Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sleeping through the Storm

There we were, in the middle of nowhere on the side of a river.  Beautiful country, great water, and a perfect camping spot we carved out from nothing to hold our bodies for the night until we continued our venture down the river the next day.  There is little that can be asked for in moments like these, around a fire, with great friends and great food.

But we had something we could ask for, or at least something we wanted less of . . . RAIN!  It had rained since about an hour after we put in the river, everything was soaked.  Dinner was wet, clothes were wet, water was wet.  So very early after the sun set we headed to the shelter of our tent, hoping to sleep the night away and awaken to a brilliant sparkle on the water surrounded by a mist rising to the heavens! 

An aluminum canoe has it's advantages, though they are few.  One of them is NOT sound proof.  Throughout the night there was an incessant ting . . .Ting . . . TING as the rain pelted our shiny vehicle.  This along side of our lack of prepwork on the ground before we opened our tent leaving us with a rocky, uneven ground to sleep on left us with no sleep. 

Well, most of us!  There was one who if he had been Dorothy in the twister, well that story would have been slept through.  Late in the night when he awoke to us talking about what to do between now and daybreak his response was simple -SLEEP!

In Jonah there is a terrible storm, so bad the sailors are tossing everything over, fearful of death, and then there is Jonah, in 1:5 sound asleep in the belly of the ship (yes, I did that on purpose.)  How was he sleeping through this?  He did not have the confidence that Jesus had when he slept through the storm (Matthew 8:24.)

Perhaps, learning later in the book of Jonah, it was that he would rather die than see his God-given mission carried out, but even then, it is difficult to sleep in conditions that would make the greatest of seaman revisit his breakfast.

I suspect Jonah was exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally from trying to escape a God he knew he could not and direly needed rest and escape.  Ever heard of Unisom, Sweet Slumber, Tylenol PM?  There was certainly some equivalent.  The word used to describe Jonah's sleep was the same as described Adam's in the garden, a deep, anasthesia type sleep.  I'm not saying for sure Jonah drugged himself to escape what he was doing, I'm just curious.

Psalm 4:8 and 127:2 talk of sleep being a gift and resting in Christ, and yet there are numerous products that we need to make us sleep, and then to wake us up.  Could there be a correlation?   Are we willing to look if there is?  

How did you sleep last night?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

5 Star Service

I was recently told a story from a friend about his families stay at a 5-star hotel.  They had been gifted the room by some people and were enjoying the stay, until late that night any way.

One of their daughters became ill and decided, certainly accidentally, to regurgitate the afternoons nourishment all over the quality beds and herself.  Room service was called, new sheets were delivered, and the offer to wash the child's clothes was given.

In my friends words, "We let them, because that's what you do in a 5-star hotel!"  The night continued with with a peace and reassurance only interrupted by the occasional heave, bringing its own sense of comfort.

Happiness and smiles that always surround a morning exit with little sleep and sick children took them down the elevator to check out where they were greeted by a $55 washing charge.  Good morning!  My friend, being the man after God he is, paid and left, they did wash her clothes after all.

This is where the story gets interesting.

His wife, in jest blogged it.  Just to share the experience, not to degrade the hotel (that you will notice is not mentioned here), not with an agenda, not boycotting Disney, just to live life's adventures Sharefully (insert shameless plug to a different friends blog here).

Before the end of the day they are contacted by the hotel and the situation remedied.  Again my friends family being after Christ with integrity removed the blog.  Ahhh the power of the internet and each minuscule persons perspective and opinion.

My mind immediately made a connection between this and the church.  This is community!  Watching, encouraging, bearing burdens that don't seem like ours to bear.  What if outside of Sunday morning we truly cared for people, then when we wronged them, we sought them out and made it right.

What if we loved people like we love ourselves . . . wait that sounds vaguely familiar . . . so what if we obeyed . . . that one is a little scary . . . so what if we actually loved God . . . now that one was painful.

But wouldn't it be extraordinary?

Fighting to make the Extraordinary seem normal
-Ordinary Warrior

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Pleasant Evening at War

A seismic event happened last night at some friends house, epic barely describes it.  Perhaps my excitement should be tempered but to me this was extraordinary.  It all started when . . . (Que the wavy lines and Predator style music.)

The 5 of us sitting at a table after an excellent soupy meal, simply enjoying each others company.  The smallest, under a year, taking in the depths of what friendship and community is all about with squash and rice cereal smeared all over his face.

The table, black with raised chairs, had not been a friend to the sixth man, my 3 1/2 year old, who wanted to play.  He played with the Charger, following in his fathers footsteps and not realizing it wasn't just a bigger plate, he played with the table cloth, he sat backwards and hung his legs through the rear of the chair.  Perhaps our conversation was a bit over his head.

So after a quick Time-Out, an explanation of disobedience, and 3 quick bites of potatoes and meat, he could get up and play.  The strangest thing I may have ever said was my admonition to him, "Don't break anything!"  Curious, but if you know my son, well, he is like me, his thoughts and actions are like time and space - somehow one is faster than the other.

We continue our romp through the conversational forest as he plays in the other room.  Suddenly, without warning he pops around the corner, bent over, hands directly to his middle, a large pink and blue object under one arm and a small yellow ball in the other, with a look of surprise and terror in his eyes.

