June 2009

Yes, I promised that I would begin posting today about the great Greece adventure, and yes I know posts normally pop up by 7 AM, but I’m not feelin’ it, and here’s why…

  1. For most people, jet lag makes them tired.  It makes me tired…and mean.
  2. Very mean.  As in, nobody-likes-to-be-around-me-mean.
  3. So mean that my wife called me out on it.  Which she should have.  
  4. Which stinks because she was on the same trip and she’s tired too.  
  5. But tired and nice, not tired and mean.
  6. So mean that I asked a couple of co-workers to pray for me today.
  7. And then wanted to critique their prayers.
  8. Because I’m mean.

I wonder if you could zap me ahead by seven hours (which is the time zone my body just got used to) if I would be less mean?  Perhaps it’s my body detoxing from the two-per-day Magic Bars I ate (it’s a Greek thing…you wouldn’t understand).

But for now, I am undeniably, unequivocally mean.  So I shall spare you any further snarkiness, and promise to post some (nice) Greece news…beginning tomorrow.

I’ve spent the last ten…no…eleven days getting to Athens, Greece, working with 600 church planters and a team from the Summit, and now I’m typing this on my phone while standing in line at Logan Airport in Boston on Sunday morning trying to get BACK HOME.

I think I’ve slept a total of 8 of the last 60 hours, and have been wearing the same undies 100% of that time.

Editor’s Note: No. You. Didn’t. Just. Go. There.

Yes, I was scheduled to preach on Sunday morning. No, I didn’t make it. Thanks Charlie, for filling in. I’m glad the AM peeps didn’t have to suffer through any of my jet-lagged one liners!

Starting Tuesday I’ll have a recap of the week, complete with pictures and stories of what God is doing in Central an Eastern Europe. But for today, I’m going to reconnect with my family and GO TO SLEEP. Check back tomorrow!

I saw this sign the other day and immediately realized that something was horribly, horribly wrong with our world:

Hey buddy...wanna buy a penguin?

Who would need to borrow a penguin?  And what would you use for collateral?  

Most importantly…what would the bust of the penguin loan market look like?

A couple of weeks ago Merriem and I were on a hot date (translated: running errands to pick up stuff at Target).  We were going to make a quick stop at the Hot Date Breakfast Spot known as Chick-Fil-A on Hillsborough Road when we just about bought the farm, kicked the bucket, met our maker, and all sorts of other death-related terms rolled into one.

We were getting off of 15-501 south and sitting at the red light on Hillsborough.  Our light turned green, and I started to make my move known as “driving normally.”  Then out of nowhere a massive dump truck the size of one of those mother ships in Independence Day blew through the light and came within inches of sending us to that Hot Date Spot in the sky.

For the rest of that day I mulled over the fact that I came so close to death, because let’s face it: if my 2003 Trailblazer gets t-boned by a dump truck, it’s not going to turn out well.  After contemplating my brief toil on this terrestrial ball, here’s what I came up with:

I’ve been here before.

Actually, we all have been here before.  We’ve all been going about our day, minding our own business, when the dump truck of punishment for our own sin comes barreling down on us.  We’ve all been just nanoseconds away from death…a death we were neither prepared for nor aware was coming.  

And then God, in his matchless mercy, laid the full brunt of our sin on his son, and we were spared.  And just like I spent the rest of the day marveling in what almost took me out, I spend my life marveling what happened that not only spared my life, but my soul.

Today, focus on the price God paid to stop the truck.  And marvel…marvel at the depth of your sin.  Marvel at the span of his grace.  And marvel that the latter could cancel out the former.

From NYPost.com:

A New York city teen came face-to-fang with a 3-foot boa constrictor Sunday that slithered uninvited into the youngster’s home — a jarring confrontation that had the whole family in a panic.

“The snake was just staring at me,” said a shaken Kareem Lewis, 18.*

The close encounter came around 10 a.m., when Lewis was waking up in the family’s first-floor apartment on Sherman Avenue.

