Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Fresh "Look" at the Aaronic Blessing

"May the LORD bless you and keep you,
May the LORD make his face shine upon you,
May the LORD look upon you and give you peace."

E. awoke at 2 am, again. Lisa and I had discussed our dilemna and formulated a family plan. The newly-developing pattern of waking 2 - 4 am and sleeping on Poppa's chest on the couch had steam-rolled into sleeping between Momma and Poppa in our bed. This was a BIG no-no.

Our plan was to let E. stay in his bed, even if it meant some crying (both from E. and us.) But it was 2 am, again. E. was awake and screaming, again. So...I went to his room, laid him down, spoke a few words of reassurance and patted his little head.

He kept screaming and crying.

While keeping vigil in the rocker across the room, I noticed (out of the corner of my eyes) how E. kept looking intently at me. I avoided eye contact, though, by looking down at the floor. This seemed to infuriate and frustrate him. He could see I was present in the room; but, he wanted "face time." Seeing me there wasn't as comforting as seeing me seeing him.He needed intimacy, not presence.

Suddenly, I was the one staring intently through the darkness, my eyes tearfully searching for my Father's face. God was present there. He is everywhere, always present and I'm usually aware of it. But my heart longs for "face time," intimacy.

Then the words I prayerfully recite over E. each night as I lay him in bed took new, deeper meaning. I more fully understood why God instructed Aaron to bless his people this way.

Lord, look upon me. Make your face shine upon me. Then I will experience peace.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Minor League Home Run

Yesterday I hit a homerun.

Well that's the current jargin we pastors/teachers use to describe a really great teaching: content and delivery both excellent. We "De-Coded the DaVinci Code" and spend only a few minutes MythBusting(that's our teaching series title for May 2006.) Most of the high impact moment was a discussion of the canon and why the Gospel of Philip or Thomas or Judas are not included in our Bibles.

I wanted Touchstone Community to know that the church has known about these "gospels" from the beginning and are not trying to supress a secret. It is no secret that the Christian community knows of them. We rejected them as not "measuring up" to the standard of Scripture. I grew up in a community of faith which either didn't know these things or else didn't deem it important enough to teach (Sunday sermons, Sunday School or Bible Study.)

It wasn't overly technical and most commented later that they were glad we had such a firm foundation to our beliefs (as opposed to the fragile, fanciful framework Dan Brown manufactured for his "Fact: page.") I felt used of God to correct a problem that existed in the church of my childhood. I could literally feel the teaching hit the "sweet spot" on delivery!

However, there were less than 30 in the stands. Very minor league ballpark. A bit run down.

Honestly, it gets hard to step up to the plate game to game and swing for the bleachers in this setting. Like all minor leaguers, my day job takes so much time, energy and focus away from my passion--the game.

Then I think of the "great cloud of witnesses."

Like Kevin Costner's middle-aged, minor league home run leader, I may never play in the House that Ruth Built. I may never speak His word to hundreds or thousands. But I am playing for the love of the game, making the most of this opportunity and it still feels great to knock it out of the park.

Monday, May 01, 2006


My eye-sight is 20/400 uncorrected.

Line up four football fields end to end. Place a bill-board on the goal line of the first field which someone with normal vision can read from the end of the last field. I would have to stand on the twenty-yard line of the first field to see it. In other words I literally can't see past the end of my nose without my glasses.

Nearsightedness is dangerous.

Objects are not seen clearly until mere inches from my face. This is why I couldn't ride a bike until third grade when I got glasses. Things literally HIT me before I can see them. (My younger brothers had fun with this for a while.)

My focus is 20/400 or worse and uncorrected.

So my relationships, time money management and spiritual formation blur and fade. I frequently choose the immediate over the important. I focus on things as obstacles instead of opportunities. I mostly re-act rather than act. This, too, is dangerous with only moments to avert disasters that could have been avoided with a little far-sightedness.

Circumstances up close get the energy and attention. Long-term goals, plans and dreams are so unclear they disappear. The eternal gives way to the temporal.

Near-sightedness can be corrected.

Thank God for the times of re-vision He shared with me through Touchstone Community this week. A leader stepped up for our ladies small group citing I needed to be free to pursue other areas of the community's life. I don't have to do everything. A leader is emerging for the Worship Team and again, God is saying, "You can't do everything. Others won't try if you always step in the gaps."

During Sunday Celebration! I heard Him saying to me through me (Aside: It's quite an experience to hear the vox dei speaking through your own mouth...but don't we believe that God speaks through the preaching of the word for our people? Why else stand and share every week. Anyways...), I heard Him saying, "Fall in love with me again. Make knowing me your passion, your pursuit." Through the lens of worship (the Word and sacraments attended by a community with prayer and praise) my inner near-sightedness found correction. Like David before me, coming into the community to worship corrected my focus on nearby inequities and lifted my eyes to God!