Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In The Pain of the Now

But Joseph said, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’” Genesis 50:1-20

Come Thursday morning I will be giving an overview of the life of Joseph at for our men's Bible study. We begin at 6:30 a.m. Gene Getz's study, Joseph -- Overcoming Obstacles Through Faithfulness, and the Bible will be our main sources.

A number of years back I did a study on Joseph, so I retrieved it and read through it again. There was a particular reason I researched Joseph's life at that time: Joseph may be the only Bible character whose life was filled with obstacles that were not the result of his own misguided decisions.

Shortly before I began the study, God had led me through a time of deep repentance. As I approached the study on Joseph, in my mind I was viewing my life as a clean slate. I wanted to live out of my freshly purged heart -- like Joseph lived. I wanted the assurance that I would not be responsible for my own hardships.

The Scripture that begins this post showed up in that old study. As I read it again, I immediately realized that I have not followed through on Joseph's lifelong faithfulness and humility. Unlike Joseph, I have sometimes considered it my responsibility to "Stand in the place of God." Simply put, if God didn't show Himself on my behalf quickly enough, I would just stand in for Him.

Our shoes are never big enough to stand in that place.

We have all been on the receiving end of "deeds intended to harm us." That's a given. However, we are often unable to see the other side of the equation "God intended it [those harmful intents] for good to accomplish what is now being done." That, too, is a given.

Joseph's life reminds us -- In the pain of the now we find the Providence of God.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Yes, We Are Gloating Parents

Today Miss Meagan interviewed with the Women's Soccer coach at Georgia College & State University. Next fall she will be competing for the starting goalie position for the Bobcats! Hey, did I ever tell you the story about the bobcat that jumped out of a tree right in front of me . . . I digress.

She also got a partial scholarship -- hallelujah! Needless to say, we are really proud of her and incredibly grateful that a good chunk of her college costs will be paid for. Her next step is to sign her official letter of intent and begin the off-season conditioning program.

This season, Meg has been a wounded warrior -- she's been battling pneumonia for over three weeks. Last Saturday, Meagan's high school team shut out their archrivals, Hardaway, 3-0. Her Blue Devils have outdueled the Hawks the last two years. Up until last year, their rivals had been the victors 8 years in a row.

Yes, we are gloating parents!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

An Unintimidated Master

Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength . . . Job 39:19-21

God has spoken to Job once again, reminding him of His creative powers. Today, I was an eye witness to a herd of young and proud equines. A skilled and determined trainer had bridled them for the first time. The breaking process was underway. Their wills but not their spirits would be broken.

The process revealed to me all that God described to Job. Incredible strength and wild flowing manes. Creatures leaping like locusts and striking the ground with angry hooves. Raw power balanced on hind legs, freeing two other legs to paw fiercely at the air and the trainer. I must admit though -- none of them seemed to be rejoicing in the midst of it all!

The trainer was unfazed and unintimidated. He was a master.

Watching them, I got a deeper understanding of God. His imagination is boundless, and He is the Author of strength. Freedom is His design, too. Yet strength and freedom are best when they are harnessed, directed, and set within boundaries.

All that I described, I watched from the saddle of Mercy. Mercy is powerful, majestic, poised and proud. Without a doubt, his energy is harnessed. His freedom has boundaries, but his spirit is unbroken. He is fully trained and loves to please his master.

We, too, have a freedom and strength. We need direction and boundaries. We, too, need a Master who can break our wills and leave us with spirit. Try to remember that in the middle of the breaking process.

Kicking, pawing, and snorting does little to dissuade an unintimidated Master.

Something New

If you look on the right side of the page you will notice something new. Feedblitz will send new posts daily to your e-mail from Enjoying the Adventure. Just enter your e-mail address in the Feedblitz box.

