Saturday, July 29, 2006

Chick-Fil-A, Softball, and the Hospital

I was originally going to title this post: "Chick-Fil-A, Softball, and the Emergency Room" except for the fact that instead of going home, I am now in my second full day of being at the hospital. For those of you who do not know, I passed out during our team's championship softball game the other night because I have blood clots in my lungs. I honestly thought the 15 chicken nuggets that I ate before the game had something to do with it, but I was a little off with this scientific explanation. We ended up losing the game, and I ended up in the hospital for at least 5-6 days until my blood reacts to the blood thinners that I am on. (Excuse me for a sec, while I get my vitals checked, again-I have been poked and prodded more times in the last two days than in my entire life combined.) No one is really sure what caused the blood clots so I have had a ton of tests done. All the tests that have come back so far have not shed any light on the subject.
So far the biggest problem that I have run into is absolute boredom. I am absolutely stir crazy. I have, however, been able to watch baseball and Sportscenter so not everything is horrible. I also have an unlimited supply of chocolate ice-cream. So even though I am in the hospital, there are still some perks.
I don't know if I use humor to hide what I'm really feeling or not, but here are some more serious thoughts: I could have died if one of my friends, who is a nurse, had not been in the emergency room with me. The doctor there was only checking my heart, but she noticed my oxygen levels were low, so he monitered this and eventually gave me a lung scan which is where they noticed the clots.
I am humbled and encouraged by the countless emails and phone calls that I have gotten from folks who are praying for me and my family. It was great to see names of old friends (Drew & Scott N.) who are praying for all of this.
I still want to be able to minister to the hospital staff, but I do not feel spiritual, nor do I have anything to offer. Please pray they will see Jesus in me even while cooped up in the hospital. Pray as well that this will be a good lesson for me when I get out of the hospital: to minister out of having nothing to offer, and allow the Spirit of God work in and through me to reach the lives of other people.
There is not much left to say. I get worn out pretty easily, so I'm heading to bed. Thank you again for praying for us and loving us in so many ways.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Just a Great Day

Today was one of those days that when you get to the end of it you can lie in bed and say to your lovely wife, "What an incredible day." Our service was great this morning. We mixed things up a bit and added a corporate confession of sin with a declaration of forgiveness afterward. I have greatly missed this since leaving St. Louis, and it was great to confess our sin together, and then be told that we are forgiven in Christ. I was actually the one who got to do this, and I loved it. We also had a full room this morning, and there were several of our regulars out of town. We had two families who visited this week, and hopefully I'm going fishing with one of the guys this Saturday. Inch by inch God is growing our little church, and it is a great thing to be a part of. I also got to preach this morning, and I loved it. I really do enjoy preaching. I love being able to stand up in front of people and tell them what the Bible says. It is humbling and exciting all at the same time. After church we came home, ate leftovers, and we all took a three hour nap. I love Sunday afternoon naps. I cannot function without them. After our nap we headed up to the mountains where it was almost 30 degrees cooler. It was over 100 degrees in the valley this entire weekend. It was great hike. Joshua and Emma love being outdoors, and it is so much fun to watch them enjoy the beauty of God's creation. I absolutely love living in Utah! After the hike, we picked up dinner from Taco Bell. Talk about a great way to end a great day. We ate dinner as a family at 9:30 at night, and we all had a blast. It was just a great day.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Things on the Horizon

Sorry I have not been very faithful in keeping folks updated. Things have been crazy here, and I am still trying to have some sort of structure, and something similar to a routine. Things are still up and down here-times of loving life and praising God for bringing us to Utah; times of wondering what in the world we are doing here. Honestly, I think this is a combination of life in Utah and my personality-high highs and low lows. Here are a few things to keep you updated on: I got to preach three weeks in a row and I really did enjoy it. I know this a way over-used quote, but to borrow from Eric Liddell, "When I preach, I feel God's pleasure."
Tim Barton went on vacation and General Assembly for a couple of weeks, and I got to "run the show." It was both exciting and a learning experience. I'm not quite sure I'm ready to be a solo pastor yet. I still have a lot of learning and growing up to do. But that's okay-I'm going to be in ministry and probably Utah for the long haul. I am excited about what God is doing in me, my family, and our church. I recently wrote about a cross-dresser. He has now come to Jordan Pres. for four weeks in a row, and I am so proud of the congregation. They have done an incredible job of reaching out to him. Continue to pray for us as we seek to love him and minister to him without "playing the game."
Our family got our first dog. Joshua named him Copper from The Fox and the Hound. He loves that movie. He is two months old, so we are all learning what it means to take care of a puppy. He is going to be a great dog one day (half lab, half retriever), but for now he is a pain in the butt puppy.
Steph and I finally got bikes. I rode to the coffee shop this morning in 9am traffic. It was fun, but I am so out of shape.
I meet with the Candidates and Credentials Committee of the North California Presbytery again in September. Please pray for this. I really need to bust it studying over the next couple of months. Please pray for diligence and discipline. I would ask you to pray that I would not feel the need to impress, but that feeling will come. Pray, like a wise friend once said, that even when I have that feeling, I would not act on it.
One last thing, if you are reading this blog and do not get prayer updates, please leave a comment, and I will add you to our list of faithful friends and churches who are praying for us.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Cross-Dressing and the Gospel

