Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer of '89

Nineteen years old.  Idea brimming.  Enthusiasm crazed.  Anything ready. Flying in.  Full of faith.

First vocational ministry position.  Summer Youth Intern.  Faith Baptist Church.  Anchorage, Alaska.  Land of the Midnight Sun.  Views as above from Lake Hood with Chugach Range were out my office window.  Float planes constant.  Mountain splendor ever present.

Serving under my former Youth Pastor & dear friend Sam.  Living with Sam, his wife Cheryl, & one-year-old Samuel.  Eating Cheryl's amazing Alabama cooking with a bread for every meal & deserts too except brekafast.  Driving the Green Machine.  BIG green GMC 4x4 stepside pickup.  Meeting a moose face to grill on my first drive in the Green Machine.  Suffering from "Midnight Fever" as I hardly slept for the first two weeks with latenight sunsets & gorgeous weather.  Experiencing God coming through on choir tour getting us a new church & big crowd in hours time.  Sharing the Cootie Awards as later on choir tour we had a lice outbreak & made the best of the long drive home by giving each other silly awards.  Paying my phone bill in apple juice.  Samuel drank lots of it.  I owed $22.  Drugstore had .99 cents sale on apple juice.  I bought 22 bottles.  Packed for me in liquor boxes.  I carried out with a pair of seventh grade boys.  It was the summer of '89. Learning about life, ministry, & myself all at the same time.

The lessons hold true twenty years later: love Jesus; pray hard; love people; preach the Word; ask questions; laugh out loud; cry when needed; sing for joy; try new things; take life as it comes; give yourself; walk in grace.

Great lessons.

Great place.

Great times.

Great friends.

Great experience.

Greatest God.

What a privilege to serve.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I John Mark

That title is not a typo. And don't worry: The pastor hasn't gone heretical preparing to cite previously unknown scripture from "First" John Mark.

That, readers, is how my two-year old, toddler son refers to himself.

Sweet kid. Rough as a corncob.  Even when he loves you. Big for his age. Genes from Mama's side. Blue-eyed, dimple-cheeked bandit. He'll steal your heart. Tough on the outside, but soft on the inside.  So his perceptive sister says. Got big vocabulary. Yet still learning. How to be himself. Not easy being number three. How to use his words. Can't always communicate what he'd like. Yet with unwavering certainty he asserts himself.

If you were to say to John Mark, "You are so cute!" He'd respond, "No, I John Mark."

If I were to ask him, quoting Mary Elizabeth, "Are you tough on the outside & soft on the inside?" He'd respond, "No, I John Mark."

Most any question. Most any statement.

He responds, "I John Mark."

He doesn't understand that we're just describing a characteristic of who he is. All he knows is that he is. He is "John Mark" period.

If this is still around. If he cares to read it. For the record. Let me state: Yes, my son, you are the one, the only John Mark Householder. Unique. Absolute treasure of your father. Given by God. Made in His image. Filled with His Spirit.

If only when life asked of me, I could respond every time with such unwavering certainty. I am Paul Aaron. Unique. Absolute treasure of my Father. Given to the world by Him. Made in His image. Filled with His Spirit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Got the kids all ready for bed. PJs on. Looking cute. Hair still a bit damp from bathtime. Smelling sweet. I think the Johnson's people must have done lots of research to know that making their shampoo smell like Flintstone vitamins would be pleasing to Daddys.  Sorry, the sweet smell of clean kids got me off story...

So, all five of us are in Seth's room.  Prayer time.  John Mark, two, is usually in bed before his siblings.  He's still awake tonight.  Overly energetic.  I'm kneeling down beside Mary Elizabeth. Trying to bring calm.  Melanie is about to sit on Seth's bed when he announces contrary plans, "I want John Mark to come up here on my bed with me.  Daddy, you come up here."

Me & John Mark together on Seth's bed doesn't compute in my Daddy brain.  Maybe I blew that fuse during my morning sermon prep.  Maybe I tripped that breaker running around with the kids before suppertime. So I ask, "Why do I need to come up there, Buddy?"

In second-grader simple logic Seth states, "John Mark's attracted to you, Daddy.  If you come up here.  He will too."

There you have it, friends.  I am attractive to my two year old son...

At least in the eyes of his almost eight year old brother I am.  That's something, right?  I may have thinning hair, an average face, & a less than stunning physique, but I can attract the toddlers.  Watch out, world!

I have to ask, however, as a Christ-follower: Who am I attractive to? What might make me attractive?

Jesus says he will draw all men to himself if I will lift him up.

He is attractive.

Lift him up.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


U.S. Astronauts began a risky spacewalk about two hours ago to repair & upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.  Among their maneuvers will be a camera upgrade. The old one allowed us never before seen views of space & will end up in the Smithsonian. The new one will look deeper into space & is the size of a baby grand piano.

The little boy inside me spoke up, "Wow! Wouldn't that be a cool thing to be doing this morning! Walking in space. Floating around. Seeing Earth like a glowing ball. Awesome!"

The grown man inside spoke next, "That took years of dedication & training to get there.  And even though those guys are weightless they are in those heavy, cumbersome suits.  And for each one guy out there working he actions are directed by countless many."  You've seen the space movies, right?  How many people watch monitors & give instructions & updates down here while a handful are up there?

