Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Owning the Sun

Spanish woman claims ownership of the Sun, says she's going to start charging for use

I have known that people feel entitled to things that haven't earned and don't deserve.  This is nothing new.  Today I'm still blown away by us.  We are an odd little reflection of someone Greater.  Sometimes we are just odd.  Case in point: Angeles Duran.

Angeles Duran lives in Galicia, Spain.  She was going through a normal autumn I am guessing until one day it hit her, "I should claim ownership of the sun!"  This makes sense.  She is Angeles Duran of Galicia.  She made her way down to the notary public and staked her claim. It was easy, anyone could have done it.  Now, we are all to be charged for using the sun, like a tax for using her energy.

The tax won't happen.  I'll forget her next week when someone else follows her quote and begins "just being entrepreneurial."  It still struck me pretty well. I had just been reading some verses that made this stand out pretty clearly.

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." Psalm 24:1

"The world is mine, and all that is in it."  Psalm 50:12

God even goes as far as talking about the land that we walk on.

"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Leviticus 25:23

I don't see a way around it.  This world isn't mine.  Even though these verses were about this earth and everything on it, I'm sure God's deed stretches to the sky as well.  We are all His tenants.

I am renting a home for the first time in a long time.  It is different renting.  You watch where you hang a picture, how you rake the leaves, and where you put the Christmas tree.  It's not your home.  You are just given the privilege of living there.  That is a whole lot more like life than we care to admit.  If it is true, there are some practical implications.

Last thing.  We aren't to match the world. We are to be of another Kingdom.  At least one person in the world feels entitled to the sun.  Many in this world feel they are owed tax from everyone else.  We are to match Him.  He gave up all He deserved.  He surrendered for the better of everyone.  We are led to one extreme or the other.  Which way are you leaning?

to read the article go to http://io9.com/5700607/spanish-woman-claims-ownership-of-the-sun-says-shes-going-to-start-charging-for-use

November's Best Photo

My van is pretty awesome, but this car is slightly more awesome.

A woman watches British Perry Watkins sitting ...

That's a real car that requires a real driver's license.  (That is a real person inside too, for real.)

Check out the slideshow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More than trendy

I'm not a real big fan of doing what is trendy.  I know nobody is, but sometimes I want to do the opposite of trendy.  I want to role my pants like the late 90's because nobody does.  But then, that is trendy.  Nothing is more trendy than doing the opposite of everyone else so you stand out.  Well, nothing but Africa.

There is an odd little deal going on right now.  Nikki and I work in Ethoipia. If you just came to this planet on a spaceship you would either confuse Ethiopia with the worst place in the world or the most glamorous place ever.  Seriously, there is nothing trendier than Africa.  Well, that is only partly true.  I guess we are even cooler to certain people because we work with orphans.  Even better than that, we work with former prostitutes.  Here's where I think we are getting confused.

The people that God has given us the honor of serving through Eyes That See are anything but trendy.  They are real.  They cry when life hurts and they smile more beautifully than you could imagine.  Serving them is addicting, but it isn't cool.  It is exhausting.  You want to radically change the way you live, spend, talk and dream.  You order the small so you can give away the 59 cents that makes it large.  You pray differently, think differently, and surely you praise God differently.

I once thought Africa was cool.  I liked the trendy picture that I had.  God called me out of that to truly see who was there.  He called me to love the people that He loves.  He invited me to believe that His Kingdom trumps their current reality.  He is beginning to bless my eyes to see.

Some of us get to see in "trendy" places like Ethiopia.  Some of us see "trendy" people like orphans and ex prostitutes.  No matter who we are, we are invited to see His Kingdom right in front of us.  We get to love people in real life, not just in theory.  For me this has cost everything.  For my friends in Ethiopia it has cost more.  I believe this is our honor.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am becoming more aware of what I have been given.  My kids are healthy.  My wife is awesome.  I had a job that is satisfying and keeps me dependent on Him.  Besides these things, there are so many other things that I just expect, and I now see they are the simplest ways that He shows His faithfulness.  Food, shelter, safety and hope.  As we spend our time working in Ethiopia and seeing people in great need, I have a huge desire to keep my family aware of the reality of lives in that great country.  I don't want us to distance ourselves.  I don't ever want my house to forget our ability to tangibly change lives.

