Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Traffic Pattern

We have a voluntary traffic pattern around our elementary school for drop off & pick up. Voluntary. It is not the law. No flashing lights. No “ONE WAY” signs. No law enforcement officers for compliance. Just a caring Principal & a zealous Crossing Guard.

Voluntary. Recommended. Suggested.

Kindly worded letters from our Principal regularly request & remind us: Please follow the pattern. For the safety of the students. For the ease of other drivers. For other fill-in-the-blank good reason.

I’m a rules guy. I like order. I like convenience. I like safety. So, I do not like it when other parents come from the wrong direction. These salmon parents are always wild-eyed & driving too fast lest their spawn be late as well. Or when folks double park. "Grow up & wait your turn," I wanna wag my finger at them. "Now I know where your kid learned that!" Or when parents simply stay parked in the drop off area. "Are you feeding your kid breakfast in there? Come on!" Don't get me started on the repeat offenders. Those habitual parental scofflaws! (That sounds stouter than calling them "scoffpatterns.") Are these people more important than the rest of us? Do their needs supersede the rest of ours?

I have a few ideas for scoffpattern compliance, but I best stop ranting & move to my point.

Disobeying a voluntary traffic pattern is a small problem in this temporal life, but it can represents a big problem that can lead to eternal death.

Think with me: Am I without sin when it comes to obeying laws? How many times do I follow rules only when it is convenient? How often do I ignore the directions because I don’t agree? Do I obey all that I know of God’s Law?

God says of His Word, “be careful to obey… do not turn from it to the right or too the left.” Yet, how often to I treat His Word as voluntary? Just suggestions? Kind recommendations? But not authoritative? And surely not commanding me to obey something I feel otherwise about?

God has given us a traffic pattern for life as Christ Followers. He says, “Love me with everything you’ve got. Love your neighbor like yourself. Read, study, memorize & obey my Word. Use your giftedness for my Kingdom. Tithe at least ten percent. Give to those in need. Pray like breathing. Follow Jesus every step of life.”

Although we follow God’s Word voluntarily, it is the Law. Follow with me, Friends. If needed, you can change your pattern to obedience over convenience, service over selfishness, & drawing near to God over running our own way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crunchy Mouth

We're eating our super sale price purchased Little Debbie snacks for a fun, little dessert after lunch today. John Mark eats... or inhales... his Honey Bun before Melanie has opened her Nutty Bar wrapper.

Being the Linebacker Toddler he is. Not afraid to ask. Not up on all his manners. Determined. Hungry. Answering his stomach's call. He begins to ask. Possibly whine. Wanting his Mama's Nutty Bars. Both of them.

Melanie kindly offers one.

"John Mark," trying to teach thankfulness & encourage contentedness, "what should you say?" I ask.

His crunchy mouth reply, "Give me the other one."

If it wasn't so funny to us, we'd have cried.

If it wasn't so true of us, we'd have scolded.

One Nutty Bar does not a glutton make. But "the other one" does a glutton illustrate.

Gluttony is the sin of too little & not enough. Always more. Rarely content. Appetite long. Patience short. Gluttony is not only about the stomach. But the wallet. The calendar. The toys. The stuff. The mind. It is control. Yet it controls. Gluttony is the sin elephant in the room of every Christ follower.

Give me the other one.

Out of the mouth of a babe. The first not fully in the mouth of the babe.

Am I a babe?

With a crunchy mouth reply?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Magic Bible

As a pastor. As a friend. As a person. Who doesn't like injustice or suffering or pain or any such ugliness. I've said before, "I wish I had a Magic Bible."

There is no such thing as a Magic Bible. The references to magic in the Bible are negative. Yet. There have been times when faced with a situation or a person I wish I could change, I would make the incongruous statement, "I wish I had a Magic Bible."

Some folks who needed it: I'd whop 'em over the head to straighten 'em out.

Other folks, the kinder type: I'd wave it gently to make everything better.

There is no such thing as a Magic Bible. But wouldn't it be nice if we could straighten folks out or make everything better as we chose?

I've got friends now. Dear people. Suffering. Heartbroken. Hurting. Questioning. Confused. I wish I had Magic Bible. I'd make it all right.

I've got no whopin' needing folks around right now. Just the waving kind. So, heartsick for them, I was thinking this Magic Bible silliness when I was convicted. By someone real. With real power. The Holy Spirit.

"You don't need a Magic Bible. You've got prayer. Pray for God to do something so big, so good, so unbelievable that only He can get the credit."

Alright, then. Let me start with this one:

God, you are Big. You are Love. Will you, please, move. Show us your hand. Demonstrate your power. We don't deserve it. We can't earn it. But you are gracious beyond belief. And merciful past understanding. We love you, Father, and we beg you, please, for your glory. Move. Touch. Heal. Restore. Convict us to pray. Embolden us with courage. Strengthen us to persevere. We are your people. We offer the sacrifices of self. We sing glory & praise to you. You tell us that "the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Teach us to be effectual. Fill us to be fervent. And for your glory, by your power, may our prayers much avail. Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Far?

Lo, those years ago prekids Melanie & I took a memorable October trip. Flew into Montreal. Enjoyed the old world feel even with the we're French go home vibe. Spent time with church planter friends in Burlington, Vermont. Had the single most amazing, utterly gorgeous, day long drive of our lives across upstate New York. Crossed Lake Champlain by ferry through the early morning fog like a century's past military expedition. Drove the winding roads autumn ablaze in yellows, oranges, reds & greens. Through picture postcard towns like Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Cranberry Lake, & Star Lake. A lakey place Upstate is.

Day's end found us in Niagara Falls, New York at a bed & breakfast that was not quite so picture postcard. The folks running it, well... hospitality was not their gift. We asked, & received with a why are you troubling us look, directions to a local eatery. Enjoyed the food. Set out to find coffee & dessert in Niagara Falls, New York. Really? Why? Folks were puzzled we'd asked. Writing us off. Tourists.

"Let's go over to Canada & see what they've got. It's right there." And, think then, we'd be all expeditionary again. Crossing international borders at will. And for what? Coffee & dessert & because we can.

"Ever been to Tim Horton's?," asks the Canadian border dude.

Directions given. Few blocks. One turn. Few more blocks. Tim's. Good coffee. Donuts. Of course. Rambling conversation with a half-crazed Canadian. Didn't know he was dealing with a half-crazed Texan & his fully-sane Louisianan missus. Sated. Back into the US. Mission accomplished.

"Your purpose for going to Canada?," US border guy dude.

I smiled & held up my cup-o-Tim's.

"You went all the way to Canada for a cup of coffee?," he queries.

"Yes. Yes we did." We're expeditionary, cosmopolitan adventurers that way, you know.

How far do you go to get what you want?

How far did God go to redeem us?

We went to Canada for a cup-o-Tim's.

Jesus left Heaven for all us Joes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Draw the Line

LifeWay's January edition of Home Life magazine featured my first-ever nationally published piece. A reworked my Drop Zone post. I took out proper names other than Seth. Made a few changes to sentence structure. Added a concluding paragraph with some lessons for parents. Submitted it & found out 10 months ago that I'd be published.

I am thankful for their choosing me. An honor to be in their magazine. As a newbie writer I need all the editorial help I can get. I am thankful for their expertise. Furthermore, they know what their readers want. But their editors made one change I must address.

I drive a sporty 1996 Saturn SL-2.

Not a minivan.

Man's gotta draw the line somewhere.