From Drooling Creatures…

It’s summertime!  You can taste the late nights and the days filled with outdoor relaxation.  All the cares in the world melt away in the beautiful weather and stress seems but a distant memory…if you are a kid!  The rest of us have jobs to maintain, lawns to upkeep…even vacation planning is laborious.  And how easy is it to throw together a graduation party?  The picture boards alone must require a yeoman’s effort.  But still, we treasure the extra time we can spend with family.  We hang onto summer because we know that September is coming and with it the proof that life as we know it is slowly coming to an end.  With each passing year, our kids advance a grade, become a little older and we must stand by and watch it all happen.

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“Close Enough” Construction

My father fancies himself a woodworker.  He built himself a two-story garage with a full shop upstairs.  Between other projects, he finds time to think up ideas and sketch them out on his whiteboard.  He makes hope chests and cupboards, bench seats and even a lovely two-toned chess table.  Often, if you receive a gift from him at Christmastime, it came out of his shop.  He is a man with a tight grip on his wallet and he would never pay someone else to do something that he could (probably) do himself.
 
Growing up with this man exposed me to many projects, some rather ill-advised, some quite successful.  He built our entire basement, our gigantic back deck, a porch off the side of the house, a whole slew of pre-garage sheds and most currently a playground in his yard for the grand kids. 


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Bible – Level Miracles in My Life

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” -Psalm 145:3
 
Two months ago today the tour that Reese and I led to Israel returned home. We had so many memorable experiences, but from this perspective, I must say that my highlight was a special prayer I prayed in the synagogue at the Wailing Wall. Why this was so meaningful and special goes back 20 years.
 
When Reese and I were married in 1993, we decided to put off having kids for a while. Our childless lives soon were filled with all kinds of activities, work, and interests. About three years into our marriage–20 years ago–I told my wife that I didn’t think I wanted children. They were such a commitment, required so much time and attention, and would be a drain on our finances. I remember saying, “Kids would just cramp our style!” 

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The Original Superman

 
In some circles, idle conversation may delve into the fictional world of superheroes.  Hollywood has helped to make this modern mythology a present force in most of our lives.  From their earliest days, boys growl like the Hulk while imaginary claws emanate from their knuckles as they fly around the living room imagining that they are the superest hero of all.  Superpowers are simply fun to have, why should we have to choose just one?


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Hopeful Idiots

 
Certainly in our day and age, Christianity has fallen to the wayside.  Just a generation or so ago, church attendance was expected and normal.  Kids grew up in a religious environment and were familiar with the basic tenants of the Gospel.  But membership in a church does not a Christian make.  The overriding secularization of just about everything (including many churches) reveals that the Christian voice has become easily dismissed and moreover, that many voices who claim to be Christian are…not so much.
In short, the world perceives us as hopeful idiots.  We have a good story to tell, but just a story nonetheless.  And so we wander around surrounded by a world of humanitarian secularism and altruistic do-goodery.  


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Easter is Empty

Easter is a treasure buried deep in the ground.  It is a priceless gift that has been covered over with distraction.  It is humanity’s source of sustenance hidden in some darkened corner in the back room of the candy shop.  Of course, as a minister, I want to reclaim Easter from the clutches of commercialism.  Of course, I want to do away with the proliferation of the Easter bunny.  Of course, I want everyone to fall on their knees before the glory of the empty tomb and plead the mercy of God for their eternal salvation.  Easter is the culmination of our good news.  Without it our faith is in vain and we who believe are just a bunch of poor, dumb souls who ought to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:17-19).

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Stone Faith

 

“The whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!” -1 Samuel 17:46

 

Thirteen days ago 30 of us got off the plane in Tel Aviv, Israel, after an overnight flight through Toronto. We were exhausted, but excited. The key to overcoming jet lag is to stay awake the first day until bed time in the new time zone. So, rather than going to our hotel for the afternoon, where most of us would be tempted to take a nap, our bus took us on a drive to the east.

We had begun our Christian History Study Tour of the Holy Land! Most of us had never been out of the country before, and all but a few had never been to Israel. It was for all of us a spiritual pilgrimage. We wanted to walk where Jesus walked. We wanted to see where God did so many of the things we have always heard about in the Bible. They weren’t just stories. They were historical events, with real people, in real places, in real time.

Our first stop was a curious one. We pulled along side the road, and our guide told us to get off the bus. We needed to move to stay awake! We walked along the shoulder of the highway, and then hopped over the metal guardrail. We walked through a field of something we didn’t recognize (our guide told us they fed it to livestalk) and over to a dry river bed of smooth stones. We were in the middle of nowhere!


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Sweet Smelling Sacrifice

Scent is among our more underrated senses.  It is just not as flashy or concrete as the others.  We can make things with our hands and we need to put food in our mouths in order to survive.  As one who wears glasses, I can appreciate the multiple function of our ears, and our eyes get to be the windows to our souls right?  Noses are a little weird.  Most people end up complaining about the size of theirs and while they do work with the ears in the glasses department, a nose is really just a mass of cartilage that houses a couple of holes in our face. 

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…a bit off

 
 
Have you ever seen something that seemed off?

 

Matthew 11 records an interesting story about Jesus.  In this account Jesus seems to be a bit off.  One might say he is harsh, certainly annoyed and well, we just don’t expect that from Jesus.  One thing is for certain, Jesus was hungry (v.12).  He is pleased to see a fig tree in the distance and fancies that he can grab a morsel to eat as he and his disciples proceed to Jerusalem.  Upon reaching the tree, Jesus finds plenty of leafy branches, but no actual fruit. Here one might expect Jesus to touch the trunk of the tree causing a miracle crop of plump figs for everybody!   It is crucial to understand as well that figs were not in season at the time.  There was no defect in the tree per se, Jesus was just expecting fruit a little too early. Jesus is surely familiar with harvesting seasons but instead of shrugging his shoulders and moving on, Jesus brings down a curse upon the tree.  The next day the disciples notice that the then leafy fig tree was basically reduced to driftwood from the ground up.  Jesus had effectively killed it.

 


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Shouting Stones

 

In the now classic “Men in Black”, there is a scene in which two agents sit on a park bench and talk about the nature of humans.  Agent K shares his thoughts on mob mentality: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals…”
                In the same way, a person wants to be in charge, but people need a leader. Half of my entire parenting process is an attempt to convince my kids that they need me.  They, of course, want to be in charge.  They want to make all the rules. 


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