Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A video from some of my students in Indiana State Prison


This is a video taken during a service in Michigan City at the prison. Many of the people in the video were from my class that I taught last year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A weekend of rain

With more rain coming down this weekend in the northwest Indiana area than any other time in 150 years it made for quite a bit of trouble. While inside a grocery store on sunday the loudspeaker came on and the announcement was "whoever has the red s-10 truck in the employee parking lot please move it or else you are going to be unable to get into it."
There was a story that summed up this weekend was in our local newspaper www.nwitimes.com was about a school teacher, his dad trying to save a boy from a rain filled area. Fortunately the boy was alive and taken to the hospital, unfortunately the teacher and his dad died in the rescue effort. Although I do not know anything about these men personally I do know that when weighing options in life they had made their decisions a long time before they tried to save this boy.
As we order priorities in life where do we put others? I went to a prayer breakfast this morning with Lloyd Ogilive (former senate chaplain) as the keynote speaker. He shared how when praying for new senator's he would pray that they would put God first, family second, nation third, and last on the list personal ambitions. How would life change if we contiunually live this way? Whether we have the influence of the those in the U.S. Senate or just those in our immediate family we all have an ability to put serve and sacrifice for others.
As we can only imagine what is going to happen with the American financial situation, where are our priorities and where do we have our agendas? The answers to tough questions like this seem to get easier when we have previously arranged our priorities and realized that putting self ambition first is not going to be the answer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A determined runner

This past weekend Valparaiso celebrated it's most famous alumni Orville Redenbacker with it's popcorn festival. Like many other small Indiana town festivals it mixes some part of it's heritage. Valpraiso not only has a parade, venders, food, a balloon launch but it also has a 5 mile race and it's marquee event called the lil' kernal race.
From general estimates anywhere from 300-500 kids ages 2-9 race down Valparaiso mainstreet in age groups and heats of 20-25.The 7-9 race 300 yards, 4-6 200 yards and then 2-3 100 yards. It is a run in front of family,friends, valpoites, and those who wanted to stake their claims out for the parade.
Ayden had run in the this event once before we had held out Kyle and Ellyse due to not knowing how they would handle it. This year we decided to sign them all up to run. Although Kyle is 8 we thought it best if he just ran the 200 yards with Ellyse. We had no idea how he would do, we thought worse case scenerio he would trip, fall, and be bloody the rest of the day.
When it was the 6 year olds time to shine, Jill pushed through the crowds to get Ellyse and Kyle into position. They reached the starting line with every other parent in northwest indiana who thought their child is going to be the next Usain Bolt. There were racer helpers who would escort the kids to the finish line and Jill asked one of them to occompany Kyle. The race started out and all the kids darted down the road. All the kids that is but Kyle. He tried to run as fast as his legs would take him, but he doesn't move to well because of the muscle Dystrophy. Soon it was very evident that this was going to take a while. When he was a quarter of the way to through the course Ellyse and the rest of the kids finished. Kyle was very determined to finish, although his legs are not strong his will made up for it. As he labored the remaining 150 yards a couple of other helpers joined in encouraging him to finish. I thnk there was very little doubt in Kyle's mind that he couldn't finish. As he neared the finishing line Jill's uncle told the announcer that the little boy's name on the course was Kyle. He began cheering on the loudspeaker for Kyle and immediately the throughs of people gathered began to follow.
As they were cheering his name a huge smile came across Kyle's face and with all the energy he could muster he ran the remaining 25 yards as fast as his legs would carry him.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do I really miss people?

In taking my daughter to school I encounter a girl who attends the church gathering that I am apart of. I had talked to her last Sunday and realized she was not in attendance yesterday. My first thought today when I saw her was to say I missed you at our church service yesterday. Then I began processing it in my head, did I really miss her? Would I have talked to her? If I tell her I miss her will the expectations be different next time she comes to the gathering?
In general Christians make a lot of empty promises to other people in their church communities. I am sure this happens to us in other places of the world but I personally notice it quite a bit in the Christian community. We are quick to ask someone how he or she is doing, or say nice little sayings like God is in control, or we are praying for you. The question is not do we actually care, because I know deep down most of us have hearts that deeply care about others. The problem is most of us as human’s want to fix the problem. Christian cliché’s are great; every time there is a problem in my life I have many well-meaning people who send me the same cliché’s. Is there anything wrong with this? No, this is our best attempt to speak on God’s behalf and give others peace. In thinking about the words Jesus gave to hurting people most of them were much more practical than religious fluff. I am sorry the last words in the world I want to hear when my mother in law was diagnosed with cancer, or Kyle with MD is “it’s God’s will.” It is taking all I can to make it through this and I am envisioning God crying with me but when I hear the word’s it’s God’s will I am visualizing a God sitting in heaven with His arms folded saying buck up and deal with it.
When was the last time when someone in the Christian community just sat and cried with you when you were going through a struggle? When was the last you asked someone how they were doing you sat and listened without giving advice? When was the last time someone came up and started talking about how they had a goiter removed, boils, and some strange fungus when we listened and didn’t run away? So going back to this girl who I encountered today I would love to tell her we missed her at church, but I have to ask myself the question am I ready for a persons expectations to change? Am I ready for a person to expect that people will ask “how are you?” and then listen for an answer? Are our churches ready for these types of expectations or we content with fluff answers and little compassion.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Personal update

Personal Update
I like to write about concepts than about my personal life, but I would like to share an update what has been going on with Jill and I over the past month.
A change has been in the making since August 1, that day Jill’s mom was diagnosed with stage 3-breast cancer. This was out of the blue and totally unexpected. With me driving three times a week to Goshen we decided that this was not going to work with Jill needing and wanting to spend more time with her mom.
It was bittersweet leaving Goshen. This had never worked out the way we had planned, we had not sold our house. The pastor who I had felt a connection with had left. Even with all that there had been many people who I had grown close to. August 24 was my last Sunday there. Now to what next ? I had thought a lot about what to do, I really wanted to stay in ministry but I wanted something that was in the valpo area and also that was flexible enough to allow Jill to spend as much time as possible with her mom. In a complete working out of many factors and God answering prayers. I was contacted by a pastor from Jill’s home church, this pastor is also the former president of Taylor while I attended. They had a interm opening for a campus pastor for a emerging generation video venue service. After a couple conversations I realized this is what I was praying for, something that was flexible but yet also doing something I am passionate about. It works for this time and I still have no idea what the future will hold but I believe God has worked out all these circumstances. I have written in the past about feeling like not even having the same puzzle pieces but now it seems to have all come together and that is a huge answer to prayer.