Make Your Dot

By appreciating her simple center-of-the-page dot, Vashti's teacher opened her student's eyes to see that even those who believe that talent eludes them can create art.  We learn alongside her as we read Peter Reynold's book, The Dot.  What began as a fictional tale in a book has grown into a worldwide movement.  In fact, inspired by the tale of Vashti and her dot, people around the globe will celebrate International Dot Day on September 15 or, according to the official website - "September 15th-ish."  The founders of Dot Day encourage participants to "celebrate creativity, courage and collaboration."

I encourage you to read a copy of The Dot and, therefore, I will avoid giving away too many details that Reynolds artfully includes.  I will, however, share a bit.

Vashti doubts herself.  "I can't draw," she protests more out of self-doubt than obstinance.  However, as stated before, Vashti learns to believe in herself due, in great part, to the efforts of her teacher. 
We relate to Vashti - don't we?
  • Those who draw - don't think they draw as well as someone else.
  • Those who sing - doubt that their voice is important enough to be heard.
  • Those who are told they're beautiful - doubt their beauty when they compare themselves with another.
We underestimate the value of our dots.

In my passion for the Ordinary Life, I urge you to see your worth and the value of your dot.

  • Take pride in your "B" for which you studied diligently.
  • Draw for the sake of drawing - no matter how many (or how few) people see it.
  • Love your kids when they succeed and when they fail.
  • Strum your six-string even if you never stand on a stage.
After you finish reading this sentence, go make your dot and celebrate it on September 15th-ish and beyond.

#ordinarylives

Christians Like Cheese

Christians like Cheese.  I should have typed the word "are" between Christians and Cheese.  Let me explain.

There is a day in June which provides the Green Bay Packers and other residents of Wisconsin an opportunity to celebrate.  Somewhere along the way, a keeper of calendar dates declared June 4th National Cheese Day. 

While Americans eat just over half as much cheese per year as the French, 34 pounds per person does sound a bit excessive.  I eat my share of the national average - mainly through the regular consumption of Anchorage's Moose's Tooth pizzas.  (They're amazingly tasty!)  


If you want to begin making plans for a 2020 Cheese Day celebration, the folks at www.holidayscalendar.com provide this advice . . .
"If you want to celebrate National Cheese Day, then all you have to do is enjoy cheese in one of its many forms.  You can have cheese soup, a cheese sandwich or maybe just some cheese ravioli.  Maybe your idea of a good time is having some cheese on crackers or eating a cheese pizza.  How you celebrate this holiday all depends on your personal preferences."

Cheese.com identifies 1829 different types of cheese.  Notice that whether one eats Aged Gouda or Zwister, one eats cheese.  All cheeses from A to Z are types of cheese.

While I am mentioning numbers, I will shift from the topic of cheese to the matter of Christianity.  The keepers of statistics, whomever they may be, identify the total number of Christian denominations at over 33,000.  Notice that whether one attends an Anabaptist church or a church belonging to the West Syriac Rite, one attends a church.

While not all who attend church truly follow Christ, many do.  Therefore Christians of any of the 33,000 denominations, whether living in Afghanistan or Zimbabwe, share the identity of a Christ-follower. 

Just as Cheddar and Brie taste different and are presented in differing ways, Congregational and Baptist churches vary in style and nourish distinct "tastes."  Despite their differences, both of the former are still cheeses and both of the latter are still Christian churches. 


As you gather with friends to enjoy the great variety of cheeses from Aged Gouda to Zwister, perhaps
you will choose to eat a grilled cheese sandwich or spoonfuls of cheese soup. All are cheese.


As you gather at church with other Christians to celebrate Jesus, remember that Christians who meet in a church different than ours, still gather in a church.  All are Christ-followers.

#ordinarylives





Matter of Minutes

According to historical record, the shortest war in history lasted 38 minutes.  On August 27, 1896, soldiers by land and sea from the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate engaged in battle.  The British Navy took the day - or should I say .026 of the day.  

Very few events of significant importance occur in just over half an hour.  However, in our clock-watching culture, life is measured in minutes.  Minutes constitute hours, hours constitute days, days add up to weeks, weeks add up to months, and months combine to make a year.  

