  Is it just me or did Easter Sunday sneak up on you too.  Perhaps you know why Easter is the one holiday that moves around on the calendar, but if you don’t here is the formula that decides it: Easter is always the first Sunday following the first full moon that is immediately after the Spring equinox.  The first day of Spring was Friday and the full moon was just yesterday, so Easter is today.  Doesn’t often happen so close together but when it does, Easter Sunday sneaks up on you.

Item two.  Traci and Brandon took us to a concert in downtown Salt Lake last night that featured a friend of theirs who often leads worship at their church.  We have been to a small concert of his before and heard him leading worship and enjoyed it a lot so last night was a real treat.  Josh Rosenthal was the artist and he played a mix of songs mostly from his new album Renaissance.   Starting with a solo acoustic rendition of the Beatles Blackbird (don’t think American Idol), a terrific band joined him in what proved to be a really great evening in a beautiful little theater.  I love great guitar and Josh is exceptional but the electric guitar behind him, Ben Robie was also very, very good.  There are a few cuts on Josh’s MySpace page, so give a listen, I think you will like it.

Item three. Our newest grandson, Eyob is doing really well.  He is feeling so much better after recovering from an intestinal bug, brought with him from his native Ethiopia, walking, learning to talk and generally fitting in well.  He doesn’t want to get to far from his mom or dad but he has come so far.  Sometimes Mom can’t see the forest for the trees and gets discouraged with the progress, but we can sure see it.  Sloan and Sean are great and we had a lot of fun with them.  We didn’t do a whole lot but just playing with them is enough.  Sloan lived with us for several months when he was first learning to walk and talk so I feel really close to him and nothing changes that attachment but Sean is such a cutie, he steals your heart too.  Next we head to Washington to see Canyon Paul and his parents!  Yeah!

Item four. Spending Resurrection week in the pseudo holy land of Utah makes you appreciate just how precious the truth of who Jesus Christ was and is.  The heresy of a works salvation is so ripe here you can feel it and the entrapment of millions of people in a religion that looks so attractive on the surface but is so flawed inside, is very sad.  Today I am thankful for a Savior who paid it all, one time, for all time and who beat death to give me the clothes of righteousness that cover me 24/7. 

Hope your day is great and that your joy is full.

March 23, 2008 at 8:11 am 2 comments

Survey.

Good Friday. South Jordan, Utah

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
             And pour contempt on all my pride.

             Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God,
             All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down,
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
              Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
               Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Oh, the wonderful cross, Oh, the wonderful cross…

March 21, 2008 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

Kingdom.04 Preeminence

To understand the Kingdom, it is imperative to understand its King.  The Father did not create a Kingdom and then look for someone to rule over it.  The Kingdom was created for the soul purpose of accommodating the glory and the majesty of Jesus.

When you read the first verses of John’s record of the life of this King you discover that King Jesus was with God from the beginning and in fact was God and eventually this One became flesh and moved in with “us”.  It is clear in these first verses of John 1 that before the creation of the heavens and the earth, our King was the source from which all things were created and the center around which everything was supposed to revolve.

For by Him were all things created, that are in the heaven, and that are on the earth…all things were created by Him and for Him.  Colossians 1:16 The Apostle Paul goes on to tell us the purpose of the Kingdom when he writes: …all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.  And He is the Head of the Body, the church:  Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.

This is the reason for everything.  It is the reason we are alive today.  It is the reason why things happen as they do.  It answers all the questions of our existence, the good, the bad, the wonderful and the hard.  All things are and happen in order that the King of all Creation would have preeminence in all things.

Everything going on in the created world and in our personal world is that in all things King Jesus would have preeminence.  Our salvation, redemption, deliverance of those in bondage, healing of the sick, raising the dead, worship, teaching prayer, work, play, these are not just activities we do to occupy our time until this world ends, they are some of the multitude of ways that the King gains the preeminence in all things.

Chip Brogden defines preeminence this way: …having the first, highest, chief and best place in a position of ascendancy over everything else.  It is ultimacy, a glory, an honor, a distinction, a prestige, an illustriousness, a renown, a nobility and a nobility that surpasses all others.  The aim of the Father and the aim of all things is for Jesus to have that kind of position in all things! (The Irresistible Kingdom pg.34) (The book can be purchased here.)

While there is still much to be done in order for our King to fully rule over His Kingdom, everything is moving in that direction.  Once the Eternal Father is determined to do something, it will be done.  In His infinite wisdom and deep love for His creation it appears He is delaying the total fulfillment of His Will.  The enemy can attempt to thwart it, we can rebel against it and though it may appear to be hindered or prevented temporarily, God has already made it so–in everything King Jesus will be preeminent.

