Monday, June 29, 2015

Back at the Office

Back at the office today.
Judgement is never a great tool for faith-sharing and offering Christ to others.
Stick with grace. Listen to understand. Be kind.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Minnesota

Above all, do not loose your desire to walk (running is a legit substitute).
Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.
I have walked myself into my best thoughts,
and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.
-Soren Kierkegaard‬

Hanging out with one of my sisters.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fearless

David is 50 inches tall.
He fears absolutely nothing.
I love him.
These three facts mean that we are riding all the roller coasters
all day in 100+ degree heat.
He loves every moment of it.
I don't recall ever sweating or praying so much.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thought during today's run: depression is letting our past mistakes define us,
anxiety is letting our unknown future define us,
and peace is embracing our present reality and letting it define us. caption

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Missouri

Benjamin on the paddle board

I have observed in life how important it is to enjoy the small things along the way.
Because at the end of the journey the small things are actually the big things.

The Ozarks from the Jet Ski

Brothers

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thoughts on Father's Day

Father. That’s what Jesus called God. Not God, Lord, Almighty, Holy One, Creator, Sustainer, or Redeemer. Father. It’s a sacred word. 

Today is Father’s Day. I like Father’s Day. I get a few gifts. I get my picture taken with two boys. Some pretty cute pictures have been taken over the years. We’ll most likely eat ribs or burgers for lunch. Two of my favorite people will love me more than usual. And usual is more than enough.


It’s not a good day for everyone. The teenager’s father died when she was a little girl. Or the father who lost his daughter when she was a little girl. Or the son whose father was mean to him. They haven’t spoken for years. Or the man who always wanted to be a father and for one reason or another things just haven’t worked out. Or the father who failed his children.

A few A’s on a report card. A new school record in the mile. A manicured front lawn. When the Norwegian man looked at me with approval—there was nothing quite like it. Not giving my best effort. Coming home late. Not keeping a promise. When the same man looked at me with disapproval—there was nothing quite like that either. 

Jesus tells a story about a man with two sons. The older son stuck around the farm and tried to earn something that could only be given: the love of the father. The younger son was an opportunist. He cashed in his inheritance early, travelled around the country, and threw a big party for a few years. The first time the ATM was declined, he knew his mistake was loving the father’s stuff more than loving the father himself. 

The father in this story is no ordinary father. He is God. The one Jesus called Father. He waited outside on the deck each night, looking into the sunset, praying and hoping the younger son would return home. He saw a silhouette in the distance. His heart began to race. He ran and embraced a sinner who happened to be his son. Grace. The older son complained. The Father offered words of compassion, assurance, and power to the older son. That is grace as well. 

A little bit of the older son and a little bit of the younger son exists in each of us. No matter how good or how bad we have been—the Father loves us. We can’t earn His love nor can we lose it. 

The two boys argue over which show to watch or who won the game. They disagree about who is right. They compete for attention from their father. They help each other out. They play together at the swimming pool. At the end of the day they cuddle up and read books together. I love being a father. At our absolute best, earthly fathers give us a glimpse and an illustration of the love of our heavenly Father. And as far as glimpses and illustrations go—it is a pretty darn good one. 

Happy Father’s Day… 

Craig

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When Somebody Says You Aren't Good Enough

When somebody says you aren't good enough--don't believe them.
Believe God who says you are more than good enough.
Also, train hard to improve. You can get better.
And, celebrate who you are.
Preferably by drinking Mountain Dew out of a glass bottle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Refresh and Restore

I refresh tired bodies and I restore tired souls. -Jeremiah 31:25

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Envy and Gratitude

I had a co-worker at my first job out of college. I’ll call him Eddie, but his real name is Jacob. Jacob, I mean Eddie, had it all. Or at least it seemed like he did. He was handsome and rugged. Strong and smooth. He was on the fast track to success at his job. His girlfriend was beautiful and charming. He had a house, a nice boat, and a nicer truck. He took cool trips to fun places.

