Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#NT75 Day 24: Acts 9-13 The beauty of a new name

Saul encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Bright light.  Powerful questions.  Blinded days.  Worldview shattered.  Theology undone.  Purpose reborn.  Truth revealed.  Salvation received.

Here's the part I love.

When all that happened, Saul became Paul.  Somewhere along the way, he got a new name.  A new start.  A new life.  A new purpose.  A new future.

All of the stuff of the past was in the past.  Forgiven.  Buried.  Over.  Done.

Now he had a new name.

I don't know about you, but I'm grateful for fresh starts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#NT75 Day 23: Acts 4-8 Obeying God rather than men

Peter makes the declaration in Acts 5 that he and John (and all the rest) must obey God rather than men.  That's a gutsy statement when you're facing the people who could cause you pain or death.

This is the same Peter who wouldn't confirm that he was with Jesus in front of a little servant girl.

This is the same Peter who Jesus compared to Satan because he was on the wrong agenda.

Gutsy.  Bold.  Anything but tame.

I can think of a few instances in my life where more boldness should have been my response.  Whether it was embarrassment or pain or something else, I didn't step up.

Like Peter.

But I want to step up, speak the truth, say what needs to be said, and live faithfully no matter the cost.

Like Peter.

And here's the hope for me today:  if God made a bold man out of a not-so-bold man once, maybe just maybe He'd do it again.  Once for Peter.  This time for me.

Monday, September 28, 2015

#NT75 Day 22: Acts 1-4 Peter's greatest failure

There's a reason I read the Bible through year after year, and in this case the New Testament yet again.  That reason:  I always see something I have never seen before.

Today's example...

Peter, in his sermon in Acts 3, talks about how the people of Jerusalem had denied Christ before Pilate and denied Christ to get Barabbas.  

Peter twice used the word denied.

He knew something about denying Christ before another.  He knew something about denying Christ so that a guilty party could go free (in his case, he himself).  Yep.  He knew something about denying Christ.

And yet he brings it up.  Why use that kind of language?  If Peter were a politician, he would be skewered by social media, late night comedians, and attack ads.  But he's not a politician.  He's an apostle.  And his best (and only) defense against denying Christ was that Christ had forgiven his betrayal.  

End of story.  Drop the mic.  Exit stage right.

Peter's greatest failure became a platform for his proclamation.  

May it be so for us too.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

#NT75 Day 20: Luke 19-24 Getting what is Due

Today's reading encompassed the final days and moments of Jesus' life as told in Luke.

One particular thing caught my attention, one which I know I've read before and it's grabbed me because it's circled in my Bible.

Jesus is hanging on the cross with the two thieves.  One thief is ridiculing Him.  The other is talking to Him.  At one point, the latter says the former, "We're getting what is due us."

They were getting what they deserved.  Jesus was not.  But that was the situation.

That reminds me of the situation I'm in.  I am due something.  And it's not good.  I can sin with the best of them.  But Jesus has died on a cross and I don't get what I'm due.

That's the Gospel.

And as we head to church tomorrow, remember that.  Remember that we don't get what is due to us.  We get Him instead.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Night Update #MountainsforMaggie

Well, after a rather eventful day, the Minion was taken back to her little procedure about 12:30 or so.  She made it through with flying colors, though she did have a heart rate drop at one point that raised a few eyebrows.

It may be because her heart is an all-star athlete.  Resting heart rate of 40-something.  That's at least the theory I'm working with right now (with all my medical knowledge).

She has recovered and done reasonably well tonight.  They have her hooked up to wires galore and that means no distractions of walking down the hallway.  I hope we can remedy that tomorrow morning.

She is left with one more tube, making a total of three now.  This one should come out Monday.  Her chest tube output is still pretty significant.  So, we keep holding on that.

But I like her fight.  I like her spirited responses at times.  I like her spunk.

And I really like that God's got this.

