Follow Her Lead

History has been made in the Free Methodist Church as we have finally elected our first female bishop ever.  A whole new board of three bishops (also counted as a roster of bishops, a basket of bishops, and a battery of bishops) now take the lead for the coming four years.

I’ll tell you this: from what I’ve gathered, Bishop is a difficult job.  Your role?  Oversight of, you know, everything.  Thankfully Jesus is Lord of the church.  Yet He lets us get involved with leadership, and for real.  Jesus is a confident leader who has every reason to take total control, yet He wants us to join Him in this work.  Mysterious.  As far as organizations go, the church is an odd duck, which is, by the way,  the origin of the phrase “flock of bishops”.

Here’s to gifted women and men leading the church.  Lead on Bishop Keith Cowart, Bishop Linda Adams, and Bishop Matt Whitehead.  I’m praying for all three newbies this evening.  What an impossible task.  May their strength be made perfect in weakness.



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Bounce House!

Our first turns 15 today.  When she turned 13, I was shocked to suddenly become the parent of a teenager.  Several years later and I’m all in as the dad of a teen.  Lexi is, of course, a different kind of teen.  With the dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, she won’t ever drive, she won’t date, she won’t live by herself.  When it comes to our daughter, my wife Emily and I celebrate different milestones than most parents.

Though Lexi’s birthday is officially today, we celebrated with family and a few friends this past Saturday, complete with fancy helium filled balloons, cupcakes galore, and an inflatable bounce house.  The bounce house was not filled with helium.

It may sound strange, but Lexi wasn’t around very much for her party on Saturday.  Lexi knows what she likes and what she wants.  She likes music and she likes food.  She likes people, especially when they sing and give her food.  But crowds are not her thing.  Lexi is more of an introvert, though she has her people moments.  If they can sing her songs or share her food, Lexi sticks around for a bit until one or both runs out.  One thing she wasn’t all that interested in on Saturday was bouncing in the bounce house.  Too many people, too much noise, too hot.  All this is fine and good, though we did do this a few years ago and felt bummed because she wasn’t into the bounce.  We realized it’s a celebration for Lexi and, as long as others are having a good time, it’s all good.

Meanwhile, Lexi is in her room, not unlike the Godfather on the day of his daughter’s wedding — granting favors and such to her stuffed animals.

After the party ended and the sun gave up its piercing direct glare, Lexi jumped in for a few minutes.  And she was happy.

Happy Birthday, Lexi.  Daddy loves you.









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Outside Outlet

Today has been consumed by the quick job of installing an electric outlet.  New work, outside.  20A.  120VAC.

A job like this will usually take about an hour, maybe two if you hit a snag.

If you hit several snags, that’s gonna work out to anywhere between 14 hours and 6 years.  I won’t bore you with the harrowing details, littering the web with phrases like “a spade bit shouldn’t dull so quickly on brick” and “I could’ve swore the drill was level when I did this.”  I won’t trouble you with pointless chatter like “they were serious about this PVC cement setting quickly” and “can you even sharpen a wire stripper?”  But I will say that it’s almost done because Mac and I had to stop and eat dinner.

Mac is a brilliant helper.  Sure, he wants to do something else most of the time, but a bit of fatherly arm twisting (“listen, I’m your dad, and you need to learn this stuff, so I’m teaching you, so put your phone away) usually does the trick.  He’s fun to have around and has a sharp sense of humor.  I like him.  Plus, he’s now certified in unlicensed electrical work, just like his dad.

The best part of any home improvement project?  Going to Home Depot again and again.  Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned along the way, especially when it comes to that big orange box of a store:

  • Yes, you can park in “Pro” parking because you’ll end up making several trips to Home Depot in a day, and your accrued experience will classify you as professional.
  • They serve coffee at the contractor entrance.  No one has ever stopped me to ask for my contractor ID, but I do get second glances for drinking coffee on 85 degree days.  What can I say?  It’s how I was raised.
  • No one at Home Depot can help you except for the lady who works at the kitchen design center.  My hunch is that she ends up answering a lot of questions because she’s there, sitting down, and can’t run from customers as fast as the orange aproned on foot.  (Sidenote: I once asked her where the propane cylinders were, and she answered in perfect Hank Hill vocal font.  Delightful.)

I’ll keep you updated on project outside outlet.  Projects at home are like long hikes: you appreciate the trail once you’re done with it.  The journey is about maintaining your sanctification.  In other words, if you’re looking for an opportunity for spiritual formation, consider installing an outlet on the back wall of your house.


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The Role Radio Now Plays

I’ve been listening to a local college FM radio station for a few months now: WIDR 89.1 out of Western Michigan University.

WIDR is a student-run grab bag of miscellaneous alternative, jazz rock, progressive, post-progressive music.  Haven’t heard a bad cut yet (seriously).   I’ve Shazzamed 20 songs to go back to later.  On the ride home tonight I heard something froman album called Paradise by the band Mattson 2.  LA Jazz/psyjazz.  Excellent. Heard of ’em?  Me neither.


