Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Prospect of Bad News

This morning I finally called and made an appointment with our primary care physician. I've had a dull ache in the back of my head (left side) for weeks now. It comes and goes, but lately it has been staying longer and longer each time. It feels like something is in there causing pressure. I can't trace the pain/ache to anything that I'm doing externally, but who knows?

Ever since I was a small child the thing that I feared most was brain cancer and or surgery that involved cutting into the skull. Last night I woke up to the pain at around 3:00 am and stayed up for more than an hour fighting off the thoughts of how difficult it would be to say goodbye for now to my children and bride. Those can be lonely moments between the sheets in the quiet darkness.

This morning I read Psalm 111-112. These lines from 112:6-7 are precious to me today:

"For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord."

It is interesting to me that the psalmist doesn't address sorrow, just fear. It is true that I don't have much fear today as I rest in God's goodness and look with fresh eyes at the promises given because of Jesus' resurrection. It is also true that I have some sorrow at the prospect of a life not lived beyond the adulthood of my children.

This post isn't meant to alarm, it is just a window into the quiet reflections of a heart that is still learning to trust the Lord in all things.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Prince Caspian

Tonight Eric and I each took out two oldest children, respectively, to the movies to see Prince Caspian which is based on C.S. Lewis' series, The Chronicles of Narnia. From the perspective of film quality, the movie was well done. The music, camera angles, and use of lighting were all well employed by the director.

The impact of a film like this is different for different people. For me, as one called into the vocational service of the Word, it brought two reactions. First, because the story conjures up so many details of the Story (God's gracious work of redeeming His fallen world and man made in His image), I am moved all the more to an urgent and faithful proclamation of God's salvation in Christ Jesus. I think we (the Church) are too quick to forget that we are a part of something real and wonderful. Secondly, the character of Lucy shows how little faith I really have. She sees what is unseen by her family, but what is there nonetheless. She stirred up my own eyes of faith as I encounter the preserved Word of God again this evening and as I now look with greater certainty to the return of the Lord Jesus. My prayer life won't be hurt either by this reminder of God's delight to work on behalf of those who trust him.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Wife, and a Few other Notes

I'm thankful for Angie today in new ways. That God would bless me with such a dear, caring, beautiful woman is beyond the math that I can do in my head. It just doesn't add up. I hope that I can be for her all that she is to me. She understands the depth of God's love for her in Christ Jesus. In response she loves Jesus. Out of that love relationship she loves me.

We are thinking about hosting a four week discussion on marriage at a local coffee shop named Saxby's. I think that they will be very open to the idea. We are going to approach them some time this week or next.

I have encountered many hurting people in the last few days. I can't wait to see how God resurrects their lives in the months ahead--at least that is what I'm praying for.

It's date night with Angie. I'm off to prepare a candle-lit strawberry, grapes, and cheese get-away at our kitchen table. You see, the official definition of a date does not necessitate leaving the house, it just requires the absence of children. You can imagine the joy of my 13 year-old when I ask him to go to his room at 8:00 p.m.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I just came in from giving our daughter her first golf lesson. I cut down an old golf club and re- taped the old grip onto the new end. She acted as though I had just handed her a new ping iron. Off to the park we went. I had to help her with a golf grip; she only knows her baseball bat grip to this point. She was hitting the ball well. It was going straight, about 20-25 yards each time she struck it. She asked me to hit a ball so that she could watch how I swing and how I lift the ball into the sky. It was awkward hitting with a club that had just been shortened by 12", but I gave it a shot. It went high all right. It bounced across the road, up onto a house roof, against the second floor wall, back onto the roof of their car in the driveway, and back into the street. Perfect shot! The good news is this: we have new friends now, Elmer and Maria. They were incredibly gracious and said that this golf lesson won't cost us any extra money. From now on we'll be heading to the driving range.

I knocked the glass out of a neighbor's window when I was 11. You'd think I would have learned! At least Hannah will have a funny memory of her dad whacking the golf ball against our neighbor's wall.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Yesterday I took off an ear of corn from one of our sweet corn stalks. I have no idea how you tell when corn is ready to be harvested. I should have looked up something in a book, but that would have taken all the adventure out of my afternoon stroll through the garden. The corn was ready, but not fully developed. Only about 10% of the kernels had ballooned to their full size. The rest remained small and clung to the cob. I took a bite. Amazing! Sweet and juicy! Somehow the 90% that didn't grow to maturity didn't matter as I enjoyed a kernel here and one there. What a treat! I planted, Angie and I watered, and God gave an increase. Tomorrow I'll be harvesting some more carrots.

I lost my best strawberry plant earlier in the week. There must have been 8 berries on it when I discovered that the soil all around it was being overtaken by some kind of fungus. It was milky, within the soil, and sponged out onto the surface of the dirt. I have know idea what it was, but the smell was terrible. Rather than risk the spread of this "goo" I took my shovel and excavated the entire area, including the strawberry plant.

Our one pumpkin plant has taken over the entire trellis that we staked in behind it. There have been several flowers, but no pumpkins yet. I think that we needed another pumpkin to provide some pollination. That was unexpected since so many varieties of veggies are self-pollinating.

