Saturday, June 24, 2017

Anywhere with Jesus

Being in a different country awakens so many things that can lie dormant on my familiar America.

I’m more alert to body language – because I can’t understand a word that is being said.

I’m more careful to notice things – because their written symbols are so strange.  A word that looks like a large home is the word for “memorial”.  (That how I found the Chang Kai Shek Memorial).

My exterior world involves my often under used senses

Yet, I’m finding my interior world is being used.

I’m more aware of potential and actual spiritual warfare.  

In a country that assumes an unseen world with many invisible powers, my western mind has adjusted to being watchful and making sure I put on the Armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-).

I’m listening … for His promptings … or His correction.

It’s been a great reminder of the Bigness of God.

It’s also been a reminder of his subtle ways.

Anywhere with Jesus … best place ever!

Friday, June 2, 2017



17 years ago, we prayed that our family would be able to serve together on a mission field.  Once the door opened, we made preparations for the trip

From that trip, two of them attended schools outside of the United States.  One served, for a year, overseas.  Today, each one is internationally-minded and open to serving and supporting.

The prayers and preparation paid off!

Real Time

Well it's time to pray and prepare again.

Again we will travel with teenager.  This time, none of them share our DNA.  But each one has a place in my heart.

I cannot wait to see what they learn about themselves ... other people and their culture ... and about the love of God!

In the meantime, it's time for preparation!  Here's what God has been teaching me.

Preparation is more that planning for the future.  It involves the past and the present.

The Past

Is there anything that I've holding back from God?  It's easy to loose sight of the big picture when there's a challenge right in front of me.  The goal can't be to just get through the challenge.  There's more!  What is God trying to teach me?  What control is He asking me to surrender?

The Present

I've been pulled over three times for speeding ... and each time it was less than 10 miles from home!  I was so busy trying to get to my destination, there was no attention given to the present moment.  So what needs to be done ... right now?  With so much to do before leaving, I can't afford to speed through my To Do list and miss what God may want me to hear today.

The Future

This is the thing I can focus on too much ... and it's the one thing I know nothing about.  This has to be put in God's hands.  There can be some guesses (for packing).  There can be some serious studies (six message to be given and two through an Interpreter).  Ultimately, will I be open to God's interventions and interruptions?  Will I be teachable?  Will I be careful not to hide behind my role as a leader and listen for God to an speak to me as His child?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

After Life

I have just returned from my 10th LIFE Conference.  I attended my first one in 1980 and have only missed two since then.  This is a rare gift that God has given me.  Out of the thousand that attended in St. Louis, only a handful have been to that many LIFE Conferences and and even smaller handful would be a senior pastor. What an honor!

One of the speakers made the statement that teens do not represent the "church of tomorrow" but in fact are the CHURCH OF TODAY!  I have always believed this.  This LIFE Conference reminded me why I believe this so strongly.

  • The worship is genuine, passionate and a little reckless.  I'll admit that many of those who participated were part of a "herd mentality" that joined the crowd.  Yet, I watched ... and participated.  God was not in the enthusiasm.  He was not in the youthful energy.  He was in the worship.  His presence was ushered in by passionate followers.  (I don't think God honors worship because there's a lot of people or because the energy level is so high.  He honors those who honor Him).  I wonder what causes adults to lose some of the passion.  I wonder why much of worship has a sense of control and balance.  Have we grown up so much that we've forgotten to be a child in His presence?  Can God use the youth to remind the church of today that genuine worship requires a willingness to surrender to His greatness?
  • There is a strong desire to be a part of something bigger.  This is a God-placed passion that He plants in the heart of every follower who understands He is the one writing the story.  Since it's not about them, they are free to do big things and little things because it all is for His glory.  They see the eternity in leaving a bag of apples on a city bench that will soon support the weight of a homeless person. They see their scratches (from pulling thorny weeds from forgotten park pathways) as a badge of honor.  I wonder why adults often want to be noticed and given credit for their acts of service.   Can God use the youth to remind us that all acts of service are an offering of praise to God?
  • They are quick to talk about the work God has done in their lives.  To them, it's not a matter of waiting to see how much of LIFE will "stick" in their lives.  They just assume God did a work and now there is work to be done.  Of course we adults understand that not every exciting commitment will last.  Often a renewal at a conference has the life span of a New Year's resolution.  Yet, aren't they right to declare what God has done?  Aren't they correct to take immediate, brave steps because of it?  After all, what's the difference between a powerful change at a conference and a little change in the routine of daily life?  Nothing!  Each change lasts ... as long as the person remembers that God's fire is fueled by God's spirit - and that is never extinguished.  Can God use the youth to remind the church of today that God is at work among us calling us to deeper commitment?
  • They understand the need for community.  As soon as God begins working, the teens kick into full community-mode.  They are listening, praying and encouraging each other.  They assume that their own personal commitments will be dependent on each other.  It's not the "Lone Ranger" mentality of their parents.  It's the "one another" teachings of scripture.  Could God use the youth to remind us that being a Body means that each part is equally important to the other parts?
  • They don't wait for the mission field to come to them.  They are already looking for ways to live the reality of God in their homes, jobs and, this fall, their schools.  They're already thinking like an army on the front lines.  Could God use the youth to remind us that real Christianity is on the front lines and not the rear echelons?
In the months that have followed every LIFE conference it has been a joy to watch those who continue in their passionate pursuit of God.  They have continued to live in the above realities.  Many of them are now adults that are living a different form of Christianity in their churches.  Many of them brought the next generation of today's church to LIFE 2013.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What does today look like?

