Monthly Archives: June 2013

Use me now (a poem)

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Lord, I am ready now
Come and take this life
And use it for your glory

A passion for the nations
A love for the lost
A heart that breaks like yours
May I possess these things

Change me now
Change me now
Strip away the filth
Scrub away the stain
Use me now
Use me now

I try to hold on to
All these earthly treasures
But none of them can compare
To your heavenly pleasures

Release the weight of all my greed,
My pride and selfishness
And use me now
Use me now

Lord I am ready now
Come and take this life
And use it for your glory

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My two dads

Happy Father’s Day!

Rylan completed a questionnaire about me for Father’s Day.  He’s nearly three-years-old and apparently not so good with details yet.  Here’s what he had to say about me.

  1. My daddy’s name is Daddy. (No problems here.)
  2. Daddy’s favorite color is black. (It’s blue.)
  3. Daddy’s favorite food is quesadilla. (It’s lobster.)
  4. Daddy’s favorite thing to do is cars.  He loves cars. (I’m not really a car guy, but I do enjoy toy cars.)
  5. Daddy likes it when I play with cars. (Yes, I suppose this is true.  I really like it when Rylan gives me a hug.  He’s a good hugger.)
  6. My favorite thing to do with daddy is roll balls. (We have this game where we roll balls back and forth on the floor.  He plays along for a couple minutes and then ends up throwing the balls everywhere until I take them away.  I didn’t really think he liked that game.)
  7. My daddy is really good at drawing. (He’s not much of an art critique.)
  8. My daddy always says, “Hello! How are you doing?” (I was not aware of this.)
  9. My favorite thing about my daddy is playing with him when he gets home.

This is who makes me Daddy.

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This is what I received this morning from my wonderful kiddos (I think their awesome mommy had something to do with it though.)

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So, this got me thinking.  How would I answer these questions for my Dad?

  1. My Dad’s name is David.
  2. Dad’s favorite color is blue.
  3. Dad’s favorite food is a good filet, especially with lobster.
  4. Dad’s favorite thing to do is go fishing.
  5. Dad likes it when I spend time with him.
  6. My favorite thing to do with Dad is anything because we can have fun together anywhere. (Also acceptable answers: boat rides, Christmas shopping, playing kick the rock all the way to the beach.)
  7. My Dad is really good at H-O-R-S-E. (And I have no idea why, he doesn’t play ball at all.)
  8. My Dad always says, “big guy.” I’ve always enjoyed that nickname.  Sometimes I hear other parents call their son that and I want to chime in and say they can’t use it.  It’s mine.  I hope Rylan has the same fondness for “little buddy”.
  9. My favorite thing about my Dad is how much he loves me and supports me.

As I get older and gain perspective on life and parenting, I can see all the sacrifices my parents made and lessons they taught me.  Dad taught me a lot about love.  He never withheld a single “I love you.”  I have a lot of friends who never had that luxury.  I recognize the importance and tell my kids that as often as possible.

Dad taught me about work ethic.  He worked hard at the family business for a long, long time.  He often did the work that no one else wanted to do.  I saw how much effort he put in to taking care of our house and planning our vacations.  He made sure everything was just right for Mom and me.

Dad taught me the value of some small surprises.  When we would go run errands together or go Christmas shopping for Mom, he would often let me pick out a toy.  Dad would show up from work with some root beer and ice cream to make floats, just because.

Dad taught me a lot about caring for other people.  Years ago, a woman in our hometown was struck by a car.  She was known around as the tricycle lady.  She would ride around on an adult-size three-wheeler.  Her tricycle was ruined in the accident.  After reading about it in the paper, Dad found a way to get her a brand new bike.  That’s just the kind of thing Dad does.  He helps people out of compassion.

With the simple gesture of the thumbs up, I always know I had Dad’s support and compassion, which is why I proudly wear it on my arm.  We’re a lot alike in many ways, and I’m OK with that.  I noticed last time we were together that we would take sips of our drinks at the same time and we actually started doing some hand motions at the same time, too.

