Monday, October 30, 2006

The three older boys and I had a great time at a Cub Scout campout last weekend. Although I will say that a tent is the last place I wanted to enjoy an extra hour of sleep.
The Journeying Machine- inspired by the prodigal son's journey to the "faraway land".

Once upon a time there existed a machine that could cover great distances relatively quickly. People thought this was a great idea until they realized that it would not go to nice places but only to wilderness, lonely areas in a faraway land. Once it arrived it needed time to re-energize before it could return its passengers to their home.

Many people tried to control the machine, but they all failed. However, some of them decided that where the machine took them was not as important as the journey to the faraway land. They really enjoyed the journey. When people mentioned how bad the faraway land was, these journey-ers talked about how one has to take the bad with the good. They felt like their boring lives were less so because of the fun journeys they could take in the machine. Sure the faraway land was no fun, but it was a small price to pay for such cool jouneys.

It was not long before large numbers of people had been convinced by the journey-ers. They were helped along by the entrepeneurs who started advertising and selling trips in the machine. They made it sound like the best thing ever. Of course they never mentioned the faraway land. They acted like it did not exist.

Of course there were some who tried to help people realize that life did not have to be boring and empty; that there was much more to life than the journey-ers realized. Unfortunately, in their zeal, some of them overdid it and seemed to cause more harm than good. Nonetheless, some people were convinced, but the majority did not listen. This did not discourage the rescuers; they kept plugging along. They longed for the day when The Rescuer would arrive and take those He had rescued on the True Journey. Until that day they would continue in the grand joy of following The Rescuer.
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This picture was taken while we were in Arizona in the White Mountains on the Mogollan Rim last week. What a gift my precious wife is to me.
I was struck by Daniel 9 a while back and wanted to share it...

I have not heard much about this chapter. Usually I have focused on his prayer in chapter 10 and Gabriel's difficulty in coming due to the prince of the kingdom of Persia. I have heard and read much about this.

But I was struck by chapter 9 this time in a few ways...

Daniel read Jeremiah's prophecy that God would bring His people back to Jerusalem after 70 years in Babylon. At this point about 63 years have passed (according to what I read). If you read the prophecy at that point what would you think? Daniel's response is prayer in sackcloth and ashes and repentance.

I am trying to think of an equivalent? I wonder if my mindset, my theology is skewed? Given Daniel's response I am guessing it is. My thinking goes that whatever God says He will do, He will do. If I read it as Daniel did, I am guessing I would either be happy that we were almost able to go back or I would be bummed that we still had 7 years to wait. I would probably struggle to do much feeling that God was going to do it so I could not mess it up so I might as well go on living as I had. Maybe I would not be that cynical, but it is hard to say. I doubt I would have responded like Daniel.

Let's say there was a prophecy written 63 years ago that was clearly from God (as Jeremiah's was), and it said that millions of Muslims were going to turn to Christ in 7 years. What would my response be? Would I rejoice and wonder how God was going to do it? Would I pack up and go to the Muslim world and start preaching? Would I start trying to get churches ready to deal with all of the new believers? Would my life change?

It looks to me like Daniel did none of those things. Instead, if I were him, it seems that I would weep and repent that we had done so little up to this point, that we had not been devoted to following God's call to go into all the world, that my and our hearts had been so far from him, etc.

Wouldn't the modern mind question this response? Wouldn't the modern mind ask why I need to go to all that trouble; I mean if God said He was going to do it, then He will do it. It does not matter what we do, right? I know that goes through my mind to justify my laziness.

I mean how many of us changed our behaviour when we heard the prophecy that Uzbekistan was going to close but may stay open if enough prayer was given? Mine did not change. I was motivated here and there but was not consistent. If the whole community had "put on sackcloth and ashes..." would it have made a difference? If there had been a Daniel would it have made a difference? I am not sure.

This strikes at my core. It convicts me deep in my insides. I notice as I said in my possible actions that Daniel went to prayer rather than "action". Notice that he also did not try to gather a bunch of people, but went to the Lord Himself. I am not against gathering a bunch of people and think that God wants us to use e-mail and other instruments to call the saints to pray, but I wonder if sometimes I excuse my own prayer away by the fact that I am getting lots of other people to pray? Or if I think somehow God will work more because more people are praying, but won't work if just I am praying.

Of course there are instances in which the cries of a whole people (e.g. Egypt and the exodus) are heard by God, but often it is just one person who is called to stand in the gap. Am I/are you "highly favored" as Daniel is called to be the one to stand in the gap?

