Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

looking for a good read

I have just recently finished a pretty neat book, "The Shack" by William P. Young.

This post is not going to be yet another blog hyping the book, however.  It is a good book, and I really do recommend you check it out, but I want to write about how I seem to find God working in my life ... again.

As I've written before, my mother and I are very close.  We talk every day, and we visit her and my father 3 to 4 times a week.  The frequency of visiting has much to due with her being ill.  Not knowing how much time she will have with me, Jen, and Ethan can be very motivating. 

With that said, I have also written before that my mother is an ex-communicated Jehova's Witness, this having occurred years and years before I was around.  This little fact is important because, while my Mom is one of the most religiously intelligent and knowledgeable people I know (she knows the bible better than anyone I've ever met), her experience with the very structured religion of Jehova's Witnesses has left her with a very particular image of spirituality. Her tainted experiences with religion caused her to emerge into another type of belief system.  In fact, many would consider Mom to be a "New Ager." You know, those who read and believe psychics like Sylvia Brown and John Edwards. 

The problem is that the more and more I find myself buying into Jesus, and following Him, her comments about New Age stuff really gets under my skin.  Part of it is due to my beliefs, but another part is due to the fact that she is not going to be here for too much longer, ... and I desperately want her to find the peace and love offered through Jesus, ... that same peace and love that I'm diving into more and more deeply as I journey. 

And so we reached a sort of impasse: I could no longer stand to hear her talk about Mother-God, ... whom she calls Azna ..., anymore than she could stand to hear me talk about Father-God and Jesus.  More than once, I became upset enough to completely change the subject abruptly enough that one would consider it rude.

Long story shorter is that my mother and I became unable to meaningfully talk about God and spirituality, and this at a time when we both so desperately need to.

So, I started praying, asking God to help.

A few days later, someone recommended The Shack.  And now my Mom is reading it.

I don't want to ruin the plot of the book for those who have not yet read it, but if you have read the book, you'll understand why finding this book, ... or this book finding me, ... at this particular time is fitting and important.  

And this is how I find God working in my life sometimes.  I pray, ... it's answered, ... but it's hardly never answered in the way I think it will be.  If this happened every once in a while, I could easily chalk it up to ironic coincidence.  But it's happening far too often.  Love Keeps Winning. It's amazing. 

Trust grows. 
Grace flows. 
God shows.

Now I'm looking for another good book to read. Any recommendations?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I have a brother four years my junior, and in some ways you couldn't find two people that were simultaneously so similar yet radically different. Some of you know that my walk with Jesus has really increased in intensity over the last few years, and one of the ways that I've been challenged is in trying to make sense of my brother’s decisions, life, and brokenness, particularly when his stuff spills over into his family’s life and well being.

But this post is not necessarily about my brother.  

It is about how talking to Jesus makes me different. 

I have a story, ... one that just happened this morning, ... that illustrates this point.

My mother was admitted into St. Elizabeth Hospital last night. She has fluid around her heart, ... complications from the Myelofibrosis, ... which is causing her breathing difficulties. She is having a procedure to drain fluid from around her heart this morning. Actually, she is in the ER right now as I write this.  

But this isn't really a post about my mother either.  

It's about how Jesus changes me.

Here's the story: Jen and I visited my mother last night in the hospital, and I came back this morning to be with Mom before and after the procedure.  My brother had visited my mother last night after we left and left me a copy of a DVD.  It was very important to him that I get the DVD, ... so important, in fact, that he sent me a text message last night to remind me to get it.  Actually, he sent the message twice.  He didn’t want me to leave the DVD at the hospital.

The DVD is titled “Religulous,” and is written by comedian Bill Maher, who also stars in the film.  According to Maher, “the title of the film is ‘portmanteau’ derived from the words ‘religion’ and ‘ridiculous’; the documentary examines and satires organized religion and religious belief.”

