Rick and Monique

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Prince Lucas...

The royal culture dominates our sensibilities. Sometimes I almost feel as if Americans are jealous of Royal society. We're not only fascinated by Royalty but we also adore them. Where were you when Princess Diana was killed? We love to dress up in Medieval Garb, and our little girls love to become young Princesses wide with power and imagination. Brits are voracious gossip hounds rife with the largest rumor mill in the world. But, we in the U.S. rival their appetite for celebrity news, but are, at the very least celeb lovers. I know that we sometimes dump Royals into the celeb barrell with everyone else. However, when the queen of Britain came into our side of the Atlantic several months ago, the red carpet was unambiguously rolled out for her.

Americans live under one of the greatest forms of Government ever devised and yet we're not comforted. We cry for a King! We want to find Camelot. The U.S. system is difficult because common people question the pile of work and research needed to make good choices for their government, good votes for their issues and excellent reasons for all of them. It's a lot of work to make a good choice but we simply want not to be harmed. We want to be kept. It's a lot of work to be kept in our system. The people under the Monarchy are not issued such vulnerabilities such as choices.

So we make it up...we call the Kennedys our Camelot and the Astors are the nobility. Paris Hilton calls herself the closest thing America has to royalty...but we won't go there. I think we hate the flippant levity bred into our royals. And yet we love the idea of power. Marilyn Monroe sings an interesting birthday song to her President and one knows after the first note that shes horny like a fox. Yet Camelot survives.

We live in an unsure world. But, we live with the knowledge that our choices, our votes, our reasons may have wielded the wrong sword. Choice and freedom is precious in the U.S. We need to make the best of it and we must take it serious. Our system breeds uncertainty and yet we're also protected by a system, by a constitution that doesn't allow any one group to become dictatorally powerful. I think this is good.

However, The Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie alike love to Hate the President. How many devote most of their political conversations with complaint? How many of us rail and protest against the Compliant? Anyone who says something excellent about the President is often deemed to be as dumb as the President. Why? well according to us, He Spends too much (as if you understand money Mr. in debt up to your eyeballs), He hates the Military (How was Canada Mr. Draft Dodger?), He's dumb as a stump, he can't even talk (He graduated from Yale...and you?). But it's not only our current President, it's every President! Absolute Power corrupts absolutely, but so does Absolute Freedom. I cannot threaten to Kill the President, but I can turn every tom, dick and harry against him, doing him much more harm than if a bullet had actually passed through his heart. What does that say? Pare that back to our churches...then pare that back to our denomination. We hate the pastor's emotion, or we hate that he uses film clips, or we hate that he preaches too long or we hate that he caters to one group of people, or we hate that he doesn't spend 12 hours a day at church. It's no wonder a Pastor has only about a 6-7 year cycle in any given church. I long to hear something good about freedom. I often seek (and find) circles of positive people...people who have drive and who are excited about potential. I think that knowing good in your culture helps build your societal self-esteem thereby making one more effective within it.

Believe me...I'll take freedom and capitalism and democracy over a Monarchy. My opinion of course. I opine that democracy and capitalism still have the power to fuel all that is good about people. Despite what you hear, Americans are the most generous of all peoples. We give more, volunteer more, do more, see more and live more.

But we long for the King as the Israelites longed many years ago. We long to be led and placed into our social quarters. Kept. I long to walk the pearl colonnades girded by golden trusses. I long for great marble walls, frescoes and a royal throne under which I might bow. I long for it because I've been invited to it. I'm American Royalty. I'm Kept. I get to work for the King, to know that His will be done. That's all I need to know. My societal self-esteem in tact. In fact, I get the best of both...I am now completely free AND completely kept.

We all know there's no way to enter Royal chambers unless you are invited. Great Feasts, Knighthood and Kingship come out of our imaginations and our ideas. However, in the end, none of us can hope to achieve such a thing. For instance, I have Elgersma blood. Elgersmas did not come from a royal line. Therefore it is a biological, mathematical, historical and all other ways impossible desire to somehow become of Royal blood. It is an impossibility to insert ourselves into royal blood lines. I can't simply close my eyes, click my heels three times and say "I have royal blood, I choose to be a royal, I choose to be a royal, I choose to be a royal!" It is the same with the Kingdom of Heaven. Beyond our ability or achievement, we are simply given such a thing. That is just one more reason that I could never hope to comprehend God except of what I am told by His Spirit who is within me.