Followers of Jesus Christ can benefit from a look at those measures.  We can use the various components as guides for our self-evaluation of how well we live our everyday, Ordinary Lives for Christ.  We can use them, specifically, as markers of progress as we ask introspective questions. 
  • Did I really listen well to my spouse / friend / child over the last few minutes?
  • During the last hour, did I treat others as I would like to be treated?
  • Today, did I spend time praying?
  • Today, have I read my Bible?
  • Did I give my best at work this week?
  • Did I make time for rest this week?
  • Did I serve someone else this week?
  • This month, have I actively engaged in church?
  • Did I stick to healthy living this month?
  • What did I accomplish last year?
  • What have I accomplished so far this year?
  • Have I grown in my relationship with God this year?

These are some of the near-countless helpful introspective questions one may ask.

When you finish reading that last sentence, go use the next 38 minutes well.  (I don't suggest war!)

#ordinarylives

Choices

On Saturday, my wife and I will head to Sky Harbor International Airport to board a plane bound for Anchorage, Alaska - our home.  We will do so as a pair. 

A few days prior, we flew to Phoenix as two of a trio. 
We flew to Arizona with our daughter; we fly from Arizona without her.  She will remain in the state to begin her exciting journey at Grand Canyon University. 

As our oldest child, she is the first with whom we will share this experience of leaving home.  None of us know the specifics of what the next steps of this journey entail; nevertheless, we trust that the future is bright with opportunity and will be full of learning curves. 

Vonda Kay and I prepare to send our daughter on this next great adventure with our blessing and full support.  While I do not yet know, in entirety, what our just-before-the-returning-flight words of wisdom will be, I do know that I will repeat two bits of wisdom which are well-known to her.
1) Be safe.
2) Make good choices.


I realize that the former can be taken too far.  We do, after all, enjoy life when we take some risks (i.e. sky dive, eat a new food, hike a new trail, be the first to say "hello").  Nevertheless, a father feels better after saying those two words to his daughter. 

The latter piece of wisdom, however, cannot be taken too far.  In fact (and I tread lightly here - not wanting to put words in His mouth), I think one could summarize God's commands to Adam, Eve, Cain, Abram, Moses, Deborah, David, Solomon, Peter, Martha, Thomas, you, and me with that three-word phrase . . .
Make good choices.

When you make good choices, you will . . .

  • love the Lord your God
    (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37)
  • love your neighbor as yourself
    (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
  • pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness
    (1 Timothy 6:11)
So - jump out of a plane, eat raw eel, climb that mountain, be brave - as you will.  But always remember - be safe by making good choices.  Whether you are headed to college, moving to a new state, picking a career, dating, married, young, old, or in-between - remember to . . .
Make good choices.

#ordinarylives

Relationships

Dale Carnegie provided suggestions to his readers regarding relationships.  He aimed to enhance his readers' influence and success. 

Life is made up of relationships.  How we view the relationships in our lives matters. 

  • Do we love for love's sake? 
  • Do we care out of true concern? 
  • Do we see connections as means to an end? 
  • Do we sustain only the relationships that best benefit us? 
Peter, the Disciple, wrote about relationships.  In doing so, he highlighted love.

When he wrote those words, certainly his mind pulled up the memory of his lakeside chat with Jesus.  Earlier Peter, through his three-fold denial, sinned against his Lord.  On the beach, Jesus restored Peter by, likewise, highlighting love (see John 21).  We observe that when Peter wrote of love covering a multitude of sins, he wrote out of personal experience.

A great value of relationships is the way in which they pull focus from self.  When our view of relationships is healthy,  they cause us to focus on others and to care for them. 

Peter learned that living for and loving Jesus was, in large part, about loving others.  As you live for Jesus, love others by treating your relationships as they should be treated.  Value relationships for relationships' sake.

#ordinarylives

Life, Not Death

Celebration of Life.  This week, people of Rabbit Creek Church as well as other friends and family will gather to celebrate life.  We will gather to remember the life of a dear friend and church member.  Notice that we will congregate with a focus not on death but on lifeBecause of Jesus, we will celebrate life rather than mourn death. 

