Archive for September, 2011

10 series

Use all the words in each set to write mini stories in 300 words or less:
SET 1: paper clips, principal, lunchbox, swing, girl with a pink ribbon
SET 2: biology, class card, foreign student, leaf, blood sample
SET 3: typewriter, filing cabinet, puncher, clerk, carbon paper, janitor

Mini-Story 1 – 9/23/11
The girl with the pink ribbon walked slowly into the the principal’s office. She knew why she was there. Her brown hair subtlety fell in front of her eyes, and she purposely didn’t brush it back. She kept hoping that maybe, just maybe, there had been some mistake. Perhaps they were just calling her in as a witness to see if she had noticed someone else preparing the paperclip ladder that rose to the top of swing. Perhaps the lunch box that had been rigged as a booby-trap to fall on that mean and stupid Peter’s head didn’t have her name written inside it’s afterall. But she knew that wasn’t true. She didn’t remember that horrible fact until after it fell open following the 4 inch gash needing stitches. She was in trouble. And she knew it. But she was glad he got hurt. Meany. Stupid. Peter.

Mini-story 2- 9/26/11
The foreign student became very suspicious when sitting down to the lab table in biology class. There were beakers and other types of measuring instruments throughout the college class room. But it appeared to be more of a chemistry lab then a place where someone might perform an autopsy on a lab rat or do anything else that involved cutting or hemoglobin. Yet the student noticed that a leaf had just blown into the window and stuck to the floor when it landed in a small pool of blood. Someone had been bleeding or taking a blood sample and spilled without fully cleaning it up. Or at least he thought.
Suddenly the class card starting laughing and yelling about something. Not being fluent in his language, it took her a couple moments to realize that this was not evidence of a crime scene. The stuff she thought was blood, was actually just spilled cranberry juice. Clearly, he needed to pay attention in this class and learn everything possible, if he had any hopes of realizing his dream to become a New York CSI that could easily spot what is, or isn’t blood more easily.



Describe what I feel right now using my sense of smell

This is a bit difficult to explain, because my sense of smell may be a feeling, but by no means is it tied to my emotional “feelings.”  I grew up in Iowa.  People who haven’t lived around agriculture don’t realize that at a very early age, you learn to ignore and barely reference pungent smells.  By no means do you allow that smell to allow you to become emotional.

By way of example, my beautiful wife grew up in the city.  The first time she visited me in Iowa she became repulsed at some of the smells of the (un)sweet country air when we took a drive over the rolling hills.  “This smell of cow manure is horrible,” she declared.  “No, that’s not cow poop.  That’s hog,” I replied.  “But I see cows over there,” she answered.”  “Yes, but they are too far away,and the smell is wrong.  What you are smelling is more sickly sweet.  That is pig poop,” I explained.  She was thoroughly disgusted, not only at the smell, but at the fact that I could really tell the difference between the different poops and their specific odors.

As I sit at my dining room table I smell nothing out of the ordinary.  I’m drinking a protein shake because I’m going to head to the gym in a bit, and it’s a breakfast substitute.  The chalky but chocolately taste in my mouth is quite nearly the only thing I can smell.  If there was a feeling that was assocaiated with the smell, it would be one of ambition.  A desire to get on with getting busy with my day, and accomplishing the various tasks on my to-do list.  So far so good as I have successfully:

  • Got out of bed and got my kids out of bed too
  • Dispensed breakfast
  • Got 3 of the 4 kids off to school
  • Finishing my writing prompt
  • Gym bag packed and ready
  • About to go drop of child #4 and continue on to the gym where I will…
  • Spin, read my bible, and read while working out

To be honest I’ve only been writing about 10 minutes instead of 15, but I need to move on.  I smell accomplishment around the bend.  I can almost feel it.


Fast, furious, and repeatedly, the teenage boy’s comment thread filled with comments to his status update that he had placed on his social networking site.  Some were funny, some were gross, some were flat out fighting words that would probably get you punched if you were to say them to someones face.  His crime?  Publicly using his Facebook status to rehash a situation that had occurred in the lunch room earlier that day, which he found humorous.  It wasn’t obviously humorous to me.