I have decided that on Thanksgiving as we are thankful for all that God is doing in our lives, my family is going to take some time and give gifts of our thanks to God.  I'm going to invite each of my kids, Nikki, and myself to give to God of what we have.  I don't know yet what the kids will give.  Maybe it's a toy we will sell or ship over to Ethiopia.  Maybe it is their hard earned quarters again.  For Nikki and I, it will be looking at what we can sacrificially give through Eyes That See to our friends abroad.

I want to invite you to do this as well.  It is very simple, doesn't take much time, and doesn't take much energy.  I want to encourage you to show your thanks through giving this year.  As you gather for this holiday, talk with the people that you eat with and see how it is that you collectively can show your gratitude.  Maybe you want to take up an offering right there. Maybe you find a way to give of your time together.  Maybe you want to spend $50 less on Friday and give it to Eyes That See or another organization.  However you do it, I want to encourage you to give sacrificially during this season.  The joy and peace that follows is greater than any other gift you could receive.

If you plan on doing something like this over Thanksgiving, please comment and encourage others to do the same.  If you want to share a story, please email it over and we will post it on this blog.  Happy Thanksgiving.

November's Organization- Safe Families

A few years ago I was in Dallas and had the opportunity to hear about an organization called Safe Families.  The organization came out of a heart to serve families in the Chicago area.  Shortly after hearing the director speak, we met some awesome friends who live north of Chicago who are volunteers for Safe families.  It is always encouraging to hear that the insides of an organization are as legit as the website's make them look.  This is what we found with Safe Families. I had the opportunity to go and meet people from this organization last month and I was impressed with their hearts, their desire to see God impact their cities, and their desire to see the people that they serve.  Here is how they describe their history right off of the website.
"Safe families for Children provides a loving sanctuary where parents can safely and voluntarily place their children in times of need. Founded in 2002 by LYDIA Home Association, a Chicago based Christian social service agency, Safe Families for Children has partnered with the local church to grow to a network of over 1000 volunteer families serving as many as 1000 children and families lat year alone. 

Successfully established in more than 13 states, Safe Families partners with host agencies, local churches, ministries, as well as community and government agencies to intervene in the lives of children and families that would otherwise be forgotten."
Safe Families does inspiring work and for any of you who feel led and live in a city where Safe Families operated please consider being a part.  Their website is safe-families.org.

Monday, November 22, 2010

November's Media

I often go to BBC Africa's website to see what is happening over there.  I really like their news reporting on most of the world and they do a good job with Africa.  (They actually even have a great magazine that comes out quarterly for anyone interested.)  Anyways, I saw a series of photos that my sons will love!
My boys have never really watched wrestling, but they know names like John Cena from t shirts and stuff at school.  We have a room in our house that is called "the pink room" because it is painted this salmon color that makes you feel like less of a man.  We use that room for two very important things.
1.  homework.  There is a lot of homework done in our house.  Each kid gets like fifteen hours of homework a night and then goes on field trips during the day.  I'm very confused.
2.  wrestling.  Currently Nikki and I are the tag team champions.  Durant is tough, but he can't beat us yet!

Anyways, check out these photos!
I particularly like the flying shoulder drop by the baby elephant.  (Tell me that you have written a cooler sentence than that, I dare you.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Finally telling the truth

Here's the truth I have been hiding.  I don't really enjoy U2.  I don't have a problem with it, but they just aren't my favorite.  I like Bono.  I like that he likes Africa.  I like Edge and his glasses.  I like that everyone thinks that they are cool and they do the best concert this side of heaven.  At the same time, I've never been to their concert, so I don't really get it.  Maybe I'm too young.  Maybe I'm a caveman.  Either way, I have to say it:  U2 is not my favorite band.  I seriously feel better saying that.

The funny thing about that is that there are a lot of things in my life that I thought I liked, but it was just that the people around me did.  I don't really like soda, but I drink it socially.  I am not a huge fan if staying up late at night, but all the cool kids do it.  I would rather not do picnics.  I have issues with ants in my food, and usually shared food is kind of gross unless I'm in Africa.  I don't like coffee.  (Okay, that was just to see if you are paying attention.  I think during the heavenly concert we will have coffee served to us in awesome mugs.)

