2008 was a big year for me in at least one way: I really tried all year long to have a consistent personal time with God. ¬†As I look back, I see what an impact this had on me. ¬†There were small stints along the way when I got out of the practice, but it was usually not more than a few days.¬†Over Christmas, I found it tough to keep up with all of the traveling and parties and seeing extended family so much, but I’m back at it now and I want to start something new.
Over the last year, I have got into the habit of journaling and I’ve really enjoyed it. I am hoping to now branch out and blog about this from time to time. ¬†The reason is that sometimes I write about personal things and those I will keep to myself. ¬†However, other times I just write about how God’s Word is speaking to me and I would love the opportunity to share that with others.
So consider this a heads up and if it inspires you to do the same, you can always comment back on any of my blogs at https://lakesidelife.org. ¬†Happy blogging!
Thursday afternoon I left for Calgary… alone.¬† In some ways I was looking forward to some alone time during the drive, but a few hours later I was beginning to change my mind.¬† Then, after stopping for 5 hours to sleep at a Motel 6 in Butte, MT, I was ready for a new day.¬† A long day.¬† By the time I arrived at the border at 8:30 AM, I was starting to hear an unfamiliar grinding in the front wheels of Dan’s car.¬† The GoodYear shop in Lethbridge could not take another vehicle that day so on I went to Calgary where I got the bad news.¬† Needed: a complete front brake job – rotors, pads, caliper servicing… $ 330.00.¬† WOW!¬† Then when I got to Red Deer there were other issues, including a lost Blackberry (I found it after awhule).¬† By the time I pulled into SunnySide Camp at 4:15 PM, I was exhausted.¬†
I wish I could tell you that I had joy in my heart as I parked the car.¬† I didn’t.¬† In facr, I was feeling quite sorry for myself.¬† Here I was, all alone for the next three days among people who speak a strange language – Arabic.¬† I wanted to turn around and drive somewhere – ANYWHERE – as fast as I could.¬† But I didn’t
So I parked the car and started the 150′ walk across the parking lot to the main building.¬† And that’s where it happened.¬† There on the steps were four Arabic speaking men… and they immediately called my name!¬† my heart leaped, not because of some wierd attraction (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?) but because these men were my brothers!¬† And I hadn’t seen them for a full year.¬† We shook hands and hugged and exchanged the year’s events.¬† We greeted others as they came in.¬† There was the man who was baptized at the end of the baptism last year (he had served in the Iraqi army), and another couple who were Egyptioan.¬† There were Iranians, Jordanians and Syrians.¬† And even though we spoke different languages (actually I was the one who was different), we were united because we were family… God’s family.¬† We were brothers and sisters and that Christ-bond was greater than culture, greater than language and greater than the year of separation.
So here’s the point.¬† On Sundays we meet together, this rag-tag group of Lakesiders.¬† We bring different experiences, different hurts and vastly different personalities.¬† But the moment we see one another, the day gets a bight broghter, the burdens we bear become a bight lighter, and the hurst and disappointments of life seem to become less hurtful, less impactful.
When you pull into the parking lot this Sunday, know that the ministry of your presence will make a difference other lives.¬† Greet one another with joy.¬† Give great hugs and words of encouragement.¬† Cherish the moment with your family – God’s family.¬†¬†We are blessed!
Yesterday, while flying home on a Dallas – Denver leg, God chose the most unlikely event to drive home a point that is timely for us at Lakeside. ¬†I wasn’t looking to hear from God; in fact, I just wanted to get home with no more cancelled flights. ¬†So here is the story.
I was seated at the back of the plane in seat 25B. ¬†Most of the passengers were seated and 25A was open. ¬†GREAT! ¬†This was going to be the flight where I could stretch out. ¬†But then I saw her… a mom carrying a little boy in a frontal harness. ¬†And just that quickly, 25A disappeared. ¬†So did my hopes for a nice relaxing flight. ¬†Great attitude, eh? (That’s Canadian-ese for “huh”)
This little guy, though, had plans for me. ¬†She was barely in her seat when he stretched out his arms, wanting me to take him. ¬†His mom, wanting not to bother me, tried to pull him back. ¬†But he was determined. ¬†So there we were… and this 14 month old guy (Julian) had already won me over. ¬†I played with him a bit and fed him (or he fed himself a bottle) as he sat in my arms. ¬†His mom, who was exhausted from the trip from to visit a very ill grandfather, was thankful for the break. ¬†
As I held Julian close, God took my thoughts to a different time and a different place. ¬†Some 2,000 years ago, the God who created all that is chose to become flesh and walk among us. ¬†And I know that he held little boys like Julian on his knee. ¬†I pondered, “When Jesus held little boys like Julian, what did he think? ¬†How did he respond to these little children who seem so willing to interrupt our lives? ¬†Did he see the value of their soul and the prospect of eternity for them?” ¬†Without a doubt! ¬†When Jesus was asked about greatness in the kingdom, he responded using a little child (Matthew 18:1-6). ¬†He went on further to say that whoever welcomes a little child welcomes him (Jesus). ¬†But Jesus said much the same thing about helping the poor, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison.
So here’s the point. ¬†In all that we do, nothing (apart from our personal walk with God)… and I mean NOTHING is a greater priority than people – big or small. ¬†Some of us are getting tired from the labor. ¬†When fatigue sets in, so does ungodly practice. ¬†We “chirp” at one another and find fault. ¬†We become short tempered and hard nosed. ¬†It’s just natural. ¬†However, the Father calls us to life life in the supernatural. ¬†Hear Jesus: “A new command I give you: Love one another. ¬†As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ¬†By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”¬†¬†Let’s not get so caught up in the tasks of the moment that we forget what the real objective is. ¬†It’s all about people and the kingdom!
