Nov 19, 2010

Wondrous Provision

I can’t take a lot of time to write right now… too much going on. But, I do want to give the Lord the praise He is due for providing us with a “new” vehicle. In a recent post I referred to the accident and asked many of you to be in prayer for us, that the Lord would provide for us. I referenced the fact that we would not be able to purchase anything without the Lord’s provision and that we were simply waiting in faith for the Lord to move. Too often in life, we ask for things (with more or less pure motives), but how often do we really stop and thank the Lord? How appropriate in this season, the week before Thanksgiving?! I believe in asking the Lord very honestly for what we need (and He already knows), but I also believe in praising and thanking Him!

That is precisely the purpose in this note. I want to not only thank Him for providing us with another vehicle, but for showing off and providing something MUCH greater than we imagined. We were able to find a 2002 Honda Odyssey EX with 113,000 on it. The Lord has provided in several ways beyond just showing us the van. We got a lot more back on my car than I thought we would (the beauty of it having been an Si). Two of our friends gave us a generous gift and then we were able to get a loan for the amount we were still lacking.

It’s pretty dirty b/c an old man who apparently loved to go everywhere with his dog owned it, but that is just a little cleaning job. It seems to be in pretty good shape mechanically and very good shape otherwise. It also just had a major tune-up done, so it really shouldn’t need much maintenance initially. There is a sound in the engine that is not “normal” but the mechanic said it isn’t anything to be concerned about. He will be giving it a thorough exam this coming week and hopefully taking care of anything that does need to be handled.

I do still have one prayer request though… well, two. First, as I said above, we did end up having to get a loan for a few thousand. So, I would ask you to continue in your prayers for financial provision, we really need it right now. Second, that the vehicle would last a LONG time! Below are some pictures:

Nov 4, 2010

A Poem: Make Me Worthy of Your Calling

It's been a while since I've written anything creative and even longer since I've written a poem. I don't claim this one is great, but it is straight from the heart. It is similar to another post I wrote some time ago (, though there are some differences as well... funny how we go in cycles sometimes. This is why scripture reminds us to remember!

Make me worthy of your calling oh Lord; make my paths straight and my heart true!
For I know myself well, the poison within; yet like water I drink, not noting the end.

Search my whole heart, and know me my Lord; reveal to me, what you have abhorred.
That I might break and you might build, Christ in me, wholly filled.

Guide all my steps into that place, where I depend upon your grace.
Let me not wander or go off course, but let me remain in you my source.

Keep me dear Lord within your will, a servant true and faithful still.
That in the end it might be known, that honor to you I have shown!

Just in case you can't follow my cadence, I'll post the poem again with the numbered cadence... sometimes I make sense to myself, but not to others ;)

Make me worthy of your calling oh Lord (10), make my paths straight and my heart true! (8)
For I know myself well (6), the poison within (5); yet like water I drink (6), not noting the end (5).

Search my whole heart (4) and know me my Lord (5), reveal to me (4) what you have abhorred (5)
That I might break (4) and you might build (4), Christ in me (3), wholly filled (3)

Guide all my steps into that place (8), where I depend upon your grace (8)
Let me not wander or go off course (9), but let me remain in you my source (9)

Keep me dear Lord within your will (8), a servant true and faithful still (8)
That in the end it might be known (8), that honor to you I have shown (8)

Oct 31, 2010

An Interesting Day – An Electrical Job, A Totaled Car, A Few Errands, and a Faithful God

So, as is often the case when “major” events happen in my life, I am taking the opportunity to reflect on the situation and to write about it. Today was a great day, I really enjoyed the day and love being in the will of God and seeing Him work… even when I don’t understand it.

