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Friday, March 30, 2007


OK, enough serious poems for now. You may not know that I was once known as the "White Boy Rapper" and could hold my own in rap fights with the 'brothers' in high school. I was the new kid, having just moved to Chicago in time to start 11th grade. I was surprised when I arrived to see how separate the whites and blacks were in my Chicago south suburban high school, when in my previous high school in California there did not seem to be the obvious racial separation. I made a bold move to sit in the "black section" at lunch and it began an adventure that turned out to be a highlight for me in high school. Persecution? Some, but I made some great friends, and after telling these 'brothers' for weeks about a "white boy rapper" I knew who could whoop 'em all in a rap fight... I finally set a day for them to meet him on a lunch break (we had open campus at lunch) and after waiting and waiting, when there was only 15 minutes left to lunch, I pulled out a pair of black 80's style shades (well, it was the 80's!) and had my first rap fight... to hear those white boy raps you have to hear them in person, as I won't post them! (most are still memorized, but will die with me!) But I have done them a few times when I speaking in a black church. But I loved the challenge of making up raps on the spot and going back and forth trying to outdo the other guy and myself. In raps fights, winning isn't the goal, it is simply surviving; not messing up really bad! Which happened a lot, but even in losing, I earned their respect. The doors to witnessing that were opened were fun and amazing.

ANYWAY - I decided I WILL post one of my "raps." This was not from those playground fights, but was written for a Parent Appreciation Dinner in high school when the teens served their parents a meal and put on a program. I was asked to do a white boy rap with some friends doing the sound effects behind me. I don't have this written anywhere, it is still in my head, and usually my puppet Gus does it now... but here it is, perserved now for posterity!

by white boy karl bastian

The other day while I was kickin’ back in my room,
Little did I know my Mom was coming home soon.

My radio was on up to the Richter scale,
And my whole entire room – it smelled kinda stale.

I was kicking back on stuff, ten feet above my bed,
And then I remembered what my mamma said,

She said, “When I get home if this room’s not clean…
When your father gets home he’s gonna see a bloody scene!”

So I snapped alert, I jumped off the bed,
And by the time I hit the ground I nearly broke my head!

I started to clean up the awful mess,
But where to start? I just couldn’t guess!

So I opened up my drawers, shoved my stuff inside,
And put my clothes in the machine with the whole box of Tide.

Next I filled a garbage pale, then two and three and four…
Then I made a discovery…. my room it had a floor!

I worked really hard, I mean it was a BIG mess!
I even found my Bible, now doesn’t God bless?

Well, I worked all day, man, it was a big job,
And when I just got done, I heard the door knob.

Well I went downstairs, I said “How was your day?”
My mamma looked at me and said “You’d better start to pray!”

She walked right by me headin’ for my room,
And I could see she was thinkin’ and planning my doom!

But then she opened up the door, and she looked inside…
It took five buckets of water before she’s revive!

When she finally came to, she was in a state of shock!
She was so dumbfounded, she couldn’t even talk!

She said, “Karl, it’d be nice if you always would,
Keep your room like this, like you know you should.”

I said, “Hey, Mom, I’m a kid, I got things to do,
Places to go, friends to see, and lots of problems too.

But if it really is as bad as you say….
Let’s go check out your room, it’s right this way!”

Karl Bastian, 1988

Hope you enjoyed it... now GO CLEAN YOUR ROOM!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Through a Mother's Eyes

Tonight a father and son came over to watch the The Passion of the Christ at my house as part of their Easter preparation. (I have a pretty sweet home theater in my basement that they wanted to 'borrow') It is a movie that I can handle watching about once a year. It is a powerful experience. If you have not seen it, you really should. (Read my review on Kidology.org) It is a very fitting film for Easter time as you can no longer be flipant or casual about Jesus' death after seeing this film. Anyway, as I continue to post my long-lost poetry, (torture to some I'm sure!), I was moved by the film to post a poem I wrote about the Crucifiction titled "Through a Mother's Eyes." It also is a song written in B minor, bu you'll have to use your imagination for that.

