Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Some of you will recall that the church leadership approved a 3 month sabbatical for me during the summer of 2011. In order to fund some special church projects in relation to the sabbatical as well as some extensive travel and study opportunities for myself and my family, a committee of church members worked with me to submit a proposal for an outside grant. Last month we were informed that we were not selected.Among the many words I could choose to describe my thoughts and feelings, disappointment is probably the most accurate. The word reflects loss of expectations, unrealized dreams, even a sense of personal failure. The dictionary says "to thwart or frustrate".

As the news settled I wondered "had good plans been thwarted?" It left me at a fork in the road. Do I follow in my mind and heart the path of "good plans thwarted" or was there another path - "God's plans unveiled" ?
Considering the character and sovereignty of God I had to step onto the latter road. The actual sabbatical will still take place and the lack of funding has no effect on the purpose and focus of my time. As I reworked the schedule of my time and  shaped a sabbatical mostly confined to Tucson I discovered that the things I didn't like about the change(and still don't like) and the source of my disappointment all spoke to areas of my life that needed refreshment and reformation. The sabbatical - at its heart - was designed for that very purpose. Turns out that the grant proposal process was God's design to bring clarity to the sabbitcal's focus and its role in my life and the life of the church.

So what do we do with disappointment? Embrace it. Walk through it. Look deeper. Most of all - see the Lord's faithful hand in the middle of it.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Isaiah 40:5
"Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all flesh will see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." 

This great verse put to music by Handel has stirred my spirit this past week. Jesus, God in flesh, having the full glory of God came to this place and veiled His glory. We see a glimpse of  it when the angels sing to the shepherds, on the mount of transfiguration, and strong hints of it in His miracles. Yet, His first advent was marked more by silence, obscurity, poverty and sacrifice. I still don't get it but I rejoice over the rescue it brought us. Isaiah, which has well over 30 verses referring to His first advent also points us to another Advent and the 2nd coming of Jesus. We see it in Is. 40:5 and Jesus refers to it in such places as Matt. 24:29-30. It will not be like the Christmas story but it will be marked by power, majesty, authority and GLORY. We will not just gets hints at His glory or a brief look but the whole world - all flesh- will see it for all it is! That day is coming! Jesus, the baby, will arrive as Jesus the King in all His glorious splendor. As you read and meditate and sing this week about Christmas, let your heart and mind and longings look ahead to another Advent still to come.

Monday, December 13, 2010


The Lord has a way of doing what we would not expect. Jesus rarely said what people expected to hear. His Kingdom operates on a completely different platform. This is evident in Mary's song from Luke 1 ...

    He scatters the proud
      He brings down rulers from their thrones
          He exalts the humble
             He fills the hungry
                The rich go away empty

Those we expect to receive are passed over and those to whom we would not pay any attention have His blessing in abundance. Several of the parables of Jesus refer to this great reversal. Of course we see these unexpected reversals in the Christmas story. We have shepherds and foreigners being invited and kings being overlooked; we have a baby rather than a King; a lamb instead of a conqueror, poverty and obscurity rather than riches and renown, a crucifixion instead of ruling...

This is Good News for us!! He brings us from darkness to light, from rags to clothing of righteousness, from separation and isolation to nearness and intimacy, from enemies to beloved children!! The arrival of a baby - God in flesh - brought the great hope and promise of a reversal in our lives. As a recipient - I am now called to live by these new kingdom foundations - to bless those who don't expect it, to give to those in need , to love the unloved, to demonstrate the heart of the Gospel!

Monday, December 6, 2010


I am not sure all the ingredients in Nyquil - I am afraid to look - but when I get really sick and am desperate for some sleep - out comes the Nyquil - 1 sip and I'm affected for days! I came down with something a couple days ago and it is really knocking me down. When I get sick, I suddenly get very organized with my time. I get a great deal done very quickly and drop a bunch of stuff off my schedule that only days ago I insisted to myself were essential calendar items - all for the sake of creating time to rest.   Psalm 90:12 tells us to "number our days, that we might present to You a heart of wisdom." Days like today show me how much time I must waste on my "good" days and they show me that my schedule could be much more flexible than I let on. Flexible in order to serve more, listen longer, get in a bit of exercise, patiently help with  a few more math problems, write that note or make that extra phone call, sit with the Lord a little longer. Each minute is a gift, an opportunity, a privilege.