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April 2007

Junior High Days

Being the parent of a junior high age student is a lot of work!

I used to think that the hard work of raising kids was in the diapers, car seats, strollers, feeding, bathing and bottom wiping.  When we were finished with those stages I thought, "Whew! The hard work is done."  I am quickly realizing that I was SO wrong......

Please don't misunderstand me, I love my junior higher--that is the problem--I love her too much.  The occasional arguments, deep sighs, and less than pleasant looks tend to cut deeply into this father's heart.   What happened to that little one that hung on my pant leg and on my every word?

The junior high days--they are the worst of times and.....the BEST of times.  I love having a junior higher.  Sometimes we have some great talks and some huge laughs.  There are no words to describe the joy in my heart when we play music together at home or in church.   Those days when she slips her arm around my waist as we walk along the sidewalk......HEAVEN!

I have determined that the junior high days are hard for me because....


How must God the Father feel about you and me?

New Friends

155-5524_img.jpgLast Sunday I had a real treat.  I took a bus to Itaewon, South Korea and made some new friends over an enjoyable time of dinner. 

I met up with Dr. Michael Christensen and his wife Rebecca Laird.  They are from New Jersey and were here in South Korea doing a conference on a Henri Nouwen book that they edited/wrote titled Spiritual Direction.

Dr. Michael Christensen is the director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Drew University in New Jersey and his wife Rebecca is an Associate Pastor at a Presbyterian church in New Jersey, a published author and a trained/practicing Spiritual Director.

At this point you might be clicking to another site on the net out of boredom or you might be asking "Why?" did you meet these people and "How?" did this meeting come about.

Good questions, here are my answers.

Why?.....I don't know, yet.

 How?.....Good question.  Over the past year I have been curiously looking on the internet at online Doctor of Ministry programs.  I learned and grew so much in my Master's of Spiritual Formation program that I have found myself interested in continuing in that experience--the next logical step would be a Doctor of Ministry program. 

As I was looking at online programs I ran across Drew University and noticed Dr. Michael Christensen's name listed on the teaching staff (along with Dr. Leonard Sweet).  I knew the name Michael Christensen from my early NNC days--he was a young, progressive Nazarene minister that was known for a cutting edge inner city ministry in San Francisco and he was married to the daughter of Dr. Irving Laird, a loved and highly respected religion professor at NNC.  Over time, Michael Christensen's and Rebecca Laird's names have come up in relation to their ministries and service in and outside the Nazarene Denomination.

When I saw Dr. Christensen's name on the Drew website I also noticed a link to a blog that he was posting.  On the blog, CitiHope Malawi Mission, I read that he was on a sabbatical leave from the university and was working with CitiHope International on a service/ministry outreach to the people of Malawi, Africa.  On the blog I noticed that he and his wife were just days away from coming to Seoul to lead a spiritual direction conference.  So......

 I sent him an out of the blue email, introducing myself, dropping some names of people that we both knew and letting him know that if it was possible I would love to meet with both of them here in South Korea and talk about life and the Drew DMin program.  Surprisingly, Dr. Christensen emailed me two hours before they were to board the plane to come to South Korea and he said they would love to meet up with me.  A week later we met up for dinner on a Sunday night.  It was a real treat for me to meet them, hear about their lives and ministries and to talk with them of spiritual things.

Crazy connection, huh?

Back to the earlier question......Why?

As I said before, I don't know why...yet.  I don't know what will come out of this experience and this "connection" as we like to call it.  Will I start the DMin program?  I don't know.  I learned a lot about the program from Dr. Christensen and I learned that I am the type of "person" they "want"to have in their program--but I also learned that I have some prerequisites that I need to acquire before I could even consider applying for the program.

I don't know "why"--specifically--that I had this meeting with these folks.  However, I am beginning to see the "why" of this situation in a general sense. 

In this situation I took a risk in an unknown area, with unknown people.  I followed my heart in contacting these people--I would like to think that I was following the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I want to live my life following the Holy Spirit--trusting God, living as Eugene Peterson says, "haphazardly for God."  

The details?--they don't matter.  What matters is that my plans become His plans, my worries are replaced with Trust in His ways and that my life is filled with the precious and unpredictable Holy Spirit.


Checking In–Sorry

Greetings to those who are still checking in on my dead silent blog.  Sorry for my laziness.  I will try to post more often--between busyness, a perfectionistic bent at times, and a prideful desire for my writings to border on profundity, my postings here have all but ground to a halt.

Isn't that just how life is?  We take good things in our lives and we goof them all up with pride, self-centeredness and the like.  I will try to do better and stay within the easy, no pressure, no pride genre of Ramblings.

Good Friday

"The Cross is God exhibiting His nature.  It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God.  But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there."--Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 6.

This morning our family had the opportunity to participate in a Good Friday service.  About fifty of us from TCIS gathered in a living room, read John 18 and 19, prayed together and I lead some worship songs on my guitar.  We considered Jesus' death upon the cross.  We sang of Jesus on the cross.  We remembered Jesus on the cross.  We spent some time abiding in the place of the cross.

