Tuesday, June 30, 2009


For the sweet, gentle way you led me through today.
For the blessings of a beautiful wife.
For a home where I can rest my weary feet.
For life, love and laughter.
For goals, and even for my failings, for they give me fuel to drive me forward, so I might serve, so I might love, so I might grow closer to you.
For each and every moment, my Lord, thank you.

Kids' thoughts on marriage

How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

You might have to guess based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids (Derrick, 8)

What do you think your mom and dad have in common?

Both don't want any more kids (Lori, 8)

How would the world be different if people didn't get married?

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? (Kelvin, 8)

How would you make marriage work?

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck (Ricky, 10)

Tuesday Stuff

Finding healing through art

In Honduras, there are protests and crackdowns. We will be there on July 30. For our sake, I hope it will be settled by then. For their sake, I hope it will be settled far before then, and peacefully.

Celebrating in Iraq

Did you get the latest Living Waters newsletter?


The world's ugliest dogs

Tuesday Morning

Humble Lord,
I am often guilty of forgetting that the steps I take are meant to be in your footsteps. You came and lived just as we do; you walked and talked, loved and served, ate and drank. You built relationships and were heartbroken when friends deserted you. You know my deepest needs and desires because you, too, had dreams and hopes. You know perfectly what it means to be human, because you were not too lofty to come as a human so that we might be saved. While the depth of your love is too great for me to fathom, I can recognize that you are greater than I could ever I imagine, and I can bow before your throne with one word upon my lips: 'Praise'.
I love you

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thoughts on Death

I was part of a funeral procession today, and it was one of the stranger things in my life to watch those watching us...

Some individuals slowed down, pulled over and stopped out of respect for the dead. This has always been the tradition that I have known and, at most times, tried to follow. Despite knowing nothing of the deceased, they were willing to halt their lives for a brief moment as the procession passed by. Perhaps they mused upon our common mortality and felt pity upon those grieving in the cars queued behind the hearse. Perhaps they simply sighed in frustration as the short convoy passed by. I don't know what they did, but for some reason I was grateful for their sharing in our mourning.

Others slowed, having seen the hearse too late and, by the time they recognized what was happening, were moving too quickly to adjust their behavior. The same thing happened with several individuals who passed our line of cars with great speed, only to arrive at the front and slow to a crawl to let us pass. I have done this before and always felt very awkward.

A few cars flew by, paying no attention to the hearse. I imagine this happens for many reasons, out of lateness or perhaps unaware of the custom of slowing when a hearse approaches. I can't imagine the myriad of reasons people don't slow down for a hearse, but when one is twenty minutes late for an appointment I can understand the sense of urgency that might compel them to whisper a silent apology as you fly by without slowing.

So what does this tell us about our attitudes towards death? I believe most of us want to keep a healthy distance from it, speeding by at the first mention of it and hoping that it won't catch up to us. We know that death is always near, but hope that avoiding the recognition of its presence will someone allow us to live a joyful life without this haunting reality hanging over us.

Some have no problems with death, out of recognition of its inevitability, acceptance of its coming, or faith in the defeated powerlessness of it. I probably belong in the former catagory, but that doesn't mean I don't long to be in this one.

And so I wrestle. I read the Scriptures, and I join my voice with the father in Mark in proclaiming, "I believe, help my unbelief!" I know the Good News and I remind myself of it every time the subject of death comes up, but I will freely admit that it haunts me, pursuing my thoughts as I flee the very thought, as though my flight will someone convince death to seek out better subjects than I. I continue to pray, to struggle, with my understanding of death and my acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ's complete and total defeat of it, which I have joined in my baptism.


Does your coffee do this for you?

If Folgers can do that, just imagine what Presbyterian Fair Trade Coffee can do... talk to Beth Meulenberg if you'd like to try some!

Monday Afternoon

At least we know where St. Paul is.

A new Bible is coming out. This one's handwritten.

Urgency in ministry

The new apologetics

No, I was not hoping for a military coup a month before we leave...

Monday Morning

Holy God,
On this holy morning, may grace wash over me. So much of life is caught in a spin-cycle of busy-ness and empty idols. Keep my eyes focused upon you. May I remember your holy love, your holy grace, your goodness and mercy. From the first moments of creation you have embraced me with arms so strong that nothing can break them from me. May I have the humility to accept your love and the wisdom to let it guide my feet.
I love you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Living Waters Film

Take 20 minutes sometime this weekend and watch this film. Living Waters is an incredible project. For just over $2000 we can literally save lives, all the while spreading the Good News of the Living Water of Jesus Christ. It is a chance to partner with a community in need and grow closer around the Word. It is so many good and wonderful things. We who have been blessed are charged with being a blessing to others. This is one of many ways to do that. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to bring change to a hungry and needy world.