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Friday, March 24, 2006

Here We Are

I am reading The Border Trilogy, by Cormac McCarthy. This paragraph in volume one, All The Pretty Horses, grabbed my attention:

He lay on his back in his blankets and looked out where the quartermoon lay cocked over the heel of the mountains. In that false blue dawn the Pleiades seemed to be rising up into the darkness above the world and dragging all the stars away, the great diamond of Orion and Cepella and the signature of Cassiopeia all rising up through the phosphorous dark like a sea-net. He lay a long time listening to the others breathing in their sleep while he contemplated the wildness about him, the wildness within.

Do you sometimes feel like McCarthy's character (John Grady Cole)? You are contemplating two wild worlds: one is the physical world that surrounds you, the other is the world of your soul within you. All the while those around you are asleep to both worlds.

Job did.

Job wrestled with two wild worlds and languished in both; neither made sense. Job contemplated much, but could not solve the riddle his life had become. His sleepy friends were of little help; their dialogue revealed they did not understand the drama unfolding in and around Job -- they were oblivious to either world.

God's response to Job is God's response to us. When we are in those befuddling situations, God must ask us questions, questions that do not give us an exact answer but do help us get reoriented to both worlds:

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens . . . Do they report to you, 'Here we are.' Job 38:31-33, 35

Through binding and loosening, God brings forth stunning beauty in the midst of a pitch black sky. Through binding and loosening, God reveals seasons that unfold according to His laws -- laws we do not fully understand. So as we contemplate the wildness about us and the wildness within us, as we struggle to make sense of the two worlds that are ours, we must remember: He doesn't report to us -- we report to Him: "Here we are."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Old Paths or New Trails?

Trevor is a student at UGA and a member of the church I pastor. He is one of three young men who have never met a mission opportunity they didn't love. When I took a non-traditional mission trip to a very large Asian country (my pedometer said we trekked nearly 70 miles to bring the gospel to an unreached people) -- I took them with me. Trevor recently went to Panama and wrote about his experiences there. This quote from Emerson was in his last entry: Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

On reading those words, once again a long and deeply held yearning in my heart refused to be silenced. In despair, I began to ask and pray, "Is there anyone else out there who would rather leave a trail than follow a path? Why do we stay on old paths? Why don't we leave some new trails?" I realize that expressing these thoughts for the perusal of complete strangers -- or people I live with on a day-to -day basis -- is risky. I also believe that there are masses of people who are tired of following paths -- they want to leave trails.

I have no desire to take off on a path without my God or bring reproach on my Saviour by chasing meaningless fancies, but I do live with a haunting.

In Job's distress, he speaks words that reflect the haunting of which I speak: "He has blocked my way so that I cannot pass; He has shrouded my paths in darkness." (Job 19) I picture Job feeling his way along a rutted path -- a path he cannot leave because he cannot see the direction of his God. It is a terrible place for Job; he feels stripped of his honor. He cannot do what he was meant to do.

I believe there are some old paths that God ordains for periods and purposes known only to Him. I believe just as strongly that God gives us a driving desire to leave new trails.

As I read Job and Emerson -- deep speaks unto deep. Yes, I have a recurring hunger that Emerson expresses: Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. For those who have ears to hear you know exactly what I mean. I will close this post with Job's resolve . . .

Oh that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives . . . I myself will see him with my own eyes -- I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When God Doesn't Speak English

This afternoon I attended two funerals. One was held in our church; it was a Christian funeral. The other one was held under skies that dripped rain; it was a graveside Jewish funeral -- the first I have ever attended. The service at our church was very familiar; I have conducted nearly two hundred of them and attended scores more. I had no idea what to expect at the Jewish funeral.

When I arrived at the cemetary, Joe, the funeral director, pointed me to the corner of the cemetary where the Jewish are buried. There were only a handful of people there when I arrived, so I quietly observed. I read the many non-Gentile names carved into erect stones, and watched some of the elderly carefully navigating around the grave plots on tottering, feeble legs.

