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Archive for the tag “Bible”

Writing Stories

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View from the outdoor cafe

I’m sitting at an outdoor coffee bar that serves a lot more than just coffee. It overlooks a sports arena, downtown buildings, and a commuter train railway. There is also an airport close by. A few minutes ago an airplane flew past while at the same time a train and a bus rolled along. Everyone is going someplace.

It’s interesting to observe the mix of people in this place. There are all shapes and sizes and I count at least six different nationalities. Most seem quite happy. I suspect the median age is late 30’s and I suddenly realize I’m pulling the curve up instead of down.

Most conversations I overhear seem pretty light. If I had to guess, I would say there is one budding romance across the way. They are all smiles and laugh even if what was said may not have been particularly funny. A trio of ladies have gathered for drinks and are swapping stories about their respective “crazy” day. An elderly man is by himself staring into his glass deep in thought.

I wonder what their stories are?

We all have them. We’re all on a journey. All of us are hopeful our story comes to a happy and peaceful conclusion. We’re all writing stories.

I can’t help but wonder how God’s eternal and perfect plan—His story for us—is possibly taking place at this exact moment in each one of our lives. There just seems to be too much going on, too many  details, too many people, too many possible outcomes. How can it be that God is in control and that “…every day of my life was recorded in His book and every moment laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:16)? How can this be true right now, right here in this coffee bar?

I know God lives in eternity and is outside all of nature’s laws regarding time and space. It is difficult to try and comprehend. My Dad loved to tell me that this meant “God has all the ‘time’ in the world to focus on me and me alone for my entire life—every moment of every day.” That both thrills and terrifies me. But I do believe that in some mysterious God-ordained-free–will way, we write our story with uncoerced choices which fit exactly into God’s eternal plan. 

Maybe David was sitting in a coffee bar (circa 1000 BC) drinking a strong black coffee (no way King David drank lattés) thinking about some of these things. Why does the Almighty God–with that kind of power and ability–unconditionally love and care for someone like me? Why would he even care about my story and even desire that “through his mighty power at work within me, accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)? It’s too outlandish to imagine.

But He does. And so David had to say what I’m feeling at this moment, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand” (Psalm 139:6).

I need another strong black coffee.

Father of the Bride

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Abby & Alex engagement

I am a father of the bride.

And, no, I have never been able to watch the “Father of the Bride” movie without tearing up. The scene that always gets to me is when Steve Martin (the dad) is playing basketball in the driveway with his daughter (played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley — now the wife of one my favorite country singers).

As they reminisce, the scene keeps flashing back to when the bride was a little girl playing with her daddy and all of a sudden I’m a slobbering basket case. When that movie came out in 1991, my little girl, Abby, was all of one year old and it all seemed so far away. But even then, I think she was secretly scheming to leave me one day.

So of course, I have no idea how I’m going to get through the wedding. It doesn’t help that they will be living in Australia, roughly three airplanes and some 24 hours worth of flight and airport terminal time away. In my mind, she was going to get married and they would live in the house next door — or even better, he could live next door and Abby could stay in her own room in my house.

The truth is, I really am very excited for her. I even like the creep she’s marrying. His name is Alex and I tried not to like him, but he won me over. His love and care for my daughter calms my heart and there is no question she is crazy in love with him. He is God’s ideal choice for my daughter and they compliment each other so well.

I wrote a song a few years ago envisioning the day some guy would ask me if he could marry my daughter. I knew the day was inevitable and I knew then, as I know now, I would be an emotional mess. It’s called, “What do I know?” Part of the lyrics go:

So now he asks me, “Will I give her away?”
My head is swimming, I stammer to say
“Will you love her forever?”
My world is spinning so
What do I know?

(NOTE: You can go to iTunes and download the song for $0.99 and help me pay for this wedding 🙂

It has now been over 30 years ago that I asked the extremely cute, sweet, and smart Vermont girl to marry me. How I pulled that one off remains a beautiful mystery. Of course, I was totally oblivious to any pain or struggle her father may have been going through giving his daughter away to some creep from Miami. But he did and I am forever grateful.

Now it’s my turn.

Abby’s big day is almost here and I can’t help but think of the very first wedding all the way back in the Garden of Eden. The passage in Genesis 2:23-24 explains that when God brought Eve to Adam like a typical man, he looked at her and after he picked his jaw up from the ground he mustered a profound, “At last!”

Adam then pulls himself together and goes on to say, “This is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'” The passage concludes by saying, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one.”

December 28th is almost here. I think I hear Alex saying, “At last!”

Expectations

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right,” so stated the famous American industrialist, Henry Ford.  Of course, he also thought the Edsel was a good idea, so he wasn’t right about everything.

I’ve been thinking much about expectations these days. My youngest son, you see, is a student-athlete at the University of Miami.  He enrolled this past June with many ascribed “high expectations.”  And they weren’t talking about his GPA.

I’ve yet to meet a parent whose hopes for his child are that he or she grows up to be a disappointment, so like other Dads, I have very high hopes and expectations for my kids, too.  Naturally, all three of my kids are pursuing completely different paths, but the expectations for each of them to have success in their chosen fields are very high.  Not one of my children, by the way, are named “Edsel.”

