Recorded for Historical Purposes

Tara had her baby! Originally due June 23rd, Kevin and Tara had a baby girl, who looks a lot like her mom, born apparently yesterday. I have no details, only pictures on Facebook. Congrats Tara!
My old friend and mentor, who’s career I have chased for the past decade, has accepted a new job in a direction different from my own. This marks the fork in the road where my path turns away from his. I will always owe who I am and what I have, in no small way, to my old Sunday School teacher, boss and friend. Good luck on your next adventure, John!
Last night was the final VPT meeting — at least in the shape its been for the past 8 months. We love you guys! You rock, and we’ve had an amazing year teaching you and learning from you. I can’t wait to see what God has for us all next!
Tomorrow we start the first missions team meeting at church! This, among many other challenges, will be a big focus of our summer, as we help a team of students get ready for the biggest adventure of their young lives. I am honored to be a part of the leadership of this group, and I know that this is going to be a life-changing experience for everyone who comes.
Randy is out of jail, again, and hopefully for the last time. This time he has a baby boy to look out for, and some real and tangible support from professionals who have way more experience than Nic or I. It’s my sincerest prayer that my one-time teenage son, and life-long friend can make it work this time.

The Spirit of Adventure

I don’t usually just post whole articles from my devotional. Usually I try to wrap some of my own thoughts around them. But today’s devotional just resounded so perfectly, that I figured I’d post it pretty much without change…
Suppose God tells you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it. What will you do? Will you hold back? We tend to say, “Yes, but— suppose I do obey God in this matter, what about . . . ?” Or we say, “Yes, I will obey God if what He asks of me doesn’t go against my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.”
Jesus Christ demands the same unrestrained, adventurous spirit in those who have placed their trust in Him that the natural man exhibits. If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says. Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.
By the test of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad, but when you test them by the trial of faith, your findings will fill your spirit with the awesome fact that they are the very words of God. Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis— only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.

Poetry

When I was a teen, I used to write poetry all the time. As an adult, though, I haven’t really been able to. The emotional angst that I felt back then had to be let out in some way, and poetry was a fun challenge. But nothing has really driven me to being that distraught in years.
Nothing, that is, save for the crappy laptop they gave me to use at work. The thing inspires such rage in me that I can’t contain it. So once again, I pick up the quill, and write my poetry…

 
An Ode to My Craptop

Oh Latitude D610, Dell Latitude D610
I’d be much better off with just a paper and pen
Your keys fall off at the drop of a hat
Why, oh why, must you play me like that?
Your screen is so small with resolution so high
I need a microscope to find the Start menu by
Exploding batteries aren’t the only dumb part —
Sometimes in the morning, you won’t even start
Your wireless connection is so very bad
It drops every 5 minutes and makes me SO MAD
Your performance is sluggish
Your tech specs are rubbish
Dell Latitude D610. My Dell Latitude D610
If you weren’t a corporate lease
   I’d throw your butt in a recycling bin

This is my crew, in whom I am well pleased

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This month, for Nine12 Serves, we went to a downtown soup kitchen to do an industrial cleaning.
This month, like the last 2 previous, the Vertical Production Team, has shown up faithfully at, or about, 7:30am in the morning, on their Saturday, ready, willing, and even joyful to serve God in a tangible way. Lending their strength, their spirit and their passion to some of the most humble, but important ministries in the area.
We mopped floors, we disinfected chairs, we polished counters, we cleaned windows, we scrubbed cabinets, and we asked God for His blessing on the people who serve, and are served in that kitchen, and in the little chapel attached.
These are not kids with lots of spare time on their hands. They have homework, they have sports, and almost all of them have their own ministry in the church that they help in. But they make an offering of their time so that they can show others the love of Christ who has saved them.
And I could not be more proud to know them, and to lead them.

And now, for no reason at all and with no conclusions attached, here are some random quotes from today's news…

Source Uncited (and therefore suspect, but interesting nonetheless)
“In an interview just last week, Falwell said he stands by his statements after 9/11, blaming “abortionists,” gays, lesbians, the ACLU and People for American Way for helping to cause the attacks.
In the same interview, (last week) he said he is asking God to grant him at least 20 more years of life in order to complete his mission. He cited a story in which a man on his deathbed, asked God for 15 more years and received it. Falwell was encouraged by this story, hinting that God is willing to intercede in death, granting renewed life for a blessed few who are righteous enough to deserve such. Falwell was hopeful that God would be as impressed and generous with his own request.”
More quotes from Rev. Falwell
From Top Ten Myths About Divorce…
#2 Living together before marriage is a good way to reduce the chances of eventually divorcing.
Many studies have found that those who live together before marriage have a considerably higher chance of eventually divorcing. The reasons for this are not well understood. In part, the type of people who are willing to cohabit may also be those who are more willing to divorce. There is some evidence that the act of cohabitation itself generates attitudes in people that are more conducive to divorce, for example the attitude that relationships are temporary and easily can be ended.
More divorce myths