I have to insert a caveat here:  He is not in a diaper, and yesterday marks just over a week since he started wearing his Wolverine, Iron Man, and other hero's instead of the absorbent protection formerly covering his midsection.  He has done well, caught himself several times, but has not had a preemptive strike to this point.  His battles have all been a result of his body "sending one over the bow."

I instantly recognized this look of war being raged in my sons eyes and without hesitation leapt from my observatory to engage.  "Drop the balls and lets go!"  I said as a general barking orders in mid-battle to save his battalion.  But he would not leave a man behind, how could he release these play toys to be engulfed by the floor below?  "We will come back for them, let's go, let's go!"  I reassured!

Then he ran, like Gump through the jungle, dipping chairs, dodging tables, hurdling whatever was in the way but he got there.  The battle waged from there, but details will be spared as they are beginning of Saving Private Ryan-esque, but we emerged victorious, with a walk of glory being cheered from all angles and a metal of Reece's Pieces awarded with Pride.

This is the story of the first time my son recognized his need to evacuate liquid and solid from his body, without it striking first.  I basked in his victory, but stand firm that this war will wage on!

Note:  I figure by the time he can read well enough to seek out my blog this will be buried in the classified files so deep it will be almost impossible to embarrass him, but I may be wrong!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Like No One Else

"Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later."

Recently I learned the joys of golf, it is called captains choice!  Seriously, I'm not sure if I will ever want to play on my own merit again.  We kept track of whose ball we used to stay competitive, because everything is competitive, but there was no disappointment, no stress, and no foul language which usually accompanies this game.

I played with friends that made it even better, guys I have known for 10 plus years, who have seen the worst and the few things that are the best about me.  Guys who I am now separated by distance from and communicate only through electronics so it was very special to me.

Of course, conversation ensued about everything.  At one point we spoke of money, views, ideas, problems.  In the midst of this came Dave Ramsey and his course.  My wife and I have taken this course and it has done great things for us budget wise, allowing her to stay home with our son.  I am a fan, but my friend brought up a great point.

Ramsey's budget system is brilliant, and lots of other things as well, I love it and continue to send people to it, but ultimately his overwhelming theme is wrong, his goal is skewed.  The tag line is, "Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later."  Is this a masked form of the prosperity gospel?

We talk of being like those in the book of Acts but also teach tithe what you can, or feel lead to so as not to hurt any ones feelings or pocket book.  Looks to me that in that early church people were selling their good stuff in order to help, not giving 10% to feel ok and then relying on whatever is trendy to hold our stature and feelings in that place.

Enjoy things, they are given by God, but enjoy them with the understanding that they are given by God, so that we can be satisfied in Him, not His things.  God made the color red so I could enjoy it, He knew there would be football so I could relax in it.  Seeing everything within the life He set out as things for me to joy in and find my ultimate satisfaction in Christ changes my view of everything.

The NT church that we pretend we want to be was not our American version.  Enjoy the things, but be satisfied in Christ, which leads to giving up many of those things in order that some might not suffer.  Be careful that retirement is not on a higher pedestal than the widow and orphan, more aptly for us today, the single mother and fatherless child.

Live like no one else now.  I think we can just leave it at that.

Fight to make the extraordinary seem normal

-Ordinary Warrior

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vivid Images from an Old School Jam

An old school jam rolled through the shuffle on my ipod today.  Through the magic of the "back" button, it played maybe 20 times.  I could see imagery vividly in my mind as if a video had been shot, prepped, edited and cut.  These are descriptions of some of those images:

Still pic over the shoulder of a man gazing down a darkened, endless hallway at a door, lit like it is alive.

A tear, hanging on the edge of a cell phone, grasping not to fall as it is bombarded by its siblings coming down the cheek of a lightly bearded man.

Only rough hands, grasping towards the sky, straining for every inch to be closer, frantically flailing from worship and need.  Panning back and down, revealing the cold shimmering waters holding and pulling the man under, his arms reaching for life and breath in what only seconds before seemed beautiful worship . . . and truthfully still is.  He is drowning, but only showing his hands.

An "I love my church" bumper sticker on the back of an Escalade pulls away from a stop light, pan right, revealing a woman, stroking a soft blue blanket, a sweet motherly look on her face.  Cozily wrapped in the blanket is the cooing of an emptiness she left at the clinic at 12 weeks.  Darkness encapsulates the scene as she falls, only her reaching hand staying in focus.

Rolling prison bars,dark, with an occasional blast of dusty sunlight.  Hands reaching through the bars.

On the hand of a girl, slowly rolling up her bruised and scarred arm revealing her head down in sorrow and shame she doesn't need to bear in front of bar where she does not need to be.  Movement all around as she is motionless, swing from her back to her downcast face.  A hand on her shoulder, lips whisper in her ear, and a glimmer of hope appears from her eyes.

This is an incredible song about men and women striving for Christ, bearing the burdens of the world as we are given strength by Christ.  "The pain of the world is a burden & it's my cross to bear."  It truly is! Galatians 6:1

Side Note:  There are so many more clips that are created in my mind for so many things.  This is part of the reason I am pressing towards Archetype Productions as much as I am.  This is the first public mention of a company I am working on starting and it may never come to fruition but I live in this virtual video world and long to make it available to encourage people and glorify Christ.   Inspire passion, induce action.