March 22, 2005


At the moment, I'm held up in front of the computer at 1am. It's late. I'm trying to do work on the second draft of my thesis. It is hard to focus. . .

While I was sitting here, I logged onto Trillian (the lovely program that allows you to use multiple chat programs without having all separate programs running at one time). Now, instead of reading, ripping, and re-writing, I'm conversing with a couple of my college students. I miss talking online to people that I don't get to regularly see and visit.

But that is not why I'm writing. I'm writing to talk about sitting in chairs, specifically the one I'm in right now. My wife sometimes sits with her legs tucked up underneath her. It is a sitting position that I've seen many women use. My one year old daughter is beginning to sit this way, though no one has taught her. I've always wondered why they sit that way. I know that if I were to sit on one of my legs for any length of time, it would die from the weight, let alone being able to get both of my legs up under my large-ness. For my wife to get into such sitting positions, she sometimes steps up into the desired chair and then sits down on the stepping leg. Other times she drags her knee across the chair and then sits down

Now, this normally is not a problem. Sometimes its a little odd to see her standing on the furniture for a moment or two, but that is all. However, the other night she tried to sit on her legs in the chair in front of the computer. This would not really have been a problem if it were a basic four legged chair. Unfortunately for her, it was not. It is an office chair that rolls and swivels. I wasn't watching, so I don't know whether it was the climb and sit or the drag and sit move. What I do know is that she lost her balance and fell. In the process, the chair went with her. She nearly fell on our daughter who was close by her side as always. The only thing that got hurt was the chair.

Now, as I sit here and try to focus and write, I lean to the left. It's not a huge lean to the left, only enough to really be aggravating. To compensate, I lean back to the right. It is like the dripping of a faucet or whatever else doesn't pull your attention away instantly, but slowly crawls under your skin. I won't last long here. . .

Life is that way sometimes, though. You always want things to work out perfectly and to be just right. Yet, when you get there and live it, there is always something askew. I know--not too profound. What do you expect for such a late time?

March 17, 2005

3:00am in the ER

A couple of weeks ago I was away with some of the students from my youth ministry at the Michigan Statewide Teen Convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was a great time away with them, though it was not void of its own challenges.

By Friday evening at the convention, I had two or three students not feeling well. Some of that can be contributed to the convention hall we were in. When you put almost 600 students in one room and add a good worship band like One-5-Oh, you get a smelly room full of stagnant air at the end of the praise time. It's just one of those things that always happens. This year, the hot, stagnant air made a couple of our students a little woozy, though it was nothing too serious.

That evening after the main session, our group met in my intern's room to talk about the evening and to walk through the rest of the weekend. That's when Aaron told me he wasn't feeling well. No big thing in my mind--it was the effects of the hot, stinky room mixed with the fact that he ate something he shouldn't have at dinner and was paying for it. Unfortunately, that was not the case. By 1:00am, we called his parents to let them know what was going on and headed to the emergency room.

This was my first trip with a student to the ER, and for the most part, it went very smoothly. If you have ever been to the emergency room, you will know that checking in, being evaluated by nurses, and then put in a room and evaluated by the doctor is normally a long a painful process. We got checked in quickly and within a half an hour or so we were in a holding room. Aaron got medication fairly quickly and ended up sleeping through most of the rest of the night while the doctors tried to figure out what was going on with him. While he slept, I got to take in everything going on around me. The most notable was a drunk guy in one of the other stalls in the room. As I sat there, I could here him singing. I don't know what songs they were, they were barely intelligible, but you definitely could tell he was singing. After belting out a few bars, he was thirsty and wanted a drink of water. The nurses were busy with other patients in the room, so his request went unheard. This made him mad and belligerent. He left his curtained area and started yelling at the nurse. It didn't last long--she threatened security and told him he wasn't the only one in need of care in the room. He quickly quieted and went back to his bed and began singing again.

Eventually, the doctor came to see what was wrong with this man. He asked him how he got to the hospital. The man could not remember. He said someone had brought him there from Jackson (which wasn't logical since we were in Kalamazoo). The doctor asked him what was hurting and the guy said he had fallen on his arm a week earlier, but that it had healed and did not hurt anymore. Pulling at straws, the doctor asked if the man would like to get some help with his drinking problem, to which the man responded, "I don't have a drinking problem."

The whole experience made me appreciate the work that doctors and nurses do dealing with everyone who comes through the doors of the emergency room. Not only do they have to deal with the physical ailments that people come in with, they have to work through the emotional and personal things going on with some of the people they attend to, like the drunk singer. By listening to the conversation between the doctor and the man, and by talking with the nurse later after everything happened, I could tell that there was a want in them to help the man get some real help and not destroy his life as he was. It helped me to realize that there is only so much you can do for those who hurt and need help, but don't want it. That night my mind chewed on that a lot, thinking of instances in my ministry where similar conversations had happened where denials of problems were made and help was refused.

Fortunately, the doctors don't stop trying to help people. They have pledged their allegiance to a code. We as Christians have done something similar. We have pledged our lives to the God of Heaven and Earth. We are partnered with Him as He works to bring the whole of His creation back under His reign. We have put on Christ and live with an endless hope, an endless love, and endless compassion for all because God has shown us the same endless hope, love, and compassion. We need to evaluate and make sure we are living in this way.

If you are wondering about Aaron, he's fine. The doctors diagnosed him with appendicitis at 4:00am. I got the privilege of calling his parents then to tell them they needed to drive to Kalamazoo to authorize surgery for their son. Even more exciting was calling one of my elders to make sure someone else other than me knew what was going on.

