Monday, December 17, 2007

My Daughter

The following is a Personal Mission Statement my daughter wrote in health class. It really touches my heart.

I will remain an intangible constant
A stone
Rooted into the richest, deepest places of the Earth
Always facing the Son
Reflecting His light
Dividing to find the Only One
Living a Ferocity
A passion untapped
The reservoir of Life inside of myself
A loyalty falling and unfailing
Two nail-pierced hands lift every wound and fight just to stand between
No one else but the Only One can fulfill to entirety
I am nothing, nothing without Him
A void less empty but still untaken
Surrounded but ignorant until That Day
The Day I stepped from complacency and self
To His embrace
To feel the rush and take part in its Fury
Fueling its ardor to conceal a Greater Plan
It’s all I’ll breathe for
A choice I make
I’ll stand behind so He can stand between
The choice He made
I won’t be insulting
I give in to His tides
His love like the ocean shore
I feel it recede but it’s really only me
It’s my push-away gravity
I clutch at the foam to see it dissolve in my hands
It fills me up
I ask for His fullness so I can pour out where my feet fall
Where they touch the ground
When they touch the Earth
They fall into it to try to find their Maker
When He’s always just beside them.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Summer Vacation

This past August I took my family up to the Alexandria Bay area for a little vacation. We stayed about 15 minutes inland in a newer cabin on a small lake. It was quite private.

We caught fish.

We visited Boldt Castle on the St. Lawrence River in Alex Bay. Quite a place.

We even saw and heard the loons that live on the lake. I caught one on film making its call for almost a minute. Click to hear the audio. Quite beautiful.
A few hundred yards from the cabin was a rock formation that hung over the water about 16 feet high. The water below is said to be about 40 feet deep. Standing up there the first evening we arrived, we made plans to do some cliff diving the next day.
Morning came...late morning that is. I put on my bathing and headed out with Andrew. Now that is was time, as I stood up there it seemed a bit more intimidating. My son watched on as I was working up my nerve to jump. Finally after about 15 minutes of questioning why anyone would jump off a perfectly good rock, with a shout and splash I made the plunge.

Seconds after I hit the water I looked up to see Andy had left and was running back to the cabin to put his bathing suit on. This spoke to me about the influence we have on our children. He went from, “I’ll do it later,” to sprinting to the cabin to suit up just because he saw me do it while shouting, “I’ll be right back!”

When he returned I had already climbed back to the top and was drying off in the sun. Now it was his turn. He pretty much had to go through the same process I did. Lots of posturing to jump, rocking back and forth, countdowns from 10, the whole deal.

I took the opportunity as a teaching moment. Andy wants to be a Marine when he finishes high school. I talked to him about all the difficult things he’ll have to force himself to do in training and his time in service. I explained to him the difference between making an emotional decision versus choosing to do what you know is right, (not that jumping off cliffs is always the right thing to do but he got the point).

He was ready, as long as I went first. My concern was that I’d jump, and find that he still didn’t. So I told him, “when you see me leave the rock, don’t think about it, don’t wait for your feelings to say ‘I’m ready,’ just do it because you already decided to do it.” I explained that when I jumped, the feelings never came to say it was a good idea. I jumped because I decided to.
Finally I made the leap. As I surfaced, I looked up to see if he did it. He wasn’t there but a few feet away from me was a 3 foot diameter circle of white bubbles. Hoorah!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

I have to share this story from church yesterday. After worship when the kids were being dismissed for their class, Noah asked if he could say a prayer for Memorial Day. Of course we were all too happy to let him. I wish we recorded it. It was so beautiful, especially coming from this bold youngster.

He prayed for our soldiers giving their lives for our freedom just like Jesus did when he died on the cross for us. It was very moving.

This is a pic of him at Rochester's Clean Sweep last year. Awesome Job Noah!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Look Into Spiritual Warfare

This is an exerpt from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It is a conversation between 2 Demons. Just so you understand the conversation, they refer to God as the Enemy.

My dear Wormwood,

The most alarming thing in your last account of the patient is that he is making none of those confident resolutions which marked his original conversion. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue, I gather; not even the expectation of an endowment of 'grace' for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation! This is very bad.
I see only one thing to do at the moment. Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By jove! I'm being humble', and almost immediately pride – pride at his own humility – will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt – and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don't try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.
But there are other profitable ways of fixing his attention on the virtue of Humility. By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy wants to turn the man's attention away from self to Him, and to the man's neighbours. All the abjection and self-hatred are designed, in the long run, solely for this end; unless they attain this end they do us little harm; and they may even do us good if they keep the man concerned with himself, and, above all, if self-contempt can be made the starting-point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.
You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly
revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible. To anticipate the Enemy's strategy, we must consider His aims. The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.

The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents – or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love – a charity and gratitude for all selves, ncluding their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours. For we must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.
His whole effort, therefore, will be to get the man's mind off the subject of his own value altogether. He would rather the man thought himself a great architect or a great poet and then forgot about it, than that he should spend much time and pains trying to think himself a bad one. Your efforts to instill either vainglory or false modesty into the patient will therefore be met from the Enemy's side with the obvious reminder that a man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all, since he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame. You must try to exclude this reminder from the patient's consciousness at all costs.
The Enemy will also try to render real in the patient's mind a doctrine which they all profess but find it difficult to bring home to their feelings – the doctrine that they did not create themselves, that their talents were given them, and that they might as well be proud of the colour of their hair. But always and by all methods the Enemy's aim will be to get the patient's mind off such questions, and yours will be to fix it on them. Even of his sins the Enemy does not want him to think too much: once they are repented, the sooner the man turns his attention outward, the better the Enemy is pleased.