Through a Mother's Eyes

She stood there looking at her son,
She said, "I thought you were the one,
The Scriptures promised so long ago,
Who'd come to make us finally whole."
But now He hung there on a tree,
Bleeding, dying, in misery,
She saw the wounds, she heard his cries,
Through a Mother's Eyes

As she gazed up through eyes of tears,
Her thoughts traveled back through the years,
To when she'd first learned she'd have a son,
And those quiet years when He was young.
But all along she knew the day would come,
When he would cease to be her son,
And so she'd watched, as time went by,
Through a Mother's Eyes

But now He'd grown to be a man,
Sent by God to complete His plan,
He came to earth to bring us life,
To lift man's burden of sin and strife.
But still she could not understand,
Could this be what God had planned?
She heard him groan, she heard his sighs,
Through a Mother's Eyes

She looked up to His eyes above,
But instead of hate they burned with love.
Peace was flowing out of them,
Forgiveness to those He could condemn,
For in this shame and great disgrace,
He hung so He might take their place,
Now she started to see why...
Through a Mother's Eyes

Though He'd paid the greatest cost,
The victory had not been lost.
Her eyes were opened, now she could see,
Salvation now to man was free!
Jesus' redemptive work was done!
Satan trembled because Christ has won!
For he knew that now his greatest loss,
Was the soul of every soul who would
Through a Mother's Eyes

Karl Bastian, ~1984

I'm not sure how theologically sound it is - but hey, I was still in junior high and hadn't gone to Bible college yet. But I think the point is made even if we don't truly know what was going through Mary's heart and mind as she watched her son die. No one seemed to understand what was truly happening... but we DO, and so we have a greater responsibility to respond!

That Jesus volunteered to go through all of that on my account... well, there just aren't words to describe it. I found another poem about the crucifixion, but I want to save it until Good Friday. Hope this encouraged you to focus on the cross. It is the great equalizer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

All I Need

One of the reasons I highly encourage journaling is that you may find that years from now you can be your own best encourager! When you read words you wrote yourself long ago, you are more open to them because, well, you wrote them. The words of others can be hard to accept at times, but when your own words are exactly what you need, it's kinda hard to argue. Such was the case with the discovery of this poem, written eighteen years ago. (am I that old?) At a time in my life when so much is new, and when letting go and saying good bye to many people and things that I loved and took for granted as a part of my daily and weekly life are gone - it was nice to read the words of a much younger version of me saying through this poem, "be content, all you need is God. But He's given you so much more." Enjoy!


Make yourself, Lord, all I need,
In all I say and do,
May my dependance be on nothing else,
Let me only lean on you.

I want to need nothing else,
Than to know I'm on your side,
So when problems come, or I get down,
I will run to You and hide.

Make yourself, Lord, all I need,
Even over the things I love,
Because even those I'm finding out,
Are just extras from above.

I want those extra blessings,
The things you've given me,
To be things I am fine without,
When they're gone or hard to see.

I do want to enjoy them,
For that is why they are sent,
But when it is just me and You,
I want to be content.

So make yourself, Lord, all I need,
As I live each day through,
Make me happy, peaceful, and content,
As long as I have you.

Karl Bastian, 1989

If you make a list of the things you truly need, the list becomes amazingly short. Then when you list your blessings, yes, name them one by one, you find that your blessings far out weigh your real needs, even if your list of fulfilled "wants" does feel shorter than you'd like. Like Adam and Eve, who fixated on the one tree they were forbidden to eat from, we too often focus on the thing we can't have, instead of on all the many things we can. God is saying to us as well, "Look at all the other trees."

The blessings and gifts of God truly do out weigh the losses and hurts of this short life. Take a deep breath and breath God in deeply.... ahhhh, He is all you need.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Constantly Becoming

Another poem from youthful days. This one I actually put to music, (key of G my hand written notes say) but, NO, I'm not going to record it and upload an MP3, good friends have advised me against a singing career. :)

Chicago, taken 1989, no digital editing, I used a filter for the coloring.


