Showing posts from June, 2006

Preservation and holiness

Sometimes preserving the people we love from hurt is not the best thing to do. I noticed that my wife received an email from someone that she had been having some issues with. We both thought the issue that they were in disagreement over was dead and that it would not be brought up again or that my wife’s last email would not be responded to. But there it was…the response. I noticed it first and brought it to her attention. In my flesh I wanted to delete it. My old man wanted to preserve her from the hurt that I thought it would cause. But I let her read it. And I pray that, as she works through what was said, God would use it to build her to more closely resemble Christ as that was my sole motivation for telling her about the note. And I know that was His sole motivation for allowing the struggle to continue.

Bread and sun

My wife grew up in an irreligious home. Lip service was paid to God, but there was no attempt made to walk in Him so there wasn’t much point to the times He was invoked. I remember when her step-dad left the hospital one night her mother awaiting surgery on a rotator cuff that had torn and was in need of repair. I wondered “How could he do that?” How could he leave her in the hands of surgeons rather than the One who made their hands? How could he find peace knowing that she could die on the operating table and that would be it? I have tasted and I have seen and, yes, the Lord is good. The Light has shown in my heart and my days before I knew Him seem like another lifetime. There is just no way I could ever go back. That’s not me anymore. And I thank Him for it for it is He who has produced this in my life.

Is it writers block?

Is it writer’s block? Or is it the time of year (or of life) that I find myself in? I haven’t felt compelled to put anything down on screen for this blog lately. No huge issues clouding the horizon – have I left the striving for the bigger and better for something that is less than ideal? I am not so sure. Maybe it is an artificial goal to write something here every weekday. Or maybe it is a function of a lack of comments concerning the things I write. I don’t really have an idea. But that’s all right. So much of who I am is a mystery to me and people who say they know the reasons for everything they do (or neglect to do) are delusional.

What has been said; written

There have been a few statements made (mostly at a church setting, but not all) that have made a huge impact on my life (in no particular order): You have not met the most important people in your life yet. – Mike Haugh (high school teacher) Marriage is not about your happiness…it is about your holiness. – Dan Dundore (pastor) Quality and quantity time with your children is not the goal. It is a means towards the goal. – Scott Bixby (pastor) Amen! Mark, the Trinity has withstood greater attacks than this. – Jim Thurber (pastor) Therefore the Lord’s Table is about remembrance. – Ted Gatchell (pastor) There is nothing decidedly profound in any of these statements, but they all came at a time when I needed them and have helped to shape me into who I am today. The books (in no particular order other than author): Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis Miracles – C.S. Lewis The God Who is There – Francis Schaeffer The Peacemaker - Ken Sande Genesis in Space Time History – Francis Schaeffer The Chr

Not sure what to make of it

Today someone was talking about a gingham comforter. I knew exactly what she meant. I am not sure what to make of that.


I have such illusions of control most of the time. The fact of the matter is I am so weak, so frail, and so much so that my steps are numbered by Him who is not. We helped move a bed from our basement into a new temporary location in another’s home last night. We set it up in a sewing room where, about a month ago, someone drove a sewing needle through their finger. That had to have hurt. Subject to time, space, and other contrived or very real constraints we await the revelation of what we have been saved from. When will I travel the speed of light? When will I ascend to the Third Heaven? When will this corruptible flesh be clothed in immortality? When will I bless the Giver of all good things?

My son sings

I could just barely hear his voice, but it was there singing “Your blood has washed away my sins. Jesus thank you…” Straining to mean the words I was singing...I still hear it. My son singing heartfelt songs to the One who came to save him. We sat after the song ended and he said to me “I love that song!” Are you running after him, Father? Has the Hound of Heaven found the trail that leads to his heart? I pray that it is so. Run, Father. Run after him. Please run. Slow down son, the gentle breeze and still small voice is your Dad in pursuit of your life. Trust Him. Jesus, thank you.

