Hiccups

Hiccups

This morning marked the Kraai’s first ever yard sale, oh yeah!  As I was assisting my wife with the final details, a friendly neighbor stopped by to say hi.  I could see the look in his eyes that something wasn’t right as we greeted one another and then he said something I will never forget.

He began to share with me that his step son had moved back into the house.  I gently asked him if there was any particular reason.  He then explained the situation in full.  To sum it up, months ago, this son had been living in the area and was arrested for substance possession.  The judge gave him a HEAVY break and explained the situation as a “hiccup” on the road of life.  Two months later the same thing happened and found him in jail on the east side of the state.  The “real” father had enough, bought him a bus ticket and sent him back to Hudsonville.

I asked myself after he left, does our Father in Heaven (the ultimate judge) look at something like this as a “hiccup”? The judge granted this young man a pardon only to have his graciousness abused.  Does this illustration reflect the way we abuse the grace of God?  We keep sinning assuming the judge will continue to pardon us…

Does the blood of Jesus justify these kinds of “hiccups”?  If so, for how long?

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As I reflect on…

As I reflect on another Memorial Day passing by, I can’t help but find gladness in my heart for having the opportunity to walk with my family through Jenison’s Parade for the 5th year in a row.  I am glad that I am a part of a Body that is not dead, but living!  I am glad that this Body is unashamed to be EXCITED about Jesus! Image

I am glad b/c this memorial day; I had the privilege of talking to an officer of Ottawa County who keeps our county safe.  This conversation wasn’t about guns and robbers, but rather a conversation about Jesus and the state of our country. 

After what seemed like minutes, the officer who lives in my neighborhood looked at his watch and realized that we had been talking for over an hour.  As we ended our conversation, he left me with a profound statement,

“You will see a day when obeying the law is to break the law.”

There are few Christians who are bold enough these days to request a spirit of power from God to proclaim that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  What will we do when the day comes that we are no longer able to speak publicly about the one who died for us, or to have organized church meetings? What is going to happen when we cannot march down a street and pass out information about the work that Jesus is doing through His bride?

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As I reflect on…

As I reflect on another Memorial Day passing by, I can’t help but find gladness in my heart for having the opportunity to walk with my family through Jenison’s Parade for the 5th year in a row.  I am glad that I am a part of a Body that is not dead, but living!  I am glad that this Body is unashamed to be EXCITED about Jesus! Image

I am glad b/c this memorial day; I had the privilege of talking to an officer of Ottawa County who keeps our county safe.  This conversation wasn’t about guns and robbers, but rather a conversation about Jesus and the state of our country. 

After what seemed like minutes, the officer who lives in my neighborhood looked at his watch and realized that we had been talking for over an hour.  As we ended our conversation, he left me with a profound statement,

“You will see a day when obeying the law is to break the law.”

There are few Christians who are bold enough these days to request a spirit of power from God to proclaim that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  What will we do when the day comes that we are no longer able to speak publicly about the one who died for us, or to have organized church meetings? What is going to happen when we cannot march down a street and pass out information about the work that Jesus is doing through His bride?

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Howdy Neighbor

Monday’s are my day off at Wellspring.  I usually find myself on the couch (w/ my wife Samantha) Monday mornings sipping on Starbucks coffee and sinking my teeth into a warm, sugar infested, calorie loaded cinnamon roll.  However, this Monday I found myself waking up early, of all things and decided that I would start my day with a prayer run. 

This run was not going to be the ordinary run, but a run where I wanted to focus my heart and mind on the things that I want to see God do in my life for His Kingdom. 

I ran my usual loop and pace, to my surprise; I ran it 3 minutes faster!  It had to be because of my intentions…. (I really don’t think so; it probably was b/c of the tail wind I had ) 

As I stepped back onto my drive-way, an overwhelming sense of compassion fell over me for my neighborhood.  I would bet that all of us, to some degree wish we had a greater vision, a greater love to encourage the people that live next door to us. 

However, because of work, school, family, sports, church, and entertainment, we quickly get consumed and disjointed about the great commission that Jesus gave to us.  He told us to love God and love thy neighbor.   And because of the outpouring of this love, we want to become and make disciples!

Hear me; there are people that live next door to you that need to be known.  They have a voice.  What is your neighborhood saying?  I have a family that lives kiddy corner to us and both their boys are slowly dying of a rare disease.  How do you bring hope to a family that is experiencing such turmoil?  Jesus says that everyone needs to know the compassion of our Father who is in Heaven. 

 Are you, are we paying attention to the needs of the people that live next to us?

 

Check this link out:

http://theresurgence.com/2012/02/13/hearing-the-beat-of-your-community

 

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Being Good Versus The Gospel

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For those of you who want to know where the young men and women of your church are both spiritually and socially, take them to a nursing home for a service project.

