Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tate has a car


It's the week of birthdays for two of our grandkids. Our grandson Tate turned ONE this past Thursday! We sent him this car.

He's come a long way in one year, from lying around like a helpless baby to crawling to walking...and now driving!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tyler

My granddaughter Tyler turns SIX YEARS OLD in four days! Wow, that's unbelievable to me. I'll have the pleasure of visiting Tyler (and her family, of course) for a few days next week and we'll celebrate her birthday while I'm there. Our daughter Rebecca asked Tyler what special place she would like the family to go to for dinner that night. Her reply: CiCi's Pizza!

Today, Tyler called me. We had the longest talk on the phone we've ever had. I believe we talked for an HOUR! She is so interesting and has so much to say. When she finally ran out of things to say, she said, "Dad-Dad [that's me], you can get off the phone now."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Busyness

If you're one of the people who check out my blog from time to time, you've noticed how much less I'm posting these days. Since taking over the "interim" role at my church, life has gotten way more unpredictable and busy. It's made me appreciate Jesus more, as I read about his rather leisurely pace in spite of the fact that he had such a limited amount of time to do his earthly work.

When I'm pressed for time, I pick up the pace. I skip quiet time and race here and there, desperately trying to squeeze all my duties into the day. Not so, Jesus. Like in Luke 6:12 it says, "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."

One of my favorite books is The Contemplative Pastor, by Eugene Peterson. It's very convicting. The title itself seems to raise the bar to an impossibly high level. But I do aspire to be a contemplative pastor. Peterson, a pastor himself, poses a very good question: "How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?" He goes on to say bluntly,

The word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.

So if you think of me, pray that I will increasingly become an un-busy pastor. If Jesus needed time to think, pray, muse, rest, and connect with God and other human beings, how much more do I!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bible reading

I should have posted this a few days ago to give you more time to respond, but...I'll go ahead and ask. I'm preaching Sunday on the importance of Bible reading. It would help me if a few of you would answer this question:

What obstacles do you encounter when it comes to having a regular, meaningful, and satisfying Bible reading discipline?

I can imagine some of the obstacles. "Kids" would rank way up pretty high on some lists, I'm sure. But what else?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Advertising horror

Every year about this time around Orlando the big theme parks put up billboards promoting their Halloween events. Busch Gardens in Tampa offers "Howl-O-Scream." Universal Studios has "Halloween Horror Nights." To their credit, Disney World promotes what they call "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party."

It's those first two events that I'm talking about. The billboards are over the top this year. If I were a kid looking at those pictures, I'd freak out. I'd have nightmares. The pictures are more graphic than ever before. The "Halloween Horror Nights" billboard features Freddy Krueger, Jason, and Leatherface, the "stars" from movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The show is called "Carnival of Carnage." The Busch Gardens billboard is equally frightening. I bet every time you young parents drive past those signs you have to lunge for your kids to cover their eyes.

It's irresponsible to put up billboards like that.

At the same time, it's a commentary on our culture's fascination with death. There are an amazing number of horror movies made every year in the U.S. Each one seems to get more graphic and disturbing than the one before. Many (like Saw) are unnervingly violent. What does this say about us?

The Scriptures teach that human beings fear death more than just about anything (Hebrews 2:15). So perhaps making slasher movies and creating horrible Halloween experiences are ways we try to "tame" death - confining it to the screen or to a theme park - so that we can walk out of the theater or the theme park unscathed and feel like we've beaten death after all.

But death can't be tamed. It can be beaten, but only through faith in Jesus who conquered death when he rose from the grave.

When Jesus stood by the tomb of his friend Lazarus he wept (John 11:35). He was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (John 11:33). Death made Jesus furious. Death is hell's revolt against God, a spit in the eye of the Creator who breathed life into man. Death is a sign of the curse. It's no wonder that death terrifies human beings, because it ushers them into eternity -- an eternity in which many people find no comfort or reason for hope.

So in a strange way, I think people are trying to find hope. If they can only show that death may look horrible but it's really impotent, then they can be comforted about the future. What they need is real hope, which is found only in a relationship with Jesus.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Vision Awareness Sunday

Today was Vision Awareness Sunday at our church. It's one of the "big deals" that we have every year about this time. Even though it exhausts me, I love it.

Today's production was a parody of Lord of the Rings mixed with a little Wizard of Oz and Pirates of the Caribbean. Here are just some of the things I liked about this year's Vision Awareness blow-out:
  • Clay sounded just like Gollum and was a lot funnier. He's quite the talent.
  • Matt....where did THAT accent come from? It was hilarious!
  • Brent V. deserves a studio contract. He's a great actor.
  • Karin also! Great stage presence.
  • Erik has a great pirate "AARRGGHH!!"
  • Fiona our narrator. She could say anything and sound brilliant. Which is one of her favorite words.
  • Loved the volcano!
  • Brent L. is one of the funniest guys I've ever met. He needs to make a movie.
  • Jonathan and the band were ON...especially for "Waiting for the World to Change."
  • Jason R. - the new UPC guitar god.
  • We have a great sound/media crew...they make everybody look good.
  • The Congregational Life Team worked so hard during the summer to get everything ready for the big day. What a great pleasure to work with them.
Today's production will be hard to top next year!

I'm glad to be part of a church where we can do things like this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Security

My friend Ken sent me this quotation today. It's from Eugene Peterson's book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:

"All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us."