I thought yesterday evening as Lucas John Beaumont was passed into the arms of His loving and deeply passionate parents, safe and sound, with no fear of being dropped, with no ill account against his birth mom and dad or his parents. And as I saw that safely guarded little boy I realized that, according to the promises of God, he also is invited to walk through the great porticos mounted by Seraphim. In fact, I believe he already has a seat in the great feasting hall. God handed courage to the birth parents and the adoptive parents...perks of being Royalty. God gives gifts to royalty. So trusting was Lucas. He only has to be held...kept. He didn't have to prove valiance, or courage, or brevity to receive his white heart. God awarded him such a thing before the foundation of the world. My little Leah too dances to her drum, a 3 year old princess, without need to be beset by worry. She held her cousin the Prince last night. Kept. I believe they intrinsically know...they knew what we sometimes forget--that they are allowed to come unto Him who calls them to His lap.

There are Jesters in this game who will dance and arouse, clanging their circus act before God, hoping to Gratify Him by claiming every good and faithful act and God will say "Leave me...I do not know you."

And when the circus dust clears there we will all be, there Lucas will be--standing within the white palace...kept.

Yesterday was stressful...but the King was watching.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I'll try to make this short. It seems my sister and her husband are waiting with my other sister and her daughter in the waiting room for their soon-to-be adopted baby boy! They are soon going to be certified mom and dad! Hot-diggity-dog for them. It won't be long before their lawn will be mowed for them, their house will be cleaned for them...well...they have to wait like 10 years for that, but hey, it's something to look forward to! I've just found out that they are indeed certified parents of a young Lucas John Beaumont. Certified. A certified Halleluja. 7 pounds and a few ounces and 20 inches of certified Halleluja! Now some certified parents are certified crazy...which leads me to my next point, and it's my first advice for my dear sister and brother-in-law. When Lucas turns 2, and you want to have a birthday party for him...don't register anywhere! Toys-R-Us doesn't need your money and people already know where to shop for 2 year old children! Something pink or something blue will just have to do.

It seems my sister received an invitation to a birthday party that said just that very thing..."We are registered at Toys-R-Us." Written in invisible ink was "We are certified arrogant, Certified bonkers, certified nutzo and Certified servants of the CEO of the family...a 2 year old! The kid's first field trip should be to the Ward where Brittany Spears will be, or the rehab center where Nicole Richey, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan will be!

Smile pretty little 2 year old...you probably look good on camera...but if I may play the Ghost of Christmas future, let me show you what happens to those who have everything they could possibly want.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Liberal Arts Education

Recently I wrote about how surprised I am that our young couples who grew up CRC do not know much about their bibles nor their Doctrine and Theology. I said that a church that surrounds it self with everything Christian from Education to Potlucks, should be bursting at the seams! I can't understand what's happening. Well the answers lies, in part, to the point that students in Christian Schools are not learning according to the methods set by the educational powers that be many years ago.

I read a blog written by a professor at Dordt College who believes that our colleges and universities are catering to the students desires and less to their needs...in essence, they're being run more like businesses and less like educational institutions. They are catering to the customer. Ivy League Schools and other more secular institutions are able to retain their more rounded educational system because they take in millions upon millions in donations every year. A small College such as Dordt College has to infuse a more attractive bent in order to keep its doors open...at least that's what it believes it must do.

It used to be that a Liberal Arts College would give a balanced view of education, forming our talents in Philosophy, Religion, Doctrine, English etc. so that we could adequately and Spiritually form our skills in business, marketing, science and mathematics.

Conversely, and somewhat Ironically based on my opinion today (I went to a "Dutch" College), the Dutch system of education puts students on a specific "track" very early on in life and the student pursues a way of life well before college training. The Dutch have done well with this system and I can see the benefit of niche education...tailoring education toward the specifics of your future career, where most of the classes students take point them in that direction. However, they know less about God than we do...a symptom of their "Niche" Education?

The following is the comment I made to the professor's blog (not exactly verbatim, but close)..."I find that the newly educated in our churches cannot spell out their doctrine, do not know what they believe (infant baptism for instance), do not know their scriptures, cannot debate a good philosophical argument, and cannot articulate their abstract thoughts in writing. I think these key elements guide the rest of your choices in business and otherwise. I wish higher learning were more about these things."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ode to Fall

Wow, this is an exciting time in our lives isn't it? First of all I've had a whiff of fall! The perfect weather in all of nature allows you to wear a t-shirt, sweatshirt and shorts all at the same time...then in the evening you have to pull some sweatpants over and it's just cool enough for a cup of tea or hot chocolate! Or one can take a nice long bike ride without hardly breaking a sweat. What is not to love? Then October comes and MLB Playoffs take flight and then Thanksgiving and....mmm mmm mmm. I've started writing again too. I have a poem or two that I may share sometime soon.