But to an 8th grade boy who was friends with and had known the girl in question since elementary school, it was pure comedy.  His status basically said, “A 7th grader thought that “Sarah” was a boy today, and it was hilarious!”  The problem though, was that though many probably laughed at the moment, it isn’t hilarious.


God loves this girl regardless of her gender.  She is a fellow human being and teenager that needs love and acceptance just as much as the rest of us.  However, to be fair, I’ve seen this girl before.  She shows no obvious markers as to her gender. Like the rest of us, she did not choose her body type.  Yet her fashion choices do nothing to dispel any notion that she isn’t male.  Obviously there are no rules that she has to wear her hair in a certain way, wear make-up, or do anything else typically considered feminine to be loved by God or by the rest of us.  Yet the fact is that she was dresses in a manner very similar if not exactly the same as many boys in the school.  It’s not surprising that someone was confused as to her gender.


At this point there are at least 3 intertwined yet separate issues blowing in the wind: (1) The gender issue as to what should/shouldn’t be up for debate (2)  Social Networking and young teenagers (3) How followers of Christ woulda/coulda/shoulda responded in this storm of facts, emotions, and actions that occurred.



What if you simply aren’t radical enough? Then what?

What if you don’t have love that is crazy enough?  Then what?

Less than a decade ago my family moved away from our comfortable neighborhood in an area of the country that we really loved, because of God’s quiet calling to “Do this, and I will show you what is next.”  It was truly an act of faith and obedience.  Two weeks and hundreds of miles later we got a taste of how following his calling to trust was going to be fruitful.  About a year later, another big blessing occurred that would have never happened had not we moved and followed Him in faith.   Then another.  Then, another.  It has not been all candy and roses, but several things that have happened in our lives and ministry would have never occurred had we ignored God’s quiet but insistent call to pack up and move to a different area of the country with 3 kids and no job waiting for us.

The two fairly recent books by authors Chan and Platt definitely hit many Christians right between the eyes if they are living shallow, pathetic, unfullfilling lives for Jesus. Both get very pointed at demanding that those living nominally Christian lives instead pursue a sold out passion.  They are well written, they are thought provoking, and in some ways they might also be too overwhelming.  Though this is welcome in many respects, I can’t help but ponder if there aren’t some unintended consequences also taking shape in the minds and hearts of some readers.

There aren’t easy answers for these questions.  There aren’t even easy questions to be asked.  What happens to the Joe Blows who realize that they are simply unwilling to walk away from a 9-5 job and move to Cambodia?  What happens to the Joe Blows who do leave their 9-5 job without fully processing the difficulty they are are inviting into the lives of their wives and kids, with their wives and kids.  I’m a firm believe that you can never be too sold out to Jesus.  But did Jesus call you to take a destructive path in reorganizing your life because of the inspiration by one of these books?  Disclaimer:  I have not re-read either of these books recently.  They might talk a bit about this concept, but probably not as an important focal point.

Jesus had some very colorful examples in Matthew 8 when he essentially said that he and his disciples were to be homeless.  The cost of following Christ really can be quite incredible.  But my mind is processing what is going on in the minds and lives of some people who are reading these books and walking away with a profound sense of loss.  They love Jesus.  They want to follow him more. But they lack the tools, and perhaps the even more important Holy Spirit directed calling, to have a radical life change right now. Instead they feel a tremendous sense of loss and guilt.  They might even be feeling like they aren’t really Christians, and wondering if they are so unChristian that perhaps they shouldn’t even try.

I can theological shoot holes in my previous paragraph.  Lots of them.  I can give reasons why the process of becoming more radical with a crazy type of love is exactly what they need to do to really engage in the process of their personal sanctification.  But I won’t at the expense of shedding light on an issue with real potential. Obscuring the fact that these authors wrote wonderfully challenging books, is a very real threat that some people may only feel beat up by them.  They’re response will not necessarily be a happy or healthy thing.  That is a problem….


wayyyyyy past 15 minutes.


Achieving results by any means necessary, is not necessarily achieving results.  Awhile back a perfect storm of technology hit our household at Christmastime.  We have four children, and our oldest two boys desperately wanted iTouches.  So did our younger children.  Like any family though, we didn’t have enough money to purchase 4 of these items, and weren’t planning on necessarily getting them one, or two, or three, or four (gulp).

