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another-isaiah

Another Isaiah

It’s true.

We’ve another baby on the way!

We’ve known for several weeks, but have only just slowly been letting the news out. Adrienne had a visit to the midwife today and heard a healthy heartbeat of 157. A few weeks ago, after telling the kids, Simeon drew our family and, when having Adrienne label us, he pointed to the dot in her tummy as “another Isaiah.”

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Drawing of our family w/ Pip IV by Simeon

This little one is at 12 weeks today with a due date of June 15. So, still too early to determine boy or girl (and not sure whether we’ll find out). I suppose we’ll start welcoming name suggestions.

Some of you know that we currently live in a small apartment. What does this mean for our living arrangement? I suppose something … though it’s still up in the air. We do know that adding one to the joyful chaos of three growing kids presses this issue to the forefront for us. We welcome you to come alongside us as we pray into this and we’ll keep you updated. Trusting God, we remain alert to the horizon and faithful to the task before us.

Join us again in praising God as He fills our quiver with this blessing of life.

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Into the Deep of Night

Tell me you know those times when all you can do is keep yourself awake into the lengthening night – clinging to a vague expectation of something new. But, if you really awoke and spoke to yourself honestly, you’d find that it’s like waiting on snow in summertime. There is only One who will bring that new thing and it doesn’t come in the dead of night. There is only one who will bring awakening and it comes on the burning edge of dawn.

He is not slack regarding His promises. In eagerness and longing, even in despair may we wait, but He will come in the fullness of time … in His time.

We sang these words this morning…

For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token
That His Word is never broken.

When we wait, Lord, remember us.

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Hello, Fall!

Sometimes, it’s difficult to say where a year has gone. This one has come along so quickly. Here we are … fall. As a family, we’ve plenty to keep us on the move. As I was writing friends the other day, I began listing a few of the things we have to tend to over the coming couple weeks. Here’s a glimpse…

  • Our pastor’s last Sunday, before taking up his call in Illinois, is this weekend.
  • Initial interviews in our general director search begin.
  • Launching a new website for Camp Lutherhaven by the first week of November.
  • Re-theming of another website.
  • My top two wisdom teeth will be extracted next Friday.
  • Family in town for my 39th birthday and Isaiah’s 1st.
  • November challenge night at the Prayer League.
  • Enjoying of an historic World Series.
  • Usual day-to-day life with three little kids.

I trust that God has these days in His hands. He is good. Would you please join us in prayer – that God might keep us and strengthen us for the way? May we each find opportunity to slow ourselves enough to embrace the small moments – to capture a memory. May you be kept faithful to the people and place God has called you today and may your remain attentive to His moving in your midst.

Edit (October 31, 2016): To this list you can add all that needs to be dealt with after having your vehicle rear-ended. Thankfully, all the kids seem well. Adrienne has some aggravated back pain. Assessment on the vehicle is still out.

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Our Brilliant Heritage

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The mystery of sanctification is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’

Over and over and over again, it is this one point to which Oswald Chambers brings us — sanctification (i.e., the making holy of our lives) is no thing for which we strive and no thing to which we might reach out and grasp; rather, it is the life of Christ Himself which indwells His beloved children – a brilliance in which we are bathed – a living reality in which we partake. To look at it another way: to follow Jesus is not to “live up” to an example, but to “be led” by a holy spirit – the Holy Spirit.

Do you strive? Do you aim after a holy and pure life that might glorify the name of Jesus and yet often find yourself failing – frustrated? The best thing you can do is give up and give it over to God. It is not your work to be done – it is a work that has been done. It is not your life to live – it is a life that has been lived. Surrender yourself. Lay it down and bask in our brilliant heritage.

Do I desire holiness more than any other thing … that my motives, heart, life, everything in me, should be as pure as God wants it to be?

Do we long for holiness? Are the deepest desires of our hearts Godward?

Whenever Paul speaks of sanctification, he speaks of it as an impartation, never as an imitation. Never!

Father, in the Name of Jesus, baptise me with the Holy Ghost and fire until sanctification is made real in my life.

Some of us have never allowed God to make us understand how hopeless we are without Jesus Christ.

Sanctification means that we are taken into a mystical union which language cannot define.

It is one thing to realise in speechless wonder, when the heart is attuned to an impulse of worship, what the claim of God is and another thing to tell God that we want Him to realise His claim in us.What the heart of Jesus wanted most was God’s glory, and sanctification means that that same desire is imparted to us.

