Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Well, one thing I've learned about training for a marathon in the spring in Central Illinois is that it's difficult. We've had such a tough winter (ice and snow covered sidewalks) that it's been impossible to run outside. Not to mention the really cold (like below zero) temperatures. Now, I've run in 15 below wind child before and it's really not too terrible, but you can't run on snow and ice...so I've done a lot of time on the treadmill. And by a lot, I mean ludicrous amounts of time. Last Saturday was a long run for me...I did 15 miles on the treadmill. Yeah I know! That's 60 laps on the little blip oval! That's a complete college basketball game and half of another! That's having to stop after 10 miles to reset the machine because it only goes up to 100 minutes! I think that distance on the treadmill is the most mind challenging thing I've ever done

Of course my mind wandered to preaching stuff. And here's the sermon about running on a treadmill for 15 miles. I didn't get anywhere. I ran in the same two by three foot rectangle for 2 1/2 hours. I ran fifteen miles but never left my basement. do you see where I'm going? It's possible to run, to sweat, to exert all kinds of energy and get nowhere!

I think the treadmill is probably one of the best illustrations our my life and your life sometimes. We get up every morning running and just run (to work, to events, to kids stuff, to activities, to church, to play, etc....) and really never get anywhere. Here's the question: Isn't it better to actually get somewhere when you run? Isn't it better to cover some ground? Isn't it better with a destination in mind? Think about these three questions in the context of your spiritual life today. Where are you going? Are you making progress toward the goal (Phil. 3:12-14) or are you just running in the same spiritual place you have been for the last several years. Man, get off the treadmill..it's just lousy running. Get out and get some air and go somewhere.

Hope that true this week for me both spiritually and physically.

Monday, January 19, 2009

solving predestination

Well, we've spent the last three weeks in the word talking about being chosen. Which always leads to (if you are carefully thinking through all the spiritual implication of choseness) to concern for the unchosen. There are Girgashites you know? People who are not chosen by God and who God commands his unchosen to take out (this in O.T. Promised Land history). This opens up a whole can of theological worms concerning God's foreknowledge, predestination, free will, etc... How can God be sovereign (big word for in control) over all and yet allow us to make choices that somehow play out in the equation? Of course Calvinists and Armenians have an answer to all of this (which am I? Neither, both guys who came up with these respective theologies were godly and intelligent men, but still just men. I believe everything the Bible teaches). But here's how I have solved these biblical truths in my mind:

First of all, I don't understand it and no one does. This is hard for those who want to have an explanation for everything about God, but the moment we can explain Him; we become as big and smart as He is and who wants a god like that?

Second understanding: Since i walk by faith and not by sight, I'm o.k. with not knowing. I believe that God is who he says He is and His written word is truth and so i trust everything there.

Thirdly (which I only use to irritate my jr. high english teacher who would say, "thirdly" isn't proper), there are only three truths we really need to know about our free will and God predestining us to be chosen. And here they are.
1. If you hear about Jesus you have a chance to believe in Him and therefore become chosen as heirs of the promise to Abraham through Jesus his "seed".
2. If you believe in Jesus (and I mean you follow him and trust him with your salvation and your life) then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
3. If you are worrying about Girgashites being eternally condemned (or any other people or people groups in the world that you feel aren't getting a fair shake in the chosen realm) you are worrying about something outside of your control or understanding. It is up to God to save people and he's passionate about it (sent his Son) and has a plan (the church - that's you if you are a Jesus' follower). We have to trust that God will be God. We can't.

So I can say with equal passion. I came to Jesus by faith, an act of my own free will (I remember giving the good confession as a 7 year old). I really chose to follow him (and still do everyday). And at the same time. He chose me before the foundation of the world to be one of his sons and daughters. How complex. How confusing. How wonderful to be chosen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday nite special (live from San Diego)

Well, a great weekend in San Diego is winding down (and as most of you sleep, there's still enough time in my Sunday to let you into my awesome weekend) and since I'll be at 37,000 feet much of tomorrow, you get the Monday blog a little early.

