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Showing posts from May, 2016

40 Years for the Troy Strawberry Festival

Troy, Ohio.  Small-town Ohio.  Home of the famous “Strawberry Festival.”  My mother and father both graduated from Troy High School- the pride of the town.  Red and grey.  The marching band would mimic the Ohio State band-- spelling T-R-O-Y on the football field with solid pattern.  We displayed deep loyalty for two things:  the American flag and the Troy band.  This is where I was born.  The Strawberry Festival lasts a full weekend.  Actually, it is a year-round event- a silent obsession.  High School beauties grow their hair out for the Strawberry queen contest, runners train and weld metal and wheels for the highly esteemed “Bed Races.”  Fulton Farms plants and harvests millions and millions of plump, crimson strawberries.  The life of Troy.  My blood flows strawberry red.  Jennifer and I used to watch the long, long parade from atop the Motor Mart.  Her Dad worked there and my Dad had graduated with the auto parts store owner so we were the blessed children with the bird’s-eye vie…

When you don't "want to"

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
The pastor at our church often prays, "Lord, give us the 'want to.'"
I don't think I've ever heard him talk about this little prayer that he prays or explain it in any way.
Most Sundays, he just prays and skips right along to the next topic.  But every time he says this one little line, it sticks in my heart like a field burr.  I can't get past it.

It's similar to what King David prayed in Psalm 119:36.  "Lord, give me the desire to follow your laws."  And like the verse above, I believe that God gives us the desires of our heart, which means that he actually places the appropriate desires within our hearts and then grants those desires.

So any time I don't "want to" do something--when I have absolutely no desire to do it--the answer is as simple of a little prayer.  Lord, give me the "want to."

There are a million thing…

The Thing that has been implanted within you

"So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls."  James 1:21

Tonight I'm pondering why this Scripture would recommend putting away or storing filth and evil excess.  It doesn't say destroy or rid or incinerate.
And just the excess
There's something comforting about this Scripture.  Like the author was saying, "Listen, I know you are enjoying your evil little life and that you enjoy wallowing around in that filth.  I do too!  I know that sin will always be in the picture so let's be realistic about it.  Just put it away if you can.  I know that there will be times when you get it out, look at it, touch it, play with it, love it... but then put it away."

He recognizes that something foreign has been implanted into us.
It's like we were abducted at some point.  Something was implanted into our psyche.
The Implant-ers care about our well-being.
Or perhaps have sympathy …

A Midnight Meal

It's 3:15 am.
The sheet is twisted tight around my ankles.  The blanket is bunched up around my waist.
I'm too hot.  I adjust the covers and roll over.  I stick a foot out to catch the cool wind blowing from my fan.  And pull it back in when it becomes too cold.  Flip over to the other side.  My mattress feels like plywood.  The furnace kicks on.  I hear tinkering in the pipes.  My dog wakes up and licks my face.  Now I have to pee.  I throw the covers off, take care of my business, and re-adjust myself back under the covers.
They feel too heavy.  Something isn't right. 
Now I'm remembering the conversation from earlier today--or late yesterday, I'm not sure.
I'm remembering a conversation about an incident that happened years earlier.  I'm remembering the wounding words spoken to me from the lips of a trusted friend.  Feeling unsafe and vulnerable, I pull the covers up to my ears.  Perhaps I can block out the voices. 
Perhaps I can will myself to sleep a…

Do you have a healthy or a sick body?

"The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body.  So it is with the body of Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:12

I was in church ministry for over 12 years and visited many different churches all over the country through the experience of a traveling ministry.  In that time, I had the privilege of being welcomed into so many different styles of church settings. 

Here are a few of the styles that I noticed in my travels:

The "Seeker Sensitive" church.  This is the place that is of the 90s when the Seeker Sensitive church movement was brand new.  They still think that lights and smoke are relevant, have some kind of coffee bar near the front entrance, and have a kickin' band with the metro worship leader in skinny jeans and dark-rimmed glasses.  A newcomer would most likely not recognize any of the song lyrics but might be able to jive along to the Dave Matthews Band-esque style.

The "Biker" church.  If the Seeker Sensitive church is the …

"God hates..." So, what have you heard about God?

"Therefore you are great, O Lord God, for there is none like you!  There is no God besides you! What we have heard is true!" 2 Samuel 7:22

I'm curious to know what you have heard about God.  
I'm guessing (because it's the typical norm for how humans behave) that you have heard a lot about God's character or what He thinks/feels about you or a variety of other topics.  
Or that because over a million people (most being individuals that claim to be His followers) boycott or vote for/against something that this is surely in line with God's will.  Right?
Think about it.  What have you heard?
From the front of a church? From the lips of a news anchor? From the imagination of a movie producer? From a well-funded political campaign?  From the experiences of a friend? From your own experiences?
In this verse, God has just made a significant promise to David.  He began by reminding David of what had been done up to that point:  Remember how you were a little boy tending sheep…

Are you quick to become angry?