Your affectionate uncle

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Oswego, NY Snowfall

Check out this pic my brother sent me from someone who lives in Oswego. Thay had amazing lake-effect snowfall this year.


Strangely enough, I had driven just 10 miles south of Oswega right after the storm and there was only a foot or so.

Friday, January 26, 2007


What a year so far. Two stories of God’s great protection.

Yesterday Juli and Brittany were in a bang-up. She was coming down an icy hill to a stop sign at a major crossroad. There was not a chance of stopping though she did slow down quite a bit. Just barely nosing out into traffic she sent another car into a spin and off into the ditch about 40 yards down the road while she and Brit spun around into the ditch.

No one hurt. Need a new bumper, but that’s replaceable. My darlings are not.

Around the first of the year my father, down in Alabama, had a similar experience. The end result was a totaled car as a vehicle tore off the entire front end. To add insult to injury, when the mechanics went to restart the car, it exploded and burnt it to a crisp. Now he's driving my sister’s little white pick-up, (affectionately known as “Tighty-Whitie”) until he gets a new vehicle.

But God is good and has shown His Grace again.

Psalm 91:9-11 GNB You have made the LORD your defender, the Most High your protector, and so no disaster will strike you, no violence will come near your home. God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hail Caesar

In my short 33 years of experience living this life I have come to see Christian Spirituality as very paradoxical. So many truths about God seem to work contrary to the intellect of natural life. For example, I was pondering thoughts the other day of the Early Church and the Apostles. Their whole message to the 1st Century World was one of Hope, Peace and Love.


Yet how did the world respond to such an outlandish message? They were all persecuted, imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus the Christ. I have a hard time getting my mind around this. Christianity in its purest form was not a threat to the Roman Government. Jesus and the Apostles taught to submit to authorities because God has placed them there, pray for the king, pay your taxes, and live at peace with one another. The church was marked by caring for the poor and needy, i.e. free welfare for Roman Citizens. How could they not get it? Why such a severe response?

Check out Acts 23-26 where we see Paul on trial before many different characters of varying authority, both religious and civil. First he’s brought before Ananias the High Priest who orders someone to strike Paul in the mouth. Paul outwits him by retorting with a strong comment about God doing the same to him for not following the Torah’s legal procedure. Then someone points out that Ananias is the High Priest.

What is Paul’s response?

Respect. He backpedals for not realizing the position of Ananias and quotes the Torah, “don’t speak abusively to a ruler of the people.”

About two years later, having been imprisoned the whole time, he is brought before King Agrippa. Look at the amazing respect he shows and the gentle way he talks to him. I have to believe Paul didn’t see an evil Son of Satan sitting before him but rather a person who needs to experience the Love of God and the life-change only Jesus can bring. Because of Paul’s love and respect, Agrippa actually says he was close to converting!

Paul dies by beheading around 65ad during Nero’s Persecution of Christians.

What a paradox. The message of Love leading to Death? Jesus’ own life exemplifies the same, as do the lives of thousands of Christ followers over the last 2000 years.

I’ve come to learn the problem with Christianity in the Roman Empire was that it threatened the Caesars’ pride. Here is an excerpt from Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell:

The world was ruled by the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire was ruled by a succession of emperors called Caesars. The Caesars claimed they were sent by the gods to renew creation. Caesar Augustus believed that as the son of god, he was god incarnate on earth, the prince of peace who had come to restore all creation. He inaugurated a twelve-day celebration called Advent to celebrate his birth. Sound familiar? His priests offered sacrifices and incense to rid the people of their guilt. One of his popular slogans was “There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved than that of Caesar.” Another phrase they used often was “Caesar is Lord.” Throughout the Roman Empire, the Caesars called on people to worship them as the divine saviors of humankind, and a city that acknowledged Caesar as Lord was called an Ekklesia.
We translate this word ekklesia as Church in the New Testament! So often in this life men’s pride works directly against the will of God, His love and plan for humanity. Even the church herself at times has gotten in the way of the Truth as pride is allowed to rise up in us.

Was it just the Caesars who had this problem? Was it only the corrupted church leaders of the Dark Ages? Perhaps a bad experience with church leadership in your lifetime? Or can we all be found guilty of letting pride take shape in our lives?

Has pride stopped you from growing closer to God?

What will people think of me? How will this affect my friendships? My family? If I sell out for Christ people may label me a freak or an extremist, a close minded person. What about my past? What if people find out what kind of person I have been? Maybe it’s better just to stay low key with my faith. Who am I to make others feel uncomfortable because I let my faith leak out in front of them? By loving the rejected person at work everyone else might lump me in with them as a loser. On my job, integrity makes everyone else feel threatened. Just go with flow. That’s how it’s done around here…

It takes courage to walk by faith. It takes courage to be fully submitted to Jesus. It takes courage to love like He did.

Love takes courage and humility.

Hail Jesus!