It is a bit scary that I am 31 years old and it took moving 600 miles for me to begin looking at what it is that I like and what it is that I don't.  I don't think I am the only one who has needed to do some soul examining.  What is it that you like because you think you should?  More importantly, what do you believe because you feel you should?  What would it look like if you really believed?

ps-I still have some U2 songs on iTunes.  I'm not that brave yet.  How else could I feel like a sort-of-trendy-Christian if I didn't have any U2 songs?

Think your day is rough?

I was home between meetings yesterday when Durant got home from school.  He had his brown hoodie on with his hood up.  He also had on some red shorts that would have made a gym teacher from 1989 jealous because of their length.  His legs were all ashy underneath and Nikki was laughing as she walked next to him.  She told me to ask him what happened at school, so I did.  He replied with words I never thought I would hear.  Durant replied saying "Carsen peed my pants."  Seriously, how does that happen?  How does someone else pee your pants unless you were dressed as the urinal for Halloween.  So, if you fail on a project at work, screwed up at home, just feel like nothing is going your way, just be glad that Carsen didn't pee your pants.  That has to be about the worst!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today's Most Interesting Table

I just got to a coffee shop and one table away is a group of four probably near to retirement business men.  They are all reading the paper and discussing the cities with the highest red necks per capita.  Seriously, who did the research, who would check that box on a survey, and who talks about this?  I think they are fascinating.  Seriously, who talks about this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If not now

I was just sitting with a friend at Starbucks.  We were talking about music, football and what it is like to obey God in everything.  I told him that I was reading a book about William Muller again and how that guy's life challenges me.  Muller (I don't know how to make the German "u") was completely dependent on God is ways that I cannot even fathom.  As we were talking about this, the truth came out.  My friend said, "I don't know that I want that."  How many of us live here?

We want our God to be the One True God.  We want Him to save us and clean us up, but the whole "I'll-live-as-you-command"...no thank you.  It has been funny for me the past few months as I have told people our journey so far.  A few people have been encouraged by the faith we have acted on, but follow it with "you are so young."  We were at a mission's conference where the speaker did a great job telling of the meaning of serving Christ with you life.  Again, he talked about waiting until later in life to do this.  I know that I am naive plenty of times, but why wait?  Why should we spend time drifting when we could have focus?  Why should we half trust God today and then fully when we are older?  Who guaranteed we would get older?

I have a lot of questions of myself.  I want to be rid of all theoretical belief and practice everything I sing of on a Sunday.  I want to rest in Him, but I also want to run hard towards what He has.  For whatever reason the thought of waiting until next year since we are almost finished with this year is so alluring.  The truth is if I don't live completely dependent on Him now, why do I think I might later?  If I don't push all my chips in by faith today, how would it be easier tomorrow?  If not now, then when?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Worth if for the fruit

 I know I have said it before, but we are an odd breed.  I know that we are created in God’s image, but I’m also certain that our insecurities are not grounded in Him.  We are complex in all the awkward ways and want simplicity where God’s ways are higher than ours.  Let me explain to you what I’m talking about. 
            I have had several conversations lately with people who want to step out in faith, but they have hit a brick wall.  The wall isn’t insecurity.  They have dealt with that.  It isn’t doubt in God’s goodness either.  He has proved that.  It isn’t even because of a lack of knowing Scripture, because that has been the root of their deepening passion.  The issue is pretty simple: they don’t want to be misunderstood.
            In my life, this has been one of the most painful things I have encountered.  I can’t think of anything as crippling as having someone see what you intend to be an act of dependence on God and think that you are making everything about yourself.  This can take you out at the knees.  It’s discouraging and disheartening.  Sure, sometimes we are acting arrogantly.  Sometimes we are being selfish.  Other times we are just finally deciding to put our faith in action and believe what God says about us.
            When we look at our lives, I think all of us want to leave a lasting legacy.  We want our lives to count.  We all want the fruit of our lives to be good.  Some days we won’t settle for anything less. 

Luke 6:43-44
"For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.

