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Friday, April 2, 2010

New shoes

Yesterday I headed down to RunOn! in Mckinney to get fitted for a pair of running shoes. My injured leg refuses to heal completely, probably in part because I have completely worn out my running shoes. It was an interesting experience.

I walked through the door in my jeans and T-shirt and both of the teens working behind the counter completely ignored me as I stood at the counter waiting for assistance. I guess I don't look like the running type. I am older and a little overweight instead of skinny, tan, young, and buff. An older guy finally offered to help me. He examined my current shoes to see where the wear and tear was on them, then had me walk around the store to study my gait. The longer we talked, the more excited he became. A serious runner, he was excited by my story of finding myself on the pavement.

I have been to try on shoes alone, and spent hours trying to find the perfect pair. The experience usually leaves me frustrated and dissatisfied. In contrast, he had me in three great options within 5 minutes. The difference in my shopping and his is that he is an expert at running gear. Knowing and listening to an expert can take you to new levels in life much faster than you could get there alone.

The most interesting thing about the visit? He spotted my cotton socks and said, "That's a huge part of your problem right there." Cotton socks tend to scootch around and bunch up under your feet as you run, creating chafing and blisters on long runs. I knew this from painful personal experience, but I had not realized there was an easy solution. I was so excited to find out that there are form fitted socks made for runners. They snugly hug your foot and don't bunch and they allow airflow through to your foot rather than absorbing all the sweat and chafing.

So where am I going with this? Of course it's more than a story about buying socks and shoes. I realized that finding experts with experience and listening to them can lead to much greater success in life. There are many times in life that we are in pain that we try to muddle through alone, when the fix is as simple as a new pair of socks. It made me stop and think about how much I try to get through life on my own. Generally speaking, I don't like to bother other people with my problems. Mostly because I like to appear as though I am very "with it" and "together." Pride.

Today I am thinking that maybe I should listen more and seek wisdom from others more often and not try to do this life thing alone.


Daybreak. It's one of my favorite times of the day. I love to be lazily sipping my coffee and watching the sun come up. The sunrise is always a reminder to me that God is bigger than I am and that He is much more beautiful and magnificent than I can fathom. There is a stunning stillness in nature right before dawn. The animals are silent and the only sounds come from the whistle of the wind through the trees. It is an almost magical moment in time.

2000 years ago, during this magical hour, Jesus was on trial. Reading John's account this morning in chapter 18 and 19, I am struck by some very critical moments. After Jesus' arrest, he is taken to the Jewish religious leader. Late at night, he is questioned about his ministry and his motives. The priest is trying to kill Jesus, but he needs evidence to prevent outcries from the masses. Reading Jesus' responses this morning intrigued me. I guess the intrigue is that I realized that Jesus was not trying to defend himself, he was trying to get convicted so that he could pay the price for my sin. He is also very careful to speak honestly and candidly. For example in John 18:23, Jesus says, "If I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" The beatings and torture were designed to destroy his resolve and his morale, but instead Jesus simply questions their motives. Out loud. Religious leaders were not often questioned publicly. Wounded pride leads to burning, indignant anger, and that leads to murder.

At dawn, Jesus stood before the Roman governor Pilate. Pilate was a mediocre official, stationed far from Rome in Jerusalem. His name, but for this event, would be long forgotten. There is irony in this event. As the Jewish leaders are unjustly accusing an innocent man, physically abusing him, they will not go into the Roman palace because it would make them unclean for Passover. They did not realize, could not even comprehend, that their uncleanliness had nothing to do with which building they were standing in. Their uncleanliness had to do with the actions that were coming from dirty hearts.

Pilate brought Jesus alone into the palace to question him. Pilate cannot find grounds to crucify Jesus, but doesn't want to incite a riot. Jesus is very careful with his words with Pilate. It might have been easier for Jesus to convince Pilate to free him, than to convince him to crucify him.

So as the sun was rising, as color splashed the sky, Pilate cannot convince the Jews to set Jesus free. He had Jesus beaten, tortured, and publicly mocked and humiliated, hoping to fulfill the bloodlust of the the crowd, to no avail. He is finally placed in a position of having to kill an innocent man to keep the peace. A greater man would have set Jesus free no matter what the masses wanted, but Pilate was not a great man. He was simply a man trying to govern a people that were not his own, and he turned over a man he fully believed to be innocent to be crucified.

This morning as color gently creeps across the clouds, I am reminded that Jesus once endured an awful dawn. As His father painted a masterpiece across the sky, mankind - his own creation, made the decision to kill him rather than worship him. Jesus endured the agony, the pain, and the humiliation because he loved me too much not to give me eternity.

That's mind boggling. Yes, Jesus came to save the world. But in very practical and personal terms, Jesus came to pay the price for my sin. He met with Pilate at dawn and carefully selected his words so that he would not be freed, because he needed to die that day. He needed to die, so that I could live.

In John's account of the last supper, Jesus says words that have great meaning in light of his upcoming crucifixion. "Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends." John 15:12-13

Jesus very literally demonstrated love that morning. He laid down the respect he deserved, his worth of worship, and his mighty power - so that he could lay down his life for his friends. God of the universe, demonstrating love to mankind. Wow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Last Night

(Mark 4)

Jesus had one night left to live. He could have spent it alone, or with his family, or doing any number of things that people consider doing when they know the end is near. Instead he spent the night with 12 friends, eating one more meal together.

