Wednesday, October 29, 2008


October 29, 2008

Somewhere in graduate school a professor shared this information -
The mathematical formula for calculating the number of relationships possible in a group of people is (where X = the number of possible relationships and Y = the number of people in the group) is: (ready for a little algebra? its all I know!)
The formula: X = Y2 - Y / 2.

Let's try it out...
2 people - 4-2 over 2 = 1 relationship possible (duh!)
4 people - 16-4 over 2 = 6 relationships possible
6 people - 36-6 over 2 = 15 relationships possible.

Interesting, I sometimes hear people say: in this group of 100 there just aren't any people I can relate to. Hmm...check it out....what they are saying is that of the 4950 relationships that are possible here, there is none for me.

Interesting that Jesus did two things with this formula:
1. He chose three to be very close with: Peter, James, John. Thus there were 6 relationships possible to manage in that group.
2. He picked 12 men to raise up as His disciples...66 relationships to manage there. Gives some reason for the choices He made and the focus He gave to what can seem like such a "little" group.

Real issues for us I think are this:
1. Not how many "friends" do wehave, but how many people really know us well?
2. Make sure we are not spread thin but have dug deeply in relationships.
3. Remind ourselves frequently of the power of 12 to change the world.




Monday, October 27, 2008

The Dancing

October 27, 2008

Last Saturday morning.

Jackie and I out on a run for an early Dunkin Donuts.

I order - cream-filled and coffee - and find a place to sit and watch the people. It is a busy place - a continual stream of people at the counter.

A man approaches the shop - two children in tow. A little boy - short pants, army crew - and his older sister. They will get a donut and chocolate milk.

The anticipation builds after dad bends over to talk to them.

But, there is a line...and they must wait for a few minutes to be served.

I watch the little boy - obviously excited - his head turning upwards frequently towards his father, his eyes full of wonder...and his feet dancing - a simple hop from one side to the other, back and forth, back and forth.

Donuts and chocolate milk!

I get Jackie's attention and whisper: "look!"
She smiles at the dance....and shows me that his sister is dancing too.

An soon they are at table nearby....and the expected is happening.

And it is fun to watch.

And I think of the Bible Psalm that says: "Let them praise His name with dancing." (149:3)

And a great book of wisdom states: "There is a dance." (Ecclesiastes)

Have you had that time lately?

Times are heavy...but the good news is, dancing doesn't take a crowd, or a band or anything else - but the Father's presence and favor upon us. And our expectation that we will be with Him in heaven forever.

May we have that focus and at times just let it dance with expectation and joy in His presence.

Today...lets look up to our Father - and dance!



Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Under a clear plastic blotter on the top of my desk are two pictures.

In each, 12 or more men selected from among their peers stare back at the camera. They are entrusted with the discipline of the wayward, the management of a lot of money, the care of thousands of people, the direction for a trusted organization. Big decisions - often with grave consequences.

What do you see when you imagine the pics?

Suits and ties? Formal seating? Austere, even stern facial countenances? Hands at sides, feet placed carefully? The most important persons most impressive in bearing? Facial lines in vertical array? Neat, clean, proper, severe?

Got a picture in your mind?

On two occasions, now, I have been asked to be the one who takes their annual group picture.

On both occasions I have taken the group pics.....and then just before the shoot ended, each time I have said something like..."Common guys, ham it up...go for it...let's have a bit of fun with this."

And they have done well with that idea - fingers showing above heads, some pulled off balance by hugs, facial poses that compete with the masks of this Halloween season. Pushing and shoving playing...become very apparent. "We like each other" could easily be the title overhead.

And I have not been able to wait to see - these last poses, not the first ones.
The play, not the proper.

In fact I took the pictures again today and within moments of returning to the office, this year's play shot was positioned underneath my an angle that lets me feast on it easily.

I've discovered that the play shots reveal more of the person.
The play shots provoke smiles, and faith and lightness.
The play shots are by far the keepers.
The play shots give me a certain sense of comfort and security in their leadership.
The play shots say to me: I love people
You can trust me to lead be real and open and honest.

And I think of this on a bit wider dimension
and I wonder at the cycle of life.
All of us start out playing as the predominant activity of most of every day
...and at the end of the cycle of life we seem to shut it down...playing hardly at all.
We begin so happy and free, flexible and optimistic
and end up often sad and bound and cautious.

Could it be that if we learned to ham it up a bit more shuck off the pressures just for an hour
we would become the person that most people feel is "the keeper"?

And I wonder suddenly,
could...would Jesus be in the picture if He were on the board?

Ah...I think the answer to that question might be caught in His words:
"Unless you become like children you will not even see the Kingdom (present activity) of God.

So may we learn again (today, perhaps) to play.

And may our days today be a whole lot more playful than our yesterdays.