I was privileged this past Thursday night to have 9 brave 5th grade men (Yes, I am calling these 11 year olds men) brave the elements to serve the elderly.  With gloves, shovels and rakes, it looked to me like we were fit to handle whatever the task was.  Sure, I wanted to see some physical labor take place, but more importantly, I wanted to hear the cry of their hearts.  How has church influenced their hearts?  Are they more focused on pleasing me or pleasing God?

As we left the house, there was a confidence in the air.  Upon arrival to the nursing home, the boys were jumping out of the cars, just waiting for the order.  Once we had a clear direction, the boys split up into their respective areas, and sticks and leaves were beginning to be removed.

However, within a few short moments, the words, “I hate church, I don’t like doing this” echoed in the evening air.  Another student voiced, “this reminds me of working up at our cottage when we worked all day.”  The next thing I notice, he’s just sitting there watching everyone work.  Maybe it’s me, but his definition of working all day and mine are worlds apart.

We raked leaves and moved rocks for an hour.  If you ask the young men, they would tell you “for hours”.  We had to move what seemed like two tons of loose rock so they could restore a fountain and pool.  Everyone was working like dogs, maybe because there was a camera person from the church who was taking pictures, making them feel like celebrities.

It’s incredible not only to see young men working together but also to see their desire to be noticed.  Knowing that they would be in a picture meant everything to them.  It was like a light went off at that very moment, these 5th graders wanted to be heard.

My question as someone who works with children is this, are they being heard at home?  Do they have a voice when they come home from school?  Or, are they given a remedy for conversing at home, called video games, sports, you fill in the blank.   I actually had a leader come up to me and tell me that one of the young men asked him if he would go and talk to the supervisor about a missing shovel.  He couldn’t go and carry on a conversation with the sweet old man who was overseeing us?  Thankfully, the leader told him to “ask him yourself,” and he did with no problem.

But my bigger question is, what has happened to conversation?  My biggest fear is that in 15 years, these men will not have the ability to share, discuss, teach, or preach the gospel of Jesus.  Sure, they can put on a front to prove to people they are “good”.  And yes, they can tell me everything there is to know about the Tigers starting line-up and the various levels of Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 3, but what about the life of Jesus, could they tell me what the gospels actually recorded about the various levels and trials Jesus had to face?Image

How about it moms and dads, could you?

(http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/16/youth-ministrys-tendency-toward-legalism/)

(http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/04/12/4-things-every-kid-needs-to-know-about-the-bible/)

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Tinkers

As I was walking down Michigan Ave, enjoying a nice, sunny day off in the heart of Chicago, I couldn’t help but embrace the moments that transpired on Easter Sunday.

The story of redemption is somewhat confusing for the “unchurched”, for that matter, all of us!  A man named Jesus boldly proclaimed that he was God.  Not only did he proclaim this outlandish statement, he also said that he would die and after three days, would resurrect to prove his divinity.  Jesus said all this.   So, here I was in Chicago and I thought to myself, what do  the people of the Windy City have to say about the Easter story?  Do they believe any of it?  What do they believe in?

The first encounter I had was with a lady at the Gap store.  She was a graduate of Loyola University, where she studied film.   She wanted to be an actress, but it wasn’t “panning” out for her like she hoped.    We had a great discussion about the arts.  I talked to her about the influence the arts world had become in the church.  I described it as, “giving little people purpose and identity in our culture.  It’s okay to enjoy dance, drama, and painting inside the Body of Christ.”  I think she was startled by our conversation.   I quickly picked up the hint that I was conversing with someone who didn’t want to discuss my 5 point stance on Creation, Fall, Redemption & Restoration.   She was gracious with a concluding statement that looked like this,

“It’s incredible what individuals can do if they just find within themselves the beauty of self.”

So, I struck out on my first attempt, but four stores later I was at the check-out lane at H&M and I noticed the cashier was wearing a cross around her neck.  I had an “in”.  I asked her what the cross she was wearing symbolized.  She stated that she was a Christian. I asked her what she believed about Jesus and if she celebrated Easter (seeing that it was the Monday after Easter Sunday). She missed Easter service because of work, but she attended a local church nearby.  Maybe it was an oracle like the one Abraham’s servant had in choosing Isaac’s wife, but this girl was hurting, so I encouraged her to keep her identity and purpose on who Jesus is and what He did for her.  And because Christ has over-come the grave, we have a power within us that surpasses all understanding.

She looked at us troubled and said, “Nobody in the years that I have been working here has ever talked to me about Jesus. It’s refreshing to believe that there are people out there that are still passionate about Jesus Christ.”

What do we do about this? I am in no way a martyr, but for my generation who has been labeled by Kevin DeYoung as, the “tinker generation” (http://www.christianbookpreviews.com/will-of-god.php) what are we going to stand for?  Some of us like the girl at Gap will stand for everything that is beneficial to self.  But what about standing for the one person who erased ALL SIN for humanity and gives us life to the fullest?

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