Our friend trusted Jesus.  John, chapter 1, tells us that the Word, who is Jesus, is God and that He became flesh.  This same God who willingly came to earth to save people from their sin, said these words - "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."  The one we remember this week experienced those words.  He is in the presence of the Lord.  God did not and will not leave nor forsake him. 

Christ's love does not bow to any force, power, or person.  Christ's love is for all who will believe in Him and His way.  Christ chose our friend and our friend chose to follow Christ.  Our friend found a solid place of rest and security. 

Christ died on a cross because of sin that He never committed.  That sin was ours. 
But death did not have the last word.  Christ walked out of the tomb where He was buried.  Christ is not dead and neither are those who place their faith in Him.  Christ calls you and offers security and rest and if you truly respond, nothing you face in this life will ever be strong enough to pull you away from Him.

If you believe and follow Jesus, you can say along with Hosea, the prophet, and Paul, the apostle, "Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?"

#ordinarylives

Snipe Hunt Anyone?

Today we climb! Well, actually, we will hike uphill.  Nevertheless, as part of a group from our church consisting of teenagers and chaperones, I will make my way upward toward Lost Lake. 

The body of water earns its moniker. 

A number of years ago my wife (whom I regularly thank for her willingness to seek adventure) and I stood atop the highest point along Lost Lake Trail and took in the panoramic view . . . of fog.  If I doubted the trustworthiness of maps and the truthfulness of my friends who tell me of a lake not lost, I would wonder if the suggested hike to find the lake was akin to the invitations we received as Boy Scouts years ago to journey into the woods in search of snipes.

The scribe of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews opened his best known section of text with words addressing an action for which "the ancients were commended." 

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Faith.  For their action of faith, the ancients (the women and men of Old Testament and New Testament fame) received commendation.  Faith, according to the true and trustworthy teaching of Hebrews, is confidence and assurance - confidence in hope and assurance in things unseen.

Hope

The lyrics of a modern song of praise declare a "thank you" of sorts to God - "but You have never failed me yet."  All is well lyrically (and theologically) for six words.  The seventh misses the mark.  Biblical hope removes the "yet."  Faith recognizes that the unfailing God never fails and, therefore, never will fail. 
Joshua 21:45 (NIV)
Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
God is love and love never fails.

Things Unseen
Hebrews 11:39 is perhaps the most honest (brutally, perhaps) verse in the Bible.

Hebrews 11:39 (NIV)
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,
Those words speak directly to us as we consider our expectations. 
  • Yes, Noah completed the ark;
         yet the world drifted again into sin.
  • Yes, Abraham experienced a miracle as Sarah gave birth;
         yet the family feuds were aplenty.
  • Yes, Moses crossed the sea;
         yet his feet never landed in the Promise Land. 
  • Yes, Rahab was spared;
         yet her whole city (her hometown) fell.
  • Yes, you experience the grace of God;
         yet you still have cancer.
  • Yes, you know that God will come through;
         yet you wonder when.
Our expectations should be based on things unseen rather than seen.
Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Years (many of them) after my final unsuccessful snipe hunt, I discovered that snipe actually exist.  Not the ones of folklore, but rather of ponds and swamp lands.  I guess the joke is on those who invited me and my fellow pillowcase-toting searchers on the hunt - a hunt that was based in fiction; yet while still elusive, pointed to the real thing.

Leave the pillowcase-hunting quests behind.  Join the real adventure of Faith.

#ordinarylives

Time Keeps on Slippin'

Depending on how the past nearly two months have gone, parents eagerly anticipate or sadly contemplate that, within less than a month, Anchorage schools will resume classes.  Ruled paper, #2 pencils, crayons, and thumb drives fill Amazon virtual and Big Box Store actual carts.  New shoes (in which one can jump much higher and run extremely faster) sit at the ready.  Hair appointments are written (again - virtually or actually) on calendars.

Depending on their level of love for school, students either happily plan or grudgingly accept that the first bell will soon ring.

In regard to academic calendars and life in general, our readiness determines our attitude.  In the Psalms, Psalm 139 specifically, David wrote . . .