Click, Click......


aka...Joedy Kabloedy
(my nickname as a kid...don't ask me to explain! - :))


A free definition of the word might go something like this:
an event or events that get our attention and seem unusual enough to make us ask: what is going on?

A few days ago I heard this definition for coincidence: when God arranges the details, but is not concerned about Who gets the credit.

I sometimes wonder: Could it be that God is that playful? (for a bit of assistance in formulating your answer, consider gerbils and elephants, seals and whales, butterfiles and pandas.)

I suppose it all depends on how far we think God likes to get involved in our lives. Personally I vote for God being a whole lot more involved with our lives than we often realize.

Perhaps coincidences really should be seen as God-incidences.

Like a verse in the Bible that I just read says: "In Him we live, and move (!) and have our being." Seems like enough God-coverage there for "chance encounters" and "near misses."

So...I've been learning to take coincidences like the melodic call of some cell phones and answer it with: Hello - God, is that You?

So let's join up on this journey and tune in today to our Creator.

It's just another part of the Great Adventure.

It's a Jesus thing. He announced His purpose this way:
"I have come that you might have LIFE."

Selah -


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Titanic Entry #26

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"The Titanic's Last Secret" caught my eye in this week's Newsweek magazine.

97 years ago she went down in freezing north atlantic waters - on her maiden voyage - just 2 hours and 40 minutes after striking an iceberg. Making great time. Parties on deck.

1,522 people perished. And now we know it was because she sunk so fast.

The story of what happened has been written in close to 200 books, documentaries and movies.

All these accounts laid the blame for it all on a captain who did not exercise care.

And now the truth has come out -
* it was faulty riveting and thinned plating (by 1/4 inch) that made this ship a sure bet for disaster. ("If we make the plates thinner, we will lighten her by 2500 tons and she will go much faster.")
* before sinking the ship broke into three pieces not two
* the ship went down faster and a much lower angle than has been depicted
* the negligence in building was fueled by the press of time, the hunger for ship speed, a intense shipping rivalry, and the desire to please the great financier J.P.Morgan.
* what really happened and caused the sinking has been known by key persons all along.

The truth always seems to find a way to come out.

Like Jesus said: "what is hidden now will be revealed."

Stopping to consider...I feel deeply called
to build the "ship" of my life well - to the pattern of The Designer,
to live with His gaze in mind - He is the Truth - and all will some day be revealed,
and I feel the call to resist firmly the temptations
to cut corners,
put lives at risk,
think that hiding truth is ever the right choice.

May God help us to always choose the paths that lead to life now and fellowship with God forever.

Sail on..



Monday, October 13, 2008


My Dad had this interesting habit.

He would hitch his pants in an unusual manner.

He would do it any time any place.

Always with his hands free....using his forearms to try to get ahold of the tops and sides of his pants...trying to move them up just a bit. Problems with sagging I guess.

Why this unusual behavior?

At the time this behavior appeared, we lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
On the campus of Bethel Bible College.
Dad was the President, so we we got to live in a big stucco house 20 yards removed from everything....ah yes, such an honor.

Winters were cold....
I still remember waking and seeing the lacey patterns of frost on the inside of my windows. (And the one morning when I put my tongue out to see how cold it was. !!)

The whole campus fought against the cold from a coal-fired furnace that heated water to steam and sent the steam shunting down long corridors of pipe....and hopefully some made it to our house, banging and clanging in loud protest as it came.

Sometimes it didn't arrive....
and sometimes it was an off night, and the workers weren't there to feed the furnace,
so my President Father would go to the furnace room and shovel coal into the furnace, even all dressed up Presidential.

And after that busy activity, his hands were covered with soot, and his pants were sagging.

You guessed it.

So he hitched his pants with his forearms, holding his hands out in front so as not to get anything more dirty than it had already become.

He did it enough times that it just became a habit, an unusal behavior, tied to lilfe experience.

You hitch too?

I hitch my soul....trying to not cry in inappropriate moments. Made harder by the experience of deep losses in my life.

I hitch my lips...trying to not dominate conversations, 'cause I just at times get too excited.

I hitch my hands...trying to stay away from most things as not to bely my clutziness.

I hitch my expectations...trying not to get too disappointed over people who don't like history. can be an intersting revelation to the past.
Hitching....we probably all do it at times. helps us cope, and usually makes life just a little bit more appropriate.

May today find you adjusting to life....making things work....and drawing strength from Jesus Christ, the Source of everything we need to truly be alive.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I was involved in planting a new church. the heart of Lincoln, Nebraska - right next to the campus of the University of Nebraska.

We were meeting in Lodge #16 - fraternal site - old, cracked windows, smells - but affordible. :)

From the ceiling in the main room hung a huge electronic bingo sign. Numbers prepared to light up the night before (Saturday)- for those who came to try their luck.

