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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Made me laugh... and then think

Picked up kids from soccer. Grace and James jumped in the car and started clambering for a sonic drink. I had a gift card so off we went. Soon as they had that settled James says, "Hey mom, Grace totally racked me in soccer practice."

Grace, "It was an accident."

James, "Was Not"

Grace, "Was Too"

James, "Was Not."

Grace, "Was Too"

This went on for several minutes before I regained control of the situation and heard the whole story. It seems that Grace and James were both running after a stray soccer ball. Grace beat James to the ball and kicked it towards him. About that time he realized she had the ball and turned away to run back toward the goal. Grace realized the ball was going to hit him and yelled, "James" thinking he would duck. Instead, he turned and the ball hit him full force.
He said he crawled around on the field crying like a girl for about 5 minutes, and he was still walking kind-a funny when I picked him up from practice.

I had to laugh...what a practice....your little sister outruns you and racks you all in one night. Gotta stink.

But then it made me think about the difference in perspective. From Grace's perspective it was accidental. But James was convinced that Grace had run after the ball with the intent to kick it at him and cause injury. I think he finally realized it was not on purpose, but there was lots of yelling before he calmed down.

I've had relationships like that. Where I've gotten hurt or I've hurt someone else really bad. Maybe it was completely unintentional, but sometimes it's hard to believe that it was not on purpose. Seeing the kids yelling at each other made me stop and think through how much easier relationships would be if we could just give each other the benefit of the doubt. If we could just believe the best about each other and be willing to repair the relationship.

So the whole event made me laugh, but it also made me think a little harder about some relationships that I've had problems with over the years.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Really, Really Bad Day

Last week I was reading over my children's lesson in Acts 27. As I read, I began to view this story with a very new and fresh perspective that I thought I'd share.

Paul is a prisoner. He asks for an audience with Caesar and as a roman citizen, gains transport to Italy. The first ship encounters difficult headwinds and a prisoner transfer is made to an Egyptian ship. Weather is rough, Paul realizes that they are sailing too late in the season. He expresses his concern to the captain. Like this. vs. 10, "Sirs", he said, "I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on - shipwreck, loss of cargo, injuries, and danger to our lives." He is very assertive with the captain. Basically, "we're going to die you fools!" Paul does not allow his life circumstance of being a prisoner keep him from trying to express God's message to the captain.

Now check out vs. 20

“The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.” What a life verse!!!!! Talk about “my life sucks!!!” If sailors are saying, "all hope was gone." That's bad news. Definitely not something you ever want to hear.

Paul's obedience to God in sharing his message led to his imprisonment, but God’s plan for Paul’s future led to the endangerment of the entire ship’s crew. They are afraid for their lives. Men who make their living sailing on the open seas. Panicked….throwing overboard even their vital equipment…Until at last all hope was gone.

But, no....things got worse. They are shipwrecked. The crew wants to kill the prisoners, but the captain stays their hands. Perhaps in part because he has been impressed by Paul’s faithfulness and the truthfulness of his message. If Paul had never told the captain about God’s message, the captain would not have developed respect for Paul. Or if Paul had not been in submission to the captain’s authority, he could have lost his life. But Paul’s obedience helps God to use Paul in an incredible fashion.

So everybody is safe, landing on the island of Malta. Great news! Not yet, next Paul is bitten by a snake. Oh…hope really is all gone. Survived the shipwreck just to be bitten by a poisonous snake....what the heck? Thank you God for saving me from the storm, just to kill me with a snake.

But God heals him. Miraculously. The islanders are stunned. Paul credits his God. They decide to take him to the official government on the island. Maybe hope is not gone, after all. The snake bite and miraculous healing gain Paul an audience with a ruling official that needs to hear about Jesus.

Publius, the chief official’s father is dying. No health care. No way to leave the island to get any health care because sailing season is over. So Paul (with the physician Luke) is shipwrecked on the island. God grants Paul the ability to heal the official’s father. Then he is probably able to share Christ with the official.