But I'm Very excited this year for other reasons. This year hasn't always been great, but a few weeks ago my little niece could clearly be heard saying "I love you Unca Rick!" She gave me a pez dispenser for my birthday last May, and so now I usually take it with me to their house when I visit them and little Leah knows just what to do. I also got a call some time ago from the children of my Bro' Rob and His wife Jessica. That was awesome. I love a good adult conversation with my siblings. I think I'm lucky to be close with them. I love being a brother. But today, I'm going to love being an Uncle. I'm also excited because the new business we're pushing is on the cusp of being a legitimate start-up.

But I'm really getting excited now because in potentially 1 week my sister and my brother-in-law are expecting a baby! Their gestation period has lasted 3 months or several years depending on how you look at it, but now their time is coming! Halleluja. Halleluja. Adoption is no kick-in-the-pants, it's more like fill-up-the-pants. It's nerve-wracking. People don't always realize that an adoptive parent hasn't felt the baby grow or kick, hasn't been sick, hasn't had to take all the right vitamins or avoid alcohol (hee hee). Some adoptive parents haven't always fully dealt with the fact that they can't have their own children. But they haven't had much time to put a baby room together and they've had less time (none to be exact) to bond with the baby. The adoptive parent has no idea if the birth parent will change their mind even after the birth. The adoptive parent has no idea where they're supposed to go in the hospital, won't go through the birth itself, won't get to bond with him in the first minute of his life, has no idea when they'll get to see the baby, has no idea whether to stand with the birth family or behind them. The adoptive parent has been waiting for this for a long time and yet they have less time to change their lives and their plans. They're used to the life they've lived "just in case" nothing happens. Many adoptive parents have to share their baby with 4 sets of grandparents and another "Mom and Dad" (this is usually not a bad experience, but it's still different). Adoptive Mom's haven't built up natural "milk" and they haven't gone hormonal. Adoptive parents have to deal with courts and they have to deal with social workers. Some adoptive parents have to yet deal with well-meaning but a little bit painful comments like "oh he looks just like his dad..." or "he's got his mother's nose..." Some people don't realize that many adoptive parents have probably lost several children because an adoption fell through...believe me, it's like mis-carriage...and some of us have experienced that too.

Yes, an adoptive parent is a breed stronger and grittier than most Vikings and that's the truth. It takes a mental, physical and spiritual strength that many only wonder about.

Believe me, an actual pregnancy is no picnic either and Mom's and Dad's have some of the same worries. They spend 9 months vigorously and tirelessly doing all the "right" things. They worry, they go to the doctor, they experience pain and angst. They have to also change their lives drastically and they also have to look into a future unknown. And they have to deliver for cryin-out-loud! I'd rather have perpetual heartburn I think. I've the utmost respect for new parents...whew.

But this is about the excitement for the pending adoption for my sister and her husband! I think I can understand what they're feeling right now...jump into a dryer, have someone turn it on...10 minutes later jump out hot, sweaty, sore, dizzy and slightly insane...

But that's where God comes in...no, strike that...He came in a lot earlier than that...I know that too.

And so, I'm so excited for them! I can't wait! My nieces and nephews are all different and all so easy to love. I can't wait to hear his version of "Monique" and I can't wait to Hear his version of "Los Angeles Dodgers..."

Man, this is an ode to the parent. This is an ode to the parent has has had children but can't seem to have another. This is an ode to adoptive parents. This is an ode to those who have experienced grit and ire and who come out the other end wiser but smiling. This is for those who realize that before you felt forsaken He was forsook. Before you felt beaten, He was beat. Before you felt tired, he spent 40 days in the desert. And before you even walked on your own two feet, He was forming them in Heaven.

