December 16, 2007

Christmas 2007

Here's the latest Christmas picture of the Lowman family taken in the blizzard after church today.

December 12, 2007

So Long Ago

When I graduated from high school, I was totally undecided about what I wanted to do. I felt some sort of a calling, if you want to call it that, about going into some type of ministry. Most of that was influenced by Ray, my youth minister at the time. At church I ran the sound system, sang in the choir, and sang specials every once in awhile, along with the normal youth group stuff. Bible college was a thought on the radar, but that meant something more than I was willing to give. So, off to the University of Akron I went to study mathematics.

That summer after I graduated, Ray invited me to work a week of camp with him at Elkhorn Valley Christian Service Camp. I had been to camp a couple of times before as a faculty brat and as a Jr. high camper. I even got baptized at camp (though not fully because of camp--I simply wanted to take communion with everyone else). Yet, I had never thought about working camp. It sounded fun. So I said yes.

Intermediate 1 (otherwise known as Jr. High Camp) was the highlight of my summer. I was already coming out of my quiet shell because of working in retail at a tuxedo shop. Camp allowed me to be "that guy". You know, the guy who is the loud, obnoxious kid who doesn't have a pause button. That was me at camp. The other added bonus was that I was the recreation guy that year. Everyone loves the rec guy. Because of those things, students were attracted to me. It blew my mind. And, I began to build friendships that went beyond that week. Back in that day, we wrote letters back and forth. I know, that's so old school. It was cool to write back and forth and encourage the students.

When Ray moved away, the camp dean of that Jr. High week became our new youth minister at my church. Jack was an odd fellow. He was your quintessential blond haired, blue eyed guy who looked like Jesus. He even had the scruffy beard to add to the look. That was about as normal as he was. He had clear shoes to show off his assortment of crazy socks. One of his claims to fame was his ability to snort very loud. However, even though he was odd, Jack began to teach me about ministry. It wasn't a straight on teaching about how to disciple or theories or anything like that. He simply asked if my best friend and I wanted to read a book together with him and discuss it. While I don't remember the book title, the main theme I remember in it was sticktoitiveness--being totally sold out to what you are living your life for. Those were some great discussions in his cold office. I began to learn some Greek words, their meanings, and why they were important. He had us helping plan and do youth ministry--not because we knew he was training us, but because it was fun and we wanted to.

The next summer, Jack moved up to Sr. High week. I was there again, with the same circle of students who I'd been writing to the previous year. It was a great time. It was a life changing time. I got to teach a class on the parable of the talents that year. I remember feeling way out of my league. I remember students coming up to me afterwards and asking me serious, deep questions about the Bible. I remember feeling totally hopeless because I didn't have any answers for them. I knew I needed to go to Bible college. That winter I decided to go to GLCC and begin my journey to professional ministry.

If it weren't for Ray and Jack challenging me to go to camp and putting me in a place to build relationships and shape lives, I'd be off somewhere doing math stuff--either for NASA or teaching in some hole in the wall community college. Because they cared and built relationships with me, subversively discipling me, I found the passion for my life--the passion that has lead me to where I am today.

They also helped me begin to build my own discipling relationships--though I didn't know it at the time. There are two students I think of most when I think back--Dawn Gates and Angie Coxson. They are the two that I most connected with. Now, almost 20 years later, we email back and forth and keep up the conversations/relationships that were started out in the middle of no where at camp.

Thank you Ray and Jack for taking a chance on a big, goofy looking high school student who didn't have a clue of what to do with his life. Thanks for giving me the chance to learn about what ministry looks like and how to do it. Thanks for helping me begin to see the importance of relationships and discipleship--things that are the bedrocks of my ministry now. Thank you Angie and Dawn for keeping up the conversations for so many years.

December 9, 2007

Christmas Music

Right now I'm enjoying a concert by the Meridian Community Band. It's a 60 plus group of musicians ranging from young adults to Sr. Saints. While they aren't professionals, they sound pretty darn good. Add to them our acoustically live auditorium at SLCC and you have a great afternoon of music.