A sadness began to fill me. Under my breath I prayed that the melancholy would leave -- it did not. The funeral commenced when a Jewish man (not a Rabbi) began reciting the Psalms and other Old Testament Scriptures in Hebrew. Hearing the strange dialect, I realized that I was listening to a language very similar to the one God used when He first spoke to man. Suddenly, the text I used when I spoke in my Christian church just hours before was on my lips.

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew . . . Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. Romans 3:1-2

I seem to be at a loss for words. I don't know how to get all that is in my inner space onto a brief post for cyberspace. However, I can compress some thoughts into these few words: On a rainy afternoon, in the corner of a cemetary, surrounded by reminders of death, when I expected to hear nothing, the living God spoke -- and it wasn't in English.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Miss Meagan

Miss Meagan is our daughter, our baby, and a senior in high school. This weekend Sandy and I went to Jekyll Island to watch her play soccer in the Nike Tournament of Champions. It was the first time in her outstanding four year career I had ever gone to the tournament. Meagan and her team were stupendous, the gnats were outrageous, and the weather gorgeous. They tied two games and won a game. All the competition was against much larger schools.

While I was away there were three deaths connected to our church. I don't think I would be stretching it to say that there has always been some reason for me to leave important events in my children's lives due to my calling. I chose to stay at Jekyll and let my other pastors provide ministry to those families -- I don't regret my decision. We have two older sons that are grown and independent; I didn't always prioritize their needs over ministry -- I regret that decision.

I realize that God chose me and entrusted me with a privileged position as a pastor, but before that, He chose me to be a husband and father. I take my responsibilities within the body of Christ very seriously, but much of what I do requires me to respond to repetitive cycles of life: death, crisis, counseling, preaching, and so on. I only get one shot at raising a family. My priorities need to be my relationship with Christ, my wife, my family, and then ministry -- in that order.

This weekend Sandy and I spent time with our daughter and her teammates; we were chauffeurs, dinner hosts, and cheering section. We enjoyed the company of her coaches and the other girls' parents. We had the privilege of seeing a college scout rate our daughter's play and ask for an appointment to talk to her (she is on the phone with him right now!). When we got back to CHS, we got everyone unpacked and they went their own way. It struck me all at once -- how much I am going to miss Meagan.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rejoicing and Weeping.

Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Many years ago a man I deeply respected said, “Bill, those who laugh easy -- cry easy.” He was a man who, like me, struggled and battled to live out of the new heart God gave him. Unexplainable periods when he couldn’t laugh or cry were part of his journey. My imperfect friend battled bravely for his heart until the very end. I miss him.

I have been battling to stay in contact with my heart -- the one Jesus gave me. Hideous accusations from the Evil one, old wounds reopened, and fear shut down my heart, and I seem to scoop it up and run for cover. I can’t laugh or cry. Maybe you understand what I am describing. You, too, have felt coerced into hiding your bright new heart under a bushel.

The battle I am describing began in 1991. It was then I learned my most important lesson as a Christ follower: There is only one thing I need . . . my heart . . . the one Jesus gave me. My new heart pursues and yields things that matter. Because that heart is so dangerous and under such unrelenting assault -- I hide it.

This morning in a hotel room in Brunswick, Georgia, I have been crying. Truth is, I spent an entire night fighting, rather than releasing, a flood of pent-up tears. But the Owner of my new heart knows it better than I. He arranged some quiet time to set it free. His catalysts were the following quote and a confirmation from God’s Word . . .

As a young boy, my heart was captured by mystery: mystery that invited me to open my heart and join it in a kind of joyful exuberance; mystery that hinted of a story that existed on its own outside my own fanciful creations; a story that nonetheless invited me to be a part of it as I constructed my childhood adventures; a story that offered me villains and heroes and a story line that evolved out of their conflict; a story that, along with telling me of great danger, also told me that all things would be well; a story that felt as if it began in laughter and was confident that it would bring all who were a part of it home in joyful communion . . . Thankfully, our heart will not give up on the Romance . . . It will not go away in spite of our efforts over the years to anesthetize or ignore its song . . . it is a Romance couched in mystery and set deeply within us. It cannot be categorized in propositional truth or fully known any more than studying the anatomy of a corpse would help us know the person who once inhabited it. The Sacred Romance

Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. Amos 8:11

God comforted me. Through tears I renewed an old vow, “I will not give up on the Romance. I will live out of the deepest desires of my new heart; desires that come from hearing the words of the LORD.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Discipline Of Dismay

I know the Lord is leading. I know I am following Him. I don't always know where He is headed. I sometimes fear the walk of faith. I long for clarifying words from my Savior. These statements represent the talking points of a conversation Sandy and I have on a week-to-week basis. As of late, those questions have intensified in urgency and frequency.

Today, Sandy sent me an e-mail and reminded me to read the March 15 entry in Oswald Chambers devotional My Utmost For His Highest. I want to recommend O.C. to my fellow sojourners. Click on either of these links and read what he has to say. I am incredibly grateful for those who have left a record of their journeys -- Godspeed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

COTW -- A Preview Of A Future Event

We introduced Call of the Wild to about fifty-five pastors and men's ministry leaders at Buck's farm today. The weather was perfect: a brilliant sun, a good breeze and mild temperatures in the seventies. We had a guy from as far north as Rome, GA and another from Auburn, AL. Some of the guys shot skeet or rappelled off a 65 foot tower for the first time.

The purpose of the preview was to let other churches in on an event that has impacted the men of our church in a very positive way. Our goal is to see COTW inspire other men to return to their churches and battle for men's hearts. Today, on a smaller scale, we reminded men of the importance to Connect Relationally, Ignite Spiritually, and Battle Strategically.

As the sun coaxed the earth back to life and the wind filled it with new breath, over 50 men gathered in the shade of REAL Hall. During our time together, racial, denominational, and age barriers were breached; new and diverse alliances were formed. That, too, is a preview of a future event!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Misty Monday

This morning a gray mist shrouded the sun and sprinkles of rain fell intermittently. My plan was to be on my bicycle at first light; I had to make adjustments. I visited the hospitals around 8:30 a.m. and checked in on a couple of folks from our church. They are both doing much better. In the next day or so they will be going to rehab units.

Tomorrow we will meet with 50-60 men at Buck's farm (home of Call of the Wild). We invited pastors and men's ministry leaders from more than 40 churches to a preview of the up-coming Call of the Wild this fall. COTW has been a great help to the men in our own church, and we are trying to share the wealth. The skeet range and rappelling tower will be available, and we will provide a lunch best eaten outdoors -- hot dogs and chili. We will also do a mini break-out session with those who attend. I met our men's ministry leader at the site today -- all systems are go.

This evening I rode 16.5 miles at an average speed of 17.3 mph. I got home before the sun went to bed. I hope to get a couple of 25 milers in this week, but it's not looking promising -- a lot going on. Tonight, I will continue preparation for Sunday's message, check out some of my friend's blogs, and write down a few things myself.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Closing Out The Weekend

Sunday is the first day of the week, but it always gets included in the weekend. My "weekend" has been filled with variety. I thought I would write a few lines before I call it quits. Journaling is a fulfilling part of most days.

On Saturday I spent a couple of hours on Mercy. Mercy is a beautiful Tennessee walker. He is completely different than Cisco (the horse I have ridden the last couple of times out). Mercy loves to run. He comes from champion stock and is "neck rein" guided. He responds to the slightest commands, but I was constantly aware that I was sitting on a powerhouse. Riding Mercy gave me the opportunity to sharpen my skills as a rider; a couple of times his will was opposed to mine. I had to take charge and get him to respond to my directions. He stumbled twice during the ride and I kept him (and myself) under control. A real confidence booster. I was at ease even when I had to take him across two creeks. I let him have his head a couple of times so he could stretch his legs.

I also spent a lot of time at hospitals this weekend visiting those bedridden. Richard and Annie are in long recoveries after major surgeries. Both of these people had complications that required additional surgery. Another one of our men had a knee replaced and is recovering with no complications. Praise God!