I'm not who I used to be,

I'm not who I will be,

'Cause more like my Savior,
I'm everyday becoming.

I'm constantly changing,

Constantly rearranging,

And I won't reach perfection,

Until His second coming.

But until I see Him in the sky,

On His love I will rely,

I must let Him live through me,

So with His glory I can shine.

Oh, I tried to live life on my own,

But I've learned my life is just a loan,

God entrusted it to me,

My life's no longer mine.

I've given it back to Him,

The good, the bad and all the sin,

So He can mold it and shape it,

He's the potter, I'm the clay.

Sometimes I find it hard to trust,

But I know that it is a must,

If I'm to be all I'm meant to be,
On that final day.

(So I'm)

Constantly changing,

Constantly rearranging,

And I won't reach perfection,

Until His second coming.

(Praise God!)
I'm not who I used to be,

But I'm still not who I will be,

'Cause in the image of God's Son,

I'm constantly becoming.

Karl Bastian, 1989

This is my little brother, 1989, visiting me at MBI. That's the George Sweeting Center for World Evangelization being built in the background. (Taken from the top of the parking garage - yes, I did sit my little bother on the brink of a six story ledge! Funny the things you notice years later!)

It's amazing to read words I wrote my freshman year of Bible Collge (MBI) that are as true today as they were back then. I hope I'm closer to God now than I was then, and yet, I've made some big mistakes since that youthful idealism, but the encouraging truth is that God isn't finished with me yet! The changing and rearranging is still going on today!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

He Who Dies with the Most Acorns

OK, another poem from the past. This one was inspired by a bumper sticker that was popular at the time that said, "He who dies with the most toys wins."


There once was a squirrel,
Who got in his mind,
To get every acorn,
Of every last kind.

A huge hollow oak tree,
Weighing more than a ton,
Is where he settled down,
To build his kingdom.

Day in and day out,
He went off to look,
And if he saw an acorn,
That acorn he took.

He cared not if he,
Robbed another squirrel's home,
For he wanted all acorns,
To be just his own.

This went on through spring,
And through mid-summer too,
"Winter is coming,
Oh, what will we do?!"

Cried the other fine squirrels,
As they gazed on his tree,
Standing firmly there,
Oblivous to the breeze.

He say up on top,
Way up high like a king,
When along came a breeze,
Into air did he swing.

He fell to his death,
The poor little guy,
The others moaned for a moment,
Thought they didn't know why.

He had done all that work,
And had done it in vain,
As the others bounded up,
All staking their claim.

The moral to this tale,
That I hope I have taught,
When you're old and look back,
Will you like all you sought?

After all:

He who dies with the most acorns wins.... nothing!

Luke 9:25 "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his very self?"

(still copying from the hand written notebook)

Wouldn't it be better to have nothing, and yet be right with God and man?
Let's put the Lord and Others above the "acorns" in our life.

Karl Bastian, 1985

OK, back to 2007. I've always thought it would be fun to make this poem into a children's picture book... but the dying squirrel might be too tramatic for kids, and the lesson is more for adults, so this is probably good enough. But I'll end with this thought... What are the acorns in your life and distract you from what really matters?

Read, and I May Have to Kill You

The following poem I share hesitantly.

One of my favorite meal-time stories revolves around this poem. For after I wrote it, and read it to my 9th grade English Class, I wound up being asked to stay after school. In trouble? That's what my fellow students thought. Instead, I was offered a career in an government agency that found interest in my love of codes and disciphering, my dabbling in speaking several foreign languages, and thought my plans at the time to be a foreign missionary would be a perfect cover to my "real" job. I'd tell you the rest of that true story, but then I'd have to kill you. :) Don't want to risk my cover! In the end, after consulting with (duh) my parents, and even an "agent" of a foreign missions organization, I turned the offer down, including a scholarship to a college of my choice. But I have always been flattered that an agent on leave from the field, teaching high school English for one year as an undercover recruiter, would select me as a candidate. There's more to the story, that must be saved for telling in person someday. :)