I also have another father.  A Heavenly Father.  One who created me.  One who gave up his only son so that I might believe in him and not perish, but have eternal life.

  1. My Heavently Father’s name is Abba.
  2. My Heavenly Father’s favorite color is well, all of them, I guess.
  3. My Heavenly Father’s favorite food is lobster. (I hope, so there’s lots in heaven.)
  4. My Heavenly Father’s favorite thing to do is show his love for everyone.
  5. My Heavenly Father likes it when I spend time with him. (I feel like I gave this answer already.)
  6. My favorite thing to do with My Heavenly Father is to worship him and teach others about his loving kindness.
  7. My Heavenly Father is really good at forgiving me when I mess up. (He has a lot of practice.)
  8. My Heavenly Father always says the right thing to me at the right time.
  9. My favorite thing about my Heavenly Father is how much he loves and supports me. (Hmmm…I think I gave this answer once before as well.)

I don’t spend enough time thanking my Dad or my Heavenly Father for all the things they have done for me.  One brought me in to this world, the other made a way for me to spend eternity with him.

I love watching my son interact with my Dad.  It’s a wonderful thing.  When I see them play together, I remember all the joy I had playing and wrestling with Dad when I was a kid.

I love listening to my son recite Bible verses, say his nightly prayer and sing worships songs about God.  It’s a wonderful thing.  I can’t wait for the day that Rylan makes a decision to turn from his sin, put his faith is Christ and be saved.

I’m so glad that Rylan can know my two dads and enjoy their love the same way I do.

I love you, Dad.

–Big Guy

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The Labyrinth of Tackiness

Today the family and I visited one of the top five flea markets in the country, according to USA Weekend.  Rather than lounging by the pool or splashing in the surf, we decided to go to the Daytona Flea & Farmers Market.  It was…interesting.

People often say something was “interesting” when they don’t have anything wonderful to add.  Like that time you heard a band that everyone loved and you thought it sounded like children banging on things.  Or the time you saw any movie by M. Night Shyamalan not named Signs, Unbreakable or The Sixth Sense.

One of the first things we walked by in the labyrinth of tackiness was a sports memorabilia kiosk where I found this gem:

Notice he was discounted 20%

Three things to note here.  1) Delhomme has not yet thrown an interception, 2) we can assume by the grass stains that has been sacked and 3) he has been discounted 20% from $12.50 to $10.00.  In addition to this masterpiece, the vendor also had Corey Dillon (Patriots) and Stephon Marbury (Suns).  A delightful collection.

As we wandered about the plethora of petty purchases, we multi-tasked between keeping our kids’ hands off things (our son pulled a t-shirt off a mannequin exposing her plastic breast) and wondering which items we needed the least.  For me it’s really a toss-up between the pile of unwrapped manicuring scissors, the neon t-shirt featuring pot references and the pewter dragon knife sheath.

Let me take a moment to educate you.  Here are five things you can do at the flea market should you have the immediate need to do so:

  1. Get your teeth whitened.
  2. Get a tattoo.
  3. Get a piercing.
  4. Buy an electronic cigarette (from a wide variety of vendors)
  5. Get a psychic reading.

The flea market is not exactly the locale I think of first when considering a sterile place to have needles on my body or instruments on/in/around my mouth.

The things people sell intrigue me.  The things people buy flabbergast me.  In the parking lot, we noticed an elderly woman carrying a large tin sign that read “We Don’t Dial 911” and had a huge image of a handgun in the middle, just like this:

We Don't Dial 911 sign

She actually saw that and thought, “I MUST have this.”