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Verses 7-8 (NIV)

Surely, depending on the day (at times), David found comfort in that assurance; while at other times he hoped that his omnipresent and omniscient God could be less present and knew a bit less. 

Jesus, while teaching, most often chose to instruct through the use of parables.  To the subject of the fruition of the Kingdom of God (specifically, His return), He dedicated many a parable.  Readiness was the theme.  We learn from His parables that, like school, some will be rejoicing when He returns while others will be unprepared.  Jesus, leaving little room for misunderstanding, explained . . .
Matthew 24:36 (NIV)

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

No one is privy to God's timetable.  What then should we do?  We must be ready.  When we choose readiness, we (in confidence) believe that when Jesus returns, we will be found with carts full of faith, grace, and fruit.  To be ready includes an eager anticipation of hearing Jesus declare, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Are you ready?

Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV)
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

#ordinarylives

Growing Past Hunt and Peck

To their initial dismay, my wife and I encouraged (made is actually more accurate) our sons to take time this summer to learn to type.  They - like me, to be honest - were quite content to "hunt and peck."  Now, however, they know and use "Basic Position."  All who know how to type in such a manner enjoy the advantage of the ability of keeping their eyes on their monitor rather than their fingers.  Typists develop muscle memory, memory that enhances and speeds their keyboarding skills. 

Muscle memory proves to be valuable in everything from typing letters to gracing the ivories and from shooting threes to launching Titleists off tees.  So, too, in spiritual growth.

While muscle may not play a significant role in spiritual growth, memory does.  Perhaps most famously, Richard Foster devoted a whole work to spiritual growth memory in his, now classic, Celebration of Discipline.

In order to grow spiritually, one must commit to developing habits that become such through repetition.

Who do you think gains the most from the Bible? 
Those who read it regularly.

Who do you think develops a positive prayer life?
Those who pray often.  (Paul did without ceasing!)

Who do you think feels the power of worship?
Those who participate in church community.

Who do you think receives answers from God?
Those who ask questions of God.

Do you desire a closer relationship with God?  If so, start today developing the habits that will, through repetition, strengthen your faith and enrich your relationship with your Father.  You can do this within your Ordinary Life.  In the words of Foster . . .

We must not be led to believe that the Disciplines are only for spiritual giants and hence beyond our reach, or only for contemplatives who devote all their time to prayer and meditation.  Far from it.  God intends the Disciplines of the spiritual life to be for ordinary human beings:  people who have jobs, who care for children, who wash dishes and mow lawns.  In fact, the Disciplines are best exercised in the midst of our relationships with our husband or wife, our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors.  (page 1)  . . .
The primary requirement is a longing after God. (page 2)

In your relationship with God, settle not for "hunt and peck;" learn to keep your eyes on the Maker.

#ordinarylives

_______
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline. San Francisco: Harper, 1998.

The Gospel

This coming Sunday I will begin a series of sermons teaching from the New Testament letter Galatians.  Paul started his letter with words of blessing.  Then he expressed astonishment.
Galatians 1:6-10 (NIV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
9
As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Perhaps you have heard a person articulate their purpose in life with the motto of "to know Christ and to make Him known."  While Paul did not use those words he would have seconded them with a hearty "Amen!"  


Here in Galatians Paul voices the centrality of the gospel.  He instructs that the gospel is the true motto for Christians.  To his astonishment and horror, he discovered that, in his own words . . .
Galatians 1:6 (NIV)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
Before we address the "different gospel," we do well to cement the true gospel.  What, after all, is the gospel?  The gospel is this . . .
God so loved the world that He sent His Son Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life; and all who believe in Him are saved and receive the gift of eternal life.
Paul made it a life goal to clearly present the true gospel and he refused to stand by and allow anyone to add to or subtract from the Good News.  Those who presented anything other than the truth caused his blood to boil. 

Paul loved the gospel and those with whom he shared it.  His love for both motivated him to assume the role of protector of the truth.  Because truth was so important to him he sought to remove any doubt with his hearers that any of it was a creation of any vivid imagination or for personal gain. 