I had a deacon's meeting this morning at 8 a.m.

At 9:30 and 11:00 I preached from Acts 11:19-26. I titled the message "Advancing the Kingdom: The Necessity of Two Kinds of Movements and Two Kinds of Men." The take-aways were: God orchestrated a movement (through persecution) to bring the gospel to people like us and a movement to bring the gospel to people unlike us. It also took a man who could handle a movement of grace (Barnabas) and a man who could handle a movement of growth (Saul). Grace and growth are not enemies. You don't have to give up one to have the other.

At the invitation a young man come forward to present himself for baptism, and a young couple, new to Columbus, united with our church. I visited the hospitals again tonight and two of my patients were sound asleep. I chose not to awaken them. Another weekend comes to a close.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Bride's Birthday

Yesterday I got to spend the entire day with Sandy. We have spent less time together this year than any other. Sandy has been in school full time. My life? To quote a good friend, "I don't know how much I am doing right, but I am doing a lot!" It has not been a rhythmic year.

Sandy captivates me; it seems that her depth is endless. We enjoyed each other's company while doing a lot of driving and talking: about God, church, marriage, children, and dreams. Conversation went on with few pauses as we looked for connections and patterns in the events of our lives. Sandy and I are wonderfully and painfully never satisfied with the way things are. Together, we believe there is an adventure to pursue.

Stopping in Macon, we did some shopping. Sandy needed a new wardrobe and Dillards and Macy's were having a 75% off sale. She did great! I did great helping her pick out her clothes. When we got home we tried watching a movie together, but faded. This morning Sandy worked on some writing and this afternoon went for a bike ride; I went horse back riding this morning and spent the afternoon writing and preparing for Sunday. But yesterday -- it was my bride's birthday and we spent it together!

An Act Of Rebellion

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

When I give consideration to Paul's warning against conformity, I consider it in the context of the world where I spend most of my time. That world is the organized church. I believe the church is in a life-or-death struggle with conformity. Don't misunderstand me; the conforming I refer to is not about the church becoming worldly. I am referring to the church becoming its own little world. It is easy to forget that much of the early church's struggle was against a conforming evil called "religion." Today, like then, there is a need for godly noncomformists who will battle that same evil. Yes . . . evil. The church is in need of a revolution.

A friend sent me this quote that captures the struggle I refer to.

"The crowd does not take kindly to nonconformity. It is the scorn of our peers probably more than anything else that hinders our living out of the center. The fear of ridicule paralyzes us more effectively than flat-out opposition. How much good is left undone because of this fear! The irony is that the opinions we fear most are not those of people we really respect, yet these very persons influence our lives more than we want to admit. The desire to stand well with "them" can lead to an appalling mediocrity and a frightening unfreedom.
Living out of center shapes and forms a liberated Christian. Albert Camus once said, "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very act of existence becomes an act of rebellion." There is nothing more maddening to the mob than a truly free person."
-- Raggamuffin Gospel

Sometimes you even have to quote Camus or a former Roman Catholic priest to get the point across. If Christ's church is not transforming, it is conforming -- even in its own little world.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

History Will Be Kind To Him

The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. Proverbs 10:7

The way of the righteous is a battle. Battle means there are opposing sides. Opposition means there is a winner and loser. Only the winner enjoys the memory of the conflict. The loser, even though he may be righteous, is just that, the loser.

How will you be remembered? That is the intent of the Proverb. The actions of the righteous usually oppose the actions of the majority; the majority usually rules. Righteous deeds are often like seeds that lie dormant for a long time; fruit does not come immediately.

Righteous men and women need to continue to do the right thing -- not the popular thing. One day, those who look back in light of the eternal will be left with a good memory of the righteous. As the saying goes, "History will be kind to him."

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The Favor Of The Lord

Does not wisdom call out . . . Listen, for I have worthy things to say . . . For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 8:1, 6, 35

An urgent message is often delivered with a loud voice -- wisdom does not always speak softly. Sometimes she raises her voice and cries aloud: Listen, for I have worthy things to say!