We have been living in an apartment now for over a year with the majority of our house crammed into a storage unit.  A 15X20 storage unit.  That’s a lot of space.  We have a ton of stuff.  I’m excited for the day that we can be back in a house, pull all our junk out of their boxes and get rid of all the stuff we didn’t want/use/miss/know we still owned.  There’s a rule of thumb that says you should discard anything you don’t use in a year, right?  Well, there go 50% of all our things.  That probably won’t actually happen, but we can certainly unload a lot of things that we used to think were important.

I must admit, there were a couple items I was interested while meandering the market of fleas.  I saw a 10″ vintage Hulk Hogan action figure I’d never seen before.  I spent some time looking through the vinyl collections.  I even inquired about the price of a screen cover for my iPhone (too expensive, even for a flea market).  I walked away from each one because I certainly didn’t have a use for the action figure (until our son is a little older!) and I had no place to put or listen to any records since my collection and turn table are in storage.  It’s easy to fall in to the temptation of buying something when you’re in an environment filled with impulse buys and impractical items.

Luke 12:15 says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

The most important possessions I have are my salvation and my family.  Everything else should just enhance or support those things.

I try to ask myself “is buying this helping me reach my goals?”.  I hate typing on my iPad.  I don’t frequently write long emails or blogs.  I’d really like to have an iPad keyboard, but they cost upwards of $80-100.  I went to Best Buy recently to purchase one rationalizing that I had some birthday money to spend.  I played with several of them.  I pretended to type things.  I estimated the weight and what my iPad would look like in the case with the keyboard.  But, I asked myself if getting that keyboard was helping me get closer to our financial goals and current needs and concluded that I didn’t need the keyboard at all.

I’m trying to have this approach in many aspects of my life.  I want to clear my thoughts, time, worries and space of things that are unnecessary.  For example, we watch way too much television.  We’re quite happy that many of our favorite shows have gone off the air recentlyI’ve cut back on the massive volume of fantasy football leagues I participate in (yes, I’m a geek, no arguments here).  I used to be in six leagues, which took up entirely too much time.

The goal is to be happy with the things we have, not to have more things to try and make us happy.  I’m very intrigued with minimalist culture.  I’m fascinated by the people that have these transformer-esque apartments that are the size of a shoebox.  I wonder where they keep their extra pillows/chips/junk drawer/books.  Then I realize that they just don’t own extra things.  What a concept!  This is the exact opposite of the flea market.

I’d love to be more like the minimalists out there, but frankly, I don’t think I’m strong enough.  I think I have far too much greed and refining left in me to simply get rid of nearly everything.  What if I might need that rock band shirt I haven’t worn in years? What if I could need to have the CD jewel case to the Gravity Kills debut album?

Until I can completely change my mindset I suppose I’ll have to settle for my natural ability to refrain from buying flip-phone cases, ‘Caution Drunks at Play’ signs and embroidered women’s flamingo sweaters at the world’s top flea markets.

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Buddha doesn’t need your apples (a photo essay)

During my last trip to East Asia, I had the opportunity to visit a new city, one that was far removed from the bustle of the mega-city I was used to.  As I was walking around, I came upon a couple of temples, one Buddhist and one Hindu.  The experience was bittersweet.  I loved being around the architecture and the history of the temples.  The carvings were ornate.  The colors were vivid.

The feeling was ominous.

As a believer in a living God, I was left speechless as I watched person after person bow down before inanimate objects and shiny statues.  Visitors would bring apples to place at the statue’s feet. What’s a Buddha statue going to do with your fruit?  Christ was the final sacrifice.  No more sacrificial offerings are needed.

My heart broke for the elderly woman who could hardly walk.  She spent all the energy she had spinning prayer wheels as she labored around the temple.  Her hope was that she would build up favor by spinning these around and around.  Buddhists believe that spinning the prayer wheels can have just as much effect as reciting the actual prayers.

Christ is alive!  God wants us to talk to him.  I couldn’t have a relationship with a God who would accept me spinning my Bible round and round in the same as actually having a prayer-filled conversation with him.

