Monday, December 16, 2013

Canon in C (Jesus Loves Me)

Went to a Phil Keaggy/Michael Card concert recently and got inspired and put together this little song/arrangement. Merry Christmas friends!

God so loved the world you see.
He became like you and me.
Took on flesh, and blood, and bone.
That we might, so we might know.
Yes....Jesus loves me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Gospel Marriage: Covenant

Above is a clip from Disney Pixar's Up chronicling the marriage of Carl and Ellie. In 4 brief minutes it encapsulates a beautiful union and I doubt you will find yourself so moved by another animated short - especially one where not a single word is uttered. I am convinced that the reason why it tugs at our heart so powerfully is because we are not just seeing the enduring love shared between a husband and wife but we are also witnessing a small glimpse of God's great love towards us -- a love each and every one of us were created to receive.  

In my previous marriage posts (found HERE) I have attempted to stress that God’s central purpose for creating marriage was that it might be a picture of Christ and the Church, for our good and for His glory. I understand that this might sound nice for the “theologically-inclined” but you're probably thinking "What relevance does this have for my marriage today?" Well, in very practical terms I think one of the most profound ways in which a marriage between a man and a woman can picture Christ’s love for the Church (i.e. me as a believer) is in the way we view and honor our marriage covenant.

When you think about weddings what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps it’s the flowers, the music, the tuxedos? Maybe it’s that dress, the procession, or the rings? But beyond all the pageantry what do you think is the most important part of that wedding day? It’s not when the father hands his daughter over to the groom. It’s not when the preacher gives a poignant sermon. It’s not even when the newlyweds kiss to seal the deal. There is really only one part of that special day that if you removed it from the program, it would no longer qualify as a wedding, and that is…..the “exchange of vows”.

This is that salient moment where the husband and wife look into each other’s eyes and while standing before family, friends and most importantly God Himself – they make a sacred promise to one another – a “covenant” in fact. It often goes something like this:

“I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. I, ____, take you, ____, for my lawful (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

What do you notice there? Not all vows are the same but what nearly all share in common is that they involve a long list of circumstances in which both parties promise to be faithful to one another despite whatever might come their way in the years ahead.  Therefore, the purpose of the wedding ceremony is not for the groom and the bride to publicly proclaim their love for one another – but rather to publicly promise their love to one another – no matter what troubles may lie ahead. 

Mike & Leslie
Some dear friends of mine, named Mike and Leslie, found their own vows tested a few years ago like they had never before imagined. Mike was struggling with a severe nerve pain that began in his esophagus and subsequently spread all over his body – a pain so great that it debilitated him physically, mentally and emotionally. He was forced to go on indefinite medical leave from his job as a partner at a law firm, and his condition only worsened over time. Perhaps the greatest challenge in all of this was that despite having seen numerous doctors, psychiatrists, and pastors, no one was able to diagnose and treat the problem let alone find a cure. There he found himself spiraling into a vortex of hopelessness and depression.

This is one of the strongest Christian couples I know, but they will be the first to tell you that Mike’s condition had pushed the very limits of what they thought their marriage could endure. On their anniversary, Leslie confessed her struggle in a very public and powerful way on a blog post she wrote entitled 8 Years Ago Today”. In it she recalled her wedding day and portions of her vow to him and reflected upon them in the midst of their darkest trial. I can’t say it better than her so I have reprinted it below with their permission:

“I, Leslie, take you, Mike, to be my wedded husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward…”

Today is our anniversary. I remember so many things about that day. It was truly meaningful and a ton of fun for me. I remember saying my vows and having my voice go two octaves higher as I lost control and sobbed through them. I felt so blessed to have found such a good guy; he was my diamond in the rough….our new life together was filled with adventure and the promise of good things to come.

 ”…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer…”

And good things came. Mike had a super job lined up. We moved to the great city of Chicago. We became part of a diverse, mission-minded church that has become family to us. We had two adorable boys who light up our lives every single day. We have become a part of a neighborhood and school community full of wonderful people and friends. Life could not get any better.

 “…in sickness and in health…”

You know where we are now. Mike continues to have pain, no specific causal diagnosis, no signs of improvement. The longer this goes on, the more he feels cursed. The longer this goes on, the deeper he slips into darkness. I think I can handle his physical ailments. I think I can handle the uncertain future and whatever changes may have to come however drastic. I think I can even handle some anxiety and sadness. But dealing with the growing darkness that has consumed him so that he has almost become a different person altogether makes me miss the man I married 8 years ago. It is hard. And I am failing in so many ways when it comes to loving him as I should. But like him, I am trying. We are both trying so hard even if it seems impossible for him to hope and see beyond himself and impossible for me to be encouraging and patient.

