27 July 2009

March toward the sound of the guns

The Christian writer Donald Miller said one time that when it comes to following Jesus he hates military analogies.


There are people who take it too far for sure. These are usually people who forget Jesus enjoined us to pray for our enemies, show mercy to those who are merciless toward us, help those who would forget us during our times of need. - Love, Truth, Forgiveness: these are the weapons Christ gives us to use in the struggle between Good and evil.

Soldiers sometimes become disoriented during the confusion of battle. Sometimes a soldier’s most recent directive is no longer applicable to their current situation.

There is an old military adage, which states: March toward the sound of the guns. This directive simply means that if you don’t know what else to do, go to where the fighting is most intense. This is where you are needed.

There are times I ask myself: where are the guns the loudest in my life? Does the single parent of three across the street need help? Is there a person from work who lost a family member and needs someone to listen to them? Is there a person in my life who is suffering because they made a mistake, hurt other people, and needs someone to remind them that we all make mistakes ... even if we do not all get caught ... and despite everything else, they are still valuable and loved by their Creator. And, that forgiveness is available.

Where are the guns loudest in your life, in your community?

March toward the sound of the guns.

"Father. I am amazed by Your love. Forgive me for my inactions. You are a loving Father full of patience and forgiveness. Move us closer to Your heart. Your ways. Command our spirits to recognize and then follow Your ways. In Jesus name we pray."

25 July 2009

New Day Rising

"Father, I feel so far from You at the moment. Find me. Grip my heart. Cause me to walk along the path You have prepared for me. I long to feel Your presence. But, I know that I have sinned against you. Direct my steps back to You and do not forget me. In Jesus name I pray."

19 July 2009

Mark & Sarah's Wedding

Saturday, I had the great privilege to officiate my sister's wedding in Colorado. Here are some notes from the ceremony:

On behalf of Mark, Sarah, and their parents I would like to welcome everyone to Crested Butte this beautiful day. We have come together on top of this mountain to witness the marriage of Mark Denton ... my future Brother-in-Law, and Sarah Holloway ... my sister. Later today we will celebrate with them this important milestone in their relationship.

Erik Erickson believed that a person’s identity, their very self-concept, is defined by their relationships. In my own mind, outside our relationship with our Creator, there is no relationship more important than the relationship between two people married.

Marriage redefines relationships ...

... Not just between the two making a lifetime commitment to each other, but also between friends, family, and co-workers connected to the individuals being married.

The identities of everyone here today ... everyone’s self-concept ... will be changed to some extent by the marriage of Mark and Sarah.

Two days ago I sat with Mark and Sarah and we discussed their relationship and pending marriage. Sarah and Mark talked about their love for each other ... that they view their marriage as a natural step in their relationship ... that they are getting married not because of social pressure, but because they know they want to spend the rest of their lives together, to be able to continue to talk to each other, to listen to each other, to take care of each other.

One thing Mark said that stands out in my mind is that their relationship has been, and he anticipates will continue to be, a type of journey: A journey with both good times they can enjoy together, and a journey with difficult times, where they will need to lean on each other.

Mark, Sarah, here are two things to think about:

First, know that hard times will occasionally come. It is almost impossible to anticipate from which direction they will come, or what form they will take, but they are a part of life.

However, when you “both” focus on the needs of the other, when you each love and serve the other, you will emerge from the hard times closer, stronger, and happier.

Second, know that you will each make mistakes along the way. It is important to remember: The key to a happy marriage is not effective communication alone, but rather the effective communication of forgiveness. -- We are human and we make mistakes. For humans forgiveness and love are inseparable.

Mark ... Sarah ... You are a gift to each other. Your love for each other is observable and evident by the way you take care of each other. Sarah, the other day when I asked you why you wanted to marry Mark tears came to your eyes and your emotion was beautiful. Grow together, and love each other deeply along your journey.

"Father, thank you for the gift of relationships. Bless Mark and Sarah's marriage. We pray for their happiness and that You are glorified by their life together. In Jesus name we pray."

06 July 2009

Fort Smith

Fort Smith, Arkansas, just across the Arkansas River from eastern Oklahoma, is an unlikely destination for most. I’ve never met a single soul who said they went to Fort Smith for a vacation.

To get to my grandfather’s home, one has to drive through a maze of empty, burned out factory buildings; hot sweaty factories long closed where my grandparents worked hard most of their lives. Today the “Northside” of Fort Smith, the wrong-side-of-the-tracks part of Fort Smith, is a southern-fried version of a Pennsylvania rust-belt city.

My grandfather is easily the toughest man I have ever met. When I was a small boy I told a group of big-haired Church women that I wanted to grow up and be mean like my grandfather. Shocked, they locked back silent for a few long seconds ... and then they laughed politely, forced smiles and all, the way Southern women do when they are at a loss for words.

My grandfather still chuckles when he tells that story. - I spent the last four days with my grandfather and what strikes me now is how humble he is, despite his toughness, despite hardships and heartbreak, how humble he has been his entire life.

The Bible says “humility comes before honor” (Prov 18:12). And, that “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6). My grandfather is definitely not perfect. He is human, like you, like me.

But, I have learned this from my grandfather: Humility, Faith, and Love will get a person through a lot. Self interest destroys, faith expressed through love builds-up, it is the foundation of a happy life, and most importantly honors our Creator.

“Father, Thank You for all the people in our lives who have loved us and taught us Your ways by their example. We forgive them for their imperfections, and we ask that you forgive us for our imperfections, too. Father, overcome us with Your love and bring us closer to You. In Jesus name we pray.”