A Mother’s Day Prayer

IrisOur Father, God, creator of all things.  We praise you for all things and in all things.  We especially praise you and thank you today for mothers.  On a day that has been set aside to honor our mothers we lift up prayers of petition on behalf of mothers.

We pray for new mothers who are coming to terms with new responsibilities.  Give them strength to rely on you.

We pray for expectant mothers who are wondering and waiting.  Give them the ability to trust in you.

We pray for mothers who are tired, stressed, or depressed.  Give them the endurance to serve you as they serve their families.

We pray for mothers who are struggling to balance the tasks of work and family.  Give them the perseverance that they need to glorify you in the home and the workplace.

We pray for mothers who are raising children on their own.  Remind them and teach them that you alone are our help.  Help us all to realize that God’s help can come from his body, the church. Let us as a church rise up and help these mothers.

We pray for mothers who have lost children.  Give them the comfort and support that they need in times of darkness and despair.  May their hope be in you.

We pray for mothers who have adopted children. Give them the ability to love these children as you have loved us and adopted us as your children.

We pray for those who care for the children of others as childcare providers or foster mothers. We thank you that they have dedicated themselves to loving and providing care.

We pray for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.  Give them the opportunities to serve as mothers in the Lord for those who are in need. Fulfill their desires.

Bless all mothers that their love may be deep, tender, and reflective of your love. Strengthen them and equip them that they may lead their children to know you and follow after your ways.

In Christ Name We pray


Waking Up Free

IBR-1113189When I woke up this morning, I was frustrated.  It was 5:04 am and I was up in order to go workout. My little girl cried and asked where I was going.  I lay back down with her and waited as patiently as I could until her breathing went rhythmic. I really enjoy my morning workout and when that routine gets thrown off, I get frustrated.  It’s selfish I know. I’m working on it.

In another part of the country, several other girls were waking up free for the first time in a decade. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight all disappeared in 2003, 2004, and 2002 respectively. They vanished in three separate incidents nearly a decade ago, and they all turned up in the same house last night. What are the odds?

The story is one of heroism on the part of the girls and a neighbor who was in the right place at the right time. It is amazing to hear Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who discovered the girls sharing how he had lived in the neighborhood for a year with no clue that one of his neighbors had girls captive in his house.  Ramsey spoke of having barbeques with this man.  He said the man was uninteresting. It turned out that this “ordinary” neighbor was a key player in an exceptionally interesting turn of events.

Found and Rescued
Amanda Berry was frantically trying to get out of the house when Charles Ramsey heard her.  She escaped and phoned 911.  The police rescue operation freed several other girls from the house. Imagine the excitement of stepping out into the world for the first time in a painfully long time. How overjoyed the young ladies must be to know that they will not have to spend another night held captive by a maniac? They were set free from the terror that had reigned over them and controlled them for the better part of a decade.

Never give up hope
It is safe to assume that many people had written these girls off. Surely, they were dead. Why would anyone have any reason to believe otherwise? There are plenty of missing persons stories that do not end like this. Instead they end with a memorial service and maybe a few unrecognizable remains. We are accustomed to tragic endings to these stories.  We have been programmed to expect the worse. And in the sin-sickened and depraved world in which we leave, I think we should expect the worse.

But, there was something hopeful about waking up this morning and hearing of the rescue of these young ladies. It is doubtful that there were many people on the planet who went to bed last night thinking of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, or Michele Knight.  But, this morning anyone with access to a TV, internet, radio, or newspaper were thinking about them.

The cases of these missing girls is but a faint and distant memory in my mind, but the hopefulness that was brought on by reading, hearing, and watching interviews is almost overwhelming, even to me so far removed. It is proof that we should never give up hope. Even in the midst of horrible and overwhelming circumstances, there is hope.

As my thoughts drifted away from this miraculous rescue, I could not help but think of God’s marvelous rescue of his people. 1 Peter 2:9-10 speaks of this saying, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (italics added).” The God of the Universe, a God who is a loving father, has called people out of darkness into his marvelous light. He rescues the ones who believe in him, call upon his name, and confess him as Lord.

All people are sinners who are enslaved in sin and enemies of God. In our sin, we are under the tyrannical rule of sin, death, and darkness. But, God in his loving mercy, rescued his people from that slavery, the domain of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13-14).