Today is a day of different music. This morning for worship we used a different setup to the normal praise band. We had a piano, my guitar, and 5 male voices. It was quite a change to the 2 electric guitars, a bass, drums, acoustic, and piano. Now, I'm enjoying a large orchestral sound, in addition to a little Bing Crosby during the intermission. What a blessing God has given us with musical variety.

My prayer is that we as a people in God's church could grow perspective and understanding of that. It's not about the worship band in my opinion. It's about us as a people coming together to worship our Maker and Savior, no matter what instruments are used. Its about our hearts and minds as we come to celebrate.

One last interesting thing about this concert. At the moment, they are playing a Jewish piece. Right before it, two ladies from the band came down front and lit a menorah. They explained a little of the tradition and sang
HaNerot Halalu, traditional prayer sung during Hanukkah as they were lighting the candles. It was very cool in my opinion. I'm sure there would be someone to get bent out of shape that something like that happened in our church building. My thought is, there is much that we can learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters.

With all this good music, it is definitely a White Christmas tonight!

November 24, 2007

"What Would Jesus Buy" on Black Friday?

I caught an article about this in the Canton Repository on Thanksgiving day. Google led me here. You should check it out. I'm very intrigued as the article ended with the comment that both the left and the right will be in agreement with Rev Billy and his message.


My girls and I arrived home last night from being gone to Ohio for Thanksgiving. We love our families dearly and enjoy our times with them. But, we really like home. Last night when we crossed the state line from Ohio to Michigan, there was a calm in the car. Maybe it was because we were 3/4 of the way done with a 4 1/2 hour trip with an almost 4 year old in the car. Maybe it was the fact that the speed limit is 5 mph faster. Maybe it was that we'd been away for five days.

All I know
is that there is something special about home. There's something special about the feel of your own bed. There's something special about the easy chair Steph and I share after Hannah goes to bed. There's something special about knowing where to set the shower pressure to get the right temperature and pressure without any fuss.

Don't get me wrong, there's also something special and nostalgic about driving the last two miles to my childhood home--the hills, Varian's Apple Barrel and Orchard, and the winding roads that I used to drive so fast on. But that's not home for me anymore. Home is here with my girls, laughing a playing on the living room floor, enjoying one another to the fullest that we can.

November 19, 2007

Gettysburg Address

Many of my friends know that I'm not the most patriotic of people. I do respect and love our country and the freedoms it has given me. My main reaction to patriotism comes from how all too often the church's patriotism seems to exceed it's commitment to Christ. We can get riled about current affairs and how our government is "slighting" our faith through banning the 10 commandments or whatever. We can argue about flags on a worship platform. Yet, we struggle to have passion for what I believe are more important things like making our people more like Christ. I don't think Jesus would care whether the 10 commandments are hung on the walls of a courtroom or that public prayer was not a part of schools. I think he would be more concerned with how his people are living out their faith and being light and salt in those places.

All that aside, for this post is not intended to be a rant, today is the 144th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. A few years ago I created a visual presentation for a memorial day service here at South. Making sure to be Christian before being American, I wanted to find something that was appropriate for our worship time to remember where we have come from in our faith here in this nation. As I researched, I spent some time with Lincoln's address in Gettysburg. In such a brief speech, Lincoln brilliantly captures the essence of where we've come from, who we are, and what we need to become.

Take a moment this morning and go to this site, Gettysburg Address. Listen to the Jeff Bridges version and then spend some time praying for our nation. Pray that we as a people would learn again what it means to be humble. Also pray for the body of Christ. Pray that we would be a people concerned about living out our faith, being who Christ called us to be. Pray that we will have the courage to love our brothers, our neighbors, and our enemies, humbling ourselves and putting their needs before ours.