As my wife (Marque) and were in no desperate rush to grant this expensive Christmas wish list request, we were surpriesed at how this all changed so quickly.  First, a Black Friday Sale came just after thanksgiving. At the same time we had just received a large and surprising rebate check, as well as a previously unplanned for early Christmas bonus.  It was such a perfect storm that we purchased 2 new ipods at a greatly discounted rate.  Within a few months, our other children had collaborated used toys and video games together and purchased 2 more lightly-used ipod touches.  All of a sudden, all 4 of our kids had ipod touches.  It was crazy.  Perhaps this is a good time to mention that though I love technology, we live on a very limited budget and only own 1 family car with high miles.

An interesting thing happened once the kids were all able to have their own ipod devices for games: they shared.  Of course, usually this is a GREAT thing!  If our girl was particularly skilled at a difficult level of Angry Birds, our 3 boys would ask her to beat it on their devices.  If one of our boys mastered a secret necessary on a detective type game, the other kids would be sure to get the information from him.  On one level, it was cool.  Without realizing it, they were collectively working together to help each other achieve things on a singular level.
More recently though, this has started to bother me.  It’s almost as if sometimes they give up on an individual level much too quickly.  The very act of riding on the coat tales of others towards a desired outcome, becomes a success that wasn’t truly earned. They are missing out on the process of working hard and discovering what they are personally capable of, and they are not developing their own individual skills.  It might just be a video game, but I don’t want them going through life always finding the short-cut and always needing others to achieve tasks they are full capable of.

It makes me wonder how many times and different ways that we as Christian Leaders do the same thing. Do I read my Bible to be with and learn from the Lord? Or am I just preparing for my next formal sermon?  Am I listening to the podcasted sermon because the teacher is able to help usher me to the throne of grace?  Or am I actually just mining it for teaching cues or stories I can use later?  Do I attend a worship service because I need to worship my creator?  Or am I there because it’s probably a wise political move to be seen?  These questions can also be applied in areas beyond our development as ministry leaders, yet as ministry leaders, we need to ask them of ourselves while seeking severe honestly.

….I’m way past 15 minutes but this is a good start.



I did a lot of writing yesterday on my rough draft response article to the St. Johnny article for Immerse. Today I worked on a very different writing assignment, but it still tapped into my creative juices.
This is not the final product, but I am working on something for an upcoming newsletter. I made this on an iPad using a special app.


Make a list of 40 things that happened in the las month, and then pick 1 to write about.

I already know the one I want to write about, as it was tough and fresh in my mind. A week ago today my son had a terrible bike wreck. I did not witness it, but I was on scene soon after it occurred. From talking with him I pieced together that the wreck occurred in this way:
12 year old Reagan approached the dirt bike track with plenty of ambition but little safety on his mind. Fortunately he had a helmet on, but caution was not his biggest concern. As he took off down the track, he though he could quickly navigate the steeped embankment and turn that was in front of him. He pedaled hard, and found himself going up and over the turn. Unfortunately, he was supposed to go through and around the turn.
Disoriented, Reagan continued to the next nearby place where the track curved back nearby to his newfound location off of the track. However he didn’t slow to down and perceive the track’s condition in the area he was veering towards. Without warning he found himself dropping into (rather than driving onto) the dirt track once again. This is a big problem for several reasons:
1. It was an 8 foot drop onto the track.
2. He did not pull his wheel up in such a way as to give him an opportunity to land on his tires
3. His trajectory had him landing on an inclined surface
The first two things to hit the track were his helmeted head and his collar bone. Both broke instantly.
By the time I got to Reagan he had been crying for a few minutes and there was a crowd of concerned people around him. He had not stood up, and was not interested in moving an inch. I called 911. Less than 10 minutes later a special SUV type ambulance came through the trees and they put Reagan on body board after brace his head/neck and moving him carefully. He screamed in agony, and we took a ride to the normal ambulance on a nearby road. To make matters worse, Reagan has small veins and they were unable to get a line started to give him pain killer for the bumpy ride and the following the 15 minute hospital ride. The kid suffered, and all I could do was love on and pray for him.
A few hours later we checked out of the ER with Reagan in a brace/sling. Our Labor Day dinner was cancelled. But we were very happy to have our boy alert and to not have worse problems than a broken bone in his shoulder.