Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Phone Changes A Man

I just got a white Blackberry Curve.  There, I said it.  I had a black one that broke earlier this month and through the insurance I was able to get a new phone of the same model.  The only problem is that they did not have any of the black one left, since it was the only color people want.

I got to choose between pink and white.  Mistakingly I chose white.  If I had picked pink I could have blamed the company, traded with Nikki, or just said it was a statement of my confidence as a man.  Instead, I have the white phone and suddenly feel obligated to wear white rimmed sunglasses, white belts and skinny jeans.  (If you can picture me in that look I would ask you not to.)

I think the phone has changed me.  I used to have no fear in pulling out my phone to check an email, now I'm nervous.  I would talk on the phone in public before, now I sit in the back of my van by the tinted windows.  I want a t shirt made that says "I didn't pick the phone."  Of course, since the phone looks so trendy I would want it in a nice cut and made from recycled cotton.  Maybe a t shirt that used to be an old tire that they turned into the most comfortable t shirt ever for only $249.99.

So next time you see me, ask me to see my phone.  When I show you don't laugh.  I'm pretty fragile and might cry. There is a sale at the mall I have to get to now.  Have a good day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two favorite things

Nikki announced today at lunch that her two favorite things are refried beans and to-go cups (which are big stuff down here.)  These two things are very dangerous if they were combined, but give a good snap shot of my bride.  Man, I love her!
ps-I'll be at a meeting tonight when the favorite things kick in.

Owning my excuses

I just reread C.S. Lewis' chapter called "On Forgiveness."  He was a beautiful thinker, and somehow in seven pages he again is used to challenge my understanding of being forgiven and forgiving others.  I recommend anything by him, but currently I'm being challenged by The Weight of Glory.

Lewis points out how often we want God to accept our excuses instead of truly asking for forgiveness.  We would feel more justified if our excuse was enough.   Even if we can excuse half of the offense, that leaves the rest needing forgiveness.

Here are some of his words.
"In our own cases we accept excuses too easily; in other people's we do not accept them easily enough.  As regards my own sins it s a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as i think; as regards other men's sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think."

Just some light thoughts for you on this blistery, Louisville Thursday.

ps-there is a cloud in the sky so school may get out early.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Brother

It's my little brother's birthday today.  I think he turns fifteen today.  That's what it feels like anyways.  Somehow I feel like I'm aging but he's still the age he was when I went to college, or got married, or starting collecting children like they were Tim Hardaway basketball cards. Anyways, my little brother is a pretty incredible young man.

Brian just bought a house recently.  I didn't get to see it over Christmas, but I have heard it's the cutest house.  He has done awesome in his job, surrounded himself with true friends, and cares for his community and the sweet lady living next to him.

I have told most of you that he is a great artist.  More than that, he truly is a good brother.  I'm lucky to have Brian.  I don't know if you ever read this Brian, but Happy Birthday.  I pray this year is filled with lasting joy and peace. If I could, I would buy you a big, shiny jet!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prayer for My Friends

I was looking through my old notes that I have and I had been studying 2 Thessalonians some. There is a verse in chapter one that makes me stand still.

"We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and my fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power." 2 Thes. 1.11

I want you to know that this is my prayer for my friends and family.  That we would be made worthy of His calling.  For me, I don't care what it takes to make this true, whether difficult conversations, circumstances, or beautiful moments of peace and joy.  As He makes us worthy of his calling, may He also give us strong resolve, a bent towards doing good even in moments of distraction.  His grace covers all of this and leads us to Himself.  May His glory and power be made known by our lives.  Enjoy today friends.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Repenting for Neglect

I got a chance to speak to a community here in Louisville last weekend. As I prepared, there was one thing that stood out to me.  We were talking about reconciliation and I had been praying on this for several weeks.  As I walked through the city during that time I heard stories and spent time with people who looked and talked like me.  We drink the same coffee at the same shops.  We cheer for the same sports and often even dress alike. Truthfully, it is a poor picture of the Kingdom of God.

When you go through Scriptures you see God align Himself with the widows, orphans, sojourners, and those who can't speak for themselves.  The church is invited to look like Him, yet these people are rarely within the doors.  It isn't that anyone is being outright cruel.  It is a case of looking away. The church has a serious problem with neglect.  We neglect those who don't look like us and pretend we don't know any better.  You can see it nearly any Sunday morning.

I dream of being in a church or church movement that intentionally went against this.  I've seen glimpses, the beginnings of this great shade tree growing, but I cannot wait until the church reflecting the King is seen by all the world.  At that point all will be gathered and the words of Colossians 3:11 will be known in practice instead of just theory.