Paul is treated as an honored guest his entire time on the island. When the weather changed, the people of the island showered Paul and the crew with gifts and supplies for their voyage. What seems like a terrible day….imprisonment, stupid captain sailing in unsafe conditions, shipwreck, snake bite…all hope is gone….turns into a huge God event.

God uses Paul to spread his message to all the people and the government on the island. Paul is obedient to God even in the tough times, and as a result gets to see God move in great and mighty ways.

The prisoners who thought all hope was gone get to see Paul’s God rescue them, do miraculous events, and provide for their future. Suddenly a routine prison transport has turned into a life-changing event. God took the bad and created the incredible.

It was a reminder to me that God's plans may be unfathomable to me in the moment....but he does have a plan... a plan to bring glory to his name.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Monday Morning Update 5.10.09

Fourth week into the God on your iPOD series. Awesome thoughts and messages! (And that preacher at The Crossroads is pretty hot!) This week Shawn's sermon was about God themes in "I found You" by the Fray. He discussed finding God in difficult times and questions that may arise about God when you are experiencing tough times. Listen to the entire message at

I had an epiphany moment during the sermon today. While Jesus was on the cross, he quoted from Psalms. In other words, during His time of deepest pain and suffering, He quotes a song lyric to express Himself. I thought that was intriguing.

Worship? I have completely run out of adjectives. I don't know how to explain that yesterday we had a hard time getting some of the songs, and today it clicked beautifully. I don't have any adjectives that can explain what it's like to stand behind the keys and lose myself in the music. It's a phenomenon that cannot be rationalized or explained or described. It was one of those days where I lost the place that the music began and I ended. When we got to "Oh Praise Him," by Crowder, I was overwhelmed by the first verse. "Turn your ear to heaven and hear, the noise inside, the sound of angel's awe, the sound of the rescued ones, all this for our king....." Can you imagine the day when we are really, literally able to hear the angels and the redeemed singing together to worship the King who alone is Worthy! I got so excited! I was so stoked thinking that today as The Crossroads sang praises, we were joining in with angels, and with the redeemed around the world who were also gathered in worship as well as the redeemed from ages past who are already in God's presence. Man, I've got chills all over again!!!!!

I am deeply humbled and honored to play with my friends, the worship band, Chasing Lions. Today the guitarist started playing a little riff, and I played along... no notes, just by ear. I was playing along for a good little bit before I realized that I had not asked for chords. I am so excited about that - I can hardly stand myself. It is cool to watch all of our instrumentalists improve. Sometimes in ways that defy explanation. I am still way out of my league playing with this band, but I like to daydream about catching up!

Sometimes in life you are given perfect moments. That's the best description I can come up with for playing with the band and getting to go into God's Presence together. There are times that I wish I could just freeze frame life. It is a great ride to be a part of the team planting The Crossroads. I couldn't ask for better friends to be with me on this journey. And yet God continues to add new friends and to deepen existing relationships. I am pretty sure that when I am old and ancient, I will tell my grandchildren about that time that I used to play with Chasing Lions.

For the worship peeps who want a set list:
Opener :What life would be like (Big Daddy Weave) amazing now
Middle: Oh, Praise Him (David Crowder Band) very stinkin' awesome!
Your name (Paul Baloche)
Surrender All (Parachute Band) yep, love this one too. Except I would still like to surrender most.
Ending: Praise You in This Storm (Casting Crowns) went great with today's sermon and has a special history with our family. I even figured out how to play a c#5 and a D#m. Miserably yucky chords!

Prayer Needs: Continue to pray for favor as we approach the school board to request an exception to be allowed to meet in the school. Or that God would provide some alternate meeting location as we have outgrown our current spot.

Pray for us to find family time amongst our busyness. We live crazy lives of work and ministry and need to be more faithful to dedicate special time to our children alone. May is an insane month for me at work. I will need supernatural reserves of energy and patience.

Thanks to those of you who are with us on the journey.... whether attending The Crossroads in person, or on your knees in prayer for our family. Love you all. LaRissa