•April 2, 2009 • 1 Comment

isaac1I was reading this morning in Genesis 22. That’s one of the passages that gives non-believers the willies because they don’t understand how a loving (and sane) God would ask someone to sacrifice their only child as an offering. (By the way … if you’re reading this and the nature of that story sounds shocking, that’s the point … read on for the end of the story.)

So Abraham, after waiting years and years and years, is finally blessed with a son. Then, the same God who gave this blessing asks him to offer that son as a sacrifice. Without going into the long details of what must have raced through Abraham’s mind, I’ll move to the end of the story. He obeys to the point of being ready to slay his own son in obedience, and God stops him to provide a sacrifice of his own.

And this is what God says. “Now I know how fearlessly you fear me.”

Whew … it was just a test. (Strange test, sure. But God was also trying to get our attention as readers so we see a mental picture of what lengths He has gone to by the sacrifice of Jesus, His only Son, on the cross.)

So here is the question for us. Are there things in life that we’re chasing after with all of our energy and passion, but they just seem so elusive? Money, success, children, a healthy marriage, a new career …. Could it be that if we are willing to give up the quest as a “sacrifice” in order to devote more time and attention to God, that he would then give these things back to us and then some?

Seems to me it’s a question of priorities. How fearlessly do I fear God?


interesting alliances.

•March 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I noticed a couple of things over the weekend in “seemingly unrelated” stories, but I’m wondering what the future implications are.

First, there was the story about the Russian Bombers being hosted by Venezuela and Cuba. Okaaayy … Knowing both of those country’s feelings towards America and Russia’s seeming return to communistic “old-school” tactics, this story is quite intriguing.

Then today  I read an unrelated story about a new alliance between China and Iran over a liquid natural gas deal. Funny, I thought we were encouraging the world’s powers to enforce an embargo on deals with Iran because of nuclear concerns.

The only connection missing from the news over the weekend was that between Venezuela and Iran. They certainly have been close buddies recently, especially when it came to oil prices and an attempt to de-couple from the US Dollar during the height of the price increase.

So … if I’m connecting the dots, we have these 5 countries in all corners of the globe becoming chums in a very public way: Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, and China. Hmm…

eleven years in a box.

•February 6, 2009 • 6 Comments

BoxLife throws us all a curve from time to time. Sometimes we see it coming with just enough time to duck, but other times it beans us right in the side of the noggin. At that moment, we lie there beside home plate looking at the sky, and the typical parade of emotions passes by— shock, fear, grief, anger, resolve, and evenutally peace.

I’ve walked the path of the unexpected a few times. And I’m finding that each retrace of these steps makes the walk feel familiar enough to be strangely comfortable. Kind of like putting on a pair of well-worn slippers after a long day.

How do you react to life’s curve balls? What do you do when eleven years of memories, of people, of laughter, of creativity, of tears, of ministry come to a close and you walk out with just a box? What do you do when you lay your keys down on the desk for the final time and in that micro-second your mind is flooded with thousands of sentimental snapshots?

From experience, I can tell you that the well worn path to peace is Thankfulness.

Want proof? Listen to the words of Job. “The Lord gave me what I had…and the Lord has taken it away…Praise the name of the Lord…” – Job 1:20

So… thank you God for the ministry you did through me for this time. Thank you dear friends for your graciousness. A pair of well-worn slippers is calling my name.

being followed.

•January 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Got an email from Twitter the other day that someone I follow was now following me. Not an out of the ordinary occurrence, of course, but yet this one was. Let me explain.

(WARNING: Tech Content…stick with me.)

In my mind, there are two categories of people who use Twitter. First, their are the social users–those who simply want to post about every possible thing that happens throughout their day and to reply to everyone elses' social tweets. Nothing wrong with that at all, and kind of fun. Then there are the people who are more interested in developing a useful network to leverage their influence.

Of that second group, there are two more kinds of users. One follows as many people as possible in order to increase their own follower numbers. You most likely will see their follow to follower ratio around 1:1 or even as much as 2:1. The other user in this category, however, is more selective with whom they follow. More people want to see what they are posting about than vice versa. Their ratios look more like 1:3 or 1:5. (Mr. Tweet would call them "influencers").

Ok…back to my story.

I'm most interested personally in being a leader, so I follow people selectively on Twitter. Then out of the blue I got an email saying that I was now being followed by someone with a  ratio of around 1/35. Only, the number of followers they had were somewhere in the 5000's.

Hmmm. Why are they following me? Kind of made me think more seriously about what I post, and how I present myself. A bit intimidating, really.

Wouldn't you react similarly?

Then slowly came this revelation…"God follows me with more interest than anyone on Twitter ever would…how does that affect my life?" Ooh, now there's an interesting thought.

