Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cooking Spaghetti...

Jaren passed his driving test today (finally). It took him several attempts. He is a very good driver but I think that he gets really nervous when he takes the test and makes silly mistakes. Well, today he pulled it all together and passed and is now the proud holder of a Colorado Driver's License. Our progression of events now leads us to job hunting in an attempt to earn enough money to actually purchase something with four wheels that runs. Just one step at a time...

Tina saw a movie today ("Love Happens") that she says is essential for me to see. I accomplished task #2 on "The List" today: "Clean cobwebs on front entryway". Today included three hours of coffee with one of my very good friends. I continue to learn new things each day as God continues to speak through His word and through His servants that happen to pass through my space.

There was not much to report from my quiet time today--sometimes it's just quiet.

Tonight....I cook spaghetti!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hiking, Sailing, and Chess...

The boys and I hiked the North Fork of the Big Thompson yesterday morning. The total hike was almost nine miles. I intended for us to only do about half of that. There is an old abandoned cabin in a meadow near the river which was our primary destination. The trail continues from there up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I hate to leave a trail unexplored and so we ventured all the way up to the park and back. We were tired when we finally got back home. Zach headed off immediately to a friend's house for an overnight birthday party. Jaren and I took a nap.

Later in the day an older gentlemen arrived at our home to deliver a trundle bed that Tina had purchased at a garage sale. Tina's sister is coming to see us next month and we need another bed for the guest bedroom. We had one in there but it got moved to Zach's room when he grew out of the bunkbed. a Big part of my learning to "follow Jesus" and to NOT be in control is learning to recognize when God is up to something. This gentlemen who lost his wife about a year ago was able to speak into my life loud and clear with the voice of Jesus. He shared some sailing insights with me that happen to coincide with some similar thoughts that I heard back when we were on Anna Maria Island a little over a month ago. He reminded me that the point of sailing is not to get from point A to point B but rather to sail. "Don't miss journey", he said. He further said that it almost always requires two people to sail and that those two people must be communicating. Finally, he said that the quickest way to get between two points when your sailing is to zig-zag. Course adjustments are constantly required to make the best use of the wind. He used the word "journey" several times which if you know Tina and I well, then you know that "journey" is a code-word for hearing the voice of God in the details of life.

A third important aspect of my day yesterday was getting to spend some time with one of my very good friends. We played chess which is our excuse for getting together at the coffee shop to talk. God allowed me to win 3 out of 4 games and so I am considering the event a success. My friend was also able to speak into my life as I shared with him some of the things that I have been learning over the past several weeks.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Learning to Lead Like Saul...

"Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul's head. he kissed Saul on the cheek and said, 'I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the leader of his people Israel'" (1 Samuel 10:1). We should never forget that it is God who raises up leaders and it is God who brings them down again. God appoints His leaders for whatever time he sees fit. At times it appears that perhaps we have something to do with choosing our leaders but God's word is rather clear that it is God who appoints leaders. I have heard several times in the past several weeks that the call of God upon a minister is irrevocable. This is true if in fact it is God who is doing the calling and not merely human invention. A part of my Sabbatical is intended to examine my calling, to examine my qualifications of serving as a pastor, and to allow God to speak his calling into my heart one more time. What is the singular sign that God has appointed a leader? Take a look at verses six and seven.

“At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do whatever you think is best for God will be with you” (1 Samuel 10:6-7). The singular sign that God had appointed Saul would be the coming of the Spirit upon him with power. He would literally be "changed into a different person". Once the Spirit arrived, Saul would then be free to do whatever he thought best. God would literally be with him and Saul's action would be God's action. The indwelling of the Spirit of God within the life of person allows them to do what God would do with God's effectiveness. The Spirit's saturation of a minister is absolutely necessary for effective service. The Spirit changes us! The Spirit remakes us! The Spirit resurrects us!

“As Saul turned and started to leave, God changed his heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day” (1 Samuel 10:9). Notice that life-change occurs for Saul in a single moment. Wow! It's not just any moment--it's the right moment! What a great breathing prayer for the day: "Change my heart!". A breathing prayer is simply a short phrase that we quietly place upon our lips as we breathe in and as we breathe out. Everything changes with a changed heart--even kings are made!