November 17, 2007

Bedtime Songs

Last night we were out late--we went to Silver Bells in the City here in Lansing (which will some day be a whole other post) and to a party that was being thrown by one of our couples here at South. When we got home, I needed to run to the church to set up the movie projector for the Jr. Highers who were having a lock in. This meant that momma got the bedtime routine. As I walked out the door I told Hannah, "momma's going to do the bedtime routine, I'll sing with you when I get back from the church."

When I returned home, she was already out cold. So, I kissed her on the forehead and went to bed.

This morning at 6:00am or so, Hannah started calling out for me in her cute, just woke up, almost 4 year old voice. "Papa . . . papa." When I went into her room, I figured she needed to use the bathroom. That was not the case. When I asked her what was wrong, she responded with, "why didn't you sing songs to me?" Why didn't you sing songs to me? Why in the world are you waking up at 6:00am on a Saturday to ask me why I didn't sing songs to you last night? How is it that you wake up 7 hours later and remember what I was supposed to do?

The ability of her little mind is amazing to me. She remembers almost everything. She'll be able to recount things that happened 3 or 4 months ago like they happened two minutes ago. She remembers names better than I do (which, I guess isn't saying that much). She remembers specifically where momma puts her favorite toys. She remembers which story books she likes. She remembers where we are as we flip through the Bible we're reading before bed.

As I sit here and think through it all and think about what I want to write, my mind asks the question, "why do you care that I didn't sing to you at this hour?". The answer--because its important to her, even to the point of waking me up at 6:00am.

Thank you for the lessons Lord . . . again.


I have to admit that I laughed a little at this ad on

"The absolute necessity for any women's golf bag...The unique and original P-Mate enables woman to pee neatly while standing upright. Perfect for the long round of 18 when there are no potties to be seen but plenty of trees. Each pack contains 5 p-mates."

Hey, you want to get a thoughtful Christmas present for the girl golfer in your family? Why not try the P-mate?

The sad thing about this is someone is probably going to make millions on this lovely little contraption while I sit here in awe of it. I guess I should go to bed now.

October 30, 2007


When I was growing up, my grandmother would make popcorn balls every fall. We're not talking about the fake popcorn balls that you see at Walmart every Halloween season, packaged neatly in their cellophane wrappers and orange box. No, these were incredible creations of taste that took much time and precision to make. If you've ever tried to make candy, you know how difficult it is to be patient and boil the ingredients to the exact temperature to get a "soft ball" or "hard ball" consistency. Gram was a pro, using her 80 years of practice and skill that had become second nature. Each year she would make two flavors--vanilla/karo syrup flavored which was a lot like faint carmel and molasseses flavored. After boiling and stirring for what seemed like hours, she would somehow mix in the popcorn and coat it perfectly before forming the treats and wrapping them in wax paper.

I can clearly remember walking into her house after raking leaves around her house and being allowed to dig into the garbage bag she stored them in. I can recall taste of them in my mind as if I were eating one right now.

In his book, Sex God (which everyone should read), Rob Bell notes how specific things are able to make our minds rush back through years and bring vivid memories in an instant. It could be something simple like walking through Walmart and seeing that box of wannabe popcorn balls. Maybe its a song that you haven't heard for years that takes you back to a specific moment in your life so many years ago. Sometimes those promptings and memories are painful and haunting to us.

For me, the intriguing thing about memories is the legacy. As I reflect back on my life and work through the endless amounts of memories, thoughts, and feelings that I have had and experienced, I have two ways to react. I can allow those memories to continually drag me down and hold me back. I can think through the ugliness that I've experienced at the hands of others like being picked on in school because I was the "fat kid" and feel sorry for myself and close myself off. I can let those things so many years ago physically and emotionally shape me right now. I can let those memories feed feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness that I felt then and that I sometimes feel now.

The flip side is that I can learn from the memories and move forward. I think of the multiple times I stayed awake at night growing up, waiting for my dad to come home from a night of drinking. I can vividly recall the fear and angst I felt as I lay there waiting to see the headlights flash in my window and hear the car pull into the driveway. Out of those experiences and memories, alcohol was never a temptation for me. The painful and ugly was transformed into positive.