After arriving to the hospital room this morning and seeing the video, and after I began to understand what the premise was about, … I became furious!  I just couldn’t believe that my brother would choose this particular moment in time to share this video with my mom, … and with me.  I felt like calling him on the phone and chewing him out, … telling him to never, ever, call me again.  I wanted to tell him how insensitive he was.  I wanted to let him know how wrong he was.  I wanted to show him how angry I was.

Then the nurses and aides came in to take my Mom down for the procedure.

I didn’t have time to call, but as I walked along side the cot, I was seething with anger, shaking my head, … waiting for the moment that I would be able to tear into my brother. Here I am with my mother, who is very afraid of what’s happening, and my brother has left a video, … while his mother is in the flipping hospital … that is critical of faith?


Having to walk from her room to the waiting room gave me a moment. It gave me time.

I prayed. I asked Jesus to show me what to do, which is new for me. In the past, I would have already called him, would have already told my brother to F--- Off, … would have already allowed the pressurized volcano inside of me to erupt, … and would have felt justified in doing so.

I would have given into what I now understand as “the plans of the enemy.”

But this time, … I asked Jesus for help, and instead of calling my brother, I typed him this text message:

“ [Brother], I can’t for the life of me understand why you would bring a video that is critical of faith, particularly right now, and ask me to watch it.  I just don’t understand.  Why? Why right now? It’s times like these that people NEED their faith the most.  Couldn’t you have waited until things are a little less frightening?”

I hit the “send button,” and it felt good.  I shared my feelings in an honest way, without anger, without tension, without the enemy’s ways, … and it felt right.  I expressed what was on my heart, but I hopefully did it in a way that will not walk he and I down the road toward another distant argument.

I felt free.

My brother responded with a text saying that his timing was awful.  He apologized.  He said that he wanted to get my opinion of the video because he respects my advice about such things.


Maybe this will give he and I a reason to talk about Jesus.

Love Wins!  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

the urine of cats

I love animals.

This fact should be made clear by our current roster: 3 dogs, 2 cats, and fish.

Our past roster also included birds.

Prior to being married, I also kept rats, turtles, hamsters, and gerbils, ... along with various bugs and plant-life.  

Have I mentioned that I love animals?

When Jen and I moved into this house, we gleefully forked over approximately $5,500 to re-carpet every inch of our floors ... sans the kitchen and bathrooms, ... and garage.

We financed that carpet on a multi-year plan.  (Dave Ramsey would not be proud.)

I strategically chose a brown shade of carpet because we have animals, and I thought that this would make sense in terms of hiding the traces of our pack.

Geez-Louise, that was a mistake.

Cat urine can be discharged on brown carpet without anyone ever knowing, ... particularly if one has made the strategic decision to choose a carpet color that would camouflage the slaughter of work-mules.

That is, besides the smell ... of cat urine.

With that said, I can't begin to communicate the impact that piss-soaked floors can have on the atmosphere of one's abode.

Have you ever been to the zoo?  Visit the "Cat House" and you will understand where I'm coming from.

Aint good.

The good news is:  I pulled all of that stinking carpet up today, and as I sit here writing this post, ... I am enjoying the smell and view of plywood.

Two bits of advice, the second being contingent on the first:

1. Never, ... NEVER ... own 3 dogs and two cats.
2. (if you ignore #1) Never, .... NEVER spend close to 6K on brown carpet.  

We're putting down a product called "Traffic Master Allure." 

It's moisture proof. 

I love animals.

hope for "The Body"

I love the parable about the man with no legs riding on the shoulders of the blind man.  It reminds me of what the Body of the Church can do when the elements that comprise it work together. The same could be said for human-kind, I think, which is what some speakers may mean when talking about creating God's Kingdom, heaven, right here on earth.

"I'm a very strong man, but I can't see."

"I can see to the end of the world, ... but I can't save myself ..."

The problem is that the brokenness of our fallen human nature makes it difficult to share and work collaboratively. Rather, we have the impulse to control, to hoard, to lay claim to, etc. those gifts bestowed on us by our Creator.  This is especially true when talking about our spiritual gifts.

We only have One hope: Love Wins.