August 19, 2010

Every Dad's Purpose

This comic today on Calvin and Hobbes made me remember another part of my childhood.  Each night at the dinner table, it was not uncommon for my dad to harass us kids by saying something like, "How do you like the rabbit in the soup we are eating?" Sometimes we were gullible, sometimes we could see through his antics.  It always made things interesting and fun.

My daughter says that Grandpa Jr. is a tease-y guy.  And he is.  It what makes him who he is.  And, I proudly carry that trait forward!


Do you ever have moments in your life where you are doing something and you realize that you have become your parents incarnate?  The horror of who you have become rushes over you at that moment, and rewrites reality.  I had one of those moments recently.

When I was young, workouts and gyms were really for those trying to become Arnold (I'll be back!), or those who had lots of $$.  My family fit neither of these categories.  It wasn't in our culture.  The closest thing to workouts at that time for me was playing basketball in 7th through 9th grade and knowing that my cousin, Cathy, was a jazzercise instructor.  Come to think of it, she was really the only one in our family who was really nutty about working out and eating healthy.  But that's not the point of this post.

The point of this post is this - when I was young, I used to think that my parents ran funny.  I remember running around acting like an Olympic champion or playing football thinking I would one day become a star.  Running felt natural.  It felt like I was doing it right.  You know how that goes, in your head you do something and it feels like you are doing it exactly like the pros do.  As you see yourself do it in your mind, you look just like the pros!  This is at least how my brain interprets/compares what am physically doing to the rest of the world.

With that as the backdrop of my young, preteen mind, I remember watching my parents run and thinking, "Wow!  They run funny."  Not funny, ha ha, but funny in a weird sort of way, like they've never watched someone run before and their brains don't know what it is supposed to look or feel like.  They ran like they were old.

If you were to come to the church and watch me walk/run, I think you would have the same thoughts that I did as a little child as you watched me go round and round in the sanctinasium.  He runs like he is old, like he has never ran before.  

I have become my parents yet again.  However, someday soon I'll be running like an Olympic star.

August 11, 2010

Pain and Agony

I've always liked food.  You can look at me and say, "that boy likes to eat!"  I'm ok with that.  I blame it on my mom and my grandma.  My house was a "clean plate" house.  If it was on the table to eat, some went on your plate, and you had to eat it.  Nothing got left.  That's where it all began.  

My grandma's involvement comes in with weekly trips to McDonalds.  Gram didn't drive.  So, naturally, my mom and us kids would take her out each week to the grocery store, mall, or wherever she needed to go.  In the process of those excursions, we would hit McDonalds.  I remember one trip in particular.  I was probably 12 or 13 at the time.  As we were ordering I remember Gram saying, "don't you need another sandwich--you are a growing boy!"  It was all downhill from there.  She gave me the "excuse" to double order.  I've been living that life ever since.

Unfortunately, my love for food has been transferred on to my wife and daughter.  You ask us what is good anywhere we've been and we can tell you where to eat.  Grand Rapids?  Arnies on 28th Street.  Chicago?  Giordanos.  Williamsburg, VA?  Chik-fil-a or Che Burger Che Burger.  We are a sad, sad family.

Recently, it has seemed like I can't stop shoving anything and everything down my throat.  I've become very conscious of it.  It has made me loath myself a little...yet I haven't been able to keep my mouth shut.  Shocker.  It prompted me to get on the scale the other day at home.  I don't normally do for two reasons.  One, the scale at home only registers to 270.  So, since I'm above that, it is really just a guesstimation of my weight.  Two, I don't want to know.  If I don't know, I don't have to think about it.  Right?

Needless to say, I got on the scale at home and greatly exceeded the limits of the scale.  What I guesstimated really freaked me out a little.  When I went to the office I visited the doctor's scale that our First Place ministry has.  While I was pleasantly surprised that my actual weight was lower than my guesstimation, I was still heavy. . .very heavy.  If my weight were a batting average, I'd be doing good.

That was Monday.  I was angry Monday.  I was frustrated with myself Monday.  So, I dealt with it.  I had some pulled pork from Backyard Barbecue.  It was stellar!  Monday was not a good day.

Yesterday morning, I woke up thinking that Hannah was crying.  I peeked into her room, saw she was fine and then mentally debated whether I was going to go back to bed or just head to the office.  Instantly, my mind remembered the day before and I had the thought, "you should exercise!?"  I had flashbacks of my run in with the treadmill.  But, then I thought about how unhappy I was with myself the day before.  I grabbed some clothes and headed to the office.

Now, I'm not going to share the gory details of my exercise.  It wasn't pretty.  It involved walking and running round and round and round our sanctinasium at church.  It was way early in the day so no one had to witness it, thank God!  I almost died at least 3 times in the walking and running.  But, as I got close to the end, I began to feel good and loose.  It was something I didn't expect.  It was a good feeling. . . but it didn't last long.

Afterwords, I sat down at my desk and began working.  I didn't move from my chair for a few hours.  I was in the zone, so to speak . . . and I had already made coffee, so it was an easy chair roll to the right to refill my cup!  However, when I went to get up to go to the copier or talk to Melissa, our office assistant, I was greeted with major muscle pain in my legs.  I almost couldn't get out of my chair.  Stupid exercise.

So, if you were to see me today, you would see me get up from where I am sitting and walk like a 90 year old (no offense to 90 year olds) for about the first four or five steps until the pain and agony fades from wicked horrible to somewhat horrible.  Hopefully, you won't see me.  But if you do, please suppress the urge to laugh out loud at least for 10 or 20 seconds, until I get moving almost like normal.  I would greatly appreciate it.

