Hello 2015

I’m determined to blog more this year than I did last year, which shouldn’t be a challenge!  My silence is best clarified through the words of a good friend “Once we give something up, it’s much more comfortable to ignore it.”

There has been much to ignore, but there is also much to shed light on, see clearly and to say. For now all that I’ll say is… you should take two posts and read this from Randy’s blog.

“There are a lot of Jesus’ words that make me scratch my head, but there’s phrase that has made sense to me since I was a kid.

When He said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…”, that made sense.  I grew up watching wheat fall to the earth and die….and seeing harvests reaped because of it.” Click here to read the rest…..

Tiny Green Thread

I find myself on Sunday evenings with a few teenager girls in my living room talking. We discuss things like how to make time to be with the Lord every day, boys, honoring parents/authority & I am realizing that though the life I lived at 16 is light years different than the life that they live,  some of the battles they face are the exact same ones I fight day to day. Relevance, Spirituality, Humility, Gratefulness, Peace, Honor & Dreams. We wage the same wars. This last week we read together out of John 3 about the pain that John the Baptist fought to express to his disciples as Jesus came to John’s side of the river, taking His rightful place…..right out of the hands of His friend.

“He must increase, and I must decrease”. And anyone who’s experienced the reality of those words knows how painful & how confusing they are. When that is the only thing that you can say as a dream dies, as something you planned for goes terribly different, when all you can do is open your hands & let Him take what you so want to fight to keep. When looking up from the broken pieces of misunderstanding & having no clue what comes next….. you can choose to let His voice be your joy. 

The Friend of the Bridegroom rejoices when he hears His voice, knowing that his task is now complete. We can rejoice in His voice when we don’t know where He leads. We can rejoice in His voice when He steps in & takes all we’ve worked for. We can rejoice …….. or we can not. It’s basically that simple. We can choose to trust God when God looks the most untrustworthy, or we can not. As I spoke I watched sadness, sobriety & even fear play upon the faces of these girls who I love & I know their confusion & I know their fear. I know their hope that God would never allow their plans to go any other route than the one they are carefully dreaming. But I know my story. It’s a mess, a chaotic mess, but I believe that God still makes beauty from ashes. If there is anything I have to offer young people it is the lessons I’m slowly learning as I walk through this crazy, beautiful, ashy mess about how to put my trust in Jesus, how to believe He is good in the taking, in the breaking of dreams, in the “killing of churches” as Randy Bohlender put it (Seriously, do yourself a favor and read his book ‘Jesus killed my Church‘).

So I shared with them this story:

Last week was what looks to be, the last week of hot weather that Kansas City will be seeing in 2013. I’ve been trying to dress the girls in their cutest summer clothes knowing that the warmth was running out & that they won’t fit in these close when it’s warm again. Friday I put them in these outrageously girly white dresses, complete with layers of ruffled, sequined green detail with on giant green, sparkly flower on the shoulder. As I pulled the outfits from the closet I considered that I may spend the entire day trying to keep the sequins out of their mouths, but it’s the most impractical baby clothes that are too cute to resist.

Hours later after a day of fusses, fits, multiple time outs & a refused nap I tiredly paced the living room with Baby 2 in my aching arms. She hits a point of frustration that only quiets if you hold her & responds with LOUD outrage when put down, which at that point, I did. I too was tired, frustrated & cranky. Out of desperation I collapsed on the couch, setting her at my feet to which she responded with heartfelt wailing. 

I buried my face in my hands, prepping for some minutes of loud protesting which began & instantly stopped. I quickly looked up to make sure she wasn’t hurt. She sat peering intently at the layers of ruffle & sequin piled around her. For some time she sat still,  until slowly with one finger she reached down towards the bottom of her dress. Somewhere among the multiple layers of cloth, on one single hemline, almost completely hidden by a bajillion sparkles there was one tiny piece of thread poking off the dress.

By tiny I mean less than a quarter of an inch. It was the exact same color as the rest green on the dress. It was IMPOSSIBLE for the baby to have seen it, but she did. With wonder she lightly touched it over & over with the tip of one finger. I released my pent up emotions in a long sigh and said “Baby, you pay such attention to detail.”

And in my spirit I heard the Lord say “I pay attention to the details.”

It’s funny how quickly you can find yourself in tears. Ok maybe not you, and maybe it’s not even funny because everyone knows I’m a deeply emotional little creature, but it was just like that. From frustrated & hard to Instantly tender heart, instantly teary eyes, instant affirmation that I am SEEN & KNOWN & so cared for. For the next few days I heard it like a gentle echo inside ” I pay attention to the details”, as the moments of my day slipped by. Moments that I didn’t think mattered, choices that I didn’t think matter, responses that I didn’t think mattered just suddenly did. You’re much more aware when you know that you are seen. 