The story of every Christian is that of enemies of Christ and slaves of sin who have been redeemed through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.  We were oppressed and God freed us. We were hopeless in sin, and God gave us hope. We were dead, and God made us alive in Christ.

When I think about this in light of the breaking news of the rescued girls, I almost weep.  For the first time in a long time, these girls are experiencing freedom. I guarantee they are rejoicing in the fact that they have been rescued. Many days the remembrance of my rescue from darkness to light takes a backseat in my mind. It shouldn’t.

I am also reminded to not give up hope.  Many times I have talked to people who struggle because one of their family members does not follow Christ. Maybe it is a wayward child, a confused peer, or a sibling who is blatantly opposed to the gospel.  At certain times, it feels as though there is no hope. But, this story reminds me that there is hope. Jesus Christ is a great savior and will wait patiently with people far longer than I ever will.  There may be times when you seem to have lost all hope that they will ever put their trust in Christ as their savior and follow him. You wonder if they will continue down the path of enmity. Some may, but there is hope that they will be rescued from the domain of darkness and delivered into the kingdom of light. Don’t give up hope. Proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to them and wait patiently for the Lord’s timing. Weep, but never give up hope.

This world is dark, cold, and evil. There are likely more girls who will go to bed tonight with tears on their pillows and bruises on their faces confined in houses that are not their own in darkness that will never seem to go away.  There will undoubtedly be more stories like this that end in sorrow, murder, and destruction. That is the world we live in. But, in the midst of this crooked and depraved world it is always good to remember the stories of hope like this one of Amanda Berry, Gine DeJesus, and Michele Knight.  Remember that a little bit of light can go a long way in a dark place.  In this world there will always be night to remind us of darkness, sin, and death. But, as long as the sun breaks through in the dawn we know there is hope! There is hope for a better today. There is hope for a better tomorrow. And through Jesus Christ’s resurrection there is hope for life beyond this life. A new life where girls don’t have to go to bed locked in corners of dirty houses. A new life where children do not have to cry themselves to sleep because their stomachs hurt so much from lack of food. A new life where there will be no more tears, no more hunger, no more slavery, no more sin, no more death, and no more darkness.

So, in the morning when the sun comes up, remember not to give up hope. In the Spring, when the world emerges from its cold winter slumber, remember not to give up hope. When your son, daughter, mother, father, friend, or enemy continues to rebel against the loving Father and King of the Universe remember not to give up hope.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,

‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

Lamentations 3:22-23


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 3-9

I’ll Come Back

For the last several months, my son has wanted to go to school.  I know this is unusual and in about 5-10 years, this will not be his sentiment toward school. But, as of now I think it is pretty cool.  I want him to be a young man who is inquisitive and wants to learn.  So far, he has lived up to this desire of mine.  He is bright, and he surprises me often with the amount of things that he can remember and recall.  I know that most every three-year-old is little sponges, soaking up everything they see, hear, touch, taste, smell.  He has an incredible imagination and he makes me laugh often. I can say that I am thoroughly enjoying these first years.

Next week, he will begin pre-school.  It is only for two days a week, and only a few hours a day. But, this is a big step for us as a family and him as a young boy. I know that parents have been sending their children to pre-school for years, and for some this is no big deal. But, for me this is huge. He will be in a place where he will have to make decisions for himself. He will have to be alone in some things.  He will not have mommy and daddy right beside him, telling him what to do every minute of the day. I know he will have good teachers and good guidance,but it won’t be me.

This is the first time that I have really released my son into the world. I can tell that he is excited to go.  But, I am a little hesitant. My desire is to keep him close, protect him, make decisions for him, and watch over him. But, I know my job and my responsibility as a parent is to launch him into the world. He is only three, and he still has many years under my watch.

My only prayer is this: “God, may I be a man after your heart who desires to know you and make you known.  May my life be an accurate reflection of who you are so that my son will know you. Give me wisdom to prepare him for the obstacles that he will face.”

My highest priority is for my son to know Christ and follow him.  If he is a great athlete and a follower of Christ, praise God. If he is a great writer and a follower of Christ, praise God. If he is a great musician and a follower of Christ, praise God. If he does none of these things yet is a follower of Christ, praise God.