There are many lessons about life within the borders of our garden. I'm still learning.

Other exciting things related to our gospel work in Las Vegas are just around the corner. I'll fill in some details over the next week or so, Lord willing.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Special Image Bearers

Today several folks from City-Wide Redeemer volunteered to help at the Special Olympics event for southern Nevada. We saw long jumps that measured 3'9". We saw a sprinter run the 100 meter in 12.01 seconds. We saw a man walk the 50 meters in 41 seconds. We saw a seventh grader hurl the shotput more than 5 meters.

We saw people who are marginalized by society compete in track and field events. We saw athletes who actually did a better job of imaging their creator than most "normal" folks. The way that the athletes encouraged each other, while striving with all of their energies to do their best was incredibly refreshing.

One example: During the 4 x 100 meter relay two teams were paired up against each other. Ronald was in lane two. Christina was in lane one. They were each running the second leg for their respective teams. Christina was nervous about the exchange. As her teammate was approaching she began to take off. Ronald could see that his competitor would default if she left that early. He calmly said, "Not yet Christy." He then ensured that she waited until the right time to begin running through the exchange zone. He loved his neighbor as himself. I wish that I could always love my neighbors the way that he does.

I'm thankful that Sam Richardson got us involved this year. I'm hoping to coach an athlete next season. This Saturday I'll attend a practice and see what coaching would be all about. Should be fun. I hope to learn more about being a faithful image bearer of our great God.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Playing Catch-up

I can't believe that it is already the ninth day of May. Where does the time go? It's strange that over the last six days or so I have observed different events, said, "I need to get that on the blog," and now I can't remember a blasted thing! I am getting old(er) and struggling to remember.

There are many things happening right now. Tomorrow several of us from City-Wide Redeemer will join other volunteers at this year's Las Vegas Special Olympics for school children. I can't wait to get there in the morning. I think that our daughter is going to join me for the event. I hope that I can keep her from joining in the races. She makes a race out of everything these days. At this point if we can keep her from racing through her bath and brushing her teeth we consider it a victory. And after all, is it really such a bad thing if she wants to race her brother to see who gets to sleep the fastest? That is our favorite race as parents!

A few new families have begun to join us for worship on Sundays, or have begun to attend our community groups or women's study. They are all dear people. I'm looking forward to getting to know them more personally. That, though, becomes increasingly difficult as we grow in size. It has been very gratifying to see how well the people of CWR take initiative to welcome and get to know newcomers. Everybody has a story and they seem to recognize how important it is to hear that story even as we seek to share the good news of the gospel with our lives and our words.

I've been thinking much lately about the importance of making disciples. I don't know how it is that we have reduced the work of the church to filling up more chairs on Sunday mornings. Every time I ask another church planter how things are going it seems like that is the measure of data that most explains their progress. It seems like that is what people want to hear when they ask me the same question. It seems like that is all outsiders to the church know to ask about too. They hear that we are part of a church and the first question is, "Where do you meet?"

That is an important question. And maybe it makes the most sense to ask that question. But do they observe any other fabric that holds together Christ's church? Do they observe transformation taking place in the homes of their neighbors to such an extent that "Where do you meet?" becomes a secondary question. I am convinced more and more that the Sunday service of worship should be seen as something that is flowing out of what is happening in our lives throughout the week. It should be a continuation of worship that happened Monday through Saturday. What does all of this mean? It means that I have to grow in my own view of worship. It points me back again to the importance of making disciples too. If I go any further it will just take us all to needless rambling. I'll write more once I have more crystallized thoughts on the matter.

We have had three new neighbors move in on our street this week too. Very cool! In the midst of this current housing slump I didn't expect to see any new neighbors for a while. But, people are still moving into Las Vegas by the thousands each month. Thousands are leaving too. A mortgage broker told me that February saw 8,000 move in and 5,200 move out for a net gain of 2,800. That is still a lot of people. That is a 1% population increase each month.

The pizza I just ordered is here. Angie is reposing with a killer migraine. That meant that I had to "cook."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Back in Town

It was so good to walk in the door late last night and see four people who couldn't wait to put their arms around me. The feeling was mutual. I had a great flight home from Boca Raton. It was very bumpy going over the Rocky Mountains, but any flight that lands is a good flight in my book. As we were leaving Ft. Lauderdale to my connecting flight in Nashville the Southwest Airlines flight attendant was singing her own version or "Rolling, rolling, rolling down the river..." As she sung, though, there was a man who sung the echo during the refrain. It was Steve McNair, newly retired NFL quarterback. I'm glad that he knows how to have fun. He was very gracious as folks meandered over to him for autographs and pictures in the airport terminal.

The last day of our conference in Boca was incredible. We closed out the evening with a service of worship and the Lord's Supper. Most of the song lyrics were in the native Haitian, Mexican, and Portuguese tongues of the many pastors who were there. I now am looking forward, all the more, to the day when we stand in the presence of our Savior and hear his praises in the voices of all nations--fulfilling God's promise made to a nomad named Abraham more than 4400 years ago today.

I'm swamped today playing catch-up ahead of this weekend. There are lots of things to report, but you'll have to check in on Monday for further updates.

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010