“I started to panic when he started to slither at me,” said Lewis, whose mom was at church.**

The teen called 911, and police held the snake inside a pillowcase until animal control arrived.***

Lewis guessed that the snake slithered in through a window.****

º  º  º  º  º

Here are my thoughts:

*Maybe Spence’s post wasn’t an urban legend, after all.  That dude was getting sized up!

**See there?  If you had gotten up off your Star Wars’ sheets at your mom’s house and gotten to the Lord’s house, you could have averted disaster.

***No word on whether the pillowcase was soaked with Kareem’s fear-induced urine.

****Yeah, that would be the first thing I would think about too.  I mean, it’s New York City.  Three foot snakes crawl in through windows all the time.

As you’ve heard by now, the tabloids’ latest earth-shattering news is the divorce of reality show stars Jon & Kate Gosselin.  I’ve become a fan of their show mainly through my wife, who digs Kate’s hair.  I like Jon’s one liners and think that one kid with the glasses is pretty funny.

I know I’m running a huge risk of turning in a man card because I’m blogging about J & K, but here’s why I chose to do so: they profess to be Christ followers, and yet the last few months have caused many to wonder the depth of their faith.  Let me be clear: I’m not going to get anywhere close to making a judgment call on who is right and who is wrong.  This is reality TV and The National Enquirer, for crying out loud, so we’ve seen what the photographers have wanted us to see.  However, let’s assume that J & K are the committed believers they claim to be, and this latest turn of events is simply a reflection of our fallen world.  If that’s the case, here’s my message:

It’s not too late.

I’ve sat across the table from more divorcing couples than I can count.  Some have hurtled headlong into the choice that they’ve already made.  Many have chosen to die to self, submit to the cross, and find healing in Christ.  In every one of those latter cases, their marriages have turned out stronger than they could have imagined.  I believe that God reserves his greatest miracles for couples who put their future in his hands.  The reason for this is simple enough, and you’ve heard Pastor J.D. say it hundreds of times before: divorce tells a lie about who Christ is.

Ephesians 5 reminds us that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church.  Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us.  There is nothing we can do to escape his love and his pursuit.  He never gets tired of loving us, even when we openly rebel against him.  Every time I officiate a wedding, I refer to Ephesians 5 and remind the couple of the truth that they are illustrating to their family and friends.  So when a couple divorces, they pollute the truth of this passage and illustrate something else: that human commitments can be broken, human vows can be tarnished, and human promises can be dissolved.

And yes, that’s often the result of our fallen world.  But it doesn’t have to be.  Couples can really find hope in the solid ground of the cross.  They can find hope in their circumstances.  They can find hope in the most hopeless of situations, but it takes a mutual submission to the truth of scripture, and often the help of a Christ-centered third party counselor.

During this process of watching Jon & Kate’s marriage crumble, I’ve decided I really like those people.  They’re the kind of folks I think I’d like to have coffee with.  I’d pinch the kid with the glasses on the cheeks.  My wife even tried to convince me to write a letter to Jon and tell him I’d be glad to talk to him if he’d like (I didn’t, because I’m guessing I’d be just one of a thousand such offers, and besides, then a man card really would get pulled).

But truly, I’m praying for them.  I’m praying for their kids.  I’m ignoring all of the rumors and innuendos and paparazzi nonsense.  And I pray that they’ll realize that with the truth of the gospel, it’s never too late.

The World Wide Interweb is a funny thing.  Because it greatly reduces face-to-face interaction, it’s hard to tell if someone is happy or sad, being serious or sarcastic, mildly anxious or standing on the side of a building and ready to push the eternal “ESC” button.

That’s why I’m glad we have tools like emoticons, as illustrated thusly:

Someone might say: My cat just died.  :(  and we know they’re unhappy because of the I’m-frowning-on-my-side frowny face.

And then I would say, One cat down, 200 bazillion to go.  :)  and you know that I’m happy, because I’m just that kind of a sicko. 

Then there are the important issues, which people draw to your attention by putting them in bold, as in:

I think the Connections Pastor just intentionally ran over my cat.  Twice.

