Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Building Bigger Kingdoms

I'm standing in our backyard, watching our dog Joey lick the last remnants of the strawberry banana smoothie I just drank out of a cup his snout was never meant to fit into. Oh how we try to get things that are never meant for us! Kim and I have been doing a lot of work on our backyard and behind our fence. Ripping up vines and dead trees and leves and thorns. It's a really rewarding job- you get to instantly see your progress. And for whatever reason, the people who built the fence in our backyard built it 23 feet shorter than our property line. So over the years all that space behind our fence has become overgrown with all kinds of plants and thorns and used as a trash dump. So far we've uncovered the wreckage of a barbed wire fence, bricks, cement pieces, tools, tiles, bottles and cans, trash bags, oil cans, even a speed limit sign! An saince out fence is more rotten than not, Kim and I had been planning to move the fence back about 20 feet. But as I look out on our yard I think about the value of making that space on the other side of the fence into a garden for our community. Instead of annexing the space and adding another 1500 square feet of backyard, what if we cleaned it up and used it to establish a really nice vegetable garden that could be shared with the neighbors? That's be a better use of space and would infuse more love into our community. It seems obvious none, I just can't believe it takes us so long to get to the point of thinking of others. My natural inclination seems to be bent on simply building a bigger kingdom for myself. Lord, teach us and train us to build Your kingdoms instead of our own.

Monday, April 23, 2012


About two months ago Kim and I talked about our church and how there seems to be many people struggling financially in one way or another.  Doing what I do, I instantly began thinking of how we can help our community.  I met with our pastor and another leader in the church to begin brainstorming about this and came up with a 6 week financial course that we will go through.  Through the input of Kim and me and these two leaders, we're going to cover the most important areas of planning, spend much of the time giving practical tips and troubleshooting, and also talk about a change in perspective.

The perspective change may be the most important part.  Essentially, how do we start placing less and less value on stuff and more on people?  How do we transition our hearts from how much should I give, to how much should I keep?  Instead of how much can I afford, how little can I pay?

Anyway, yesterday our pastor announced it to the church to get feedback from anyone who may be interested in participating.  2 people came up after or during church and said something like this:
"I've been praying about financial stuff for 2 months.  This is an answer to prayer!"

2 months?  Really?  From 2 different people?

After years of praying and believing, I still don't know much about how this prayer thing works.  Or how God works.  Or what on earth He is doing...But I would venture a guess that there is something going on here.  And I'm super-excited that we get to be a part of the journey.  Clearly, we're not steering the ship, but it's good to be participating!

I'll end with this quick illustration of how we join in on this journey which Paul used this Sunday:  A father is mowing his lawn and letting his son hang on to the handle of the lawn mower.  Together they are walking behind the mower cutting the grass.  The father is doing all of the work, but what does the kid thing?  "I'm mowing the grass!"  Thank you Father for letting us hang on and be part of Your work.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Finding Our Pace

Have you ever gone running out in the heat and half way through nearly die from exhaustion? It's all about pace isn't it?

Kim and I have been running full out trying to find out where we are supposed to be, what we are to be doing, trying to gain glimpses of God to help us circle up onto the right path...but is it possible that we're out-running God? Have we passed Him up somewhere back there when we began and have taken a path all to our own? Pace matters.

If I am going to run with someone else, we clearly have to be going in the same direction, headed to the same place, on the same path, but if we're not on the same pace, we'll be separated in only a few strides!

After a weekend spent with grandparents moving through life at the speed of a rural, farming, country town, we noticed how much different our pace is compared to theirs. I tend to keep myself more busy than necessary doing things that really don't matter, often missing the things that do matter along the way...

A month ago Kim's grandmother passed away, last week a dear friend's mother passed away, this week it looks like my friend and assistant's father will pass away...

We have an undetermined amount of years on this rock, filled with only so many individual moments in which to do something with. I pray we don't waste them with busyness or by chasing after God when He is waiting for us to return several steps back. I pray that we keep our heads up, aware of the movement of those around us, the beauty of the nice day outside, the struggles of a friend, the laughter and tears of our life long companions.

I pray we do not get caught up in the pursuit of our next car or next promotion or next sale or next weekend or next child. Because under the thin veil of appearance, these things may really be unspoken desires forstatus, power, success, selfishness, control. May we be content. Yet strive for a better world for all of those who have neither power nor wealth, a voice or a future. May we align our pace with a God who moves in ways we often can't see, sing in tune with He who we often can't hear, and through the journey begin to taste the full flavor of the meal, drinking down the full cup of this life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why We Are Where We Find Ourselves

6 months in and life is good, yet equally unhinged.  Like a beautiful ornate door laid aside of the doorway, not yet fitted into the hinges that give it meaning, we are here.  Here in Baton Rouge 600 miles away from a previous life, a few inches away from this next one, but we're left unhinged.

Kim and I have been talking constantly about why we're here.  We have no idea.  But in the meantime, we're running head first into as many doors as possible to see which ones are closed and which ones are open.  After a disasterous attempt at having a bunch of people over for our wine tasting Friday, we konw that that door for now is closed.  Clearly, using our home to invite people in in that way is not what we need to do. But what an amazing failure it was!  :)

If anyone is a lover of cheese, please let me know!  We have plenty left to share!

And about the right people?  I have no idea.  Jesus mentioned inviting the poor and the disabled and those who can't possibly ever repay you to your party.  Well, if we talk in these terms, our church may be a good group of people since it sounds like many of them are having a hard time financially.  But i'm sure there are poorer people.  Is this the point though?  That we debate about who the poorest of the poor are and then invite them to the party?  Go and round them up on buses and drop them off at our house?  If so, this is a pretty big ordeal and seems a little nuts.  But what do I know?

I guess I know one thing: Kim and I are going to keep on searching, keep on running straight into failure, into walls, and closed doors, until we begin to understand.  Hopefully it doesn't take too long to find out why we are where we find ourselves.