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger." James 1:19

As is part of my job, I work with a team to train others on how to "Cultivate Compassionate Culture" in their lives and workplace organizations.  I overheard one of the attendees say, "You know, this information is really just New Testament teachings in a different context.  And isn't it interesting that 2,000 years ago someone wrote down this revolutionary information and here we are 2,000 years later learning about it again because of how quickly we forget?!"
He was right.  Human nature is not naturally compassionate.  We are naturally slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry.  It is simply a part of our wiring.  There is a scientific, evolutionary explanation for why we respond to others in this way.
Our brains are wired for survival.  So any time I receive stimulus that feels threatening, my brain and body…

Why we all need a tribe

"If I say, 'My foot is slipping,' your loyal love, O Lord , supports me." Psalm 94:18

When I was in college, I went camping with some friends at Red River Gorge in Kentucky.  The gorge is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest in the western Smokey Mountains.  It was kind of a strange trip to begin.  The crowd that I traveled with was not a kindred crowd.  I didn't know any of them too well and we were spending about four days together in the woods.  In a tent.  Without showers.  Or bathrooms.  
All of the women were older than me.  And I think this trip was some kind of "hear me roar" sojourn.  They talked incessantly about bad break-ups and the men that they no longer needed.  I tried to sleep through the eight hour round-trip blaring of The Indigo Girls and the rest of the other Lilith Fair line-up.  
I was trying to find myself during these years.  Up to that point I had tried the  country-western-two-steppin'-rodeo-groupie-thing and the  Nirvana-gr…

To the motherless--Mother's Day, grief, and restoring our sanity.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Step Two

Well, it's a rainy day here in Wichita, Kansas.
But my sadness has nothing to do with the gloomy grey of the somber skies.
It's the day after Mother's Day.
And yesterday was just a reminder of what some of us grieve throughout most of the rest of the year.

I will begin by recognizing that some reading this post may know my mother.  And the truth is, she is a beautiful woman in so many ways.  Our relationship problems are not 100% her fault.  I claim a lot of the blame.  But this post is about me and my own grief.  I believe my mother and I have tried time and again to make our relationship work but we always seem to get it wrong.

I remember feeling at a very young age that my mother did not like me.  I was so different from her--a lot like my dad whom she had divorced when I was an in…

We admitted we were powerless.

"For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it  I died." Romans 7:11, 13

I died in my dream last night.  I've had plenty of dreams where I almost die and wake up just before but this time, I died.  I was in some kind of open-frame aircraft and knew that we were going down.  Someone next to me was panicking but I felt overwhelming calm.  We were spinning and falling fast.  I remember holding my breath and buckling down in my seat, waiting for impact.
And it came.
I remember a bright and hot explosion, fire consuming the air around me.  And that was that.

I believe in the importance of dreams.  The Bible is full of stories where people were alerted by dreams or given input and direction through dreams.  And I can usually tell if a dream is significant by how vivid it appears in sleep and how long it stays with me after.  I can remember dreams from childhood.  So this one holds meaning for me, I'm sure.

That became more evident when I wo…

When God turns us to Himself

"Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved." Psalm 80: 3, 7, & 19

If you have houseplants, you may notice that they often stretch their stems and blossoms toward the brightest source of sunlight.  For them, this is survival.  They crave the nutrients of the sun and will stretch themselves to absorb as much of the source as possible.  
In Psalm 80, this is also the scene.  Israel is compared to a small grapevine cutting that was brought from Israel and transplanted into fertile soil.  God's people "took root" and flourished.  Filling the land, spreading its branches far and wide, providing shade and protection and strength.
God's people grew strong because their branches were stretching out far to receive the nourishing light of God's love and favor.  They pulled the nourishment down into their roots and became a strong people--deeply rooted in God.
But something happened.  The author says on three diffe…

You just gonna stand there and bleed?

"Even a fool who remains silent is considered wise, and the one who holds his tongue is deemed discerning." Proverbs 17:28
This verse reminds me of good ole' Johnny "Madcap" Tyler in the movie Tombstone.  When we first meet Mr. Tyler, he's sitting at the Faro table being loud, slapping around the customers, and "waving his gun around."  
Wyatt Earp shuts him up with a few stern words and a bitch slap.

How would you even know that someone was foolish unless he open his (or her) mouth?

He cannot hold his tongue or remain silent.  That is the irony of this Scripture.

The Bible has a lot to say about the fool.  He loves to express his opinion, criticize others, is quick-tempered, quick to action, makes poor decisions, pulls immature pranks (and then says, "Hey, I'm just jokin'!").
His mouth "is his ruin."
His lips "walk into a fight and invite a beating."

But then there are those that use wisdom.  I don't recommend Wyat…