I believe that God allows us to learn from what we have gone through--the rush of memories both good and bad. He is able to transform things into "good news". He can take the broken lives, relationships, and experiences and transform them into something new through grace and love if we allow Him to do so. He allows us to grow from them to do even greater things. We see that continually in Scripture in the lives of people like David and Paul. So, as you go through the day today and experience the memories caused by the popcorn balls, songs, or whatever, my prayer is that you know that God can turn the broken and ugly into good news. He is willing and able, he is eager to do so.

Gram has been gone for over 15 years now. A couple of Christmases ago I attempted, with the assistance of my Aunt Kay, to use Gram's faded recipe card to make popcorn balls. It was a poor attempt that produced mutant popcorn clumps that were only a shadow of what they were supposed to be. But, as we tried, I was in the past on those cold fall fall days, unwrapping a new, perfect popcorn ball from the garbage bag. I was in the present at Aunt Kay's with my family reveling in the past and experiencing the love of family that was the soul of Gram AND making new memories and more "good news". I was in the future, knowing that what I was experiencing was something I want my daughter to experience and revel in.

Thank you Lord, for the "good news".

October 26, 2007

He's Just Ugly

October 25, 2007

30 Year Apology

This is a very interesting article and topic to chew on. Willow Creek at one time was the pinnacle church to follow. Now they are saying they missed the mark. I love the humility of their leaders to say, we could have/should have done things better.

The thought in my mind right now is how will they move on from here? How will God use them to right what wrongs they have done? Our God is like that--turns our wrongs and undoings into good.

October 17, 2007

A Dark and Starry Morning

Its a dark and starry morning. I find myself at Cornerstone Coffee sipping on some good java and taking in the musical healing of David Crowder's Remedy. He is so good at telling God's story of salvation and restoration--God's willingness to chase after his creation and turn darkness into light.

It is there that I find myself this morning. Everything is good, for the most part. It has been a joy to have a new Sr. Minister at South. That has brought much peace, direction, and stability. It has given me a new passion and drive for what I do, for what is possible in the next few years there, if our people begin to seek, study, and serve. Home has been good. Steph and I are excited as we begin looking for a house to call our own. Hannah is growing up quickly. She constantly has something new and funny to say or do. Its hard not to smile when you are around her for the simple fact that she is filled with joy (unless she isn't getting her own way).

Yet, in all of that there is turmoil. As South turns and heads in the right direction, there are still rumblings and grumblings about music volume, theology, and so on. As Steph and I look for a house, it is easy to see and feel looming stress of such a big decision. The desire to do the right thing doesn't always bring peace. Rather, I believe it brings a giant magnifying glass into the dark, un-dealt with corners of our lives and amplifies what still needs addressed.

So, the question in my head this morning is, "what can I do about it?" Partly, I can't do anything about it. Some things simply won't work out, even if I go the extra miles to bring peace. In some things, I'm a million miles away from the situation anyway. Yet, there is much that I can do and influence. My prayer is, that I will be humble and forgiving as I strive to limit the amount of turmoil around me--running the dark and starry into bright sunshine, full of light.

October 1, 2007

Grandpa's Guitar

She'll be a star one day. And, in the process, my prayer is that she'll continue to cherish grandpa's guitar--the journey its had, the music that it has played, the connection it has brought to me and my father, and the rush of memories that its sight and sound bring to those who know of its journey.

Where To Start?

I got an email the other day from one of my ministry partners. It simply said, "How about an update?" On or around the same time my wife asked me if I was ever going to blog again. So, here I am.

