Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vacation from posting

As you may have noticed, I haven't updated this for nearly a year. This started out as unintentional, but has become the current norm. We'll leave it like this for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Minot, ND

I am on a Mennonite Disaster Service trip with 4 other fellows from our church. It has been a good experience. I have enjoyed getting to know these brothers in more natural settings, and a week of physical labor is exhausting to the body and a great mental cleanse.
I miss my 5 girls, and look forward to being with them again.
The weather here is cold in the morning and evening, and cold in between. It is usually single digits in the morning and so far under 30 as a high. We are working for with a couple to insulate and drywall their house that was devastated by a flood. Minot is in North Dakota, which is as you can imagine, not a persons first thought for doing MDS work. Most people think, "let's go south, where it is warm." The people here are hearty folk. Our homeowner is in a wheel chair most of the time. He also crawls up ladders and drives a four-wheeler and goes hunting and does more work than many "more capable" people accomplish. They are grateful for our help and having been making a warm lunch for us each day.
I have attached a folder of pictures so far. I plan to add more to this folder as the week goes on. We will be working till Thursday evening and then driving back to Nebraska through the night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A spiritual life requires human effort

That sounds contradictory. The spiritual life is about God working in me. God does the work, I respond...
But it's hard work. I'm not spiritual. I am selfish, distracted, full of worry, ambitious to accomplish, to please, to hit the home run.
Discipline is the other side of discipleship. The practice of a spiritual discipline makes me more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God. Solitude is creating a time and place for God alone. It is a fight to keep everything else out, so that I can notice God's presence and still, small voice.
Now more than ever we have so little solitude. An endless supply of entertainment and distraction and learning is available at our fingertips (literally through touch screen devices, mice, remotes, and keyboards). There is no downtime. I must create it. My soul will shrivel to death without it. Hebrews 5:11-14 reminds us that we are called to move from milk (beginnings) to solid food (maturity in our faith and practice).  Hebrews 6:1-8 reminds us that if we don't move to maturity and instead fall away, it is possibly impossible to return. Whether that means we can never return or rather that it is extremely hard, it is better to remain in Christ and grow and produce a useful crop.
I needed this reminder. For some more humble thoughts take a listen at: under the sermon audio for "solid food - useful crop".

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More on the greatest commandment

No human activity draws us more deeply into the heart of God than prayer. And no way of prayer places us more solidly into the affairs of human life than intercessory prayer. This is as it should be. Love of God, of necessity, leads to love of neighbor.They are not two commands, but one.
As we learn to love people - truly love them - we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and that will drive us all the more deeply into prayer for them. The converse is also true: the more we pray for people the more we will come to love them. Here, then, is a penetrating test of our devotion: if we do not pray for people - truly pray for them - how can we say that we love them?
-Richard Foster

Take some time to digest this thought. Then, pray. Then, do. Then, get overwhelmed. Then, pray. Then, do... Repeat, forever.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Presence of God

Oh, God. Here I am. Where are you? Are you are in the rustling of the leaves. The gentle breeze rolling across my cheek. The warmth of the sun. You have promised to never leave me. So, in faith, I believe you are here with me. In faith, I turn my attention to you; a holy pause. I take a breath and imagine you filling me... I am overcome with a sense of peace... You alone, and no other.

Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Is it possible to wrap our heads around the simple power of these two commands? Of all the commands that Jesus could have chosen, are they all summed up in those two?
If I love God with all my being can I break any of God's other laws? If I love my neighbor with the same love I have for myself will I do my neighbor any harm?
If I love God with completeness, my desire is to do only what pleases him. If I love my neighbor selflessly, I will welcome them and be drawn to meet their needs.
Brother Lawrence once wrote that he read books about how to draw closer to God, and the methods discouraged him. He found God's grace and presence in practicing the presence of Christ. He entered an intimate relationship with God, by spending time with God while he worked. That actually makes sense! I think that is the definition of this love. Let us love God and neighbor today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Prayer for Profound and Perpetual Peace

This prayer was written and prayed by Lancelot Andrews who lived from 1555-1626. A valuable antique that is very usable today. I encourage you to read through this prayerfully, allowing the Holy Spirit to move and shape your heart. And whatever God impresses on you, take it with you through the day.

O Lord, King of all nations, strengthen all the states and the leaders of the inhabited world who have been given authority from you. Scatter all the people who delight in war. Make all war cease unto the ends of the earth.
And remember especially our divinely guarded king, and work with him more and more. Prosper his ways in all things; speak good things to his heart for your Church and your people. Grant to him profound and perpetual peace, that in his tranquility we, too, may lead a quiet and peaceable life.
Grant unto farmers good seasons. Grant unto the fishermen good weather. Grant unto the tradesmen a desire not to compete with one another. Grant unto all merchants to pursue their business with lawful integrity.
O Lord, you have called us to overcome evil with good and to pray for your enemies. I ask, Lord, that you have pity on my enemies, just as you have pity on me. Lead them, together with me, into your kingdom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bringing the heat

It has been a bit hot lately.

Actually, it got hotter than this as the afternoon rolled on. The wind blew strong, but also very hot. It was like sitting in front of the heater blowing hot air.
Courtney has had Softball tournaments this week. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Nights. And they are done now, we are proud of the way the girls and coaches have played and conducted themselves. Did I mention it was hot tonight?
Looking forward to some good stuff this weekend at Central Plains Mennonite Conference Annual Meeting at Henderson, NE.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nebraska, the good life!

Did you know that Nebraska was ranked as the happiest state? Check it out. And I would have to vouch for this, unbiased of course:)

Sometimes we say, "God is good." I wonder if we mean, "My life is going the way I want it to."
Fair enough, but why blame God for that:) Is it really God's fault, that I am getting what I want? Can I say, "God is good", when my life isn't going the way I want it to? Do I recognize that goodness is God's character? God can't be bad. God's work in our world and in our lives is for goodness, not happiness nor freedom from problems.

Recently, I read an excerpt from Julian of Norwich. She actually prayed for a bodily sickness that would come so close to death that she would expect to wake up in Jesus' presence in Heaven! Her reason was so that through her experience she would be drawn into a deep understanding of the goodness of God. She got what she prayed for. This helped her to see the goodness of God, even in "lesser" things like discipline, obedience, and suffering.
Oh, that we would desire to know the goodness of God, rather than just live "the good life".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Be Lucky!

Are you good at praying? Is your prayer life a great one? What tricks and shortcuts do you use?
If you said you are good, then you probably have a lot to learn, and a lot to practice.
If you said its a great one, then you probably have learned a lot and practiced a lot. And you've struggled; prayed when you didn't feel like it. Prayed when you wondered if you were just talking to yourself. Prayed when you wanted to think about something else.

Where's Shawn?

Tricks and shortcuts? Well, I'm not aware of any. Its a relationship; talking and listening. Spending quality and quantity time. And yes, some things like Spiritual Disciplines can help. Spiritual Disciplines allow us to do something which puts us in the mindset, posture, and occasion to notice when God speaks.
I had a soccer coach in college who told us to "be lucky". What he meant was, do the work, practice, and set yourself up to be in a position to be lucky when the ball gets deflected.
The more prepared we are to encounter God, the more likely we will be to notice.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Soul health

Consider your mind's ability to protect your body: Place your hand close to a burning fire. Now pull it back before you get hurt. Not so hard, eh? In fact, you could do this a thousand times and be successful.
Consider your mind's ability to protect your self: Place your self close to a burning temptation. Now pull it back before you get hurt. Not so easy, eh? In fact, each time you do this it becomes harder for the mind to keep the self from leaping into the flames.
Protect your soul. Nurture its health.