I admit — I was a little envious. Or a lot. Most of us were. Jacob was likable and funny. But him having pretty much everything was a bit much. I was never very close to him. Didn’t want to be for reasons that had a lot more to do with me than with him.


I remember getting out of my car eleven years ago. I parked in front of a house. It was huge. And gorgeous. The yard was full of oak trees, plants, and green grass. The house was brick. They had it all. I walked up the flagstone path to the leaded-glass front door. I was invited to be there. Didn’t know why.

The husband / dad answered the door. We walked into the family room. A teenage daughter was holding a crumpled up tissue. But she wasn’t holding back her tears. The usually charming wife / mom seemed distant and cold. The husband / dad was doing his best to hold things together. Behind the brick facade of the historic two-story home was a family in crisis. You would have never known by the impeccable rose garden.

I led a Bible study on Wednesday. The higher-ups at the newspaper weren’t too impressed with my meal-time pastoral duties. About as unimpressed as me being unimpressed with them being unimpressed. Anyway, Jacob walked into the lunch room at the office one day. He sat down and joined us. It was his first time. 

He stayed after and asked if I could pray for him. It turns out the man underneath the well-dressed and well-groomed body was a mess. So much pressure to be perfect. It wears on you. 

Then God taught me a lesson. I wish it wouldn’t have taken me twenty-five years to learn. Would have saved me a lot of grief in my high school and college years. As I prayed for Jacob, something happened. The envy disappeared. Gone. Just as well. I needed it about as bad as I needed a chronic headache. I became more grateful for what I have and who I am. My life changed. It was amazing.

Envy is a sore loser and a relentless opponent. She keeps returning for rematches. She even gets the best of me sometimes and takes me back to those desolate places of insecurity and doubt. But when prayer and gratitude and doing my best to love others as God loves others returns to my life, envy is forced to retreat and must wait to fight another day.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Week at a Convent

Lessons from Spending a Week at a Convent

The Manna House of Prayer, home of the Sisters of St. Joseph, was my home the last four days. The convent is a 99 year old building located in Concordia, Kansas. If you are wondering why I am here—I’m teaching a seminar on preaching. If you are wondering why the person who organized this event decided it should be held at a convent—I have no idea. Although it is a cool place. If you have ever wondered what life in a convent is like: here you go.


Trust

I have the corner room on the second of three floors. One of the sisters took me there when I arrived on Monday. I wasn’t given a key because the room has no lock. My new laptop and a few other possessions remain in the room when I’m downstairs talking about things like logos, pathos, and ethos. I sleep with the door open so some air can circulate through the non-air conditioned quarters.

Trust is a little different than belief. Belief says, “Nobody will steal my computer” or “Nobody will play a prank on me when I am sleeping.” (The latter of the two propositions seems like a pretty safe bet in a convent.) Trust is being willing to implement your beliefs. Trust is necessary for abundance and fullness in life. Trusting in others. Trusting in God. Intimacy with others and with God only comes through trust. The sisters have it figured out.

Simplicity

I have no television. My cell phone doesn’t work unless I go outside and stand in the right place at the right time. Most of the food is an early crop from this year’s garden. Rhubarb, radishes, asparagus, kale, and mulberries appear on the table three times a day. Nothing about this place even hints as luxury. Which is just as well. Simplicity is about eliminating the unnecessary and adding the meaningful. 

I haven’t missed electronics. I go to sleep early and wake up early. I have ample time to pray and read the Bible. I have gone running every morning. I think I should call it jogging I guess. I have had some good conversations. Economist E.F. Schumacher when he wrote: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” My life won’t be simple when I return to Omaha, but the life at the convent has taught me it needs to be more simple.


Community

The convent has ample space and time for solitude. This solitude allows the individuals to function better as a community. The sisters embrace and live out the following truth: We can become more together than we can become separately as individuals. They are present with and for each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” -Proverbs 17:17

The best is yet to come…

Craig