Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hump Day...

"Hump Day" is bittersweet. It's the middle of the week and it's either half over or there's half left, depending on your mood or the week. As a Church of Christ "lifer" (that's not a great term, but descriptive nonetheless) I am used to going to Bible Study on Wednesday evenings.

Now, in the bible, you won't find any reference to Wednesday evening Bible Studies. However, in Acts 2:46, we read that "Every day they [the early Christians] continued to meet together in the temple courts." Wednesday night Bible Studies have always been an opportunity to get a charge during the week to prepare yourself the rest of it.

However, over the last 5 years or so, I have come to just about dread them.

Why? There are a number of reasons, but it comes down to the fact that they just don't charge me up anymore.

To start with, just about every congregation I have been to attempts some sort of "devotional" before or after the Bible classes. This sounds like a good idea, but it ends up being so devoid of emotion and praise that it's depressing and embarassing. Everything is by rote and our minds are no where near where they should be. We walk through these cursory devotionals like zombies.

Inevitably, there is some diatribe of announcements and prayer requests. The really interesting part of this habit is that the people that attend on Wednesdays, are typically the "core members" (those that you see the most and try to be at the building when the "doors are open"). They already know 95% of these announcements because they are up to their necks in these events. We are "preaching to the choir", so these announcements become even more repetitive and boring than normal.

When we finally get to class, the problems are just starting.

The participants (especially kids and teenagers) are so distracted and tired that studying anything with the slightest bit of meat in it is frustrating at best. When I was teaching middle-schoolers I used to ask them for "20 minutes". What that meant is that I only expected 20 minutes of their attention, more than that was just not going to happen. I stopped trying to prepare lessons with any level of complication, they just couldn't (or wouldn't) handle it.

Even if you have a group of people that really want to study and dig into God's word, you get about 30 good minutes, by the time everyone has entered the classroom and is good and ready to get started. There are almost always more announcements and then chit-chatting and more prayer requests and then...

Lately, I have had to just about drag myself to Wednesday Bible study.

I wonder if we should just make it a social event with a decent devotional. Atleast, people could do what they really want to do (talk and relax) and we could come away refreshed and ready for the rest of the week...what an idea!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Amazed, Stunned, Awe-struck

I believe in the power of prayer, just when I start to forget why, God reminds me of his awesome power, understanding and love.

Lately, I have had to travel quite a bit, which is unusual for me. In some ways it has been good for me, but in many other ways it has complicated my life. Over the last few weeks I have been working on a "travel schedule" so that everyone at work knows when to expect me and, more importantly, my family will know when I'll be out of town.

After I was done, the schedule looked tight...very tight. I had to squeeze all that I could out of it and still in the end I felt guilty that I would not be at the client location enough and more importantly that I would be away from home more than I wanted to be.

To make matters worse...

This week, the client that I am working with just won two large accounts that will more than double their workload. This fired off alarms in my head. How am I going to squeeze some more time away from home when I'm already gone enough?!? I had reserved myself to the ominous reality that I would have to revise my schedule again to spend more time away from home, but how?

Last night on the plane I spent some extra time praying to God before the flight took off (I always pray before each takeoff). Among my normal pleadings for a good flight and to take care of Stacy and the boys I asked God to show me what to do. Not just guide me in the right direction, but to pick me up and carry me to my next destination to take my hand and drag me so that I could make all of this work. I told him that I didn't have any good answers.

He did.

Today, due to a "knee jerk reaction" from someone some levels above my head here at work, my scheduled travel was terminated. Just like that. There are some stupid reasons behind it and someone really isn't thinking. It was really a fluke, a vice-president saw me up there a few days ago and thought that my time would be better spent down here.

At first this made me quite angry. But, after I had some time to cool down and while I was driving to lunch, it hit me in the face...

I asked for this! I ASKED FOR THIS! How on earth could I have forgotten so quickly?...I asked for this!

I asked God to grab my hand and get me out of this...and that is exactly what he did. There is no other explanation for it. He listened to my cry and he reached down and snatched me out of the situation I had ended up in.

I stand here completely and utterly amazed, stunned and awe-struck...once again.

Jonah 2:1,5-7

"In my distress I called to the LORD ,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry...

The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD ,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple. "

"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18