Sunday, August 30, 2009

High Water

Today God blew me away in our worship. His presence was obvious as we gathered to enjoy him. He filled every song, every testimony, every prayer. He touched our hearts as we prayed for a teenager's healing. When it was time for me to speak, it seemed like there was nothing to say. But God allowed me to speak, and it was exciting to share.

After our worship time, we considered our purchase of a building in Stokesdale. As we continue to grow, we are out-growing our current meeting space and need to find a new place to meet. Miraculously God provided a great opportunity to buy an existing building. Our spirit of excitement carried into our discussion about the building, and we voted unanimously to purchase the building.

It seems like God is taking us to new heights. His best moments for us just keep coming. After our Jamaica mission trip this spring, the report from the trip was a high point for us in ministry. Then we had our VBS in June/July. The energy and participation were off the chart. This was our biggest and best VBS ever. Another high water mark.

Then today, God shows his power. This worship time seemed like the culmination of many years of praying and watching. We had never thought that the Long House would be our permanent place to meet, so we always kept our eyes open for new meeting space. When our need to move out of the Long House became more urgent, we still had nowhere to go.

We have had to trust him, even when we could see no way for him to provide. Then he brings this building across our path, just when we could see no way forward. We expect soon to get the building under contract, and we have already begun the process of raising the needed cash.

Today seems like a culmination, but in some ways, it is just a beginning. Now we have to trust God to see us through the site plans, inspections, financing and local government approval. He has to keep doing it, because it is beyond our ability to get it done.

Today is a high water mark, but it points to greater things yet to be done in this city.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Power of a blog

I saw "Julie and Julia" this afternoon. It was a cool movie. Amy Adams is an amazing actress, and of course Meryl Streep is too. It was fun to see Julia Child again. It brings back lots of childhood memories. I don't think I ever sat down to watch her cook, but my mother must have. She was just entertaining to watch -- Julia Child, I mean.

The Julie in the movie decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's book in one year. And she decides to blog about it. Her blog was so engaging that she got lots of followers. People sent her fan mail and really got into her journey.

I think that blogs are powerful because ordinary people have interesting experiences and profound insights. As we connect with people whose thoughts inspire us, our own thoughts take off.

Sometimes I think that only profound things are worth blogging about. But I live my life in the ordinary things. Occasionally I have profound thoughts, too. But I don't get them on the blog as often as I would like. It just takes discipline to share.

Now, I do journal regularly. I probably have four or five entries every week. It serves as a great record of my life. I just need to go back and read those dozens of volumes. Blogging is sometimes more convenient, because I can type much faster than I can write longhand.

But who really cares about my rambling thoughts? I mean, I don't even read my OWN journals. For me, writing is therapeutic. I process my thoughts with words.

Well, sharing the ordinary things in life can connect us, so that the profound things really hit home. God is using technology to connect his people of passion, who really want to see the kingdom of God come. I want to be part of this movement. I need to go read some blogs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reckless Wisdom

I want to be reckless in my pursuit of God. I want to jump in with both feet in kingdom work. I have wasted far too much energy being afraid that something won't quite work out right. Even if it doesn't, God is there to pick up the pieces. Too much caution can make you paralyzed.

Erwin McManus says that bold, daring discipleship is like a charging rhino. These huge animals can run fast, but they can only see about 30 feet ahead. There eyes aren't that good. Even so, they will charge when they want to. They might not know what's ahead, but they move with purpose and intensity.

I like that picture. God doesn't give us all the details, but he expects us to move ahead. If he is in charge, then we can trust him. As he leads us, we can go with confidence, even if we can't see that far ahead.

But that's where it gets tricky. How do we know where God is leading us? His most rewarding challenges require faith. We have to believe what we can't see. Sometimes we have to believe what doesn't seem to make sense.

When opportunities come our way, then, we have to evaluate them. We pray and ask for his leadership. We do the due diligence of gathering all the relevant information. We weigh the potential costs and benefits. We look to see if this fits the pattern of God's leadership for us in the past. We ask for godly advice. We seek his leadership in his Word.

Can wisdom be reckless? Was it reckless for Abraham to raise his knife to kill his son? It seems reckless to me, but it was exactly what God called him to do. It was also reckless for Peter to step out onto the water toward Jesus. God commanded Abraham and then stopped him from following through. Jesus invited Peter into the water when Peter asked permission. When Peter began to sink, Jesus bailed him out.

Both of these men experienced life more deeply because they trusted God and acted upon their faith. They could have decided to pray about it longer, but they just did it. They had the wisdom to know when it was time to act. That takes courage.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unintended Consequences

I saw a friend at Village Pizza today, someone in the used car business. As we talked, he brought up the federal "clunkers" program. As a car dealer, he had some interesting insights on the program.

The program actually mandates that the old cars be destroyed, not repaired or refurbished. I have seen some photos of cars waiting to be crushed. I also saw on Fox News' website a clip of a nice looking Volvo being disabled. Somehow the clunkers program mandated that such cars be rendered inoperable. The video showed a mechanic in the driver's seat, flooring the car while it sat in neutral, hood up. It only took a few minutes for the engine to begin smoking and fail. Did they have to do that before they crushed the car? I don't get it.

While getting such vehicles off the road may be a noble idea, it seems like a terrible waste to me. I actually thought about turning in my '94 Taurus for a newer vehicle. But I don't think I could bear to think about it being crushed as junk. It still has plenty of life in it!

My friend said that these old vehicles could be fixed up and resold to people who need cheap transportation. This would put lots of people to work, repairing, cleaning, and reselling these cars. It would be a good use of resources.

I also thought that these cars could be shipped to developing countries where they need any kind of vehicle. Many of these older cars have less complex engines and can be repaired as needed in the field.

But instead, the vehicles are just crushed -- wasted. Yes, they do pollute, but so do the newer cars. The value of putting these vehicles to work would outweigh the damage they may do to the environment. Imagine the poverty that could be eliminated with a few good machines in a developing community. Think of hundreds of communities where poverty is diminished, and you can also imagine people who treat the environment much better.

And there is another unintended consequence. The glut of the clunkers in the metal recycling system is pushing down the price of scrap metal. Those who made their living with recycling are being driven out of business. This damages the long term recycling industry and potentially puts people out of work.

I think I'll hang on to my car. I'm getting ready to turn over to 200,000 miles. Maybe I can get another 100k out of it.