Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Walking Through the Brush

I remember as  young boy, spending summers with my grandparents in Upper Michigan. I loved to fish for trout on the streams with my grandpa. We would often walk several miles back into the woods, on what had long ago, been a rail road track or logging trail.  I could never tell where we were, where we were going, and If something happened to grandpa, we would both die because there was no chance of me finding the way home. The only thing for me to do was to stick close and follow Him, because he knew where we where going, he knew the signs to look for that kept us on track. Sometimes we would walk through a swamp, or  brush so thick it could tear your clothes, sometimes we walked in tree plantations, free from underbrush, and sometimes we walked in open fields where lumberjacks used to plant potatoes. Grandpas pace never changed, he moved forward swiftly, it was up to me to keep up, even at 7 or 8 years old. But, I trusted Him to the fullest degree, I knew he would get us to a stream full of trout. The conformation would come as the woods would open up and a beautiful stream would appear, that few had fished, ever!
The last weeks of ministry has confirmed to me to continue on a path. I believe I have been assured that where we are walking and working, is where God wants us to be... right now. Does that shock you? The idea that I am leading a ministry that has existed for 13 years and I am expressing this now? That has been the way of it for the entire 13 years; steps of faith, moving towards what we believe God is pointing to. Then comes a confirmation, yes, this is it, keep at it. Some say that is to haphazard, some say it could lead to many mistakes, some have said its just to much to think about so forget it, some ask, what if we fail, some ask, how do you know? All of these are valid questions, yet in working for Jesus, non of these things matter. 
I have a very small measure of faith, but I don't think think the faith I have is in what  I hear most people at church talking about. My faith looks a little like this: I believe God loves me and He is always good. I believe He has a plan for me. I believe He wants me to be like Christ. I believe He will give me opportunity to grow towards Christ. All I have to do is embrace the circumstance He brings each day, even if it something I don't think I want. Somedays its a hug, somedays a spank, somedays its a gift, somedays its a fight, somedays it hurts bad, somedays it feels great. But that is the way of love, and knowing God loves me makes it all ok. Do I complain, of course! I am a whiner. Do I want it to be different at times, yes. But every time as I turn back to look what He did, it was good for me. That is where my faith is, in that God loves me and wants what's best for me eternally.
God has supplied every need and want we have had over the last 13 years, and we are so undeserving. Thats the beauty of it all, His ways are not ours, He loves us no matter what. We will screw it up, because we are fallin, no good, love rejecting human beings. But, we must try our best to follow His lead and embrace what He brings.
My theology is to simple for most, but I am simple.  It is not a license to do anything I want, but rather a license to embrace anything God brings along. It mostly seems to be a matter of praying for courage and allowing that courage to grow in us. Following Christ is not easy, His pace is quick, He walks us through thick woods at times, but He knows where He taking us is good and that it is worth every step. I look forward to the day when those thick woods clear and we come to that beautiful place where God embraces us and Jesus says, see how wonderful and beautiful, I told you it was worth the walk. I can hardly wait to find Grandpa, on a stream, fishing, I will hug him and thank him for the lessons he gave me walking to a stream.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The greatest preacher I ever met

15 years ago God allowed me to be a counselor at a camp for people with disabilities. I was given a week to spend with David. David is a man who is my age and lives in Minnesota with his loving Christian family. David has Down Syndrome, which has given him a mental disability. Dave prayed for me, with me, one night at camp, long after chapel had finished, and then gave me a two word sermon that are the most profound words I have ever heard. In fact, those two words completely changed my life, and I may think of those words every single day still 15 years later. That night, an hour after chapel ended, Dave led me to the alter, pushed my head down in reverence to his king, and said two words... "More Jesus". Wow. I shutter just typing it. More Jesus, that should be my prayer, that should be my goal, that should be my message. Dave gets it. 
So how do I explain that the most profound sermon I ever heard, the most life changing moment in my life came as God worked through a man the world does not want to see born, that society marks with no value or worth, that is rejected in most churches because he could not take a spiritual gifts test even if he wanted to??? I only have two words to answer that... "More Jesus". In fact I have discovered that is the answer to every question, to every problem, to every situation... more Jesus.
My hearts passion burns for people with disabilities for a few reasons, but mainly because of that experience. Oh how I hurt, because the church misses out on how God uses men and women just like David to change lives. That evening has given me more tools than 15 years of ministry experience, 40 years of being a Christian, daily walking with incredible saints who pour their wisdom into me, than my bible college degree all put together. David uttered the wisest, most loving, most incredible words, not from the pages of a best selling book, not from a shiny acrylic pulpit, but with his head bowed in that dark chapel, in total reverence to His king. I must stop writing now because retelling what God did for me through David, makes me sob, and I cannot type anymore.
Father God, help me... give me more of you and less of my ego, more of you and less of my plans, more of you and less of knowledge, more of you and less of my pain, more of you and less of my ... __________ just fill in the blank.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Moms a Warrior

 Mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary. 
--- Dorothy Fisher

I began this post on Mothers Day, and did not finish it, so today I posted it a few days late!

Most people would not know it, but my mom is a warrior. In fact, the women in our family tend to be warriors. I have been blessed beyond what I can express to you, with a family that loves God and has encouraged, impacted and helped keep me on the right path towards God. My mom has been and is essential to me being what God wants me to be. She has given up much for her children, she has sacrificed her own needs, wants and life throughout her adult life for us. She has followed God into each circumstance He has created with willingness and faithfulness.
As a young woman she gave my brother Steve to a family in adoption. Steve grew up in loving Christian home, and while we only met a few years ago he has traits that would be recognizable as my brother. Many mothers abort and snuff out a life that God created. My mom endured the pain, and it taught us all the power of prayer as she was relentless in her prayer for him, which God honored, as we found out when Steve found us and shared His story. 
My mom then had me, my sister Lora and then my brother Dan. Dan 's disability made her into a caregiver and nurse 24 hours a day. Her commitment to Dans care was beyond what words can describe, Dan lived the long 22 years he did, because of her vigilance. When Dan pursued his call into ministry, mom was right there, also in ministry, being his driver, roady, caregiver, and agent and never stopping being mom. When Dan died, she grieved and the pain was more than a mother deserves, yet she cared for her children's grief as much as her own. As my sister Lora pursued her calling as a mother in foster care and adoption, my mom has been right at her side every step of the way, helping, loving and mothering.  When we began Camp Daniel, I know mom could have looked toward retirement and rest, but she willingly followed as God took us to Athelstane to begin this work. 
I have never known loneliness, or what it is like not to be supported and loved. I have never known what it is like to not have someone praying for me, I have never been in the trench of the battle by myself, my mom has always been right there, ready to charge. Nothing is ever to bad or hard as I know she is there, praying and prodding me to be the best I can be for God. She is a warrior, as was her mother before her. As I said before, the women in our family are just that, warriors, My sister, my aunts, my cousins, they are warriors for Jesus. 
Father God I thank you for my mom, I thank you for her gift of being faithful to you in every circumstance. I thank you for her love which has allowed me to understand just a little how much you  must love us. Help me to be a warrior, like my mom.