Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pura Vida...

The evening air felt crisp as the click clack of Daisy's paws sounded against the road's surface. The stars were shining their little hearts out as if to say, "Pick me, pick me, " like children raising their hands to be called on by their beloved teacher. Daisy's eager tug on the leash wakes me from my day-dream. (Is it still day-dreaming even if its 11 PM?) Our walk continues along the slumbering street lined with homes whose eyes are filled with the darkness of sleep.

Thoughts from the day swirl around my mind. Its been a good day. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but right now, as the world sleeps I feel alive. Not just "taking breaths and heart pumping blood alive", what the Greeks call "bios". No, its bigger than than. Another Greek word "zoe" is more appropriate. Life that is more than just the biological functions; life connected with the sustenance of the Divine Creator.

So, maybe its the combination of creation's beauty and the feeling of a day well lived - not wasted - all converging at this moment. Maybe its some chemical reaction to the food I have consumed this day. Maybe its a touch of God, an affirmation of life. Either way, at this moment, walking the neighbor's dog surrounded by stars and dark houses, and silence I feel alive.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Good news from one of my good friends tonight - he and his girlfriend are now engaged! Jill and I are so happy for them. We have watched this relationship blossom from the very beginning. It is exciting to continue with them as they enter this next leg of their journey together! God's blessings to you my friends! May your life together be filled with rich experiences and much joy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Various and Asundry Thoughts...

1. I posted earlier (here) about my Mac needing to go to the "Mac-infirmary." I was attempting to track it while it was gone, and I could never get any information where it was. Needless to say, I was a little worried. Well, Thursday afternoon the delivery guy drops off my Mac fixed and ready to go - I could have kissed him! That was great! (I sent it out on Tuesday.)

2. The fall is beautiful up here - the crisp cold air, the blazing yellow and orange leaves, the smell of smoke in the air...beautiful.

3. I think that the only difference between adults and children is a driver's license, the right to vote and buy alcohol legally. More on this later.

Well, that's all for now on this Tuesday afternoon. I need to prepare my sermon and Bible study. Enjoy your day.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Night...

Could it get any better? My wife and I are sitting around the dining room table blogging, feasting on hot cinnamon roles and sipping tea. Geeks? Probably, but at this moment this geek is in heaven.

Apples, Gollum and Me...

You never know when your dark side is going to rear its ugly head. This past weekend we continued the ritual of going to Carter's mountain orchard and picking apples. The experience was complete with apple donuts and a beautiful day. As we were picking apples a kind soul gave our group a pole-picker. This instrument is a long pvc pipe with a jury-rigged wire contraption to grab the apples. It is very helpful to get those perfect apples way up in the tree, beyond human grasp.

We had lots of fun using this new contraption, testing our dexterity, seeing who could get the most apples in one attempt, etc. I began to grow quite an attachment to the pole, after all I was the one who received it from the benevolent giver.

After a while, a teenage boy approached me and asked to borrow the pole to get just one apple. I most graciously agreed. The pole was a great tool. Who couldn't resist wanting to use its reaching powers to harvest ripe apples. It was even possible that apple picked by the pole tasted better. So I relinquished my precious pole for this one time use. One apple wouldn't hurt.

Yet once I let this marvelous tool out of my hand anxiety began to build inside. What if he wouldn't give the pole back? What if he wanted to -gasp- pick a second apple? I already began wondering how I could use the apples as a weapon to immobilize him so I could liberate my precious pole from his pubescent clutches.

But, true to his word, the young man picked his one apple (under my hawk-like gaze...I mean careful supervision. In the wrong hands the pole could be dangerous. We don't want anyone losing an eye, now do we?) He then returned the pole to its rightful steward (me). Now that I was reunited with my pole, I began to realize what a precious commodity this was. I had to beware of people eying this precious pole. I had to protect it at all costs.

Even more, I shouldn't pick any more apples with it lest others would see its amazing apple-picking powers and they would want to use it. No, I would just hold onto it. Plus, I may need to use it as a weapon to fend off the family to our left with their toddlers. Surely the phrase “terrible twos” is descriptive of something, right? And I see those toddlers coveting my apple-picker.

Even as I plot my defense against the toddlers, the teenage boy approaches again. Can you believe it? He has the audacity to ask if he can use the pole again. What's worse, he asks publicly in front of my friends. Who does this kid think he is to want to borrow this pole again? But at the risk of appearing selfish, I go against my better judgment and hand over my pole. How dare he make me have to choose in front of my friends.

He stood there clumsily groping the trees for their precious bounty. He was not worthy of this instrument. Yet it was in his possession and we all know that possession is 9/10 of the law. Now my friends began to leave the “pink ladies” section and move over to the Fuji's. Torn between trying to get the pole back or go with my friends, I realize this young man, my nemesis, is smarter than I gave him credit for. His “strategery” is no match for me. Dejected, I droop my shoulders and turn to follow my friends, like a dog with its tail between its legs.