Prayer requests:

1.  No post-surgical complications and we'll be able to move toward where we were a few days ago.

2.  Her heart will continue to recover and do what it's supposed to do.

3.  She'll be able to find rest in the middle of all the wires, beeps, blurps, and so forth.

4.  God will open doors for ministry and conversation here.  No wasted opportunities.

5.  Her story will make a difference.

6.  Blessings on so many who have blessed us.  We are loved.

#NT75 Day 19: Luke 14-18 Humility

Twice in today's reading (14.11 and 18.14), Jesus tells His listeners the same thing:  who humbles himself will be exalted and the one who exalts himself will be humbled.

There are certain professions that are prone to exalting the person holding that position.  Pastors certainly rank right up there.

In a recent conversation with an executive friend of mine, he talked about how when he got the C-level of his job, it was nice having the driver pick him up and business class tickets on the airline and so forth.  Perks.  Lots and lots of perks.

Then he swung this wrecking ball:  "But when I got home, it was still my part of the family economy to do the dishes."

That's what humility looks like.  Get out of your first-class seat, be ushered home in a Lincoln Town Car, and then step in and do the dishes.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself with be exalted.

Working on my humility today...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

#NT75 Day 18: Luke 10-13 A war in Suburbia

Here's the verse that caught me today.  "And He said to them, 'Take care, and been your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions'" (12.15).

That so reminds me of Suburbia.  I won't speak for everyone, because I know some very selfless people.  But Suburbia has this pull of covetousness, of defining life by the abundance of possessions. It's what's in the water, in the air, in the assumptions of suburban existence.

Suburbia pushes us to define "us" by what we have.  The newer and the shinier and the faster the better.  And if we don't have the newer and shinier and faster, somehow we're not quite "normal."  I write this as my inbox is pinging me with the announcement that Apple's new iPhone is available in stores today.

And I want one.

And that's the issue right there.  I want one.  Or four.

There's the poison.  The stuff takes over and, like spiritual cholesterol, clogs our hearts such that we cannot and do not function as we should.  They get hard.  They die in places.  We die in places with callousness present where compassion should be.

It's quite a fight - a war even - to beat back the entropy of suburban life.  The best way to "guard against all covetousness" is to work be generous with my time, resources, energy, and so on.  Generosity kills greed (in whatever form it shows up).

Lord, let it be in me.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday afternoon update - not much to report #MountainsforMaggie

I so appreciate what many of you have said - both its spirit and its content.  "Y'all aren't posting as much.  I need to know what's going on!"

Two things of note on this.

First, we aren't posting as much as last summer because there hasn't been as much to say.  As I type, she is blissfully in afternoon-nap-mode and couldn't be more angelic.  Her health situation is the same as yesterday, so there's not much to update.

Second, this has been a more predictable path than last summer.  I'm grateful for that, even though the path hasn't been easy.  But we have certain milestones out in front of us and know how we move forward.  Again, we're grateful.

So, with that behind us, here's the afternoon update.

She has done very well overall.  If you have physically seen her (or could), you would think that there's just not very much wrong with the girl.  She's walking, talking, expressing herself, ordering people around, giggling, giving high-fives, and overall in good shape externally.

The internal part still has some work to do.  We still need lungs to clear (which will allow the chest tubes to come out).  We also still need the pericardial effusion not to get any bigger.  There are possibilities of us going home with the pericardial effusion still present, as long as it doesn't get any bigger.

It'd be fine with me if God went ahead and dealt with it divinely.

So that's how you can pray.  Her lungs to clear the extra liquid.  Her heart to clear this effusion.

Thanks for standing with us.

Trent (for all of us)

#NT75 Day 17: Luke 7-9 He is worthy...wait, no he's not

In the first verses of today's reading, the story of Jesus healing the Centurion's servant pops up.  Here's what bit me - and I do mean that.  It latched on with fangs and is still hanging on to my heart and mind.

They said of him, "He is worthy to have You do this for him..." (v.4)

He said of himself, "I am not worthy to have You come under my roof..." (v.6)

The elders of Capernaum thought the Centurion was worthy.  The Centurion thought differently.