Growing up, this concept would have scared the daylights out of me. My view of God was of a thunderous, angry Creator who certainly must be dissapointed in how I was turning out. I just knew He was waiting to strike me down at any moment for failing again.

But now, I know differently.

God is following me…wanting to watch me grow in faith, in love, in joy, in peace. He is excited over the relationship I have with Him; truly interested in knowing what I'm thinking, seeing what I'm creating, feeling how I love. Because when I do those things, I reflect who He is. I am His child; He is my loving father.

But now comes the best reality….God follows everyone.

Whether they follow Him or not.

permission granted.

•January 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

Well…this email from technical support of a well-known company sure fulfills many computer users' fantasies. (This is no joke…I received this today about a product I got for Christmas that is not working properly).

This email has been sent to you to help facilitate testing and/or replacement of merchandise.

We assure you that this is our preferred method for handling your return as it will help save you money (shipping costs) and the hassle of having to send the product back to us. It also has the added benefit of helping us to ensure that your unit is truly non-functional.

First, destroy your defective product. Yes, really destroy it. A hammer works well for destroying most products however feel free to use whatever tool you are most comfortable with. This can be a great opportunity for you to express yourself creatively and take out some frustrations at the same time. Also, you may want to use eye protection and protect yourself from any flying debris that may result from this process.

Second, document the destruction. We recommend taking a digital picture of the destroyed unit while it is laying on a printed copy of this email so that the RMA number and other information are visible. Also, take a digital picture (or scan a copy) of your receipt.

Third, send us the pictures. Just reply to this email and attach the digital pictures of the destroyed product on the printed email and the receipt along with any other pictures that we might enjoy, such as you holding the destroyed product or the town where you live. Of course including the extra pictures is optional but feel free to include them if you want to.

Once we receive the email and verify the photos we will send a replacement to the address that you have provided us below. In order to ensure that we receive your email, please limit the size of the email to around 3MB. If we have not received a response from you within 30 days from the when this email was sent, your request for a replacement will automatically be removed from our system. So please respond as soon as possible.

Processing may take up to 2 weeks once the photos are received.

Thank you,

Technical Support

Indeed. Now, where's my hammer?

lunch break.

•January 8, 2009 • 1 Comment

I read an interesting article that was in Mission Maker magazine that had tons of great charts, graphs, and statistics to show the need of evangelism and compassion ministry world-wide. One of the most thought provoking parts of the write-up had to do with what happens around the world in a typical 60-minute period– the time you spend every day on your lunch break. Here's the run down:

– 2,738 people died from starvation

– 342 people died from malaria

– 76 mothers died from childbirth issues

– 9,582 babies died from induced abortion

– 8,898 infants and children were abandoned

– 20 Christians were martyred

– $2,088,751,996 in personal income was earned by church members

Hmmm. Quite a harsh picture. When you look at it this way, Bill Hybel's quote that "the church is the hope of the world" certainly looks accurate.

What are your thoughts?

name game.

•December 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Indian tribes are known for their unique way of naming. They gave great attention and purpose to the meaning behind names that they chose for their children. In the 1990 movie “Dances with Wolves” Kevin Costner’s character, John Dunbar, comes in close contact with a Sioux Indian tribe and becomes sympathetic to their ways. He meets a white woman who has been raised as an Indian after her parents were slaughtered by the Indians. Her name, he finds out, is “Stands with a Fist”, truly reflecting her character. “Dances with Wolves” is the English translation of what the Indians called him because he was befriending a small pack of wolves when they first saw him.

The Hebrew culture is another that gave great importance to the practice of naming. All throughout scripture there are examples of mothers and fathers naming their children according to the circumstances of their birth or by what they aspired for their children.  Babies named after where they were found like Moses (“drawn out of the water”); sons named for their appearance like Esau (“hairy”).

God is the original name chooser. He instructed prophets to name their children according to His message–Lo-ammi (“Not my people”), John (“The Lord is Gracious), and Jesus (Savior) are a few examples.

But there were other times that God changed people’s names. This always happened at some pivotal point of their life, a moment when they had come into close contact with Him. Some of these name changes represents a significant change in the character or position of the person, and other times reflects the moment of contact with God. Here are some examples:

– Abram (“father”) becomes Abraham (“father of many”) and Sarai (“contentious”) becomes Sarah (“princess”) once God announces his plan for them to conceive and bear a son in their old age.
– Jacob (“supplanter”) becomes Israel (“God Contended”) as Jacob wrestles with God in a dream.
– Simon (“He has heard”) becomes Peter (“stone”) as he makes a strong statement of faith regarding Jesus.
– Saul (“prayed for”) becomes Paul (“small”) after his dramatic conversion and life-change.

So here’s a question to us to consider: If God were to give you a new name, what do you think it would be? Would it reflect the nature of your contact with Him, or would it represent your character or perhaps your position?