Thursday, January 28, 2010

"The Noticer" by Andy Andrews

“The Noticer” is one of the few books that drew me in so that I had to finish it in one sitting. The images of pain, brokenness, and despair of the characters reflect everyday life in any community in the 21st Century. Of course, the gift of “perspective” allows us to see past the obstacle of the moment and to the glimmer of a bright future.

Andy Andrews has done a marvelous job of storytelling that allows us to see ourselves in each and every face. As life spins out of control the natural human reaction is to focus inward toward our own failures and outward toward our own enemies. In “The Noticer” the mystical Jones paints the portrait of a life turned toward introspection of our own soul and the encouragement of others.

The timing for reading “The Noticer” was perfect for me. I see within the tapestry of Orange Beach an amalgam of myself. I have been at times Andy and Jason, Walker and Barry. Rage, despair, anger and hurt have been traveling companions. Without loving compassion of people in my life, I hate to think where I would have been.

I have had many Jones’ in my life; men and women who speak truth with love. Friends who are bold enough to be honest and honest enough to be vulnerable. My prayer is that I would become a “Noticer.” I pray that my life would touch others and that they in turn would in turn plant seeds in the lives of countless others.

This book is a must read of everyone who desires to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and view life with new “perspective.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Content Heart

“When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.” Psalm 78:21-24

In this Psalm, the psalmist is reminding the nation of Israel of the rebellion that the nation displayed toward God. He reminded them that when they rebelled, God punished them. Ultimately, God loved his people so much he provided for them and gave them food from heaven to fill their stomachs.

As I read through this psalm today I was reminded of how often I sin against God. And yet, God has never turned his back on me. He has met my need over and over again. And I, like the nation of Israel, have over and over again complained about God’s provision (or what I perceive as his lack thereof).

Today I want to focus my heart on thankfulness. I want a heart of gratitude and love toward God. I want to remember that everything good that comes into my life if a gift from God above (James 1:17) and that the struggles in my life are largely due to the fact that I fail to live in line with God’s provision or his plans.

Lord, forgive my greed. I pray for a heart content with your love and grace. I pray that thankfulness will be my character and joy my attitude. Amen

Monday, January 25, 2010

Favre and Forgiveness

Last night was a great example of how one moment can lead to lasting images. In the football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, a legendary figure made a fundamental mistake and it cost his team a victory and a birth in the Super Bowl. How do you ever get over that?

In case you missed it, Brett Favre threw an interception with the score tied and the Vikings close to field goal range right before the end of the game. As soon as he threw the ball, the commentator said, “That is the first thing they teach you not to do playing quarterback.” It was one of those moments where you felt empathy, sadness, and shock all at once. Could this be how Favre ends his career?

In our lives we all have those “one moment” kinds of mistakes. We all do what we know we shouldn’t, we all forget the fundamentals and try to do the spectacular. The good thing for us is that our failures typically don’t happen in front of millions of people.

As I listened to people talk about the game and the end last night, I was reminded of all the failures in my life. I have blown it. I have thrown the ball when I should have run. I have tripped myself on obstacles that I saw clearly. When I reflect on scripture I am reminded that almost all of the heroes of our faith failed as well.

Abraham lied, Moses murdered, David committed adultery and murder (aren’t those the top two on human lists?), Peter rejected Christ and Paul killed in the name of YHWH. The beautiful part of the gospel is that none of them is held captive by their sin. All found grace, forgiveness and mercy by the power of the love of God.

Brett Favre will be blasted today on every sports talk program in America. But how many of us have thrown an “interception” this week? How many of us have blown it in much more important situations than a football game? Aren’t you glad that God does not hold us captive to our sins, but forgives us through Jesus?

“You have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help for Haiti

By now I am sure you have all seen news reports of the severe devastation and loss of life from Haiti due to the recent earthquake. Thousands and thousands of lives have been lost and the humanitarian need is almost unprecedented. This is the time when the church needs to step forward.

I have been praying and thinking about how to be involved as a church. We do not have the resources to jump on a plane and go do something personally. However we can partner with organizations already on the ground providing not only physical relief but spiritual and emotional relief as well.

One of the organizations that handles these situations best is Samaritans Purse. This is the ministry headed by Franklin Graham and the one that runs Operation Christmas Child which we have supported for years. This is the link to read about their response to this disaster and their need for help:

This coming Sunday, January 17, LifeQuest will be taking a special offering to send to Samaritans Purse to help in their efforts in Haiti. I would ask you to please pray carefully about supporting this cause. This is a way for us as a church to partner with people who are on the ground in a desperate place at a desperate time offering the spiritual and physical help needed.

Every family in our church has some challenging financial times they are enduring right now. LifeQuest itself is dealing with our financial pinch and trying to be good stewards of the resources we have. This opportunity is for us to reach beyond ourselves, outside of our walls and into the eternal future of people we may never meet this side of eternity. I am asking you to give beyond your normal tithes and offerings and give sacrificially as you are able.

No matter the size, no matter the amount, God is able to do more than we can ever imagine. Please pray and come Sunday prepared to support our partners at Samaritans Purse as they respond to this human disaster.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mess Makes the Memory

So, this year my family did something we had never done before. We decided that we would take a winter vacation between Christmas and New Year. We had rented a cabin in Blowing Rock, NC, wrangled up winter clothing (because until this week’s record cold we had never needed it in Florida) and made plans for a week of fun in the snow. My kids had never really been in snow. In fact, Kimberly had never even seen it!!

On December 28 we arrived in the late evening to find that the road to our cabin was iced over and that there was no way we were making it to the top of the hill. We also discovered that even if we made it up, we would never make it down! Not safely anyway. In the course of about two hours my family trip turned into a Chevy Chase movie. We had to scramble to find a hotel room, scrap our plans for evenings around the fireplace and realize that our week was turning upside down.

Needless to say I was less than thrilled. I was frustrated, upset, and feeling like I had let my family down. It was not my fault, but I couldn’t help but feel bad. It is one of those moments where you feel like a failure as a dad. I could just hear my kid’s years from now telling some therapist: “My dad ruined my life in the mountains.”

Needless to say we adjusted our plans, made the best of it and had a great time. My kids loved going down the tube runs in the snow. We had a ball throwing snowballs and building snow men along the side of the road. We laughed whenever someone wiped out on the snow and ice.

The lesson I have learned through all of this is that we may make plans and think we have all the answers, but sometimes life just gets crazy. Weather, finances, schedules and interruptions cause us to feel like we are going to lose it. Maybe the lesson for me is that life doesn’t have to be neat to be enjoyable. In fact, sometimes the mess makes the memory.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suddenly becoming comfortable with clutter in my life. But I am learning that life can be exciting when we let go of our securites and enjoy the slide down the ice!!!