The gospel is central to the Christian faith.  As you continue in your journey of faith, stay true to the gospel. 

#ordinarylives

Dependence Day

At just shy of sixty years of age George Fox, the founder of the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) wrote to Christian friends living in Holland. 

In a couple of days Americans nationwide will celebrate Independence Day - truly a day worthy of celebration. 

We love independence.  That love, however, can lead to unhealthy obsession.  Believers in Jesus need to recognize (and embrace) their dependence.  To this point, Fox's words speak . . .

Dear friends in the peaceable truth, -- The glory of God all mind, in all your lives and conversations, and that the heavenly fruits of the holy spirit of God you may all bring forth to his praise, living in righteousness, godliness, and meekness, lowliness, and humility, learning of Christ Jesus your saviour, who is meek.  For the humble God doth teach, and they grow up in his grace and favour.
God teaches the humble, for the humble open their minds to learning.  A learner depends on his teacher. 

Fox, having issued the call to humility, added words as to the times Friends gathered.

And in the Lord's light, power, and spirit meet together, and keep your meetings in the name of Jesus Christ who hath all power in heaven and earth given to him, that you may feel his living and divine presence among you, and in his pure, gentle, and heavenly love and wisdom, you may be valiant for the name of Jesus, and his truth upon the earth, and not to be ashamed of Christ your teacher and prophet, that God hath raised up in his new covenant and testament, who you are to hear.
Their founder urged them to meet in the name of their Lord.  He knew the power of the Name and the Person.  Fox also knew that meetings (specifically, gatherings for worship) found their substance and power in Jesus Christ.  To attempt to gather without first welcoming Christ to reside would be foolish.  What is true for meetings (worship, church, etc.) is true for Ordinary Lives.
Romans 12:1 (MSG)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Bringing one's life as an offering is an act of dependence.  One offers in order to honor and in hope of receiving.  In offering our lives to God we seek to honor Him and hope that we will receive His guidance for our everyday lives.

On Thursday wave the Stars and Stripes, light some fireworks, eat a hot dog, and thank God for independence.  All the while, depend on God to lead your way.  Ask Him to teach you.  Promise Him that you will open your mind to learning.  Through faith depend on Him and trust Him.


Quoting Fox once again . . .

So in him let your faith stand, who is the author and finisher of it.  So with my love to you all in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your sanctuary, in whom you all have life, peace, rest, and salvation, who is the Amen.
Have a great Day of Dependence!

#ordinarylives

Twenty-four Years of Dancing

Yesterday, while our friends who call the land between my home and the Lower 48 celebrated St. Jean Baptiste day, my wife and I celebrated one score and four years of marriage.  Since 1995 Vonda Kay and I have . . . 
  • moved six times 
  • had three children (We still have them.  🙂) 
  • served in five churches 
  • experienced great joys 
  • survived difficult events 
  • prayed with our daughter and sons as they chose to follow Jesus
  • said "I'm sorry" many times 
  • said "I love you" even more times 
  • laughed 
  • cried
  • tried having pets three times (not counting the frogs)
  • tried out our thumbs to see if they were green 
  • driven the Alaska Highway three times (actually one time for Vonda Kay)
Recording artist Andrew Peterson wrote a song regarding marriage.  Within Peterson's "Dancing in the Minefields" are words that ring true.
Well "I do" are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another, I've heard
Is a good place to begin
'Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price
For the life that we have found

I love the life that we have found.  My Ordinary Life is all the richer, fuller, and more meaningful due to giving up "me" for "we."  I look forward to all the "until death do us part" years ahead.

#ordinarylives

Three Trips

My oldest niece is twenty-four years old.  She was the first of my parents' eleven grandchildren to go on her six-year-old trip with them.  For eighteen years and counting my parents have kept their promise to their nearly one dozen grandchildren to take them on a trip at ages 6, 13, and 18.  From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Big Apple and from the indoor waters of Sea World to the oceans of Florida, the grandkids have traveled with their Papa and BG.  Roller coaster rides over a decade old continue to serve as fodder for conversation.  Memories of great chocolate and rich ice cream lead to loved and retold stories.

