Friday, April 25, 2008


Today, I received flowers from one of my BESTEST girlfriends and sister in Christ. The occasion, you ask? She gave me a surprise in the name of a birthday party. No, it's not my birthday; that was a couple of months ago. But she made me feel like it was something more than an annual festivity... like *I* was something more.

You know how we all want to feel "special" - with attributes of "one of a kind-ness"? It almost goes against the grain of the concept of taking self out of the equation. You know, of living a life of service. But the undeniable result of service *is* making the receiver feel special, unique, wanted, valued, one of a kind, and most of all; loved. Are we causing the other person to stumble by catering to that "need"? Hmm. Now, I didn't really ask that because I didn't know, or that I thought you didn't know. I just wanted to segway into the fact that Christ gave His life to us in service to his Father to make us feel... special, unique, wanted, valued, one of a kind, and most of all; loved. There are a lot of other attributes that can add to that list. That's a severely truncated one. But if you want to find out what some of those other ones might be, just take a trip through the Bible. He reveals new and different ones to me all the time.

"I am the rose of Sharon and lily of the valley." Sister Dana sent me Jesus today in the form of multicolored, fragrant flowers. In her service of thoughtfulness, I am reaping the harvest of heaven's prelude; a mere glimpse of glory to come. I am "special" there as one of my Heavenly Father's children.

Thank you, Dana, for reminding me of these things. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

Going (a different shade of) green

On Saturday I had the good fortune to drive to McMinnville, TN with my two oldest. It's about 50 miles there, give or take a few, so it takes about an hour for the drive. We were on our way to a gun show, of all things; just a boys' afternoon out. I think Anji didn't mind too much, since the elimination of three souls from the house has a tendency to calm it down a bit (a LOT). And we, the three of us, we were just going to enjoy doing a manly thing together. But the gun show turned out to be less of a show than the scenes we encountered on our drive.

As we came out of Sparta and turned south, I heard Asa exclaim, "Oh, Papa, it's so beautiful! Look, Papa!" I looked around and indeed, it was beautiful. The area is rural, with small hills and valleys. Much of it is current and former pastureland, and those green pastures were framed in the early blooms of trees just eager to enjoy the warmth of spring's embrace. Purple, white, yellow, and green on the ground contrasted with the clear blue sky. The colors were almost shocking to our eyes. They were, in a word, AWESOME.

Spring is a marvelous season. There's promise and hope in it. I'm sure that's why the world has chosen to celebrate Easter in spring. Whether it's correct or not by theological or historical views, spring is properly a time to focus on renewal and redemption. 

God is not subtle in springtime. His Spirit powerfully establishes His dominance over the physical world as the new growth appears. The trees and bushes, then grasses and flowers, boldly proclaim His glory as the landscapes around us are transformed from dull and lifeless into vibrant and lovely. We have, right in front of us, the finest example of God's powerful presence, of His amazing creativity, of His redemptive Spirit, and His great love. 

You may recall (assuming you've seen it) that there is a scene in the movie, "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" where Aslan the Lion, recently arisen from the dead, moves swiftly across the land of Narnia to the castle of the White Witch. When he arrives in the courtyard of the castle, the witch and her minions have departed, but there remain many of her enemies, frozen in time like statues of stone. Aslan walks through the courtyard and gently breathes upon each of the statue-like creatures. Slowly, each of the frozen beings begin to return to life and prepare for battle. 

When the disciples were together after Jesus had been crucified, He appeared to them and breathed on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. They were about to go to battle as well, but on a scale that Narnian fantasy cannot encompass. 

In springtime there are moments where you can nearly feel and certainly can see the results of the breath of God. The earth, in it's desperate state, can do nothing to renew itself. It is wholly dependent upon the work of God's Spirit to bring about green pastures, new flowers, and budding trees.