“…to love and to cherish, ’till death do us part. I pledge you my faithfulness.”

In times of testing, words are not just words. They go beyond formality, way beyond lip service. I think of these vows spoken 8 years ago in a different time and a different place. Whether on the mountain top or in the deep valley, I still mean them. Now I know that I really do because I can say them here in the barren wilderness. I still live and swear by them. Michael, YOU CANNOT GET RID OF ME. We are in this war together and I will fight with you till the end, love of my still very blessed life.

What a powerful model and testimony of the very purpose of the marriage covenant! As they were faithful to their vows God proved faithful to them and I’m happy to say that they are doing well and their marriage has never been stronger.  In moments like these, we come to realize why the covenant is so important – they serve as the very glue in holding the marriage union together.  It is here that you realize that you are not holding the promise you made on that day, but rather the promise is holding you. And contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, LOVE is not the bond that holds the relationship together - rather the COVENANT is. Mike Mason articulates the power of these vows so well in his book, The Mystery of Marriage”:

The impact of love may be felt as an exclamation mark, but vows ask a question. “How bright is the sun!” exclaims love, while the vow asks, “How dark a night are you prepared to pass through?” Marriages which are dependent on good feelings fall apart, or at best are in for a stormy time of it. But marriages which consistently look back into their vows, to those wild promises made before God, and which trust Him to make sense out of them, find a continual source of strength and renewal.” (Mason 117)

But while vows look back for strength to endure difficult seasons in a marriage, when they are first made and consecrated on the wedding day they are looking forward as they are promises for an unknown future. And so vows are predicated on FAITH because they place trust in a promise yet to be fulfilled in the future. I believe this is why when a husband or wife violates their vows it is described as being “unfaithful” or “infidelity”. Even the world recognizes that faith is at the very center of this sacred promise.

Well, if, as Paul says, the marriage union between a husband and wife was designed by God to profoundly picture to the world the gospel (Eph 5:32) which is the relationship between Christ and the Church (i.e.”me”), then what can we learn about the gospel in regards to these covenant vows and how should it affect my marriage?

If you read through the Bible you will quickly realize that God loves making promises to His people and God loves keeping His promises to His people.  But despite all his covenants to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and others, I think the greatest covenant He made was to us (the Church).  It is the new covenant which was prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34) that not only fulfills but supercedes the old covenant. In fact in Romans Paul describes the unbreakable love found in this new covenant that Jesus has vowed to those who come to him by faith:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ….for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  –Romans 8:35,38-39

Do you notice anything here? In many ways these verses read just like a traditional wedding vow however it goes above and beyond any wedding vow I’ve ever seen, because it promises a faithful love that goes beyond the physical (“neither height nor depth”), beyond the metaphysical (“neither angels nor rulers”), beyond even the dimension of time (“nor things present nor things to come”). Where marriage vows promise "til death do us part" Jesus' vow goes beyond even death itself (“neither death nor life”) – these are all promises no earthly marriage would dare fathom. God is communicating one truth here: nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of Jesus – this is His covenant promise of love to us and it need only be received by faith. 

So in much the same way that a man pursues the woman that he loves for marriage, Jesus, as the bridegroom, initiates his love relationship with us - a love relationship that was broken by our sin. He professes his unconditional love for us and proposes an eternal union with us – his bride – which is the Church. And in the same way that a husband and wife make vows to one another on their wedding day, he has made a solemn covenantal promise to love us without conditions and without end.

 "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." -Hebrews 13:5b

…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20b

Therefore as a married couple, you will never project a more powerful picture of the covenant love found in the gospel than when you hold on to your vows even in the midst of great marital hardship especially when your spouse doesn't deserve it. 

Why? Because you are modeling to a watching world the faithful and enduring covenant love God has for you when you didn't deserve it. Ray Ortlund writes, “It is the heavenly marriage that warrants and dignifies an earthly marriage. In Paul’s reasoning, therefore, human marriage is not the reality for which Christ and the church provide a sermonic illustration, but the reverse. Human marriage is the earthly type, pointing towards the spiritual reality.”