It reminds me of this A.W. Tozer quote:  "The beautiful thing about a holy man is that he is the only one who doesn't know he is holy."  And this one from Proverbs 27:  "Let another praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."

Here's the challenge that has not let go:  live my life so that others think I'm worthy but stay humble and authentic enough to know I'm not.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

#NT75 Day 16: Luke 4-6 Confession is good for the soul

The beauty of pastoring the church I pastor is that what I'm about to say won't hack anyone off or particularly surprise anyone.  And besides, they say confession is good for the soul.

Here's my confession:  I missed yesterday's Bible reading plan for our NT75 journey.

I have reasons.  It was a crazy day at the hospital, etc.  But those reasons don't really matter.  Here's what does:  if you have missed a day or two (like I have!), then you can catch up (like I am!).  Keep reading.  It's worth the fight.

Here's a brief reflection (a day late) from Luke 4-6.

I hate what happened in Nazareth.  And I even have a little note in my Bible on the side that is a reminder to pray against that in my own life and in the life of our church.

What happened?  They had Jesus, the Son of God, right there in front of them.  They had Him teaching and fulfilling the Scripture right in front of them.  They had Jesus challenging them.

And they drove Him out because of it.

They didn't like what He had to say and "were filled with wrath" (4.28), so they drove Him out and had every intention of tossing Him off a cliff.

But here's they part I hate even more than the rejection of Christ.  "But passing through their midst, He went away."

That's what I pray against in my own life and in the life of our church family.  Should Jesus speak, we would hear and not want to throw Him off a cliff.  But more than that:  He wouldn't, because of our recalcitrance, pass through our midst and go away.

May it never be.  Amen.

Tuesday morning update #MountainsforMaggie

My wife, the lovely Queen, updated on Facebook yesterday and so there's not much to add to it.  Again, the plan is to do an echo this morning, get it read, and determine whether or not there's a surgical procedure this afternoon.  That procedure most likely would be inserting some sort of drain into the pericardium and leaving it in for a couple of days.  It involves another night in the ICU and then, Lord willing, back down to the regular cardiology floor.  Nothing's changed on that.

For someone who has been through so much, she's incredibly resilient.  She has also slept very well the past few nights when I've been here.  Even last night, when they messed with her considerably, she went back to sleep and is now peaceful beside me.  What a gem, this little one of ours.

Of note, her little heart rate drops significantly when she goes into REM sleep.  It drops to the point that the doctors got a bit nervous last night.  All of the rest of the stuff they look for (pulses strong in the extremities, good return to normal color when they touch skin, normal temperature, etc.) is just fine.  She just really relaxes when she sleeps.  And her heart slows.

You can pray as the Queen noted in her Facebook post:

- Things go well with the echo this morning and we get some answers

- It'd be awesome not to have to do a surgical procedure on my little Minion, but if that's what we need in order to move forward, then pray for success with that

- The docs to have a collective wisdom beyond experience, training, and education in order to determine the best path

- No complications from anything

- Her story to make a difference.  I don't believe God wastes anything, and certainly not pain and scars

Thanks again for standing with us.  God's got this.

Monday, September 21, 2015

#NT75 Day 15: Luke 1-3 A Tale of Two Questions

I get asked as a pastor if it's okay to question God.

The answer is yes.  I do so - and often.  The bottom line is we have to be prepared for His answer or His attitude in response to our questions.  But He is Abba, our Father.  It is a relationship, part of which involves questions.

Learn from Zechariah and Mary.

Zechariah's question (1.18):  "How shall I know this?"  The angel rebuked him and made him mute because of his unbelief, his lack of faith (v.20).

Mary's question (1.34):  "How will this be?"  The angel explained and she responded with a faith-filled surrender to God's will (v.38).

One questioned how in the world God would make something happen, a question lacking faith.  One questioned how God would do it, a question filled with faith?  Both attached their circumstances to their questions.  "I'm an old man and my wife is old too."  "I'm a virgin."

One ended up mute.  One ended up singing.  One was a priest.  One was a teenage girl.  One asked from doubt.  One asked from faith.  One was incredulous.  One was curious.