The other thing I want to mention that is not bad, but which I think God is showing me is the following. My first inclination is to study Daniel's prayer and find the pattern and then pray in that way. How many books are written doing just that. I don't think that is bad. However, I think what God is trying to teach me now is not that Daniel's pattern of prayer is what is important, but that Daniel's praying is important. And not even that his praying is as important as the fact that Daniel read God's word, was convicted, was moved in his heart to a certain action, and obeyed. He poured out his heart to God for his people. God wants my heart; He wants all of me. He does not want a robot. He wants me to seek Him, to hear Him, to love Him, and He wants to make me like Jesus to bring Him glory. And He may just want to use us to change the world. And he may just want to move us to be the instruments through which He will fulfill His promises. Am I ready like Daniel was? Are you?
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

I took this at the Cs house the other day.

Don Sutton was a Major League baseball pitcher for many years, won over 300 games, is in the MLB Hall of Fame, and now is a baseball broadcaster. I heard him the other day, and he said something worth passing on...

When he came into the league with the Dodgers he was the fourth starting pitcher behind Drysdale, Koufax, and Osteen. These three men were all great pitchers and very different personalities. Sutton was young and teachable. Each of these men could have told him to be like them, do what they did, but that is not what they did. Instead as Sutton learned from them, they all told him not to try to copy them but to learn from them and then to figure out how to apply what he learned to himself. To be himself; to learn from them without trying to be them.

I thought that fit really well with what the Lord has been teaching me of late. And the moral of the story is that the Lord can use anything from a donkey to a hall of fame pitcher to speak to His people.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We planted Marigolds in our garden and they are doing well. I got a little magnifying lens to put on the camera and took this shot.
And now for a story I wrote a month or so ago...
{This story is about a specific time in my life. It is metaphorical. My hope/expectation, however, is that it applies to many people.}

Once there was a boy. His father loved him very much. As the boy got older he wanted to drive. The father had one rule about driving, and he told it to the boy, "You cannot drive motorcycles. You can only drive cars."

The boy often talked to his dad about driving. He was looking so forward to the day when he would be able to drive. That day finally came and the boy drove his first car. Over the years he drove many cars; some he really enjoyed and others not so much. He mistreated some of the cars, and he had a few lemons. He always remembered his father's rule, but in the back of his mind he started to wonder what was wrong with motorcycles. He had some friends who rode motorcycles, and they seemed happier than he did. Plus cars did not seem to be all they were cracked up to be.

He still often talked to his father about driving. When would his father give him just the right car? Why did he have to wait? What did he need to do to get it? His father listened and sometimes seemed to understand and comfort the boy, but at other times the father seemed distant and just gave pat answers. The boy grew more impatient and questioning. He kept driving cars, but motorcycles were becoming more attractive to him.

Then one day he saw a motorcycle that seemed to be calling to him. It was beautiful and looked like it would be a lot of fun. The boy decided it would not hurt to ride it. He felt a little guilty at first, but it was so fun that he soon was able to push that guilt to the back of his mind. A few of his brothers asked him about the motorcycle and reminded him that their dad said he should not ride it. The boy acted like he was listening, but he did not change his behavior.

Then an awful day day came. The boy was riding the motorcycle down a steep hill, slipped on a wet spot, and had a terrible crash. The motorcycle was totalled, and the boy went to the hospital. He got out of the hospital after a few days, but the rehab would last a long time and require a lot of work.

During this time the boy felt amazing guilt and anger. One minute he felt like he could not talk to his dad because he had disobeyed and felt so ashamed. His dad would never talk to him again. Besides he got what he deserved. Then in the next minute he would yell in anger at his dad for letting him ride the motorcycle and crash.

Then he came to the place at which he swore off motorcycles. He would only ride in cars from then on. At that point he thought he had learned his lesson and everything would be okay. But he still had so much to learn. During all this time his dad had been right near him, waiting on his son. The dad had many of his other sons go to the boy and try to explain that the dad wanted to see him, but it took the son a long time to understand, but finally he did, and the reunion with his daddy was very sweet.

In the end the dad gave the boy the perfect car for him. Looking back everything became so clear to the boy. The dad really did know what he was talking about. He knew he was going to follow his dad from then on with no questions asked.

Then one day the dad told the boy to use roller blades instead of a skateboard...

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