I started the day slowly as I’ve been sick lately and am on day 7 of antibiotics. I’m feeling a lot better than I have, but not 100%. So, I was scheduled to go to one of our pastor’s house to help with doing electrical in his basement. I started later than intended, but still got over there early-ish in the morning. On my way there, I visited a friend at work that was helping me with something and then headed to the pastor’s house. After spending the day there, I was finally finished and headed home. I planned on going home, working on a project, then meeting another friend to help with a vehicle logistics problem (driving a car :), and then he was to help me bring our harp back from the church. So, I headed home driving down Bardstown road away from the pastor’s house (I’m guessing somewhere around 5 pm). This road is a 5-lane road, with a turn lane in the middle, meaning the North bound side I was on is two lanes of North bound traffic. I went through a light and on the other side, there was the usual blockade of people in the right lane essentially at a standstill. The left lane however was clear for about a ¼ mile, as it usually is around this area (at that time of day). I slowed down because the left lane was only clear for a little bit and the right was stopped. As I drove past the first section of the blockade, I went “on guard” as I normally do, waiting for someone to try to shoot / shift lanes from the right lane into the left. The next thing I know, I’m seeing slow-motion. I hear the bang of metal crunching against metal just a split-second before I can actually see the car that just pulled out in front of me, followed by the jerk of my car stopping “on a dime” (well, on / at a Ford Focus to be specific), and THEN the airbag hits me in the chin. I wanted to punch the thing (unfortunately, it was already flat :). I’m assuming it was compensating for the low-speed impact, but it actually hit me a split-second AFTER the collision, right about the time I was starting to “self-right” in my seat. I actually had a split second to think to myself, “hey, my airbag didn’t go…” BANG!

So, what happened? Well, I was passing a Waffle House (on my right) and there was a teenage girl that apparently wanted to make a left (from the Waffle House lot toward the South) A waffle house employee told her she should have used the other exit, the one with the light!. Apparently she had wedged between two cars that were stopped in the right lane and decided to “gun it” toward the “safety” of the turn lane. I guess she thought it was clear, but she was quite wrong. I’m sure she wasn’t able to see me, but that’s just why you NEVER try that maneuver, especially in such heavy traffic. Even if she had made it past me / my lane, the turn lane in that spot is NOT safe, and the cars in the South bound lanes were stacked up like sardines anyway. It’s no surprise that I later found out the girl has only been driving since either July or January (the mom was a little flustered and settled on January). Immediately after the accident, I checked myself to see if I was still intact (though I was fairly sure I was since I was thinking about decking the airbag -which, for those of you that don’t know my sense of humor, that simply means I’m annoyed with something, not that I actually want or intend to deck something… although, it hit me first, and there I go again ;). After that, I looked up to see where the impact was on the other car (and thus, what to expect in terms of injury to the driver), just in time to see a teenage girl having a nervous break-down. She looked extremely young and was just freaking out. I motioned to see if she was ok and she nodded (and the same for the friend that was with her). Thankfully, my car struck right around the driver’s front tire / wheel and not the door. I took another second to just take stock of everything and then looked for my cell phone. When I found it, I began to motion to see if she had already called the police… she hadn’t… she was on the phone with mom and dad. So, I called and was informed that someone had reported it and the police would be there as soon as possible. I was quite impressed at the large number of people that stopped to be witnesses and to be great citizens and see if we were OK… a grand total of ZERO! Thank you Kentucky drivers! Ok, rant over. Anyway, there were a few people that tried to help who were going the other way (Southbound). They asked if we were ok and one of them tried to tell me the nearest intersection so I could tell whoever I was on the phone with (I lost track as I felt like I was a dispatcher with all the people calling me, and that I had to call).

To make a long story short, I spent the next hour or so reassuring a very scared girl that the world would not end and that everyone makes mistakes and so on. I also had to verbally coerce the girls away from the cars (which were still in the middle of the road) and into the grass so that we were out of the road and not killed by someone that wasn’t paying attention. I think they were so flustered and scared they just couldn’t process what I was saying for a minute. When her parents came I introduced myself to them and the mother was very kind, even offering to let me sit in their car where it was warm (I was still in my work shorts and t-shirt). We made small talk for a minute and then the police showed up (Fire rescue showed up earlier to make sure we were all ok and to clean up the mess from my bleeding car).