Good Friday?  The story of John 18 and 19 is a grisly accounting of betrayal, injustice, false accusation, meanness, hatred, pain, torture and death.  What is good about that?

I saw some good today in Good Friday.  In all of the darkness, silence and pain of Good Friday I found fellowship and life.  This morning we sat together, abiding in the place of the cross.  We shared in silence and in prayer the doubts, the fears, the questions, the lonliness, and the pain that still  seems to linger--even after last year's Easter morning sunrise service--and in the midst of the darkness we

"....the greatest of these is love."

On the cross we see Jesus.  In the cross we find hope and life.  Through the cross we find the means to love others.  

The life we find at the cross is love.  Spend some time there and.....

Have a Good Friday.

Part and Parcel?

Last Sunday at church the sermon was taken from Acts chapter 5--the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  Our community church here in Daejeon is in a pastoral transition and each week we are having one of the board of elders share the morning message.  The church is moving through a study of the book of Acts.  The elder assigned to Sunday morning's passage did a nice job on a tough passage.  Acts 5 pulls no punches as Ananias and Sapphira both drop dead and are buried right before our eyes.

Sunday's message focused upon two points drawn from the scripture:

 1.  The God of the New Testament is the same God of the Old Testament.  God is the same--yesterday, today and forever.

2.  God is to be feared and revered.

The previous points are true but......I see the Acts 5 passage a little differently.

It all begins with how we see and receive the Word of God.  The Bible can be viewed as a book of information and instruction that must be applied to our lives or the Word can be considered and approached as something that is living and active--piercing to the deepest part of our hearts, lives and beings.  The Bible is the story of God and we are not outside observers of the story but rather we are a part of the story of God--because God's story is all about us.

In the beginning--way back--before the Garden, the Fall, and even Creation--we find God--the Trinity, we find Love...therein is the beginning of the Story.  We find God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in communion, in community, in a relationship--creating the universe, our solar system, the earth and humankind for one reason--relationship.

This is the lens through which I read the Word and let it act upon my life.  This is the lens through which I read Acts 5.  Is God the same yesterday, today and forever?  Yes.  God created us for relationship with Himself and even though things took a wrong "free moral choice" turn at the corner of  Broad Street, God is forever present in the Story, doing all he can do to restore and have relationship with humankind.

Should we fear and revere God?  Yes.  A quick review of God's questions to Job in Job 38 puts me in my place.  God is God, I am not.  I do fear and revere the One who holds my life and all of creation in His hands, but my real fear and reverence comes from His love.  God sent His only Son to die in my place upon a cross?......that is a love for which I have no is so amazing it is scary.  So, yes, I fear God.

It is through all of this that I read Acts 5.  If you read the passage (which you should) you will read about the early church, selling all they have and sharing with one another--and all in the name of Jesus Christ.  In Acts 5 we see Ananias and Sapphira selling all--yet giving only just a "part" to the church whereas giving "all" is part and parcel of being a follower of God.  Peter confronts them--they fall down dead--it is not a pretty scene.

I could look at this passage and see an angry God who strikes people dead and who is to be feared and try to apply this to my life or....I can see a God who loves me intensely and who wants to have a deep and real relationship with me.  I find Acts 5:3-4 very interesting,

(3) "Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?  (4) Didn't it belong to you before it was sold?  And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?  What made you think of doing such a thing?  You have not lied to men but to God." (NIV)

Peter is saying--"Why did you do this?  No one pressured you to sell all--it was your choice.  This isn't about how you look to us--it is and always has been about you and God."

This account is not a message about giving money to God--this is a lesson about how each of us are to relate to God.  He loves us!  He is a jealous lover!  He wants all of us!  When I read this passage my mind goes to a marriage relationship.  In a TRUE marriage relationship there are no hold outs--no side relationships--no affairs.  There is no husband, wife, or fiancee for that matter, that would ever entertain or tolerate that type of compromised relationship.  In a marriage it is all of one for the other.  Are there warts, stumbles, arguments, struggles, mistakes in a marriage?  Yes, but when it is all of one for the other those things can be weathered, worked out and grown through.  But a divided loyalty?.....a side relationship?......another love?......never.  In this situation there can be no love, no trust--no relationship.

God, the one who pursued us through parted seas and the prophets' words is the same one who sent his only son to die on the cross for our sins and He loves us and wants all of us.  A life dedicated to God is not an add-on, it is not a new program or a New Year's Resolution.  It is an all or nothing kind of deal--no hold outs, no fence riding.  It is a relationship of deepest essence--a relationship where the all of one is given for the other.

Jesus, our bridegroom, doesn't want just a "part" of us, he wants all of us.  In him and his amazing love is found the way, the truth, and the LIFE.

Part and parcel?....ask Ananias and Sapphira.