We met on Sunday and drew chairs in a semi-circle on the cracking floor.
Guitars, drums and even a ukelele sounded forth as we sang vigorously our worship to God.

And often we shared in communion - a common loaf of bread and a common cup of grape juice - yes grape juice! :)

On the day I remember well, we sang, and learned from the Bible and shared in communion - first the bread, and then, passing it around, the cup. (No...we hadn't heard of health risks!)

When the cup came to me, with closed eyes, I raised it up ceremonially, and brought it to my lips - and as I did the whole place exploded in long and hearty laughter.

Now, I have prided myself in being rather liberated, but this seemed instantly to be way too much......until I opened my eyes.

You see, at the moment the cup had touched my lips, the great Bingo light went suddenly on...and stayed on until I had finished.

We never could find anyone who touched switches, or played a we developed a theory.

God did it.

Not very good theology...but it does make some sense...because in communion the church celebrates over and over the sufficiency of the death of Christ...and the resurrection of Him from the dead. It is also the celebration that He ascended into heaven and will come some day to pick up all who have committed their lives to Him while living here.

So may you celebrate communion again soon.

And as you do, may the lights go off very your soul.

Bingo ....indeed......


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


A pretty sober morning.

News - oh not about the stockmarket (again) - but this time, the news that a good man, who has done so much for so many, has acted in a way that broke his lifelong commitment to his wife.

Adultery.....becoming sexually intimate with someone you are not married to.

The question often rings after the fact....
"How could this happen?"
"How could a person like this end up doing something like this?"

One answer came to me: deceitfulness.

Deceitfulness is by definition - the intention to deceive, to be misleading.

And a verse from the Bible came to my mind immediately with this word: "See to it, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourge one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:12-13.

Thoughts from these words:

1. Sin by its very nature is deceiving. In other words it is slippery, misleading - what seems to be the case ("I'll be ok" "No one will be hurt" "It's just a little thing anyway") before the act of sin, most often is not the case on the other side. ("I'm not ok." "People are getting hurt.""It is a whole lot bigger than I thought.") Sin has a magnetic pull to it...and is full of faulty logic. Beware its deceitfulness.

2. It seems to me that these verses are warning us all. We all can be candidates for deception - whether 60 or 20....whether a long-term follower of Jesus or brand new....and whatever gender, occupation or situation we find ourselves in.

3. What is at stake is this: the enemy of our souls (satan) getting us to completely turn away from God. That is always the ultimate contest that is afoot in the entire universe.

4. We have a responsibility to "encourage one another" to stand strong and avoid the slippery slope. How? Here are some ideas:
i. we should all be asking our friends occasional and penetrating questions - like, *"are you walking in purity?" - *"are you staying away from stuff that is tempting?" *"how close are you walking with God right now? and *"how do you measure that?
ii. learn to be "encouraging" to those in your life right now...speak in truth and in faith. Speak hope to them. Let your words convey strength to your friends. We are all in this battle and we all need one another.
iii. keep a short account with God - a daily inventory-taking and time in prayer with Him. Ask God to give you more of his main weapon against deceitfulness - it is called discernment...and the Bible is its main standard of evaluation.

Aren't you glad we get to follow Jesus? "No deceit was found in his mouth." I Peter 2:22.



Friday, October 3, 2008


Ever been lost?

I have.

First time I remember feeling really lost was at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario. Attended by hundreds of thousands. Big. Sprawling. Noisey. Complex. Very possible place to get lost ... really lost.

I did.

And it was frightening to contemplate that it might be a long time before I was found.

Lostness was a huge matter to Jesus.

Luke 15:1ff - "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (religious types) muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

The tax collectors and sinners, feeling their lostness inside, were coming to Jesus to see what He might say.

The religious types were so lost they didn't know it...and could only criticize those who came to Him for help.

So Jesus told a story about a man who had one hundred sheep but lost one. And he went looking for that one sheep, found it and brought it the sounds or great rejoicing.

He identified His mission as just like that. Seeking for people who know they are lost...who yearn inside to be found by God Himself.

Jesus came to the planet on a mission to provide the way for people to be found by God - because without God, we are all lost...disjointed inside, far from the peace and "found-ness" God intended us to know.

Lost - when I was lost, it was all-consuming, face draining, fear producing, paralyzing.

And when I prayed to God, asked Him to forgive me of all my sin, and said that I wanted to live in a way that pleased Him for the rest of my lostness was dealt with forever.

When I gave my life to Him, then, He not only placed a portion of His Spirit inside me, but gave me the assurance that one day I will join Him in the forever-found place....heaven.

So...we all start out lost.

We all need Jesus.

We all can be found.

We all can have hope beyond this life.

See you there?