In our last conversation about going to school, I asked him if he was excited about going to school.  HE said that he was very excited.  I asked him why he didn’t want to stay with his mommy anymore. He looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, “I’ll come back.”

I like this. I know that whatever happens in his life, I will always be his dad. I know he is going to make mistakes and bad decisions. I know he will fail and take the wrong paths. But, want to show him the roads to follow, the paths to take, the way of following Christ. I want to show him this so that when he is on his own he will know the way home. Wherever, he goes, he will know how to come back.

One of my favorite artists wrote a song about this very thing.  I think it is fitting to end this post with “You’ll Find Your Way” by Andrew Peterson.

Joy in the Journey

This fall, I read through the Hobbit with 11 other people.  We met at my house.  We read the story out loud. We laughed, we sang, we scratched our heads, we ate, we played. It was refreshing.

On Monday nights for an average of an hour and a half we used our imagination as we delved into Middle earth, guided by the pen and wit of Tolkein. It was a welcome break from the busyness taht can sometimes swallow us in the daily grind.  Our little journey was quite like the journey of the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins that Tolkein penned in 1937.  As the weeks went by, the group slowly got to know one another.  Their personalities began to emerge.  They begin to fit together as a group.  I watched them gather outside of my home for other events. It was really cool to watch and to be a part of this little adventure.

What I learned from the Hobbit Book club:
1. The Hobbit is a great story
2. Reading the Hobbit is really fun
3. Reading the Hobbit out loud is a lot more fun
4. Trying to sing all of the songs in the book can be a difficult task
5. Tolkein is pretty much a genius
6. By the middle of the story Dwalin really comes into his own
7. The Shire would be a desirable location to live if your residence was Bag End
8. Spending time with real people is way better than facebook
9. Watching teenagers and 20-somethings interacting with your kids is awesome

I am writing this on Monday night when I would have been preparing for the book club. The adventure is over for now. I guess this is how Bilbo felt when he got back to his hole in the ground. He had his gold and he had his memories.

I don’t have gold, but I won’t forget our little adventure. Thanks guys.


Light for the Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson

In the summer after I graduated high school, I worked as an intern for my church.  One of my duties was to clean out the youth closet (The interns that we have now still clean out the youth closet every summer.  It was such a theological experience, I feel like it should continue).

There was all kinds of stuff in that closet: old t-shirts, old pictures, old food, and other old stuff that got tossed out to the garbage.  There was always lots of cool things to get into.  There were lots of cassette tapes and CD’s that had been ordered through a company that sent youth pastor’s the latest and greatest CDs.  While I was organizing the CDs, I would often have a listen.  Some of them were really bad.  I still wonder how they ever got a record contract.  Others were good and worth keeping.  A few were gems – diamonds in the rough.  It was during one of these times of cleaning out the closet that I discovered Andrew Peterson.  I loved his music immediately.  It was around this time that I was also remembering Rich Mullins.  I had listened to him as a middle school student, but all I really knew was “Awesome God” and “Step by Step.”  I found A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band and I wondered why no one told me to listen to it before. I was reading/had read/was about to read (can’t remember the order) An Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith, a devotional biography about the life of Rich Mullins.

When I went to college, I found some like-minded Andrew Peterson fans.  We discovered that he was playing a concert close to the school.  So, we went.  I hadn’t really listened to his stuff that much since that first CD. But, seeing him in concert made me realized what I had missed.  I was hooked again. Plus, he opened with “Land of my Sojourn” by Rich Mullins.

Needless to say, from that moment, I began to purchase every album that Andrew Peterson put out.  He shot straight to the top of my “purchase before preview” artist list (this includes only U2, Coldplay, Andrew Peterson, and new edition Needtobreathe).  I have listened to all of his albums again and again. Some of his songs are my all time favorites. A lot of his stuff can be found here.

Recently, Andrew Peterson put out another album called Light for the Lost Boy.  I think this could be his best one yet.  The lyrics are as good as ever, the music is superb, and there is no song on the album that is not good (I don’t think I have skipped over one song to get to another – that’s saying something considering the way I usually listen to albums).