March 12, 2005


It's Saturday morning. I find myself at my regular coffee shop sitting in my regular chair. Today's task is working through the first draft of my thesis. (My second draft is due in a few weeks) The music of Rich Mullins is helping me make it through the day. . .

The coffee shop that I come to has a bulletin board inside the door where people can post things. It is smattered with car sales, handyman ads, and everything else. A few moments ago, a paper was put up that says "Feast to Fight Hunger". I would guess that it is a fundraiser of some type to raise money to fight world hunger or something of that nature, which in itself is interesting. Let us have a "feast" to fight world hunger. Is the only way that we as Americans can raise money for something like world hunger to offer those who will be giving the money something to come for or a reward?

Unfortunately, the interesting thing was not necessarily the announcement that was hung. Rather, it was the size of the woman who hung it. She was the quintessential overweight person of a shorter stature. She waddled over to the board, looking somewhat in pain as she struggled to walk. She stole a pin from another announcement, put that announcement behind hers and then stuck her announcement to the board right in the center, covering up even more announcements, ads, and what have you.

Now, I do admit that the lady could have some medical condition that has led to her largeness. I continually blame my mom for making me always clean my plate when I was little for my size and love for eating. Yet, we as Americans continually make excuses for the actions we take and the way we live. The church is no more innocent.

At what point do we take responsibility for our actions rather than blaming other things like "the clean plate club?" At what point do we quit saying, "Satan is attacking this or that in my life" and live the lives that God desires us to live under his reign? (Matthew 13)

March 1, 2005

Winter Continues

Well. It's March 1st. I'm supposed to be at GLCC today helping Esther with a panel discussion about worship and worship ministry. However, last night the snow fell and then fell some more. We in Lansing awoke to six inches of blowing snow with the prospect of another two to four inches today and one to three inches this evening. It is not the way most of us would want March to start, but what are you going to do. We cannot change the weather, or can we?

This week at church Joy read scripture during our gathering time. She read the passage out of John 9 where Jesus heals a man who was blind from birth. Jesus heals him with some spit and dirt--not things that you would look to for healing power (though, with the market of odd things like Mother Mary grilled cheese, we could make lots of money with some holy spit and dirt on eBay). In the process of healing him, Jesus causes trouble with the Pharisees and their belief system, turning the tables on their "all knowing" pride and understanding of who God is and how his Kingdom is to be.

Now, the thing that struck me most this past Sunday was not the narrative that Joy read. Rather, it was the fact that Joy is physically blind. How many of the people made the connection? They should have seen another one of our ladies lead Joy to the pulpit, step back while she read, and then step forward again to lead Joy off the stage. Even if they made the connection, did any of them think that it was odd to have a blind person reading this story? Did it make them feel uncomfortable? I know that for me, anytime we sing songs about blind people being healed and Joy is on the worship team, I am uncomfortable. How can we sing such things or read such things without having a want or even possibly an expectation for Joy to be healed?

Interestingly, I have been thinking on the idea of healing and miracles for some time now. As I have been working through my thesis the last few months, I have been working through the idea that those of us who make up the church need to be focused on how we live out the kingdom of God as the Body of Christ present in the world today. In our gathering time, this means that we are unified in the ways we praise God for who he is rather than dividing into separate musical style groups. It also helps us understand that what we do in the gathering time is for God alone, not for us or non-Christians. It also means that our existence as the body of Christ outside of the gathering is also cross shaped. Thus, the way we live out our lives must embody Christ in every way. This means that we are Christ-like when we drive. We are Christ-like as we surf the internet. We are Christ-like as we talk on the phone to telemarketers, and so on and so forth.

Also, I believe that as we do this cross shaped living, the Holy Spirit works in us and around us to show that life in the Kingdom of God is different than life in the world. In turn, we are a people of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal 5:22) I believe that this was the same thing that was happening as Jesus lived out his ministry.

Yet, as Jesus embodied the Kingdom of God in his living, there was something more happening. The poor were treated with respect and sinners were treated with love and acceptance. Things like blindness and leprosy did not have a place. Jesus had power to heal and to cast out demons. He had power to raise the dead. The men in Mark 2 knew this and they cut a hole in someone's roof to get a paralized man in front of Jesus to be healed. The woman with the bleeding problem knew this and just touched him and she was healed.

The issue for me then is if we are living out the Kingdom of God, why are those miracles not present? Does it mean that we are not living up to our kingdom potential and embodying the life of Christ as much as we could? Have we reasoned away our belief that God could move in these ways in the here and now, thus limiting the power of the Holy Spirit? Even more grave, is our living out of Christ so incomplete that the Spirit cannot or does not want to be present? Or, is God just choosing to not move in those ways?

We as Christians really need to think hard about how we are living. Are we living in ways that these miracles could even be possible? Are we embodying Christ and living out his love and compassion for the poor and the sinners? Are we living out the love for one another within the church? Are we living out the Kingdom of God or are we living out the world?

Can we change the weather like Jesus did as he and his disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8 and Mark 4? It's still snowing outside. Will Joy get the chance to read God's Word with her eyes rather than her fingers before Christ's return? I do not know whether God will choose to move in that way between now and then. I do know that we as the body of Christ, the presence of God's Kingdom here on earth right now, need to have more faith and live more like Christ in every part of our lives. (Matthew 16, Mark 8, Luke 9)