Living Waters for the World

Weekend Edition

Holy God,
I stand in awe of you. Your wild imagination dreamed up this earth and the planets that spin with us as we hurtle through time and space. Your dreams conjured up snakes and monkeys and birds. In your mind's eye you saw us, and then you spoke and created. In all that you have done, you move and act in perfect grace and mercy. We wonder at you and your love. Cleanse my heart, O God, so that I might spend my life in awe of you, loving you, serving you, sharing the Good News of your endless love in every act of my life.
I love you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday News you can Use!


Answering your questions about the Presbyterian Church

What Presbyterians Believe

Presbyterian 101

Habitat for Humanity magazine

Dogs have lousy pronunciation

Petition for Clean Water (And a link to a summary of the bill)

The Monastic Moment (From The Monastic Way)

June 23

The man who thinks nothing of goods has freed himself from quarrels and disputes. But the lover of possessions will fight to the death for a needle. (John Climacus)

A Reading from the Confessions

The Nicene Creed (1.3)

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Text for Sunday, June 28

Acts 9:19b-25

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.


Holy God,
We read about the church fathers who walked with you all the days of their lives. We hear about how you spoke and they listened to your words, your commands. We know about how you acted so the people might know that you are God.
Open my eyes so that I might see your faithfulness that surrounds me. Teach me not to focus on my own little world, but rather to see you acting in the world around me. You are so much greater than I, and yet I foolishly believe that my thoughts, my ways, and my deeds might somehow lead me to an understanding of you. You are great, holy and awesome, and while I can praise your name with my every breath, I will never fully grasp what it means for you to be my God. All I can do is leap in faith into your loving arms, arms that have been holding me my whole life long.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Few Good Links

You can't make this stuff up: Crop circles explained by stoned wallabies

10 things every traveler should do

Why isn't health care like a washing machine?

Were you watching?

Have you talked to your kids about cooties?

Thursday Stuff

I just finished reading I Was Right on Time by Buck O'Neil. Buck O'Neil played in the Negro Leagues alongside Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and other Negro League giants. While he lived in the midst of segregation, he's not bitter or upset. He believes he came along at the right time, and he has a genuine love of life and a gratitude we would all do well to learn from. I'd recommend this light read if you love baseball or simply enjoy the musings of a grateful man who has seen and enjoyed more stories than he can fit into a small book.

A Facebook movie? Would that be exciting?

It's always tragic to watch others' flaws become public. The media runs the story over and over and we watch as lives are torn apart and it's just sad. I am grateful that my sins are not exposed in the national media.

News from Honduras

A review of the new Transformers movie: 'the script feels more compiled than written. Of course, the plot is thin and is only a means to lead to lots of robot rumbling. That's fine. But it feels as if this is a movie version of plywood—just random pieces of popular myth, thematic fodder, and common narrative haphazardly pressed together here and there.'


Great God,
You blessed King Solomon in ways he couldn't even imagine. David and Saul, Abraham and Moses all experienced your blessings. Even when they failed, they found that you were still with them. They struggled as fallen leaders, but with your love and grace they found redemption and mercy.
Lord, those leaders in this world continue to fall. May we continue to find your grace and mercy. Forgiveness can be so difficult to seek in the midst of crisis, and yet you have given it to each of us in your son, Jesus Christ. May our eyes remain focused on Christ so that our lives find a way to be centered around Christ. Keep us strong in our integrity so that we might not fail you and those around us. May we find ways to glorify you and to proclaim your holy name.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I believe it's important to reflect on the beauty that surrounds us and be grateful to those who help us see it.

Philippians 4

We're concluding our Bible Study on Philippians 4 tonight. There are some amazing verses in this chapter:

4:4 - "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

4:6 - Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

4:8 - Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

4:13 - I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

4:19-And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday Morning

Great God,
It's hard to believe I get another chance. I've botched so many of the previous ones, but your grace is so much bigger than I can imagine. Your hand reaches down from the heavens and sustains me. It protects me in my hour of despair, but it also sustains me so that I might awake in the morning and try to find ways and words to praise your name. It is a struggle, Lord, to put you first, and I pray that on this blessed day I might find a way, find the words, to praise your Holy Name, the name above all names, before I concentrate on anything else.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Home Run

Just a neat story about how sometimes love is bigger than than we think it can be. I love being surprised by people and the ways they find to point to something bigger than themselves.

Tuesday Evening

Holy God,
For another day, for another moment in your world, I give you thanks, O God. As the sun has set, leaving a world bathed in the still of night, I lift my eyes to the stars and whisper a word of wonder, a word of gratitude, for laughter and for life, for friends and family, for hope and forgiveness. Your love has enclosed me, ensnared me, enveloped me, and I will never be the same. Thank you. I love you.


A Hammer and a Prayer

Rwanda, fifteen years later


Mission Grant recipients--there are some wild things going on in the PC(USA)

CHAPTER V: The Continuance, Increase, and Preservation of the Kirk

We most surely believe that God preserved, instructed, multiplied, honored, adorned, and called from death to life his Kirk (Church) in all ages since Adam until the coming of Christ Jesus in the flesh. For he called Abraham from his father’s country, instructed him, and multiplied his seed; he marvelously preserved him, and more marvelously delivered his seed from the bondage and tyranny of Pharaoh; to them he gave his laws, constitutions, and ceremonies; to them he gave the land of Canaan; after he had given them judges, and afterwards Saul, he gave David to be king, to whom he gave promise that of the fruit of his loins should one sit forever upon his royal throne.