Let me tie this back to the video that opened this post. The reason we are so moved by Carl and Ellie in the movie "Up" is because we are bearing witness to a love that is faithful to a covenant. A love that has endured through both good times and bad. A love that holds true to a promise made many years ago. In fact, the entire movie is essentially about Carl's quest to fulfill his promise to Ellie of taking their house to Paradise Falls - against near impossible odds - just as he promised her as a child. 

What a profound picture of Jesus' covenant love towards us! His is a love not dependent upon our performance but upon His promise. His is a love that found victory against impossible odds. His is a love that endures until the end. This supernatural love and sacred covenant should serve as both the model and the motive for our own marriages. 

May our earthly marriages be a faithful picture of our divine union with Him. 

For His glory and for our good.

Peter & Kim

My next post on The Gospel Marriage will likely be a "touchy" one. I will attempt to show how the biblical model of "male headship" as designed by God in marriage was meant to be a powerful picture of the gospel. Yes...I am going where "angels fear to tread". =) Pray for me, stay tuned and thanks for reading....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Seeing Jesus in a "Preemie"

I'll post another entry on marriage in a few days but I wanted to drop this in because it was so powerful. My younger sister had a "preemie" 11 years ago that was born 3 months premature and so this hits close to the heart. As I'm watching this I'm getting all choked up for a lot of different reasons (especially at the 1:30 mark) but I'm also wondering where does this parent-child love come from?

Not to sound brutish but speaking practically a human baby has very little to offer anyone. An infant cannot speak,cannot feed himself, cannot even really move and is perhaps the neediest creature on this planet and yet the love a mother or father has for a child is so profound at times you feel you can literally touch it.

I am convinced that God gave us the capacity to love something so helpless, so dependent and so needy - that we might receive a small glimpse of His great love for us. You can't explain it and yet you know it's real. What other creature on earth has this capacity to love? Where does this "love" fit in the evolutionary model of "survival of the fittest"? What if we were created in God's image - and our capacity to love is but one imprint of His divine nature?

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are..." -1 John 3:1

If we reject His love we have orphaned ourselves from the greatest love we can ever know.

Peter & Kim

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Mystery of Marriage

NOTE: this post is the third in a series entitled "The Gospel Marriage". If you missed previous entries you can find them in sequential order in tab above or click HERE
Have you ever noticed that the Bible opens with a marriage on earth and closes with a wedding in heaven? This is no accident. If there is one over-arching theme in the Bible that stretches from beginning to end, it is a story of love. But it’s not a story of love between a man and a woman. No, it’s much bigger than that. It’s a story of God’s love for us. And this inexorable theme of a transcendent love weaves itself like a “scarlet thread” throughout all of Scripture.

Over and over again God in His mysterious wonder uses ordinary human love to point us to His extraordinary divine love. For example, on Mount Sinai the very first commandment God gives Moses is a call to a faithful and undivided love towards Him. While in the seventh and tenth commandments we see a mandate for a faithful and undivided love towards our spouse. In the prophecies of Jeremiah we see the despair found in the brokenness of a marriage, and in the poetry of the Song of Solomon we see the unbroken joy found in a faithful one. In the book of Hosea we are confronted with a man and a woman who play out a heart-wrenching story of unrequited love, and in the book of Ruth we witness a man and a woman play out a heart-warming story of unconditional love. It's as if God is trying to make point us to His perfect love by juxtaposing it with our imperfect love. A wedding is the site of Jesus’ first miracle and the setting of his last parables. As you can see, marriage literally begins and ends as God's idea. It is God's creation, God's institution, and God’s glory.

Therefore the first and most basic question one must settle on marriage and the one which will unequivocally shape your worldview on marriage is this:

“Who created marriage?”

Perhaps you feel you already have the answer or it was never a question for you to begin with. However, keep in mind that the answer to this question is of utmost importance, because it will determine everything you ultimately believe about marriage. In this case where you start truly determines where you finish.

I would argue that GOD created marriage. This was not man’s idea or man’s creation; it begins with God (Gen 2:18-25) and ends with God (Rev 19:9). And this is not isolated to the Old Testament. Jesus emphatically reaffirms this truth in the gospels (Mt 19:1-12), and the apostles do the same  (1 Cor 6:12-20Heb 13:4Eph 5:22-331 Pet 3:1-7). To argue otherwise would force one to completely dismiss large portions of Scripture in order to make it fit his or her own personal agenda.