The Christ-follower inside had the last word, "I can be weighed down & encumbered by the sins of this world, yet freed to weightless dependence as I confess to my Savior.  I am part of the Body of Christ, the church, & although we are many we seek our direction from only One, our Lord Jesus."  What needs confession today?  How is he directing me to follow?

Following Jesus.  A lifewalk.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jumping Curbs

I had a Huffy IV.  The coolest BMX bike in the world of 1980.  Shiny black & yellow bumblebee meets BMX, Baby! 

I loved to ride hard.  I loved to jump.  The stuff a BMX bike was made to do.  The stuff boys frighten their Mamas doing.  Jumping curbs was the thing to do on our neighborhood streets.  The transition of curbing into each driveway made a pair of impromptu ramps--one in each direction--in front of every home.

Jumping curbs.  Again & again.  Jumping curbs.

My heart jumped too.

Fun stuff.

Well, fun when you're a ten-year old boy.

Years later as a newlywed my wife had a white Cutlass Supreme. Nothing too expensive, but the wheels & the trimwork gave it a tough, futuristic look.  From the front it had the look of an old-school Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet.  She never liked it when I said that & she still won't.

Finishing up a late workday at my desk in Fort Worth & knowing Melanie would be leaving work in Dallas near 40 miles away, I got a cellular phone call.

Noise.  Sirens.  My heart quickened.  Then a firm voice.

I'm an EMT with Dallas Fire Department.  I've got your wife with me in the ambulance. 

My heart stopped.

She's been in an accident.  We're taking her to Baylor Hospital.  I'm not supposed to, but she wanted me to call you.

I must confess that I broke the speed limit as I drove the very road my wife had wrecked on.  I was only slowed by the onlookers gawking at what was left of her tough turned upside down white Cutlass Supreme.

She'd been run off the interstate.  Jumped a curb.  Flipped her car. At highway speed.

Not fun.

Not fun no matter your age.

The ambulance ride & ER visit ended up being only precautionary.  She came out sore, but with just one scratch & one good bump by God's grace.

Matthew 5:17 records Jesus saying, "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

John R.W. (you know he's English because he has two middle initials & the way he spells "curb") Stott writes of that same biblical Law, "It is the kerbstone along the road of love."

I can do the math on that equation: Law = Curb + Road = Life of Christ-follower.

God's Law shows us our boundaries as we seek to follow Christ Jesus living by grace.

As a kid jumping curbs was fun.  A thrill.

As an adult jumping curbs is costly.  Possibly deadly.

As a kid jumping curbs was habitual.  It was daily.  

As an adult I try to keep it between the lines.  Trouble free.

But I must ask myself... When it comes to some of God's Laws for me--His commands, His direction, His will--am I still jumping the curbs?  How does that reflect the growing maturity I should be attaining as a Follower of Jesus?

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man I put childish ways behind me."

Still jumping curbs?

Monday, May 4, 2009


Tony Woodlief wrote this last week.

It moved me to introspection.  May you be so moved.

You yearn for a holy place because, in the time between waking unable to recall where you are, and drifting again into the half-sleep that is all you’ve known for the longest time, you stand in the darkness of your sterile hotel room, peering into a mirror to see that you are nothing like what you were supposed to be. You see in this darkness that you are shadow and vapor, that the pretty words in which you wrap yourself are no more you than the dirty glass is water.

You yearn for a holy place because the stench of your unholiness, your un-separateness, your common, petty guile and smallness, is sometimes so stark that you would sooner go without air than breathe it in. You yearn for a holy place even if you think you may be damned, because to be in it is to know, only fleetingly, only with darkened gaze, that there is something more than you and the things that are so very much like you.

Your heart and flesh cry out for a space that is more than just a meeting house for commemoration and remembrance and symbols. You are desperate for a space where the God who is a love you can scarcely think on waits to commune with your pale, quavering soul. A place that is holy because it embraces the great mystery of death begetting life,  of the tomb containing joy, of sorrow and hope intertwined in a world that would deny you your full portion of both.

You are desperate for the soft spilling light of sun pouring through stained glass, for the rustle of your clothes as you kneel, for the cross by which even someone like you might be healed, for the trembling prayer, the whispered blessing. You cry out for a place that will remain holy even after you have been in it. A place so holy that you pose no threat to it, so holy that it can embrace you in all your smallness and be no smaller itself, no less clean nor true nor solid.

You are so very thirsty. The darkest part of night has gathered about you. There is no water here. There has never been water here. Why did you think there would be?

This is what you think as you lie down in your lonely bed with parched throat, as you wait for daylight that you hope will be bright enough to make you forget, for a time, this yearning. Where is your holy place? Where will you find it in this strange city, and in the strange city to follow, and in all the days you wander from home, perhaps even within the walls of home, because you have mistaken trinkets and baubles for sacred things?

You could spend a lifetime finding the holy place, rediscovering the sacred things. You should. For now the rocks and trees are silent in the close-drawn dark, but something within you is crying out, because it knows you were fashioned for more than this. Will you listen, here in this darkness? Will you stumble onto the hallowed ground and drink deep?