Friday, February 27, 2009

Vacation Memories...

"Dad, you don't trust me." - said by my 3-year old, about 13 years too early! I guess that is a hazard of having a young child and being minister to teenagers.

Wise-cracking Southwest flight attendant:

"Southwest IS a non-smoking flight. It is also non-complaining and non-whining flight. If you do feel the need to smoke, please feel free to step out on the wing and puff away. Please do not tamper with the smoke detector in the lavatory. Any damage will earn you a $2,000 fine. If you are willing to pay that kind of money to smoke one cigarette, you should be flying Delta right now!
If the oxygen masks drop down, and you have children, please put the mask on yourself before assisting your husband.
If you have any complaints, please take out a twenty dollar bill (nothing smaller.) Write down your complaint and hand it to me as I walk by. Enjoy your flight!"

I tied my father-in-law playing golf the other day. I'll get you one of these days, Steve!

My family is all back home with me now. It is cold outside, but the house is warm once again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Walk In Their Shoes

The man stood in front of us, shaken by heart-wrenching memories of growing up as an orphan. He recounted family after family that had taken him in, only to get rid of him after a short time. He stared down the teenagers in the audience and held their gaze.
"Let me tell you something. I would have given ANYTHING to have parents that always 'got into my business.' All the people I stayed with didn't give a FLIP about me, or my friends, or anything I was doing. So, when you're parents ask you all those annoying questions, just remember, they're asking because they care!"

I remember being in the audience watching this man, convicted of how blessed I was to have parents that cared.
Tonight, I passed along the following advice to our teens and their families (based on the above story):
  • If your parents ask questions, it's because they care.
  • Feel free to grill your parents about what they are doing, who they're hanging out with, and what time they will be back! (They should be open and honest, too!)
  • If something is "not anybody's business," then it's probably not good business.
  • As you get to know each other, do activities together that let every family member be a HERO. (Don't just do activities where Dad or Son are good at something, but let everyone excel!)
  • Jesus is our ultimate example of "walking in someone else's shoes." We should seek to know our families the way he sought (and seeks) to know us.

I hope you appreciate your family, and seek to "walk in their shoes." Get to know them. Appreciate their different-ness. Ask lots of questions!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Best Youth Group In Omaha

My statcounter showed that someone recently came to this website seeking "the BEST youth group in Omaha."
Well, I'm here to tell ya, that title fits the Southwest Church of Christ youth group!
I love our youth group so much! God has done amazing things in the past year and will continue to do so:
  • Our teens LOVE meeting new teens. One of their favorite activities is when we "kidnap" visitors and new members to our church. We take them somewhere special and have a great time getting to know them.
  • Our teens are VERY connected. At first, I didn't notice. Only recently I discovered that they text, email, and call each other way more than I had assumed. They know what's going on in each others' lives!
  • Our teens are growing into the likeness of Christ. More and more, I receive deep, spiritual questions. Students want Bible studies, and they want to learn about baptism. Service among the homeless brought us some unforgettable experiences.
  • And, our teens are FUN!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Blessings: Omaha

Omaha is a beautiful place that I am coming to love.

As a city, it has good jobs, plenty of activities (many golf courses!) , excellent schools, great healthcare...

OK, I have to go on a tangent here. Our pediatrician, Dr. Severson, is the most amazing doctor I have ever met. When Garrison was in the hospital with a collapsed lung, Dr. Severson came to see him every day, even though Garrison's case was being handled by the hospital's pediatrician! He was SO helpful, explaining medical terms and procedures to Tracy and I in ways that we could understand. Dr. Severson, you are truly a caring doctor, and give me faith in the medical community!

Omaha is a caring community. There are at least two homeless shelters that I know of, and many agencies that distribute food, give jobs, and care for the elderly.