To this same people from time to time he sent prophets, to recall them to the right way of their God, from which sometimes they strayed by idolatry. And although, because of their stubborn contempt for righteousness he was compelled to give them into the hands of their enemies, as had previously been threatened by the mouth of Moses, so that the holy city was destroyed, the temple burned with fire, and the whole land desolate for seventy years, yet in mercy he restored them again to Jerusalem, where the city and temple were rebuilt, and they endured against all temptations and assaults of Satan till the Messiah came according to the promise.


God calls us. It's an amazing concept. To think that the God who created the universe has called human beings to live in partnership with God is incredible when you stop and think about it. Why would God want such a thing? What could God gain from the equation? We are so overwhelmed by God's grace and mercy. As someone said, "God is much smarter than we are." And yet God, out of God's infinite grace, calls us to gather together and worship. This worship looks different over the years to different people, and yet throughout the centuries it is our invitation, our opportunity, to give back to God and glorify the God who calls us to be in relationship. Thanks be to God!

God's Chisel

'You can't let God down because you're not holding God up'


God of ages,
Creation stands as a living monument to your glory. We don't know how you did it; we can't even begin to imagine the way you brought forth the universe from nothing. We take on faith that you spoke over the waters, over the chaos, and brought forth order. In your creation you have shown that you are Lord of all, with powers greater than we can imagine.
Create anew in me today, Lord. May today be a witness to your powers. May my words and deeds testify to my belief that you are more powerful than I can even know. May my life give glory to you on this blessed day. You are the Lord of all creation, the Lord of my life, the Lord of my moments; may I not forget your presence beside me as I wander the path of life today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CHAPTER IV: The Revelation of the Promise

We constantly believe that God, after the fearful and horrible departure of man from his obedience, did seek Adam again, call upon him, rebuke and convict him of his sin, and in the end made unto him a most joyful promise, that “the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent,” that is, that he should destroy the works of the devil. This promise was repeated and made clearer from time to time; it was embraced with joy, and most constantly received by all the faithful from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to David, and so onwards to the incarnation of Christ Jesus; all (we mean the believing fathers under the law) did see the joyful day of Christ Jesus, and did rejoice.


I used to read the passage about woman bruising the head of the serpent as meaning that women would step on snakes when they saw them. I didn't see the big picture, all that God was preparing to do. I wasn't able to expand my vision wide enough to recognize that even then God was pointing to Christ. What joy we have in God, that from the very moment of our fall was God planning our redemption. How great, how gracious is our God that despite the pain and agony of our sin, the love of God conquers and destroys our sin, striking it in Christ Jesus, who was fully God and fully human, and giving us new life. We are so blessed. Thanks be to God!

Monday Morning

Holy God,
We begin anew. You are the Creator, the sustainer of every new day. Your humble creation bears your fingerprints; we see the imprint of your hands upon this earth just as surely as we feel the Spirit surround us with such a great cloud of witnesses. We do not stand alone on this new day, but rather go forth with boldness as creations who follow the example of those saints who went before us, who surround us, who point the way to Christ. We long to follow you, and pray that this day we will choose you before all else, worship you more than anything else, love you and honor you before ourselves, glorify you like we have nothing else to do. May we honor you on this new day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Surf Pictures

These beautiful images of waves were taken by Clark Little whom many consider the premier photographer of surf. He has dedicated his life to photographing waves and has published a selection of the best images of his career. Below he captures magical moments "inside the tube", as surfers say.

Have you ever searched for the beauty inside a wave? I haven't. I have admired them from afar. I have watched them crash upon the beach and admired their power. I have listened to them roar and felt peace within my soul. But I never would have thought to climb inside a wave to capture beauty like this.

I am so grateful that someone did though, for they revealed a world more beautiful than I would have thought. God has given us so many good and wonderful gifts--I praise the Lord that we are all blessed in different ways, for my life is richer because others are blessed with different gifts by the same Spirit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Morning

Holy God,
You have created Sabbath to give us holy rest. We have filled it with mindless tasks and empty chores. Lord God, as we go through this sabbath, this rest, may we take a moment to remember your grace, beauty and love. Lord God, may we make the time to worship this weekend, to truly open our minds and hearts to your amazing love. You are greater than we imagine, and yet your love for us is so wondrous, so close, that we cannot escape it. Do not allow us to forget it, but rather keep us centered on faithfulness to you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Links

Advice for Fathers’ Day

Anybody want to cry? Pixar grants a dying wish.

The Story of Stuff (It's worth the 20 minutes)

A shortage of oddities

Why old dogs are the best dogs.