But my all-time favorite is the CAPS YELLER.  Perhaps you’re familiar with the caps yeller: it’s your aunt who doesn’t realize that caps lock works both ways.  Everything is important, everything is urgent, everything jumps out into your face like a computerized cat off a fridge, a’like so:


I don’t know which method I will use today to draw your attention to the fact that you didn’t hear me very well last week, because as I do most days, I’m completely making this stuff up as I go along.  But readers, you’ve never let me down so far, and I don’t expect you to start now.  I NEED TO KNOW YOUR WORST JOB EVER (READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE).  :)

And no, Jon Lunn, you cannot name the name of the business or your boss, or where he lives, or what you’d like to do with his cat.  That’s why your comment didn’t post, sicko.

Remember, there are prizes.  Or actually, two prizes.  Okay, your choice out of two prizes.  

Seriously, hurry up.  Thursday’s your deadline.

Perhaps the most unsung heroes of the Summit are the Starting Point Table Hosts.  This is a group of men and women who sit through the same process month after month, answer the same questions month after month, and eat the same food month after month in order to make sure that every guest at the Summit has the opportunity to get connected to life around this place.

I love every single one of my Starting Point team, from the Table Hosts to the Registration Team to the Food Team, but there are four people that need to be spotlighted today.  Last weekend we had our Starting Point Marathon at Danny’s BBQ, and through a series of unfortunate events the vast majority of our team had conflicts or last minute sunburn emergencies that forced them to miss.  That left Will & Janice Giles and Anthony & Stephanie Fontaine to set up, tear down, serve food, clean up food, register people, take pictures, do the Q&A time, mop up mystery substances on the floor, take out the trash, and on and on and on.

I told them afterward, and I really believe, that if I ever wanted to start a nefarious plot to take over the world, they’d be the first people I recruited.  Those jokers don’t play.  They get in there, get the job done, and just make it happen.  Like I said, I love all of my team (and by the way, homeboy & Associate Connections Pastor Adam was there for a while too, but he gets paid big bucks to do it), but these four rocked my world on Sunday.  Thanks guys, for taking one for the team.

Okay, blog readers, it’s time to step up to the microphone.

Or the comment box.  Sorry, my middle kid has been listening to a lot of Newsboys lately and I’m having flashbacks.

I’m working on an upcoming project, and I need to know your worst job experience ever.  I’m talking the burrito-folding, Dwight-Shrute-desk-sharing, septic-tank-cleaning, absolute worst way to make a buck that you’ve ever suffered through.  Or through which you’ve ever suffered.  Or with which you have suffered thoroughly.  (Sorry, I also flashed back to one of my worst jobs working for my college’s English department.)

Heck yes, there are prizes.  Best (or worst) job story gets your choice of a best-selling book by the indubitable Dan Miller: 48 Days to the Work You Love or No More Mondays.  But here’s the caveat: you have to comment here.  No e-mail stories will be accepted.  And yes, you can make up your name, although you’ll want to let me know your real identity if you win, Miss Luv2PostAnonComments1971.  The contest runs through next Thursday, June 25, so get crackin’.

The fine print:

  • People who have won contests in the last 30 days are ineligible.
  • Adam and Lori, who both work for me, are ineligible, although they both have stories to tell.

At the First Time Guest Tent last Sunday, a guest filled out one of our info cards.  At the bottom of the card, we always ask this question: “How did you hear about the Summit?”  Here’s her response…

When my daughter went through [the] drive thru, someone from Summit paid for her food and left a business card.

People, that’s what it’s all about.  Random Summit members pulling up to Mickey D’s, and rather than being content to pay for their own meal and drive off, they turn it into an opportunity to live an others-focused and gospel-centered life.  Can you imagine being the recipient of such kindness?  Can you imagine what was going through this woman’s mind?

Most of all…can you imagine how cool it’s gonna be when somebody in this family comes to know Christ because of a free order of french fries?

Dang, I love this church.

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