Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cuz (part 2)

"No blogs for a while!" Exclaimed my friend, Cuz
"I haven't had time, so busy I wuz"

Snow and temps are drastically fallin'
I do think I hear a wamma' place callin'

I could cuss the freezin', but I won't be crass
Because for now my task is in Southeast Mass

Monday, January 19, 2009

Update

The forecast for yesterday's snowstorm was 3-5 inches -- it dropped more than a foot on us! At this point I am still enjoying every flake that falls (although in a perfect wonderland the storms would not fall on five consecutive Sundays).

Waking up to a world of pristine white is something I wish everyone could experience. Unless you have been privileged to step into a cold, brilliant, colorless ocean that a winter storm brings, any attempts to describe it is like trying to explain the substance of a frozen crystal of ice to someone who has lived their entire life in a dry, arid, desert.

The Master Artist never leaves an empty canvas.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two-for-Three!

Massachusetts is facing a mammoth budget shortfall due to uber over-spending on the Big Dig. One of the cutbacks chosen to remedy the money squeeze is snow removal during storms. Secondary roads get little or no attention at all. Traveling ain't like it used to be.

Which brings us to today . . .

Last night, before I went to bed I listened to my weather man one last time: Three-to-five inches of light, fluffy snow. Accumulation inconsequential. A prophet he is not -- forecast was way off! As it turns out we have about 7 inches on the ground, and it's supposed to snow throughout the evening into the wee hours of Martin Luther King day. Five-for-five! We have had 5 Sundays in a row with inclement weather of some kind! Once again, we had to cancel services today -- that's 2 of the last 3 Sunday services!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let the Old Dreams Die

For the first time since 2006 I am watching American Idol. As I watch I am also in a running dialogue with friends on Facebook . . . lots of sarcasm (one of my friends suggested I use the time to do a bible study. My response . . . I am studying idolatry).

For sure, there are cringe moments -- some of the performers are absolutely over-the-top. Absurd. Others, you simply feel sorry for them, they come to American Idol believing they will be discovered, change their world, and change their life -- they are painfully untalented. Then, there are contestants, like a blind performer, named Scott MacIntyre, who is pure inspiration. My guess is that an audience of millions is pulling for him.

But there is a bigger reason for writing this post then to comment on American Idol. We are all dreamers . . . we can't live a healthy, meaningful life without a dream. This morning Sandy and I were engaged in a deep and emotional conversation about our dreams. We have had to grind through the dilemma and agony of what to do with dreams that seem unlikely to come true. Do we hold on to the dream or do we let it go.

We finished our conversation by phone later this morning. I listened intently as she read the lyrics from this song by Avalon.

Dreams I dream for you

You taste the tears
You're lost in sorrow
You see your yesterdays
I see tomorrow

You see the darkness
I see the spark
You know your failures
But I know your heart

The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper than the ones you're clinging to
More precious than the finest things you knew
And truer than the treasures you pursue

You see your shame
But I see your glory
You've read one page
I know the story

I hold a vision
Of what you'll become
As you grow into the truth
As you learn to walk in love

Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Modeling

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." ~ Jesus (Matthew 9:34-38)

On Sundays I am continuing the theme -- Advancing the Kingdom. Today our focus was on modeling kingdom life. It is easy to forget that Jesus had to model everything he taught. From the outset, His twelve apprentices, the disciples, knew nothing of the message of the gospel or the kingdom. So in collusion with his heavenly Father, Jesus consistently orchestrated Divine events intended to provide the flesh and blood example of a heart and life captured for the advance of the kingdom -- a life fully given over to God's agenda. Faith was revealed through observable action, and it was insisted that works accompany faith. Cognitive learning never made a disciple.

We can see this intended design in the Scripture at the front of this post. Jesus spoke in the synagogue, but sent His followers into the field. He never modeled the status quo of our day -- gather within painted walls, sit in padded pews, and absorb lecture after lecture, go home, come back, and repeat the cycle. Let's face it, gathering information about the bible (and I am the speaker/preacher/teacher at our church about 48 weeks a year) doesn't provide much of an opportunity for modeling a transformed life.