So your way is dusty and dry. The dirt is hard to swallow and you need water. But what you have to realize is that the dust is the dust from the feet of your Rabbi...and the living water is just ahead.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Censorship and Sensibility--Star Isolation

Networks have wondered why television viewership on Media Award nights have fallen in the last several years. Well, a good indicator to answer the question came at the Emmy's on Sunday night. Sally Field went on an anti-war rampage as her "I won an Emmy" speech. Kathy Griffin the night before was more excited about not thanking Jesus Christ than she was about winning the Emmy. Oh, and both of them were censored...bleeped...cut off. Why? well, for instance, Sally Field didn't only use the Bully Pulpit to rant about the President, she decided to take the Lord's name in vain...decided to use a word that was or should be offensive to all Christians.

Not a single word I heard or read the next day, aside from certain Radio Hosts, were about parents who were happy that their children didn't have to hear a bad word on television. Not a single word was heard or read that expressed disappointment that she seemed less excited about winning a major award and more excited about politics. I did hear a few things. I heard over and over again the question of whether or not it was right to censor Sally Field, Ray Romano, Kathy Fisher and a couple others on award night. Do they not have a right to freedom of speech? Waa waa waa...I heard that too. Celebs moaning about censorship. The belligerent Sally Field pretended she didn't care about censorship because she'll simply say the same thing somewhere else! Kathy Fisher claimed that her comments gave her the best week of her life (Larry King Show).

Do they not know that certain things need to be censored? For instance one cannot use words that Threaten the life of the President of the United States...you'll be censored and arrested. One cannot advocate murder at a children's convention or go to an Al Queda rally in the U.S. They will be censored.

They have to think a little. I like Sally Field. She's won two Oscars and two Emmys and a host of other accolades. I've enjoyed her craft. But, I will think twice before I see anything she does again and why? The answer is simple...and it's an answer she needs to think about. She isolated more than half of her Audience in one sentence. She bullied them, made fun of them, offended them through their God, and left them vulnerable. How can your "business" survive this way? For instance, A business cannot be in the business of making baby toys and then produce Semi-Trucks instead. They wouldn't be in business very long! Sally Field didn't think about the fact that viewership for award shows is down because we can't stand hearing politics or 1000 thank-you's on a show that's supposed to be about entertainment and good stories. Much of the media doesn't seem to get it either.

You are allowed not to believe what I believe. Most entertainers are of a very different political view than I. Most of them are socialists. Furthermore, They prefer a system that does not have checks and balances. If the Congress is allowed to do what they are really trying hard to do right now, the check and balance system will be greatly depleted. They believe that under the Government, true freedom can be achieved. Well, let's go there for a moment. If Hillary's healthcare (sick-care), food, education, charity, media and even religion are fully under the "benevolent" (yea right) umbrella of the Government, what does the Supreme Court get to look at every day? They won't look at Joe V.S. Abc Insurance...it will be Joe against the Government. They won't see the case Rick V.S. The board of education, the Supreme Court will see Rick against the Government. Hmmmmm. By the people, of the people, for the people...or by the Government, of the Government, for the People. Sally Field, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, George Clooney, Rosie O'Donnel, Barbara Streisand and a host of others would rather Isolate 60% of their audience to achieve this end, then perform their craft with freedom and with grace. What they are saying every time they find a Microphone is that we don't trust the people, our audience...we don't trust freedom...we don't trust the people of the United States of America! Now, before I'm accused of being a conservative "YES" man, let me say that there are good and generous people in both primary parties of the U.S. and good decisions have also been made throughout time.

I'm not asking you to believe that everything is perfect about the United States. It's not. I'm not asking you to think that taxes, and food stamps are a bad thing. They're not. But, I don't want to depend on my Government for Health/Sick care (I don't want to wait 1 week to cast my broken leg (Canadian Story), I don't want to pay 70% of my income on Taxes (Many European Countries), and I don't want to force my Children to go to a Government run school (again a tax story could be told here). It's interesting to note that in most places where socialism has been allowed to flourish, Christianity has faded greatly! Why is that? I think it's partly because, under Government and Socialism, we're not allowed to decry adverse behavior because all men and their behaviors are created equal. In the U.S. we've stated that all men are created equal, but they aren't allowed to act in ways that will maim the social sensibility (which is not the same as our Socialist Sensibility), and so Religion and Religious behavior is allowed to flourish, in part because the people have typically seen religious people as acting in a way that supports moral behavior.

And so, we're back to the Emmy's. Every company in the United States of America has a rule against harassment based on race, religion, age, race, sexual preference etc. and yet there our favorite celebrities are...harassing me based sometimes on my race, sometimes on my religion and even sometimes on my sexual preference...it seems less and less ok to be heterosexual these days. Sally Field forcefully took my Lord's name in vain...whew, highly offensive to me. She was in need of censorship at that moment because she should not be allowed to Harass me. Fox agreed with me. Sally Field, George Clooney, Barack Obama and a host of others did not.

