Friday, June 27, 2008

A Little Encouragement

I just received this email from one of my great friends Lance and was so encouraged by it. Especially because Jen and I just had our first child, Grady, on Tuesday. He is beautiful and amazing... A true example of the beauty and awe inspiring nature of our God... Grady, that is... Sorry Lance.

From Lance:
Hello Everyone,

I would like to be open and transparent so to share something beautiful with you. Whether through self pity, circumstance or lack of discipline, I have been going through times of discouragement lately. Tonight was one of those times. It has been a long day, in fact a 18 hour day: off to work in the morning, scarfed down a sandwich at my desk during a conference call at lunch, ended up staying a little late at work and had to rush to my class that starts at 6:00 pm and is supposed to finish at 10:00 pm – to make matters worse, class went over by 30 minutes. Instead of going home, I called Stephanie and let her know that I needed to take a walk to blow of some steam. I walked around campus for about 30 minutes and on my way back to my car, I recognized a gentleman from my class standing outside of the Library entrance, at the base of some stairs under a side walk lamp (kind of reminded me of the scene in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” where they go through the closet and meet the fawn under the street lamp in the middle of no-where). His name is “Chief” and he is blind. I was surprised because the professor advised him to leave 30 minutes prior to dismissing the rest of us. As he left, she said she knew he had to catch a ride. I approached him, introduced myself and called out I wanted to shake his hand. He shifted his guiding stick and extended his hand. I asked him if he had missed his ride and needed one to go home. He said that he was waiting on DART (public transportation) to come pick him up. I decided to wait with him to make sure he got home. We started visiting. I was fascinated by the life and routines he described. I discovered that Chief works full time and takes classes at night. I asked him what time he was going to get up for work in the morning (knowing he had more obstacles to overcome to prepare for the day than I). He said 5:00 am, sometimes 4:30 am. Through course of conversation he shared that he was from Sudan, entertaining me with stories of his country, Chad and Egypt. I had recently heard that dust from the Sahara was traversing the Atlantic and reaching as far as Dallas. He confirmed and said that clouds of dust would cover the sky at times with a darkness you could feel. Then out of no where he exerts that his ride was there. I thought, “What do you think I am, blind?” I didn’t see any bus, and then over a quarter of a mile away, through Live Oaks and three parking lots I saw a yellow bus making its way through the campus – then I heard it. I looked over at Chief and he was smiling – I knew he was showing off. It took a couple of minutes for the bus to get over to us. We finished up our conversation and parted ways. It was now 11:15 and he had been waiting 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I share this with you because I was blessed with this encounter. Not because of any emotional gratitude of abilities from encountering someone who is less physically capable than I. I am the one with the disability. I disabled myself. I thought I was at my max – I thought I could do no more. I have been tired and discouraged.

There are so many wonderful analogies to be drawn from this encounter, but from it, I wanted to encourage you to dig deep and find the extra sense that God has given you to shine in your circumstances and adversity so that others can be blessed and encouraged by your life. Christ did not die and give us spiritual site so that we could reach our max and limitations. There are no limitations in Christ and he has equipped us for every good work. Run the race with endurance, work hard and be faithful. Be patient – even if God’s work in your life takes more than 1 hour and 15 minutes.



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Are you ready?

If you have ever had a child before, you know this question all too well. Considering that Jen and I are expecting our first any day now, we are positively sick of this question. I mean, how do you answer that? What do they mean by "ready"? Do they even care about the answer or are they just trying to make conversation because they have no more advice to give you at this point?

As I was thinking about the answer to this question, a few thoughts crossed my mind. The first was, "I was born ready!" The second was, "Ready as I'll ever be." And then I thought how can you be ready or ready yourself for something you've never experienced? For that matter, how can you know that you are ready if you don't know what skills/knowledge/things you will need to do this thing that you have never done? Speaking for myself, I feel like I'm ready. Maybe not ready in the sense that I know everything there is to know about raising a child, but I'm ready because I believe that God has made me ready all along. He has blessed me with a wonderful wife and given me a wonderful knack for rolling with the punches and problem solving. I mean there are certain things you can prepare for like a test or a particular job, but then there are things like parenthood for which you absolutely cannot be physically prepared.

Isn't this though the essence of our faith? Jesus called Peter, James, John, and Andrew out of their ordinary lifestyles into a life of discipleship following Him. How could they have possibly been "ready" for something they knew nothing about? What about Saul/Paul? How could he have possibly been ready for his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus? The answer is that God had been preparing them all along. He knew from the beginning that He would call them to be disciples and apostles, just as He knew that He would call me to be a father. How could you be more prepared or ready than if God Himself had orchestrated your training; even without your knowledge.

So the next time someone asks you, "Are you ready?" You can confidently say something like, "Am I ready? Brotha/Sista, I've been gettin' ready for this my whole life!"


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parking Signs

I was at the hospital the other day at an appointment with my pregnant wife and found a mega-rockstar parking space in the parking garage. It was marked with this sign...

As I gleefully pulled in, seeing as though I drive a '96 Corolla... Sedan, my excitement was met with frustration. I couldn't actually get out of the car! Why? Because there was a freakin huge SUV parked right beside me. It was also in a space marked Compact Car Parking Only. I mean this just isn't fair. The kind higher-ups that run this joint decided to honor the fuel-frugal enviro conscious space efficient people of the world with their own luxury parking spaces. I consider it a distinct privilege to park in these spaces. But this guy or gal just ticked me off!!! I mean... if you want to park here, you have got to pay the price pal!! Not only is your truck too big to fit in this space, but so is your ego... Some say that, "You can't have your cake and eat it too." But I say, "You can't have your ego and my rockstar compact car parking too... you fools!" I mean yesterday I received my official membership packet for the Junky Car Club! Listen folks, there is a price to pay for everything!!! You paid that price for your huge fancy high-falutin' SUV, but I paid paid the price with my ego so you better back off that parkin' space homeboy!!!

OK!! Uhhh...

Here are a couple of other frequently violated parking signs...

Common reasoning: "It'll only take a few minutes. And who's enforcing this anyway, some rentacop in a Ford Escape?"

Everyone wants to be clergy for a day!


"Oh, well I haven't decided whether or not to become a member yet..."


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pressin' in

As we were worshiping today at church, I felt the Lord nudging us to "press in!" Now, some of you may be very familiar with the phrase, but in the few moments before it came out of my mouth I thought, "Most of these people won't understand what you are saying." This is not to say that they were not capable of understanding, but the context of their spiritual lives is much different than mine. I decided to throw the term out there and then kind of interpret what it meant in this scenario.

I have to admit, when it came to my mind I felt like I was revertin' back to my old revival days, but there is truth behind the term "pressin' in." As hokey as it sounds, we stop short of the journey that God has for us in our services because we don't break past the normal barrier of our worship. Sometimes, as the gathered Body of Christ, we just have to collectively say, let's lean in a little closer, let's focus together a little more intensely and see if God doesn't reveal Himself to us in a new way or refresh us with His presence like never before.

What kind of phrases have you stuffed back in the corners of your mind? And what kind of dormant truths could they be covering up that deserve being revived? I'd be curious to know.