The problems aren’t solved, the questions aren’t necessarily answered but there is real comfort in trusting God enough to let go and give Him what matters when you know that He see’s. 

“Thoughts on Health care” Out of the Mouth of Randy

Below is an article that my good friend and spiritual leader Randy Bohlender posted recently, if you’d like to read it straight from his page, click here. Other wise enjoy, and let me know what you think 🙂

Thoughts on health care and the church.

Posted on August 11, 2009 by randybohlender

In recent months, I’ve spent more time writing on family issues. That doesn’t mean I’ve kept my head completely in a bucket regarding national events, but they’ve taken a back seat to important things like diapers and destiny. This morning, driving to the prayer room and listening to NPR, diapers, destiny and health care all converged on me.

Let me preface by pointing out the obvious. I’m pretty conservative….particularly for a guy with three earrings. I have very strong political beliefs shaped by my moral beliefs. I think it should be that way. At the same time, I don’t buy into a lot of the conservative rumor mill or radio shows. On the rare opportunities I have to see it, I yell at FOX News as loudly as I do at CNN. I don’t forward emails. I’m pretty sure the President really is a US citizen. My bumper stickers are for things like In-n-Out. I don’t have the energy to listen to conservative talk radio (How can you be that mad every day?). What I do listen to and read usually contradicts what I believe. I’m okay with that. In fact, I do it on purpose. I find it far more interesting.

I’m only offering that snippet to explain that as I start this mini-rant, it’s not because I can’t tolerate to be in a room with a differing opinion . It’s because I fear for the state of the leadership of the church, which seems hell bent on appearing kind, even at the expense of being Godly.

This morning, the radio was doing a spot on a new initiative between President Obama and religious leaders entitled 40 Days for Health Reform. The brief radio piece featured quotes from Soujourner’s Jim Wallis and other religious leaders.

One pastor was quoted as saying – paraphrased here, although I think the quote is about 90% dead on, I was driving and couldn’t write it down – “We need to realize that healthcare is an issue of human rights and pass a healthcare reform bill even if we don’t agree on the details.” It was shortly after this that I attempted to rip the stereo from my truck dash and throw it into the river as I crossed the Red Bridge.

It is false nobility to agree on the broad brush strokes and ignore the details when the things in the details are life and death issues – particularly life and death for the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn and the elderly.

I am not proposing that we do nothing. I don’t know of anyone who thinks the system is working for everyone. Even if it works for most, we do have an obligation to those who are falling through the cracks. I am for caring for people…but I am not willing to become so romantically entagled with the fable of helping people that we ignore the details.

Pastors and leaders, those details that you suggest we gloss over….those details are where the devil dwells.

For thousands of years, he has haunted the details of our narratives and solutions. Satan has never argued with us about who is on the throne, only in how we relate to He who is on the throne. From Genesis, he has convoluted the details. “Did God really say…?” “You shall surely not die….”. His most boldface lies always appear to be slight tweaks of the truth – things that the more reasonable among us would tell us we should look over in the name of making progress or doing good.

Do not become so consumed with the myth that we are making progress on health care if the details of the plan push forward an agenda that has you paying for abortions that you claim to oppose.

Those details are important – perhaps not to you, perhaps not to your fame or the size of your congregation or your desire to appear compassionate – but certainly to the child whose destiny is snuffed out. Certainly to that elderly person whose value might be questioned by a society consumed with the idea of population control and social efficiency.

To roll over and concede on issues like abortion and care of the elderly is to display one of two things: a lack of faith that God can affect real change or the shameful reality that many of us as leaders don’t care enough about these issues to go to the mat on them.

I’m for some form of health care reform…but not reform at any cost. Now is the time for the politicians that the church has been in bed with for so many years to step up with a plan of their own that honors people and God with a healthy regard for life.”

Big Cheif Indian Tablets

so apparently Randy made a reference to the above mentioned notepads in TheCall staff meeting in kansas city today, being lost in the dark I googled it to find out just where his jab was coming from. For Annie’s sake:

The Big Chief tablet was for many years the most popular brand of paper writing tablet among school children and hopeful novelists in the United States and exemplified the lined writing tablet as a communications medium. The tablet featured a native American with full headdress on the cover. The Big Chief Writing Tablet copyright was originally held by William Albrecht at the Western Tablet Company in St. Joseph, Missouri, and was later sold to the Mead Corporation, which also manufactured a Son of Big Chief tablet.

Thanks http://searchcio-midmarket.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid183_gci512952,00.html ! Randy are you telling us to communicate better and take notes?