Below is a diagram I put together which shows what I believe to be the three basic worldviews on marriage. The first is very worldly – marriage was created by man for man, and therefore it can be redefined as man sees fit because it’s ultimately about me and my happiness. The second worldview sees marriage as something that God created for man. Therefore, while it is from God - it is for me. It’s about making my children, or curing my loneliness, or serving my spouse, or even working out my sanctification.  The third is very different from the first two.  It is not about me at all, but all about His glory and His purpose. 

I have found that if you believe in worldview #1 - that marriage was created by man for man - then to me it's quite logical that marriage be re-defined as the culture (or man) sees fit. There is no point in slinging mud at someone that disagrees with you when they are simply following a natural conclusion to their personal worldview. (SOAPBOX: I wish more "Christians" would be able to engage, debate and provide answers on this topic with more "gentleness and respect" (1 Pet 3:15). We miss out on an awesome opportunity to share the gospel message in marriage when we fail to share it with a "gospel love" (i.e. grace & truth.) 
In regards to worldview #2 - I can't tell you how many Christian books on marriage I've read which essentially hold to this worldview. While I agree that God did create marriage for a number of reasons like companionship, procreation and even our own sanctification, if we stop there marriage still stays ultimately with "me" (a somewhat egocentric affair) and I think we've missed the big point.  On to worldview #3 - when we look at Ephesians 5:32 we come across, I believe, the most important verse on marriage in the Bible - this is the lynch pin verse.  For context, Paul goes back to the very first marriage in Eph 5:31 by quoting Genesis 2:24 and writes: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” and then he shares something that should forever change the way we view marriage. He writes:

 "…this mystery is profound and I am saying it refers to Christ and the Church.”


What is Paul saying here? Well, when Paul uses the word “mystery” here, it is not in the way we typically understand mystery in our culture today. In other words, it is not something that requires Sherlock Holmes to be solved. It is not an abstract concept to decipher. It is not even something that is meant to be difficult to understand. It’s virtually the opposite actually! When Paul uses the word “mystery,” he is using it as something that was concealed in the past – but is now fully revealed. Check these verses if you are unconvinced: Rom 16:25, 1 Cor 2:7, Eph 1:9, 3:3, 3:9.  In other words, He is saying we may not have understood if before, but now it can be understood!  It once was hidden and now can be known! In fact, this was Paul’s very prayer request  – that the mystery of the gospel would be made known and that he would make it known (Eph 6:19). The other thing I want to point out is that Paul says this mystery/revelation is "profound". Now, the actual Greek word used here is "megas". Which, as many of you know, means "big" or "huge".  So with my limited Koine Greek knowledge (coupled with my sanctified imagination) I'd paraphrase Eph 5:31-32 like this:
"Hey everybody! Listen up!! I need to tell you something that wasn't understood in the past but now can be fully understood! God is revealing something to us about marriage and!! Are you ready for this?!? God created marriage to reveal something HUGE...and that is...wait for it....wait for reveal His love towards YOU and ME (i.e. the Church)!! BAM!!!"                    
Therefore marriage is not a convenient metaphor or an accidental after-thought of God. Rather, there is a divine plan and a sacred purpose for marriage and we should not miss it. God created marriage first and foremost to be a powerful, poignant and persistent picture of His love towards us. And as such, we should want our marriages to be faithful to the gospel picture that God intended it to beThis cannot be overstated. If you miss this I'm not sure you will ever find true and lasting happiness in your marriage because marriage will always be about you and for you and you will be trying to force marriage to do something it was never intended to do - serve yourself. But marriage has a greater message, a greater model and a greater motive and they all point to the greatest one....Jesus Christ. Praise God! The mystery has been revealed! 

In my next post I will try to unpack in more practical terms how our marriages can actually reflect a picture of Christ and the Church (i.e. the Gospel) to the glory of God by focusing specifically on the COVENANT aspect of marriage. Thanks for reading...

Peter & Kim 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Love and Marriage

"Love and marriage, love and marriage, Go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you, brother, you can't have one without the other...try, try, try to separate them, it's an illusion.Try, try, try and you only come to this conclusion..."
This above was sung by Frank Sinatra in the 50's but if you grew up in 80's you might recall it as the intro of the FOX tv sitcom Married with Children - one of America's favorite dysfunctional families. Although I felt the show itself was pretty lame there is a great truth coming from that song. Love and marriage are inseparable entities and were meant to go together. That's why before we can understand God's purpose for marriage I think it's important to first have a basic understanding of love.

