Monday, March 28, 2011

Went up Pinnacle (1,011 ft "mountain") with the boys Saturday. They loved it. Despite the rain and slippery footing, they are ready to try again.

"Next time dad, lets do the hard side because this is easy for a 5 year old kid like me!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How do you want to be remembered?

I recently sat and thought about what I would want people to say at my funeral. I had heard about this excercise many times and thought it quaint. But when I actually began to picture my funeral, casket, flowers, people I know and people I don't yet know, it took on a whole new life. I found it amazingly clarifying of what matters to me and how rediculous some of the things I care about really are.

The sobering thing is what I want people to say about me is a good bit different than what I suspect they would say if they were honest. I hope that this becomes less and less the case.

What would you want people to say about you? Try answering that question without using the adjective loving to describe you.

Of course, at the end of the day it is not what I want to be remembered for that matters but what they received from me remembering it or not.
Okay, so I really enjoyed the book Living the Cross Centered Life. Extremely beneficial. I have heard it highly regarded by many and I would absolutely recommend it.

But… I am thinking I would rather live the God Centered Life. Sounds like a Sunday School answer, I know. Bear with me. To the argument of the cross-centered life, I concede that God will be found at the cross. I concede that if we lose the cross then we lose the God centered life altogether. Yet I cannot escape that in God we have the cross… and so much more!

Now, by God centered life I do not mean that I only take my cues about truth, moral behavior, and purpose from what the Bible says about God. Nor do I mean that I am thinking about all that he has done for us even before and apart from the cross. These are good things but they do not embody the essence of what I mean.

The "God-centered" life is the life that finds its deepest meaning and truth not just in knowing of God but in loving Him;...The life that finds it deepest joy and satisfaction in God; the Life that finds its greatest treasure to be God;...The life that has deep yearning and satisfaction found in enjoying the presence of God. I want my life to be most enraptured with the infinite, unsearchable, extravagantly loving and incomparably intimate God and all His glory.

How can I do this apart from the cross? I can't! But...the cross is a means to an end. It is a beautiful means that I cherish and rest upon in every moment, or at least should. But it is the means. Let me ask a question that for me has been a gut check. I think it will show that I am not arguing semantics.

What is the paramount accomplishment that the cross brings?




Conquering death?

Conquering Sin?



...and so on?

Paramount is that we know God, in the intimate sense of knowing! He loves us and we love him!

Why aren't those other wonderful things supreme? Because those other things have the purpose of putting us in everlasting relationship with God. And, strangely, we can in our hearts cherish these other things without having God as our supreme delight:

Forgiveness that frees me from guilt and shame.

Redemption that gives me purpose and value.

Righteousness that frees me from the disappointment and devastation of committing sin.

Conquering death that I may never again fear its curse.

Conquering sin that I may experience that there is something more powerful than my flesh.

Reconciliation... this is a tricky one. The eventful release of my rejection and bestowment of my self-worth.

Heaven, a promise of all the best parts of life and more in an undefiled and unimaginable glory.

All of those answers are true of the cross (in the broader sense of the gospel) and what it promises. And the truth is... I have delighted in many of them at different times more than I have delighted in knowing God. I have been guilty of desiring righteousness more than God. I have been guilty of dreaming of a Heaven and all its delights that only had God as its backdrop like a city mayor. It’s embarrassing and disheartening to think how easy that has been to do. At those times the cross has really been all about me.

Yet, consider if the cross didn’t exist. God would still be supreme. Consider if there was no fall. We would not need a cross to love and worship God. The cross is magnificent and precious as it has deepened our experience of God's love. But it is God and his love that it revealed, not itself.

Consider Heaven. I believe we will never forget the cross as it is the glory of God's love that I believe will be imprinted upon us for all eternity. But in Heaven the work of the cross will be accomplished. We will be glorified and its work will be done. God will be no less supreme. In fact, because the cross has accomplished it’s work, we will hold God more supremely than we do now.

The cross is essential to God's plan. I will never know God while walking this sin-cursed earth in my unglorified flesh without traveling by way of the cross. It is the "hallway" by which I currently travel and a precious one at that - but not the destination. "Something" far more glorious holds that position. And in fact, He happens to be the one who lovingly built the hallway and is bringing me down it to Himself.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mom's Music

Growing up, mom played records every Saturday and Sunday. I knew the words but never the artist or record. She loved music. She was one of those people who made odd but masterful compilation cds - helping you appreciate each song more because of the contrast and progression. I have been listening to her eclectic collection, soon to be divided among me and my siblings.