The album has ten tracks – you will love each one. You can purchase the album here. You can download it, purchase the actual album, or you can purchase a deluxe 2 disc album.  If you have $20 I would recommend the deluxe version.  The second CD is an acoustic version of Light for the Lost Boy. It also includes a booklet about the making of the album.  This adds a little bit more flavor as you are listening through the album.

I hope you enjoy.

Faith and Butterfly Wings

Yesterday Knox and I were going on a special mission.  I was determined to move a big rock in my yard to a permanent location down at the creek near the museum.  However, the rock was not as light as I had remembered it. Actually, I could only roll it, and there was no way that I would be able to roll it a quarter of a mile down the road and into the creek. Special mission thwarted.  However, I gazed out over the flower bed and into the backyard and remembered that I need to terminate some Mimosa tree volunteers.  We have a large Mimosa tree in our back yard and I believe it have a plan to take over the entire yard by turning it into a Mimosa forest.  So, I found the bottle of Round-up. New mission accepted.  Knox wanted to follow me, although by now he was upset that we were not going to go to “Dragon Creek” on our special mission.

I sprayed the participants in the Mimosa termination challenge and then I proceeded to make my way around the house to find more participants.  I was successful, so I shot them too.  Knox tagged along behind me at a safe distance so as not to be sprayed by the “poison.”

As we round the house, I heard him say, “Wook, a buffly!” I thought he had merely seen one fly by.  He is always amazed at creepy crawly and winged creatures.  But, then he asked me if he could pick it up.  I thought to myself, “I don’t particularly care if he picks up a butterfly, but I am almost positive that he can’t catch one.” So I said, “Sure.  You can pick it up if you can catch it.”  I continued to spry the unwanted Mimosa plants in my yard.

As we got to the front of the house, I noticed that he had a yellow and black creature in his hand.  It was a rather large butterfly.  I thought to myself, “How in the world did that clumsy fingered two-year old catch such a graceful butterfly?”  My first inclination was that it was dead.  Then I thought that if it wasn’t dead, it would not be alive for much longer if he held on to it. I thought he might want to show his mother, so I had him to go to the door and tell her to see it.  I had two reasons for this I guess.  One was so that he would get out of the way of the weed killer, and two I know his mother enjoys seeing his amazement at creatures.

Melissa came outside and saw the butterfly. Whenever she saw it, I knew it wasn’t dead.  She prevented Knox from removing one of the wings.  I finished spraying the plants and came under the carport to where Knox, Melissa, and the butterfly were.  I saw the butterfly struggle to move its wings.  I wondered what was wrong with the butterfly that had grounded it. I held it in my hand and examined it for several seconds before I noticed that it was missing one of its legs.  And then to add insult to injury, it looked as if part of its wing had been ripped off (still not certain if it was a bird attack or a Knox attack). I am not an expert in butterflies, but I felt like the middle leg which was missing was crucial for steadying on an object before taking off for flight.

We tried several times without success to get the butterfly to stand up.  Each time it looked as if he was throwing in the towel.  It had taken all his energy to flap his wings several times only to fall helplessly to the concrete below.  Over and over we tried and Knox’s bottom lip grew bigger and more pronounced.  Several times, he blew on the butterfly thinking that he was supplying the air needed for winged creature to take flight once again.  Knox repeated a phrase to the butterfly again and again. “You can do it, buddy,” he would say as he tried desperately to coax our new friend into flight.

I was close to giving up. I could do no more for this poor butterfly and I knew that he would probably remain on the table in our carport until he breathed his last breath (butterflies do breathe right? Yes it is a spiracle miracle). I surrendered to what I believed. I had no more faith and all of my logic told me that this butterfly was a goner. Knox, however, full of life has not seen the cruel reality of death in the insect world.  He didn’t know that an insect with only 5 legs and a ripped wing was not supposed to fly.

He looked at me and asked if he could hold it.  I thought to myself, “He can’t hurt it any more than it already is.”  So I handed the butterfly over to the outstretched hand of an eager 2 year old. As soon as the butterfly touched his hand, it went into flight.  This was not a fluttery flight in which the butterfly struggled to stay in the air, this was flight like the butterfly had just emerged from the cocoon ready to take on the world.  Knox looked up at me with a smile as big as the world.  I don’t think that he was as surprised as I was.  The little boy’s faith had been realized in the flight of that butterfly.  I think he knew more than I did.