I mentioned to one of my friends how hard it was to give up the beautiful, precious, jury-rigged pole. My friend looked at me and laughed at me (not with me) saying, "But that pole wasn't yours, somebody gave it to you!" Conviction!

Could my pettiness sink any lower? How often do I cling to something that is not mine, trying to claim it and make it mine? How often do I allow myself to become Gollum over something that is so insignificant and meaningless? And how ironic that my dark side, my selfishness, surfaces in a garden (orchard) surrounded by apples.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Good news and bad news...

The bad news first:
I had to ship my mac back for repair. The guy on the phone said it could be two weeks. D'oh! Then when I called the shipping company to track its progress, they had no record of it. Aahhrg!!! They promised to call me today to let me know where it is.

The good news:
I have a couple of things that I have written with pen and ink that I am shaping and molding to post soon. This is kind of a fun process. I look forward to getting then posted. Luckily my wife doesn't use her computer during the day (she's kind of busy teaching!) so I have comandeered it while she's at work!

Monday, October 09, 2006


At the end of last week a group of 5 colleagues and I attended the Catalyst conference outside of Atlanta. It was a great trip for at least three reasons:
1. Connecting with colleagues
2. Amazing Worship
3. Great Teaching

It is always a blessing to be able to go to such an event and experience a time of renewal. Andy Stanley's talk was great! He kicked of the conference talking about leadership. (Which is always a good idea for a leadership conference!) His comments were directed not just to pastors, but leaders of all kinds.

Using a text from Daniel 4 & 5, he suggested that leadership is:
1) a gift from God;
2) it is temporary; and
3) there is accountability to God in leadership.

Because of these three things, we as leaders should be:
1)humble (because our leadership is not from ourselves; its from God);
2)fearless/bold for the Gospel (God placed us where we are and therefore we must seek to please him, not men); and
3)diligent (we are accountable for the work we do as leaders, therefore we should strive to do our best for God).

As my friend Mike said, that one talk was worth the price of the conference!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Thirst Quenching Moment

Have you ever had one of those moments as you were reading or listening to a speaker and something was said that touched you? I don't mean in a an emotional way. I mean in a way that something inside you absorbed the statement life a parched plant absorbs water. A moment in which you can't help but utter an audible "ahhh", signaling a thirst quenched, a filling of some sort.

I do get those moments. Typically they happen when I have set aside time to read or listen to someone online. This morning one such moment filled me as I was reading. In the midst of this book, I came across a quote from CS Lewis (an author whose writings seem to inspire many such moments.) The quote was this: Love by definition seeks to enjoy its object.

Three words struck me in this statement. First, enjoy. In Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms he provides a fantastic chapter on praise where he links praise with the enjoyment of the object being praised. For instance if I really enjoy a particular book/song/movie, I will praise it to you (what a beautiful song/book/movie/etc.) and possibly invite you to enjoy it with me ( you have got to see this!). He then goes on to apply that to the way we praise God. So, enjoyment and praise are linked.

Second, love. Love is a word that seems to be used in so many different ways. I say I love my wife, but I also say that I love The Simpsons. Both statements are true, but the love referred to in each statement is extremely different. Yet both statements refer to things which I enjoy. I enjoy the company of my wife: her laughter and playful silliness, her resilience and discipline, her wisdom and patience...the list could go on. Yet I also, enjoy The Simpsons - the multi-layered humor, the poking fun at various instituions, the pop-culture references. While my love for my wife is much greater than for the Simpsons, I thouroughly enjoy both.

Finally, object. The oft quoted John 3:16 starts out - "For God so loved the world..." God loves the world. If we apply Lewis' description of love here - God enjoys his creation. I am sure there are many things about fallen creation that God does not enjoy, yet the thought that God might enjoy you and me despite our bent towards sin is a pretty powerful idea.

Another powerful idea (one that may have been obvious to you at the start - I'm a little slow soemtimes) is that my praise of God is not some disconnected and cold litany of utterings that I say because I am trying to appease a cold and distant God. Rather my praise comes because we are wired to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; we are wired to be in relationship with God. And when we seek that, no matter how imperfectly, we connect to that for which we were created. Therefore in relationship with God, I praise him because of the things in him that I enjoy, things we were meant to enjoy - Creation, love, justice, mercy, presence...the list could go on.

All of this from one thirst-quenching phrase from C.S. Lewis.

I would like to end with a quote from Psalms as a blessings and encouragement - "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will grant you the desires of your heart." For if we are delighting in God, then our desires are him - and they have been granted.

What are your thirst-quenching moments? Any thoughts in response to this one?