There has been much life lived over the last three and a half months. Camps and CIY have come and gone. My family and I took a vacation or two. I began teaching Intro to Biblical Intrepretation at GLCC again (75 freshmen at 8:00am on Thursdays). Much of the last few months has been focused around Frank Weller coming to South as our new Sr. Minister and beginning to do ministry with him. It has been a good three and a half months. It has had ups and downs, just like any other time in my life. It has had some achievements, like my first dental crown. It has been filled with much thought, wondering, and prayer. I've seen lives changed for the new with much hope and excitement. I've stood beside friends who have totally wrecked their lives and done what I could to show grace and love. I've gotten to have joy in ministry again and see potential becoming reality--dreams being put into action.

In it all, I've seen God move and show light in the darkness. I've seen him turn rubble and brokeness into good news. I've been on the field for some of it. Unfortunately, I've sat in a front row seat and just watched too much.

God is good. I am still alive. I'm breathing in his greatness and doing everything I can to be a bearer of the divine. I'm reveling in the journey he has given me--the wife and daughter he has blessed me with, the ministry he has placed me in, the friends he has surrounded me with, the opportunities he has given me. Some days I do good. Some days I fall flat on my face before the sun comes up. In it all, God is still faithful and moving, and using me in whatever state I am in.

June 14, 2007

The Mad Dash

It seems like every year after camp or a big event, I swear that things will be different the following year. I promise myself to be ahead of the game and organized like I've never been before so that the weeks before camp are not as painful as they always seem to be.

This past year, I again made such resolutions. Yet, with just a few days before heading off to camp, I find myself buried under things to do. I'm farther along than I normally end, which is a bonus. However, I'm still not where I always dream of being at this point. When will I ever learn?

One of the few good things about all of this is that I tend to do very well in last minute situations. I always remember back to my years at GLCC heading into Christmas with tons of things to do and Madrigals happening all at the same time. I remember life during the end of the semester times at seminary when I was living on little sleep because of papers, reading, and work. Those times were stressful and all, but they were endured and put behind me. Maybe I simply procrastinate so much because, subconsciously, I "like" being in the "do or die" type situations.

Nonetheless, the mad dash is on. Please pray for the upcoming weeks of camp and CIY I'll be participating in. Pray that God will move, even in our busy-ness.

June 4, 2007

The First Week of June

Wow. Where did the last few months go. I used to be good at this posting regularly thing, but not anymore. There are plenty of good thoughts in my head (or at least I think so), just no drive to type them out. Maybe some day soon I'll start blogging regularly again.

This is a big week for the church that I serve. We are hosting Frank Weller this weekend. He's giving his "trial sermon" this Sunday. Afterwards, the congregation will vote on him. My hope is that after the weekend is over, we have a new senior minister. We have had a great time of transition from Ron to now, with lots of vision and change. Now its time to look to the future!

Please keep South in your prayers as we venture forward. Also pray for the summer camp season, which is right around the corner. Thanks!

May 12, 2007

Bloodshot Eyes

I have had good intentions to take time over the last month and empty out some of the things in my head here. I guess you could say I always have good intentions. Life, however, doesn't listen to my intentions. I feel like I continually lean on the "life is too busy right now" comment. I would agree that it is a partial reason why I'm lax in posting. Another part would be a lack of discipline to make time to write. My life seems to not know what discipline is right now.

Needless to say, I'm heading to bed way too late so I can get up way too early.

March 28, 2007

Pray For What?

A recent article in our local paper shared the news of a push from some of the congressmen in Washington making a call to the nation to pray for America. If you go to the actual website established by the congressmen, you will read that they are looking for people who will "join Members of Congress in praying that God will bless and sustain America." I don't know about you, but to me, its arrogant. Its a prayer that we as a nation have been praying since 9/11.

I distinctly remember that night after those attacks where everyone returned to churches to pray for our nation. The church I serve had its own service where we prayed, called out to God for hope, and began to deal with the stunning effect of that day. The beauty of it, in my opinion, was a unity that America has never seen. It saddens me that it took an event to draw us together.

What followed that day, however, sickened me. Our prayers as a nation became self centered. They focused on asking God to bless us. "God Bless America" became the poster song for our nation, even beyond our national anthem. Many Christians planted "God Bless America" signs in their yards. In the circle of people that I know, some even circulated a picture of an eagle sharpening his talons. Songs like "I'm Proud to Be an American" were received with much applause and tears while others like "Amazing Grace" moved us to nothing. Our patriotism became our hope, not God.