I'm getting angry at all the people who've proved they hate America. But, I'm even more offended by those who say they not only Hate God, but are willing to Isolate and Harass those who claim to and intend to Love Him.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cut-N-Run Club

A little thing has me a bit burned. The left has made it a policy to be against the war. Their slogan used to be "Bush Lied, People died" as if he was the only one who knew anything about anything. Intelligence was what it was. I'm certainly for allowing people their opinion, just as I have mine. The above slogan shows a lot of disrespect for their President and for the American system. I can overlook that. Politics are what they are.

But Hillary's fundraising system is taken a lot of heat and yet she's the media's god-child. Other Dems have gotten themselves in a lot of trouble and yet can't keep their mouth shut about a man who may or may not have wanted a little "tryst" in an airport bathroom. I don't support bathroom shenanigans either, and I can understand some politician's relief to have the heat taken off of them for awhile. But now, Senators Schumer, Durban, Clinton, Obama and others have gone too far. I believe they've gone into traitorous "terror"itory. Dick Durban started the malay about a year ago by comparing U.S. military to Pol Pot and Nazi's. He should've resigned for that. Then Obama during a recent speech said the U.S. Military is killing Innocents and raping women and abusing children. Hillary and others have had the indecency to illegitimize a highly decorated General, General Petraeus, who has been trusted with a huge and very difficult job even before he gave his recent report. These people are cut-n-run artists bent on U.S. failure who have proved that they hate their Military...and I think it's unacceptable. I think it's traitorous.

One doesn't have to like everything the Military does. But there are men and women have are coming home from Iraq and Aghganistan and they have to come home to a nation who's leaders are hell-bent to make us distrust them. A few of you out there had to come home to that very same attitude a few decades back...it doesn't feel good. It's awful.

What kind of political policy allows you to say the most terrible of things for the sole purpose of getting ahead. Is that what we should expect from the leaders of one of the greatest nations in the world? To end this blog let me quote New York Senator Chuck Schumer:

"And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The lack of protection for these tribes from al Qaeda made it clear to these tribes, “We have to fight al Qaeda ourselves.” It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords had to create a temporary peace here on their own. And that is because there was no one else there protecting them."

Chuck and all the others from the Cut-n-Run club used to rail against the time table, about the civil unrest there (middle 1800's...we sort of had our own civil unrest...it happens when you're trying to develop a country), and about faulty intelligence. Now, they've simply gone to hating the American Military and their capabilities...and have sided with the opinions of the local Iraqi warlords. One can't imagine how amazing this is to me, and it's amazing we're willing to let them get away with it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Chauffeur

Monique and I were having devotions together. We read for awhile and talked about revenge and forgiveness. Monique brought up one of my past sins this morning and it was a painful and mortifying memory. But that's not the end of the story. In essence, the point is she could've been vengeful towards her husband or she could've forgiven her husband. She forgave me. I didn't do anything to merit her forgiveness...in fact, once my deed was done, time whisks it away. One doesn't get it back. There's no retracing your steps to redeem the sin (as a caveat, can we redeem the world for Christ or are we working and he is redeeming?). On that note...I can't choose to be forgiven. I, the offender, cannot will the offended to forgive me. I cannot beat the offended over the head, I cannot shake forgiveness out of the offended. I must wait for it to happen.

John 6:44 says that no one comes to the Father unless he is drawn. Romans 9-11 are poignant chapters about the forgiving mercy of God and the righteous Power of God.

I won't come to conclusions for you...I intend to be a bit cryptic...Psalm 19 discusses the Power of and the Convicting Words of God. It takes more than 100 billion years to cross the entire Universe (or so it Scientists Say), but it only takes 1 second to see God (Romans 1), the creator of more than 100 billion light years of Universe...isn't that amazing? And yet, we won't see him unless we are drawn to Him. Vanity has it's privileges...

We've always believed we could control both good and Evil...Adam and Eve had it in their heads that they could right? The problem wasn't the consumption of fruit, but the vanity of the mere attempt at tapping into or harnessing God's power. But, know what? We can't. We simply can't jump into our Angelic Mercedes and drive to our Heavenly Mansion just as Eve and Adam couldn't just bite into a piece of fruit. We have to be formed, found and forgiven.

"MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?!!!! Do you know what those words mean? They mean we aren't driving to our Heavenly mansion ... the words mean we're being chauffeured.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Know God

When words can never say enough, there are tears.
When tears cannot wash away the pain, there is memory.
When memory cannot influence reality, there is change.
When lessons cannot be learned, there his history
When history is confused, there is the beginning of all things...

Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart
Thine mind,
thine soul,
and thine strength...

The Yoke is easy and the burden light.

Remember September 11, 2001

But Know God.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Presenting God's Word

I was in Sunday School yesterday morning. Pastor Jim is teaching what I believe will be a pretty good class about the "story" of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. He's not perfect in all things, but I can promise you that he loves God's Word and knows the Story. And I got to thinking about a question during the class...I should've been paying attention but I was thinking instead (sheepish...red-faced). Here's the question: how do we present the idea of reading God's Word to those who don't know God or to those who have not spent much time in the Bible? How do we present the reading of God's Word to anyone?

What I mean to say is that we must know our audience when we encourage the reading of God's Word. For instance, sometimes a pastor uses large words within a sermon, words such as ecumenical, hermeneutic, justification or presupposition. Sometimes they'll pull Greek out of the hat like the word "Adiaphora" and really get our heads swimming. Whatever the word is, quite a few of those words fly way above our heads. We struggle greatly with their meaning. That isn't to say that the words shouldn't be used. We should all pay better attention to words. But that doesn't mean that a preacher should abuse his or her audience with large words. He has to know his audience. A "seeker" audience needs a different presentation from an audience of Christian University Professors.

Pastor Jim's introductory class was about describing the most basic story of God for mankind using Psalm 19. The story of God for mankind starts with Creation and continues then with His Words, His Law, and His Holiness. The Bible tells that exact story in many ways, but being fulfilled through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Then he said the thing that got me thinking..."And when you study the Word of God passionately...when you truly dig deep into the Bible and study it well, the Bible opens up a whole new world for you." What P. Jim said was correct. But, one has to wonder about the word "study" and how it's used. And now here's what I want to say. There are people who have learning disabilities and there are people who did not go to college, those who did not do well in school, those who hated school, and those who liked school but are really glad to be done with school. And, there are those who love a great story, who love diversity, who love passion and glory and grit. There are those who love the impossible and those who love the most possible. There are those who like reading long stories, those who like reading short stories and those who like to read poetry. Some of these are the same people who hated school and some of these are the people who loved school.

So...what if we presented the reading of the Bible, not as study material, but as the most amazing story you'll ever read? What if we presented the reading of God's Words as a true story filled with violence and mystery, of love and loving, of passion and effort, of connivery, thieving and mugging, of saving, mercy and grace, of death and life, chivalry and fear, sloth and ambition, weariness and stamina, of great lament and pure Joy, of vehement poetry and the most loving of verse? Mind you, we're taking the study away from the process...just changing the words. When I read a mystery now, sometimes I turn a few pages back to refresh some of the details so that what I'm reading on a further page makes more sense...that's called study...and we do it all the time. We study when we watch our parent's relate to eachother, we study when we watch our dads change a car battery and we study while listening to music.

One doesn't always know that there are those in the audience who hate the idea of being in school. When we tell them the "study" they walk backwards out of the room. When we tell them to experience all the above in one book...they might take some interest. I'm telling you, as we mature as Christians we find ourselves "studying" God's Word. Sometimes God's Word seems complicated and takes time to learn. But, I'm telling you, we need to present this as God's story because then we'll read it to find out the details of a great story and we'll learn while we're reading a great true story. I can say we'll learn because of what I know about scripture...John 14:26 "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." 1 Corinthians 2:11 "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

God doesn't absolve you from study, but because you're willing to read His story, He is willing to reveal some awesome things to you as you read. And so to present God in words that are difficult to hear and words that seem laborious and words that can be quite negative to people, why don't we present God's word in a way that's exciting and amazing because the Story of God from Genesis to Revelation is just that. And it's a great, great read.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Go Make Disciples

