Friday, November 30, 2007

Pilar, Argentina

Extreme Nazarene 2008 is like a missions trip on steroids. Approximately three hundred people will travel from various places in the USA, plus even more people from at least eight other nations -- Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine, and Venezuela. One of the main projects there will be completion of the Bruno Radi Convention Center. It's not the typical mission trip project, but it should be an excellent investment. Here's why:
  • The BRCC will seat 2600 people in a multipurpose auditorium, and house 600 people in 50 dorm suites.
  • It will be used by the Nazarene Church in South America to develop leaders.
  • It will be a place for large-group meetings and conferences, including worship, discipleship, and community outreach.
  • It will generate revenue by opening the building for concerts, indoor sports leagues, etc., and that revenue will be re-invested in ministry through development of leaders (target of 5000 trained leaders by 2013) and planting of churches (target of 5000 new churches by 2018).

In addition to construction, Extreme '08 participants will engage in community service projects, evangelism events, and worship.

It sounds to me like a great investment in God's kingdom, and I'm excited that I'll be there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Friend Norm

I love Norm. I admire him, too. He has a sweet spirit, a gentle nature, a friendly laugh. He was part of our care group several years ago. It certainly wasn't a choice of convenience; he traveled quite a bit to get there. But he loved us and adopted us and apparently decided we were worth the time and effort and fuel and all that. Norm is one of those people in my life who helps me to really understand that "we love because [God] first loved us" because I've seen this dynamic in Norm's life.

I talked with Norm again today. He moved across the country awhile back to be close to family, but we still chat occasionally by phone. He mentioned friends from here, and told me about his family there. I was reminded how much he loves his grown-up "kids." I know who he'll be with for Thanksgiving, and how he'll bless others for Christmas. You know my favorite part of the conversation? When Norm smiled -- you can generally hear a good smile over the phone -- and said, "The Lord's blessed me real good." He listed blessings upon blessings that I too often take for granted.

I think Norm's demeanor is contagious. I certainly hope it is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Memorable Travel

I traveled to Nampa on Monday for a meeting. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room in the schedule for any snafus. You know how some days, especially when there are several arrangements coordinated, absolutely anything that could go wrong does go wrong? I'm thankful this wasn't one of those days. In fact, that morning was filled with good things, like a big gift wrapped up in several otherwise-ordinary hours.

My mind was elsewhere as I boarded the shuttle bus at the airport, and I was a little surprised to look around and see all the people. I would have been fine standing, but a gentleman stood with a smile and offered me his seat, and it was nice to rest a few moments, too. The security line was incredibly short, and the good folks there were being thorough, but efficient. I chatted with a TSA fellow as I prepared luggage, shoes, and all that for the electronic inspection. I had... um... opportunity to interact with another TSA person because I had accidentally packed some undeclared liquids. He was professional, respectful, and brief as he searched my luggage and explained the most recent rules which I had broken. Our flight boarded easily, there were extra seats which allowed more elbow room, and it arrived at the destination with time to spare. As if all that weren't enough goodness for the day, I had the privilege of being served by Dorothy on the flight. She offered drinks, served them, and even brought a second cup of soda, all with eye contact and a friendly smile. The interaction at the car rental place was similar -- prompt service by a personable individual who knew her job and did it well. The weather was good, the roads were not too busy, and I even had time to stop for a quick lunch before the meeting.

I'm glad I arrived at the meeting safely and on time. But more than that, I am thankful for the many people -- mostly people whose names I don't know, and whom I may never see again -- who made the trip pleasant simply by being professional and by being friendly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Finding Jesus

Have you seen the Waldo books? Waldo is a very specific character hidden in busy scenes which contain many, many other figures. I'm not very good at finding him, it seems. Anyway, I saw a children's book similar to a "Where's Waldo?" in a catalog this week. This being a catalog filled with religious things, though, the difference was that children search through the pictures for Jesus and other biblical figures. I don't quite know what I think of the "Where's Jesus?" book but, of course, my thought train shifted to a parallel track....

Something was different the past couple of days as I moved about from place to place. It look longer than it should have to realize what it was: Christmas decorations! We've been making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas and various other travels coming up in the next couple of months, too. Sometimes life starts to feel like a page out of Waldo -- stuff going on everywhere we look, and it's hard to really focus on what we're looking for.

Back to the children's book -- "Where's Jesus?" I've spent some time with kids who are surprisingly good at finding Waldo wherever he may be. As far as I can tell, they don't have Waldo-finding superpowers. They've just spent enough time in Waldo books that they can pick him out of a hectic crowd. That's what I'm looking for. I want to become so accustomed to looking for Jesus everywhere -- that's where he is, after all -- that I can spot him in any kind of craziness.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I was a cabin leader at senior high camp at Trinity Pines in June.  It was a new experience, and I didn’t feel particularly confident walking into it.  But I had a great group of girls.  They were responsible about being where they needed to be, when they needed to be there, so I was able to focus a lot more on getting to know them rather than always working to corral them.  And I enjoyed every last one of them.