It's okay to ask God questions.  It really is.  It's always best to have your heart in a position to say, "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" before you do the asking.  That way you're prepared when He answers.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

NT75 Day 13: Hebrews 11-13 #NT75 Sometimes it doesn't go like you want it to go

All the stories of success in chapter 11 make it sound like life with Jesus is always up and to the right, climbing - even soaring - to the lofty heights of faith and virtue.

And then there's the end of chapter 11.

Some didn't make it.  Some were tortured.  Some were imprisoned.  Some flogged.  Some sawn in two.

Not exactly how you think it will go.

There are points of life where it feels like you're Midas.  A golden touch and wonder and awe.  And there are points where flogging, stoning, torture, and a saw is your lot.

Either way the call is the same:  be faithful.  That's a strong word for me today.

Friday, September 18, 2015

NT75 Day 12: Hebrews 7-10 Warning, Warning, Warning

There are three passages in the book of Hebrews that are often collectively called the Warning Passages.  Some people take them as hints that once we are genuinely and graciously saved by God through Jesus, we can turn around and mess up the salvation we were granted.

But that's not really what they're saying at all.

There are three:  Hebrews 3.12-19, Hebrews 6.1-12, and Hebrews 10.26-31 (today's passage)

Most scholarly types think Hebrews is a sermon-turned-letter that circulated.  So the warnings have to be taken as part of a sermon, something that you can imagine a pastor admonishing and warning his congregation with because he knows there are people out there who have not genuinely and graciously been saved by Christ.  He didn't want them to be deceived into thinking they were spiritually okay when they were not.

Each of the passages has some "relief" at the end of it and points to the reality for those who have been saved.

The function of the warning, though, is to make people check themselves, to examine themselves, to continue the work of placing ongoing faith in Christ.  It's not unlike when I warn my kids about doing something wrong in order for them to continue doing the right thing instead.

Hebrews, as a kind of running commentary on the first five books of the Bible, can be a little confusing at times.  When I read today's passage I thought about those three passages and how they can throw some people off.

I hope that helps.

Friday Morning Update #MountainsforMaggie

As the Queen reported yesterday, it was a good interaction day with a dose of medical regression.  She has fluid collecting around her heart (a pericardial effusion for those keeping score at home).  That's a definitive step backward.  Accompanying that is a significant uptick in her chest tube drainage.  Comparatively, she drained twice as much in a 12-hour period yesterday than she did in a 24-hour period two days ago.

I can say this:  while they are being proactive in their treatment of it, no one is hopping up and down and getting particularly excited.  Think a raised eyebrow rather than a full-on fit.  They're on it.  They're watching closely.  And we are grateful.

She had a great night, enjoyed visiting with one of her favorite people.  She laughed some.  We got out and roamed the halls a bit.  She slept reasonably well for all the medically necessary interruptions she experienced.  As I type this now, she's still peacefully enjoying La-La-Land.

You can pray today that her body catches up to the fluid issue.  My sense of things is that's what everyone wants - her body to process the extra and misplaced and move it on out.

And you can pray for another sweet day in the midst of the medically necessary.  I love it when she smiles that little wry grin of hers and her eyes get replaced by the dimples on her cheeks.

Thank you one and all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

NT75 Day 11: Hebrews 4-6 Bare, Naked, Accountable

It's a provocative thought posited in 4.13 - "And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

Nobody gets a pass.  He sees everything.


That thought.  That look.  That attitude.  That wish.  That longing.  That murmur.  That word.  That eye roll.

And on and on.


And for these things we will be accountable.  Nothing is missed.

Does that change your day?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NT75 Day 10: Hebrews 1-3 - In bringing many sons to glory #NT75

" bringing many sons to glory..."

That's quite a phrase.  The Father had a unique Son through whose sacrifice He was bringing many sons to glory.  He gave one that He would gain many.  And His plan:  to bring them to glory.


He means no more pain or cancer or (as I sit in a hospital and write this) heart defects.  He means no more tears over loss or grief.  He means no more reign of terror by sin or temptation to resubmit to that terrible taskmaster.