Many times, I am quick to surrender to thinking that things aren’t supposed to happen or that it is impossible for them to happen. I am a skeptic, and I figure I have been converted to that way of thinking by doing time in this world. I am a slave to the idea of the impossible.  I no longer challenge the limits of what is possible.  To me that butterfly was not supposed to live much less fly away. But, to Knox that butterfly was made for the air.

Most days I need to view the world with wonder and amazement like my son did on that day. I need to believe that God can make the impossible possible.  I need to know that there is beauty and mystery in this world.  I need to know that if God can bring this dead man to life, then surely a tattered-winged five-legged insect can fly.  I need to remember that God is the God of possible, not the impossible.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Luke 18:17

Enjoy the Journey

Recently, I went up to Stone Mountain State Park with High School Students, our youth interns, and some adults for a little hike. It was a great time hanging out and trekking through some of God’s wonderful creation.

By the power of his word, God created the world and by the power of His word he continues to sustain the world. Today was a challenge for the students to be amazed by and unbelievably creative and wonderful God.  It was another adventure through God’s spoken world. We went on an art appreciation trip. We didn’t have to visit a stuffy museum (although I really do dig art museums) or stuffier curators (although I think a curator/spy would be a great character in a book sometime, somewhere). For this art appreciation venture, we went to the mountains. We went there to appreciate the greatest artist in the history of ever.

As we were planning the trip, I was mapping out the trail in my head.  I wanted to make sure that we spent some time on the top of the mountain. I wanted to make sure we stopped at a nice quiet and shady place to eat lunch. And I wanted to make sure that we stopped and played at the bottom of the waterfall.  As we made our way to the first point, the summit, I was in a hurry and worried about making it to each point on our trip in a timely manner that I probably missed a lot of exciting things. After getting to the top and reflecting on this for a while, I decided to enjoy the journey. I would enjoy the “points of interest” as they came. This way everything became a point of interest.

As I was walking, I began to think that I miss a lot of life because I want to get to the next point. I don’t want to miss the journey in my life.  A lot of times I find myself looking forward to the next big event, vacation, days off, or something like that. I have such a tendency to get caught up in “looking ahead” that I miss the “right now.” There is a lot to appreciate in the “right now.” Some of the greatest moments of any trip – of life – are the things that happen while you are getting to where you are going. Enjoy the journey.

So, I relaxed and enjoyed the journey. I remembered that God is infinitely creative. He creates wonderful things like trees, leaves, streams, rocks, bugs, mountains, snakes, owls, and cicadas. He creates a vast amount of all of them.  He can’t help but be creative.

Here are a few reflections from our trip:

-God knows the curvature of every tree that I didn’t see today.

-On top of the mountain, I gazed at the vastness all around me. I felt small.  It is good to feel small compared to the greatness of our God.

– I don’t stop enough to appreciate the art of God.

– God’s art is always on display, and it doesn’t cost anything to examine it.

– A tiny bug landed on my arm.  I watched it for about 4 seconds.  Then it flew away.  I will never again encounter that bug in my life, yet the LORD still knows where it is, what it is doing, and how long it will live.

– I watched the birds soaring high above the mountain.  They were care free. Why do I worry? The birds know who cares for them. Why do I freak out? God cares for the birds, how much more will he care for me?

– I looked at all the craters, crevices, and holes that the water had made in the might stone faced mountain and I realized that #waterwins. Water is a powerful force. If you don’t believe me just ask the antediluvians (thanks Greg).

– There were some people who walked by and I wondered if they knew what was happening.  I wondered if they knew that they were still alive because God said it and it was so.

-I stared at a tree in front of me overlooking the mountains.  I began to get a bit envious of the view that he had for life.  Every morning when the sun rises he has an awesome view. Every evening when the sun sets, he has an awesome view. Then I thought to myself, “But, I really like having legs. I like be able to move around and see different views.” I can go to and from places experience a wide variety of this wonderfully impossible to believe world.