Best I can tell, the Kingdom doesn't require others to resemble us before they walk in the doors to the church.  The Kingdom requires us to go out the doors and see how others resemble our Father.  As this happens the world will see and know that God is good.  Let this begin in me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

World's Ugliest Team

I know some of you like the Oregon Ducks.  All of you still have 4" black and white tvs.  Their college athletic uniforms look like my kids all got to eat sixteen pixie sticks and then went nuts with every shade of yellow, green, gray and silver paint on a set of uniforms.

Now I saw the new basketball court.  I'm glad I went to a university with a Blugold as a mascot.  I'm sure it could beat up a Duck!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January's Quote

I am always very challenged by CS Lewis.  He was a phenomenal writer and I find myself coming back to his books over and over again.   I have been thinking a lot about how we are new and how we are to look like our Creator.  The implications of this go into every area of our lives.  This morning I was reading "The Weight of Glory" and read these words from CS Lewis about how we relate to one another.

"You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

I't's not our job to choose faith for someone else, but it is blind to ignore the reality of that choice.  We are made in His image and by faith we are invited to return to it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting Dressed

There is something special about new clothes.  I think my daughter Ana finds more pure joy in new clothing than anyone I know.  She will walk in her room and light up if there is a shirt she hasn't worn.  She will tear her old one off and put the new one on in a heart beat.  She loves changing shoes, boots, socks, tights or whatever should be covering her toes.  She loves putting on a hat, laughing, and then putting on another.  Her school calls her Punky Brewster because she comes in such bright, new colors seemingly every day.

One of the funniest things about kids is having to continually teach them what clothes to put on.  You would think after years of living they would know to put pajamas on at bed time, but every night is eight reminders for our five kids.  Today I almost laughed when I heard Nikki say about six times that the kids needed hats and gloves.  (It is freezing here right now!)  Durant looked at her like she was speaking Spanish and nearly forgot how to put them on.  We are working on tying shoes with him too, which is a brand new lesson in getting yourself ready for what the day holds.

I have been reading Colossians a lot lately.  In chapter 3 Paul writes about us being new again, and this time he writes about us needing to "put on the new self."  He writes that this self is being renewed as we grow "in knowledge after the image of its (the new self's) creator."  Then he goes on and writes how it is that we are to put it on. We are to put on kindness, humility, meekness and patience.  He even goes all parental on us.  Like when we instruct our kids to dress for winter, Paul shows us what to put on when someone has a complaint against another.  He shows us what to put on in community. He shows us that we are to bind it all up with love, like a giant zipper that holds it all in.

I want to have joy as I continue to learn how to "put on the new self."  I want to be like Ana, so quick to tear off the old self and excited to show off the new.  Not that I have anything to boast of on my own, but my God is good and I can talk Him up all day.

I think we get discouraged that we don't already know how to fully "put on the new self."  We would rather have it be like a download that already happened.  If God wanted it that way, He would have made it happen.  Instead we get to learn to "put on the new self" in every situation since every situation is different.  Along the way we will notice that the side effect is that we have grown in dependence on Him and that we have begun to dress like our Father.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January's Gadget

I am a spoiled little boy.  For Christmas Nikki bought me a Kindle. For the past few months I have realized that some day I would want one of these guys for several reasons:

1. When we moved my books weighed what would be equivalent to an elephant.  (I don't even mean the hairy, small Asian elephants.  I'm talking about the big mama African elephants!)

2.  I feel guilty not having room for donations when I go to Ethiopia because I have to bring my 27 books per trip.

3.  When you look at the pages turn you think they must be magic.

Even with this awesome reasoning, I thought it wouldn't make sense to spend money for the right to buy books.  It all seemed a little backwards, but I still wanted to have one of those buggers.  On Christmas at the Ness house (which was December 18th) I got to open up the Kindle and if I was sitting on a chair I would have fallen out of it.  Then, my mom gave me a gift card for Amazon where you can buy millions of ebooks for super cheap.  It is an awesome little toy. I don't need it, but I have to admit that I absolutely love it.

Now, I have heard a few complaints about the idea of a Kindle instead of a book.  They have this special section on it where they test experimental programs.  I recommend that Amazon experiment with these ideas to take away the complaints.

-You are not actually holding a book.  Well, they should make a case that feels like a book.  That way anyone who looks will see you are reading a book, you get to feel like it, and yet you still have an entire library at your fingertips.  They should make the book something impressive, like "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" or "East of Eden."  That way no one will know that you are actually just checking blogs on your magic piece of paper.

-It doesn't smell like a book.  This is disturbing to me, but both my wife and closest friend like to sniff the pages of a book.  I don't like reminding them that they sometimes go to Half Priced Books and you don't know where the book has been.  Still, Amazon could put a little stink on the Kindle.  Maybe one of those little Glade smell release machines that shoot out the book smell every few minutes.  If that doesn't work they could always have a scratch and sniff screen protector.  I'm okay with the neutral smelling electronics, but for those book sniffers it may help them out a little.