Years ago, a good friend of mine encouraged me to "buy memories."  Not all memories cost money.  However, some of the best do.  Park passes, milkshakes, flight fares, and juicy burgers (or better yet, Chick-fil-A sandwiches) come at a cost.  A cost worth every penny.  My parents invest in the lives of their grandchildren.  (Thank you, Mom and Dad!)

As you seek to live the Ordinary Life, invest in those things and people who matter.
- Buy your grandchild an ice cream cone.
- Go to the zoo with your daughter.
- Buy a baseball to toss with your son.
- Purchase a "just because" gift for your spouse.

Buy Memories!

#ordinarylives

Ordinary Fathers

On June 16th families across America will celebrate dads.  What May is to moms, June is to dads. 

I am thankful to God for my dad.  My dad is a man of integrity, Christian faith, and love.  He sets a follow-worthy example. 

I am thankful for my father-in-law who loves his son and two daughters today as he has for all of their lives - in such a way that they know they are cherished. 

I am thankful to be a father.  For just over 18 years God has blessed me with the gift of fatherhood.  I strive to set a follow-worthy example.  I show and express love to my daughter and two sons so that they know they are cherished.

For fathers, living the Ordinary Life involves modeling faith and showing (and expressing) love.  Our children will certainly remember the fun adventures and spectacular moments.  Yet, in the long run, those adventures and moments are not the things that really matter most.  Fatherhood, done well, is a day-to-day endeavor. 
It sounds like . . .

"I love you."
"I am proud of you."
"Thank you."
"You can do it!"
"I love your mother."
     and
"I'm sorry."
It looks like . . .
a man cheering in the stands.
a man grinning ear-to-ear as his daughter dances.
a man teaching his child how to ride a bike.
a man showing his son how to shave.
a man hugging his child when tears of rejection flow.
a man helping his wife as they wash dishes together.
a man demonstrating how to make the perfect S'more.

One of my favorite accounts in Scripture details the occasion of Jesus' baptism.  Luke records it as follows . . .

Luke 3:21-22 (NIV)
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Notice the chapter number - 3.  Notice, at that point, Jesus had not yet taught, healed, or performed a miracle of any kind.  So early in the gospel story and before any record of Jesus' accomplishments, God the Father said to His son - "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

What a difference that surely made.
Jesus had the supreme follow-worthy example.
Jesus knew that He was cherished.

On June 16th celebrate dads.  As you do, know that you are loved and cherished.

1 John 3:1a (NIV)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

#ordinarylives

The Same

Last Friday marked the eleventh anniversary of my arrival in Anchorage and last Sunday was the eleventh anniversary of my start of serving as Pastor of Rabbit Creek Church.  It has been and will continue, Lord willing, to be a wonderful journey.  Alaska and Rabbit Creek Church are home to my family and me. 

Eleven years has changed several things in both areas.

  • My children are teenagers.
  • Our church shortened our name - 3 Cs were just one too many.
  • I ride a motorcycle.
  • Our church runs a coffee shop ministry.
  • A few more lines show on my face.
  • Long-time members have moved and new families now call Rabbit Creek home.

Eleven years has not changed other things.

  • My wife is beautiful.
  • My kids are treasures.
  • I write with a Pentel P205.
  • Our church is awesome.

And . . .

Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
In that truth I find great assurance.  Days come, days go; Jesus stays the same.  He doesn't change "the rules."  He loves me no less - or no more - because He loves to the full.  His promises are true.  His death is sufficient.  Nothing can separate me from His love.

And . . .

He gives me one 24-hour period after another to live my everyday, Ordinary Life for Him.
Thank You, Jesus!

#ordinarylives

The Work of Your Fingers

Next week children will assemble "trash" into art.  Lori Pepiton, our Children's Pastor, joined by adult and teen volunteers, will host Rabbit Creek Church's Art Camp.  I eagerly anticipate seeing the gallery of creations.  Little hands guided by intrigued minds will tape, glue, pound, and twist (hopefully without bruises as souvenirs) old items with former uses into new items with new uses - mainly for their audience's "viewing pleasure."