In my mind, I really chewed on what our response as the church should be. How were we to react to those who attacked us? How would Jesus have handled the situation. What would he have prayed for those following weeks? Some of my friends shared similar frustrations and concerns about our response. I remember one of them praying that God would help us to lose the "God Bless America" ideal and that we, as a nation would learn to bless God.

As I came across the above website, my frustration with the Church's patriotism bubbled up inside of me again. All too often, we get excited about the wrong things. Some of the most passionate and emotional moments in worship have been more patriotic than Christian. We get more excited about flag poles than the healing of broken lives, or at least that's the way it seems. I wonder what God thinks of it all?

The call to "pray that God will bless and sustain America" shows that we don't get it. We should be praying for God to show us grace. We should be praying that God help us understand what it means to love our neighbors and love our enemies. We should be praying that God will help us to use our place in the world not to dominate, but to bless. We should be praying that Christians get the fact that our faith comes before our patriotism. That in itself re-orders our thoughts and actions.

All through this, I cannot help but think about Israel dealing with Rome. Their understanding of faith was deep. They knew that putting an eagle, the sign of Rome, on the temple was a detestable thing in the sight of God. They knew that as a nation, they were committed to God, not to anyone else. When that became distorted, Christ called to the nation, telling them it wasn't about a physical kingdom. "My kingdom is not of this world." Our lives are to be shaped by something different. They are to pray for something different. They are to be something different.

My prayer is that God helps us as the church to know what different is and that he help us to live it.

March 12, 2007

Annoyed and Frustrated

Ok. I'm going to rant a little. I normally don't, but this frustrates me to no end. I read an article today on how Americans are over medicating their pets. If you want to read the article for yourself, here is the link.

Now, I've had my share of pets when I was growing up. We always had a dog of some sort. We never paid for them. Some were strays that just showed up; others we got from people who either couldn't take care of their pets, or whose pets had puppies. We even had a ferret for awhile, which we got from the high school when they were downsizing their biology department. We would take them to the vet for shots and for their fixing. When they got old or sick, the neighbor would put them down. (Remember, I grew up in a rural/farm setting in NE Ohio in the 70s and 80s. That was/is an ok thing to do.) Never in a million years would we have spent money to buy a pet or medicate it to keep it healthy. Even at the dairy farm I worked at, the cows would be treated better, but if they became too sick to produce milk, they were "put out to pasture".

To read and see that pet drug companies are spending millions of dollars on advertising and that Americans are spending even more on the wellbeing of their pets frustrates me. I'm not saying people shouldn't have pets or care for their wellbeing. Some people enjoy the companionship and protection animals give them. That's fine. My question to them would be at what point do we draw the line? How much is too much to spend to get an animal? How much is too much for the things we need do we need to keep Fido a part of the family? At what point do pets get elevated above humanity? We Americans I'm sure spend millions of dollars on Fancy Feast or whatever is the stylish thing to feed our pets is while people around us struggle to survive--while parts of the world struggle to survive.

Now, for all two or three of you who will read this, I'm sure you will come back at me and say, "if we take your ideas to the extreme, we could put some of those fellow humans out to pasture." That's not what I am saying. What I am saying is lets think theologically or morally about what we are spending our money on, so that humanity is put at the top of the care list. What I'm saying is that if I struggle to pay my bills, I should probably think twice about spending money on a new puppy or on chemotherapy for Spot the family dog.

You might say, "you know, it's not pets for you, but you do spend lots of $$ for such and such that you don't need to." I would agree with you. I have hangups just as much as others and I'm working on them. I'm trying to gauge everything I do theologically, like trying to take shorter showers so I don't waste water or the energy used to heat the water. Do I fail sometimes, sure. We all do. Does that mean I give up and fail all the time. Not at all!