The people of Omaha will surprise you. They have a constant positive attitude. They believe their Huskers will win EVERY game no matter how badly they have played previously! They love their city and take pride in it...and it shows. Personal property is well-manicured. Trees and flowers abound in neighborhoods. People love to get out when it's warm (and sometimes when it's cold!) and walk the series of trails flowing throughout the city. Oh, and I MUST mention that our road crews do a FANTASTIC job of removing snow (one of our church members is on this crew, tirelessly driving the streets at all hours of day and night!)

I love the fact that Omaha is a "little" big city. Plenty to do, but not so big that you will get lost among throngs of people. I am blessed to live in this great city!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Blessings: Part 1

In view of my last post, the next few entries are going to be positive! There are SO many things in my life that are positive, and I am blessed to be a part of them.
Since it's Valentine's Day, I'm going to start by bragging on my beautiful wife.
If you don't know, Tracy has a crazy side. Oh sure, it's been dulled a little by motherhood, but it's still there! And those moments when she gets "that mischievous look" in her eye, and announces our next's fun.
This might sound funny, but I love Tracy because she fights well. My tendency is to clam up when there is tension, but she doesn't allow that! As a result, we actually talk about our disagreements, and I have found that they don't last very long because we talk.
Tracy has a tendency towards realism, also. She doesn't much like sci-fi and fantasy like I do. But this means that instead of daydreaming and planning all the time (like me), she pushes me to action and practicality.
Another reason I love her is her big heart. She is always dreaming up ways to help people. A few years ago, she came up with the idea to take flowers and chocolate to all the widows of our church on Valentine's Day. That day became one of my most cherished memories.
Tracy is a good mother and a constant companion. She is so gentle and patient with our baby boy. I love the fact that she calls me just to say 'hi.'
She also has the ability to get tan overnight. (I threw that in since she's in Florida getting darker as we speak!)
I love you, babe. I always will.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Venting Time...

Sometimes I get frustrated with all the talk I hear that bashes churches, and sometimes religion as a whole. (By the way, these comments come from a general discontent and not in response to any one blog or conversation.)
These folks believe that religion has failed because it has abused its power. Therefore, it is a failed system.
Perhaps my reasoning is faulty, but shouldn't those people carry that thought into other parts of their lives as well?
If religion has failed because it has abused others...
  • then "marriage" doesn't work either.
  • the place you work has failed.
  • then "families" are a failed system.
  • any type of government should be avoided.
  • the use of money should be stopped.
  • you should pull your kids out of public schools.
  • then relationships are a failed system.

My point is this: If you rail against religion (and avoid it at all costs) because it has abused others, then shouldn't you avoid all other failed systems? Be consistent!

I think you will run into a problem. NO system is perfect. NO system is foolproof. Why? Because flawed people get into them and make a mess. Yes, even individuals are a flawed system.

We (including me) like to complain. Instead of owning up to a problem of our own, we look for flaws in something or someone else. It's so easy to spot the evil in someone else and be a critic. Instead of looking at flaws, why don't we examine what's RIGHT about something and build off of that? Why don't we ENCOURAGE one another to make all of life's "systems" better?!

Otherwise, we'll end up lonely and bitter, because nothing will ever "work." Everything will fail. And it will be everyone else's fault.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Prayer Rewrite

Aunt Shelly commented on the last blog entry that she liked this prayer, but would like it to be updated. While I sometimes enjoy the sound of "ye olde language," I think that making spiritual things understandable and useful is important. Following is my humble attempt to write the covenant prayer in more contemporary language:

I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Let me do Your will instead of mine, and choose the people in my life.
Put me to work, I'll suffer for You if needed.

Let Your will be done through me, or in spite of me.
Let me be famous for You or a nobody for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have everything, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily surrender all things for Your use and control.
And now, O holy and awesome God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am Yours.
So be it.
And this promise which I have made on earth,
Let it be approved by heaven.

Try praying this every day. It's HARD! There are times I do it out of repetition, but other times when I slow down and pay attention to the words. It's at those times when I realize that I cannot say these words with utmost sincerity, and I pray extra hard for God to give me the faith to utter this special prayer.