But as much as it will not be, it will be even more.  It will be forever with Him.  It will be joy and full, satisfying pleasure forevermore.  It will be moment by moment displays of His kindness.  It will be radiant and sunless because He will be our light.  It will be consummation in the best way.

He's bringing many sons to glory through Jesus.  That's good news.

** Just a brief P.S.  When the Bible talks about "sons" like this, it includes the ladies too.  Sonship is a position of inheritance and blessing and the women are very obviously not excluded.  Don't get tripped up on the metaphorical language any more than a man should get tripped up on being part of the Bride of Christ (which the church is sometimes called) **

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

NT75 Day 9: Galatians 4-6 - Known by God

As I read this morning, this is the part that is both crazy good and devastating.  "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God..."

Known by God.

This is something like it.  Let's pretend I met the President one day.  Now I can say I know him.  But what if every so often the phone rang and I heard, "Please hold for the President," then we chatted about golf, life, kids, and the Euro.

That's "I know him" vs. "He knows me."

Known by God.

All of my foibles.  All of my problems.  All of my inclinations.  All of my desires.  All of my perspectives, patterns, and problems.  Every worry.  Every confidence.  Every moment of pride and every moment of humility.

All the good.  All the bad.

Known by God.

And still loved.  Wow.

Monday, September 14, 2015

NT75 Day 8: Galatians 1-3 Paul wanted someone to go to hell #NT75

What in the world would make an apostle like Paul so angry he was spitting bullets, pulling no punches, and a few other clich├ęs that you can verbalize when someone is red-hot and hopping mad? 

I mean, this is an Apostle, right?  A designated and authority-laden spokesmen of Jesus who saw Him post-resurrection.  Surely, he wouldn’t be the kind of guy to get angry, right?


He was angry.  And sad.  And frustrated.  All at the same time.

For what reason?

He was defending the Gospel.  The Galatians were tempted to add stuff to the Gospel and Paul would have none of it.  We have a tendency to add things to the Gospel also (cultural preferences that we baptize), so don’t go looking down our collective nose at those Galatian brothers and sisters.  Can you maybe think of something that we add to it?

Paul was angry because turning away from the Gospel – that Jesus died to deliver us according to the determination of God (1.3-5) – is the way of spiritual death, not spiritual life or enlightenment.  He wanted those who preached that distorted, impure Gospel to go to hell, literally.  And he doesn’t just say that once but twice (1.8-9).  Twice!

He was that angry because the stakes were that high.  So he’s not overreacting.  He was frustrated because the Galatians knew better were entertaining other thoughts or ideas.  And he was sad because it meant they weren’t walking as faithfully as he prayed for them to do.

But mostly, he was mad.  In exploring, entertaining, and entering into these “new ideas,” they were walking away from the One who had died for them to deliver them, Jesus the Savior.

She loves Cinderella

Outside of an early morning x-ray waking her, the Minion has really had a pretty good night.  We have seen a lot of her personality return, which is always so encouraging.  She is moving more and enjoyed seeing her siblings and one set of grandparents yesterday.

One of the cute little developments is how much she likes Cinderella, the old Disney cartoon.  The Queen thinks it's because of the animated animals.  No matter what, it's super cute when she asks for "Cindawella."

Some quick prayer requests...

1.  We're still draining (and leaking) from one of the chest tubes.  It'd be awesome to have that process wrap up.  But we're not there yet.  But it'd be awesome.

2.  We want to be intentional with her moving around even more.  That will help with a bunch of things, but we don't want to overdo anything.  

3.  We have had some sweet sweet moments.  A few more would simply be gifts.

Thanks for all who pray.  God's got this.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

NT75 Day 6: Matthew 23-28 Jesus and the Least of These

Every time I engage the story Jesus told in Matthew 25 I'm stirred.  Sometimes it's maelstrom.  Sometimes it's sweet tea.  Every time it's a stirring.