Seeking wisdom sometimes leaves you feeling like you have chased an echo. You hear her -- but never find the source of the voice.

A cry for help is sometimes the loud call of wisdom. You are not wise because you hear the plea -- you become wise when you understand what caused the calamity.

Because life is found in wisdom, but wisdom is not always found in a life, some people never receive the favor of the Lord.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Arrows And Snares

All at once . . . like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. Proverbs 7:22-23

All at once . . . and out of the blue a person falls into immorality. The event takes place . . . all at once, but almost without exception the mind entertains the thought for a long while. When I lived in Maine, we used to snare rabbits. It was really easy; we would find a rabbit trail and set up a noose made from piano wire. The rabbit would hop down a trail it had used many times. In an instant, its head would be in a noose. The rabbit could have survived if it stopped, backed up, and took a different trail. It didn't. Not once. Instead it lunged forward, tightening the noose.

Most often a moral fall results from continuing down a well beaten path. The road toward moral failure begins with a fantasy; the dreamer takes a walk -- time and time again -- down an imaginary path. Eventually, the dream turns into an actual opportunity. Instead of backing up, the pathetic man continues forward and the noose begins to tighten. We have all witnessed it -- the poor fool presses forward, not realizing it will cost him his life.

What life does he give up? Everything that really matters -- integrity and a clear conscience.

Blunt Words Never Spoken

Bind them upon your heart forever, fasten them around your neck. When you walk they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. Proverbs 6:22

The father commands and the mother teaches -- so says the Sage. His words are directed toward his son. His assertion is remarkable; parents can speak words that never rest, they work on the heart 24/7. The commands and teaching revolve around a specific theme -- sexual purity. Oh yes, if there is one subject that is never far from a young heart -- it is sex.

Failure made Solomon an expert on this subject. His own lusts cracked the foundations of his own kingdom. His multiple marriages and scores of concubines made a fool out of a wise man.

The seductive immoral woman is not the root of the problem. The lusty heart is. "Do not lust in your heart after her beauty," he warns. Solomon's words are bold and uncensored. He claims that his words will burn into the brain with a greater heat than the forbidden passions that awaken in a young heart. Read them again -- slowly.

That raises a question "Can the unbridled sexual behavior in our generation be traced back to blunt godly words never spoken by parents or Christ's church?"

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Glory -- Hospitals -- And Horses

Today I preached twice as I do every Sunday; the text was Romans 2:6-8. I titled the message "Seeking Good And Seeking Glory." I will not recap the entire message, but the take-away was "Because God has made you good through receiving the truth of the gospel -- seek glory." Yes, I believe that God would have us pursue the glory for which He saved us. God's word is very clear on that -- He wants to make us glorious.

After church I went to see Karen. Karen took a serious flip on her bicycle. She clamped down on the front break, immediately lost control, and slammed into the pavement. She broke her pelvis in two places. Karen is a police officer and tough as nails. She will recover. I went to another hospital this evening to visit Richard. He is recovering from open-heart surgery and complications that followed. He is doing better, but has a long rehab ahead.

In between hospital visits, Sandy and I took a fourteen mile ride on our bikes. It was another pristine day in Georgia. I let her set the pace. Sandy's physical condition is way ahead of last year at this time. She averaged fourteen and a half miles an hour -- really good. We took the Fulton road loop, one of our favorites. We passed endless horse stables and pastures for several miles.

I am learning to ride horses. You may not connect with this, but I think it's part of the glory I referred to earlier. A couple of good friends are patiently teaching me the skills. Yesterday morning we rode for about two hours. For the first time, I forded streams on horseback. It thrilled me . . . it still thrills me . . . my eyes are blurring with moisture as I write. I know it's about the glory.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Today

What a beautiful day! The sun was unhindered by a single cloud. Sitting in my back yard reading, my winter skin finally took on a shade darker than the white pages of my book! After an hour of reading, listening, and nodding, I had to will myself back inside. Sermon preparation, e-mails, and writing are an everyday responsibility.

