Friday, July 22, 2005

Mission McAllen

Tomorrow I leave on a junior high mission trip with two other student ministries to McAllen. It is through experiences such as this that I better understand Jesus' words "blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Am I any more blessed than someone who loves the Lord as much, if not more, than I do who lives in poverty? I begin to learn to love him more deeply as I minister to others constantly throughout the week.
Although I often pity people in these situations, maybe I'm the one who needs to be pittied. Maybe I'm the one who misses out.

I pray that the students who go this year are moved by compassion for people. I pray that we better understand who Jesus is and the significance of his teachings. I pray that our students learn to love as Jesus does.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Taking a cue from Deana

Ok, if my wife is going to come out of the closet about some things I guess I should too. So, I have a confession to make that even she may not know. When alone in the car, I sometimes listen to country music.

Monday, July 18, 2005

"My Lord and my God!" - Thomas

These are the words uttered by Thomas as Jesus guides Thomas' hands into the wounds of his. For one week Thomas challenged the statements of those closest to him. He refused to believe until he saw for himself. He refused to accept the proposition that Jesus was alive. Thomas had seen for himself. Jesus was dead. He was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man. Though Jesus had raised others from the dead, it was totally different to resurrect himself. It was impossible. It couldn't be.

I can imagine the tension that must have existed. What did those who saw Jesus think of Thomas as he challenged their statements? Were they hurt by his accusation that it couldn't be? Were the incredulous towards him? Did they try to put themselves in his place? Some were in his place at one time. They too had doubted when Mary and Mary Magdelene had told them of the risen Lord.

Thomas did us all a favor the day he declared "Until I see his wounded hands I won't believe" because if we're honest with ourselves, we have been much the same. At least I have been. I can't count how many times I have asked God to show himself to me, to confirm my belief in him, to show me something that would affirm my faith. Thus, I sympathize and even understand Thomas.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I look forward to the city whose architect is God. I long to meet my savior. The more I read Scripture, the more I worship, the more time I spend talking to my Lord the more I realize I'm not made for this world and will never be fully content with this place. While here, my prayer is for God's purposes to be carried out in my life, but I pray that I will never lose sight of the greater vision -- the city whose architect and builder is God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

As I continue to search and reflect on hope in God, I begin to see it more deeply than before. I see hope in God as more than wishful thinking. Hope is not simply some type of wishful thinking. It's not simply purchasing a Lottery ticket with a chance to win. Hope in God is much more. It's an expectation based on God's fulfillment of his promises. It's the anticipation of God's promises to be carried out to completion. This is more than simply wishing something will or will not take place. It's the expectancy of it to take place. Consider the words of the writer of Hebrews:

"He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward." - Hebrews 12:2

Could it that the joy Jesus had his eyes fixed on was the salvation of people, for many times in the Gospels Jesus stated "I have come to seek and save the lost?" Jesus didn't hope for the joy. Scripture tells us he knew the joy would be his. He expected it.

In Romans 8:18-30 Paul expresses that our hope isn't wondering about our salvation, that is already a reality. The hope is freedom from death and decay. The hope is the anticipation that this world is not the end, that there's more and it's better. It's not wishful thinking. It's a longing for the day when there will be no more suffering. There's no uncertainty in that. It gives us hope to deal with the suffering and struggles we face everyday to know that one day we will suffer no more. One day our bodies will be made new. There will be no death or decay for we will be free from it. Until then, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us live.

In Philippians 1:21 Paul writes, in the midst of a personal statement, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Paul didn't wonder of his end. He expressed a hopeful expectation of a better future.

So, what is hope? As I begin to search I learn that hope is not simply wishing that I am saved. It's my expectation and longing to be free from death and decay. It's an expectation that one day, God will be glorified ultimately. This isn't it entirely, but it might be a good beginning to a deeper, life changing understanding.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Last night I watched Shawshank Redemption for the who-knows-how-manieth-time. It's one of my alltime favorite movies. This time, I was struck by Andy's simple line in his letter to Red, "Hope is a good thing."

I've been considering this simple word, hope, lately. What does mean? How do we use it? Has it lost some value by its overuse? What is it? I began thinking of my best friend's 61-year-old mom who has something similar to ALS. How would she describe hope. I think I might have an idea after spending some days with her a few days ago. While she does indeed want to get well, I'm not sure that's hope for her. Hope is in her living God to give her the strength to make it through each day. She speaks of trust. She speaks of God's faithfulness. All this coming from a lady who cannot use her hands as of now.

What is hope? I'm just beginning to unpack it, But this I know, it's more than simply anticipating something I want to happen. What is hope to you?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Today I weep for today I lost a friend. Her death was an accident, but the result of a struggle.
Many of us act as if we have it all together. Many of us play pretend.
Many of us seem to have it easier than others.

We often rush to judge. We are quick to cast type.
Some we call happy, some spiritual.
Others we call losers, or lost, or whatever.
Yet, we are slow to look inside.

She was one I took time to look past the way she had be type cast.
Behind the dark hair and shy smile was a young woman with a desire
A desire to be all God wanted her to be
But she struggled. Alone, quietly she carried a burden.
Her life I'll always remember.
I'll miss her stopping me in the neighborhood.
I'll miss my friend who has taught me how to be real.

My heart for those who are in the youth group is to know you more. I pray that you'll trust me to walk with you. I want to share your pain and joys. I will laugh and cry with you. Just don't carry your burdens alone. I love you guys.

Friday, July 08, 2005

After spending the day watching a sow and her two cubs while fishing, I sat in a in the middle of a lake taking in the scenery as fish were being cleaned. I was taking it all in -- the bears I had seen playing, the schools of salmon, the snow-capped mountains. I was considering my hike earlier in the week. And then I considered this -- all that I have seen and witness doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of God's glory. I'm reminded of the lyrics of one of my favorite Third Day songs, "When I climb down this mountain, and get back to my life I won't settle for ordinary things."

God's glory -- his weightiness, his nature; that, when which we gaze upon, brings awe and wonder. If his creations glorifies Him, then his creation reveals God's weightiness. In other words, his creation expresses his nature and character. I pray, that as I live my life I will glorify God. I pray that others will have a better understanding of God by how I live. I pray that I may elevate others' perception of who God.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The beach and a mountain

I feel like I went back in time as I drove from Kenai to my old house here in Alaska. The only changes that were noticable involved the growth of trees. Every building and broken down boat and plane was in the same place as 10 years ago. Not much has changed in this rural community, except the people. Many have aged, but the love they have shown has remained the same. We spent 5 hours on the beach. Other than the fact that none of us were children and we all have children (the youngest of us is the mother of 4 girls), it seemed just like I remembered it. Watching the waves, looking for agats, watching salmon jump, eating hot dogs, and seeing eagles soar we talked and laughed just like before. Matt tossed rocks gently at people. We all teased Joan for talking too much. What a great way to spend an evening!

I just got back from a 3 mile hike up a mountain that overlooks Skilack Lake. I'll share pics when I can. The one thing I know is this -- when I left in 94, I took a whole lot for granted because the very same places look so much more spectacular than before. Indeed, in Baytown I have taken much for granted. I'm sure that those things will look much more beautiful when I return as well. I look forward to coming home in a few days.

Friday, July 01, 2005

An Alaskan night

This is a view from the back deck of my best friend's parents' house at 11:30 PM. I grew up swimming, fishing, canoing, and waterskiing on this lake.