French novelist George Sand once said, "There is only one happiness in life -- to love and be loved." There is great truth in that statement because God made every single human being unique from all other creatures in that we have this innate desire and longing to love and be loved. It is the most basic need of the human experience and perhaps the greatest evidence that a loving God does exist and did create us and in our greatest moments of love we are but imperfect facsimiles of His loving nature.

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Marriage Confession

I have a confession to make. As many of you know when Kim was battling stage IV cancer much of last year I was pumping out blog posts like my life depended on it. So many of you prayed for us and I felt like as a husband there was little more I could do than share our story and beg for prayers. I wrote about every step of our cancer journey, how it affected me, Kim and our kids. I wrote about our love story - my three year pursuit of Kim (and her repeated rejections). I wrote about the need for bone marrow registration and the health struggles of some dear friends who were also battling cancer. But there was one thing that I held back from sharing. Something that consumed much of my thoughts and energy during that time and still does today. And that is marriage.

Outside of a few close friends and family no one really knew this but when Kim was getting chemo treatments I wrote tirelessly on the topic of marriage. I was getting about 4 hours of sleep a night and we spent 42 nights in the hospital last year so I had plenty of time to write. It was a welcome distraction from the daily stresses of cancer and despite undergoing the challenges of chemotherapy Kim was supportive every step of the way. Insecure about the fact that I still have so much to learn about marriage, unsure of the best medium to communicate this and at times afraid of what people might think I've been holding back on sharing it on this blog up until now. (I'm out of excuses) I know this topic tends to be a very sensitive one for many and a lightning rod for controversy and so I'm going to try and balance what I share with equal parts grace and truth (would Jesus do any different?) with the hope that it will generate more light than heat.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seeing Jesus in Down's Syndrome

I recently ran across this ESPN video of a man and his personal struggle with having a child with Down's Syndrome. It will move you because it's about...
Pride and Selfishness.
Shame and Repentance.
Hope and Redemption.
It's about the sanctity of life and the glory of love.

Heath was so desperate to demonstrate his perfect love for his imperfect child that he had a tattoo etched on his body. Reminds me of another who did the same...
"See I have engraved you in the palm of my hands..." -Isaiah 49:16
You will see glimpses of the divine love in this life. But only in Jesus will you see it for eternity.
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. -Rev 22:5

Peter & Kim

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When You Want to Punch a Christian in the Face

"Don't Worry God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle!" -Joe Christian
*pfffffftttt* Whatevers.

How many times have you heard that line from a well-meaning Christian friend in one of your lowest moments and you couldn't think of anything that would be more cathartic than punching him/her in the face?

Ran across this great blog post recently confronting this statement and found it surprisingly refreshing: "Confronting the Lie: God Won't Give You More than You Can Handle".

I think there are plenty of times that God will give you more than you can handle.

Way more.

I felt it in the touch and go moments of Kim's cancer. I felt it in the darkest moments of stress, anxiety and depression. I've felt it way more than I'd like to admit. Yes, there are times when I feel like Paul when he says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13) but there are more times when I resonate with Paul when he writes:
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death... -2 Cor 1:8
Sometimes God WILL give you more than you can bear..."far beyond your ability to endure" and to the point where you "despair of life itself"...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Light the Night & Ride for Refuge

Dear Friends,

Shamelessly asking for your support for two great causes:

As many of you know, Joe Park lost his son Andrew after a valiant battle with cancer last summer. Joe will be participating in the "Light the Night" walk raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on October 19th. Please consider donating to this worthy cause in support of Joe and in loving memory of his son Andrew. There are so many battling this horrible disease and every little bit will help. Read his blog entry HERE and please consider donating on Joe's fundraising page HERE.

Also, on October 5th my family will be participating in the Ride for Refuge to raise funds with charities that support the displaced, abused and or exploited. See list of non-profits supported HERE. Please consider supporting us as we hope to raise at least $500 to help those in our communities that are most in need of it.  You can find our fundraising page HERE (mine) or HERE (Kim's).

If you think about it, in a sense we are all refugees. Sojourners who are traveling through a temporary home until we find rest in our eternal one and so we should have compassion for these more than any other.

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. -Deut 10:18-19

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seeing Jesus in the Sun

Grand Canyon Sunset July 2012
Last summer we had the opportunity to go to the Grand Canyon and watch the sun set (see link). As soon as that bright orange sphere slipped beneath the horizon everyone around us began to clap their hands. 

This surprised me.

I've been to maybe two movies in my lifetime where the audience has clapped at the ending credits but I'd never heard anyone applaud an act of nature. I wondered who were they clapping for exactly? The sun? The God who made the sun? Themselves for coming out to witness it?