When it comes to separating sheep and goats, Jesus certainly knows what He's doing.  And He doesn't say one is a sheep because of this or that.  Quite the opposite.  The sheep are already sheep and so act like their Shepherd.

This is what stirs me though...

Jesus consistently identifies with the least.

It's not a matter of Him helping them.  It's not a matter of Him advocating for them.  He doesn't raise money for them or highlight their cause or legislate on their behalf.

He identifies with them.

Jesus identifies with the least to such a degree that when I act toward them as a follower of Jesus should, I'm actually doing it to Him.  It's that kind of identification.

Sometimes the stirring makes me think about the way I interact with those who can't do anything for me.  Sometimes the stirring torques me around to give voice for orphans and unborn.  At least that was this week.

But every time, every time (!), I am stirred to love Him more.  Identifying with the least:  that's the kind of Lord who is worth following.

We've had a very peaceful night #MountainsforMaggie

Thanks for all who have prayed along with us.  Tonight has been extremely peaceful and restful for our girl.  She has slept pretty soundly throughout the time I've been here and it's a wonderful dad-kind-of-experience to watch her sleep.

Here are a couple of brief prayer requests...

1.  That we get to move to the floor today.

2.  That we can move toward getting the chest tubes out.

3.  That her pain will continue to be manageable or even less than that.

4.  That her life will make a difference.

Thank you one and all.  You are gifts to us.

Friday, September 11, 2015

NT75 Day 5: Matthew 18-22 Forgiveness

Jesus tells a parable at the end of Matthew 18 about a guy who is forgiven a fortune and then exacts the debt of someone who owes him comparably little.  It's not a fun story.

They were both in debt.  The debts were significant (though the one significantly more).

Jesus told stories to provoke people.  Here's how I'm provoked...

The part that gets me is how easily I can hold a grudge, remember a person's flaws, be frustrated beyond what is appropriate, and on and on.  I can make people wear their sin even though Jesus has taken it off and wore it for them.

Actually, I can't.  I can't undo what Jesus has done.

That's the issue of unforgiveness.  It's not a matter of the other person having to wear the clothes I put on them.  It's a matter of me only being able to see them with that kind of lens.  I may think I'm punishing them by not forgiving them, but the only person being spiritually affected by that is ME.  Jesus has already taken their sin from them.

Is the debt that needs forgiveness real?  Yes.  Sometimes even significant.

I can just get a little prideful, trying to put back on them what Jesus has carried away.  It's not just affront to them.  It's an affront to Him.

Friday morning update #MountainsforMaggie

There were some great moments yesterday and some not so great ones.  I guess that's the rhythm of heart surgery.  Tonight has been the same.  She has had almost 90 minutes of uninterrupted sleep, which is by far the most she's strung together that I know about.  Color us grateful.

There are some super-sweet moments of lucidity and responsiveness.  And there are some drug-induced moments of near comatose.  It's frustrating...but I suspect par for the course.

Here's how you can pray:

1.  No neurological complications with the cardiac procedure.  One more way for God to protect her little body.

2.  Eventually, Minion is going to need to catch up on rest.  We all will.  When we get that time, we will be ready to meet it and grateful for it.

3.  Her chest tubes have slowed significantly on their drainage.  It'd be awesome if those could move toward being a non-necessity.  Same with some of the extra IV lines she has in.

Thanks for standing with us.  God's got this.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NT75 Day 4: Matthew 13-16 - Joy and Sacrifice

Today's reading may contain my favorite saying of Jesus about the Kingdom (13.44).

The Kingdom is like a guy who is walking in a field and stubs his toe on something, digs it up, and finds it to be a treasure chest of unspeakable worth.  He goes and sells everything that he has and buys the field that contains the treasure.

And he does so in joy.

He gave up everything.  In Joy.

Can you imagine the conversation with his wife?  "Hey babe.  I'm liquidating all of our investments, cashing in every retirement account, and we're selling the house right now.  I have a piece of property that we just have to have."

And he did it all with a smile on his face.  In Joy.

