Friday, July 31, 2009
We were invited into a large, concrete, padded room, divided into lanes and unusually lit.
Kinda like a very large bowling alley...but with no finery.
At the end of each lane was a small (4"x 4") piece of thick beige-colored paper, clipped to a line that would transport them back and forth....down the 90 foot lanes.
At the end of each lane - furthest from where we stood - the paper came under a focused light, and in the center of each paper was a series of concentric circles - 9 total - forming a very compact bullseye. The furthest outside circle being less than 3 inches across. When a sample target was given to me and I held it in hand, the numbers in the rings were so small that they challenged normal vision.
And then the demonstration.
The bullseye was sent down the wire to the end of the lane and a person stepped to the opposite end with either a pistol or rifle in hand....ears covered, eyes shielded.
The weapon was lifted into position and after a very deliberate process involving breathing, arm positions, stance and more, a shot was fired.
And then the bullseye was brought back, sailing along the wire, so it could be examined.
How close to the center?
How perfect a shot?
The sample I was given had a tiny hole so fractionally off dead center that it was awarded a "10."
This was the firing range of the USOlympic Center.
World-class athletes in continual training for the next olympics.
And I think about the journey now.
World class christians in training for heaven?
And what is it I am aiming at?
And how close am I coming....really?
Jesus is truly the target of life.
Not money, nor what we own, or drive, or who we know....but Jesus.
I line up and shoot every day, seeking to launch my energies and person at the target well..
...well, almost every day......
Well, some days it feels more like a 4 or 5...or a splat on the back wall.
But He has given to me the gift of today
and if I can become a little more like Him in kindness, and patience
- oh, and in generosity, and endurance, and truthfulness
...how long this list could become
If I can eschew a little more of the values of the culture and be less anchored to the planet.
If I can grasp His presence and purpose in moments of this day....and get in step with what He is doing....
Ah, that truly is what my heart desires.
Guide me to the target, Holy Spirit.
Steady my hands,
calm my heart,
clear up my vision,
embolden my will
enhance my risking
Jesus, capture all of my aim.
And when it is time for You to examine the bullseye of my life, may you see Jesus.
In Your holy, perfect name and for Your sake I pray.
(Off to General Council/Orlando, Florida and will return to this site on August 10th.
2978 hits on this site as of yesterday.)
Thursday, July 30, 2009
So we gathered
....up to 14 of us at once around a very big table.
At one point we all took off to Palmer Park
....in three cars.
Used big plastic cups to drink from
...all with our names written on them.
The new dish washer worked over-time trying to keep ahead of the mountains of silverware and cooking stuff that had been put into play.
And at night we used every flat place for one more sleeping zone.
Ages 1 through 63.
Lots of stories and catching up. Lots of earnest, honest talks.
Plenty of laughter and kidding around.
Some shopping trips to hunt for bargains.
A funny movie to give us all a rest.
Time to worship together and be challenged from the word.
Lots of pictures....new and old.
Bowling tournaments - courtesy of wi.
Watching the grandkids become friends.
Identifying birds....the feeder was packed....and a humming bird came.
House hunting...preparing for a hoped-for move into the area.
Video action from Afghanistan, and a school play.
Opening a Facebook site. (I've got friends! :))
"Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves
and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow.
Tell them to go after God,
who piles on all the riches we could ever manage -
to do good,
to be rich in helping others,
to be extravagantly generous.
If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last,
gaining life that is truly life."
From Paul's first letter to Timothy - chapter 6.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
"Family will be here in a few days. Could you do something simple for me?"
Just three screws….to fix the rod….to hang the drapes…to make the living room look so much better."
So, late in the day, I got a chair in place to climb on and get high enough so I could do the work.
Time to get the battery-charged screw driver.
Time to get the hand-turned one.
Doesn't fit the provided screws.
Search…..ah, here is a different one that will fit enough to make this work.
Now, where do they go….
"Remember to keep it level.
Oops that won't do, the curtains are longer than that.
Finally I put pencil marks on the wall just to get them in the right places.
(And now I am beginning to glisten a bit with sweat.)
And now I try to screw the first one in…and hit something very hard.
Oh, well, I will try to get the others in first…..one goes in easily (too easily?)
Lots of white powder on the site now…and it feels a bit lose.
One goes in ok.
And the "metal" one just won't.
Move the whole thing?
Get new screws?
A sledge hammer?
Paste the curtains to the wall?
Sure doesn't feel like "something simple."
(Shirt now comes off as I break into a full sweat.)
Finally the rod is up
….pretty level at that…and secure too (at least one one end.)
Well, as long as the grandkids don't swing on it, we should be ok.
And the curtains are hung.
(I need not tell you that challenge that I faced getting the rod and curtains to get along.)
Patience….is not something we pray for at the times of great challenge in life.
Oh then, we do.
But I am finding out that it is what we pray for when we try to hang stupid, simple curtain rods.
I did, as I took my clothing off and sweated.
And it helped.
