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About a month ago I purchased Minnesota Gopher Hockey tickets from a co-worker for a game coming up this week. For those of you who are not from

Book by Kyle Idleman

Minnesota, typically the University of Minnesota Gopher Hockey are one of the hottest venues for sports entertainment in the State, especially for games against other teams that are doing well.

Yesterday, I decided I better try and find the tickets that I paid $70 for. After turning the house inside out, and searching my work bag 3 times, I came up empty handed. “Well,” I thought, “at least they might still be in my desk drawer at work.”

After getting to work, I searched all the cabinets and drawers. No tickets! Bummer.

I called Lisa for something else this morning and relayed the outcome. I asked her if she’d be kind enough to help me look one more time at home. Sometimes my bi-focals play tricks and I miss the obvious right in front of me. She also had to pick me up this evening at the park ‘n ride. When she picked me up at 5:30 I got in the car and said I was sorry I’d misplaced the tickets and wasted $70. And then I said, “I think I should ask the Lord if he’d show me where they are.” And I asked her if that sounded like a dumb thing to do. Lisa and I have been studying about God’s sovereignty over all things and 2 missing tickets seemed such an insignificant item in the vast schemes, plots and problems of the world. But we said let’s just pray while we drive home.

We prayed. I asked God to forgive me for asking about such dumb thing as this, and that I felt bad about wasting the money and not keeping track of stuff. I said it was okay if we didn’t find the tickets, but that I really wanted to feel better and not beat myself up over such insignificant things.

After dinner Lisa helped me go through the usual spots in the house  where we usually put stuff like tickets. Then we got out my work bag for the 4th time. She started emptying out the contents and working our way through the items.

Suddenly, a book I’d recently finished fell out on the floor. The book is by Kyle Idleman called not a fan. Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.” The book asks readers a simple question: Are you a fan or a follower? And to quote the back cover, the point of the book is that Jesus isn’t interested in you being his fan (e.g. an enthusiastic admirer.) “Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice….Jesus was never interested in having admirers. It’s not fans he is looking for.”

I picked the book up off the floor, rifled the pages and the 2 Gopher hockey tickets tumbled out.

Lisa and I looked at each other and I started laughing. And then I got a little teary eyed. God has a sense of humor, oh yes. But he also used this to remind me of something very important. I can talk to him about anything and everything. He’s in every little detail of everything that happens in the universe every day. And he reminded me that being a follower means talking with him regularly and talking about more than just Gopher hockey tickets.

He loved on me just enough to get me to laugh and loved on me hard enough to cry and receive his grace and his invitation to converse…daily. I’m a fan of Gopher hockey and not a fan of Jesus, but a follower. Hope you are too.

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Numinous Awe

“The Numinous is not the same as the morally good, and a man overwhelmed with awe is likely, if left to himself, to think the numinous object beyond good and evil.”
C.S. Lewis

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Off to the park

We’ve recently moved across town and happen to live closer to nieces and nephews. You know what that means. We’ve been added to the speed-dial sitter list.

Last weekend was our maiden voyage.  A full day with the 3-year old twins. As you might imagine, we had no trouble sleeping that night. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the girls, but they certainly kept us going all day.  To any of you who have children or nieces/nephews, this will come as no surprise, but we came away from the day having been reminded of some important things. These are lessons I gained from a day with three-year olds:

1: SLOW DOWN. Normally, it takes Brent and I about four minutes to get to the park on our bikes. Not so with three-year-olds. No, it was a 45-minute walk each way. The trip to the park wasn’t my brightest idea on a 95-degree day. But they were troopers and never complained. Yet it was a slow, deliberate pace the entire way. There was no rush, no sense of needing to get to our destination quickly. No wonder it’s only adults who deal with things like high blood pressure. We’d all do well to slow down our pace a notch or two!

Stop & Smell the Flowers

2: STOP & SMELL THE FLOWERS: One of the highlights on the trail was to stop and smell the flowers. If we’d been in a hurry, the beauty of the landscape and wildflowers would have been missed. It was sweet to see one sister want to share her flower experience with the other. What a great lesson. Stop, take a look around. Be present in the moment, enjoy what God puts in your path and share it with those around you.

Quack Quack!

3. INJECT FUN INTO ORDINARY THINGS. The girls knew we’d be having a cold treat when we got home, but we kept the fact that it was smoothies a surprise. Unwilling to allow an unnamed treat, the twins decided to refer to the surprise as “Quack Quack.” Silly as it was, it brought us all lots of laughter for the rest of the night.

4: KINDLE THE JOY OF READING (no pun intended!). I’ve always loved books. Most of my life I’ve been a voracious reader. But, for some reason, recent years have drew my attention elsewhere. Watching the girls bring me book after book after book to read was contagious. I think we put away about 20 books before the night was over.