And, pray for my soul tomorrow as I take on round number two of the walking and running round and round and round the sanctinasium at church.  I'm sure I'll be yelling at God as I run for making food so good.

August 10, 2010


It is an early morning for me.  I woke up at 5:18am when I thought I heard Hannah crying.  After peaking in her room and realizing she was ok, I decided to not go back to bed.  At this point, I don't know if that was a good idea or not.  We'll see how the day wears on.
One of the things I have already done this morning is read.  I do my best to read every day.  Some days I do great at it.  Some days I completely fail.  In the last few months, its really been a struggle for me to make time.  This is the story of my life.  I've wanted to figure out how to make time for it again in my day and have discipline to actually do it.  Motivated by my friend's goal this month to read through the New Testament, I decided to take on the same challenge. 

I've run into a problem, though.  Well.  Lets be honest, I've run into two problems.  The first problem is my lack of discipline.  Today, being August 10th, I'm supposed to be reading Luke 19-24.  I'm still in Matthew 9.  I think I might have read three times since the start of the month.  Yeah, I know.  That's 30%.  Too bad bible reading isn't baseball.  I'd be stellar!

 The second problem is that when I actually make time to read, I get bogged down in the text.  I guess this is an ok problem to have because what I'm reading sucks me in.  But, for speeding through the NT, it hinders the journey.  Today is a prime example. 

In Matthew 9 there are three healings strung in a row.  The first happens when the leader of a synagogue comes to Jesus and asks him to raise his daughter from the dead.  Wrap your mind around that for a moment.  A synagogue leader asks Jesus to raise his daughter from the dead.  The Pharisees and the Jews are continually questioning Jesus' ability to do such things, calling him more often than not, a spawn of Satan.  Yet, here is a leader in the church, coming to Jesus with the faith that he can raise his daughter.  Somehow, some way, Jesus has caught his attention and he's willing to take the risk of asking Jesus to heal her, which means he is standing against everything the Pharisees think and say of Jesus. 

As Jesus is on his way to encounter her, he is interrupted by a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years.  She wants to sneak close to Jesus, touch the hem of his cloak, and make an unnoticed getaway.  That doesn't happen.  Jesus acknowledges her faith.  In other gospels, it seems that he makes a scene about it by calling her out of her anonymity.  Even more, she's been bleeding for 12 years.  She's been unclean for 12 years.  In her touching Jesus, she risks making him unclean by "Law" standards.  I would guess that's why she's willing to do the covert touching to get healed.  In the end, she gets what she needs. 

The final part of the story is Jesus healing some blind guys and a demon possessed man who really had nothing to lose.  The blind guys called out for healing using the phrase, "son of David".  In doing so, they acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.  And, the demon possessed guy probably doesn't have a clue of what is going on till after he is healed.  But, the people who bring him to Jesus believe and have faith . . . and trust that Jesus will be able to drive out the demon. 

What amazes me is the fact that each person in need of something they couldn't go and buy or get on their own were willing to take the risk and ask for help, no matter what the cost.  Their faith in Jesus overcame the risks.  Even more, it wasn't like they were asking for money or something physical that Jesus had.  They were asking for things that were extra ordinary--supernatural. 

As I read this passage this morning, I wondered what Matthew is doing stringing them together like he did.  Is there something between the lines in the order from the man with the most risk asking and leading all the way to the man who probably didn't know what was going on or the place he was in till Jesus healed him?  Is there more between the lines as each of the people asking for healing are outwardly acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah and that he is bearing the power of the kingdom of God? 

Even more, I think of the studies some of the people here at South and I have been doing on the Holy Spirit and its roll in helping God's kingdom break forth here on the earth.  Our conversations have centered around the fact that maybe we have diminished our view of the Holy Spirit and the role of the supernatural in and around our lives. 

People in the Bible aren't afraid to take risks.  They aren't afraid to argue with God.  They are not afraid to come face to face with Jesus and say, "come and raise my daughter back to life!"  I don't think we are that way.  I think we have incapacitated ourselves.  We only think we can do what physically control.  We can only give so much.  We can only do these things because that is what we are gifted at.  We cannot do those things because we don't have the money to do it. 

Now, hear what I'm not saying.  I'm not saying we could/should be walking through the hospital healing people or we should be going to wherever the demon possessed people are and casting out their demons.  Nor am I saying that I don't think God could move around or through us in that way. 

What I am saying is that if we don't think we can control it, if we don't have the money for it, or, if its out of our comfort zone, we won't do it.  We've lived this way for so long that we ourselves have become blind to what we could/can do.  To me and for me, it seems as though we are sitting at the feet of Jesus saying, "But we only have a little bread and a few fish.  We can't do that!" 

We need to get over our control issues.  We need to get over our trust issues.  We need to know/grasp/understand/get through our thick skulls that if and when we put stretch ourselves and take risks for God, he's going to show up and do great things.

God, open our eyes and ears.  Take away the fear.  Help us to be Your kingdom here on earth.

August 5, 2010

Mini Vacation

I did good for about what, a week?  I really do like to write down my thoughts and blog, even though this place doesn't really show it.  Maybe August will be different.  Time will certainly tell.  It always does.

I'm stealing my girls away today and heading to the beach.  We may hit a zoo tomorrow.  It will be a good time away, even though I'm not a huge fan of the beach.  My girls love it though.  They will have a ball.  Hopefully the water will be warm enough to play in at Lake Michigan.  Its been hot enough, we should be good.

Keep strong in the faith today.  Be bold and love the way God loves us.  Be full of compassion and joy for yourself, your family, and those around you that you interact with.  Peace!