Our Lord never pried into His Father’s secrets, neither will the saint.

Reflect On 1 Timothy 3:16, Colossian 1:12-17,27-29
Praise God for the light of His love and life.
Offer Thanks that He has shed His grace upon you.
Confess your self-striving to “live up” to His example.
Ask God that His Spirit might overwhelm you.
Comment: What practices might help posture us to know His presence as reality?

 

Cafesjians Carousel

Cafesjians Carousel

Today, after church, we had a picnic lunch of PBJ under shade of a tree. The kids had a foot race to the rock across the field and we sent the kite out full-line. Then, before a walk through Como Zoo, I sat next Simeon on the 1914 vintage Cafesjians Carousel. Aelah rode the horse in front of us. Her face beamed with sheer joy. That smile will stick with me. (This photo doesn’t capture the real thing at all.)

I may not always catch it or appreciate it – it may even seem mundane in the moment, but today was about as perfect as it gets.

Cafesjians Carousel

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Style

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I love this girl’s style! She is creative. It’s difficult to see the blanket she has tucked in for the back side of her skirt, but it’s there.

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The Highest Good

What is the meaning of life? This is the primary question that Oswald Chambers addresses in The Highest Good. Our conceptions of all things are meager, at best. Our perceptions of reality are finitely bound. At its core, faith is a simple thing.

How long does it take us to know what the true meaning of our life is? One half second.

So, what is the meaning of life? Consider these thoughts. (Click the tweet to read on Twitter or click to reveal the excerpts below.)

Whether we live for the Highest Good does not depend on our understanding, but on whether we have the life of the Highest Good in us.

The one great enemy of discipleship to Jesus Christ is spiritual obstinacy, the emphatic ‘I won’t’ which runs all through.

Preaching precepts while we ignore the Cross of Jesus Christ is like giving a pill to cure an earthquake.

We laugh at the Bible idea of righteousness; our god is the conventional righteousness of the society to which we belong.

To stand true to Christ’s point of view means ostracism, the ostracism that was brought on Him; most of us know nothing whatever about it.

The reason we do not see the need to be born from above is that we have a vast capacity for ignoring facts.

Our Lord centred His most scathing teaching [around] money & marriage, because they are the two things that make men and women devils or saints.

Jesus saw in money a much more formidable enemy of the Kingdom of God than we are apt to recognize it to be.

The more we try to reconcile modern principles of economy with the teachings of Jesus, the more we shall have to disregard Jesus.

It may be hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, but it is just as hard for a poor man to seek first the kingdom of God.

We won’t accept the responsibility of life as God gives it, we only accept responsibility as we wish to take it.

[Jesus] thoroughly realized, from first to last, that He had a work to do, so accurately arranged and fitted to the length of His life that every hour had its own part of the whole to clear off, and He was not allowed either to anticipate or lag behind. —James Stalker

If we try and live the life Jesus Christ lived, modern civilization will fling us out like waste material.

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Jesus Christ will not water down His teaching to suit our weakness.

The Lord can never make a saint out of a good man, He can only make a saint out of three classes of people—the godless man, the weak man, and the sinful man, and no one else.

Men living in sin don’t know anything about it. Sin destroys the capacity of knowing what sin is.

We gloss over our Lord’s actions with our civilized conceptions and destroy the meaning of His Gospel.

Unfold a scheme, dream, theory, long-cherished recollection within the reach of a man who loves destruction, & he will reduce it to nothing.

Lord, let our soul’s life after all these years rise stronger, wiser, cleaner for its tears.

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Are we postured in such a way to know this – to believe it? When Jesus says that the Kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit, do we yearn for such a poorness? The highest good can only be grasped by the humble spirit. This is the way of the cross – the way of all who would follow Jesus.

Reflect On 1 Corinthians 2:14, Revelation 3:17, and John 17:3
Praise God that He is good.
Offer Thanks that there is meaning to life.
Confess any penchant for self-sufficiency.
Ask God to draw you deeper into Himself and into His way.
Comment: What is meant by attaining the excellency of a broken heart?

 

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Listening to Least-Heard Voices

#BlackLivesMatter while society roils on. This fallen world in which fallen people feign control is ripe for the redemptive message.

From Ignorance

Do you pause when someone tells you that black lives matter? If so, consider why this is the case. I hope any pause would come not from disagreement with this simple and true statement. Realize that the alternative to saying black lives matter is to say that black lives don’t matter. Do these lives of our brothers and sisters matter to you? Say it out loud. Black lives matter. Do you hear the truth in it? Do you believe the truth in it?