Just a thought.

Also,

Another 6-8 inches of snow, and the mercury is going to tumble everyday this week. By the weekend the thin, red line will drop below zero! Daytime high temps will be in the low teens and single numbers! So far, so good -- Sandy and I are slowly evolving into cold weather creatures!



Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolutions

It's a new year and people are filled with resolve to start or stop doing something. I just returned from Planet Fitness -- it was like the first day of Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving. Every treadmill, cycle, elliptical, and cross trainer was being walked, straddled, glided, or resisting the strides of arms and legs. Every weight machine, cable, and rack of free weights was being yanked, pulled, and pushed. Looking for new found health and fitness, many strutted around adorned in the latest active wear fashions. Lots of guys tugged on padded, fingerless, leather gloves had yet to be frayed by the friction of hide on steel. Others wrapped a weight belt around their waist -- still unstained by the first trickles of sweat, they more closely resembled a cummerbund.

At times I found myself cringing as I watched people sling weights or pump the machines in such ways that violently jerked joints and tendons. I expected to hear the unique 'pop' that only a torn ACL, Achilles, or a bicep detaching from a ligament (most of the people were in my age bracket, and believe me, it's really easy to hurt yourself trying to get in shape). A couple of newbies asked me how to use some of the weights and machines -- I was relieved to assist them (I did not want to have to stop my routine and call an ambulance, or do CPR -- I know -- not very compassionate).

Bob, one of the owners, and I usually chat a few minutes every time I am in there (6 days a week). I asked him how the surge of fitness enthusiasts would shake out.

He responded . . .

About a third will come for 2-3 months, and then we will never see them again -- but they won't cancel their membership. About another third will begin to come very sporadically -- but they won't cancel their membership. Then another third will become absolutely committed -- you will watch them physically change -- it's pretty rewarding.


My conversation with Bob is metaphor -- a simple understandable example of the different stages of learning to walk with God. There will be resolutions -- fueled by good intentions. There will be retractions -- prompted by the pain of rigorous exercise. Getting in shape spiritually has no easy route, but for those who will ride out the highs and lows, a noticeable change in their spiritual condition will emerge -- it's pretty rewarding.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Life Party

The concern for world evangelism is not something tacked on to a man's personal Christianity, which he may take or leave as he chooses. It is rooted in the character of the God who has come to us in Christ Jesus. Thus, it can never be the province of a few enthusiasts, a sideline or a specialty of those who happen to have a bent that way. It is the distinctive mark of being a Christian. -- James S. Stewart

Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love
-- Roland Allen

On Tuesday night we had the study with our Chinese friends using SKYPE. Every time we meet, all of us are incredibly glad to see each other, we laugh a lot, and there is always a great sense and anticipation of the presence of God. When we were getting ready to close, I asked if there were any specific ways I could pray for individuals (we always end this way). At the study was a guest of one of the young men who came to Christ through this study a few months ago. I have to confess, as I said, we always sense and anticipate the presence of God, but I was surprised when he stepped in close to the camera, and asked if I would pray that he, too, would understand how to have relationship with our God.

The essence of what I said was, Pray those very words -- God I, too, want to have a relationship with you. Then I told him that he could be confident that God would open his understanding, his eyes, and his spirit to God's Truth. I prayed for him, then and there, and assured him that all of us would be praying for him.

When it was time for the group break up, Sara gave him a copy of the Purpose Driven Life to take home.

This morning I got an email from Robert and Sara. They told me that our young friend returned to their home last night. He met with Sara and some of our regular group to celebrate the first day of the New Year. He also came with some good new(s) -- God had opened his eyes and his heart to the Truth -- he wanted to receive Jesus as his Savior.

I would love to give you the name of our new brother in Christ, but the circumstances do not allow me to do so. Just go to God and tell Him you heard the good news!

Happy New Year -- Happy New Life!