Saturday, September 24, 2011

I have great plans for you

I continue to sympathize more and more with God. Not that I’m at all on his level. Or that He needs my sympathy, or any. But I think I understand a little bit of the frustration He must feel. Grâce à mes enfants.

This morning I woke up excited. My wife and I had planned to take our little ones to an old-timey circus being put on in a local park. I’d even put my son to bed last night with a promise of a fun day ahead. He fell asleep with a smile on his face. Waking this morning however, he decided that the only thing he wanted was to watch TV. While the rest of us were getting dressed and gathering our things to go, he was throwing a fit in the floor. “Wanna watch TV, wanna watch TV!” he yelled. I knew, and had even told him, that we had something much better planned. Something he would enjoy immensely more. But he wanted what he could see right then. Immediate satisfaction, easy, comfortable. My heart broke. I thought about how all too often I have great plans for him that get cut short or tossed out the window because he’s not willing to trust in my ideas and intentions.

And then I realized, ‘wow God must feel like this 1000x stronger!’ “I know the plans I have for you,” he said. “Plans to bring about prosperity and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

This verse from Jeremiah (29:11) is the most quotably relevant, but we can see throughout the Bible a common occurrence of God’s plans ignored or pushed aside by his children. Israel did it time and time again a few thousand years ago. Stands to reason that we’re not much different today, right?

How often does God have incredible plans for me - be it to use me, bless me, or simply allow me to see what He can really do - and I put selfish short-sighted simple desires in the way? How often I must throw a fit and yell at God “I don’t wanna go!” or “I wanna stay right here and do the same old stuff that I know and understand.” I’m thankful that at least a couple times in my life I’ve trusted, listened, and gone. My life on multiple continents has been an amazing blessing I would not give back for anything. My God-timed and God-delivered children have been a constant source of prosperity to my life and depth to my walk with Christ.

Speaking of Him, one Jesus Christ, I sure am thankful that He did as God asked. Every step of the way his words and his actions were of God the Father. In the last moments He cried out that He did not, in fact, want to go through with it, but trusted and did so anyway. He endured a pain that none of us will ever know, but also a joy that followed as He gave up his life and allowed for eternal communion with His followers.

My son eventually consented this morning to his parents’ plans and had a blast. Sometimes we know what we’re doing. All the time God knows.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Choose your Punishment

Imagine you are the president, king, governor, or other ruler of a particular area/group of people.

Now imagine you do something detestable in the sight of God. He tells you that punishment is coming, but you must choose between three options.

1 - 3 years of famine.
2 - 3 months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you.
3 - 3 days of the sword of the Lord - days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of the land and people.


What would you choose? Keep in mind this is punishment for something you did, carried out on the people you lead.

King David of Israel chose number 3. Good choice?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pascal

Blaise Pascal. French mathematician, scientist, philosopher, theologian (in that order, I think). In 39 short years, dude managed to accomplish quite a bit. Ever been through basic trigonometry class and remember Pascal's Triangle? Like betting your soul and quoting Pascal's Wager? How about physics class... can you quantify SI derived units of pressure without the Pascal? Nope. Old-school programmers are familiar with Pascal, the programming language. Can a young student of hydrostatics pass first year without a basic understanding of Pascal's Law? It's absolutely necessary. Impressed so far? Me too. And it continues: contributions to probability theory, important author of the Frech Classical Period, and he said this:

"Il y a un vide en forme de Dieu dans le cœur de tout homme, un vide qu’aucune chose créée ne peut remplir sinon Dieu, le Créateur, manifesté en Jésus-Christ."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Streets of France

Driving home from a young friend's birthday party today, I noticed something as our road came off of the winding hillside path and entered into our very French quarter of the city: France has pretty streets. Interesting routes too. Old roads that follow ancient walls and castles on hills, city streets that were built for people on foot and horse carriages but now accept tiny European cars, tightly squeezing by one another. Buildings and trees often border roads not at a distance, but close enough to touch out the window. Trees often overhang and form canopies. So here's some photos. Streets. Buildings. Beaches. Stuff we've seen in the past month. A picture of where we are and where we've been:







Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Worship Music, Culture, and Performance

In case you're an American Christian living outside the US like me, or generally have your head in a hole or shielded from the North American "Christian culture" (euck, I even get a bad taste in my mouth typing those two words together), this should catch you up:

Where Rock Stars Go to Die

A well-written and fun article on worship, culture, and performance.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Up in the Trees


Trees are great places to gain perspective. I've always loved trees for that reason. They can be crazy old, super tall, and often scraggly and intricate, homes to hundreds. Rainforests fascinate me, but I'd be a little terrified to go into 'em. I like Planet Earth's DVD depiction. Whenever I spend time up in a tree, I come away with new perspectives on life. Trees bear fruit too, which is pretty great. And fruit trees often seem to be some of the best to climb. I always loved picking oranges and grapefruit at my grandparents' house in Florida. Grabbing mangoes in Zambia was a lot of fun too, until a falling fruit gave me a black eye. Then I saw the Tim Burton-esque Baobab trees in central Tanzania and felt again like a kid, tiny against their mammoth trunks. I hope to one day walk through the land of giants in the redwood forests of California.

Because of this curious interest in trees, I was quite pleased to discover that throughout the provence region of France, ropes courses in the trees abound. Along with the other Americans that work in our association, we took to the trees last week. The champion of the afternoon was Sawyer, whose intensity and ability went way beyond his couple years of age. Photo and Video logged below.

Intense. And Ready.
First element. Might as well have been a sidewalk.
Mama way up in the trees.
video
Walkin the wire. No concept of the possibility to fall.
Our buddy Ryan, getting primal in the trees.
video
After tearing through the kiddie course, Sawyer headed straight for one of the adult ones. Why not?
Don't you dare tell me I'm too small!
Elsie watching, proud of her family and friends.
video video


Another great moment in this day came when one of our new interns got stuck in the trees (she was really an all-star, had taken on the hardest courses and conquered all day long, just ran out of steam in a tough spot). She yelled for help and a rescue worker came running, and climbing. He impressed us by zipping up a zipline, then crossed trails and traversed wires in seconds that had taken us lifetimes. All the while she was proclaiming her love and gathering a small crowd of onlookers. He arrived and helped to get her back on track and to the next step. I stood about 10 feet away, 80 feet up in the air, hugging a tree and making jokes. That's chivalry.