Jesus has one last shot at teaching his disciples, at reviewing them on the most important things they will need to know. So what does he tell them?
1. That somebody will betray him
2. He swears that he will eat with them again.
3. He commands his disciples to continue with an action (Lord's Supper) so that they will be reminded of his presence while he is gone. Sort of like sending a photo of yourself with your kid when they go stay with Grandma so they won't be lonely.

Tonight for the first time I really heard that. Jesus, God Himself, is saying that even if he is betrayed, he will remain faithful and will continue that relationship with his people. It's one more time reiterating the Old Testament promise, "I will be your God, and you will be my people."

The events of the night turned from bad to worse. He began by confronting a friend who was considering betraying him and ended up being arrested and abused. There are so many facets of this story that intrigue me, but for now I just want to be reminded of the promise of reunion. Someday Jesus Christ - who paid for my sin - will sit at a table with me face to face, and all things broken will be made new.

April Fools

Last year for April Fools, I posted on my facebook and twitter that I was considering taking a pole dancing aerobics class. Great for the abs, you know. The funny thing is that people knew it was a joke not because of the pole, but because I hated exercise. Lifting the remote was more than I liked to do.

Remembering that today made me realize how much life can change in a year. I love to run. I would choosing running over coffee any day of the week. That's coming from a chick that at one time considered it hard work to walk to the car at the end of the day.

Next year it would be cool if I could grow as much in my spiritual fitness as I did this year in my physical fitness. Way cool.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The perfect man

I was cooking and eavesdropping tonight. Careful to seem completely absorbed in browning my ground beef, I listened to my oldest daughters discussing the perfect man.

They decided that the perfect man would be interesting, funny, and kind. They said he would want to spend time with them, while still allowing them space to chase their dreams and be themselves. (they discussed the irritating habit of neediness and stalking here) He would enjoy having fun with their family, but also comfortable just hanging out at home.

I was so impressed as they talked through wanting a man someday who would be their best friend, but didn't have to be with them every waking moment. Then Abby, the 3 year old joined the conversation. "And he'll have boobs."

The big girls said, "What? No he won't!"

Abby, "Yes he will. You get boobs when you grow up. Like mommy and daddy."

That's when my invisibility shield crumbled. I couldn't stop laughing. Abby, in her fascination with boobs, and our conversations of late, had incorrectly generalized that all grownups have them.

I'm excited that my girls have good ideas about what makes a man a good husband. Thanks to their daddy, they grasp what a real man is like. Makes me proud.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bike rides

Tonight Katie (9) went out to play with Abby (3). They decided to ride bikes. Abby got on her Dora helment, stradled her bike, and sat still as a statue. It would seem that in the midst of our crazy life, I have forgotten to teach her to ride her bike she got for Christmas. Sweet Katie worked with her on pedaling and before the night was done, Abby was riding up and down the driveway.

Watching them from the window as I washed dishes reminded me of my first bike ride. The bike was red. My dad tried and tried to teach me to ride. I fell more than I rode for the longest time. Then I finally took off.

Nothing could stop me then. The speed was like nothing I had experienced before. I would zip up and down our long driveway, slamming on my brakes at the last minute to see how much gravel I could throw up into the air.

That red bike was the gateway to incredible dreams. I was in a spaceship, or driving a racecar, or piloting a fighter jet, or riding a horse, or outrunning a tornado - depending on the day. I sailed away to extraordinary lands many days on that bike.

I eventually outgrew the red bike, and became a normal girl - worried about hair, makeup, and boys. But somewhere deep down there is a part of me that still longs and waits for great adventure. Adventure that I once found on a red bike.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Monday Morning Update 3/26/10

How can it be time for this regular post again? It feels like yesterday that I did my last update. This week was extremely busy with lots of school projects and events, baby showers for friends, and other random stuff. I guess time flies when you're having fun....or even if you're just extremely busy.

Today was my first time to work in the children's area since our format changed to small groups for kids. I enjoyed working with my small group of 2nd and 3rd graders. I was excited to see so many people's involvement with our kids. I love to see the kids being loved and being valued as an important part of The Crossroads. After all, kids were way important to Jesus too. It was also great that I was able to stay and play with the worship band and then go in to work with the children. That helped me feel like I wasn't having to let anyone down or leave anybody in a lurch and helped me feel connected with everyone.

Shawn said the sermon went well. I am sure it did. He always does a fantastic job with speaking on the cross and its importance. I hope to be able to hear it soon on our website podcasts. He has always been an incredibly gifted speaker, but in the church plant he has bloomed. I have seen him speak with such power and strength and love over the last year. Makes me proud of the man he has become.

The worship set was beautiful today. We did "Marvelous Light", "Mercy," "Yes I Will," Lead Me to the Cross," and "Wonderful Cross." My favorite of the day was probably "Mercy." I've been dealing with some personal crap this week and just yesterday while I was running came to the conclusion that I am just a broken sinner and need more Jesus and less of myself in my life. One of the lines of the song is, "here I am a sinner, broken and in need of you...." Being able to sing that sincerely this morning meant a lot.

On the way home, Shawn and I spent some time thinking through and brainstorming next step types of ideas for The Crossroads. We are praying about and working on ways to help more people connect and get plugged in. We are praying about Easter and the people we will have in our services. We are also praying about our gianormous Easter egg hunt and hoping to be able to connect with the community on Saturday. Please pray with us that we will live our lives poured out to serve Christ, and that we will be granted the wisdom to be good shepherds to our people.