I confess that when #BlackLivesMatter first began to garner greater media coverage, I would pause. I would pause and sit with so many questions. I identified two reasons for this. First, I realize that my life has not been, to any great degree, naturally exposed to the stories of my black brothers and sisters – and I have done little to move my life into such a posturing toward the ethnic diversity around me. Second, Black Lives Matter is a bold statement that empowers a movement. I am always hesitant to hop on the bandwagon of a cause simply for the sake of the cause or to identify myself with and endorse something I don’t fully understand. But, as I pray into these matters, I am coming to understand that Black Lives Matter is more than a cause – it is a rallying cry of the oppressed. We ought not dismiss it in these days.

Toward Sensitivity

In order to be sensitized to something, we must rub up against it. We must encounter it in a real way. A message from Michelle Higgins at Urbana 15 reframed my engagement with the movement. It made me face my apathy and led my ignorance nearer the light. I strongly encourage you to give it a full listen.

Redefine justice the way that God defines justice. Your God is not white. Your God is not Japanese. Your God is not Congolese. Your God is God and he made all of you. Thus, our stories must be heeded by one another. —Michelle Higgins

With the recent death of Philando Castile only blocks from where we used to live, I began more consideration of my place in this story. What have I done to perpetuate or to alleviate the divisiveness so prevalent in certain facets of our diverse society? How have I stewarded the good story of Jesus toward a restorative end? Have I made space to heed the stories of my brothers and sisters?

Consider the following thoughts by Dr. Douglas Rutt (emphasis added).

Dr. Kolb illustrates the believers’ calling as priests by making a comparison with a Latin word for priest: pontifex. For those who understand Spanish, it is not hard to understand the roots of the word pontifex as “bridge maker.” According to this definition, the Christian task as priests is to construct bridges between the Word of God and people in the contemporary world. This task or calling is not merely to bark out words, although they may be true in themselves, but to build bridges. Undoubtedly, Dr. Kolb makes an important point because he emphasizes the need to know and understand people, their way of thinking, their opinions, their worries, their dreams, their hopes, their suppositions, their worldview, their passions and sins.

The only way to understand these things is to live among those people, to develop relationships with them, and to become a friend—in short, to become interested in the lives of others. To build a bridge, one must construct upon the firm ground on both sides of the gap. Normally, when a bridge is built, the builders don’t begin on one side and simply keep building until they reach the other side; rather, builders begin on both sides of the river, and the two sides meet in the middle. That is the way a bridge is built, and it provides interesting instruction for the task of Christian witness (recognizing that all analogies limp).

Intentional Exposure

You may know that I’ve largely abandoned Facebook, opting instead for Twitter. Unfortunately, few of my existing friends and family are on Twitter. Thus, my connections have been shaped somewhat independently from my “real-life” social spheres. I decided to look through the list of folks I’ve chosen to follow and was surprised at what I saw. The social sphere I had constructed was very black and white. Excluding non-personal accounts, these were the results:

168/220 • Male
52/220 • Female

195/220 • White
7/220 • Asian
5/220 • European
4/220 • African
3/220 • Asian American
3/220 • Hispanic
2/220 • African American
2/220 • Native American

As humans, the reality is that we are tribalistic – we tend towards those similar to us. However, I don’t think this is our natural state. Rather, it is a result of our broken state. It seems I’ve done little to push back – to create a space in which I might listen to the stories of my brothers and sisters of other races and ethnicities. So, in order to work on the other side of this bridge, I’ve unfollowed a good number of these folks (for a time, at least) and will be listening in on other voices. Please, let me know if you have suggestions of anyone I should be following who is not of my demographic (white middle-aged male).

Forward With Hope

I realize this is only one small step, but a step nonetheless. I recognize the general brokenness of our world and I pray that God might embolden and position me to take part in some sort of restoration. An old hymn comes to mind regularly these days – I’ve hummed it to Aelah, Simeon, and Isaiah when cradling them to sleep as babies. It often reminds me of this video. May it encourage and draw you toward hope.

Wherever you find yourself today, however you find yourself engaging your neighbors, and whatever wrestlings you find within and without, we can be sure of one thing and can return to one thing – we have a God who is faithful, loving, just, and sovereign. He has created all. He sustains all. He holds all. Your life matters because it has the image of God impressed upon it. May we honor that image in one another.

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

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