I just spent 2 days with my brother Rob working on Heartland Stores...our fundraising company. There's a lot I don't know yet and that's intimidating but exciting. One never stops learning in life and I truly believe that. One never stops fighting, one never stops reading, one never stops trying, one never stops running. Business is not separated from my Christianity. In fact I go into business with the same fervor that I go into Praise Team because through it, I can show my character in Christ, I can show my love in Christ and I can continue striving. We continue to make disciples of eachother (Matt. 28). In fact, Dad called yesterday and felt that he had been led by God to a certain supplier about the business. Why? We don't know that yet, and maybe somehow it will reveal itself. But, in calling me, Dad discipled me...telling me that each step we take is one of prayer and faith, prayer, and listening. None of this has been about money or pride or wit or knowledge. We all want to become good business people. I want to fight laziness and other less desirable traits about myself...so it's about disciplining myself in my behavior and in the fruits o the spirit...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

There's no doubt that there are those in other countries and areas of this country that do not have the opportunity even to try and open a new business. I've been provided with this opportunity and hope that we can make the best of it. But, I hope even more that all of our conversations, all of our actions, all of our blogs about this and our activities surrounding Heartland Stores and eachother, that we're continually discipled as we go. Go make disciples of all nations...but be sure you're in church, at a Christian Rock festival or at a Promise Keepers convention...umm...that's not how the verse goes...hold on...let me check it....nope...it doesn't say those things...it simple says "Make Disciples..."

Ok, I will.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Monique and I attended the Lifelight Christian Music Festival with our family this past weekend (Labor Day Weekend). Good music...great weather...sweet memories. I love to go to the festival because of the music. But I think I enjoy Lifelight because my family is there. I had the priviledge of spending about 6 hours in 2 days at Wild Water West with my niece Leah. The water was cool and Leah was a trip. She's a brave little one and we had so much fun together. She wanted me to follow her down the slides, she wanted us to go under water with her, she loved to float, she loved the hotdogs and fries...and I loved all of it! Oh yes...and this one a festival at which I didn't spend even one second in a wheel chair! Halleluja! Praise God!

There are many ways I've enjoyed Lifelight--through pain, through bad weather, through family...however, one reason stands atop the entire list...the reason that keeps me coming back to lifelight. There's always at least one moment where God allows me to climb to the mountaintop and see God there. A friend of myself and Monique, her name is Anne Michelle (AM), spent much of the Lifelight festival with us and our family. Anne Michell "AM", is mostly deaf. I, tell you about her hearing loss because that is one of her characteristics, not because one constantly extracts that particular trait from her being. The deaf community is (or has been) particularly annoyed when their language is exposed or exploited. A lot of us wiggle our hands around, pretending to sign when we have no idea what we're doing. To them it's the same as when we make fun of the Asian language by contorting our faces and saying something weird (choi choi choi) in a what we believe is a chinese or Vietnamese accent etc. The deaf community is often isolated from you, and some of it is by choice. We can't be trusted not to make fun of them.

"AM" may have a few of those annoyances, I don't know. We haven't really had that conversation. It's never been an important thing to note within our friendship. What I do know is that she is an intelligent, patient and wonderful person. She's a teacher in the Des Moines area and a fervent Christian woman. Like anyone, she appreciates someone who can speak to her in a language she can "hear"...sign. Let me say that "AM" likes to simply hang out with her friends. We often spend time with her and talk and walk and laugh. If she didn't understand something she says "What?" and we repeat ourselves...never exploiting her, never unsafely exposing her. Sometimes I make fun and she says "You can't make fun of me, I'm hard of hearing!" and I say back "I'm handicapped too so I can tease you all I want!" to which she replies "Can you take it as well as you dish it?" The answer is yes, of course I can! But, we don't spend a ton of time teasing eachother. They're only moments that we acknowlege our "Specialties" and then we let them go again.

Monique and her have become very good friends and I know that my wife loves her dearly. Well, we both do, but her and Monique's friendship is a most pleasant thing for this husband to watch. Monique and I came home one day to find that "AM" was weeding our garden. She also stops by just to say hello, has gone to different events with us and she enjoys Monique's company after church etc. Most importantly I think that "AM" trusts Monique to keep her friendship safe from exploitation. Monique eagerly seeks to learn signs she doesn't know or doesn't remember. Monique had taken classes in sign years before and uses this skill while singing songs (In Church, at home, in the car...) and sometimes when speaking to "AM". "AM" gives the gift of lip reading to her hearing friends. She gives this gift daily to the world so that she can be part of the world and so the world can be part of her. She can hear words in a quiet environment but in noise like LIFELIGHT, hearing words is nearly impossible. So she reads lips. It's funny actually...reading lips is an asset, a way the hearing get "one-upped". One particular moment the music was so loud I couldn't hear myself think. There was no way two hearing people could engage in a conversation... but I turned to her and said something about the concert knowing that sound didn't matter, and she replied with an answer as if it was quiet as mouse...as if we were having a normal conversation! She spoke more slowly so I could read her lips but it was great. A Helicopter could be hovering 5 feet over your head and we could still talk to eachother. She'll teach you her language if you want to learn it...but if she knows you don't know her language, she doesn't use it around you. In a way, she doesn't expose herself to you until she trusts you with her weaknesses...actually she doesn't expose herself until she knows you can handle her strengths, a super sensitive lip-reading skill, sign language, and sensitive sense of smell and sight and an incredible set of facial expressions.