As I headed up to Cascade for camp, I had a sense of purpose.  I was not there simply to keep some teenagers out of trouble during five days away from home, but to love them, and to talk with them, and to listen to them, and to pray for them.


It was fun this past week to hear from a couple of “my” camp girls.  So often we move through life, encountering people and being part of individual moments, but only for a very short time.  It is a privilege to hear again later how God continues to work in their lives.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Want...

John 17 is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus.  In it he prays for himself, for his disciples, and for all who would eventually believe in him.  There is, of course, plenty of meat to digest in a chapter like this.  But today I particularly gravitate toward this simple statement:


“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory….”  (John 17:24a).


What does this tell us about the nature of God?


Monday, June 4, 2007


I was listening today in John 13 to the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. To wash feet that have been in shoes all day can be unpleasant. These were feet that hadn't been enclosed in shoes, which would help, except that they were in sandals, and were walking paths with animal dung and other such waste. To wash feet was the task of a servant. The disciples would not wash each other's feet; they certainly wouldn't expect such labor to be done by their master!

John 13 opens with the note that it was just before the Passover Feast. We find out soon enough that it was just before the Last Supper of Jesus -- the meal at which he presented the bread and wine as his body and blood, with which his followers would remember his death. Jesus was about to die for this roomful of people, and for the rest of humanity. It would be the ultimate act of love. He was about to sacrifice himself in ways that nobody else in the room could even fathom. It would have been easy for Jesus to figure he needed a rest, that he deserved the rest, that he was the master. It would have been easy for Jesus to tell one of the disciples to wash his feet, and even the feet of the others.

That's not what Jesus did. What was he thinking? I think John 13:3-4 gives us a hint:
"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; SO he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist...." [emphasis added]

Jesus did not serve his disciples in spite of being God in the flesh, but because he was God in the flesh. He had no need to demand glory. He knew who he was, and he knew his purpose. And so he served.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The To-Do's of the Twelve

I've been listening to the New Testament while driving. I generally prefer to read, and am still doing that, but this has also been a good experience. We seem to hear things differently than we read them, so other perspectives become apparent.

Today, I heard something new in Matthew 10, which describes Jesus calling the twelve disciples to him, and sending them out with instructions. One sentence in particular caught my attention: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons" (Matthew 10:8a). Then Jesus moves on to tell them about how to work the details of their journey. So many times I have read this and not really thought about it. But I imagine my leader sending me to fulfill a particular mission within a particular group, and inserting a sentence like that, and I wonder how I would respond. "Heal the sick? Got it. Raise the dead? Okay. Cleanse lepers and drive out demons? No problem." Somehow, that doesn't sound like a very natural response. It would take a lot of faith to step out and start acting on orders like that.

And so, for that step of faith, I admire the disciples.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Now What?

A friend of mine passed away last night. It wasn't unexpected. Still, there is always a strange sense of unexpectedness when someone dies. I think it is Philip Yancey who has suggested that our rejection of death is a reflection of a knowledge that death is not the natural order of things. We were made for life!

I was given a new perspective on Genesis 3 a year or two ago. That is the chapter of the Bible which describes humanity's departure from life in perfect relationship with God, then goes on to tell of God's response. I had seen the curse of Genesis 3 -- pain of childbearing, difficulty of cultivation, removal from the Garden of Eden, and loss of immortality. But I was able to begin seeing the grace of Genesis 3, also. God took the initiative to reach out to Adam and Eve, and invited them to return. Adam and Eve had hidden themselves. "But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" Then, despite their continuing lack of repentance, God still provided for them -- crops, companionship, covering, and more.

When humanity had been separated from God, God said that man "must not be allowed to... live forever." God provided mortality. Could even death be a sign of grace?

My friend had lived a good long time, in human years. She loved her family and wanted, like any good mother, to stay and nurture and care for them. And yet, she was ready to meet God.

John says this in Revelation 21: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

I read this, and imagine a new heaven and a new earth. I imagine God's people approaching Him in awe and love. I imagine God with us, and no more dialysis or hospitals or worries or pain or fear or any of that.

And I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Like watching grass grow...

I watched the grass turn green over the weekend. It was a lot more exciting than it sounds. Spring is coming! When I went home Thursday night, our front lawn was the same rather drab wintery-brown color it had been for months. But I noticed in my various trips into and out of the house that by Saturday afternoon, the edges were surprisingly green and the central areas were beginning to change, too.

Green is such a lively, hopeful color for a lawn.