The damage: My Civic, totaled. Ford Focus, might be able to be repaired. The girl’s left front axle was broken for sure, but there was little visible body damage. I’m not sure what might have been damaged in the engine compartment. Beyond that, their car was A-OK. Mine on the other hand, is worth nearly nothing according to the Blue-book (despite being a collector’s car… Black 92 Civic Si, for those that know). The airbag alone I think costs more than the car, but beside that, the entire front end is crumpled up against the fire-wall with all of the cooling and AC system mangled beyond repair (and likely many other things). The dern thing still ran and drove though… well, at least to the parking lot of the Waffle House about 20 feet away. Damage to me: Small cut / scrape on right knee, small cut on left knee (left will probably bruise a little), sore collar bone (seatbelt) and peck muscle, a slight burn on the neck from the seatbelt, and a scrape or burn on my right wrist from (I don’t know?, poss airbag vent). Damage to the girls: nothing they were aware of at the time (except emotional :). After everything was taken care of (paperwork, cars towed, etc), Ben Farrar picked me up and I was able to help as planned by driving one of their vehicles to their house. After that, we went and picked up the harp and brought it home. Thanks Ben, for picking me up and for getting the harp.

So, now to take stock. Girls = totaled cars. OK, OK, I’m joking! On a serious note, I’m just so thankful that no one was hurt. I’m SO thankful that my car struck the front wheel and not the driver’s door and not the rear end (hurt the girls or spin the car). I’m also SO thankful that her car was in front of mine because it probably would have shoved me into any on-coming cars that were still moving (head-on) and / or into another vehicle on the side. I’m thankful that I was going slower than the speed limit as it would have been much worse. I’m thankful that if it had to happen, it happened to me. Why, because I’m not a jerk and the girl made an honest mistake and I’m afraid of what some would have done / how they would have treated her. I do hope that she learns from this, don’t get me wrong. She needs to learn from it. However, someone acting like a jerk or trying to sue or whatever is not going to teach her anything. I hope that she learns from it and then is able to let it go. Finally, it gave me an opportunity to show Christ’s love and to demonstrate a faithful heart and mind. What I mean is that you can always tell who a person really is when trouble comes or bad things happen. Because of Christ’s love and grace in my life, I was able to demonstrate how a Christian ought to act in a situation like this and I was able to do it in sincerity.

Finally, I have been and will be able to demonstrate faith in Christ in and through this situation. What do I mean? Well, there are two sides to this story. The first, the human side, is that I won’t be able to buy a decent vehicle with whatever the insurance company gives me. It will be a start, but it won’t be enough for a vehicle that ran like that one… it was a gem. This is compounded with the move, much less commuting opposite directions once there. The bottom line is that there is no way humanly speaking. You may ask why I’m happy about this or why I consider the day to be good in light of this? Well, I’m not saying I like being in this position, I don’t like not being able to provide or not being able to go out and get a vehicle. So why do I consider it a good day? Precisely because of the second side of the story! The thing is, it is in these situations, no matter how mundane it may be (or how huge it might seem), we get to see Christ work!!! We get to watch Him moving and working and providing in any number of ways! Sometimes He just drops something in our laps and sometimes He uses our current or natural circumstances. Other times He gives His people a desire to help, each as they are able and when combined they are able to accomplish much more (Ex 36:6). Still other times, it is in some way that we hadn’t even considered!