But the assignment was to write a sonnet - 10 syllable lines, and 14 total lines, of course. I wrote mine in mere minutes, and when I raised my hand and told the teacher I was done - he said I could turn it in in two weeks, or read it to the class now and he would "rip it to threads." I found that option much too tempting, and in my youthful boldness, I chose the public shredding. I walked to the front of the class, and read my sonnet, which I still have memorized to this day:

A poem thought I'd write for thee from I,
In English old to help the time pass by.
For in this class whist I am now enrolled,
Learn I of poems that for years been told.
I find them boring and of little use,
Except on students boredom to induce.
Although I try they come across quite dull,
I'd rather blast a tape of rock n' roll.
They call this form of lit'ature an art,
And then waste time to tear it all apart.
If it can not express in just one try,
Then leave it in the books and let it die.
But need I end this now say not I'm mean,
But of lines sonnets have but just fourteen.

Karl Bastian - 1987

Of course, the class liked the "rock n roll" line, even though I was not much of a rock n' roller, unless early Mike Smith and Petra count! (good thing we had one sylable "tapes" and not two sylable "CDs" back then!) But the poem had a point I was trying to make. That we were often studying poems that even when they were originally written years ago no one knew what the author meant, and I believed that if the author wasn't understood in his own time, it was silly to be studying him now. I'd rather be studying the prose, vocabulary, culture and purposes of a poet that was understand and appreciated in his own time, but that had lost that understanding only because of changing language and culture. Anyway, the teacher said only, "I'd like to see you after school" and the rest, well, I've already told you too much.

Gotta go, the phone in my shoe is ringing....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

There Are Absolutely No Absolutes!

Cleaning / Organizing in my office today, and came across a spiral binder of poetry written when I was a young man... they are all hand written, so I am going to post some of them here to preserve them and to provide for feedback...

There Are Absolutely No Absolutes!

"There are no absolutes," you say,
But are you absolutely sure?
For once you say that there are none,
There's one, where none there were!

And when you press to convince,
That there really should be none,
The very fact that you say "should"
Brings out another one.

Then you're quick to point out,
That my logic is not right,
But if logic's based on nothing, then
On what do you stand to fight?

And what about the times I hear
You say you were not treated fair,
On what grounds do you call them wrong,
With no standard to compare?

If you say I'm wrong, I'm right!
And you lose, once you say you win!
For once you set up one as right,
Your argument caves in.

So if there are no absolutes,
And always a counter view,
Then I must add of your argument,
That also must be true.

Karl Bastian, 1988

This was written for a high school philsophy class. I got an "F" because I was supposed to defend the teaching that there are no absolutes. My teacher was absolutely sure there weren't any. My fellow students started to ask me what I believed was absolutely true, and I got to share the Truth. I am absolutely sure there are absolutes! Aren't you?

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Canadian Buddy, Tyler

Here is a picture of my canadian buddy, Tyler, doing what he loves best:


I have never met Tyler in person (yet!) but I hope to some day! His parents are missionaries in a remote part of northern Canada, where kids church looks like this:

(Tyler in the yellow shirt)

I got to know Tyler via his mom when I learned that he is a big fan of Toyboxtales.com, my novel (Order of the Ancient), and my blog. In fact, I am blogging about him today in order to encourage him with his new blog, since I just discovered tonight that he credited me as his "inspiration" to begin his blogging career:

Maybe some of the zillions who come here can visit his blog and leave a comment to encourage him!

Here is Tyler, at a local landmark--the moose head at the gas station, with the autographed copy of my novel I sent him after I learned that he only had the downloads and needed to clear up some harddrive space and was sad to lose it. (The book was released originally online a chapter a week, which is when Tyler read it)

Here is Tyler in trouble with the UFP, er, I mean, the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police). Not really, this was at a police station open house.

According to his mom, Lori, in explaining her son's fascination with my websites and ministry, said Tyler "was happy to find an adult with an unnatural fascination with Legos, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc."

I think he is just a Children's Pastor in the making! But whatever God's plan is for this young man, I'm excited to watch it unfold.