The path our youngest son is taking, however, is a bit more public.  If one cares to, his success or failure on the ball field can be followed and pontificated upon from week to week.  And I must say, I’m rather intrigued by the vast number of self-proclaimed “experts” who really seem to enjoy pontificating.

“Expectations have long been a topic of psychological research,” says Jonah Lehrer in an article in the Boston Globe, “…but in recent years, scientists have been intensively studying how expectations shape our direct experience of the world, what we taste, feel, and hear.”  The article goes on to explain, for example, that a generic drug–which has the exact same ingredients as the brand name–is often proven to be less effective merely because it costs less.  In other words, the expectation is that the less expensive drug can’t possibly be as effective as the more expensive one.

“The human brain, research suggests, isn’t built for objectivity,” Lehrer explains.  “The brain is ‘cooking the books,’ adjusting its own inputs depending on what it expects.”  Lehrer reports, “Science suggests that, in important ways, people experience reality not as it is, but as they expect it to be.”

Science, it would seem, agrees with Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or can’t, you’re right.”

I thought about this after a particular game where David blasted a towering home run in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game.  It was a clutch hit that propelled the team to eventually win in eleven innings.  After the game, David confidently said, “I knew I was going to hit it out before I came up to bat.” I mustered a deep and powerful philosophical response to my son’s heroics by saying, “Wow!

ImageThe problems come, of course, when our expectations for ourselves or others are not realized.  Calvin, of the famous “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip said, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone’s expectations.”

Calvin was right, life is a lot easier without expectations.  But without them, I wonder if we would ever have heard of Neal Armstrong, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, Babe Ruth or LeBron James?  We are an impatient society and don’t have much time for the close relatives of expectations such as dedication, talent, and tenacity.  We want our expectations met and we want them met right now!  But life doesn’t always cooperate.

You may remember the popular bumper sticker that read, “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.”  It was basically a paraphrase from the Philippians 1:6 Bible verse which reads, “…and I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Ruth Graham, the loving wife of evangelist Billy Graham, fully understood this Bible promise.  If you were to visit her grave sight, you would see the following inscribed on her tombstone, “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.”

Expectations fully achieved!

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Talking to Moses

I answered the phone the other day and the person on the other end asked to speak to my Dad.  I joyfully responded, “I’m sorry, he can’t come to the phone right now, he’s busy talking to Moses.”  There was a long pause and then he said:

Salesman: When would be a good time for me to call back?

Ed:  Want me to put you on hold?

Salesman: Do you think he’ll be long?

Ed: Well, you know Moses, he can be longwinded.

Salesman: Which Moses are you talking about?

Ed: How many Moses’ do you know?

Salesman: I’ve only heard of one.

Ed: Well, that’s probably him.

There was another long pause as the salesman was trying to put two and two together.

Ed: Do you still want me to put you on hold?

Salesman (still a bit unsure):  How long do you think he’ll be?

Ed: Forever!

Our conversation ended as the salesman apologized and said he wasn’t able to wait “forever”.  I have no idea what he was trying to sell.

It’s interesting the kind of things you miss about someone.  I was very close to my Dad and everywhere I turn there are memories of places we enjoyed being together.  It seems I miss him the most in the simple routine of our various activities.  I catch myself thinking, “Dad would have really enjoyed that”.

But given the choice, there is no doubt talking to Moses and living–really living–in a place where there is no sun, moon or stars because the light radiating from the presence of God illuminates the entire place; wins out every time.  And how beautiful that the Bible describes Heaven as a place where God wipes away our tears; where there is no sadness, no sorrow, no sickness, no heartaches, no disease, and no death.

I’d always get my Dad a little something for Father’s Day.  Usually some clothes or some little trinket.  Truth is, I’d be hard pressed to remember any of the things I bought him.  “Things” seem rather trivial when you know your Dad is living in utter joy in the presence of Jesus…and talking to Moses.

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  Dad and his 4 boys

 When I first became a father, I experienced an instant and intense love for an infant that could do nothing for me. It was perhaps the first time I tasted what unconditional love is like.  Of course, I am greatly polluted by sin and thus even that is tainted. But on my first Father’s Day–the day my first child was born–I remember holding him in my arms with one primary thought running through my brain: I want to be with you forever!

There is only One person who can make that happen…and it’s not Moses…and certainly not me.  The only thing I have ever really wanted for Father’s Day is the same thing my Dad wanted.  It is the gift of being together forever.  It is a gift only Jesus can give.

Remember the story of the Roman jailer who was about to kill himself because he thought all his prisoners had escaped, including Paul and Silas?  It’s a great Father’s Day story found in Acts 16.  The jailer is about to fall on his own sword when Paul shouted, “Stop, we are all here.”  Instantly recognizing it was God himself at work, the jailer fell down trembling before Paul and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

Paul then delivered a life-changing, uncomplicated, directly to the point 16-word sermon: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household” (Acts 16:31 NLV).

Words cannot express my joy and thankfulness that Jesus has given me the ultimate Father’s Day gift.  Jesus has saved me and my entire household.  And just in case you didn’t know, that same gift is for you, too.  Oh, it’s FREE.

Sure, I’ll accept the little trinkets.  I love getting presents…and I could use a new 3-wood (hint, hint).  But my Father’s Day gift has already been given.  And one day, we’ll all be hanging out with Dad…and talking to Moses.

Happy Father’s Day…Forever!

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