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Archive for May, 2010

First it came in a thought, then it was in a blog post, then in a book, then in several sermons, more blog posts, and on and on. Finally I wised-up and thought to myself, “Enough already God! I take it you’re trying to tell me something?”

A little while ago I started to experience something emotionally that was difficult to qualify. Was it a lack of passion? Disconnection?  Loss of ambition? Whatever it was, it felt like some kind of new-found freedom. It was like I was just beginning to “not care anymore”.  Things that once caused worry and anxiety didn’t bother me like they used to. My work, my possessions, my reputation, my relationships; they didn’t cause the type of negative emotional reactions they once did when things were not going well. Things that were out of my control were becoming just that to me – out of my control and not worthy of undue emotional expenditure.

I was a little concerned that I was just getting soft or losing my drive. I’ve known people previously that always seemed unconcerned about what was happening around them and where just hanging on loosely to everything. They always bothered me. They seemed sort of unreliable, like you couldn’t count on them. They might just flutter off at any time. Did they really care about anything?! But that can’t be me, because I’m just as committed, faithful, contentious and hard working as I have always been. In fact, there’s some things I’ve found myself even more passionate about of late. So what’s the deal?

That’s when then “the swirl” started. First it was a word in my head – “Idolatry”.  Then I flipped open to read a blog only to be confronted with this question:

“Ask yourself this question: In what ways are you dissatisfied with how God is running things?  If you can identify your dissatisfaction with how God is running the show, you can identify the place where you are tempted for idols to become your God.”

Then I started listening to a sermon on orphan ministry, and is there any need for me to tell you focus of it? Here’s a quote from the message:

“If you are just doing things without understanding of whom God really is and His ways or “why” you are doing them, then you are practicing idolatry… We maintain longer ministry by developing in people a passion for God. As people grow in understanding concerning their heavenly Father they will act out of a heart for others. Any other motivation is humanistic and idolatrous.”

After that it seemed like every other blog I read, or sermon I heard, was on the topic. Finally, this last weekend my wife and I got away for the weekend (thank you Ken and Laura for offering to take our kids!! What a blessing.) While we were in a little Christian bookstore I came across Glenn Packiam’s latest book “Secondhand Jesus”. I’d wanted to read it because I knew that in it he discussed his personal journey after the “Haggard scandal” at New Life Church. Well he did, but it was not what I expected. His topic? In large part, idolatry of course!

Glenn, using stories surrounding the Ark of the Covenant, talks about four “rumors” we believe about God and how they contribute to fashioning and living our Christian lives based on a false understanding of God (idolatry). Through belief in these “rumors” we end up living at a distance from God, or at best vicariously through others. We do not have first-hand experience and knowledge of Him. The four beliefs Glenn discusses that contribute to our idolatry and inability to truly experience God are this:

  1. God will give me what I want.   2. God can be added to my list of loyalties   3.   God is pleased with my goodness     4.   God prefers specialists (read as: “professional” Christians)

Glenn also gives us these insights into his personal revelations that mirror some of the feelings I’ve had myself:

“’Thursday’ came and everything changed; my unshakeable ‘good life’ became a nightmare of uncertainty…the songs, the influence, the success, the notoriety – it all became foolishly irrelevant… In the wake of ‘Thursday’, none of this mattered. Did I truly know God…today? Was my knowledge of Him active and alive, or stale and sentimental?

I began to see something. I had long lived subconsciously believing that God was a sort of cosmic agent, working to get me bigger contracts and better deals while saving me from scammers and opportunists. God was my Jerry Maguire, my ambassador of quan, and my prayers were spiritually cloaked versions of asking Him to ‘show me the money.’ Not literal money – just comfort, success, good friends, an enjoyable smooth road, an unmitigated path to the peak of my game.

Here’s what I’ve learned: rumors grow in the absence of revelation. Every time we keep God at arm’s length, decline an active living knowledge of Him, we become vulnerable to rumors, lulled by false comforts and half-truths about God.

In the wake of the scandal that shook our church, I would lay in bed thinking about my different options, wondering if I would have any tomorrow. Slowly, the truth settled in my heart: It doesn’t matter. I know God. I have Him and He has me. I began to realize that I didn’t care what God did or wouldn’t do for me. It didn’t matter if He gave me a sweet future in this life. I have a future in heaven where neither moth or rust can decay.

We have fashioned a god in our own image, one that we can control. We have taken information secondhand, and traveled down shortcuts that have proven to be dead ends… Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.  In similar fashion, we for the joy of knowing Christ set before us embrace the vigorous, lifelong journey of firsthand faith.”

As I’ve had time to reflect, it is apparent that God was reaching out to me to bring understanding to my experiences of late.  As I’ve continued to pursue relationship with and knowledge of Him, resting my hopes fully on Him,  He has in turn been pulling down the idols in my life.

There was work, relationships, ministry and issues where I thought, albeit subconsciously, God wasn’t doing a good job of “running the show”. So I needed to do it for Him. I had “rights” to my ideas of “success” in life, and I worked hard for it. However, the further I delve into the knowledge of Him, the more it becomes ingrained in my being what a great, loving, able, and all consuming God He is. My desire to control my life and pursue my own ideas of what is important become pure foolishness. Unfortunately, setting up our expectations of life based on some faulty understanding of God and what He ought to provide for us, and then set about to worry and fret when those expectations are not met, is the common Christian psychosis.

To experience the feeling of “not caring about stuff” that used to be a source of anxiety was difficult for me because it feels foreign and new. Sad that living in freedom from slavery to idols is new!