From Master to Pastor!

Master Ron
(who I have blogged about in the past) is now Pastor Ron! Ron is the husband of Kidology's bookkeeper, Patti, and an awesome kids performer who now gets to think about "scope and sequence" and "rotation model vs. traditional educational models" and best of all: Recruiting! Ron is an amazing teacher and performer for kids, using juggling, balloons, magic and unicycles and more, and has trained at Kidology and Awana conferences... and now gets to have the second best job on earth: a kid's pastor. (he already had the best job: Dad!)

Here is a blurb from the church's website: www.alpinechapel.org

Visit THIS POST on Kidology.org and leave him a welcome and give him some advice on how to start out as a CP!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Luke Learns to Drive

One of the joys of fatherhood is teaching your son to drive. Well, the time has come for Luke to take this next important step in his human (manly) development...

It started out as a quick trip to the dollar store to pick up my sister who's car had broken down. Since it was a RARE warm afternoon, and a very short ride, I thought I'd let Luke have his first ride with the top down! (note the shades for wind, and the blanket for warmth!) Plus, mommy was out with a friend, so no need to worry about whether mom approved. (!)


Just as I got to the end of the street, mom and her friend turned onto the street, and I was caught red-car-ed, er, I mean, red-handed! So mom jumped out of one car, and into mine to join us for the short ride!

Best view in the world...
(note Darth on the dash pointing which way to go!)

Once we got to our destination, we had to wait for the toe truck, er, tow truck to arrive, so we had some time to kill. After too long in the dollar store asking, "How much is this?" Luke and I were booted out.

So I took the opportunity to give him some behind the wheel time in the parking lot just as my father before me did when I was a youngster! (a brick on the gas pedal did the trick)

He showed a natural talent for driving! (received from his dad, of course)

And soon he was racing around the parking lot, but I was able to get this picture as he sped by! Next thing, he's gonna want to take some cute little baby girl out on a date!

That's ONE COOL Baby!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

9th Annual Success - I Kid U Not!

Hard to believe this was the 9th annual Kidology University here in Chicago. (14th Kid U if you count the ones in other states!) My new church played host and we had a great turn out, many of the rooms were standing room only, so next year we will be looking for an even larger facility. (leads anyone?)

I enjoyed a break this year. No workshops. No EmCeeing, just taking pictures and visiting with our speakers and guests, it was a welcome change of pace for me. Especially walking around with my little boy. I was more daddy and less "Kidologist"... a refreshing change for me.

Bill Allison was one of our many excellent speakers - one of the hallmarks of Kidology is that I am extremely picky about who speaks at a Kidology conference. All of our speakers embody our mission, Equipping and Encouraging. (but doing it while being Entertaining is ok too!)

Master Ron, who as of yesterday is officially now "Pastor Ron" had the place cracking up with his balloon version of Samson and Deliah!

And as our VIP, we had none other than Rob Biagi back! He is a V.I.P. to K.I.D.O.L.O.G.Y.! (not as catchy as the song, but true!)

And our favorite magicians were back, the Laflins, who not only amaze, but teach at a level that allows their workshop attenders to be amazing too!

In addition to all the awesome workshops, we were excited to have our second year of Spanish Workshops. In addition to our Spanish Ministry Director, Susana Orellana, we were excited to bring in Noel Ascencio from Californai to teach additional workshops in Spanish. Both will be back next year for our 10th Annual Celebration - and 3rd Annual Spanish Conference!

And of course, there are the sponsors and exhibitors! Harvest has been with us from the beginning and we are always so appreciative of their support! Also sponsoring was DiscipleLand and Camp Timber-lee.

Here is Baby Luke excited to see a whole STACK of his favorite book at Karyn Henley's booth. I came home from CPC with a copy of Karyn's Day by Day Begin-to-Read Bible and was surprised how much Luke liked it at only one year old, so we are reading through the Bible already a few stories a day, and he sits and listens very attentively, much to my surprise! (but enjoyment) Luke is happy to endorse this book... is this the beginning of Luke Endorsements?

