Month: December 2015
Today is a special day for me. Ten years ago I married the most incredible woman in the world. We were just two young kids who thought we knew everything. Looking back, it is hard to believe how everything came together and how much fun this adventure has been.
There are many things I love about Sarah, and those things have changed and evolved over the last ten years. It started with her eyes and her beauty. I still remember the first night I met her and how big and beautiful those blue eyes were.
Then it morphed into loving her personality. I had never met a girl who was so funny and fun to be around. After awhile, I fell in love with her spirit. She was kind, tender hearted, and cared deeply about others. Then I saw her become a mother and I thought there was nothing more I could learn about how amazing this woman really was.
As the years have unfolded, I still love these things about her, but I’m also learning something new about her that makes me love her all the more.
I think there are many ways people see and experience God. I grew up in a faith tradition that taught me the only way God is revealed to you is through Scripture. I greatly appreciate my heritage and the way they taught me to love and value Scripture, but I think the revelation of God comes in many ways. I still see God in Scripture, but I also have learned to see him in his creation. Whenever I see the beauty and power of this magnificent world, I see God. One of the ways I see God the most is in other people. And this is what I’m learning to love most about Sarah.
Sarah has taught me a bit about what God looks like. She loves me unconditionally; no strings attached and just because she has chosen to, she loves me. She is quick to forgive, she is slow to anger, she sees the best in others, and she puts me and the kids ahead of herself so often. When I see Sarah, I see a bit more about what God looks like. And so I’m learning the thing that I love most about Sarah that is beyond beauty, though she is quite the looker!
So happy anniversary to my smoking hot wife of ten years! I can’t wait to celebrate with you next summer, your favorite time of year. I’m thinking today about the words of Alan Jackson’s song when he sings about a ten year anniversary and says, “I’d love you all over again”. If tomorrow I found another chance to begin again with you Sarah, I’d love you all over again. Thanks for being an incredible wife, and an incredible mother to our children. I pray God give us all many more wonderful years together.
I have a confession to make, but please don’t judge me. I don’t like Christian music. Actually, to be more specific, I’m not a big fan of a lot of contemporary Christian music. Go figure, a minister who doesn’t like contemporary Christian music. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the ministry and what it does for many people, but it just doesn’t connect well with me. I lean toward old ancient Christian music (i.e. hymns). I appreciate contemporary Christian music and I understand it’s what most people want and like, and I can sing along with everyone for the joy I see on their faces. However, I just don’t really listen to contemporary Christian music. There, I said it. That feels better.
But here’s the thing, occasionally there are artist and songs that I like and some that speak to me. Recently, Gungor’s new album “One Wild Life: Soul” has drawn me in. It’s weird, the music is strange, but I kind of like it.
So last night I’m meeting with my elders. I love these meetings where we pray, talk, share, and generally enjoy being together. We begin these meetings now by dwelling in the Word, and we always dwell in 2 Corinthians 4:1-12. Last night many of us were struck by Paul saying that the unbelievers were blinded. The thing is though, we wondered if sometimes believers are blinded too. I know I sure feel that way at times. In fact, when I’m on Facebook these days or read the news, it is easy to become blinded. You begin to feel like hope is lost, God isn’t in control, and Jesus isn’t who we thought he was. I then resort to minimizing the teachings of Christ and consider his call too supernatural, too utopian, or unrealistic. I read some things and I wonder if we’re not slowly being blinded and losing our faith and trust in Jesus and his way, just like the unbelievers Paul describes.
And now I’m listening to Gungor this morning as I work, and I hear this song called “Land of the Living” with these words:
I heard the distant battle drum
The mockingbird spoke in tongues
Longing for the day to come
I set my face, forsook my fears
I saw the city through my tears
The darkness soon will disappear
And be swallowed by the sun
I am coming home
I’m not sure exactly why they wrote this song, or exactly what the meaning was intended to be, but this is how I took it. “The darkness soon will disappear, and be swallowed by the sun.” We have this hope. This is what we cling to. This is what Christmas is all about for me.
Sometimes God and the Bible are confusing, but there are these things that we know for sure and cling to: God is greater than evil, God wins, God is in control, his steadfast love is never ending, and his kingdom is coming on earth as in heaven. So we look to the city, sometimes through tears as Gungor describes it, but still we see the city.
Today, let us as Christ followers not become blinded. His way, as strange as it seems, is still THE way. Let’s not lose sight of following the path of the Crucified Messiah and look just as blinded as unbelievers. We of all people, we who are death proof, have the chance to model a peace that surpasses all understanding when the rest of the world is giving in to fear. The darkness will disappear, the light will soon swallow it up. God wins, evil loses. Therefore, we can keep following the path of Jesus, the path of selfless and sacrificial love for the sake of others.
Last night at Hunter Hills Church, we began a new Wednesday night experience we are calling “Unplugged”. We came together to hit pause in the midst of a busy week, and what has already become a busy Christmas season. We wanted to begin this season of Christmas focused firmly on Christ. For me, and I pray for others, this was a brief moment of sabbath rest to breathe in deeply the Spirit of God.
As a part of this evening, we read through Mark 10:46-52 and the story of Blind Bartimaeus. I love this story, particularly toward the end when Jesus says to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” We used our imaginations and put ourselves in his shoes. In our minds, we stood before the Son of God and heard him say, “What do you want me to do for you?” Then, we wrote these requests down, and placed them at his feet.
This morning, as I went to throw away the secret requests as I promised I would, I was reminded of Revelation 5:8. There, the twenty-four elders have a harp in one hand, and a golden bowl in the other that is full of incense. But the incense is not what you would first think. It is not incense in the literal way we think of it. Rather, it is the prayers of God’s people. So, what sits on my desk is a bowl of incense, sweet smelling incense offered to God.
To my friends who gathered last night, here are your prayers offered before God. Not a God who is far away and absent, nor a God who is upset with you and angry. Rather, he is a God who is present, who is near, who asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?” A God who looks on you with love today, and a God who cherishes your precious prayers as sweet smelling incense.
I pray for each of you today, that you feel the love and presence of God in your life. I pray for the prayers you wrote last night, and that you would have faith and hope in Christ who says, “Go, your faith has healed you.” May you find peace, hope, joy, and purpose in pursuing his kingdom in the world today, and partnering with him in his mission of restoring all things.