Chattanooga Adventure Guide

Movies in the Park

“But what about our side of that bargain?”


Want to go to the Lookouts game tomorrow? They play at 7:15, and there will be a group from church—if you’re interested in carpooling, respond and let me know and we can meet at the church at 6:45. Otherwise, we’ll be sitting in the general admission seats behind home plate!

Only one more week and one more chapter in our Philippians study on Wednesday night, from 6:45-7:30 in the McMillan Building.

Mark July 4 on your calendars to join the church at Coolidge Park for a picnic!

E-Newsletter (Part 1)

The Monastic Moment (From The Monastic Way)

June 14

Poverty—the poverty of spirit of the Sermon on the Mount—is a total detachment from the material world. It is to recognize that everything comes from God—our bodies, our breath, our very existence. We cannot properly posses anything—not even our bodies, as Benedict says. We can only receive everything from God at every moment—our life, our food, our clothing, our shelter, our books, our friends. Everything comes from God, created anew at every moment.

(Bede Griffiths OSB)

Text for Sunday, June 21

Acts 8:26-40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.


God of wonders,
It's hot outside. I complain when it is too hot, for the sun's rays seem determined to cook me from the inside out. I complain when it is too cold, for I have to bundle up simply to go outside. I am in a state of constant complaining, wondering why everything isn't always perfect. Forgive me, O God.
Forgive me and make me new. You and you alone are perfect, and you have made this earth good and sustaining for us. The seasons change as you renew the earth. You are wiser than I can imagine, better than I can understand. Renew me and make me grateful for this day, for this moment, for the chance to lift my eyes to the heavens and cry out, 'Thank you.'

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Sunset at the North Pole.

I always want God to write something across the sky for us all to read to know that he is near. Then something like this happens, and I don't recognize it for what it is: a love note from God.


Original Sin

By this transgression, generally known as original sin, the image of God was utterly defaced in man, and he and his children became by nature hostile to God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin. And thus everlasting death has had, and shall have, power and dominion over all who have not been, are not, or shall not be reborn from above. This rebirth is wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost creating in the hearts of God’s chosen ones an assured faith in the promise of God revealed to us in his Word; by this faith we grasp Christ Jesus with the graces and blessings promised in him.


By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are saved.

Saved from what? The destruction we have brought upon ourselves.

Saved for what? For a life lived with God, a life aware of grace and blessings, a life where each step reveals a little more of God's promise. We have been in the grip of a power greater than us, but Christ Jesus has broken the power of the hand that holds us, wrenched each finger from around our necks and invited us in to become a part of something wonderful, something incredible, something more beautiful than we can truly fathom.

We are invited to come and take part in the relationship God is offering, one that we cannot build on our own, but can find only through the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe that we expend so much time and energy trying to find this power on our own, when all that time God is there, with an open hand, calling us to come and claim our place as his beloved children.

News from Madagascar

It's amazing how quickly this has fallen from the news. The world has moved on, but the tragedy remains.

Dear Friends,

This is one of the darkest times that Madagascar has faced in recent years. Thank you so much for your love and concern for the Malagasy people and for us. This country and the people desperately need your prayers.

As a result of the Coup d’Etat of 17 March 2009, Madagascar is suffering a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis. Many people have lost jobs. Prices of basic necessities are on the rise; more people are going hungry. Many people cannot pay school fees, purchase needed medicines, or pay rent. More and more cars have ‘For Sale’ signs. The continuation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is responsible for the livelihood of over 500 000 people, is in jeopardy.

In 17 March 2009, insurrectionist troops forced President Marc Ravalomanana to flee after violently taking over the downtown presidential palace the night before. The US government, as well as much of the international community, has called the takeover by Andry Rajoelina a Coup d’Etat; most governments (except France) are refusing to work with the current illegal government set up by the Coup leaders.

Andry Rajoelina’s unlawful government has cracked down on people advocating a return to democracy and constitutional order by shooting unarmed protesters on repeated occasions, arresting leaders of the movement to restore legality including Prime Minister Manandafy Rakotonirina, denying the people the right to assemble, and shutting down radio and TV stations. In addition, the population is being terrorized by a special military unit that was set up expressly to arrest and interrogate political opponents.

PC(USA)’s partner church in Madagascar, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) has 4 million members and over 5000 churches. A PC(USA)-Madagascar Mission Network has formed. The first meeting was held on April 30th 2009 at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida. The President of FJKM, Pastor Lala Rasendrahasina, was the featured speaker at this meeting. He shared his story of being detained at a meeting where Andry Rajoelina was present on Mar. 17 and being beaten & held for 8 hours. For further information about the Madagascar Mission Network, please contact Carol Hafer (chafer@fpco.org) or Nancy Warlick (dadabe@cfl.rr.com).