Well, there were many more speakers and exhibitors and fun, so here is a highlight video for you to enjoy and put on your iPod. Music is by Uncle Charlie and available on his Made 2 Praise, Volume 5:

Kid U Chicago 2007

(.mov QuickTime 79mb!)

Kid U Chicago 2007 Pictures

Friends Are the Ones Around When it Rains

Friends Are the Ones Around When it Rains

In high school we got sick of the M. Smith song, "Friends are friends forever." Real life teaches you it isn't true. Those you thought were friends for years can forget you and even turn on you if you don't live up to their expectations. And it hurts.

I used to use the teaching tool: A true friend C.A.R.E.S. when teaching kids:

C = challenges you to be a better person
A = accepts you just the way you are, they don't reject you when you mess up
R = respects you, they don't do things to hurt or damage you, they don't 'get even'
E = encourages you - they are there when you need them most
S = sticks with you, no matter what

A genuine friend who was in town this week said something that I wanted to post here:

"A friend is someone who runs in
when everyone else is running out."

I just wanted to say thank you to those who have been a genuine friend to me in the past several months... there have been many, and often not the ones I would have expected. God has known just who to send along at just the right moment. Thank you.

I also want to say I'm sorry to those who I have not been a good friend to; and there are many. I was a very fast-moving, on-the-go, things-to-do, places-to-go, ministry-to-get-to guy who had many friends... but few deep friendships. I have been discovering so much about friendships and what it means, and what it takes, to develop the ones that really count. It really doesn't matter how many people "like" you - what we need are people who love us... unconditionally. In what I thought was "ministry zeal" I blew right past many potential friends. I'm sorry.

Second to last, I want to say, if you were a friend who has been out of touch for awhile, perhaps since I left my church, I miss you. Don't assume there are people swarming around my family in love and support - there isn't - and don't assume I'm off onto my "new life" and don't miss or need you, I do. It is very hard to leave behind eight years of fun, and friendships and fellowship and simply "move on." Part of life is moving on, but I would like friends to be friends forever. God has been so gracious and has shown my family his mercies and grace in many ways in the past months... but we are really missing the friendships that were a part of our daily life. We miss you.

Lastly, and finally, I want to say if you ever find yourself in a place in life, or situation, or struggle or temptation or trial or time where you think there is no one you can turn to or tell - I know that feeling - I've lived there, and I stayed there for tooooo long, it' isn't true. You have a friend. Of course, there is Jesus! But there is someone else - you just need the courage to take that step of faith and turn to a friend and trust them. Yes, there is a chance the friendship will disappoint you, the trust may not be mutual, there is a good chance they may judge you, or reject you, or cast you off, BUT you will still have done the right thing - for you will find yourself on the path of resolution or restoration or refinement by getting your sturuggle out from being hidden in your heart, and into the open where it can be dealt with.

There is the age-old saying that I've taught kids many times, "If you want good friends, you must BE a good friend." I am discovering just how painfully true this really is. I find myself missing and wanting good friends, and discovering just now much I failed as a friend to others. Something I am working to change in my new and continuing friendships.

I invite you... join me in the effort of developing genuine deep friendships, the type that take time and trust. There will come a time when you will need them, and more importantly, they will need you. I hope no one who reads this will ever find themselves in a place where they desperately need genuine friends, and find they aren't there.

If you do, you can always call me, whoever you are. I am committed with a new zeal to be the type of friend I wished I had had more of this past year.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Love of God is Overwhelming

Today I was amazed that my devotional reading was perfectly exactly what I needed today. Then, as I shared it with my wife, she noticed that I was actually off by a day... I'm not sure when I missed a day and as I expressed my disappointment that I "goofed" somehow and got off in my Oswald Chambers Journal, my wife pointed out, that if today's message was exactly what I needed, then God actually had me get off somehow so that I would "accidently" read today's today, instead of when I supposed to. All that to say, even in our mundane mistakes, God is at work.

