Profoundly deep spiritual lessons l've learned from a 5-week old..

So my baby girl came and paid me a visit yesterday at work. I was pumped! I was definitely living up the "proud papa" moment as my staff "oooohed" and "cooohed" at my lil' cutie. As luck would have it, I noticed a particularly unpleasant odor arising from my wee little one's nether region and instantly decided it was a perfect opportunity to show-off my fatherly diaper-changing skills.

So, I sprang into action! Little did I know just how bad it would be! Whoa! There was poop everywhere! Now, I grade these situations on a 1-10 scale - meaning how many wipees are necessary to get the job done. This was a 7! So as I'm doing my best to clean her up, she starts wiggling and kicking and jerking and moving and before I realize it I have poop all over my fingers and hands. Plus, she has managed to relocate her "mess" somehow from her nether region to the soles of her feet and up her legs! To make matters worse, I had 4 women standing over my shoulder laughing and giggling and commenting on how "great" a job I was doing. Talk about pressure!

As I was just about to complete the task, all of a sudden, I noticed a warmth come over my hands. That's right, she peed all over me and herself at the same time! What a darling! I guess she felt bad and just wanted to help clean my hands for me.

So, here's the deep super-duper spiritual lesson my 5-week old taught me:

Sometimes life gets messy. Sometimes messy gets all over you. But don't worry. God will provide a warm shower to help get messy off you. And then He will sit back and laugh!

It's not everyday you get to meet an angel...

Michele and I count ourselves doubly blessed to know this young lady. She is the birthmother of Kari Lynne Marie. Her name is Angela Marie, and it's no coincidence that the word "angel" is in her name. Because that' exactly what she is to us...an angel. She is strong. She is brave. She is kind. She is intelligent. She is beautiful. She is unselfish. And above all, she is very, very loving. We felt it was only right that Kari Lynne shared part of her name with the person who gave her to us.

Angela, we praise God for you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you!

Today was one of the best days of my life!

Today was absolutely, unequivocably one of the best days of my life. Today was probably the 4th best day of my life.

#1-Being born again (Oct. 31, 1982).
#2-Our first kiss (at the altar) in two years (June 6, 1997).
#3-Hearing Kari's first cry as she was born (July 23, 2008).
#4-Finding out she will forever be our little girl (12 noon today).

That's right. Today we learned that Kari will be our little girl. Her birthfather did not appear at his scheduled court date, and therefore his parental rights were officially terminated. This was the last major barrier that could've prevented her from being our baby girl, and God took care of it for us. At 3 p.m. today, our amazing birthmother sacrificially surrendered her parental rights as well. This amazing act of love, which staggers me still to this very second, allows us to adopt Kari outright.

Psalm 52:9 says: "I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope for your name is good." This verse has become especially dear to us over the past few months, and today it became more real than we could ever imagine. God is so good!

What was your first real job?

My staff and I were having fun at lunch talking about our first "real" job.

Me? Picking corn. That's right, I could pick corn with the best of them. I was 14 when I started and worked that job until I was 16. Started at 5 a.m. and worked until it got too hot, usually around 11 a.m. or so. We had to wear long-sleeve shirts, jeans and boots.

The best part of that job was getting paid! We got paid cash everyday. We would all gather around the farmer (Mr. Sheffield) and he would pull out this ginormous wad of cash and pay all of us. Then we'd all hop on a huge truck and head home. Good times!


Can a Christian be a Liberal too?

As a blogged about earlier, I am reading this book for free in exchange for posting my thoughts and critiques of said book. To help get me started, the publisher emailed me the first two chapters. So, here goes....

The author, Stephen Mansfield, also wrote this book. What I'm impressed with so far with this book is the lack of any hint of bias. In fact, he stated in his introduction he doesn't intend to "press a political agenda" nor "rage against the realities of his life." Mansfield hasn't crafted a vehicle to submarine Obama's political ambitions. Rather, this book was written "in the belief that if a man's faith is sincere, it is the most important thing about him, and thus it is impossible to understand who he is and how he will lead without first understanding the religious vision that informs his life" (pg xxiii). I applaud Mansfield's objectivity.

Obama has stated he indeed has a Christian faith and this faith guides him daily. However, he is also quite liberal in his political agenda. He is unapologetically pro-choice and is a big supporter of gay rights. I'll admit, I'm having a difficult time reconciling the two - oil and water just don't mix.

Which begs the question: Can a Christ follower have liberal political philosophies, and not contradict God's Word?


Is Barack Obama a Christian or not?

So, as we all know, the elections for President are very important and very close. I've been trying to educate myself as best I can on both candidates, their politics, and their beliefs. Beliefs are especially important in my voting desicion. Some people would scoff at me basing my decision upon a candidate's personal faith, I honestly don't care. Faith is important - after all, this individual will be the leader of the free world. I have to know he relies on wisdom higher than his own.