Higher still

I love bumper stickers. I saw one the other day that was meant to be a joke (I think), but it stuck me as an attitude I often have. It said, “Hey, I am out of bed and dressed. What more do you want from me?” Sometimes I revel in the minute accomplishments of the day. Not quite to the extent of the joke on the bumper sticker, but in my mind and heart I trumpet my successes and victories over such small giants in my life. The fact of the matter is I need to be striving for higher heights emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually. That is what glorifies God and what He has designed me to do. So, no, it is not an amazing thing that I grew a lawn in my front yard this year and it seems to be holding. Get over it, Mark, and move on.

My son's tree house

I was on the tail end of some tree work I was doing on Father’s Day in the back yard. It was warm (but nice in the shade) but I definitely needed some water. My son was playing in the back yard and he said he would like some water as well. I brought out some bottled water and we sat on the steps of the deck just drinking it down and talking. Then he said he wanted to go into his “tree house” (basically a platform that is part of the play set we put together a couple of years ago) and drink his water. I asked if it was all right if I came up there too. After some initial objections (“Daddy, you’re too big.”) he relented and there we sat. Just us. As the wind rustled the leaves we talked about what it was saying to God and how we can praise Him right along with the wind, but in a different language. We drank it in. All of this on one of the happiest days of my life. Father’s Day 2006.

I feel too good today

Sometimes thing are going too well. I find that in my life when I am “in the zone” and things are going too well – that is when I get zapped with something. Whether it is something I have been neglecting at home or work, a relationship that needs attention, or something that breaks and needs immediate fixing it seems like those things crop up when I least expect them to. And my eyes do not rest as I acquaint myself with what is on the right and left side of me. And it is one of the reasons I hate feeling the way I do today. As I turn my head and hold up the shield I wonder what will hit it. It is getting pretty dented as it is now. Thank God I have one for I would have been crushed so many years ago by the shear weight of the sin that still so easily ensnares me.

Incarnate ones

There is an album that I have listened to by Michael Card called Sleep Sound in Jesus which is full of lullabies that are written from a Christian perspective. The song “Dreaming Jacob’s Dream”, in my opinion, is one of the finest he has ever written; and that is saying a lot because, well, he’s Michael Card for crying out loud. There is another song called “Wordless Ones” which has a line that gives me great pause as I think about my sons: In Your loving arms we lay this wordless one so new the incarnation of our love we dedicate to you. A good definition of incarnation that I found is: enfleshment; referring to the conception, and live birth of a sentient creature (generally human) who is the material manifestation of an entity or force whose original nature is immaterial. Of course we speak of the Incarnation (with a capital “I”) as the penultimate material manifestation of an immaterial entity, but what an amazing picture of my children! To think that the incarnation of the love my

OK so how am I doing

OK, so how am I doing? Seems like a weird question to ask myself, but I believe that honest self-evaluations are firmly the work of the Spirit…so how am I doing? On January 17, 2006 I wrote: It is only January 17, 2006 but already I feel different this year – in a good way. There are some things that I am doing differently; some unique things that I was not doing at all last year: I am reading through the Bible in a year. I am only on Genesis chapter 40, but you have to start at Genesis 1 so that is a bit of progress. I am reading a novel. I am going through Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury again. I read it when I was younger (14 or 15 I think) so it was high time I read it again. Also, I cannot remember the last novel I read. I read the Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey. I have decided to read more this year. I am on the treadmill 5 times a week for 30 minutes. My wife and I have been renting more movies. Since Christmas I think we have watched 4 or 5 different DVDs. I have been writ

Faithfulness and immutability

I have everything I need. The calm reassurance of that is based on the Scriptures and a faithful God. I don’t think that I make enough of God’s faithfulness and His immutability. Where would I be if it wasn’t for a God who is faithful even when we are not? I lament the lack of follow-through and loyalty in others on an almost daily basis but so quickly turn to other more “visible” (I was about to write glamorous…would that have been more appropriate?) characteristics of God when I ascribe Him praise. And what of His immutability? Without it His faithfulness would always be in question as would be His very character and, possibly, His complete existence. Yes, great is Your faithfulness O God my Father – where there is no shadow where you have turned. Even more so the fact that You change not.


