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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things You Can't Plan

I've spent these last several days taking trips back and forth to OHSU, the best hospital in the Portland area. My uncle John, who lives about 1 and 1/2 hours south of me, has become very ill and is in intensive care here.

This has been especially difficult because John is the very picture of health. If you think I spend a lot of my life running, John makes me look lazy. He's a long-distance runner at heart and it's not unusual for him to put in an 18-miler on the weekend. He watches what he eats. He goes to bed early and always gets his sleep. He takes regular time for Sabbath and retreat so as not to become burned out by ministry.

And yet tonight he lies in a hospital bed, needing God's provision in a serious way. There are positive signs, but he's still in critical condition. Throughout this process, the doctors have been unable to put their finger on the exact disease or illness that his causing so much trouble. They have a few ideas, but his symptoms are so great and varied that they don't fit any one profile.

This leaves us in a place of great uncertainty. We don't have a name for this. We don't have a plan of treatment or a procedure for recovery. We don't have assurances from the doctor that he will be okay. What we do have is this moment. In this moment, we hear the reports, we pray and we wait. In this moment. We can't make a plan. We can't move forward. We wait, together, in this moment.

I wonder tonight how this might be a blessing for many of us to learn to be in this moment. How much of life do we spend living forward, thinking about and preparing for moments yet in our future, while life occurs around us. I am impacted by the idea that where God is MOST present is with us, in this moment. He is at work in our lives, using every circumstance, if we will listen and look, to draw us to him. But we are busy concerning ourselves with tomorrow.

How much could God do with our tomorrow if we truly entered into Him today, in this moment? What if we chose to wait in Him, rest in Him, and take life one day at a time? Jesus promised that He will be with us always, but that promise must be realized one day, one moment at a time.

And when you're waiting on doctor's reports and praying for one you love, the promise of His presence in this moment, is good to have.

May you know him, in this moment, on your journey-

Nick

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Promptings

I had a unique experience on our State Cross Country trip this past weekend. While exiting the hotel on Friday evening, one of my guys walked straight into a plate-glass window. It was absolutely hilarious and he become the subject of much ribbing over the next 24 hours. As we continued out to our van after this experience, one of the front-desk personnel followed after us. Evidently, she had witnessed the event and felt that perhaps my guy had been goofing around and intentionally trying to cause damage to the hotel. She gave him a brief lecture and headed back into the hotel before I could intervene on behalf of my runner and figure out what was happening.

For the rest of the evening, I wondered if I should go to the hotel desk and speak with this woman. I thought it might be important to let her know I had also witnessed the event and that no harm was intended. On the other hand, I thought, why make a bigger deal about this than it needs to be.

Well, later that evening I found myself walking right by the front desk. Who should happen to be the only person there except this aforementioned lecture-giver! And at that moment I clearly felt the Holy Spirit prompt me- go talk to her.

Now, I don't always listen as I should to these kind of promptings, but on this particular occasion, I did. I walked over to the desk, introduced myself as the head coach of the knucklehead who walked into the window, and proceeded to offer a very sincere and heart-felt apology to her and the hotel. Guessing that this was a God-inspired moment, I waited for her reaction, hoping there might be some kind of opening to spiritual matters.

What I got instead was another lecture. Within seconds, she had my name, my phone number, and my school info so that the general manager could "evaluate the situation." Rather taken back by this, I apologized again and headed back to my room, wondering to myself, "What just happened? Why, God, did you prompt me to talk to her? That did not go well!" I spent the next several hours stewing in my room, worried that a mysterious charge for "window repair" would show up on my bill the next morning.

This episode has served as a reminder to me of WHY we listen to these promptings. In my nature, I want to listen because I believe the results will be good- people will open up to God, respond to a kind act, and I will get to be a part of it. The truth for us is that when God prompts us, He is asking us to trust Him. To trust that He sees what we cannot, that He knows the hearts and minds of all people, and that His plans are perfect. We listen and we act not because we believe we will see the results. We listen and act because we trust that God will, and that He is at work in every situation and in every life. Even in grumpy front-desk clerks.

So, I will likely never see this person again, but I trust that God is doing something in her life, and perhaps, in some minor way, my sincere apology will move her one step closer in that journey.

When the Spirit prompts you today, may you listen and like Philip in Acts 8, run to obey. And when you do, may you be able to trust with all your heart that God knows what He's doing.

Listen for the promptings on your journey today,

Nick

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Election Day

I thought I'd share with all of you these words, which I delievered to the people of East Hills this Sunday. May they give some perspective on the events currently capturing the attention of our great nation.

Later this week, our country will be electing a new president and other various political offices. And I am aware that on Tuesday night, millions of people will tune to see the results. When those results are announced, many Christ-followers will believe they have either won or lost an election, and will have either great joy or great sadness.

Frankly, I think this is wrong. Jesus arrived at a time in history as politically charged as any this world has seen. And yet, for all the various factions that would have welcomed his support and influence, Jesus never chose sides. He never associated himself with one group or another.

Now, don't get me wrong- I am not saying that we should be anti-political. We live in a great country and as citizens of this great country, voting is a right and a privilege of which we all should take advantage. But what I am encouraging you, as citizens of heaven, is to not leverage any of your hope or anchor any of your faith in the outcome of an election.

Jesus never chose sides because he realized that he was a part of something bigger. He had come to usher God's kingdom into this world, and that kingdom of grace, love and forgiveness was for all people. For those on the right and on the left. For those in blue state and red states. For republicans, democrats, conservatives and liberals, Jesus spread out his arms on the cross and pointed the way to the Father.

As a church, our mission is the same. And God's agenda, God's kingdom, is not hindered by any political agenda. So this election, don't leverage any of your hope or anchor any of your faith in the outcome of an election. Put your hope and your faith squarely on Jesus Christ, the only one who has the power to truly change a human heart.

May you know his peace on your journey this week,

Nick