The sacrifice (and tumult that no doubt came along with it) was joyful.  The only reason we can say that:  he knew he was gaining far more than he was giving up.

May it be so for me today as I follow Jesus.

A brief overnight update #MountainsforMaggie

Thanks for and to all who have prayed for our little Minion.  She is currently fitfully resting, begging for water and all manner of fluids...which we can't give to her.

"Daddy, can I have some coffee?"

Yes.  That's how desperate she is.

Outside of that, her personality seems to be very much intact and vibrant.  "Don't tell me, 'Not Yet!'" might have drawn a few laughs from the nursing corps.

Apparently tomorrow they get her up and moving.  You can pray for the Physical Therapist who gets that assignment.  By all accounts, though, she's progressing just like they want her to progress.

Our lives were filled up and minds distracted by the folks who showed up at the hospital yesterday.  Family and Framily.  Parents.  Sister.  Brother-in-Law.  Best friends.  We are apart of the greatest church - people who take days off to spend it with us in a waiting room, a birthday celebrated at the hospital, and others.  Two pastor friends ponied up for Torchy's Tacos for lunch.  On and on.  Gratitude.

It's interesting being here and seeing some of the same people again.  So many we remember and several remember her from last summer.  It make me grateful all over again for what God saw us through and gives me a jolt of faith for getting through the next several days.  It's also pretty awesome that she has touched so many up here.  Four different docs stopped by to say hi, only one of which was actually assigned to this floor.  Her life has touched many.  May it be for decades to come.

Prayer requests for the morning:

1.  The fluid on her lungs and in her thoracic cavity drains efficiently.  This is a big key in getting us out of CVICU and down to the regular cardiac floor.  That would be a big win and would put us closer to home.

2.  Some semblance of normal rest for our princess.  Right now, it's so-so.  More starts and fits rather than deep breaths and relaxed muscles.

3.  Stability and rhythm for the Big Three.  School is a gift in that way.  And Nana does math homework for a living, so that's a help.

4.  Her story and life to make a difference.

Thanks for waking this road (again) with us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NT75 Day 3: Matthew 8-12 - Warnings for Comfortable People

I love that Jesus said this verse.  I don't like the content of it.

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul [the prince of demons], how much more will they malign those of his household." ~ Matthew 10.24-25

I love that He said it because He's brutally honest.  To do otherwise would actually be unkind and unloving.  He's telling us the truth.  And that's good.

But man...the content.  If they hated Me, they'll hate you too.  I referenced a similar verse in John 15 on Sunday.  It's a rub for us with Suburbia ZIP codes and a commitment to our comfort.  But we need to hear it.  As the world gets crazier and more out of its own control, it won't get easier.

So I'm glad He warned us.  And it's terrifying in ways too.

Now to go live it.

Go Time #MountainsforMaggie

I'm in the hotel lobby waiting on a cup of coffee and have a minute to fire this little missive off.  We have a report time of 7:00am and Go Time is 8:00am.  We will be updating throughout the day.

You can pray these ways...

1.  God will protect and preserve her.

2.  The surgeons will use every bit of their God-given skill to put her vessels and other parts of her anatomy into the places they need to go.

3.  Recovery will be quicker than anyone can anticipate.  The first 72 hours are crucial.

4.  We can all be on top of the pain management.

I anticipate we will be updating throughout the day.  Thanks for joining with us in prayer.  God is a good, good Father.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NT75 Day 2: Matthew 5-7 and the Power of When

There's a little word in the Sermon on the Mount that is what stuck out to me in today's reading.  It's the word repeated in chapter 6.


When you give.  When you pray.  When you fast.  When.

Jesus works on the assumption that in order to live the kind of life He is teaching about in Matthew 5-7, you and I will participate in what are classically called the spiritual disciplines.  Those are things we discipline ourselves to do in order to grow spiritually (prayer, Bible reading, worship, service, fasting, praying, solitude, etc.).

He's clear on how to do some of those things.  But He's abundantly clear on His assumption that we actually will.  They are the power cord of the spiritual life - the thing that keeps us connected to the source of transformation in life.