Our God is a great and wonderful God. He is a masterful artist in both quantity and quality. It would be easy to get lost in the vastness of the forest – the trees, the leaves, the rocks, the creepy crawlers, and anything else that exists under that rock that I wanted to move, but couldn’t get it to budge. When I think about all of the things that exist in this world – great and small – I always feel really insignificant. But, that is the point.  Though we seem tiny and insignificant compared to a mountain or a forest, we aren’t. The God who made all the trees and rocks and mountains, cares for humans in a much deeper way.  He cared enough to become one of us. He didn’t become a mountain or a fern or a barred owl. He became a man. He lived, died, and rose again. He calls humans into his family. Now that’s pretty incredible.

Vacation Bible School

For as long as I can remember, one of my summer rituals has been going to Vacation Bible School (VBS). For many years, I attended as a student. I looked forward to the recreation time and the red Kool-aid and butter cookies for snack. I would have never bought those cookie for myself if I had the choice, but something about eating them during VBS week made them so good.

For the past several years, we have had opening skits for VBS. I love these things. I get to play characters, make jokes, and try to teach children about Jesus through story telling. I have figured out that these skits are a way for adults (and I guess I have to throw myself into this category now) to act like kids again.  I think that I have had as much fun if not more fun writing, acting, and planning these skits than the kids probably had watching them.

Last week, at our Vacation Bible School we had several hundred kids in attendance each day. They listened to Bible stories, learned songs, made crafts, played games, and had snacks. Being on this side of VBS I have a great appreciation to the amount of work that goes into the week. As a kid, I never realized how many hours the teachers put into planning, decorating, and praying for the week.

I am so thankful for every Sunday School Teacher, VBS Teacher, etc., who took the time to make Christ known to me.  I want to thank them for the legacy that they have left in my life.  I can only seek to do the same.  I hope that children who participated in VBS this year will one day realize the amount of effort that their teachers put forward to make Christ known.

A Few Good Books…Something for Everyone

I have tried to keep a number of books on hand to read. Here are a few that I have read over the last several months. Some of these may be helpful to you and others not.

The Soul Winner by Charles H. Spurgeon – This was a book that was recommended by Mark Dever at Together for The Gospel Conference that I went to in April.  This is a collection of lectures by the famous preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon. Within these lectures, Spurgeon talks about the importance of leading people to Christ and how to lead people to Christ. Spurgeon has a way of being forcefully encouraging. If you are serious about leading people to Christ, then this book needs to be on your shelf or on your kindle.

Church Membership and Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman – “Jesus did not die on a bloody cross to gather a loose collection of souls bound for heaven, but to create a new community as proof of his gospel to the world (Dodson, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, 109).” The church is God’s new community to show his gospel to the rest of the world. As members of a church, we are to image God to those who are outside. If you are a member of a church or planning on becoming a member of a church, I encourage you to read these two short books.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs – A book about reading for those who like to read (or want to like to read). Jacobs, an English professor at Wheaton College, offers “an insightful, accessible, and playfully irreverent guide for aspiring readers.” You could find this book helpful if you have lost direction in your reading.

Leepike Ridge by ND Wilson – I love to read all kinds of books, but one of my favorite types of books to reads is adventure/fantasy. A young boy named Tom who lived his entire life beside Leepike Ridge finds himself trapped underneath it.  This an adventure of a young boy, a castaway, a dog, treasure hunters, and the quest for a buried treasure. If you are looking for something for your 8 year old to 12 year old to read this summer, check out this book. If you need a little childhood adventure yourself, you can read it too! You are never too old for adventure.

10 Who Changed the World by Danny Akin – Stories of missionaries are always inspiring. Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has combined the stories of ten missionaries in this book. He intertwines the lives of the missionaries and scripture to show the powerful and transforming affect of scripture on their lives. God does amazing things in the lives of those who have been transformed by his word. Dr. Akin tells the stories of David Brainerd (1718-1747; missionary to Native Americans), George Leile (1750-1820; missionary to Jamaica), William Carey (1761-1834; missionary to India), Adoniram Judson (1788-1850; missionary to Burma), Lottie Moon (1840-1912; missionary to China), James Fraser (1886-1938; missionary to China), Eric Liddell (1902-1945; missionary to China), John (1907-1934) and Betty Stam (1906-1934; missionaries to China), William Wallace (1908-1951; missionary to China), and Jim Elliot (1927-1956; missionary to Ecuador). Be encouraged to follow hard after God and to let his Word truly affect your life.