If we will stop long enough, if we will take a breath and observe, if we will listen for a second, we will hear the heartbeat and see the hands of our Savior!!!!!!! He is not merely concerned with our soul (though that is certainly enough), no, He is also VERY concerned about our lives. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need and takes great delight in providing for us (Matt 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31). He also delights in helping us grow in faith and learn that we can trust in Him for things both big and small. I don’t know about you, but I get excited when God begins to work! I get excited knowing that He is doing all things for our good and that His plans are always good and perfect and always infinitely better than we could ever ask or imagine!!! THIS is how I can say it was a good day. I will do all that I can, don’t get me wrong. But, when I’ve done everything that is in my power (and that I ought to do), I will have the honor and pleasure of resting in Him and watching my savior work this out for His glory and my betterment! I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I know that He will provide. He may take us through a period of trial, we may struggle with this for a little while, but if so, I know that we will Glorify Him in the way we act, talk, and think. He may choose to pour out blessings upon us immediately and provide exactly what we need right away. I have to be honest as a human and say that I hope it is the latter, but I’m genuinely ok with the first. God has provided so MANY good things and I don’t deserve ANY of them. So, in the perspective, what is this by comparison?! It is as nothing!

Now, having discussed the ethereal, I want to go back to the earthly for a moment. I simply want to ask you to join me in prayer. Please pray that the Lord will be glorified in all of this. Please pray for the girl and her family. I pray that if they don’t know Christ, they will come to know Him. I also pray that she will learn from this; that she will only feel sorrow long enough to learn from this and I hope it points her to Christ. We are taught many things about prayer and one of those is that we are taught to ask for what we need and desire and that the Lord will provide according to His will. I am therefore praying that the Lord would provide enough for a solid vehicle that will last and serve us well as we seek to serve Christ! Finally, I am praying that when we are able, the Lord will provide just the right vehicle (perhaps even a mini-van… for the harp and tools)!

Oct 25, 2010

Antibiotics and Flesh-eating Bugs

I posted this on Facebook the other day as a status (first line was status and the rest was in the comment section) and decided I'd share it here, since I think it gets the point across pretty well. Big changes are coming for me again and hope to update soon, though I realize it has been so long, no one probably reads this blog anymore ;)

how do you go from antibiotics to anti-bio-tics, little things that eat you from the inside out?

antibiotics.... by doing a study on this word, you can clearly see how the real meaning of the word is to take life. It is a compound word meaning to be against, oppose (opposite) or destroy (anti) and of or pertaining to life (biotic-s). Thus, it means to be opposed to, or to take life. So, when a doctor says he is going to give you antibiotics, he is trying to kill you. This is further demonstrated by the suffix "tics" which we all know are blood-sucking parasites that bring disease and take blood (life). Essentially, they are giving you tick-larvae that will eat you from the inside out and kill you.

Now, if you don’t like the logic I used here or the root-word fallacy (among others), read your commentaries, study bibles, devotional materials, etc, and listen to those that teach you a little more carefully… otherwise, you end up with anti-bio-tics in your brain!!!

now, to provide a little context, my point here is to ILLUSTRATE bad hermeneutics (biblical interpretation, or interpretation in general for that matter) and some horridly bad logic. It is intended to be a short little zinger to the way so many mistakenly study, teach, and preach the Scriptures (or anything for that matter). If you listen carefully (or just 1/2 way), you'll be amazed how how bad most of the teaching out there is and how most of it is not founded on solid logic / logical grounds and so often has nothing to back it up, other than the fact that the person in front of you is saying it!

Jun 24, 2010

Seeing Clearly or Not Even Looking?

I haven’t written anything for a while and for that I am sorry as I miss writing. I still intend to get on here and update soon, but we’ll see how that goes. For now, I simply want to share a very abbreviated meditation from this morning.

A good online friend of mine posted the following quote yesterday, but I didn’t see it until this morning, so it was a great early-morning meditation:

"If we have an intimate acquaintance with the gospel in all its excellence, knowing the word as one of mercy, holiness, freedom, and consolation, we will value it as our chief and only treasure. We will also make it our business to give ourselves to it in absolute obedience." - John Owen

Upon reading it, I had to read it again. Then, I found my “good Christian mind” ascribing ascent to it, thinking something to the effect of, ‘great quote, another one to make me happy and affirm that I’m thinking rightly’ (after all, isn’t that what it’s all about? – note the latent sarcasm from a seminary grad!)