The critique for me today is His assumption and my sometimes-I-will-and-sometimes-I'm-too-busy life.  If I want to be transformed, the spiritual disciplines are a necessity.

They are a "When."

Re-booting the blog and #MountainsforMaggie

I have intentionally taken some respite from writing here regularly and now am re-opening for business in a way.  Not only is our church family going through the New Testament in 75 Days (a super little exercise that you can still join in on - info here), but we are headed back in for the heart procedure for our little Minion.

I'm writing this the morning of pre-op.  I'll be waking her up and heading in close to an hour from now where there will be tests galore and information abundant and paperwork in reams.

And then tomorrow she will have the heart procedure we have known was coming but wish we could postpone (forever, preferably).  For those wondering, it's a procedure where they unhook the inferior and superior vena cava and attach those directly to the lungs, which allows her heart to only pump red blood and not the red-blue mixture which it has been doing.

The surgery will be tomorrow (Wednesday) first thing.  It's expected to be an all-day affair and be followed by several days in the CVICU and then 2-3 weeks on the regular cardiac floor.

The two questions people have asked are the two I will answer below:

1.  She looks so good, so why are you doing this?  Minion does look good.  And she's so funny and talkative these days.  It seems almost silly to move forward now.  But like with a lot of life, what appears great on the outside is trouble on the inside.  She is a ticking time bomb for her heart to throw off another clot (because of her anatomy) and remains a significant stroke-risk.

2.  How are y'all doing?  Great question.  The other kids seem to be taking it mostly in stride and have a great distraction in the regular rhythm of school.  I live somewhere between freaked out, scared out of my mind, and Here I Raise My Ebenezer (a line in a song that prompts me to remember that God brought her this far and is with us now, with faith that He will take care of her tomorrow too).  The Queen is...she's awesome.  She's not only prepared our house for all of this but did so in a way that kept most of us busy and our minds off of the day.  She's amazing.  I think she's scared too, but she has the kind of faith that stated yesterday, "I believe God's got this."  Amen.

We will be updating regularly on the blogs and via social media.  Thanks for all who will stop and pray as things unfold.  We are so grateful.


Monday, September 7, 2015

NT75 Day 1: Matthew 1-4

Our church is embarking on a journey through the New Testament in 75 days.  If you would like to join along or jump in, you can download the information here:  NT75 Reading Plan.  More info is available on our church's website (

I'll be blogging some thoughts that come to my mind as I read along.

Today's thought:  the Trinity is one crazy deal.

I'm reading along just fine until I run into the baptism narrative (Matthew 3).  This is the first explicit expression of the doctrine of the Trinity in the NT.  The Father speaks from heaven.  The Spirit descends like a dove.  The Son fulfills righteousness and sets an example for us to follow.

There they are.  Father.  Son.  Spirit.

For those unfamiliar with the doctrine of the Trinity, the biblical and historical statement goes something like this:  God is one God in three persons.  They are co-equal and co-eternal and one God, but three.

Sound confusing?  It is.  No.  Seriously.  It is.  So if you're scratching your head as I do mine sometimes when this stuff makes me...well...scratch my head,  you're not alone.

All sorts of analogies have been tried and found lacking significantly.  Plenty of people have found themselves in the zip codes of good old-fashioned heresy by trying to say what they think rather than what the Bible says.  I can explain the Trinity but I don't necessarily understand it.  I can affirm it without wrapping my brain fully around it.  And I actually think that's a good thing.

Why in the world is something so mysterious a good thing?  How can it be good if I can't understand it?

If I fully understood it all, if the God of the Bible had no mystery about Him, I promise you this:  I would work to manipulate Him rather than magnify Him.  I would work an angle rather than worship a Savior.

That kind of mystery is good.  He has told me all I need to know about Him in order to know Him, love Him, and follow Him.  He's revealed Himself clearly enough for me to worship Him.  But He remains beyond me, so I cannot manipulate Him.

Father.  Son.  Spirit.  Three in one.  One in three.  It's a mystery.