“And the Lord replied, ‘He is hiding among the baggage.’ So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else” (1 Samuel 10:22-23). I love this--"He is hiding among the baggage"! We've all got baggage and like Saul, we tend to hide among it. Get this--God loves us enough that he will disclose our hiding place. He will reveal our baggage. He will do whatever it takes to force us to deal with our stuff and to come out into the open (I speak from personal experience ). Having come out of the baggage, "he stood head and shoulders above anyone else". No one could see who Saul really was as long as he was hiding among the baggage. The reality was however that Saul was a big man. May we all come out from among our baggage so that we can stand tall.

“When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a band of men whose hearts God had touched became his constant companions. But there were some wicked men who complained, ‘How can this man save us?’ And they despised him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them” (1 Samuel 10:26-27). Finally, let me learn today to surround myself with "men whose hearts God has touched". Ignore the rest!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Twin Sisters...

The beauty of a Sabbatical that requires me NOT to use my church office effectively allows me to declare any space my office. Yesterday, my office was the 3.6 mile trail up Twin Sisters in Estes Park. It's 3.6 miles up and 3.6 miles back down. In total, I spent about five hours on the trail (excuse me...in my office) reading Scripture, meditating on the things that God has been doing, and basically trying to learn how to follow Jesus without needing to be in charge. I came down the mountain having heard one thing loud and clear from the Father: He wants me to learn how to be thankful for the abuses that I have received in my life. It's funny because as soon as I had the thought, I was able to say the words, "I'm thankful for the abuse". Words, however, are not at all what God is looking for. He is wanting me to go much farther. My trip last week to Kimball was a beginning in terms of coming to grips with the very real impact that my abuses have had upon my life. I'm not sure what the path wil look like to learn to be thankful but I am pretty sure that it is going to take more than just one hike.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Growing Up with Samuel...

“As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful. All the people of Israel from one end of the land to the other knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle. And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel” (1 Samuel 3:19-21).
  • Samuel grew up. I too am growing up. The Father and the Spirit are teaching me each day new things about myself and new things about God. Things that I have never understood in forty-five years of life are becoming understandable.
  • The Lord was with Samuel. This, I suppose, is the secret. The presence of the Lord Is absolutely essential for life. A friend has said that he has learned the difference between religion and relationship and that now he is learning the difference between relationship and communion. I share his desire. I want to be in intimate communion with God—a life-sharing fellowship.
  • Everything that he said was wise and helpful. I will speak at Baby Gabriel’s memorial service this afternoon. May the Spirit saturate me with His life so that everything that I say today will be wise and helpful. May I learn to simply be quiet if I have nothing to say.
  • He was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. All of the people knew that Samuel was confirmed. Who confirmed him? God did the work of confirming. How did it happen? I don’t know except that the people somehow knew that Samuel was a prophet. May God confirm me in the same way as a prophet of God. This will be a process as I continue to grow. May God show up today at this funeral and demonstrate His ability to provide love and care. May I somehow be a useful tool in the hand of God as he comforts his people.
  • The Lord continued to appear to him. Tomorrow morning I will head to the mountains for a day of prayer. May the Father appear to me! Each day for the rest of my life, may the Father appear to me!
  • The Lord continued to give him messages. Though I am not preaching, the Father continues to give me messages. May I find the intended recipients and share the Word of the Lord faithfully.
  • His words went out to all the people. The Father’s plan is to saturate the land with the Word of God—the Word of grace—the Word of salvation. AMEN!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tina is Home Again!!!

I can't tell you how great it is to have Tina back home.

Zach and I made the trip to DIA this morning to pick her up at the airport. We took special care to navigate down 120th Street in order to pick up a dozen "hot" Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I wanted to go through the drive-thru but Zachery reminded me that if we go in then we would also get a free sample--which we did.
Our timing at the airport was perfect and we were able to meet up with Tina at the baggage claim carousel and get out of the parking lot for the $2 minimum.

We are both making preparations today for Baby Gabriel's Memorial Service tomorrow afternoon. It's been a thrill to once again hear Tina singing at the piano. She remains my favorite vocalist of all time.
I'm cooking up a big pot of chili for dinner. It's rainy and a bit cool here in Colorado and chili sounds great.
Today, God says, "I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me" (1 Samuel 2:30). He then promises, "I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do what I tell him to do" (1 Samuel 2:35).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Jaren and I will be heading to Nebraska on Wednesday morning. It will be a good chance for him to practice driving on the Interstate and it will be a good chance for me to face some of my demons. When I was around five years old--maybe six, my dad surrndered to the ministry and moved our family to Kimball, Nebraska to pastor the Calvary Baptist Church. It was in Kimball that I was molested by a next door neighbor. At the time, I didn't tell anyone and evidently nobody discovered what had happened. It remained a secret well into my 30's and only then did I tell one person--my wife. There is not much to see in Kimball but I'm not going for the sights. I want to somehow connect with the little boy that I left behind forty years ago. I don't know what to expect. It could be very emotional--I just don't know.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

September 15th

And the good news is....