I had probably the most unusual experience to ever happen to me just this past Sunday. A cross-dresser named Kimberly came to our church. To be honest, no one really knew what to do, except my wife Stephanie. Steph went right up to "her" after the service and welcomed her to Jordan Pres. I would have never met her if I had not seen Steph already talking. It was the most uncomfortable conversation of my life. It took me several moments to get over the initial shock. I had no idea what to say. Beside the fact that he was a cross-dresser, it was very difficult to carry on a conversation. How do you make small-talk with the "elephant in the room?" When I finally got over the initial shock, I finally started thinking about how the gospel would impact someone like him. It was one of those times when I was dying to know what Jesus would have said to her (please no WWJS jokes) and really engage her heart. The questions keep coming: how can our church minister to him? Is this a way to really find out how friendly and welcoming our church really is? Is our church, or any church for that matter, a safe place for perverts? (please know that I don't mean safe in the sense they can do anything they want) Should'nt we want a church full of them? What I long for is that the bride of Christ would be a place where everyone is humbly aware of their need of grace-to the point that when a cross-dresser, ex-con, homosexual, etc. comes into our churches we do not look on them with disgust and contempt, but that we look on them as fellow image bearers who the Son of God shed his blood for. Are these folks beyond the grace of God? You were not. I was not. Do we not worship the God who changes hearts and souls and minds, and loves doing it? Please continue to pray for us as we seek to engage and serve our culture for God's glory and the advancement of his Kingdom.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Three Hours Later

In my last prayer update, I asked folks to pray that we could find creative ways to serve our neighbors. God has been faithful to answer that prayer, but of course, it came in an unexpected way. One couple asked us to watch their dogs (their "babies") for them while they drive to Dayton, Ohio. We told them we would love to, but we were not aware that they meant this weekend. The wife came over to the house yesterday morning just minutes after I had dropped Stephanie off at the airport. She asked me if I would still be able to take care of her dogs for the weekend. I was alone with the kids for first time for more than an afternoon, but I did not want to pass up on the opportunity to serve in this way. After giving me all the instructions, she told me that she did not trust one of her dogs around children. I, of course, blew her off.

Joshua was bit by the dog she warned me about. I turned my head for three seconds, and Joshua went to pet the dog while she was eating. She bit him in the elbow and the hand. It drew blood, but it was not deep. It scared both of us. I felt terrible. I took Joshua to McDonald's for breakfast, and he was fine.

I went back over to the house this evening to feed them again, and the dog that bit Joshua was nowhere to be found. She had dug a hole under the fence. I found out later that she had never been left outside for that long before. I called the neighbors and they were, to use their own words, "freakin' out" and all they wanted me to do was bring their baby home.

To be honest, I did not care about the dog, but I did care about the neighbors, and God did as well. Joshua and I prayed that we could find the dog and get her home safe. With the help of incredible friends we got her home, three hours later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Little Bit at a Time

I've been in Utah for a month and a day now, and I'm really at a loss for words. It has been a little bit of everything: excitement, fear, adventure, doubt, feeling at home, longing for St. Louis, etc. What I was told pretty often before I came is that ministry out here is slow going. It take a while for a Mormon to come to Christ, and Christian churches are not busting at the seams out here. What we are committed to at Jordan Pres. is not to "stir the evangelical pot," but to see people come to Christ. I have never been anywhere where a lot of people come to Christ, but I am convinced that this is the only way for Christ-centered churces to to grow out here. Thus it is slow going. It just takes a while for a person to come to faith, and then to grow. But it is happening. People's lives are being changed; it just takes time. Please pray for this. It is only the Spirit of God that can change people's lives. Please pray that he will continue to do this in Jordan, Utah.

Friday, April 21, 2006

From 8th Grade With Love

I played my first softball game in more than six months and it was horrific. First of all I was late. Second of all I took a shot off my shin from the second batter that we pitched to, and third and I struck out looking my first at-bat. Looking I said! Do you know how hard it is to strike out looking in softball? My bat never came off my shoulders. Talk about your first impressions with people that I had never met before. I'm sure they were glad that I was added to their roster! There are two good things about the entire night. First, we won. Second, I just happened to grab a jersey with the number 3 on it. Dale Murphy wore #3 and happens to be my baseball hero. He is, of course, a Mormon. Go figure.

Enjoy the pic. This is when I was in 8th grade and cooool!