And we, like the earth, need renewal, both for this season and ever onward. I thank God our hope in Him springs eternally green.
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


My dear wife is somewhat obsessed with Sonic. For those of you outside the Sonic serving area, go here to find out more. Sonic is to Tennessee as Burgerville is to Washington (to help those of you in Washington). 
Anji loves to enjoy a nice, big, ice-cold, Sonic Cherry Limeade whenever she has the opportunity and she had the opportunity today. She went big - the Route 44 Cherry Limeade - 44 ounces of cherry-lime goodness, with extra maraschinos to boot. Unfortunately, in a sad turn of events, 40 ounces ended up on the floorboards of our minivan, leaving a permanent reminder of American excess gone bad.
When Anji and the boys arrived at home I was informed of the debacle and shortly went out to survey the impact zone. At first, it didn't look too bad, even though I had been warned otherwise. The floormats had some of the drink on them for sure, but - yeah - it didn't look that bad.

Until I pulled the floormats back. 

And there it was: the stain. The stain to beat all stains. A stain the size of Puerto Rico. A pink Puerto Rico-sized stain.

And Anji, bless her heart, gave me some space. I began with a wishful scrubbing with soap, then a hopeful stain remover application, and finally a bizarre and desperate witches' brew of supposed stain-removing concoctions. None of them worked. 

None of them worked at all.

As I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and sprayed, and scrubbed, and blotted, and applied, and scrubbed again, I became increasingly angry. Angry at Anji for buying, then spilling, that enormous drink. Angry with the spot remover manufacturer for even hinting that their product could remove this monster ("multiple applications may be necessary"). Angry with Sonic for putting red dye in a huge cup that cannot possibly meet OSHA safety standards. I was perturbed. The boys stepped back from their observations, the dog cowered in the corner, and I think I even saw the neighbors taking a wide berth as they passed by on their evening walk. The stain was so huge and so difficult to remove. The only way it would ever go away was if I bleached it out or cut it out or replaced the carpet completely!

And then, in a moment, the anger left and I was caught up in sadness and remorse. A vision exploded in my head. That stain, that huge stain, is just like the one I used to bear before the Spirit told me I was chosen. My stain, unlike the one in our car, had been removed through my Lord and Savior. My stain was removed with His blood and it washed me white as snow. 

As anger passed into sadness, sadness passed into joy.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.
And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: 
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 7:13-17

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Push-mower Man

When we moved into the new house here in Tennessee, I was pretty excited to have a huge new yard. I mean, 100 x 200 feet of glorious SPACE. Space to run in, play in, plant in, build on ... you know, SPACE.

And it was all fine until the Spring came. 

And the grass started growing.

It started growing a lot.

And our lawnmower, which seemed more than adequate for our 7000 square foot yard in Washington, began to seem small and inadequate (but not insignificant). 

You see, our neighbors all either have riding mowers or lawn service (which is sweet, let me tell you), neither of which I have. Instead, I have a push-mower, albeit a nice one with some power behind the wheels. 

But after further consideration of my situation I count myself blessed. My mower takes up less space in my garage, doesn't cost as much to maintain, and uses less fuel. I also get the joy of spending an hour and a half (yes, you read it right: an hour and a half) walking by myself with only my thoughts and the steady drone of the engine for company. Nobody interrupts me, unless a ball or stick or other inanimate and easily-shredded object blocks my path. I'm even a bit jealous when Em (now big enough to push the mower in a straight line and eager to test his newfound ability) asks to mow. I think, "hey, this is my time", but I know a young man needs that time alone with his thoughts (and some machinery) as well. 

My neighbors might chuckle while they drive about, sipping iced tea from their built-in cup-holders while I sweat and push my little mower about back-and-forth, back-and-forth, but I'm enjoying my little reverie while they rush to complete their work and return to the cacophony of life.

Respite from this world is found in precious few places and times. We must allow ourselves to enjoy it wherever and whenever it avails itself to us. Even our Lord Jesus withdrew for a short while to rest and find comfort when the need came upon Him. It gives me joy to know that One so perfect would seek out momentary peace when opportunities presented themselves. If He was with us in body today, I'm sure He'd be a push-mower Man. 

God bless you all. Enjoy the Spring!