Unseasonably warm weather which has made me yearn for spring and long for snow!  I don't get it.  I think it's a grass is greener thing.

Drop-Ins to my office that have reminded me of the incredible tapestry of people's lives.  So many dynamics.  Such different personalities.  Yet, to those who are looking for God, there is light and encouragement and hope.  It reminds me of my favorite Browning poem:

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
I'm encouraged by a warm and meaningful Annual Celebration that allowed the hearts of so many good people to be seen and appreciated.  This church continues to raise my suspicions.  While I believe we are all recipients of God's grace and while I do agree that FCC has been given a great measure of that grace through the amazing people God has brought to us.  I DO NOT believe God has done this for our viewing pleasure.  He's up to something!  The deck is being stacked with great resources and people.  May we not miss the moment when He begins to unfold His heart.

And God, grant that I'm right in the middle of it!

Friday, January 6, 2012

One New Years resolution

I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions. After all, what makes January 1 any better than July 7 or October 3?
But a new year followed by an old birthday, causes me to ponder. There is value to writing down what this ride of life is looking like at the moment. It's too rich to catch every subtle moment without making time to reflect. And God is such an amazing choreographer that His movements are too complex without His revealing them to me.
So I'll watch and pray for the right lens ... and the right perspective ... and the right teachability.
What does today look like?
Post-Holiday hangover.
The good kind of hangover where you're and tired but there are no regrets.
I've spent unusual time with my family. I'm amazed at the generation that my daughters are a part of. They are multi-tasking, socially connected wonders! They can laugh one moment then in the next one introduce an amazing profound insight... then in next moment they're watching a rerun of Friends. I love it! They are positioned to handle this chaotic world if they stay anchored in God's foundational grace.
I've also spent time with Connie's parents - and their generation. They act like most of their life is still ahead of them! And they're right. They've learned pacing - not because of limitations of moment or memory but because they get it. The most important moments are always missed ... unless you learn to look for them and dwell in them.
And then there's my generation. We Boomers. Fearless when it comes to talking about our wounds and our journey. Yet, fearful to do much about it. We're just beginning to grow into our ignorance. We are becoming comfortable in the realization that the more we experience and learn, they less we really know about life.
I'm so thankful for these holiday moments. It makes me appreciate God's goodness in so many ways.
So, I'm watching for what will be seen next...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back to Ground Zero

Papa has been talking to me about getting back to the the basics of my early faith. A time when God was so real and fresh and I knew He was there.

I'm not living with any doubts. My relationship with Him is so much more than in the early days. Yet, sometimes I'm too familiar with my relationship. I let the rhythm of His grace sing me to sleep.

It's good to be in awe all over again - not like a new child, but as a favored one.

Thanks Papa. Your grace still amazes me!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering what I forget

Today marks an amazing anniversary for my country - and my family. We were landing in Frankfurt, Germany right about the time the first plane struck the WTC towers. As it would turn out, we would be one of the last international flights allowed out of the U.S. and one week later we would land at O'Hare airport in Chicago to a virtually empty concourse (and we would represent one of the first flights allowed back into the country).

My memories of 9/11 are far more personal than they are national. I never viewed endless footage or listened to the talking heads. Our first newspaper was 36 hours after our landing and it was in the German language.

We focused on whether we would ever be able to get back home to our other two daughters. We agonized over leaving Reese in Germany (to attend her school - which was why we had traveled to Germany).

Of course, God worked in miraculous ways:
  • A friendly German culture who grieved with us - unlike two years later when we would return to pick Reese up and the anti-American sentiment was in full bloom.
  • A caring intelligent school for Reese to learn and grow.
  • The miraculous experience of being moved to the front of an unbelievably long line of Americans at the airport, because we were flying out on our scheduled day and time and everyone else was facing cancelled flights or wanting to fly home earlier.
  • A ticket agent who bent the rules and moved us off a cancelled flight to Paris (our connector) and put us on a direct flight into Chicago.
  • A brave United Airlines crew that individually volunteered to be one of the first crews to fly back into the U.S.
  • The final destination of Omaha, one of very few flights from Chicago that was not cancelled that day.
  • The joy in coming home - and finding a new respect and love for my country and a deeper gratitude to the kind attention of God
Today, I'm remembering what I forgot. Papa cares - no matter what happens. Sometimes in the midst of overwhelming sorrow and tragedy, He listens to the prayers of a frightened family in Germany and Minnesota.

What an amazing thing!