5. REMEMBER THE SNEETCHES. One of the many stories we read was Dr. Seuss’ “Sneetches.” It’s a book I’ve had since I was a child and it shows by its well-worn corners. It made an impact on me as a child and I often recall its lessons even as an adult. The basic message is not to get caught up in the latest trends or judge others just because they’re not caught up in them. I think about how our society is so influenced by the latest

Sneetches

hot gadget, fashion or topic. Too often we’re judged by what toys we have or what we wear or how informed we are about the current trending Twitter feed. Yet, being on top of those things has nothing to do with strong character, kindness and living a godly life.

Isn’t it amazing what God shows us through children? What lessons have you learned lately?

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Lisa and I are about half way through a 16 week course on discipleship at church. It’s been a really great class. There have been several instances of God speaking to us through the course homework.  Several times we have been challenged to think about when significant things occurred because someone else had the courage to follow through on challenging our behavior, thinking, words or beliefs.

The point was simply that someone cared about us or loved us enough to do what seems hard to do, but when they did it, it had eternal repercussions.

I know I haven’t always thought of the eternal consequences of my relationships with others as a motivation for what to say or how to say it when I’m with them. When it comes to discipleship and sharing the Gospel, the learning for me is that our relationships need to be intentional, our words, actions and behavior toward the other person should be motivated out of a brotherly love for the eternal well-being of the other.

As a result of knowing this, I’m beginning to understand the importance of my conversational intimacy with Yeshua. The sound of that intimacy is amplified when I shut my own mouth, quit talking and listen to Him and then, of course, do what He says.

That conversational intimacy allowed God to use me (a misfit from the island of misfit toys if there ever was one) as a blessing to my uncle and in-turn that became an encouragement that God is all over the details of our lives. He is. He really is. To God be the glory for that. For confirmation of this story: click here.

I leave you tonight to consider these words from Yeshua Messiah: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor [Helper] to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”

If you need prayer and encouragement because you desire to know the Gospel of Yeshua Messiah and want conversational intimacy with Him, leave us a comment on the blog. We’ll commit to praying specifically on your behalf. We also will direct you to on-line resources that provide more information about a relationship that promises conversational intimacy with your creator.

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Well, we did it! We’re moved. And what an exciting ride so far. We apologize for the lack of posts for the last month. There certainly was enough fodder for good laughs and learnings, but for the last 3 1/2 weeks we were in the “packing, moving and staging zone.”

Lisa created a plan to pack and label boxes by room with a color coded sticker. On the back end of moving, that has really helped us organize the unpacking effort. But in the end, there were so many boxes that keeping track of where stuff was became impossible. I don’t know if it’s even possible to ever keep track of everything. But all things are possible with God. The really important stuff was moved last. Meaning, the stuff we rely on and use everyday: computers, TV, modems, wi-fi, prescriptions, keys, etc. And of course the cat was the last to get captured and put in the kitty carrier. Those are an eclectic mix of items, so we had to specially mark those boxes so we could find them easily when we arrived at the new house. The cat has been “freaked out” since the first box of stuff was sealed with tape. I think she was afraid she would be left behind as she witnessed all the items disappear into the garage before the move.

But the one critical element to this process has been God. We’ve been praying for 3 years about where we should live. We’ve been separated from our church by 40 miles since getting married which made it difficult to be actively involved there. Our prayer was that we’d be closer to church and manage a shorter commute to work at the same time. He accomplished both!

One of the reasons we signed the purchase agreement on our anniversary was due to hearing from God through the neighbor. While we were walking through the house for the second time, the neighbor walked past the window a couple times as he was cleaning up some items from the deck in the back. We’d begun that day like all others, by praying in the car as we set off on the commute together. We knew we were going to go back and look at the house for the second time after work, but we asked for confirmation that the house was the right place to be. We asked God to be part of the decision making process and asked for a clear message from him that it was the right decision to put money down.

When I noticed the neighbor, I went outside and began talking to him. Within minutes he was asking where I and Lisa worked. When he found out that Lisa worked for our church he inquired which church. Then he smiled and asked if we knew specific people and the names he mentioned were people we know (there are over 2,500 in the congregation, so it isn’t a given that we know them all.) He mentioned that he and his wife had attended the Christmas service at our church in December!

Then he looked at me and said, “My wife and I have been praying that fellow believers would move in next door.” And he talked about how exciting it would be for them if we were to consider moving next door. I couldn’t believe that he said that. I’d only just met the man. I didn’t tell him about our prayers, he had no idea what we’d been praying for. I asked him to repeat what he said to make sure I heard him correctly. Then he invited us to come over so we could see how he and his wife had decorated their place and give us a tour. No kidding!