Today was a difficult day in my private journey as a pilgrim of Christ. I'll leave it at that as far as details go, but enough to say, of all the difficult days I may experience in life, today will always be one of the most difficult I ever had to face. And yet God's peace was evident and his mercy flowed freely and his grace was abundant.

My passage today (accidently) was "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)

I'd like to share what Oswalk Chambers wrote "today" since I underlined the entire thing anyway in my journal...

Paul is speaking of the things that might seem likely to separate or wedge in between the saint and the love of God; but the remarkable thing is that nothing can wedge between the love of God and the saint. These things can and do come in between devotional exercises of the soul and God and separate individual life from God; but none of them is able to wedge in between the love of God and the soul of the saint. The bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of the love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary, a love we never can and never shall merit. Paul says this is the reason we are more than conquerors in all these things, super-victors, with a joy we would not have but for the very things which look as if they are going to overwelm us. The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things - tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors through Him in all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it - 'I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation,' says Paul. Undaunted radiance is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can alter. The experiences of life, terrible or monotonous, are impotent to touch the love of God, which is in Christ our Lord.

I wrote in the margin, "Be overwhelmed by nothing other than the love of God."

Life is precious and all too short. And we so easily miss what matters most, and as I have learned this past year, one of the biggest threats to our spiritual life is not sin, but ministry. Ministry that overruns our intimacy with God and family. Hidden behind a passion for ministry can be a desire to please God, impress God, and matter to God... to somehow be worthy of his love, his salvation, and the life and ministry He has blessed us with. Sure, salvation was free, but I want to be worthy of it after the fact, since I know just how unworthy I truly am. And so we set out with DO lots for God, when all he wants, all He died for, was US, not anything we can do for Him. It doesn't mean that our ministry isn't sincere, effective, or fruitful, it is just that it is too much and overshadows what is more important. Sure, we try to "make time for God" and "make time for family" - but ministry is what drives us from morning to night. It ought to be that the most important thing daily is our relationship with God and our family, and then we "make time" for service to God. I know I had it backwards, and I doubt I am alone in that, and the result was catastrophic when I finally reached a breaking point.

Here is what I was supposed to read today... and it was fitting as well:

No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish, not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretense. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavour (ministry service).... He wants us to relinquish all pretense of being anyting, all claim of being worthy of God's consideration. Am I willing to relinquish everything and to be identified only with the death of Jesus Chirst?

It is easy to focus on sin in our world, and the more sensational the sin, the better! But it is much harder to focus on the ill-effects of hyper-achieving ministry, and how ministry has a habit of breaking people who are blind to the effect ministry can have when it is out of balance. There is a reason that the average length of a minister's career is only a few years... ministry, as "Godly" as it is, can be a destroyer of saints who are blindsided by the effects of over zealous ministry, despite how sincerely motivated it may be. We are serving God! People are going to hell! There is no time for anything else... including our intimate walk with God. We can be so busy serving God, that too often sincere saints don't even see the eroding effect on their spiritual life and family life. I was one of them.

One of the many amazing things I have learned in the past year as I have slowed waaaaaay down is that the world we live in is much more broken then I ever knew. Oh, I knew that those without Christ live broken and hurting lives as a result of their sin, and that compelled me and motivated me to do all that I could to reach them with the Gospel, and I focused on kids because if we can reach them before it is too late, we can save them so much pain and agony... what I was blind to was how much pain and hurt and brokeness exists in the body of Christ. I was moving too fast in the ministry express lane to notice. But as I have met with friends and people over the past year to share with them my own brokeness and the lessons I am learning, so many open up to me and share their own brokeness, things they would have never told me before... because I was one of the naive who was not aware of the way things truly are. My transparency has opened up a whole new world where Christ is the helper, healer, and restorer of so many brothers and sisters in Christ who I assumed had it all together, as they did of me. I have learned that the Church is a place where people are scared to be open and honest about real life struggles, because real life is too shocking for the Church to handle and usually only judgement results or rejection, instead of grace and acceptance. A professional counselor told me recently that he believes the center of grace has moved from the pastor's office to the counselors office because too many pastors today can't handle the realities of sin and brokeness, and in response they often judge or cast away those they should be helping. They are shocked by sin, though they shouldn't be. So people turn to counselors, the only ones they can truly trust because they are legally bound to be confidential and trust worthy. How sad. I am grateful we have counselors, and that there is a safe place available for those who recognize they need help... but for an hourly fee? What happened to the body of Christ?