I was teared up and humbled as I looked down at the prayer mats.  They were worn, stained and molded to the knees of thousands of people.  I have nothing in my home that is so worn because I was on my knees in front of God.  What a convicting moment.

I hope you enjoy the following photo essay.  They capture beautiful buildings and some emotion, but that is all.  They do not capture hope.  That can only be found in Christ alone.

 

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I will not eat hairy crab, I will not eat it in a cab

Sometimes things get lost in translation.  Most times, these things are quite humorous.  Here are a few examples I came across on my last trip to East Asia.

Menu_Turtle burn the old gooseNext time grandma acts out of line, tell that old goose she’d better be careful.

Menu_Bacon hairy crab steamed shutterI’m not quite sure what the shutter is, but any food containing the word ‘hairy’ has me worried.

Menu_Feet feet jumpBecause the purpose of my trip was to play basketball, I sure could have used more of the ‘Feet Feet Jump’.

Menu_Soup to promote the shutterAgain, more with the shutter.

Menu_Bacon shrimp dry baby foodRegular sounding baby food is disgusting enough.  For the record, this was not the kid’s menu.  Also, could I interest you in some tasty grains of corn?

Menu_Hairy crab cakesI will not eat hairy crab, I will not eat it in a cab.

Other times, translation mishaps can be extremely difficult.  When God is trying to speak to me and I’m just not getting it, there aren’t any pretty pictures for me to look at to help me gain context.  At some point, we have all struggled with what our ‘calling’ is and ‘why we’re here.’  God reveals himself and his will for our lives subtly and in stages.

There was a point in my life as I was about to enter my final semester of college when I completely and truly realized that I needed God.  I needed him as the pillar of my life.  I needed to relinquish control to him and most of all, I needed to step out of the way.  That day, July 1st, 2003, I can say was the day that I surrendered my life to Christ.  I cried as I prayed that God would forgive me of my pride, my selfishness and the sin in my life.  I asked him to change me and give me the freedom of putting him first and pleasing me second.

Since that day, God has done great things in my life.  Step by step, he put burdened my heart for different things like missions, service, teaching and discipling.  Shortly after my wife and I were married, we moved to a new city and joined a fantastic church.  It was at that point as we were desiring membership that God burdened me with the desire to be baptized on my own terms.  I was “sprinkled” as a baby in the Catholic church, but this time it was on me.  I wanted to do it to show God and others that it was MY decision and not a programmatic decision to enter the waters of baptism just as Jesus did.

The decision wasn’t easy.  I worried about what people would think.  I worried about the clash of my past in another church.  I was concerned with the label of being a “Baptist”.  Frankly, I’m not one for titles.  At work, people can get caught up in the labels.  Director of this, assistant to the regional manager, supervisor of the planet, blah blah blah.  Call me the janitor, just make sure the check clears.  Titles are just another worldly possession that we get wrapped up in.  Years ago, I worked with guy that owned a local ad agency.  The title on his card said “Good Guy.”

Just as God was laying on my heart the importance of following in the footsteps of Christ and convicting me to baptism, he’s calling each of us to fine tune our lives.  For some, it might be a dramatic change, for others it might be confirming what they are already doing.  The challenge in all this is how we translate.

Communication takes at least two.  I’ve talked to the walls before, but I’ve never had them answer.  If there wasn’t a waitress to hear me ask for some feet feet jump, I would never get any food.  Translations happen in fractions of a second.  We hear, smell, taste, touch, see things and moments later we know and understand what just happened.  Hearing words and comprehending them in our own language is second nature.  But, being in another land and trying to understand if the waitress is asking me for chicken or ‘soup to promote the shutter’ takes practice (which I have not mastered).

Translating God’s will also takes practice.  It takes prayer.  It takes discernment.  It takes desire.  Do you desire to want to know God’s will for your life?  Are you terrified of the consequences of responding to him?  Are you staying out of the waters of baptism because you have a fear of water?

 

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