I get it. There's something inherently glorious about the sun. In fact, if you look up solar deity on wikipedia (here) you will find that "sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms" - from Aztec, African or Chinese mythology to major religions like Hinduism and Buddhism to those who religiously sun-bathe on the beach. Check out this amazing video which captures some the beauty of the sun. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Redemption Story

This video is subtitled and only three minutes long and yet it has the power to move us deeply. What is it about stories of acts of mercy, redeemed lives, forgiveness of debt and ultimate justice that stirs our hearts? This is the power of the gospel. This is what we all long for. May we see in every beautiful story the one story that surpasses them all.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. -Romans 8:23

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seeing Jesus in Apple Cider

I love the outdoors but I have a strong aversion against anything that has to do with plants and gardens. (If you read the Beauty & the Beast series you might recall why here). That said, my brother-in-law Kurt and his wife Jenna have this beautiful farm about 40 minutes from our home and every time I go there I'm able to set aside my "issues" with gardening and find myself amazed. We recently went over for a visit and Kurt taught the boys how to make homemade apple cider. Pretty cool stuff (see video below).

As you can see cider-making involves a lot of time and energy for just a little bit of juice. It took many years for the trees to become mature enough to produce fruit worth consuming.

All this got me thinking about how God has used fruit trees to teach us about Himself and His ways. One of my favorite books of all time is a brief 91 pager entitled The Green Letters by Miles Stanford. I first read it back in college and it's an absolute keeper:
"It seems that most believers have difficulty in realizing and facing up to the inexorable fact that God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life. He is working from and for eternity! So many feel that they are not making progress unless they are swiftly and constantly forging ahead." (p.13)
I often find myself frustrated in my own spiritual walk. I see my own shortfalls, failures and inadequacies as a father, husband and person and feel I'm not growing and changing fast enough. And then I'm reminded that my victories and my failures are not wasted and are both being used by God to shape me into the image of His Son - for my good and for His glory.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Father's Hope (Letter to Selah)

I guess I’m a little late to the game but last night I finally got around to watching Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA’s. I thought ‘How bad could it be?’ I mean maybe the media is over-reacting….boy was I wrong. Oh Miley, where have you gone?  You have proven once again that “women use sex in order to get love, and men use love in order to get sex”. Here’s a link in case you missed it. I hope you’ve already eaten dinner.

How fitting that Miley was dancing to a song called “Blurred Lines”. Is that not what some of these “artists” are trying so hard to do? Blur all the lines between what is right and wrong, tasteful and distasteful, truth and lies. I mean where else can you mix teddy-bear innocence with foam-finger sex and try to pawn it off as art? Sorry Miley. Whatever it is you're selling - I’m not buying it. 

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Miley is no different from Brittney or Justin – a couple other Mickey Mouse Club renegades who broke free from their Disney mold while America was treated to a front-row seat of their sexual “coming of age”. Well, as she stood their bent over, gyrating her hips with the RPM of a jackrabbit on a hamster wheel, I felt like I was watching Madonna 2.0. And then I remembered this poignant quote from Madonna who was no stranger to sexual exploration in her own career:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Seeing Jesus in a Bug's Life

enjoying the view from the Castlewood State Park
Kim and I slipped away for a little hike at a state park in St. Louis last week and we were treated to a few close encounters of some of creation's finest: a deer, a hummingbird and a large beetle. A large beetle you say? Yes, that was the most beautiful sight to me. In order to understand you'll have to watch the video below and read on.

Something sideswiped this little guy and when we found him he was lying flat on his back - all six of his little black legs helplessly swiping air as he desperately tried to get back on his feet again. He looked pretty vulnerable and pathetic as it was obvious there was no way he was going to resume his life without some supernatural intervention.

Enter me and my stick. It didn't take long for me to turn him over but I wonder how long it took him to realize how weak he was and that he needed help.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Faith's Greatest Enemy

Something I've learned this past year...
The greatest enemy of FAITH is not DOUBT. Moses sat by the well in Midian doubting God. Elijah laid in the desert near Beersheba in doubt. Thomas stood in the upper room full of doubt. The greatest enemy of FAITH is FEAR. This is why the most repeated command in Scripture is "Fear not." and "Do not be afraid". DOUBT questions the truth but FEAR believes in the lies. But praise GOD...FAITH conquers them all. 

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." -Isa 41:10