January 24, 2006


If you were to ask people on the street about protection, I would assume that you would hear comments about condoms, birth control pills, or our "war on terror". I would have probably been in the same boat, until today.

Today when I was reading through some small group stuff in preperation for a training session on Saturday, I happened across, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." It has really set my mind in motion today. It has always been a pet peeve of mine how people will say, "the devil made me do it" or "Satan is attacking me today". It frustrates me because of the willingness we have to make excuses for why we stumble with things, pushing it to the point of making it acceptable to stumble because "the devil tempted me and I couldn't help it." I think it is a copout.

I believe part of the problem is that we give the evil one, Satan, or whatever you want to call him/it too much credit. In all honesty, I believe the evil we struggle with as humans is more the result of our sin and humanness rather than an evil force that roams the world looking to devour and destroy good. Not to say that there is not an evil presence in the spiritual realm that influences the world. I simply thing that we all to often claim evil and make excuses for not living ethically, holy and pleasing to God.

Until today that was all I really had thought. However, when I came across the 2 Thessalonians passage, all of this was broudht to the front of my mind again. If God, who is faithful, will strengthen and protect us from the evil one, why are we claiming, "the devil made me do it"? With the help of my handy dandy Bibleworks 4 program, I looked up the idea of protect throughout the scriptures. There are over a dozen other places besides 2 Thessalonians where the scriptures talk about God protecting us, especially in the Psalms, which is interesting in itself. The Psalms are considered the hymn book of Israel. In the middle of the worship of Israel, they continually take notice of how God will protect them. I think you could compare it to tying a string around your finger to remind you of something. Jesus prays for our protection in John when he is praying for his followers before the crucifixion.

Stepping outside of spots where the scriptures say that God will protect us, there are many more sciptures where we are encouraged to pray for his protection from the evil one. A main example of this is in the Lord's Prayer--deliver us from the evil one.

So, what is the point? I believe that we put ourselves in dangerous situations where we ourselves become the tempter. We stand too close to the fire, knowing that we will possibly get burned and we are ok with it. I also, after really chewing on these scriptures over the last half hour or so, believe that the triune God is doing what He can to keep us from such problems and temptation. Otherwise, Paul would be lying to us in 2 Thessalonians. Therefore, we really need to guard ourselves and reflect on what situations we are putting ourselves in. Are we sitting too close to the fire when we get on the internet all by ourselves? Are we risking temptation by going places that we shouldn't go, by wathing things we shouldn't be watching?

May we be ethical and holy, setting ourselves aside from the world and living differently because of God's love. May God's love push us in those directions and fill in the gaps where we step too close to the fire.

In Case You Didn't Notice

I added a couple new items to the menu on your right today. I am listing out what books I am currently reading and what books I have read this year. I do this for two reasons. One, I figure it might be nice for you to see what is feeding my brain. A couple of my friends list these things on their site and I find it interesting. Plus, all you xanga people put up the "what I'm reading/listening to" stuff each post.

Second, one of my goals is to read more this year. While I was finishing my thesis, my reading was totally focused on worship in the last 200 years. When I was finally done, I started reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I struggled to make reading a priority and it took me forever to finish it. Not reading is a dangerous thing if you are in the ministry in my opinion. I believe I must continually be pushing my brain and learning so that what I am doing in ministry does not become stagnant or easy.

So, the lists are there so you can see what's going into my head. . .and if you would like, you can keep me accountable to making sure that I am actually reading and working my mind, rather than playing Web Sudoku.

January 20, 2006

Four Hours Later

Well. This week has not gone as planned. It started off with Monday, which normally starts with staff meeting. This week we went to my Sr. Minister's house for breakfast. It was a nice time, but I did not make it back to the office until almost 11am. By that time the emails and phone messages had stacked up. At 11:30ish I headed out with some students for CiCi's Pizza. They were off of school for Martin Luther King Day. After that, I did some reading and journaling--something that I struggle to do on a regular basis lately. It was good. By the middle of the afternoon, I headed home for awhile since I had an elder's meeting that night so that I got some family time in. While I was home the heater quit working. This has been an unfortunate normal occurance around the farmhouse lately. They serviced it a few months ago and it has never been back to normal. Part of the problem is that it is probably 20 years old. The heater not working left me frustrated and grumpy. Adding to this was a toilet problem.

Tuesday AM I stayed at home to wait for the repair guy. After reading a little and getting Hannah up, I got tired of waiting and headed to the office. I was there just long enough to catch up on some things when the phone rang from my wife saying the repair guy was there. So, I stopped what I was doing and went home. After he was done, I took a break at lunch and went to the store for toilet parts. I couldn't see worth in the toilet continually running and wasting water, which I pay for.
I bought what I thought I need and took it home and installed it. After lunch I hit the office again. In the evening, I had a worship meeting with my sound and audio/visual peoples. That put me home just in time for some play time with Hannah. It was at that point that I found out my repair job on the toilet had not worked.

