Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beautiful and Charming…

IMG_2003 “How do I look? Cute?” asked the Charming and Beautiful Susan.

“Of course. You’re the cutest,” I said.

IMG_2004 Are you lying?” she asked.

“Yes. I’m lying. I and everyone else I know really thinks you’re ugly but we’re all afraid to tell you.” I said maybe with a slight hint of sarcasm.

I never know the right answer. Should I let these comments go and just realize that this is the way women must communicate with their adoring husbands? Or IMG_2005 should I say something every once in a while? Agreeing with a woman sarcastically makes the point but it doesn’t score any points for the home team. But maybe the home team needs to sacrifice.

I definitely have a reputation for knowing just the right thing to say to women.

How’s your Thanksgiving shaping up?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This is how we lay low on the busiest travel day of the year…


I don’t know what to say here except that it was a pile o’ fun having the Charming and Beautiful Susan snap this picture of Allie and me on my bike.

Nothing like being barefoot and in shorts the day before Thanksgiving. As you can see, we’re having a rough winter here in Fort Lauderdale.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What makes you say…?

But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
(Exodus 4:10-13 ESV)

What makes you say, “Send someone else?” Is the job too hard? Too menial? Will someone besides you get the credit? Or are the challenges to huge to overcome; too big for God?

What is your excuse when you hear the clear voice of the Lord? What does the Lord have to provide for you to get you to obey? Maybe Moses simply thought that there would be no glory in obeying God. He didn’t really know Him at this point in his life, right? I mean Moses just came across a burning bush and saw a few miracles. It was definitely shock and awe, but was it enough to get Moses to trust and obey? It doesn’t appear so.

But I know God. At least I like to think so. I’ve had a relationship with Him (though, not a perfect one) for most of my adult life. And there are still times when I say, “send someone else.” I’m comfortable with letting someone else do the heavy lifting for Jesus.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
(Isaiah 6:8 ESV)

So what is it that makes me say, “Here I am send me?”

Moses needed something from God to obey. I’m amazed that God negotiates. Moses is being high maintenance so God gives Moses a few signs. That’s patience. That’s goodness. That’s God. God knows us and wants to be in relationship with us anyway so He, in His Grace and Wisdom, negotiates and gives us what we need to do the task.

But He probably won’t always do it that way. We need to grow up.

Isaiah acts like either a mature believer or simply someone struck by the wonder of God. Isaiah had to get in on whatever it was God was going to do. God tells Isaiah that a message needs to brought and Isaiah says, “send me.”

Before I’d say, “Send me,” I’d have to know what the message is and who I’m carrying it to. Maybe I’m a little more like Jonah than I am like Isaiah. Maybe I love my life the way it is rather than the way it could be.

What makes you say, “Send me.”?
What makes you say, Send someone else, Lord.”?

Friday, November 19, 2010


This is a class project in Allie's class at Broward Children's Center.

- Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My wounded pride

I’m backing out of this year’s Disney Marathon. It’ll be the first year since I turned 40 (six years ago) that I’m not running a marathon. I got too far behind in my training this year. I took two weeks off from my usual training regiment to take a team from church to the Middle East for an outreach opportunity and didn’t run the whole time I was on the trip. I just didn’t see running in a country known for packs of wild dogs and terrorist cells as wise. On top of the not running, I ate three times a day like it was my last meal. The meals were excellent but it was a serious carb-fest. Bread, rice, hummus, meat, and more bread. So add at least seven pounds gained to my two weeks of no running in the middle of my marathon training schedule and, you’d probably agree, that weaseling out of the marathon was the smart thing to do. on top of that, I came  home and dealing with jet-lag and loading up on the cooking of the Charming and Beautiful Susan that I missed so much. That is, I missed her as much if not more than her cooking. But since I got home, I’ve been putting away her cooking like it’s my last meal. So the pounds aren’t coming off and the running ain’t getting run. So I won’t be going to see Mickey and Minnie this January. But I joined a gym so maybe that’s something. Maybe I can turn this fat into lean muscle. What’s on your Christmas list?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One of my favorite people: Ruth

Ruth is an amazing lady. Allie's paternal grandmother is the grandmother I always wanted. She has helped us with Allie from day one. Allie is so blessed to have a grandma that is so hands on.
Life isn't fair but Ruth doesn't complain. She makes it a point to be a blessing to those around her proving that the best way to overcome adversity is to put others before yourself. She has done that with Allie and Susan and me demonstrating goodness that must be mentioned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

When Salvation is Real

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)

I turned on the news this morning and saw people caught up in horrible events. A missing thirteen year old was found in a neighbor’s basement but three of her family members are still missing. 42 people were killed in a Shanghai high–rise building fire. But nothing causes me to question the existence of God more than when I myself am the victim of injustice. We’ve all heard people ask, “If God is all powerful, why did he let this happen?”

In his early years, trouble stuck to David like he was made of Velcro. His friends sold him out. His enemies hunted him bent on killing him. His only friends were thugs and society’s rejects. He felt abandoned by God and even cried out, “How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

God deliberately hiding was not consistent with David’s knowledge of God. David witnessed God change things in and through him. Rather than David the shepherd avoiding a lion, God used David to kill it to protect sheep. Rather than sit on the sidelines while a foul giant taunted God’s people, God used David to take Goliath down. Without these troubles, David would never grow into the king and declare God’s salvation to Israel. David may never have become a man after God’s own heart.