So we went over and got the tour and met his wife. I must’ve had a strange look on my face when I came back inside after first meeting him. Lisa and our realtor asked me what happened. I was just staring into space and said they wouldn’t believe me. I told them the story and Lisa looked at me knowingly and smiled. They sent us encouraging text messages over the last month, sharing their prayers with us and reminding us how excited they were that we were going to move in.

It was so cool how God is involved in the intimate details of our move. There are more stories about how He showed up. I’ll save them for another post!

 

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We interrupt this blog for an important announcement: Lisa and I are moving. We’ve been on a whirlwind adventure since our last post in mid January. Several

We signed a purchase agreement on our anniversary!

times I’ve wanted to sit down and just jot a few lines here. I find it difficult to throw a few lines together and post them because I feel like the post should be more than just an online diary. In other words, I like to try to bring you my thoughts after I’ve had a chance to think about it and offer you, dear reader, something more valuable than “what’s happening now.” In the comments let me know if you disagree. Especially valued are the thoughts from fellow bloggers who have thought about this before. I’d love to know how you keep fresh, relevant and new insights going in the midst of limited time to really think about it. If I get enough responses I can try and post shorter, more frequent updates about what’s going on.

Lisa and I have been preparing for a move for over a year. We’ve been praying and waiting on the Lord to let us know where that should be. Recently my employer announced they would be moving a huge number of workers to a second headquarters location that is not in downtown Minneapolis. I am included in that move. The good news is that they are letting us know about this move 2 years in advance. That’s pretty fair in today’s world. Why does it matter?

It matters because it helped us narrow down where within the Twin Cities we wanted to focus on for a move. We were open to moving to either side of the river (which is another topic for a future post.) With the announcement it helped us focus on the north and western suburbs of Minneapolis. We spent a couple

Bike paths with key locations important to us marked in orange

weeks with a map of bike paths in Minneapolis and all associated suburbs. We marked the items we thought were important to us for shopping: SuperTarget, WholeFoods, a Co-op and Costco. We wanted to find a place that supported our enjoyment of cooking (hence all the supermarkets) with easy access to the fabulous system of bike paths. Our current location is great for both. And we felt the new location needed to continue to serve those those requirements.

The bottom line is we had only looked at 2 or 3 locations when we found a spot last Sunday that really spoke to us. Some might say it was an accident, but we think it was divinely directed (more on that story next time.) We were offered incentives to close before the end of February. We went home to think about it and on Tuesday we went back with our realtor to look at it again. That’s when God made it clear we were in the right place at the right time. I’ll leave that as a teaser for the next post. Suffice it to say we found ourselves signing a purchase agreement on Tuesday night – which just happened to be our anniversary. So it made for an exciting evening.

More to come….

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In this post, I’d like to speak to the roots of this blog. A special feature of this experiment is that Blada is a dual blog. We wanted to share a creative outlet as a means to demonstrate that we’re on the same path, ruled by a single Master. We got married late in life, at a time when most of our contemporaries are seeing their kids graduate and go to college. Unlike most of our contemporaries, we didn’t date for years or have a long engagement. Because we waited longer than most, we both knew what we were looking for and when we found it, we dove in.

Our Wedding at Jax Cafe in NE Mpls

Our wedding theme, “One”, is from Ephesians 4:6 from The Message Bible, “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”

It is this love note from God that has enabled us to clear early hurdles in our first few years of marriage. This morning another familiar verse from Ephesians stood out to us as we drove to the orthopedic treatment center to check on Lisa’s foot. We heard it on the radio, from the New American Standard Bible, Ephesians 5:28-30, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

What stood out was that first sentence about husbands loving their own wives as their own bodies. I’ve always thought that the writer of Ephesians (Paul) wrote a strange sentence. What did that mean, love my wife as I love my own body? The help for understanding is found in the verse from our wedding about “oneness”.

The verse isn’t saying we men ought to love our wives “like” we love our own body, but rather we should love our wives in the same way we love ourselves because our flesh is made AS one in the person of Christ. This verse has presented itself as vital to the foundation of our marriage over the last 2 1/2 years. Most recently in the adventure of Lisa’s broken foot. It has been important for me to put aside things that I wanted to do and/or think about in order to be present for Lisa, provide her support and encouragement and demonstrate love.

This is what we’re all called to do when we accept Yeshua as Lord. We put to death those things we once considered as important and look to elevate Yeshua in all things, this is especially true in our marriage.

Lisa’s broken foot is temporary. It will eventually heal and we’ll be back to our old routines. But I want to publicly thank God for allowing this broken foot to come along and remind us of what’s really important. He is perfecting in me the verse we held up as we made wedding vows to each other, and I’m glad he’s provided me with someone forgiving and patient with me as I learn to love the way He loves.

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