            Let me get straight to the point.  Good fruit doesn’t come from bad trees.  It only comes from good trees.  You can’t have a nasty, infested apple tree produce anything that is worthwhile.  For good fruit to emerge, the tree must be good.  Now, we know that nothing but God is good.  This must mean that you are made “good” through Him.  When we believe this reality, then it is true.  Once you see the fruit you can’t deny the work that God has done. 
            Is it arrogant to say you’ve become a “good tree?”  Absolutely not!  It’s one of the most humbling statements you could make.  On your own you would have awful little globs of worthlessness as your fruit.  The beauty is you are not left on your own.  You have been given a Savior.  God made the choice that faith would be the way of being restored in His image, and when He made mankind He called it good.  You believe in Christ as your Savior, and you are new.  He doesn’t make you new and nasty, but new and good.  Then the fruit of your life will be good as well. 
            Sometimes I don’t like to tell people of what God is doing because I don’t want them staring at me, the tree.  I don’t want them to be distracted by me, so I just don’t talk.  At that moment I waste the fruit.  The reality is no one cares to see the tree.  They admire the fruit.  And if every once and a while someone mistakenly thinks I’m trying to get everyone to look at the tree, well, I guess it’s worth it for the fruit.   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November's Person

Yesterday I heard some news that caused me to quickly call Nikki.  I knew that she was in a meeting, but I almost did our "I called twice because it's an emergency" deal.  The things is this.  We love the Yankees.  They are an outstanding team.  I know everyone is discouraged that we like them, they think we are sellouts and cannot believe we can love Jesus and Jeter.  It is possible.  Paul says "everything is permissible."  This includes a love for the pinstripes.  (After all, most of you like bad teams and that just isn't fun.  The season is just too long to like a team that has no chance.)

Back on point, the Yankees are getting old.  Most of them feel like they played with Mantle or celebrated their first championship while riding in a Model T.  They've been a part of the team forever.  Every year we have a bit of sadness.  At some point, the guys are going to retire.  I hope it never happens, but it could.  That's when the news broke.  No one retired, just relax.  Still, the news was close enough.  Jorge Posada is moving from catcher to DH.  This is huge news for my house.  This like saying that Glee is moving to Saturday mornings just after Planet Sheen.  (If you don't watch Planet Sheen start now!)

I love Jorge Posada.  If I had fifteen sons I would probably name the next one Jorge.  Moving to DH is like flirting with retirement.  Flirting with retirement is like playing with my emotions.  I don't like when people play with my emotions.  Still, I love Jorge.  I'm going to ask Nikki to paint a 20 on my back that I will wear for the rest of the week.  If you have never watched him play, watch an old game.  He was amazing.  He's still awesome, but apparently he needs to just focus on hitting.

In his personal life he has an awesome foundation that he started that benefits people with craniosynostosis.  If you need an idea for a Christmas gift for anyone, I recommend the "Hip Hop Jorge" t shirt available here.  http://www.jorgeposadafoundation.org/hiphipjorge  Seriously great player.  Apparently great guy.  Jorge Posada is my person of the month.


            We, as God’s children, are a strange little breed.  I would call us cute if we were infants, but since so many of us are older now I’ll just say we are strange.  The reason that I feel this way is because we say things that completely contradict each other.  It is as if we say that 2+2=4 and 2+2=17 at the same time.  When you challenge this or bring the contradiction to light, we begin to act really strange.
            I will never forget the first time I got a letter berating a teaching that I gave.  Before the mail that day I thought that God had used me powerfully.  I was so excited coming off a teaching where I talked about life as God’s children and how we are to carry ourselves.  In my mind it was clear and passionate.  I was certain that God had completely transformed the entire world because of my words.  At least one person disagreed with me.  The feeling was that I was thinking too highly of us.  There was sin, and grace, and we are not to act like we are victorious over sin through Christ.  Only He is.  To me this still doesn’t make any sense, although I have run across the opinion many times.  Christ death on the cross was victory over sin, and because He made it clear, His victory is on our behalf.  Therefore, we have victory over sin because of His grace.  I don’t think it cheapens grace to say that we are no longer owned by sin.  I think it actually helps us see grace for what it really is, God’s favor on us when we don’t deserve it.
            In my life and in the ministry God has given me, I have been amazed by how deep sin goes.  Our sinful nature is a nasty old bugger.  He has owned us for far too long.  He is our past, knows us well, and we have worn him like a broken in pair of blue jeans.  Yet if we are to fully embrace Christ’s sacrifice and His grace then we are to throw off this old bugger.  Those jeans shouldn’t fit anymore.  None of this is new.  Paul teaches it all over his letters, and yet we are not comfortable with it.
            The place where I have seen us most uncomfortable is with the idea of being new creations.  I remember talking to a friend in high school who said that all people are worms and that Christians are just saved worms.  I understand the statement, but if it is true I want to hide in a cave and cry.  About the same time I began reading C.S. Lewis and was so encouraged by Mere Christianity where Lewis writes about Christians being winged horses learning to fly instead of just doing the steeple chase.  This is how I saw it. 
            Somehow declaring that we are new is seen as arrogant, as arriving, and as not needing Christ.  I have never been more aware of my dependence on God than since I have declared that I am new in Him.  If He doesn’t agree, it isn’t true.  At the same time, I don’t believe that the old bugger that is my sinful nature, as great and distracting as it is, is greater than the Messiah of the world.  If He says I’m new, I’m new. 
            In Scripture people agree, in practice we are still weirded out by this.  So for this moment, let’s at least agree that He makes us "Newish"- not fully arrived, but becoming more and more like Him.  The question can finally come up: In everything that you do, how do you live "Newish"?  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November's Random Interest- Favorite Colors