Just a few of my favorites:
· As Time Goes By – Jimmy Durante
· Cry to Me – Solomon Burke
· Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – The Platters
· Sailing – Christopher Cross
· Blue Skies – Ella Fitzgerald
· Always on My Mind – Willie Nelson

It’s been a lesson in art as well as a walk back in time.

Listening to Louis Armstrong sing it’s a wonderful world, one of my mom’s favorites, is a bittersweet moment for me - harder than I thought it would be. But then so has this year. Sometimes I wish time would just stop for moments of great joy as well as great pain. But it doesn’t. You have to grieve in the midst of life – or maybe I should say, live in the midst of grieving.
I find it wierd that life just keeps going as if nothing has changed. This music plays in my head and it seems strange because I associate much of it with her. You hear people say, "its as if the music died with them", and I understand what they mean, only it didn't. It plays on - and it hurts, but I love it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

love's invitation

I came in wilted from exhaustion. Not the good kind from a great day of working in the yard but the kind where you’ve just blown it, your behind in five projects at work and people are waiting, your selfishness has reared it ugly head, resulting in shame, and you know that there are a dozen more things at home that need your attention, not to mention your wife and children who are hoping for the arrival of their caring man to walk in the door.

It is when I am deflated like this that love seems hardest to grasp – that drawing near to God seems insurmountable. But through such times God often mercifully tends to me and I learn something new and find his presence a greater refuge. And few have been a more powerful instrument of God’s tangible love to me than the love of my wife.

When I am beaten down, often even by my own doing, I find Janel’s love a refuge of grace and tenderness. Forgiving much and hoping much, she manages to respect me even when I least respect myself. She heals my hurt with her listening. She speaks timely truth with gentleness. She remains even when I push and attends respectfully even when I withdraw. She forgives when I slight. She comforts me. And when I am enthusiastic, she joins me there with authenticity and joy, often leading the way.

Janel’s love is not merely an example of the love of God, but I believe an actual outpouring of God’s tangible, tender, care for me and an intimate invitation into His presence. There is nothing like love’s invitation to lead you into God’s presence. I consider nothing greater than to delight in God and to bring him glory. I delight in God deeply through the love of my wife.

Baden understands too much

Tonight, in response to my request for a jellybean, my 3 year old informed me, "Mom's in charge of the jellybeans."

"What?" I replied. "Who's in charge of this house?"

He clarified in all earnestness, not catching my playful tone, "You're in charge of this house, but mom's in charge of the jellybeans."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

life lost - courage found.

It is entirely too easy behaving cold and cruel.

The cruelty and coldness often comes not in what is said or done but in what is left unsaid and left undone - in knowing how to love and what to do and not doing it.

I have noticed in my own life that climbing mountains has never been as difficult as crossing 5 feet of space between 2 estranged people. In fact, just crossing 5 feet between any 2 people...

This year I made what would be the first of several necessary 5 foot journeys. It was harder indeed. Finding my way to forgiving and loving didn't come all at once. Too much history and too many barriers erected to remove in one swoop. But I became alive when I took my first step and found I wanted more.

A few steps in, I was literally 20 feet from another round of confession, forgiveness, and possibly so much more, and my mom went into cardiac arrest. Twenty feet away from saying words that I had rehearsed for half a decade. Knowing that my approach, delayed by too many worthless reasons, fell 20 feet shy... knowing it will be so for the rest of my life... is pain.

But, before her passing we spent 2 incredible weeks in the hospital. It brought a side of each of us that neither had ever seen. As a son, I gained a mom I honestly had never understood - we had both been too guarded and hurt to let each other in. I touched a hand that I had never touched with such gentleness and a forehead and hair that I had never felt like that. I heard stories I had never heard and understood this woman like I had never understood her - her pain, her joy, her humor.

I am ashamed it took 28 years and heart failure to get me to caress her face. But I am rich for the mom I gained those last few weeks. And I am rich for what I have learned in her life and in her death. I desire that life be as real to me everyday as it was to me that day. I desire that my courage to love and love well be what it was not for too long.

As much as I hate that I was 20 feet away that day and not by her side, I am relieved I wasn't still standing miles away in fear. I am thankful beyond words that I began the journey.