This afternoon Sandy and I jumped on the bikes and rode for an hour. The Bradford trees are putting on their display and the browns and grays of winter will soon disappear. Half of our ride was into a stiff wind. When we got to our turn-around point I told her, "You won't even have to pedal home. The wind will get you there. I was right; it was a good ride.

Tonight, Meagan has her first soccer game against Harris County. She has been in bed for two days with a fever and chills. In order to play in tonight's game she had to be in school today by eleven. Sandy asked me if I ever competed when I was sick. I told her I had (still do) and we decided to let Meagan give it a shot.

It is that time of year when the unrelenting desire to head off into the wilderness becomes almost unbearable. I know the urge to explore and trek is God-given. At this time, He has not freed me to pursue them with the gusto I would like. I trust God. I know that He has provided a time for every season of life. I will enjoy the adventure -- today.

Harvey

I have a friend named Harvey -- we go way back. When we attended high school together, I always wanted to be like Harvey. He was a really good student, handsome, strong as an ox, quiet, and serious. He could fix or build anything -- sort of a man among boys.

In high school, Harvey and I never hung out together. Well, only once. I think that was the night I put 3 quarts of Mr. Bubble in the public fountain, more than likely drove too fast, and may have seemed a little out of control. Harvey did not want to be like me -- or arrested with me!

All the while -- I wanted to be like Harvey.

Later on I became his pastor. Our friendship deepened. He was a best friend through the most painful church circumstances I have ever experienced. I do not exaggerate -- we spent hundreds of hours talking and praying together. When I was beside myself with hurt and rage -- Harvey was a rock.

I wanted to be like Harvey.

Many years have passed. I have resisted conforming to some of the nonsense that Christ's church insists on. In other ways, I have tightened up. I also struggle with posing. I am free in Christ, yet still battle to live out of my new heart.

Today, I got an e-mail from Harvey's wife. Harvey is learning to dance (believe me, that is not the Harvey I knew). At his first lesson Harvey showed up in a white t-shirt, shorts, and a pair of burgundy wing tip shoes! He is enjoying his freedom.

Once again, I thought, "I want to be like Harvey."

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The Wisdom Of An Ignorant Man

The saying of Agur son of Jakeh -- an oracle . . . I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man's understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Proverbs 30:1-3

There is a common belief that men can learn about God if they so choose -- they cannot. We know God when, and only when, He reveals His mysterious self (1 Corinthians 2:6-10). Agur was wise enough to admit his ignorance. Like us, he lived in a world of men who did not know God, but had God figured out. Go figure! You know what I mean; God is systematized and neatly packaged; they explain God like a CPA explains the IRS tax code.

You, too, will find yourself in the same situation, in the midst of empty people who ramble on about all they know about God -- but have no knowledge of the Holy One. In those instances, our mindset needs to reflect the same humility and security of Agur. He is saying with a true humility "I don't think like you. I don't espouse your understanding of God. I have not learned your wisdom or have your knowledge of the Holy One.

The wisdom of an ignorant man -- he relies on revelation not intelligence.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Slain By A Jawbone

If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace . . . A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back. Proverbs 29: 9, 11

Where do we draw the line? When do we vent -- when do we hold back? When is open rebuke better than secret love? Some calls are easy; there are people who unleash profanity-laced tyrades. Most would agree; they have crossed the line. They have made fools of themselves.

Others say nothing, but their body language screams at you. I know a lady like that; she has never hurled profanities at me. Instead, she curls her lip and turns her back when I come near. It might benefit both of us if she would just get whatever it is that is bugging her off her chest (I am venting).

The key is wisdom: "But a wise man holds them back." A wise man will not vent all his feelings. A wise man will not contend with a fool and fall by his own sword. The wise man will not die like a Philistine -- slain by the jawbone of an . . . er . . . donkey.