Peace in Christ,

Dan and Elizabeth Turk

Thursday Morning

Holy God of Abraham and Isaac,
Rivers learn their course from the land. They go forth from their source, and as they flow they carve their course into the land, guided by rocks and mountains, always seeking the lowest elevation, driving towards the sea.
May my life be lived the same way. May I always remember that you are my source, my Creator. May this life be lived as praise to you. As I go forth, may I pay attention to the land, not ignoring the features or avoiding challenges but always taking them on, carving out my way, always seeking faithfulness, driving towards your glory, your honor and your praise.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Water Powered Cars

Wednesday Morning

Great God of Israel,
In the wilderness we doubt you. We see the oases of culture offering easy relief, and we wonder where faith is leading us. We are so ready to believe, we want to believe, yet it is so hard to take steps deeper into the wilderness you often call us into when culture seems to offer such ease. It is so difficult to walk this narrow road, and so often I turn from it. Forgive me, my Lord, and teach me again your ways. Teach me patience as I struggle along with my human will, constantly fighting against what I know to be true. You, O Lord, are my guide, my rock, and my shield. Convert my heart once again, so that the steps I take may be with you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday Evening

Great Lord,
You have shown me today how incredible you are. I have heard your voice in booming laughter; I have listened intently to the silence, determined not to miss your voice. I have turned my ear from you to listen to myself, to the world, and yet you still spoke to me in the sweet embrace of a loved one. You blessed today, and despite all my failures, you continue to embrace me. Thank you for today, Lord, and as I rest tonight, may I draw nearer to you so that when I wake I will once again stand in awe of your grace and glory. I love you.
From The Story of Stuff:

“Our enormously productive economy . . . demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption . . . we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”
Victor Lebow, Journal of Retailing, quoted in Durning, How Much is Enough? (1992)

The first reaction to this video will be: '20 minutes! I don't have that kind of time.' That was mine, anyway. But then I made the time, and the twenty minutes of checking email or reading the news was worth giving up.

'The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.'

In this twenty minute video, which doesn't seem like twenty minutes and moves along quickly with easy to follow arguments and illustrations, we come to understand where our stuff comes from, where it's going, and how it's hurting our lives along the way.

All this stuff has made life much easier, but it's hurting our planet, and I believe stuff prevents us from developing deep, close relationships with one another and with God. Television, shopping, and many more things can all interfere with us spending time in conversation, in prayer, seeking out the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this video will help you realize the huge role 'stuff' plays in our lives, and in realizing that we will begin to fight it and find ways to treasure simple walks in the woods, quiet time in prayer, and a good meal with good friends.


The Creation of Man

We confess and acknowledge that our God has created man, i.e., our first father, Adam, after his own image and likeness, to whom he gave wisdom, lordship, justice, free will, and self-consciousness, so that in the whole nature of man no imperfection could be found. From this dignity and perfection man and woman both fell; the woman being deceived by the serpent and man obeying the voice of the woman, both conspiring against the sovereign majesty of God, who in clear words had previously threatened death if they presumed to eat of the forbidden tree.


This one hurts more now that we have cats. Why? Because we do everything for our cats--we feed them, leave out water and litter, and generally love them and shower them with affection. But they, as most cats, don't always do what we want. They cause trouble. I spend hours picking up after them, cleaning up after them, and then, when I am finally settled down, they have no interest in letting me pet them. All I want is to love them, and they make it so hard.

I would imagine that this is some small fraction of the reality of God's feelings, only God doesn't have all the selfishness and pride that I contain. God created us and gave us more splendor than we can imagine, and we all conspired against him. We turned our back on God, but God keeps coming.

Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How amazing is that verse in light of what we read in the confession? We conspired against the sovereign majesty of God, but God not only still loves us but also is actively working to redeem us! Praise be to our Creator God! Thanks be to Christ who saves! Glory be to the Holy Spirit, working within us, never leaving us, always loving and restoring us!

We are so blessed to have been created by such a benevolent and merciful God whose grace exceeds our wildest imaginations!

Public Art


It is so hard to imagine you dying for me, so many years ago. It is hard to picture that lonely hill with those crosses dominating the landscape. I close my eyes and chase away the image of the nails.
And yet you give life. Where humans attempted to sow death, you reap life. You have created anew, restored anew, granted new life and new opportunities. You have shone the light of life into new places, and I praise your holy name for that. Thank you, Christ, for not giving up on us, but for dying so that we might all live.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Rachel and I finally watched Slumdog Millionaire. We had been waiting for it to come out on video so we could get it through Netflix, rather than paying theater prices for it. It was definitely worth the wait. But I'm still trying to put together all the pieces and figure out what I thought about it.

Part of the problem is that I simply don't understand extreme poverty. I don't have a place to put that. I can't understand true desperation. The reality of life in much of India is beyond my ability to comprehend it. I know that it is tragic and terrible, but I can't quite know what a slum truly is.

The rest of the problem is that this movie is terribly complex. That's a good thing, but it also means that for the next week or so I'm going to be chewing on this movie like a good meal. It involves desperation and desperate love, corruption, greed and many more basic human emotions. It shows us what a life lived in pursuit of love looks like, even when derailed by so many other forces in the world. Jamal, the main character, was so single-mindedly focused on love that he was not to be denied. I never doubted him for a minute, even as the world around him tried to devour itself.