Beware the Numbness

Earlier today, I went on an adventure with several teenage students from our church. It wasn’t necessarily a wild and crazy adventure to the wiles and unknown of this world. We went to a little section of greenway located conveniently behind the property of our church. However, where there are a few trails, cliffs, and creeks, adventuresome times can be had.

Far too many people today are numb to the world around them. Constantly bombarded with phones, TVs, computers, internet gadgets, and radios (really? did radios just come to my mind? do people still listen to those?), it is difficult for people to quiet themselves enough to enjoy what is around them. If I am at my computer working on a lesson, writing, or reading, it can be difficult to go five or ten minutes without checking facebook or twitter. It is an awful addiction that I am beginning to loathe and despise. I believe that since the inception of twitter and facebook, my attention span has gone missing (Oh, sometimes I miss you dearly.  Thanks for being there last night as I made it through John Carter). I am now on a mission to recover the fine art of concentration. I don’t want to be numb to my surroundings. I don’t want to miss the wonderful creation that God has given me to enjoy. I don’t want to miss my children making profound statements (although sometimes it is great to capture these moments in video). I want them to realize that my interest for them is greater than what some pastor/celebrity/#guyjustfollowedontwitterbecausehefollowedmefirst is doing at the moment.

I am reading through Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson.  The High School Students at Western Avenue are watching the movie on Wednesday nights, and discussing topics that Nate (aka N.D. Wilson) is bringing to our attention. The latest installment had us wrestling with philosophy. What is reality? What is real? What is the essence of that orange tree? These questions arise out of the lips of balded headed men with beards and ladies with ascots and thick glasses, sitting in classrooms with desks and chalkboards. So, today we actually went outside to see some real stuff.

Here are some of my reflections from the day:

1. I found myself looking in amazement at weeds. Most of the time we are trying to get rid of these things from our gardens. But, if left alone, they can be pretty beautiful and amazing. I will no longer think of them as nuisances. But, I still want to enjoy them somewhere other than my flower garden.

2. There are so many sounds that I ignore – Crickets chirping in rhythm (I was wondering if they were having a concert or a contest to see who could go the longest); wind through the leaves; birds calling back and forth (what are they going on and on about?); Running water over rocks is very soothing (those people who make baby toys must spend lots of time outside).

3. Dragonflies are beautiful (see for yourself), but very hard to capture (with hands and with camera).

4. Even if you check to make sure the vine is stable before you swing on it, it might not be stable.

5. I walked into a spider web and began to feel bad for destroying the poor spider’s home.  I wouldn’t want some thunder-footed ogre carelessly walking through my house, leaving bits of it on his face, as he trudged by. I was, however, reminded that I could have saved the lives of many insects. So, I began to feel a bit heroic. Plus, I didn’t feel so bad when I realized that everything required to rebuild the house is readily available from the spider’s own behind.

6. In nature, there is always a mixture of life and death. Life sometimes even rises out of death. Beauty from destruction. This world though it seems so alive to me today is really groaning to be restored. If this world with all of its magnificence is fallen, my mind cannot even begin to comprehend what it will be like when it is restored.

None of the things we did this morning were actually spectacular. But, that is the point isn’t it? Why do I not think that a weed down by the creek bank is spectacular? Why can I not look at blades of grass for hours and hours and be mesmerized? I have even become numb to creation.  There is an incredible amount of creation.  There are so many trees, so many leaves, so many bugs. After a while, they all start to blend in with one another. I take them for granted. Why do I think that going to a small creek in a small town would be unspectacular?  Because, I can see this stuff anytime, all the time.

But, what makes it so spectacular is the fact that it was all spoken into existence.  There is not one leaf, one rock, one bug, one anything that God does not care about it.  What makes creation so spectacular is that at one time it did not exist. Then God said some words and things became real – trees became real, dirt became real, water became real, we became real.

Be amazed at this world. Be amazed at the God who spoke this world into existence – who still speaks this world into existence. There are many things here to see, to see again, and to explore. Beware the numbness.

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