Pray this with me: “Father, thanks for the way you love me unconditionally and for being so extremely patient with me. ¬†Help me to love the way you love… and help me to show it with grace and forgiveness and patience, just as you do. ¬†In the power and authority of Jesus’ name alone, Amen.
So how did my trip end? ¬†Well, when Julian started to fuss, I took him out into the aisle and walked him forward and aft in the aisle many times, all the while holding his hands so he wouldn’t fall. ¬†At one point a flight attendant asked to hold him because she was on a four day trip and was missing her little boy who was about the same age. ¬†Eventually I wore him out. ¬†I picked him up and gently bounced him in my arms until he went to sleep. ¬†Only then did I return to my seat. ¬†And Julian? ¬†Well, he slept on my shoulder all the way to the gate. ¬†He had truly touched my heart, and his mom had given me a given me a gift of unmeasurable value. ¬†To Julian I say, “God bless you little man. ¬†Jesus was right. ¬†When it comes to the kingdom, you’re the greatest”. ¬†To Mom, I just want to say, “Thanks for sharing your most precious gift with me”.
Let’s now be careful to see one another in the same light. ¬†You just never know how God might bless your life!
So I have had Olympic fever all week.¬† I’ve been watching an awful lot of the coverage and I always seem to get addicted when the Olympics roll around.¬† For me, sports have so many applications to real life.¬† That’s why sports movies tend to be so inspirational.
By now you have probably heard of the US Men’s Swim Team’s dramatic victory in the 400 meter freestyle relay.¬† The French team had told the press before the meet that, “We’re going to smash the Americans.¬† That’s what we came to do.”¬† These words were spoken by French swimmer Alain Bernard, who was the current record holder for the 100 meter.¬† He was going to anchor the French team, swimming the last 100 meters of the relay.
Things did not go well for the Amercans…in a relay, they rely on Michael Phelps to get them off to a great start and give them a lead.¬† However, as Phelps completed his part of the relay, the Amercans did not have the lead.¬† In fact, going in the last leg of the race, the Americans were still a length behind the French and it all came down to Jason Lezak…32 years old, against the world record holder Bernard, for 2 lengths of the pool. ¬†
By the time they touched the opposite end and began the last 50 meters, Lezak still had not closed the gap at all.¬† This is the best part…it was at this point that Lezak looked at Bernard to his right and briefly abandoned hope.
“The thought really entered my mind for a split second,” Lezak said. “There’s no way.”
However, as soon as the thought entered, it was wiped away by quite a different perspective…
“I changed,” he said. “I thought, ‘That’s ridiculous. I’m at the Olympic Games, I’m here for the United States of America. I don’t care how bad it hurts, I’m going after it.’
Long story short, Lezak swam the race of his life…gaining on Bernard steadily over the last length of the pool, and at the end barely outtouched him…breaking the world record and giving America the gold.
Over the last year, I am sure the same thoughts entered the minds of many of us.¬† I remember the meeting on Sunday morning where we all had a chance as a church to discuss the proposed purchase of property.¬† For most of us, while we liked the idea, I think we exhibited the same momentary fear that Lezak had.¬† There’s no way.¬† We’re too small.¬† We’ve never given over $5000/month and now we have to give over $8,000.¬† We don’t have what it takes.
However, in spite of our fears we decided to press on, saying¬† “This is ridiculous.¬† We’re doing God’s work here.¬† We don’t care how much it hurts, we’re pressing on by faith.”
In the end, it has been and will continue to be a tremendously rewarding experience.
I’ve posted the video of Lezak’s swim below. ¬†You gotta see it. ¬†I encourage you to thank God today for the opportunity He has given us to be a part of something so special.
Well finally had our first service on the new property and I think it was a huge success. Many thanks go to the people who have helped get the land ready for meeting on… You had all of three days to do it and it turned out great! The children had ample space and for once had tables and chairs to work from. Also, it was really kind of cool to meet in the tent. We had 75 people there and realized that we need more chairs. What a great problem to have!
I look forward to seeing all of you when I get back from Canada. Have fun this Sunday on the property. The tent has been reconstructed, and the location will get better every week. See you soon!
While the property closing has already taken place, we will not take possession of the new property until July 15th which leaves us without a place to meet this Sunday! ¬†Never fear though, for we are indeed meeting at Linda Vista Park in Syracuse (1800 W 2700 S). ¬†Linda Vista Park is adjacent to our new property, so we at least look…just not touch!
I am pleased to announce that we have closed the sale on the new property as of Friday, July 11th and will take possession on Tuesday, July 15th. ¬†This is truly an answer to prayer and the beginning of the most exciting part of our church growth. ¬†Continue to pray and fulfill your pledges as we move forward. ¬†The first project will be getting the auxillary building ready to meet in and then we build!
I have always admired people like Rick Warren who use their influence with other celebrities/leaders/famous people. Billy Graham was one such example who I know counseled several presidents. I came across this clip today and thought it was pretty cool. It’s of a young Billy Graham on a show with Woody Allen (must’ve been some kind of talk show). For a lot of pastors, this would have been an uncomfortable situation, especially with the jokes that Woody made, but Billy Graham handled it with a lot of poise and used that more comfortable atmosphere to gently nudge Woody in the direction of a loving God who would accept Woody just the way he is.
Anyway, enjoy the clip! I think we can all learn something about how we communicate with others.
I am pleased to announce that I was able to attend the our softball game on Tuesday night and our team got to record it’s first win! I’ve been told not to disclose how they managed to pull this off, so I will just say that rules are rules and we won fair and square. Way to go team!