I can't put into words the depths of the poverty and the desperation it drives some people to. I can never understand, and never want to understand, the depths of human depravity. It is sickening.

But in the midst of all of that, Jamal gives us hope, because he is not afraid to be driven by love, and he shows us that love can win. It doesn't have to bow its head in defeat to selfishness and greed. Love can win, and it is a beautiful thing when it does. In spite of the maelstrom that surrounded Jamal, his love was a place of peace, and I truly enjoyed the journey even if it went through the storms to arrive there.


Thank you. Thank you for love. You have given more than I can ever know, more than I can imagine, and while I stare into the heavens waiting for some grand message, you are working in my heart to change me. I am your child, Lord, and abundant life waits for me because you have saved me. I can never understand life without you because you will never let me, no matter how hard I try. Thank you. My entire soul is crying out in praise to you, and even though I cannot find words to express what my soul is saying, I thank you, Lord, and I love you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life is Grand

Life is grand. It's the culmination of running headfirst into each new day, hoping that whatever spills over from your efforts and becomes the reality running through your fingers; it's the sweet nectar dripping over the edge of a cup that runs over; it's the beauty of a sunset and a quiet moment as an entire day gasps its last before handing over to the night. And it's grand.


Because once, every once in a blue moon, I stop and consider how beautiful all of the world is. I take a deep breath and feel life as it fills my very being, from my head down to the depths of my soul, and I realize how good God truly is. This world isn't about me and how much I can accumulate; it's about how much of life I can set aside and leave for God to fill and glorify. When it's all said and done, life is grand, no matter how much time we spend constructing fears and terrors in the night; we are blessed to be created and set in such a place where we can lift our eyes to the heavens, to the hills, and find hope.

For hope is a beautiful thing. It rides on a horse so brilliant we cannot glimpse it, and it comes in ways unknown and unexpected, so that by the time it has nestled within the depths of our souls we often aren't sure how it arrived, but it is so beautiful that we treasure every ounce of it that fills us. We are blessed to have it, and called to share it. May our life, may our soul, may our words be evidence of the hope that rests within our being, calling us to laugh, to weep and to celebrate each moment of life that passes through our being.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Text for Sunday, June 14

Acts 6:1-7

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.


Interested in learning more about our fair trade coffee? Just Coffee details the story.

Daily Quotes from Calvin.

Miracle Minnie, the puppy behind the beautiful story

Does Twitter do us any good?

I don’t have the words to describe how amazing this is.

The Monastic Moment (from The Monastic Way.)

June 5

Someone begged an old man to accept some money for his needs, but he refused, saying that his manual work supplied all that was necessary. When the other insisted that he should accept at least enough for his essential needs, the old man replied, ‘It would be a double shame to accept it: for me to receive what I do not need, and for you to give me what belongs to others.’ (A Desert Father)


Gracious Lord,
May my eyes be open today, that I may see the world around me and join my voice with all of the earth in singing praise to you. You are the joy within my heart, the song within my soul, the love that pulls me forward into a future so beautiful because it is lived in you. Overwhelm my resistance so that my every thought, my every word, my every deed, is centered around your holy and amazing love.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Reading from the Confessions


Q. 116. Why is prayer necessary for Christians?

A. Because it is the chief part of the gratitude which God requires of us, and because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who sincerely beseech him in prayer without ceasing, and who thank him for these gifts.


The Lookouts game outing will be on June 20 @ 7:15. Let me know if you’re interested in carpooling!

This Sunday we’re having a family night supper, complete with ice cream and an inflatable! The kids will do a short program summarizing VBS—this was one of my favorite events we had all last year, so please come and join in the fellowship!

Two more weeks of Philippians study on Wednesday night, from 6:45-7:30 in the McMillan Building.

Pray for…

Shane & John as they return from Honduras on Sunday

The elections in Iran


Lord God,
The weekend looms near. It waits just beyond my grasp, beckoning me into the future so that I might sleep in, play, enjoy your good creation. It calls me as a child calls, with no restrictions, no boundaries, no rules.
Grant that I enjoy today as much as tomorrow. May I not discard this day today but instead revel in it. It may not be the weekend, but it is still a gift from you, a blessing from on high, and if I fail to treasure it today will slip away, never to be lived again. Grant that I may love today, be grateful for it, and use it to praise your holy name.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Silence, by Shusaku Endo, translated by William Johnston, is a sobering read on the reality of persecution in the church. This past week we have been studying Rome in Vacation Bible School and trying to communicate the reality of persecution to the kids.

In Silence, Endo makes persecution come alive in the persecution of the church in Japan. Father Sebastian Rodrigues sets out to discover the fate of another priest rumored to have apostatized, only to be captured himself. The brutal reality of the persecution is haunting, as are the questions that torment Rodrigues as he wanders the countryside, searching for answers, searching for God's presence in the midst of this tribulation.