Idols are things “made with human ingenuity out of the stuff of life and treated as God, though it is false, worthless, and powerless.” Relationships, reputation, finances, possessions, politics, work, ministry, and all the things that keep us worried and upset simply sap our lives from us, leave us empty and unfulfilled, and rob us of peace – because that’s what idols do.

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I Took this picture of my son the other night with my Blackberry. He had strapped his underwear to his head with one of my wife’s headbands and insisted on wearing it to bed.

‘Till now I’d simply thought my son was “quirky”, but now I’m definitely beginning to think these are signs of some type of mental illness.

Love ya Juders!

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Randy & Kelsey Bohlender

It started with a simple tweet yesterday evening. Randy Bohlender sent a shout-out about heading to his Zoe Foundation’s “Zoe Weekend” in Dallas-Fort Worth. By 9 o’clock this morning I was in charge of pulling together a Zoe Weekend event here in Mpls/St. Paul. What happened?!

I don’t Twitter or Facebook in an attempt to keep my life clutter free, but still I’m sucked into it’s vortex! Oh well, I guess I didn’t plan on adopting either. When God gets involved, there’s not much you can do but float along in the current…

Anyone out there up for some weekend fun with Randy and Kelsey this coming October?

http://www.thezoefoundation.com

In other news, here’s my favorite couple of photos from our guys night out to the Twins game last week. Of course it involves two

Dave shows a Cuban Pannini who's boss

of my favorite things in this world –  Dave Horsman and Kramarczuk’s Polish Sausage!

What an awesome new outdoor ball field we have ourselves in TC. Not a bad seat in the joint. And the food…D-LISH! You’ll need to sell your family into slavery to afford a hot dog… but wow, yum.

The only disappointment was that my picture of Dave did not make it to the big screen during the fourth inning “cell-phone pic contest”. The only pictures they put up were a bunch of lame “buddy shots”. Booooo hiss!  Give me my Horsman laying waste to the food court fare!!

Round Two. Dave and Richee get on board the Kramarczuk sausage train. Choo choo! (or should i say "toot toot"!)

In honor of the “what was I thinking” theme. Here’s an old favorite from Comedienne Christine Lavin

“What was I Thinking” – Song

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Ouch…

Wow. There’s a lot of things I like about Andy Stanley and North Point Church, but I’ve found a whole new reason in this great piece of self-depreciating humor. North Point produced a video that, if you’ve been around the mega-church block, is painfully hilarious. Enjoy!

My favorite is the names of the awards listed at the bottom of the last picture…

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This week I’m attending the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit, hosted at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. For some weeks now, through our new-found “adoption community”, I’ve been encountering a new breed of American women.

For some time the “soccer mom” has been the stereotype of the quintessential suburban American woman. Now there’s a new group taking form that threatens to supplant their preeminence in the American home. You heard it here first, it is the dawning of the “Age of the Blogger-Mom”! (I’ll be trademarking the title of “blogger-mom”, so don’t even think about it…)

As the title implies, I’ve been encountering these mom’s primarily online. My wife and I have been learning and researching in the process of our adoption and finding a lot of insight from the experiences of others. Simply do some google searches on “adoption” &  “blog” and you will begin to discover that of which I speak. These ladies are much like the aforementioned mini-van mamas but they have an activist bent. They’re on a mission.

It’s not all about adoption. These women are engaged in a host of concerns; social and family issues. And they’ve found a voice online! Of course, for every mom who is blogging about their worlds and passions there are a thousand more on Facebook and email who are engaging with them in the movement.

At the conference this week I came face to face with this determined bunch of gals. As I made my way up to the church entry I was confronted with a long line of SUV s and Mini-vans, from out which piled a tidal wave of perky and highlighted hairdo’s sporting trendy bags and sassy Capri’s. I double checked my map to see if I hadn’t accidentally happened upon a Target Catalog photo shoot or a screening of “The Blind Side”. Nope, I’d come to the right place.

We’ve spent the last two days rubbing elbows at seminars and vendor displays and I’ve learned that this new breed of Mom is a force to be reckoned with. They’re the ones asking the tough questions, getting to the heart of the issues, and most importantly, fueling a new movement within the world of orphan ministry.

I can’t even tell you how many testimonies and stories there were at the conference of families where mom had “dragged her husband to the orphanage, hospital, or website” in order to convince him this child needed to be in their home. There was one such couple sitting in front of me at one of the main sessions. I could tell her husband was resigned to (and actually excited about) their possible adoption. During one particularly powerful moment in the presentation I heard this exchange between them as she leaned over (in tears) and whispered:

Wife: …”you better believe we’re getting twins”

Husband: “glad we got a suburban…”

They’re also fiercely loyal to one another and the causes they support. Consider this response from my wife after I made a “blogger-mom” joke in one of my emails from the conference:

“I love those blogger moms!  Seriously…they have a ministry that is far reaching.  More than a stay at home mom could have in past generations… Don’t dog ’em.” – Vicki

Trust me no one is dogging ’em. These girls will run you down in the streets!

I believe that making adoption normal and broadly accepted in the church is essential if we’re to see the type of resources released that can begin to address the problem of 147,000,000 orphans in the world and hundreds of thousand of fatherless and abandoned languishing in our own backyards. It’s when it becomes common to see these suburban moms pushing a cartload of kids through CUB Foods that look like some kind of traveling UN convention that people will begin to acclimate to multi-racial and mixed families. This physical testimony combined with the prompting of the Holy Spirit will cause people to realize “hey, I could do that”.

You go blogger moms! As God is my witness, they’ll change the world.

Here’s some photographic evidence I captured with my Blackberry. I tried to snap a picture of a gaggle of these maternal geese without appearing predatory. Had to take it quick, and thus the blurriness. I was scared they’d turn on me.

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