Hoping for no more "simple" projects,
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday was open house at the US Olympic Center.
Our middle daughter, Shayla, is doing a summer internship there.
So, with Shayla as our guide, we went for a visit.
Very impressive place.
We bought some stuff…so now we'll have to explain to people that we are not Olympians. J
Actually about three important blog focuses hit me while we were there.
Like this one….
The story told by the US Team Chairman of Judo.
He talked about running cross country as a kid. How all his friends would say "Let's meet on Saturday morning at the park and we'll run together." And they never ever came….except one kid who always wanted to stop so they could listen to some music!!
But he kept on….and on….running, judo….all the way to his position now leading hundreds of others in championship sport activity.
Then he reflected on the many times people say…."I'm waiting for someone to join me in this, or "we just have to build a team around this….on and on, denying (tacitly) the incredible power of ONE.
Each of us, with God's help, can decide to be the ONE who does it. The ONE who says yes. The ONE who makes an incredible difference in the world.
But, stunningly, we never actually are just ONE…..for Jesus says, "do it in My name, and it will always be TWO – for I will be in the middle of it all with you. Matthew 28:20
So, be the ONE.
Llive the TWO.
And change the world.
Friday, July 10, 2009
We had met over many months.
Counseling through a deeply controlling lifestyle of sin.
Steps of action.
Recommended readings….in Bible and books.
And finally the behavior started to shift rather hopefully.
And we met again to evaluate the progress.
And out tumbled the reality.
It had happened again.
When the averted eyes and whispered words began to describe what had happened AGAIN….I got angry. I became furious….so furious tears started to roll down my face. "This cannot be. You are too good for this. This is not right." I was mad, and broken, and disappointed all at the same time. We were both in tears.
And, observing my behavior, this person said, inside: He really does care. There really is hope. I am worth something. God can help me. I should not give up. Change will come. I will believe again.
And something powerful did change inside that day.
I got mad…..and she got healed.
That was a long time ago…And now she is an effective parent, spouse, worker and Christian.
Have you and I too often bought into the old line "all we need is love"… dah, dah, dah, dah, dah? (Beattles – remember? J)
"God, help us to remember that You promised an intensity and purity of truth that has the power to set us free – the Jesus truth, encased in transparent love, felt strongly enough to produce tears, yes, and even anger. Amen."
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Thinking about confession and the incredible offer John wrote about in his first letter:
"If we confess our sins He is faithful land just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The huge good news is…
He is "faithful" – ie every time we confess He forgives us
He is "just" – that is not because he should forgive us on our merit or performance or because of His great love He just sloshes it over….but He forgives us as we deeply and fervently invoke the name of Jesus over our mess and ask for His grace to be granted to us.
Jesus, in his atoning death – the death that made way for us to be at-one with God – presented himself to the process, having lived without sin (the only created thing ever to do so) and His death for us, in substitution for what should have happened to each of us, became in God's economy, sufficient for each of us, for a lifetime and for eternity. Squeaky clean is what we can be in God's eyes and in ours as well.
And what wonder there is in the little word "all." There is no sin too great for His grace and Christ's work to cover.
Some sins leave a mark in us….an emotional jag that seems to always be just below the surface….but with God, He hugs us and welcomes us home and talks of the future and forever with us, and not the past. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions (another word for sins) from us."
Being forgiven of sin, however, does not mean we have as well, gained instant maturity, or legacy character. That is a process of walking out obedience to His Spirit and word. It takes a lifetime…an each-day walking with Jesus.
But forgiveness happens immediately – at least it does before God.
And it does hinge on one factor in us….the "if" factor.
"If we confess"
Do you….do I?
Or do we mumble inside of ourselves and make a vague excuse and never get visceral or depth in the act of confession.
So….are you forgiven? Clean? Confident? Joyful?
Forgiveness does all that.
So confess. Do it deeply.
And know you are forgiven.
Monday, July 6, 2009
We went to Springfield this weekend.
Left on Saturday and went lots of the way – leaving the last hour of travel for Sunday morning.
What wide open spaces!
Ripened wheat flowing in the breeze across flattened fields…..right to the horizon.
An occasional house, and barn….all like postcards.
Produce stands by the side of the road….mellons, cukes, onions, beets and more.
Then we came to Springfield.
1300 people there?…it has dropped hundreds in the last few years.
Clean. Wide-streets. Unique businesses on Main.
And the church…1st Assembly.
Smiles that last.
"4 babies coming in September!!
Songs sung earnestly and at length. Guitars, keyboard, voices.
Announcements given rancher style.
Prayer for rain….and Pastor Paul off in Austria with a missions team.
As the word was shared about Jesus, there was a sense of the presence of the Lord among us.
Misty eyes and soft amens.
Lingering after to talk and share life, and laugh.
Ah, and Mexican food in the only restaurant open.
We drove back north, filled up with the sense that this church is doing well – another way the Lord is fulfilling His promise to build His Church. It's happening in Springfield.