But then, a moment later (just a moment later), I asked myself if I could repeat it to myself. Not the words, not could I quote it to myself, but could I reword it and recall it for myself, could I paraphrase it so as to get to the heart of the meaning (that is the very nature of teaching and if you can’t do that exercise, then you can’t teach it and thus, have proved that you don’t understand it at all). Did I remember, only moments after reading it, what it SAID! I realized that I could not. In fact, I realized that I had only ascribed my mind to it because it sounded good, it came from a trusted source (my friend), and the original author was also trusted. Thus, in my mind (my reflex response), it was worthy of acceptance. Yet, that way of thinking has more holes in it than the best Swiss cheese in the world AFTER a herd of mice gets a hold of it and they eat their fill.

Upon realizing this mental reflex, I read it again only to realize that I hadn’t read it at all. When I originally read it, I read something to the effect of “we should have an intimate time in the Scriptures because they are valuable and it’s good for us” which roughly translates, “we should read the Bible a lot.” Though that is sort of a part of the message of this quote, it’s not at all what it is about. Mind you, had I the context, I may have read it differently, but had I READ it, I would have understood it very differently. Besides that, the point is not whether or not I have the mental capacity to understand it; the point is that it was my mental reflex to assume knowledge, to assume agreement with what was stated, to merely glance at something, to give disingenuous mental ascent to something simply because it “looks good” upon a very superficial, glib glance! In fact, glib is the perfect word for it, it means “fluent in a superficial or insincere way.”

Had I actually read it, I would have understood that it was, in fact, speaking of intimacy, intimacy not only in the Word of God, but intimacy of understanding and with Christ Himself! In fact, it goes far beyond reading the Bible, but goes straight to the depths of the Gospel itself. The intangible Word, the good news, the very heartbeat of the very agent of Creation, the Creator Himself!!! In the very first part, Owen says “IF we have an intimate acquaintance with the Gospel, in all its excellence.” That ought to arrest us immediately, we should be able to read no further without deep reflection, peering into our own souls to see if we do, in fact, know the Gospel at all. I’m not referring to the Roman road or some other “trinket” of evangelism. The Roman road is a good tool (as are many others), but I’m not referring to memorizing a handful of Scriptures that we can rattle off to someone. No, I’m saying, do we KNOW the Gospel. Can we take our understanding of the Gospel and explain it to someone at their level? Can we explain it in a way that they will understand? Can we boil it down to what it really is, and what it is not?! What was the basis of the Gospel? What is it’s purpose? Why is it important? If we cannot answer those questions and many more like them, we don’t even understand the very things we might rattle off to someone via the Roman road. Is it any wonder then, if we miss even the basics, the very bargain-basement understanding of the Gospel, that people don’t come to the Christ we claim to love when we speak with them? If your auto mechanic can’t explain how a car battery works, would you trust him to rebuild your engine?! What about this, can you explain the Gospel accurately to a 5-year old? In a way that they will be able to comprehend? If not, then you don’t understand the Gospel. You see, explaining to a 5-year old will require you to boil it down, to leave the big words behind (you know, the big ones we like to throw around though we don’t really understand them ourselves… btw, this is called bs), and to get at the very heart of the message AND to explain it as simply and accurately as possible. Thus, in the very first sentence of the quote, all my years of walking with the Lord and all the years of study and theological training are called into question. If I am truly reading this, I must take an honest look at my own understanding and ask if I even understand the basic Gospel message, much less the “in all its excellence” part. Which, btw, I believe that if you truly grasp the Gospel, you will (humanly speaking) understand it in all its excellence. Which ought to beg the question of whether we see it as excellent, or if we’ve become so comfortable with what we do understand of it, that we no longer see it as excellent, but as routine and “old news.” Something to think about!

I have to say that on my part, I have to realize what a slow learner I am. I’ve been a Christian since 1987, had theological training, and I have to be honest and say that I think I’ve only begun grasping the Gospel. It is so simple that a child can understand it and yet so vastly profound!