The role radio now plays?  It helps me sift through the noise and connects me with people (not skynet, not Amazon music, not YouTube guessing at what I should listen to).  Clearly, WIDR’s Programming Director and I are pals (by osmosis).   Every car ride is a little sonic Christmas for the ears.  I don’t normally recommend radio stations, but… you do what you want.  I dig it.

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Remembering Ross Perot

Today, between meetings and a walking lunch, I noticed that billionaire and former presidential candidate Ross Perot died.  Upfront confession: Ross Perot hasn’t crossed my mind in a long time.  Hearing the news brought a jumble of thoughts to my mind:

  1. Remember when presidential  elections were quirky and not stressful?  Ross Perot was quirky, eccentric, and had some good ideas.  He was fun.  He fully embraced his Ross-ness and didn’t care what we thought.  So we grinned.
  2. Because of my age at the time and the era of his campaign, the only reason I actually remember Ross Perot is because of a really funny impression on Saturday Night Live.  Like it or not, Dana Carvey burned a lot of historical “facts” into the minds of me and my compatriots.
  3. Self-made billionaires are fascinating because they have all the money they need, yet so many seem unfulfilled, or, at least, bored.  Bored enough to become president.
  4. H. Ross is like me, in that I’m R. Adam.  From there, our similarities diminish.

Every day is a gift.  Simply put, we do what we can with the time we’re given.   You and I probably won’t get media coverage when we pass.  How we live matters.  Who we trust and follow matters, because eternity matters.

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Vacations are difficult because it takes work to rest.  Saturdays were the best when I was a kid — waking up at the regular school time only to realize that there’s no school always made my legs tickle.  Back to sleep or bowl of cereal & cartoons — either way, it was easy to ignore school.

It turns out ignoring work is really, really difficult, even when you have a week (or two) of Saturdays.

In our youth, we’re like little speedboats that cruise through the harbor and into open waters.  Our capacity is limited but we can turn on a dime.  As our responsibility increases, our capacity expands, and our hull gets bigger (in nearly every way).  It takes more than a few seconds to make a turn because of the momentum.  Physics at work.

The way of Jesus is to rest at regular intervals.  Sabbath is rehearsal for vacation.  Hitting stop every week makes sure we don’t build too much momentum.  Sabbath is a no-wake zone.  Rest keeps us nimble and stops us from burning out.

It takes me three days to wind down, and that’s ok.  And now I’m winding back up, but hopefully with a little more insight, humility, and trust that my job isn’t to make a huge wake.

Jesus wasn’t in a hurry but He did have priorities.  At the top?  Prayer and rest in the presence of the Father.  May it be true of me.

How about you?

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Pentecost 2019

This Sunday (June 9) is Pentecost Sunday — the day the church (since about the 4th century) observes the gift of the Spirit on the 120 believers and the birth of the church (Acts 2:1ff), liturgically symbolized by the color red, the imagery of fire, and the mystery of the Holy Spirit, whom Francis Chan rightly referred to as “the Forgotten God.”
If your church observes Pentecost, you know that we’re about to dip our toes into Pneumatology (study of the Pneuma/Spirit) which is always a good idea, given that we’re a people who are to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We are empty containers, all of us, filling the void with who knows what. Only Spirit can satisfy, mysterious as all of this is.
The Old Testament helps us understand God the Father, the New Testament reveals Christ, who shows us the Father and promises the coming of the Spirit. We cannot know Father and Son without the Spirit, and we cannot know the Spirit without the Father and Son. Surely both testaments reveal the Trinity in glimpses, but it was the early church that wrestled with the theology of the Three. These three are inseparable, yet the Spirit is the most misunderstood of the Trinity. We like hierarchy, function, and predictability. Our curiosity pushes us to discovery. The Holy Spirit is a mysterious person who knows us better than we will ever know Him. He knows Father and Son, too, and somehow makes a connection that brings us into community with the Trinity and with each other. How peculiar. This whole thing is so bizarre, yet beautifully accessible by grace.
“Many books have been written by scholarly and spiritual men on the Father and the Son… the Holy Spirit has, on the other hand, not yet been studied with as much care and by so many great and learned commentators on the scriptures that it is easy to understand his special character and know why we cannot call him either Son or Father, but only Holy Spirit.” – Augustine (De fide et symbolo)
The Apostles creed declares “I believe in the Holy Spirit…” which is a bold accusation of ourselves. I don’t fully understand, I will never fully know, I cannot simplify the Spirit. But I believe in the Spirit, which has something to do with knowing but a LOT to do with relationship.
God isn’t a subject to be mastered. He’s not like the Periodic table — memorize this and you’ll be able to cook up anything. He’s a distantly complex creator who, for some absurd reason, wants to be so involved with our lives that He pours out as fire, counsel, wisdom, joy, and love. That should change the way I live.
Enjoy the mystery as we keep writing the book on how the Holy Spirit inhabits and enables the church to do the Kingdom building work of God. Can you believe that? He wants us to do this with Him, by His Spirit, broken and cleansed vessels as we are.
Pentecost Sunday is a day where, if you think about it, most of us should be looking at each other, saying “what right do we have to be doing this…?”
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