I have five kids okay.  This stuff matters!  I was watching the award winning Meet The Parents a few weeks ago and I heard DeNiro say that geniuses choose the color green.  (That is not a direct quote.)  I remember instantly having green jump from just below "licorice green/black" to the top with that statement.

A few nights later I was trying to fall asleep and I was wondering what my favorite color really is.  I have always said blue because that seemed like the safe answer, like "C" in a multiple choice question.  I don't think it is really true that I like blue.  I know my eyes "show up" if I'm wearing blue, but I don't think that means that they disappear if I wear another color.  I started to notice that nearly every shirt I own is either brown or has "Texas Longhorns" written on it.  I said this to my beautiful-yet-sometimes-insensitive wife who said that she always knew that if I was a color I would be brown.  This made me a little upset because poop and other gross things are brown.  If you think of it, so is chocolate, coffee, and the Cleveland Browns.  They have Colt McCoy, which makes them awesome.  They are kind of orange, but they have the name "brown" anyways.

Today I went on the always accurate infoplease.com and found that brown represents being solid and reliable.  It also means sad, which is sad.    All in all, I wish I liked green, but I probably like brown.  Next time a five year old asks me I'll try out my new answer and hope he doesn't make fun of me.  He probably knows the answer is supposed to be blue!

By the way, can anyone actually answer white as their favorite color? I think that is cheating.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Misreading what's right in front of me.

Have you ever misread something tremendously?  I have seen this with my kids lately on their homework.  Somehow they read whatever would be more convenient and do that instead of the assigned homework. It's like misreading the math teacher's "evens only" assignment and instead thinking that they said "don't do the evens because you can check your work on the odds in the back of the book."  It's a beautiful way to delude yourself, and apparently it starts young.

I have done that with Scripture lately.  I spent some time rereading the Beatitudes lately.  It's funny that as I read them this time, I found myself wanting to be in mourning, get beat up for beliefs and quietly mope through life to secure a blessing.  I was wanting to make a hero of the worn out, sad faced Christians.  For a minute I wanted to be them.  I wanted to secure God's blessing , so I would do anything for it.  For some reason I jumped to the thought that it would take me be more sad, beaten down, and in pain to see the Kingdom of God.

That's a real backwards way to read the Beatitudes.  Somehow I was twisting Jesus' words to be about me.  Aren't they better understood as "blessed are you 'guy who has no hope and nothing to look forward to'  because you are the very kind of guy God blesses."  It's not because hopeless is awesome, but because God blesses anyone who looks to him, even the hopeless.  God blesses those who want His blessing.  He doesn't disqualify.

This is great news for those who seek righteousness, even when they get legalistic in their pursuit.  This is The Good News for those who are mourning their way through difficult situations, even those who are being persecuted.  When you find yourself in the very place where man would turn away from you, you are blessed because God won't.

It's funny to me how real and practical God's goodness is.  We are never outside of it.  We don't need to escape into mourning when we feel joy to find His blessing.  His blessing can reach us in joy.  At the same time, when we are disqualified by all who are around us, even in that place you are blessed.  Not because you find yourself there, but because you can find a God who is so good that you are never out of His reach.