So, to help, I recently scored a free copy of this book. As a token of gratitude for said free book, I've agreed to blog my thoughts, feelings, criticisms, and ideas about the book. With that said, be looking for my posts. I'm going to post my thoughts as I read each chapter.

How important is a candidate's faith to you as far as your vote is concerned?

If they could see us now.....

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42

In a couple of weeks I'll be leading a Bible study prep session for our campus' Life Group leaders. To prepare, I've been reading about the very first church. Yesterday, it hit me all anew - these were real people. They truly lived, breathed, and died. Because of them, you and I share a common faith. They made it possible for the story of Jesus to be shared throughout the world and the generations. We owe them a lot of thanks!

So, I began to wonder, if they could see us (the Church) now....
  • ...would they be impressed with our growth or disappointed that our influence isn't larger?
  • ...what would they think about all our denominations?
  • ...would they be grieved or pleased with how we treat one another?
  • ...would they consider us equally devoted or numbingly entertained?
  • ...would they see themselves in us or a diluted shell of what they once were?
  • ...would they say we give generously or hoard selfishly?
What do you think?

If for anything, this is why...

Check out this story I just read on the interweb. I realize there are a lot of critics of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, if for anything this is why we need to continue our efforts to free those countries....religious freedom.

Check it out here.

Tentmaker Redux

Since I'm a winner now and S-Dub from the N-Dub is pimping my blog for a week, I figured I might get a few new readers. With that in mind, I'd like to re-post my first post to introduce my passion and purpose to all of you. Hope you find some commonality and inspiration.

From Nov. 7, 2007:

First off, welcome to my blog. I'm truly honored you have shared a few moments of your time with me.

So, what exactly is a "tentmaker?"

Acts 18:3 reveals a little snippet about the Apostle Paul's life that I find extremely fascinating. The Message says it like this:

"Paul moved in with them (Aquilla & Priscilla) and they worked together at their common trade of tentmaking." (emphasis mine)

Yep. Paul, at one point in his life, had a day job. A regular 9 to 5'er. However, he didn't merely toil at making tents for no reason. Rather, he leveraged his profession to advance the Gospel.

So, to answer the question, a "tentmaker" is someone who has a career and a passion to let God use them in their career to further the Gospel. Like Paul, God may call them to vocational ministry, or not. The point is, a "tentmaker" uses their career as a propellant for ministry.

What about you? What is your career, and how do you see God using you as a "tentmaker?"

One thing to do while you are watching the Olympics

I am looking forward to watching the Olympics over the next several days. I love everything about the Olympics. However, I was challenged earlier today to look at the Games with a differenct perspective. Rather than watching the Olympics and getting all caught up in nationalistic pride and competition, why not use this opportunity to pray for the countries represented at the Games?

Here's my plan:
  1. Since they are the host country, everytime the word "Beijing" or "China" is mentioned in the broadcast I'm going to pray for that country.
  2. To help, I signed-up to receive one of these. You can too!
  3. Whenever watching medal ceremonies, pray for all the countries on the podium.
There it is. Simply and sweet. I'd love to hear any of your ideas too!

Go USA! (and JESUS!)

I'm a Winner!

So, my buddy Scott Williams had a contest on his blog last week - he invited his followers to come up with a new name for his blog for Fridays. Why? Because every Friday he is going to be giving away FREE STUFF! That's right! FREE STUFF! All you have to do is go to his blog, leave a comment on FRIDAY of every week until Jesus returns*, and you will be entered into a random drawing for FREE STUFF!

So, as I said, I won his contest with my idea of renaming his blog "Free is the New Friday." I took inspiration from the current name of his blog "Big is the New Small." So, every Friday, his blog's name will change to "Free is the New Friday." Pretty neat idea (his, that is).

Thanks, Scott for picking me and I'm looking forward to my new book!

*Scott may not do this every week until Jesus returns...I just put that part in there for laughs. Then again....?

Ummmm, I Think I May Have Some Trouble Ahead!

OK. This was too funny not to post. I know we are all born sinners, but REALLY? THIS EARLY? Pray for me! Hahaha!

It's My 100th Blog Post!

I've been intentionally waiting to blog this post so I could include pictures of my baby girl! Her name is Kari Lynn Marie, and she is just amazing. She is doing well and her mom and I feel incredibly blessed to be her parents. God truly is amazing!

So, if you want, you can see her pics here and also here. It's taken me a little while to figure out Flickr and to upload all the pics - what with having to peform feedings and changing diapers I haven't had a lot of free time! But, I'm looking forward to blogging consistently again. God has been stirring a lot of thoughts lately - I'm even mulling over a book idea!

Thanks again to all who have emailed, called, commented with encouraging words and well-wishes. You can not know how much they mean to us! Also, we started a family blog so all our friends and family can keep up with us. You can see it here.

God is good!