Row Row Row Your Boat

Olympic Rowing. That’s the sport that has my attention right now. I just keep thinking about it. I’m all ready to be googling it up so I can learn more–more about the training, the discipline, the “sync” of the sport. I’m completely taken in by the unity of the rowers.

I think it’s because it sets such a great picture for me of what we, as the church, are supposed to look like–smooth and graceful, yet strong and powerful–a team working together for a common purpose. Y’know, you just don’t see any rogue rowers out there doing their own thing, going their own way now do ya?

I don’t imagine it’s an easy thing, learning to work in unity like that. It takes practice; it takes failures and frustrations; it must take a ton of persistence, but man-oh-man, when you see them cutting through the water like they do, it’s a sight to see. It’s truly beautiful, and it appears to me that whatever it takes to achieve that kind of unity, it has to be worth it.

Maybe that’s another reason why Jesus chose fisherman as some of the first disciples. Surely they understood the principles of rowing as well as fishing.

. . . May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. John 17:23

The Wedding Miracle

Tonight we had the great privilege of attending the wedding of a young couple in our area. The minister, a friend of ours, used “the wedding miracle” passage as the beginning of the wedding message. The wedding miracle . . . that’s what we call it. Y’know it’s that story in John 2 where Jesus turns the water into wine at the wedding. There are so many good things in this story, but I had to wonder where Mark was going with this one in our room of mostly non drinkers. Was he really going to suggest we needed some wine at this wedding??

No, that’s not where he was headed at all. Instead, Mark used a mom quote. Maybe the best mom quote ever. I mean EVAH!!!! After Jesus’ mom lets Him know that the family has no more wine. She tells the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Sermon basically done.

That was the advice. “Do whatever He tells you.” And what awesome wedding advice it is. I mean, seriously, if each of us, in our marriages, simply lived each day, “doing whatever He tells us,” our marriages and our families and our lives, and our world would never be the same again.

Simply profound. “Do whatever He tells you.” Could it be that easy? Yeah, I think so.

So thanks, Evan and Kati for including us in your special day. Thanks, Mark, for speaking the Word so clearly. And thanks, Mary, for being an advice giving mom, speaking this little piece of instruction, which if followed, could become the real wedding miracle.

Swimming Upstream

Swimming Upstream May Be Hard, But It’s Not Impossible

I recently said these words when talking to a friend about the challenges a kid faces today when they want to follow Christ while living in the world. It’s like swimming upstream. And although swimming upstream is hard, it’s not impossible—oh, and that metaphor isn’t just for kids.

We all know some days it is hard. Today is one of those days. I never want to be a whiner. Never. I do it sometimes, probably more than I should, and about little things, things that don’t matter—like long lines at Wal Mart and when someone “borrows” my iPod cable without returning it. But all in all, I don’t want to complain because I know it dishonors God, I know it can keep people from seeing God, and I know that I have a pretty easy life compared to a zillion other people.

Yet even when I know with my head that my life is pretty good, and that testing and trials grow my faith, the truth is the trials still hurt. Friends hurt us; our friends hurt. We feel helpless to help them. Things are out of our control. Good people are wronged. People we love die. Or walk away from God. Or disappoint us. Or we, them. Then there’s illness and cancer and the economy and loneliness. And on those days, when you want to turn back, you want to quit swimming, what do you do?

Well this is what I think. You keep swimming. Upstream. You may need to rest a bit. You may need to call in reinforcements, but you don’t give up. You don’t turn around. You don’t follow the tide. You keep swimming. You keep following God. You keep on trusting His precepts and His path. It may hurt. It may burn. Tears may fill your eyes and you may find it hard to breathe. You may, with every fiber of your being, want to quit. But you don’t.

You find your strength in His strength and His power made perfect in your weakness. You count it all joy, and you remember that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character, hope. And hope doesn’t put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-4, ESV)

And so you keep swimming, upstream, against the current–because it’s worth it, or more to the point, because He’s worth it, and there’s a whole world swimming past you in the opposite direction that needs to know that it’s possible to keep swimming, and to know the Hope and the Difference that can be theirs if they follow Him, too.

Falling Rock

Today, our youngest son and I took a drive from the Spokane Valley in Washington State over the rockies, through Idaho ending up in Missoula, Montana, where we had an outdoor lunch at one of our favorite BBQ chains, Famous Daves–YUM! It just so happnes I have stolen away for a few days to visit said youngest son where he is doing an internship in children and family ministry at Valley Real Life church. The folks I have met so far have been fabulous to us. They have been loving, kind, generous, encouraging and tons of fun to get to know. There are some great things going on in that place and in the community, and I have been blessed to get just a peek at some of the stuff God is doing here.

Several people suggested to us that we should take the drive that we took today. Actually, more than several. So we decided to “follow the Wild Goose” as Batterson calls it, and off we went on our God adventure. And of course, God did not disappoint. The fact that I got to spend a full 7 hours with my 21 year old son chatting and catching up was awesome enough. But when we took “the road less traveled” and found what we think is a bear footprint (and thankfully no bear) that was even better. Along the route we passed through several places where we saw these warning signs along the road with a picture of a car getting pummelted with rocks (how creative is that–see picture above), and we both chuckled a bit. Sort of a “Really? Is that how you warn someone?” And then we got back to chatting it up, not too concerned about getting pummelted with rocks ourselves.

Then as we returned to our home base for the night, I asked God, “So, what should I have seen today that I may have missed?” Immediately my mind went to those signs. Those signs that I completely ignored. Those signs I kind of chuckled at. The slightly dramatic ones, that seemed a bit too obvious. Those signs that are like God’s signs to us. There are so many things He gives us warnings about. Things like kindness, generosity, purity, greed, sacrifice, and commitment. He warns us about what is coming ahead and how to respond when difficulties arise. He lets us know that we need to be alert and on the watch so that we aren’t caught off guard when a dangerous situation comes our way. Recently HiSKidZ at our church memorized John 16:33 which says,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

God is warning us that we are going to have trouble. There are going to be figurative times in our lives of falling rocks zones. Yet, because of His great love for us, God prepares us and warns us. But we, like my son and I did on our trip, look at the warnings with a chuckle and continue on our way. We don’t give heed to what lies ahead, those who have gone before us, or the One who is the ultimate authority working to protect us and keep us safe as we travel our route until we arrive home.

I think God wanted me to see that I need to have my eyes open not only to His warnings and signs, but also to my response to them, and ultimately to Him–the One who places them in my path for my good and His glory.