Wednesday came quickly. I took the whole day off to spend with Hannah and Steph. We did some shopping and had lunch out for Hannah's birthday. It was a good time. That night some of my students came over for Diving Deeper. We had a good discussion about 1 Samuel 4-6 and then watched the rest of the Red Wings hockey game. It was a good time, even though they were bouncing off the walls. At about 10pm Jason Sleight, one of my old interns dropped by the house. While we were hanging out, he mentioned another remedy for the toilet--new part with putty/sealer.

This morning I got up and spent some time with one of our members from the church. About once a month he and I get the chance to go to the coffeeshop together. We work on work while we are there and catch up some on life and what we are struggling with. It was a very good time. After that I went and purchased the new part for the toilet and promptly went home to install it. Unfortunately it didn't work. And, I found out I needed to go for yet another part--a flapper valve. I hit the office for an hour or so to talk with one of my praise band members and then went to the local Menards for a second time today, third time for the week. Parts in hand, I went home to pull a toilet tank.

Now, one would think this is a difficult job. Really it is not. Loosen two bolts and unhook the water supply line and it is free. My biggest fear during all of this was accidently breaking the toilt tank. Its not your normal toilet. It is an almond/pinkish color from the 70s or 80s. It probably was not one of a kind, but now it is. I figured, the way my week had been going, that I was going to drop it or crack it and have to buy a whole new toilet and install it. Fortunately, I did not break it. However, I had to go back to Menards for a 3rd time today buy a wrench large enough to loosen the flapper valve from the tank. Once that was done, I put it all back together. With trips to the store, it only took a couple of hours. At that point, it was 3:30pm. I had made a mess of the shower in the process of fixing the toilet so I figured I would clean the shower and replace the curtain, especially with in-laws coming in this weekend to celebrate my daughter's 2nd birthday. I did that quickly and turned to check for leaks. . . and there was a leak. DRAT! So, I pulled the toilet again, cranked down the ring on the flapper valve, and reinstalled the tank for a second time. Four hours later, it was all done without leaks.

Now, I'm sure at least one of you who actually made it to this point in the post is wondering, why in the world did I have to read about fixing a toilet for so long. I'm actually wondering that myself. I'm wondering why this week turned out to be the mess that it has become. I have 2 big projects still undone that I really wanted to get good work done on this week. Why did the heater and the toilet have to break down this week?

Yet, as I think back over the week so far, God blessed me with lots of time to be with his people. I spent good time with my students twice this week--something that rarely ever happens. I got to share time with a friend and encourage him in his life. I got to talk about life and worship with one of my praise band guys. And, after all was said and done today, I got the chance to hang out with one of my old students who was having computer problems. While we were sitting here working on her laptop, we got the chance to talk about the things going on in her life and how God seems to be moving through them.

Maybe the projects, while important, were not as important as some of those conversations this week, or making sure that my family has heat and a bathroom. Maybe those things broke to help me realize how blessed we really are to have heat and toilets--something we don't often think about, if we do at all.

Lord, thank you for such a messed up week. Thanks for the conversations. Thanks for the hiccups that helped me learn to be patient and loving, even though I was mad and unpatient. Thank you for allowing me to celebrate with my daughter this week, and for giving me such a great girls. May what is left of this week be extra productive for the work I need to do. Keep my mind focused and working for Your glory . . . and don't let anything else break this week.

January 19, 2006

Happy Birthday

It's hard to believe that my daughter turned two yesterday. It seems like it was just a few days ago that Steph and I brought her home from the hospital. We carried her in the house in her carseat and sat her in the middle of the floor. I remember sitting there on the couch with my wife just looking at her all bundled up in her carseat, wondering, what are we supposed to do now?

She has grown so quickly. She is learning even faster. The other day when her and I were watching a hockey game, she looked at me and said, "papa, I want to go to the beach and go swimming." She repeats everything we say and copies almost everything we do. And, even for being two, she's a pretty good child without too many terrible two moments . . . yet.

The picture posted here is her and I the other day. She really likes to play papa's guitar--and she has to play it the right way, like I do. She also likes to sing. That's what happens when your father is a worship minister and momma loves music. She is capable of singing many songs now, without much help. Songs like abc's, twinkle twinkle little star, jingle bells, and the itsy bitsy spider.

There is so much joy with her. I am doing my best to take in everything I can with her as she grows up so quickly. I cherish reading books with her, even though we read each one at least 4 times in a row. I cherish puzzle time on the floor, even though as soon as we put the all together, it gets dumped and put together again. I cherish singing before bed and snuggling while we watch hockey games or the smattering of kid shows she likes.

Happy birthday to my daughter, Hannah Grace. Thank you for bringing such joy to our lives!