Silence isn't easy to read, but it is beautifully written. I wish I could say I felt better about my faith when I finished it, but I cannot imagine the horrors of persecution and the questions that would arise in my own soul if I set out as this priest did. It forced me to ask questions that I wasn't sure I wanted to ask, and it makes me wonder about the crucifixion and the depth of Christ's sorrow. Is there hope? In Christ there is always hope, even in the shadows of death, of emptiness and of pain, for Christ has been there, and broken those powers, even if we still face their threats today.

Thursday Morning

Great Lord,
Your glory shines so brightly it is hard for me to see anything else. You have created all that is around me. Your handwriting flows throughout the pages of history; the Israelites, the early church, the Reformation all knew your presence and fought to glorify you. But so much comes easily to me that I simply take your presence for granted. I forget your love and your grace, foolishly believing I don't need them. You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised. May my life be an offering to you; not merely in words and thoughts, but in deeds and service. May my whole life be a love offering out of gratitude for who you are, what you've done and what you have promised still to do.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Holy Lord,
May each moment of today be offered to you in ceaseless praise. You and you alone know my heart; know of my earnest desire to praise you. Know of my passion for the Gospel, my love for my Savior, and my desire to serve. My feet often do not follow, my heart even turns sometimes, but I love you, my Lord and Savior, and want it all to be offered to you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Want to be inspired? Team Hoyt is in the business of doing that. Rick, born in 1962, had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck at birth and never caught up. Bound to a wheelchair, Dick has done everything he can to make Rick's dreams come true. Dick pushed his son in a wheelchair in a five-mile race, and when Rick said he didn't feel handicapped when they were competing, that sealed the deal.

Ever since Dick and Rick Hoyt have been racing, except they've moved beyond five mile races. Dick pulls his son in a raft while swimming, cycles a tandem bicycle and then pushes Rick in his wheelchair to complete triathlons as well, including the famed Ironman Triathlon in Kona.

It's a beautiful love story, one filled with generosity. It will make you cry, for we are blessed to see such beauty, and should rejoice when we do.

Tuesday Morning

Holy God,
Thank you for the light that shines today. You have created the sun and set us here, so that we might be warmed by its glow and see by its light. We set out watches, our seasons, our lives by its light. Thank you.
Thank you for the light that shines within. Without it, we would be lost and afraid, helpless without your guidance. You are our only hope, our best hope. We love and treasure you, for the light came to earth and shone among us, lighting the path before us. Even when we tried to snuff it out, your light remained.
Teach us your wisdom, your power, your love, so that we might live by your light, walk by your light, let your light shine before all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

And I'm Crying...

Monday Evening

God my God,
I don't know life without you. Each moment of my life has been kissed by your grace, loved by your love, guided by your hand. I am embarrassed for some of the moments where I have turned my back on you, but even then, in the darkest of nights, you were there. I have dragged your name into places I should never have gone, but you came along, for where there is sin, there is grace. I am not sure I will ever understand how big your grace is, but it is bigger than my selfishness and pride. It envelops me in a sweet cocoon, and because of your love, because of your baptism, I am reborn. Each day I emerge from my slumbers ready to serve, ready to love, ready to wallow in your love. As I look back on my day, may I not see only the bumps and bruises, but may I celebrate the simple moments where you swept me into your arms and showed me how deep, how wide, how endless is your love. As I slumber tonight, may my sojourn in the land of dreams be enough to guide me tomorrow, to strengthen me for the next leg of the journey, so that I may love you more.

Monday Morning

Holy Lord,
You are power and grace, wonder and awe. You have watched over me through my darkest nights, and given me the strength to keep moving. You have not abandoned me throughout my days, and I praise you for that. Lord, your wisdom is greater than I can understand. Somehow you offer grace and courage to those who are weak, all the while forming a community centered around you and your love. You teach us to love one another as you love us, hoping that one of these days we will get it right, that we will have those moments where we finally find ways to glorify and serve you. You are awesome, O Lord, and may my lips, my hands, my feet, my life serve you each and every moment.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


In the darkest hours of the night, be my light. I have spent hours, days, weeks, years trying to produce my own light. In the haunting hours of the morning, I have burned everything I hold dear in hopes that it will produce light, but those flames cannot lead me forward, only backwards and inwards. I have wept tears of sorrow as I have tried in vain to find my own path, only to stumble and fall and be unable to even find the path you have called me to walk. Be my light, Lord God of Hosts, so that I might not try and find my own way, but follow yours, led by your light and truth. You are everything, O God, and if I can keep my eyes trained upon you, I can perhaps humbly shuffle my feet along the path of righteousness, occasionally placing my feet in the right place. Be my light, and lead me on.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Dear Lord,
Your grace amazes. I look back at my life, at all of human history, and I see our weakness shining forth in so many moments. I see violence and hatred, I see meanness and arrogance. Lord, you came and humbly walked among us, but ever since then, and even before then, we have chosen to serve ourselves. Even those who count themselves as Christians will place self before love. Forgive us, O Lord, and make us whole. Remind us of the importance of community, of wonder and awe at the gifts you have given. You came and walked among us with your disciples, teaching all the way. Continue to teach, and give us ears willing to listen, so that we might grow in our understanding, grow in our love, and be moved to pray for ourselves and one another to be filled not with pride but with a love for you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