"AM" and her sister came to Lifelight this weekend. Her sister, of course, can sign and she would flip between sign language and spoken English to say...myself for instance! It's like Monique's mom and dad switching from Dutch to English at the drop of the hat and it's quite amazing to watch. "ASL" (American Sign Language) doesn't follow the typical English sentence structure so bopping from language to language is truly a skill. Monique and the two girls (and I and the family too) enjoyed being with them. Monique, AM, and Hannah would speak in sign to eachother once in awhile...and of course Niekje was learning new signs during their conversations. But God gave Monique a breath of fresh air one evening. Chris Tomlin was on stage and the words to the songs were coming up on the Giant screens. Monique wasn't having a great evening...she didn't feel well, she was a little bit grouchy, she was a little bit angry with me for something I said to her and she was tired...but AM and Hannah stood together and were singing in sign and mouthing the words...well, Hannah was actually also singing outloud. AM was in a safe environment and was enjoying the peace of music in her language. I encouraged Monique to stand with them and sing with them. She refused. I told her that signing always helps her and changes her spirit. She didn't say anything and continued to sit. I didn't touch her, I only sang with Chris, hoping that she would come around...she loves Chris Tomlin. For some reason she stood up. I don't know why to this day. Niekje didn't need to be welcomed into AM and Hannah's presence...she was always welcome there. They began to sign...Monique at first tentative, not wanting to mess up, not wanting to break AM's focus...but it wasn't long until the Holy Spirit was fresh among them. AM feels the beat of a song and, if she is familiar with the music, can follow a song well, even if she's not always looking at the words. God is here right now, and I know that He was amongst us then. It's rare for me to see the Holy Spirit so fresh amongst His people...that's kind of a sad statement, but it's true. However, he was amongst those girls in a way that I won't forget. At that moment, AM didn't have to worry that her language was being misused. She trusted her friend with her language that night, as she always does. And she trusted her friend as they prayed together. That night, 6 eyes were closed, and they sang together "Indescribabe" by Chris Tomlin. Their hands moved in unison...a prayer for the ages. God brought me to the mountaintop so that I could see what it is to be righteous, what it is to be generous, what it is to be completely within the loving touch of God. He taught me one more thing and I'll tell you what it was in a moment. Monique stood with her friend and prayed in a common language with her. Monique was greatly rejuvenated...she trusted her friend with her somewhat gritty disposition and they simply prayed together... God again moved my disposition. But, it was bigger than that...not about me or them or my family...God was and is. It's that simple. I love that such trusting and loving friendships exist still. But, even though God is faithful and just and loving and kind we often don't trust him with our grit. Will not He act faithfully in friendship as Monique and AM have done with eachother? Won't He, in even a much greater way keep you in ways you can't even think to ask or imagine?

The most important lesson for that night was that I discovered it was a privilege for me to present my wife before God knowing that she would find her rest and that God would be faithful in that. She is my body and I present her before you. She is my example of righteousness, of knowledge, of skill, of stamina, of perseverence, of Godliness, of patience, of stalwart attention to ministry, of morality, of generosity...I am humbled by my bride and I intend to keep "my body" pure...we are one and so when I do something harmful, she is harmed. When I say something prideful, she is humiliated...when I do something terrible, she is crushed. I was mean to her that day...not the whole day, just a moment in time, but, she was exposed and exploited and in that, I left her out in the cold...my body naked and exposed. And yet God was willing to show me what it is to protect a friend when He prodded her to stand and pray with her friend in a language they knew together.

That was my Lifelight moment...I hope to stand with my wife in prayer, in scripture and in peace. I hope you won't see me exploit her in front of you like I have in the past. I hope that you won't see me make fun of her in front of you. I hope that you won't see me cause vulnerability within her in front of you. In fact, don't expect it...I mean not to.