Thursday, January 29, 2015


It’s time to confess: I went to school for a long time, and sometimes I was bored. Now days, when Jacob asks me how long he will have to go to school, I smile to myself. While it might be a quick answer to say, “Until you are an adult”, God has taught me in my years of living to not minimalize any of it.  Jacob doesn’t want to grasp how long school can truly last, what Kindergartener does. The reality is that every season of our life is met with some things that are hard, some things that are great, and other things that are somewhere in between.

This week our reading is about the moments in our life when we are caught off guard. Life is moving along (like we talked about last week) when all of the sudden we hear something, see something, or feel something we never expected. When we are caught off guard like this, we often stop and wonder if that really just happened and then think about how it changes things.  This brings to mind a saying I love, “This is going to change your life!” As much as I want to help people be ready for and grasp these life changes, most of the time these moments are not pre-empted by someone telling us “This is going to change your life!”

Back to my confession, I had a lot of speakers share their passion with me, or lack of it. I had teachers, preachers, and my least favorite – adjunct professors. Adjuncts are people who do whatever grading scale they want and then just drop a grade on you. Most of this story is inspired by my philosophy of religion teacher in college. Honestly, I can’t even tell you his name because I slept through his class most days. I have no clue what I learned in that class, except perhaps that he was one of the worst teachers/speakers I have ever heard.  This was confirmed when my buddy, who was an A student, was upset at him too.   This guy had no clue.

People in Biblical times went to the Synagogue to learn.  Who knows what madness they usually heard taught there. The arrogant Pharisees (I like to call them adjuncts) talked a great game, but failed to communicate the message that God wanted them to tell the people. These are the stories that sicken me the most, preachers that truly capture their audience, but somehow the devil slips into their heart to cause great pain to their listeners through their words.

However, think about how you feel when you hear a great speaker – inspired, motivated, excited, energized and the list can go on.  Depending on the situation, you might even think, “That’s the Holy Spirit speaking through him/her!”  Every time I hear an amazing speaker who is gifted to speak by the Holy Spirit, I am astonished. Last year that was Donald Miller and Jon Acuff, and so many others at the conference I attended. Their words impacted my life with new thoughts and renewal of energy to grow in my preaching. This happens for me when I read a great article too.

In Mark 1:21-28, the people at the Synagogue that day heard something/someone different than the adjunct Pharisees.  They heard Jesus and they were astonished at His preaching! He taught with one who had authority! The people listening were caught off guard.  They were hearing something they never expected. Jesus taught a message that would change their lives.  A definite Holy Spirit moment! 

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to hear Jesus that day – or any day. The people had to be hanging on His every word. Unfortunately for us, we will never fully understand that experience this side of Heaven, but just thinking about it can give us a glimpse into how astonishing this moment was for those that were there.

LIfe Keeps Moving On

A few weeks ago when Mindy and I were in the hospital, I kept starring outside. As it went from evening to morning to afternoon the cars kept coming. We had a perfect view of 64-40 from our room. People were leaving work, going to work, or just going somewhere to have fun. I was processing that life just keeps moving on. No matter what is going on in each of our lives, the lives of others keep moving on. No matter if we are having good things or bad things happen to us, others are just trying to live out their lives at the same time.

This week’s reading (Mark 1:14-20) reminded me of that. Here, as Jesus is calling the disciples, John the Baptist is getting arrested. Now that John is “off the job” so to speak, Jesus is bringing together all the new workers of the church. It is as if Jesus was saying, “So long John, now we need to prepare more people.” While the reading doesn’t really say no one cared, the passage does bring out this reality – John had done his job and now it was time for the One who is truly going to save us. Life keeps moving on. God keeps working in each of our lives, bringing us to know redemption and salvation, then taking us home to heaven to be with Him, at the same time as He is working in the lives of others.

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to Ed Wrice. Ed and I have a story – one that his wife, Wanda, prayed for. His story is one of an ill man who took awhile to grow in appreciation of His Lord. But once Ed did, he was going to let everyone know. Ed and I talked for the last time last week. I really didn’t think it would be the last time, but Ed was ready to go home. He was ready to see Wanda, and to be with his Savior. Ed was ready for life to go on on earth without him. John seems like the same kind of guy. John wanted to do his job, and then let others carry on the next steps. This weekend we take time to reflect on how life goes on, and how God uses each of us to carry out the next steps of the journey.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Come and See

One of my favorite memories as a kid was my cousin Josh. The dude was super cool and had everything I didn’t. He was super smart, great at sports, good at video games, and a cool dude. My mom was cool enough to let me go spend a week with Josh. There was something about his world that I loved. Hanging out near the city of Chicago was super awesome. We saw all kinds of cool stuff that was unique. Those experiences and memories have always dominated my thoughts. I told Mindy I have more photo albums in my head than my family had to look at growing up. Do you remember the books with the sticky pages that made sure the photos never moved? Well, if you dove into my brain you would find a million of those albums holding dearly to all the memories that have shaped me.

I went to tennis camp with Josh one year. Some of the kids from camp asked me where I lived. When I told them Blue Springs they started making fun of me. They asked me if we had cows there. They had all kinds of farm jokes. I remember being frozen in that moment wanting to show them that Blue Springs is cool. I didn’t know what to say. I wish I would have had Phillip’s words to say, “Come and See!” (John 1:46)  Ok, so I probably would have said, “Hey, jokers come and see!” Regardless, Phillip wasn’t putting up with Nathanael’s trash. He was telling Nathanael to come and see what comes from Nazareth. History shows us that Nathanael really didn’t have anything to prove that Nazareth was a bad city. The reality was that most people didn’t even know about it.

One of the best things Josh’s parents (my aunt and uncle) ever did for me was to take me see Michael Jordan play. My aunt told me these tickets were impossible to get. I never understood until I was older the blessing of that experience filed away in my memory. I got to see them in the season that Michael helped the Bulls to win 72 games. All the Jordan cards I had at home became a reality on the court that day.  Seeing Michael Jordan play was one of those amazing experiences that most people only dream about.

Recently I read an article on Jordan that asked the question, “Do we really want to be like Mike?”  The article showed that Jordan is now one who looks for any moment of competition he can find, and is saddened to not have that same level of competition he once had. Competition is the drive of his heart, and now that it is over, what is left? Maybe you don’t know, but he is trying to create a team to be and do what he did. The problem is, the team is missing the competitor that he was. Thus, Jordan is left in sadness and wondering what is next. Hardly a man we want to be like.

The greatest part of this weekend’s lesson is that the disappointment that Jordan feels is not what Nathanael found when he “came to see” Jesus. Instead, he saw someone who, in an instant, changed his opinion of a city that he had put down. He saw not just something good that came from Nazareth, but something awesome! Nathanael saw who Jesus really was and it changed him.

These days Josh and I aren’t much different.  He has moved from doing technical work in a large world bank to a smaller company. He feels like he can accomplish more without all the red tape of a big company. He has four kids and a great wife.  All those things that we worried about as kids are long gone. Now we are both trying to lead our families with the gifts God has given us, having been blessed to know Jesus for years. And it’s all because a long time ago our parents asked us to “come and see Jesus.” This weekend we’ll talk about how our doubt can so quickly be changed as we see the hand of Jesus in our lives.