Tina is flying home on the 15th!!! Continue to pray for her mom's continued recovery.

Friday, September 04, 2009

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him . . ." (John 3:16-18).

I suppose that John 3:16 is one of the most quoted and best known of the scriptures. It is especially significant to me in that it was featured in a fairly recent dream of mine. You can read about the dream here. The verse was also included prominantly in the windows of a church that I visited in the previous month. As it would happen, I also recently purchased a new wallet that has John 3:16 printed on it. This morning my Gospel reading includes John 3:16 and so I think that this important verse is worthy of a closer look.

The context is a conversation between Jesus and a very religious Nicodemus. Nicodemus has some questions about the Kingdom of God and the answer that Jesus gives makes no sense to Nicodemus. John 3:16 is meant to clarify to Nicodemus God's purpose for humanity--not to destroy them--but to save them.

The facts are:
  • God loves us enough to die for us!
  • God does not want us to perish (literally to rot).
  • God is interested in saving--not condemning.
  • The key to salvation is believing (trusting) in Jesus.

Let's talk about believing/trusting for a moment. Trusting means letting go of the need to control. It is to believe that Jesus can and will save us and therefore to resist the urge to try to save ourselves. I have tried unsuccessfully to save myself my entire life. I have failed miserably in my attempts to protect myself from unseen dangers an known enemies. I really stink at being God. So, perhaps the point of this verse in my life today is that God is asking me to quit trying so hard to be whatever it is that I think that He wants me to be and to simply trust Him. I don't need to save myself--that job is already taken! I don't need to figure anything out--God already has a plan!

Yesterday I met with Martin Castro, Pastor Oscar de la Cruz, Ernest Maxey, and John Howeth. Today includes a haircut and then lunch with my good friend Gary Clyma. Tonight the boys and I will attend the WHS football team's season opener. This is the first day this week that is not slammed with meetings.

I have two goals today: #1--to follow Jesus, and #2--to show empathy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


“In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

The text implies that it is the “king” who is to give direction to the people. Right and wrong should be defined by the king. He decides what we should do. The absence of a king seems to release the people to do whatever seems right to them at the time. I’ve spent lots of years—both doing what is right in my own eyes—and also doing what is right in other people’s eyes. As a recovering “people-pleaser”, I can assure you that it is more than just a drive to do what is necessary to try to keep people happy—it is a raging addiction! God is not honored in my people-pleasing any more than He is honored in my self-pleasing. He is interested in "King-pleasing". The journey that I am currently beginning requires that I learn how to discern the many voices of those who would provide council in order to hear the singular voice of the King. Certainly, the King can and will speak through others I am learning that His voice is truly unmistakable.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Shaking Free...

Samson found himself trapped by his poor decisions and irresponsible behavior. The Scripture says,“When he woke up, he thought, ‘I will do as before and shake myself free.’ But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20). This is an incredibly sad verse that demonstrates the futility of taking God’s Spirit for granted. David prayed in his great confessionary prayer recorded in Psalm 51, “Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me” (v11). Without the Spirit we are all toast! Only with the Spirit’s power can I “shake myself free”. Only with the Spirit’s power can we become all that God has created us to be. Samson would later pray, "O God, please strengthen me one more time..." (Judges 16:28).

I find myself in Denver this morning attending a very important meeting that was scheduled months ago. I am here to look into some issues concerning our state convention. I’ve discovered, however that the real purpose of my being here is to encourage my good friend who is and has been going through some very difficult days. I am in an especially good place to be able to come along side my friend. I wrote two things on the top of my notes as we began yesterday afternoon: #1—Follow Jesus!, and #2—Empathize! As of 10:00 this morning, a conflict that has plagued our convention for the past four years was finally resolved. With God all things are possible!

This afternoon was filled with conversations with good friends.

Late today I was given a wonderful gift. I was given Bob Dylan's 1963 record album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan". This was his second album and included the radio hit "Blowin' in the Wind". The record is in excellent condition and is more than thoughtful in that not a whole lot of people know of my love for all things Bob Dylan, matched with the fact that I collect records.

The highlights of my day always include the conversations that I share with Tina. Her mom is doing some better though there is much improvement that is still needed.