You are amazing. From the first word spoken to create the world to the last moment before creation is finally redeemed, you are Lord. Over every moment, you are there. How do you watch over all of creation? How do you know the hairs on my head, Lord? Surely there are too many for you to watch? But you, O Lord, are wisdom and knowledge beyond understanding. You are power and mercy, love and wonder, and you know each part of this world. You hear the cries of the hungry child as well as the screams of joy from the old man. Your Spirit prays when we are down-trodden and it consoles us when we weep. You, O Lord, are more magnificent than we can imagine. Inspire me today, O Lord, so that I may sing your praises.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Rock of Ages,
Lead me on. With every step on the path of life, I wonder where I am heading. I have such anxiety about my future that my vision often becomes clouded by my own desires rather than yours. Teach me your ways, O Lord. Teach me to be kind and gentle, humble and obedient. I read the letters of Paul and am washed over by his humility and single-mindedness. Teach me to set aside my own ways to follow you, O Lord. You are everything to me. Without you I am nothing; instruct me, O Lord. Make my feed obedient to your service, and bend my will to listen to you. I love you, O Lord. Teach me to make that love a reality with every step.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Benefit Concert Tonight

"How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."
1 John 3:17-18

Benefit Concert to Provide Clean Water for the Children of Yamaranguila, Honduras

When: Tuesday, June 2nd
Where: New Hope Presbyterian Church (892-0853)
Time: 7:00 P.M. (Doors open at 6:30 P.M.)
Cost: Suggested Donation of $10 per Person

From I-75, take the Shallowford Road exit and head towards the mall. New Hope Presbyterian will be immediately on your left (across the street from Krystal). Childcare provided!!

It's hard to put into words what Living Waters for the World means. For us, it's an opportunity to put faith into action. For those receiving the gift of clean water, it's literally the difference between life and death for some. The number of children dying of waterborne diseases as I write this is staggering, beyond comprehension. I weep at the loss of life on the Air France flight just the other day. My eyes glaze over at the constant reports of violence from Iraq and Afghanistan. How can I truly comprehend such violence? I feel irresponsible for going numb, yet to sustain outrage for five, six years seems impossible. Perhaps I'm not trying hard enough...

Yet the thought of water being fatal is so alien to my situation. Water surrounds me. I am constantly reminding myself to drink more water. I drink tap water, sometimes filtered, on occasion bottled, but I never worry about it. It's just water, right?

And yet every eight seconds, I should be reminded that a child beyond my field of vision is dying due to a lack of clean water. What to do? What Christ would do--act.

A mission trip is not the only way to act, of course. Prayer and awareness are the first steps in the battle. But action is required, at some level. I am excited for Shane and John as they travel to Honduras, and I look forward, with some anxiety, to my own travels in August. I pray that Christ will use them, use me, to spread the Word of God, to spread the gift of clean water. I wonder how it will work, what it will be like, but the reality is I don't know. I don't have the answers to so many questions; I only have faith in God above to guide me.

I pray that this is the first step on a long journey, one that will lead me in the steps Christ has set before me, rather than on a path of my own making, tended by selfishness and removal. I pray that tonight's concert will be an eye-opening experience for many. I do not doubt the ability of John's voice to inspire. I only hope that the awareness of the acute urgency of the need for clean water will inspire those present as well. May the Holy Spirit be present tonight and lead us forward!


Holy, Gracious, Awesome God,
You are the light that shines forever. Anything that lasts in this world lasts only because your power sustains it. Every good thing points to you, O Lord, for you are goodness and love and grace and mercy and peace. We worship you, O Lord.
At least we should. I find so many days, Lord, that when I lie down, exhausted, to sleep, I have not spent my day in worship. Instead I have been wallowing in the madness of chaos, not hearing your voice that speaks over the waters, missing the sound of the crackling of the fire of the Spirit within me. I have not given my will, my way, over to your Holy Word, and have led myself into muck and mire, and now call on your help.
Deliver me, O God, from messes of my own making, and give me the wisdom and strength to rely upon you so that I may not find myself there again today.
I love you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Morning

O God,
May I be so humble as to remove myself from the center of my life. I know that you are high and holy, mighty and majestic, patient and persistent. I know that you, and you alone, know what is best for me. Give me the strength to worship you and you alone so that each moment of my life might be lived for your glory and not for mine. I am in constant awareness of how to maximize my own glory, but that glory will fade and pass away; you will abide forever. Teach me, O Lord, to be humble and God-centered, so that my words and deeds are Christ-centered and generous.