Understanding the preeminence of our King brings everything into an appropriate perspective.  He must increase and we must decrease.  Living as a Kingdom person, with Kingdom values and Kingdom perspectives brings decrease to our importance and increase to our King’s preeminence, in all things. 

Over the years I have fought this principle of increase and decrease.  But as I am learning what it means to live as if it was not about me but about Him, everything about my life changes.  When the focus is on the King and living as a Kingdom person I realize and embrace the reality of my own destiny and purpose–that in all things He might have the preeminence!

The Kingdom is the most important reality in the universe but standing over all, in all and through all is the reality of the preeminent King.  We cannot live as we were created to live until we understand it is not about us but about Him.

March 19, 2008 at 8:43 am Leave a comment

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.36 (Tuesday Edition)

South Jordan, Utah

Here in Utah it is 10:45 Mountain Standard Time so to get the Meanderings out on Monday means I have to hurry.  If I was still in Sayre it would mean less than 15 minutes.  Hopefully I will have it posted by Tuesday.

Item one. Oklahoma/Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas/Colorado/Wyoming/Utah.  Those are the states and the order we travelled through them on the way to Utah to spend a week with the kids, during spring break and Easter week.  We left early Sunday morning drove the 30+ miles in Oklahoma, entered the Texas panhandle, drove to the northernmost city in Texas (Perryton), spoke at a new church there, then drove 7 miles north back into the Oklahoma panhandle for about 50 miles and then on into Kansas.  From there we continued north till we intersected I-70 where we headed west to Colorado.  About Lymon we encountered snow and fog and by the time we got into Denver it was snowing hard.  We stayed in Longmont where it snowed most of the night and then Monday morning we drove north on I-25 another 50 miles or so to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we picked up I-80 and headed off across much of southern Wyoming and into Utah.  In the space of about 24 hours we were in 6 different states, one twice.  We made the nearly 1200 miles in about 2o hours of driving time with little incident. 

Item two. $3.99.9  That is the price I paid for diesel in Colorado Sunday night.  The truck was nearly empty so the bill was over $150.00 to fill it up!  Not too long ago $3.49.9 was my high “diesel” point.  When I filled up in Rawlins, Wyoming 400 miles later, the price was $3.78.9 and I felt good about it!  The kind people in Perryton gave us a nice “love offering” for sharing the Word, which I was happy to do and expected to do for nothing, so the diesel for most of this trip is paid for.  We are blessed people.

Item three.  It happened again.  When the difficulties of the past couple of years were in their most intense period, Linda had a vision of our whole family standing in the worship center of the CLB (church left behind) singing the wonderful Chris Tomlin song “How Great is our God” with the people we served for nearly 17 years.  She believed that God had given her that Word of restoration and healing and anticipated that one day, she thought sooner rather then later, we would stand hand in hand with those folks and do as Tomlin invites us to do in his lyrics: How great is our God, sing with me (us), how great is our God, and all will see, how great, how great is our God.  In the last year or so we have been in 6-8 different churches and the first time we have been in each of those churches, they have sung during worship, that very song Linda was sure we would be singing, but haven’t yet been invited to, with the church in Washington. …and it happened again Sunday.  We have never been to this brand new church in Perryton, Texas before but sure enough, during the worship time we sang that song again.

When Linda shared her vision with a friend in Oklahoma and how this vision plays out in every church we go into, from Washington to Oklahoma, except the one she believed it was for, the friend told her “sometimes you just have to change your dreams”.  For the most part we have adjusted to the reality that reconciliation is unlikely with the CLB, let alone restoration, but somehow we have not been able to let go of that dream.  We still believe that it would really be a good thing  for all to see, how great, how great is our God.

Item four. One of the things I hear the Father say to me again and again is that we are to invest what ever time we have, back into the next generation, and so that is what we have been doing every chance we get.  Last week was a special week that way.  Cody and Charlie, two of our Convergence students, good friends and fellow trekkers to Western Oklahoma, asked us if we would meet with them for a few hours each week beyond the regular class times.  They want to learn more of the Word and redeem the time that we will all be together.  So we met for at least 4 hours last week and it was such “good times”.  Then we had another class Thursday night, spent some time with a pastor and his wife in Perryton, Texas and those times along with the many other spontaneous opportunities each day, really confirmed what we are hearing the Father call us to.  We have met such wonderful, life giving people on this journey, and Cody and Charlie, along with their families are such a huge blessing to us.

Item five. My friend Leslee wanted me to do a Friday Funny on the Juniper Tree, but I just couldn’t make it work, so here is a little Monday Mirth.  The definition of middle age?  When action creaks louder than words.  There is a reason, Leslee, why a whole day for humor didn’t really work so well for me.  (Got a better one?  Send it to me.  This is not Readers Digest, there is no money for it)

Enjoy Easter week. Think about Jesus!

March 18, 2008 at 10:45 am 2 comments

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