Ok. I'm done.

March 8, 2007

My Little Girl

My daughter had the chance to be a model for one of our friends, Jackie, who is a photographer. She's an incredible photographer, I might add. The shots she did of Hannah Grace were beyond cute. If you want to see some of the pics, go here and here.

Who would have thought that something that cute would come from me?

February 21, 2007

Lent 2007

In honor of Mardis Gras last night, my wife and I split a couple of pączkis. One must always have at least one pączki on Fat Tuesday. We've made it a tradition the last few years.

I have also begun the habit of practicing Lent. Its something I became familiar with at Emmanuel. While I almost never am disciplined enough to fully do what I say I do, I at least start out strong and plan to make some sacrifices. Last year was better than most years. Without looking back at my blog or my journal, I think I had planned to take shorter showers and not buy anything I didn't fully need.

This year, I am going to do those two again. I am also adding another. I am going to do everything I can to only eat a meal times. While at work, this is not really a challenge, especially since the snack machine was taken out of the church. The big challenge is going to be in the evenings. Hannah almost always has a snack before bedtime. Momma and poppa have made this their habit, too. Sometimes it gets out of hand. Sometimes we are somewhat controlled. Nonetheless, it is something that I don't need--nor does my waist. So, I'm going to be fighting that with everything I have in me.

Please pray for me as I fast, repent, and make preparations to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord, and I will pray for you, also.

February 16, 2007

Too Much To Take In

It has been exactly a month since my last post. . . or at least that is what the date on this one reads. It's a couple days later now. That's the story with life right now. Always behind. I always have good intentions, but never really get to realize them because of being overloaded. And when I do get the chance to slow down and take a breath, there are other things to do. Its like trying to carry on 6 or 7 conversations at one time. Each one is important as the other, but because they are all going on at once, there is no chance to really focus on one and finish it.

At the same time, there are magnanimous moments of beauty and awe. Times like the Chris Tomlin concert last week. During the concert, Louie Gigglio spoke about the hugeness of the universe and all of the wonder that God put into it. From there, he talked about the idea that God is still mindful of man--that, even in all that bigness, he is more focused on man, his ultimate in the creation that is made in his image. Right after his talk, Tomlin sang Everlasting God. I had been working on learning it the week before the concert. It is a very simple song with much weight and hope, especially in the line, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord", which is repeated over and over in the song. That line is completely where I am at. it shakes me to the core and makes me able to take on the next day, even though the mountain of it is beyond intimidating.

There are also times of shear awe when I am with my family, playing on the floor with Hannah or hanging out with my wife after Hannah goes to bed. There is a joy and a peace that is there. It really is my refuge, like I believe it should be. Like I want it to be. Like I need it to be, especially right now where everything else is in turmoil and overloaded.

Its interesting to me that even in all the busyness, I am still able to catch the moments. I would assume that God is helping me to keep heart and motivation by giving me some peace throughout this phase of life/ministry I am in. I think part of it might be that I've learned to look for them and take notice of them. Not that I catch all of them. I'm sure I miss more than I notice.

I wish others would take notice of the moments that God is putting before them. As I sang and cried through Everlasting God at the concert, lost in big-ness of God who is concerned and caring for me, the people in front of me were focused on getting a good digital picture of Tomlin as he led us. I think they took 3 or 4 shots before they were satisfied. I guess the bright side of things was that they actually followed the "no flash photography" rule that others at that point were not. I wanted to scream at them and say, "how could you be so focused on a stupid picture of someone who is no more important or glamorous than you or me, no more significant in the scheme of things bigger than man in this moment of awe?" Even now as I write, I'm truly befuddled at how idiotic we can be--how blind we can be.

Why is God so mindful of us? Why, after all this time and all this failure is he still chasing after us, still caring for us, still loving us and giving us grace? Why does he continually allow us to trample on the good as we fumble around in the darkness? Why is he still giving us moments?

