Friday, October 24, 2014

Hymn of the Month -- How Marvelous

This is the same song sung to the same tune -- just a bit different style -- that we used to sing in my home church. I love seeing younger people pouring their hearts out in worship in this video. Sing along and be blessed today!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Would You Describe Jesus?

If I ever run out of diversions at my house, I can always go find one of the dozens of old notebooks that I have stashed in boxes and drawers and sit down to read. Here's something I wrote in 1997 that I came across today. 
A good novel would include a description of the main character. Not one of the gospel writes included a physical description of Jesus. You'd think they'd at least have mentioned his eyes! 
Jesus' physical description seems irrelevant -- totally inconsequential, as if to give a description would detract from the message. 
Jesus' most noticeable characteristic was not physical. It was his authority. 
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law (Mark 1:21-22).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our Leavenworth Tradition

We were in Wenatchee on Saturday, looking at the sky change from bright sunshine to threatening black clouds faster than I've ever seen. The wind was picking up. We were on our way to Leavenworth to meet our friends Judi and Arlin for our annual Oktoberfest afternoon. During our 30 minute drive to Leavenworth we were in such a downpour that we passed up the fruit stand we'd waited all year to visit. We pulled into a parking space (probably vacated by fleeing tourists who decided to sit out the storm in their hotel room!) and found our friends, then trudged up the street to Gustav's, joining dozens of folks seeking shelter and food, and settled in for a good long chat.

Judi and I met when we were teenagers. I started noticing her and her twin brother at youth events and just knew that if we ever met we'd be good friends. It turns out my hunch was right. We ended up as college roommates through our entire four years at Seattle Pacific University, and our friendship has only grown sweeter over the years.

As we ate and talked and laughed Arlin said, "That bug has circled the top of the glass many, many times!" We looked to see a fruit fly speeding around the top of my drinking glass, making the full circle in just two or three seconds. He skillfully raced around the edge of the glass without falling off, and then we noticed him trying to climb my straw! Though he tried and tried to find his footing on the straw, he just couldn't seem to do it. He would slide back down to the glass' edge then make another trip around, stopping once more to attempt climbing the straw.

See the bug on the right edge of the glass?

This went on for several minutes. The next thing we knew, he had turned around and was racing back around the glass in the opposite direction. Was he dizzy, needing to get his balance, or was he obsessive compulsive, planning to take as many trips the new way as he had the old way?

It turned out that he was persistent. His goal was to conquer the straw, and that's just what he planned to do. After a mad dash in his new direction he mounted the straw and run up it, all the way to the top! Success!

"Oh, boy, oh, boy, there's the straw!"

Down the straw, around the glass again, up the straw, down the straw... This little guy had known what he wanted and he wasn't satisfied until he'd figured out how to make it happen. I marvel at his determination as well as his logic. It seems to me a rather complex problem he was tackling (at least for a bug), but he stuck with it until he had worked it through.

When the sun came out we joined the press of people on the streets and in the shops. We got our picture taken under a gargantuan maple tree and saw the fire breather performing. 

Rain notwithstanding, it was a wonderful day. It's a bit of a rush trip for a one day outing, but it's a tradition I hope we keep up for a good long time.

Do you want to know more about Leavenworth's events and places to stay, shop, and eat? Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Radically Normal Book Tour

 I recently sat with Josh and Marilyn Kelley in their nearly empty living room, chatting about Josh's new book, Radically Normal, and the ten-month promotional trip they plan to take.

Josh spoke with ease about his own struggles as a "squeaky clean" kid growing up in a Christian home, a young man who earnestly loved Jesus and strove to follow him. But he struggled with just what it meant to be spiritual. Take the witness of Radical Randy, for example. A street preacher, Radical Randy was other-worldly in every way. Even his greetings oozed of Jesus -- in response to a simple, "How are you?" his answer was always, "Blessed, brother!"  Josh was confused by Radical Randy and others who seemed to be super-Christians. Admiring their zeal, he was uncomfortable with their obsessiveness. Was that really a requirement for living all-out for Jesus?

Years of life lessons, including the closing of the church Josh pastored for several years and an 18-month stint as a Starbuck employee, helped him come to understand the joy that comes from when one becomes radically normal. 

What does it mean to be a normal Christian? This is the thrust of Radically Normal. How do we avoid the extremes of Complacent Christianity on the one hand and Obsessive Christianity on the other? Is it really possible to pursue radical obedience to Christ in our normal, everyday lives? And just how do we do that? These are the issues that Josh Kelley addresses in Radically Normal. Filled with stories and a readable, conversational style, it's the book he wished he'd had when he was younger. 

It's the book I wish I'd had too! I found myself identifying with what Josh had to say. Memories flashed to my mind of my trying so hard to live for Jesus that I couldn't see how to just let him live through me. It's an easy trap to fall into. 

So how is it that a guy who writes about how to be a radically normal Christian without having to sell your house and become a missionary has now sold his own house and is setting out on a nearly year-long trip? Isn't that kind of an oxymoron?

It's all of matter of one's intention, Josh told me. Do you want to do something because you feel called to it or because that's what you think others want you to do? "For us, it's not a radical choice. We've always talked taking time to travel around the country," Josh said. "When our church closed and the book came out, we thought it was time to take that trip we'd always wanted to take!"

House sold, van packed; heading out on a grand adventure!

The Kelleys' things have been packed into their van, put into storage, or disbursed to friends, and their grand adventure has begun.  Marilyn will be homeschooling the girls along the way, as well as blogging about the trip. The girls are doing 4th and 6th grades, great ages for exploring the country and meeting lots of new people. She's also working on a book of her own to encourage pastors' wives.

They plan to head south, through the western states, and then travel to the east coast through the southern states, up the east coast, then back through the central states, arriving in Washington State next summer. They'd love to meet you. If your church or college or other group would like to have them stop in to share the book, preach, or just hang out, please get in touch with them. They'd especially appreciate places where they could stay for a couple of days or more. Asked how we can pray for them, Josh and Marilyn said their two biggest needs are speaking engagements and places to stay. Add to that safety on their travels and growth and development as a family. 

Click here to learn more about Radically Normal and how you can get a copy of the book for yourself. Follow the Kelleys on Josh's blog and on Marilyn's blog. Their grand adventure just might change your life!