Then, in the next part of the quote we have the test, the mental test, of intimate knowledge of the Gospel. The test is whether or not we see it as “knowing the word as one of mercy, holiness, freedom, and consolation.” Do we understand God’s mercy? Do we know what it is that He has done for us? Do we know why? Do we even come close to grasping how very merciful He is? You say yes, but do you really? What about that thing you want? What about that situation where you weren’t treated fairly? What about the abuse you suffered? How is God’s mercy demonstrated there? So I ask again, do you understand God’s mercy?! Do we understand His holiness? Do we get that He is completely holy and just, that He is the very MEASURE of what it means to be holy? That He is the rule by which all things are measured? That something’s holiness is determined in how close to resembling Christ it is? You say yes, but what about that thing you looked at the other night? What about that woman or man you gazed at longingly? What about that person that made you mad the other day? Oh wait, that’s your anger, not their sin!

I could go on, but you get the point. Do we see the Gospel as epitomizing these things? Not do we see it as containing these things, but as BEING these things? What is your definition of mercy? What about holiness? What about freedom? What about consolation? Can you define these terms without the Gospel coming to mind, as the chief example? What comes to mind when I say the Gospel? Is it the Bible itself, is it church, is it missions, is it the Roman road to salvation or Evangelism Explosion? Did Christ himself come to mind? Christ and His work of restoration IS the Gospel and it started before the foundations of the world were laid and continues today and will continue for eternity! Do you honestly see the Gospel in light of these elements? When someone mentions the Bible or the Gospel, what comes to mind first? Do you think about the 10 commandments, or sin? Do you think about judgment? Do you think about (fill in the blank)? What do you think about first? My friend, I submit to you that if we think about those things first, as in, primarily about them when the Gospel is mentioned, we don’t truly understand the Gospel, especially not in the way Owen meant (and I fear few do). It is true that those thing are involved in the message, but they are not the message. Let’s use the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf for example. If I said that the point of that story is that wolves are bad and so is lying, would I be accurate? Well, I would be accurate that those messages are involved, but they fall far short of grasping the point of the story. The point is that if we aren’t truthful, people won’t believe us and we will pay the penalty. So, if we think the Gospel is primarily about the things outlined above, we totally miss the point.

Yet, if we do understand it, if we truly understand it, it will so captivate us, that it will become “our chief and only treasure.” We will so grasp its value that everything else will pale in comparison. It will become to us a treasure in a field (Matt 13:44). In all of life, we give our attention to what is most important to us. We do this by nature because we are worshippers, by nature. Thus, no matter what a person says, you can know with certainty what is most important to a person by simple observation. What we truly value most WILL receive our attention.

Thus, if we truly grasp the Gospel, we will indeed “make it our business to give ourselves to it in absolute obedience.” It is not a matter of doing x, y, or z because we ought to, but it is rather a reflex response arising out of a change of the will of the one who grasps this truth. This is the primary difference between a Pharisee and a disciple, between law and grace, between freedom in Christ and living according to the law! When we do read the Bible, is it because our hearts burn with desire to know Christ and to know Him more fully, or is it because we’re supposed to? Do we see clearly, or do we see men as trees? (Mark 8:24)

When we read a quote like this one from Owen, we say amen. But do we TRULY say amen, do we even bother to really read it? Are we reading and ascribing to these things as a means of gaining another notch on our belt of mental understanding, or are we peering into them to see first what truth they contain, and second how our own hearts look, compared to the truth? Do we gaze, or do we only glace? When you read the Scriptures, are you searching them meditatively as if looking into a mirror to see the condition of your own heart (1 Cor 13:12, 2 Cor 3:18), or are you marking off your checklist for the day and then moving on, never even understanding the depths and riches of Christ you just passed up? If so, you are living like someone who passes by the grand-canyon every day and thinks no more of it than you would the last step of the stairs you climb. Or, to put it another way, when we read (and live) this way, we are just like a man who looks into a mirror, walks away, and then forgets if he even fixed his hair (James 1:23).

When we say amen, do we really mean it?!

What about now?