In my relationships, as I try to live and love in ways God loves me, I am beginning to get insight into the why. I certainly don't understand all of it. Not by a long shot. When things go right, I love more. When things go wrong, I love more. When things go way wrong, I love more. Sometimes its hard. More often than not, when things go way wrong, loving more is surprisingly easy--easier than it is to love when things go right. I know, that sounds totally messed up. But, that is the way I am experiencing it in my life. Maybe that is the point.

January 16, 2007

Lies, Truth, and Reality

Why is it that humanity tries its best to lie and cover up the truth? A news report today said that Fidel Castro is on his deathbed from an intestinal infection. He has turned over temporary power of Cuba to his brother and is in Spain with his doctor. Yet, the report from Cuba is that he is not in a grave condition and that he will return to power shortly.

The church and its people are no less guilty of this than the mainstream. We filter into church Sunday after Sunday with smiles on our faces in hopes of covering up the struggles we have deep down inside. In return, the church has become this place where broken people feel even more broken and isolated from healing. It has become a sterile place where everyone is perfect and ok.

I don't see Jesus encouraging this. In fact, I see him going and spending time with those who would readily admit that their lives are full of brokenness and hopelessness. He goes out of his way for them. He also goes out of his way to tell the religious of the day that they are missing the point with their religiosity. I believe he would have harsh words for the Body of Christ today.

Unfortunately, I don't have a perfect solution to this problem. How can we change the mentality that its ok to hurt and struggle inside and in a sense die while putting on the persona that life is grand and good? I think we start by saying that being Christian doesn't mean life is always rosy and perfect. Maybe we'll be honest enough to say that at times, its horrible and painful . . . and that its ok.

More thoughts to come as my brain wrestles and fights with this. . .

Sweet Bed Time Songs and Much Prayer

Every night I get the privilege of putting Hannah down to bed. Momma handles the morning/day duties; I come home and do daddy/night time duties. These include brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, putting her to bed, and singing to her for a little. It is one of my favorite times of the day.

Every night, Hannah gets to choose what kind of baby she is. There are four choices: sack-of-taters baby (which comes out "sackertaters" baby) where I throw her over my shoulder and carry her like a sack of potatoes, scooper baby (which goes way back to momma scooping her up all the time, bending her in half and snuggling her), snuggly baby (which is self explanatory), and crazy running little girl where she runs into bed without being carried.

After she crawls in bed, I crawl in and we sing. Normally I sing to her and she snuggles in and begins to wait for sleep. We have three normal songs: Ho, Ho, Ho (which we learned from Wendy Beavers/Ickes), ABC's, and You Are My Joy--a song off the David Crowder A Collision CD.

Tonight she was a sackertaters baby. Its not surprising. She was wound up from a great day of playing and card making with momma. She's normally a sacertaters baby when she is wound up. When she finally got in bed, she wanted to sing with me. We sang the normals plus Jesus Loves the Little Children and Jesus Loves Me. My time with her was so peaceful and warm. It was such a joy--a joy that I get all to myself because it is our special time.

On the heels of that, I got online and talked with some of the students from my ministry at South and at camp. Some of them are really hurting right now with problems at home, broken marriages, and struggling with past failures. My heart really goes out to them tonight. They all have hope, but it is clouded by the other circumstances around them, some brought on by themselves while others they never asked for. I wish I could create a safe place for them like my daughter has tonight--a place where they could have peace and comfort so they would actually get to sleep and have good rest. All I can offer is prayer.

I feel so hopeless when all I can offer them are prayers. I trust and know that prayer works. Its just that sometimes prayer is not too reassuring, especially for those who struggle to find hope in the day. And so, here I sit late into the night in dichotomy. I revel in the joy that my daughter and our routine brings me, while I hurt inside for those who didn't get to revel in anything this evening.

Bring them peace, Father. Give them the peace that my little angel has right now as she slumbers in the next room. Comfort them and sing over them. Hold them close; let them feel your breath and your soft touch on their face. Be everything they need and more, as you promise to be.