All of this is to say that I like books, and my new toy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Most Influential Books read in 2010

I'm just one guy who definitely has a preference in the style of books that I read.  With that said, I just finished my notebook where I took notes on all the books I read this last year.  There were a lot of different books, but here are the few that were most helpful to me.

"Free of Charge" by Miroslav Volf:  This is a great book about the practice of forgiveness in a culture that isn't all that excited about it.  It is a challenging book that is very relevant to any of us.

"Walking with the Poor" by Bryant Myers.  The cover is horrible.  The book is old.  The truths and experience in it are worth fifty times what you pay for the book

"Stuff Christians Like" by Jonathan Acuff.  The guys funny.  Most days I need to laugh and laugh hard.

"Linchpin" by Seth Godin.  It's hard to describe this book, but I would say in a way that it is courage on a page.  I don't agree with everything, but the idea is whatever is in front of you, go do it and be irreplaceable.  It helped me to think of what I am called to and what I am not and finally be okay with that.

There are about twenty others I would recommend, but I need to get some stuff done.  I hope you check out one of these if it would help.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

If it doesn't work out...

I have heard many sentences begin with those words in my life.  I heard it from friends when Nikki and I got married at 20.  I heard it when I became a pastor, continued being a pastor beyond the certain amount of time that would make it a phase, and now that we started Eyes That See.  The words are always meant as some odd sort of comfort, but they seem to be dooming the hearer to failure.  They seem to say that at least you have something to fall back on.  They affirm that you haven't put everything into one basket, but instead you have wisely diversified your life enough to not be ruined if this one this doesn't work out.  I remember one time in particular where the phrase caught me so off guard that I couldn't even respond.  I didn't know that "it" not working out was an option.

I intend to live completely by faith.  I want to be wise in my decisions, yet dependent in everything.  I want to know that God's word is true when it says that you can "Taste and see that God is good."  I want to live by faith, not in theory, but in practice.  I want to "Seek first the Kingdom" and continue to know the joy of having everything else added to our lives.

If this living by faith thing doesn't work out, I want to have nothing to fall back on.  I intend to be completely ruined if God is not God.  I don't want a back up plan.  I don't want to be diversified.  I know there are plenty of people who will think that it is foolish to say these things, but I'm not supposed to match plenty of people.  I intend to match my Father. All I have is invested in that.  If it doesn't work out...I will have nothing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January's "I'm not so cool" Moment

Technically it happened in December, but the truth is it still happened.  Not surprisingly it came out of the mouth of one of my children. This leads me to a side note:  Did God create children to humble parents? I'm starting to believe this is true.  No one has led me to realize my dependence on God more than my five crew members.  I feel it more everyday.

Back to the "I'm not so cool" moment.  My family was staying at my mom's house over Christmas and my brother was there too.  He spent the night on one couch and Carter was on the other.  When my crew started waking Brian used his full intelligence and turned away from the living room.  With his back facing out, little Ana went towards him thinking that he was me.  This is an easy mistake because we are both amazingly good looking.  Just ask us.  When she got near she saw it was him and was a little confused.

Next came Jackson.  He woke Brian and saw his awesome morning hair.  For those of you who don't know the way that Ness hair works you need to know that during the night our hair throws dance parties and when we wake it looks like someone took a power mixer to our scalp. When Jackson saw Brian he said that his morning hair looked like my hair when it is fixed.

I know that I don't have good hair, but what options do I have?  Grass seed companies want to study my scalp to see how my hair can grow so thick and quickly.  What else can I do but stick it up everywhere?  I thought I was being a "cool dad" for Jackson.  I guess I just look like a blender head.

This morning is a good week and a half since Jackson's subtle punch to my stomach.  I remembered his words this morning, but I stuck my hair up a good foot and a half just because I can.  I may not be cool, but with my hair making me seven feet tall I am at my ideal weight!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wildly Popular in Russia

I just found on the blog where you can see where your "followers" are living.  I want you to know the country that is beginning to follow me is Russia.  There must be a pocket of people who love me up there because they are clicking on this blog like I'm giving away free computers (which I am not.)  I'm thinking about planning a tour of Russia for all of my readers up there, but it could easily be just one person who thinks my last name is a suffix.  More on this later.  In the mean time, Russia loves me!

Finally back

I know...I know...both of you didn't know what to do without my thoughts.  Well, after being in Eau Claire and Minneapolis for a week, coming back to kids who acted like they were stuck in a car for 14 hours, having almost three weeks off of school, having both Nikki's and my laptops break, and a middle finger that swelled to the size of a big toe I am back.  I bet you missed me too!  Here are my blogging New Year's resolutions. 
1. To actually post things.
2. Post things that are worth reading (starting with my next post)
3. To have other people check my blog more than I do.
4. Lose 20 lbs blogging.  (I just threw this in because resolutions always seem to be about having weight and not having money.)