This Chair Be High, Says I

This week, and all of a sudden, Benjamin hit another major development milestone. I’m not sure if it can be attributed to all the attention Grandma and Grandpa Watters showered on him during their visit this weekend, or maybe to him getting dedicated in front of the church (along with 12 other babies) on Sunday… most likely the credit goes to his new high chair, which Nicole was very excited to go pick up on Monday. Whatever it was that did it, Benjamin is now eating food!
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We’ve been very unsuccessful in getting him to take a bottle. He would go for it when he was tiny and not yet aware enough of what was going on to be picky, but as soon as his grasp of reality got good enough, he became very adamant about his preferred milk-delivery mechanism. We were worried that we’d have to force the bottle on him before we could get him to eat food, and in fact we hadn’t had a lot of luck with the watered-down rice cereal we’d started on. That is, not until he could sit at the table with us in his very own chair.
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Suddenly, not only was he interested in the food, and happily slurping water from a bottle (still won’t take a bottle of milk), he was grabbing at the bowl, opening his mouth when the spoon came close, and hollering for more when his meal was all gone. It was like someone flipped a light switch, and food suddenly seemed pretty good to him.
This is exciting for a lot of reasons. One, now I can feed him (as shown in the picture — pictures of Nicole feeding him are not available online for obvious reasons). And two, now we can have a babysitter for more than 3 hours blocks! Anyone wanna sign up?
PS: New pictures in the Flickr stream…

I'm ready for my bionic arm now

My skin graft got infected. Apparently I use my arm too much (you know, for LIVING!) and one of the stitches (probably) worked its way under the new skin and has created an angry red infection about the circumference of a baseball (fastball, not slowball) on my arm.
So that’s awesome.
I’m not allowed to work for a couple days, which is gonna be just fantastic for my release schedule. And I have to take Keflex again — which I love because of how it makes me poop all the time.
So ya, any time they want to invent that Luke Skywalker arm, they can sign me up to beta test it.
And PS to Shannon: NO, they aren’t actually going to cut my arm off! The worst that could happen is that I’d lose the skin graft, and they’d want to do it again (to which I would say, screw you, I’ll just wear a giant band aid for 4 months, cause I’m not goin through that again!)

The Daniel Fast

I’ve done my best not to talk about it, because the Bible is pretty clear that were not supposed to make a big of doing it, but for the past 3 weeks we’ve been fasting. And not just Nicole and I — most of our church has been on a Daniel Fast. In general this means that we don’t eat meat, dairy, bread, sugar, caffeine, salt, pasta… pretty much anything good. Nic and I have been doing a slightly modified version — she’s breast feeding Benjamin, so she kept poultry, and leaving milk out of my diet started doing horrible things to the inside of my mouth, so we added that back in, and we both decided to keep fish for the protein (which is still a sacrifice, cause I hate fish). Aside from that, we’ve successfully eschewed all the good tasting foods for 20 days. Tomorrow at lunch will be 21, and we’ll celebrate by eating burgers until we can’t move, and then eating some more.
We, as a church, were challenged by our pastor to do this fast, so that we could re-direct our hunger towards God. This isn’t the first time he’s challenged me on it. A couple months ago in staff meeting, he excitedly told us all about this great new thing he was doing: “not eating!!” and wouldn’t we like to try it?! Of course I missed the point at the time — I like food. But when he challenged the church, he gave us a much better explanation of it. And, having never fasted before, we figured we’d take the challenge and see what God would do.
So that’s the background. The honest reality is, even though I’ve definitely been hungry, and its definitely made me talk to God more — mostly thoughts like “Dear God, I could really go for a steak right now” — I don’t feel like I’ve gotten any closer to Him. We were told if we wanted to experience God in an exciting new way, we should fast. But all I’ve really experienced is a feeling like there’s a hole in my stomach. People around me talk about what they’re learning through this, or how God is changing them, and I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong.
And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. God doesn’t work on-demand, and just because we’re not eating, doesn’t mean God has to do amazing things in our lives. I know there are some for whom this is a huge sacrifice or a huge challenge, and I’m confident that God will honor them in a way that is appropriate to where they are in their walk in life. But I’m equally aware that God hasn’t worked any miracles in me or through me in the past 21 days.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not glad I did this. I am, in fact, very satisfied that I made it to 20 days — with or without a revolution in my life. And for those of you who disciplined yourselves through this fast, and didn’t feel the Holy Spirit moving, let me tell you why this was worth it. And I should note here, that this isn’t my discovery — rather, God hit me in the face with it during my devotions a couple days ago, and I’ve been waiting until the fast was over to post it. From My Utmost for His Highest (emphasis mine)…
. . . add to your faith virtue . . . —2 Peter 1:5
Add means that we have to do something. We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves— God does that. But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must “work out” our “own salvation” which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12). Add means that we must get into the habit of doing things, and in the initial stages that is difficult. To take the initiative is to make a beginning— to instruct yourself in the way you must go.