It’s not until an athlete is fully exhausted and has completely endured that he really knows how good victory feels. When we are spent by circumstances it does mean we are abandoned by God. We only change when we are fully depleted. This is where salvation becomes real and personal and visible to others. It is then that singing a song about God’s goodness finds its deepest meaning.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stuck Between Floors

Once upon a time as the story goes there was a small hospital in Kansas. The electrical power shut down for some unknown reason. The elevator stopped between floors with a load of passengers.

One passenger clicked her cell phone to momentarily illuminate the elevator so they could see. Another passenger reached for the emergency phone. And another hoped that there would be enough signal on their cell phone so that she dial 911. It was getting hot. It was dark. The screeching sound of the alarm further jangled the nerves of the elevator's already tense passengers .

Suddenly, one of the men began to beat on the door. He shouted and hollered, and banged. It was hot, tense, and the man's actions made the small box feel smaller. Everyone tried to get him to calm down. The last thing they needed was someone losing it.

One of the hospital's employees tried to calm the man. "Help is on the way," he said.

But the man kept pounding and shouting.

"The hospital has a generator system," the employee said. "As soon as the maintenance man hooks up the generator system, we'll be able to get out of here. Try to remain calm. Power will soon be restored by the maintenance man and the elevator's doors will be open and everything will be alright. It won't be long."

The man stopped pounding on the door of the elevator and turned to the employee and said, "but I am the maintenance man."

Life has a way of making us feel like we're suddenly trapped between floors and there's no way out. My life the past month has been surreal. I've traveled with a team of Christians to the Middle East. I rode a camel at the Pyramids in Egypt. THE Pyramids. We've enrolled Allie in a great school and it feels like the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have been given our lives back. And a long awaited court case concerning the horrific abuse of our little Allie has, after three and a half years, finally gone to trial. We've been riding an out-of-control emotional elevator.

We've received word from the San Francisco District Attorney's office that after just a couple of hours of deliberation, a jury found Paul Cote guilty of both charges of violence and abuse against Allie.

I don't know how I'm supposed to feel. People talk about closure. "Now you have closure," or "At least you have closure," people say, but I don't even know what that is supposed to mean and why people think they have to say that. What does closure do? What does it change? Allie is still crippled. Paul's life is forever altered. And everybody that loves Allie or Paul have been irreversibly changed.

And I'm trapped between floors. Do I want justice? Do I want to forgive?


How do I get both? Maybe that would be closure.

Allie’s New Schedule

383 It’s unbelievable how happy Allie is these days. We’ve enrolled her in school at Broward Children’s Center and she loves it.


She’s absolutely a new kid. Her experience at this new school is ten times better than the school she attended last year. Allie can’t wait to get to school in the morning and when we pick her up late in the afternoon, she is still having fun with her teachers and classmates.

For a couple of days, the Charming and Beautiful Susan went with her sister to go visit their parents. The pictures I’ve 380included in this post are proof that I can get Allie ready for school on time, get her lunch and junk together, and dress her in cute little outfits all by myself.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Service: the Source of Joy

But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. (Mark 10:43, 44 CEV)

“ME FIRST, me first!” That was our battle cry across the schoolyard when we were kids. Everyplace our teachers lined us up whether it was to pile onto a school bus, mob the cafeteria or attack the jungle gym, first was the only place that mattered. First was our greatest source of joy. We carried that concept from the schoolyard right into adulthood.

Paul the Apostle is a great Bible hero. He’s remembered as the greatest missionary in the early church. But Paul didn't derive joy from titles or being great. His letter to the Philippians reveals his heart. He introduces himself and Timothy, his pupil and son in the faith, as fellow bondservants; slaves. This action places them on equal ground as servants. For Paul, joy comes from being a servant to all, even when you’re the leader.

Are we making it our mission to put others first? Think about the most joyful people you know. Are they stepping on others to get to the top? The most satisfied, content, and joyful people we know are those who’ve abandoned everything to make life better for someone else. The college student who gave up his summer to serve Haiti’s earthquake victims comes to mind. We’re reminded of the mom who organized the fund raiser for another family’s mountain of hospital bills, or the well-to-do grandmother who mentors inner-city children at an after school program.
Joy is the natural by-product and expression of a servant relationship with Jesus Christ. When rank and title are stripped away, joy remains as our most valuable commodity and declaration of Christ.

How has someone’s service to you impacted your life?
How can you follow that example and serve someone else sacrificially?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Church Planting Lesson Thirty

This is the final installation of the Church Planting series of the Shepherd's Staff Podcast.


time: 9:24

The entire church planting series can be downloaded here.

subscribe to podcast in iTunes

A Day of Rest

image A week has passed already since I annihilated this poor, tasty fish taken from the Red Sea (pictured over my shoulder).

There is nothing like coming home to the Charming and Beautiful Susan. I missed her and Allie so much. But it’s also sad. The ministry was fast paced, effective, and intense. It’s not unusual for a little bit of depression to set in when returning from this kind of trip. It comes with the territory when doing short-term ministry trips.

Jet lag doesn’t help. If possible, the best thing after an intense ministry schedule and long travel itinerary is to listen to your body and get some rest. Returning and embracing the regular work day schedule helps, too.

The temptation is to think that God can only use you when traveling in a field afar, but that is so untrue. So much ministry takes place as I tell the stories of my trip. The story challenges listeners to do something “unsafe” for the Lord. It also sets markers in my mind so I can relive what the Lord has done while I was away. And I’m reminded to pray continually for so many living apart from the Grace of Christ both far away and right next door.

Musicianaries Cambodia Update

These are my friends over at Musicianaries...

Cambodia from Calvary Church on Vimeo.