Let me encourage you to open your eyes to the world around you. Seek genuine friendships where you can be real and open about your own struggles, and be one of the rare few who is open to listen, accept, forgive and offer grace and mercy to the hurting around you. Odds are, there are some people in your life you are assuming are "fine" when they are carrying deep personal pain and hurt and believe there is no one who cares or that they can trust to talk to or who will truly walk with them. The Church talks much about Christ being a friend to sinners, but we are to be friends of sinners too. Not just pass the buck to Jesus. We are to BE Jesus to the hurting around us, and its not just our unsaved neighbors who are hurting and struggling, it is the people in the pews around us on Sunday too. In fact, they are probably hurting more, because they are sincerely trying to live for God, but failing or faultering.

I used to look for those who could be examples to me... who had it together and who I could model my life after... and I hoped I too could be that for others... now I'd rather fellowship with other failures... those who can see their short-comings and understand that only through Christ can we have any hope of not only being conquerors, but Praise God, we can be MORE than conquerors through Christ who loves us with an overwhelming love.

If you are overwhelmed by life or ministry... be overwhelmed instead by God's love for you and release what God is not asking you to bear. He isn't overwhelmed, so why are you?

If you are not... (and that's ok) then open your eyes! Someone nearby you is, and probably not who you expect. Be an encourager for them! Be a real friend who is ok with them being real. When your turn comes (and Jesus promised tribulation!) you will have a friend in return.

If you are a failure.. welcome to the club! The Church isn't supposed to be a country club for those who are doing "OK" and living in victory, it supposed to be a place where sinners are welcome. And you and I are invited!

If you are in ministry and share the struggle of balancing your walk with God, your family life, and your Call to ministry, I invite you to my other blog The Growing Edge. It is where I regularly write on more serious topics in my journey as a recovering pastor. This blog is normally for more light-hearted fun, humor, and glimpses into life's adventures, but I was compelled today to re-post this entry on both blogs.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Little Miss Hummer

I've never been in a Hummer, and I've only known one family that owned one, but I've always thought they were cool looking, though the gas mileage doesn't attract me, one reason I downsized from a chevy trailblazer to the PK Cruiser. And if you live in the burbs, do you really need all that power? Yes! And here is proof.

Today I met my wife's parents and one of our Kid U speakers at the mall for lunch and parking was hard to find, though I saw a close spot that I thought "no one can fit there with all the snow." Wrong-0... a Hummer can!

So here is this Hummer owner having way too much fun, finally getting to "off road" at Woodfield Mall... onto a little snow to park where no other car could park. Now, I know this wouldn't be so amazing, or hardly "blogable" until I saw the owner headed toward her car....

Let me introduce you to Millie, the proud owner of this monster park-on-top-of-the-snow Hummer! I was so shocked, I rolled down my window and asked her if I could take a picture of her with her car, and she agreed.

She seemed rather flattered that I wanted to take her picture posing with her car, and told me, "I can't wait to tell my son that I got to be a model today." Go Millie! And watch out the rest of you! Millie may be behind you and nothing gets in her way!

I love how God knows just when to add a little humor to an otherwise extremely difficult day. Hope Millie added a smile to your day too.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Update the Updater

I just thought this was too funny. I got the Adobe Creative Suite 2 and am looking forward to learning how to use In Design and Photo Shop (finally) but I just had to laugh at this pop up window that appeared during installation... it just reminded me of all the stupid messages I used to get back in my PC days before my Mac....

Am I the only one that thinks this is funny? Any funny computer sayings you've gotten? Any Adobe hints? (I'm a little overwhelmed by it)

BTW: I need to update myself before I can update myself!