Ordinary Life is packed full of art.  God placed art everywhere, in part, for our viewing pleasure.  King (and poet) David observed . . .

Psalm 8 (NIV)
1 LORD, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 LORD, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!


I am thankful for God's creativity within Creation.  That is to say, I am so pleased that God chose to include beauty, wonder, and art as He crafted all that we see, smell, hear, and feel.  God created in full color.  God created with a taste for art. 

In a week or so, I will view the creations (formations) of toddlers and the hand-crafted pieces of elementary children.  I will see what those young creations of God crafted with their hands and think of the One who crafted them.  I will consider the work of their fingers and consider the Crafter of the heavens.

#ordinarylives

Bonus Blog - “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

In Tuesday's blog about transitions, I talked about my daughter, Kate, graduating from High School.  I asked her if she would allow me to share her graduation speech.  It was a joy to listen to her as she spoke and I trust you will enjoy reading her words.  She is great at living the Ordinary Life.

Kate Goodman - High School Graduation Speech
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

That quote, said by a person who I know nothing about, is the backbone to my life.  Ever since I was young enough to be a Scott’s Tot, I was always the person who is a little “too enthusiastic” about life.  But the thing is, life has so much more meaning when we take the time to actually live. 

It’s pretty crazy to me that each person has about 2 billion heartbeats throughout their life.  I mean that's insane!  And what makes a person unique is how they use those heartbeats.  Whether its traveling to Sprance (Spain and France), or chowing down on potato chips at midnight, our lives are ours for the taking.  And we, seniors, are just beginning a new journey of life, with a whole new set of heartbeats.  And the best news? We get to choose what we do with them. 
 

So go out into the world, do something crazy, and make awesome memories  because life is worth living, and that is one of the many things my journey through school has taught me.

There are so many people that I want to thank, so let me say thank you:

- To my amazing parents.  You two have have formed me into the person that I am. I am thankful that I was raised in a home where you both love me so much and encourage me to be the best person I can be. I love you both so much.  Thank you, Max and Sam, for being the best brothers a sister could ask for.  Sure we don’t agree on what time is “on time”, but we always seem to have fun together. 
When I go to college, I will miss you four the most.  I love you guys.

- Thank you to my amazing family. To Papa and Mimi and Papa and BG. You are the best grandparents in the entire world and I will always treasure my memories with you.

- Thank you Braden, Allison, and Taylor for always being there for me.  You make my life 100% better and I keep all of our memories together close to my heart.

- Thank you to my youth group and my church for teaching me so many important lessons.  Thank you, Cory and Drew, for being great leaders and answering all of my weird questions. 

- And thank you most of all, to the Big Guy Uptop because none of this would have happened without Him.

As it is my first and last year of being a member of OP Board (which is Polaris’  student government), I think it is only fitting that I make one last resolution.  So…

Be it resolved by Operational Group, I, Kate Goodman, suggest that Polaris has helped me to grow in more ways than one, and prepared me for what is to come.

#ordinarylives

Completion Of a Pursuit

May is a month of transitions.  For Alaskans, May serves as the month of transition when spring gives way to summer.  Fishing rods, RVs, paint brushes, and lawn mowers again see the light of day.  Neighbors who haven't seen each other since the first snow of the past winter now share conversations on their lawns. 

For students from K through 11, Wednesday marks the transition to no school days until August. 

In the Goodman house, this May is a big transition for our daughter as she graduates from High School.  Kate graduates today!  My wife and I are very proud of her. 

Graduation marks a big event - the completion of a pursuit.  The Apostle Paul wrote of a pursuit of a different sort in his words to the Christ-followers in first-century Philippi.

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)

In verse 12 we read the words of Paul that inform us that he had not yet reached graduation.  That is, he was continually pursuing knowledge of Christ.  He stated his goal using a different image in his writings to the Corinthians. 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

Graduation for the Christian is knowledge of the depths of God's love and the gift of being fully known and yet still fully loved.  Tauren Wells sings this truth well in his song, "Known"  . . .

I'm fully known and loved by You
You won't let go no matter what I do
And it's not one or the other
It's hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I'm fully known and loved by You

#ordinarylives