Sara, Caleb and I flew to San Diego on Friday leaving 25 degrees and flurries behind for some sunshine. It's not that we saw a whole lot when we arrived (the sunset at 5:00 and we got the hotel around 6:00) but we could tell from the palm trees and soft breezes that we were in for a great weekend. We were not disappointed! 80's and sunshine both days! Here are the top ten memorable things from the weekend:

10. Sara and I went to Point Loma Nazarene Univ. and watched the sunset over the ocean on Saturday night. Spectacular.
9. Caleb and I sat on our balcony overlooking the bay two nights and had great talks about dating, church leadership, preaching and life. I really treasure those times.
8. I ran 16 miles (still training for Champaign marathon in April) totally along the bay early Saturday morning in shorts! Even this kind of ludicrous (is that spelled right?) running is enjoyable when the sun shines over the water.
7. Hot tub with Sara on Saturday night (see number 8 and you'll know why I needed it) with a chill in the air.
6. Catching up with Chris and Lyndsey Hornbrook and seeing their new little girl Ruthie Grace. These guys were formerly the young adult pastors at Eastview and it's always good to spend time with them.
5. Lunch after church this afternoon on Mission Bay at a local fish joint. Great crab cakes with a view to the ocean.
4. Driving around in a really cool red convertible (Caleb had to sit sideways because there was no leg room, but he didn't mind - maybe).
3. A chance to think/pray/stare at the water/be still/read. It's good to say nothing and just be in the presence of God (and it's rare when I'm not talking :-).
2. Breakfast this morning before church was my usual routine - grande' Starbucks and a scone while I looked at the hundreds of boats docked in the marina. Very cool and I paid special attention to pray for my family at Eastview as I realized where they were in their church services. (I missed you guys, but not really the weather you were experiencing).
1. Preaching at Chris's three month old church (Momentum Christian Church - Google and check it out). There were two services - one for the workers (about 30 who serve behind the scenes when church begins) and the second for their church service of about 50-60 adults. I really enjoyed the cinema setting. The worship was great and the Spirit moved.

Words can't describe...great weekend, looking forward to being home. Everyone keeps saying to have a safe trip home, but I'm not the one flying the plane, so I'll sit in a seat as safely as I can.

Monday, January 5, 2009

never ceases to amaze

me at the stuff that happens in church. Yesterday in second hour during the prayer at the end of my sermon; I heard the loudest crash I've ever heard in church. One of our camera operators had passed out - and forward into the camera and off of the stand into the chairs in front of them. I didn't even know who it was at first (new member Lynn McCloud sp?? who is a great behind the scenes servant), but instantly stopped talking to God and started talking to any doctors in the house. within seconds she was surrounded with medical attention, our staff responded quickly and not really knowing what else to do, I prayed for her and her safety and then we proceeded with the worship tune scheduled after the prayer.

Now that I know she's o.k. I would be really interested in a couple of things. I wish we had a camera on how it happened (just to see what went down and o.k. maybe laugh a little - with Lynn of course! I suggested marking the seats in front of our cameras as hard hat areas in our planning meeting this morning and no one laughed (but that didn't stop me)). I also wish we had a video of my expression as I opened my eyes. I'm sure my mouth was hanging open and I had a super dumb expression like (now what am I supposed to say). Finally, it would be awesome if we had some video of someone who had fallen asleep (yes people still fall asleep in church) and how they jumped.

I'm glad it all turned out and we can put it behind us. What other stories you ask? Well, there was the time when two junior high boys started slugging it out during worship in camp. and the time where police came to the sunday school door to arrest some teens in my class for shoplifting at the store across from the church. and the time when a war protester starter saying stuff about Christians at a youth conference. and another when I was speaking to 4,000 students at the illinois teen convention and a guy off his meds starting yelling at me and walking down the middle aisle. Like I said, it never ceases to amaze. I wonder what's next?