Faith without works isn’t worth much. It’s great to believe in something, but if you don’t act on it, it’s not very valuable. The fact is, many of the great leaders in the Bible had developed the discipline of fasting. God’s Word does not say that every time they fasted, a miracle happened. Sometimes it did, and we have many of those occasions recorded. But sometimes the Bible simply states that someone fasted. Great leaders, strong Christians in the Bible added to their faith with a humble act of obedience called fasting. And this is the important thing for me about this fast: obedience.
God doesn’t say: obey me, and I will make your life full of sunbeams and roses. He says: obey me.
He doesn’t promise that if you don’t eat meat, you’ll suddenly get a halo over your head. But He does promise to complete the good work He has started in you.
Beware of the tendency to ask the way when you know it perfectly well. Take the initiative— stop hesitating— take the first step. Be determined to act immediately in faith on what God says to you when He speaks, and never reconsider or change your initial decisions. If you hesitate when God tells you to do something, you are being careless, spurning the grace in which you stand.
We took up this fast expecting God to do something great. So far there are no angels singing heavenly hymns behind me. But I am proud that I have learned a discipline that Daniel, and Esther and even Jesus applied to their own spiritual lives. This is a tool in my arsenal now that I know how to use. It’s actually strange that I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years, and I’ve never learned to fast before… I knew the way — the Bible talks about it all over the place. But now that I’ve learned this discipline, when God tells me to fast, I know that I can act immediately on His instruction.
We have to get into the habit of carefully listening to God about everything, forming the habit of finding out what He says and heeding it. If, when a crisis comes, we instinctively turn to God, we will know that the habit has been formed in us.
There was no crisis in my life when I started this fast. Things are pretty good, and I’m pretty blessed. I didn’t need a miracle, and God didn’t deliver one. But I did need to learn how to act on my faith — so that when a crisis does come, I will know how to humble myself and trust Him.
But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves…We have to take the initiative where we are, not where we have not yet been.
God doesn’t require us to fast. It’s not a prerequisite for getting into heaven, or to having a relationship with him. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t sanctify ourselves through fasting. Rather, it’s a habit we take the initiative to develop, because God develops our character through obedience.

Tessaract

When I was young I loved to read. When my family lived in Bangladesh, our compound had pretty much the entire hardback set of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, and I read them all — despite being 5. My dad read us the Narnia Series and the Hobbit when we were just little tykes, and I loved imagining myself on adventures like that. He seemed pretty determined to instill in us a love of literature, and to that end, we always had a great library of books on hand, and I read practically all of them.
Benjamin may be too young to buy toys for yet, but he’s not too young for us to start building a library for him to dive into just as soon as he’s interested. It may be a couple years, but I want to make sure he has no shortage of stimulation for his little brain. I, in no small part, attribute what success and ideals I’ve managed to capture in life to the knowledge, wisdom and creativity I’ve been inspired by in the pages writ by people smarter than myself, and I want Benjamin to have the same advantage my parents provided me.
wrinkleint_1.jpgThe aforementioned Narnia Series (the first book of which was turned into a wonderous movie, which Ben will see after he reads it) and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings books, are two sets that I’ve had in my library for a few years now — in case I should ever become a dad. But today I picked up another book no less fanciful, but with a careful tribute paid to the science it borrows its ideas from. One which, more than most other books I read as a child, led me think in ways totally new and fascinating and well beyond the normal ponderings of a small boy. It was called A Wrinkle in Time, and today I picked up a copy for my son. Along with imaginary lightsaber battles, and adventures exploring the backyard, I’m looking forward to the day my son and I can discuss the mind-bending details of this story together.
If you haven’t read it, ignore the fact that you’ll find it in the kids section. Pick it up and read it — I think you’ll find it sufficiently stimulating regardless of your age. I have every intention of re-reading it before I pass it on to Benjamin.