Already handsomely rewarded for the effort he had made and after catching a glimpse of his future he scribbled furiously on the note pad. The green crayon etched a strange figure through the image that peered ever so slightly from behind it. The preacher charged the seniors moving into new territory as their lives lived out before us resonated a genuine or dissonant tone. Almost in the instant of the uttered word the artist (who had now moved to a blue crayon) fixed his gaze on me with wild in his eyes exclaiming, “He said pathetic!” As he turned back to his work I wondered out of all the words spoken that hour why this one resounded so surely with him. Then, almost missing the moment, my heart knelt before a God who pursues this artist. Yes, He would have His disciple soon, and I could see that more than words sought to enter his mind and heart.

Art and The Artist

As artists realize (I think that is the best term) their art they communicate universals that are a result of their perspective and the creative process in general. These contribute to the label of “art” striking chords with the people experiencing it and allowing them to connect to it deeply. These also communicate the existence of a Universal Who has created an ordered planet where the accidental and the essential are held in a most predictable precision. There are two lines by Seal on a couple of his songs that do this for me: But we're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy.   - Crazy and Take me to that funky place where you and I were born. – Bring It On Part of me wants to plumb the depths of why these lyrics strike so deeply true to me, but then part of me wants to just experience them and the feelings of familiarity they produce.

Subtle deception

How much of my frustration is aimed at things I cannot control? How much of it should be aimed that those things that I can? Of course control is a relative term in light of God’s sovereignty, but I am clearly called, in the Scriptures, to do certain things as there is at least the hint that I am able to do those things through God’s grace. So what of it? It rains and I stress because the grass is getting long and I will not be able to mow. The oldest sits in some water and I am stressed because the plans I had for playing outside just a little more were thwarted. Yet, the excuses come flowing when I offend my wife or miss a deadline. Subtle deception for sure. Life carries on and my focus should ever be more internal than it was the day before. So what of it? How will I be today?

3 azaleas and His image

One of the more intriguing aspects of God that I have come across is not necessarily His incommunicable attributes, but His communicable ones. The ones I participate in. God feels – He gets sad, happy, and feels satisfaction. Sometimes, like in the book of Job, it even seems like He is startled or amazed at Himself as He recounts to Job what He has made and, in so doing, reveals more of who He is. As I watered the azaleas last night I noticed the new growth on the one we just planted and the one that seems to have come back from the grave. The third has leaves in scathes on it and we won’t trim it as much this year so we’ll get more blossoms (hopefully) next spring. As I tend our garden I feel a certain level of satisfaction that it is growing and I have learned from prior mistakes. Made in His image and I am participating in His nature. My God, why did You create me like this? What glory is this? Surely man is the pinnacle of Your creation. And You have every reason to stand back in a

All I want to see

It is good to be home. The trip was, well, interesting to say the least. The meetings went well and we got a lot done, but the flight we were on to come home (Newark to D.C.) was cancelled and we had to settle on a 6:00 am flight from Newark to Chicago to Rochester. Um, ok – I guess that makes sense to someone. The flight was very comfortable from Newark to Chicago but very full from Chicago to Rochester. I did get to catch up on my Bible reading a bit and I am only two chapters behind in the New Testament schedule. That is good for me – especially since it is June and I am usually pretty behind by now. My wife and the boys were happy to see me which was nice. It rained all day when I got home, but in between showers I did manage to plant some hydrangea. Yesterday was perfect and I got all of the brush and branches hauled out from the backyard to the front for the town to pick up. I was impressed by a conversation I overheard from two ladies at our church. Some people have not been