Thursday, September 25, 2008

When I Listen to God...

When I am intentional about listening to God…

I expect to hear His voice,

I am more attentive to my surrounds and how God might speak,

I find an increased expectancy for God’s active involvement in my life and world.

I begin to hear more, which results in:

An even greater intentionality, expectancy and attentiveness.

Everyday moments of the ordinary, becomes hotspots for the extraordinary.

This influences how I interact with people, for God’s activity and involvement and purposes may include these people, of which I am more sensitive and attuned to.

As a result:

I slow down more,
I listen closer,
I pause,
I embrace silence,
I hear what’s being said,
I sense what’s behind what’s not being said and
I more acutely discern what’s not being said.

In short, as I increase my intentional posturing before God to be engaged by God, so I become a better listener to those around me…

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Youths Build Ark, Nail Noah’s Story

"Youths Build Ark, Nail Noah's Story," is the heading over the article that ran this morning in the South Bend Tribunes faith section.

You can read the full article here or read below:

Youths build ark, nail Noah’s story

Tribune Staff Writer

This summer, a group of children in kindergarten through fifth grade built an ark.

Of course, their ark does not follow the same dimensions as the biblical version. Noah’s ark, which was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, was similar to the size of a modern-day cargo ship. Still, the kids’ model is no toy, measuring 70 feet long, 14 feet wide and 18 feet high.

It sits near the parking lot at their church, SouthGate Church (formerly Calvary Temple) in South Bend.

“We decided that the best way for anyone to understand a story of Scripture was to experience it,” says Jerrell Jobe, a member of the pastoral staff.

The adults at SouthGate did a lot of research on the ark before an architect at Forsey Construction Inc. in South Bend drew a blueprint for them. Then, carpenters in the church helped the kids build it.

On Wednesday nights the kids examined the story of Noah from different angles — the history and culture of the time, God’s promises and faithfulness, Noah’s obedience, etc. Then, they worked on the ark — painting and screwing boards together.

“In the beginning they couldn’t even conceptualize how big the ark was,” Jobe says.

In fact, when they stopped work the first night, the kids didn’t feel they’d accomplished anything.

“We told them, ‘Imagine how Noah felt doing this for 120 years,’æ” Jobe says, laughing. “We wanted them to understand how big the ark really was and … that we believe God has a plan and purpose for each and every person, and this includes children.”

The children caught on quickly.

“They really pondered the question: How can (God) use me to change the world? Some of the responses were pretty astounding,” Jobe says. “They have not just said ‘Hey, this is cool,’ but on their own initiative have started to live out these things.”

Sunday, several of the fifth-graders shared their insights with about 500 members of the congregation during an outdoor service that used the ark as a backdrop.

One girl shared that God told her that he wanted her to go into nursing homes and pray for people. So, she got her grandfather to take her.

A boy explained that God told him, ‘I want to use math in your life to change the world.’ He talked to his teacher and is now set up with a tutor.

Another girl says God is leading her to work with autistic children, including a neighbor. A third girl thinks God is asking her to raise money for kids in the hospital. She and her mother are already researching options.

Now that the ark is finished, Jobe says the church plans to leave it up for about a month. Then they will donate the wood to a good cause."

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Ark - Journey Encounter

All summer long, we've been building an Ark. It started as a crazy idea back in the early spring. We were planning out what we would be doing with children on Wednesday nights through the summer. We wanted to take a story from Scripture that could be engaged over the course of 12-16 weeks.

We wanted to do more than merely talk about the story or even extract great moral principles. We wanted to enter the story. Engage the Story. Become the Story. Isn't this one of the main purposes of Scripture?

So we've spent all summer studying the life of Noah. And, what better way to study Noah, then to do what Noah did? So we built an Ark. It's about 72 feet long, 26 feet high and about 18 feet wide. It's built roughly to a 1/7th scale of the original Noah's Ark.

Today, we wrapped up our summer with our Sunday morning service outside around the Ark. The day included, children sharing how God had spoken to them over the summer as the asked God, "What do you want me to do to change the world?" This is a question we had each child ask God... And, the responses have been mind blowing. Today, three of our children shared specific things God said to them and HOW they have ALREADY began to DO IT... Now that's Awesome! It's one thing for God to speak, it's another to actually begin to do it.

As Warren Buffett said, "It doesn't count to predict rain, it counts to build an Ark." So it is with hearing the voice of God...

Also, this morning Shauna Cameron shared a musical composition she wrote. It's a classical rendition of the complete story of Noah. Have you ever thought what the story of Noah sounded like? We'll, her composition is breath-taking. To help us visualize the storyboard of the song, Jennie Grunseth did a visual mime-drama-dance interpretation of the song.

Children were baptized by their parents...

During the drama Dive people jumped off a 15 foot cross...

And, a live dove was released from the top of the Ark...

In the midst of all this, there was space for us to ask God, "How do you want to use me to change my world...?"

We believe He does... He really does...

Below is a slideshow with a few more pictures of the day.

You can also read about this in the South Bend Tribune or see the News 22's video segment on the Ark.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Training Partner Tragically Drowned

This past Saturday, my trusted training partner unexpectedly and tragically drowned in Barron Lake in Niles, Michigan. Over the course of the past year, this partner has ran over 1,500 miles by my side, raced with me in 5k's, 10k's, 15k's, even the Indianapolis Marathon. This partner has biked at least 1,000 miles with me this summer. This partner has sat pool side, tracking me swim lap after lap after lap.

This past Saturday, however, was my partner's last open water swim with me. It was the first leg of the Niles Olympic Triathlon. The accident happened only four swimming strokes into the race. He was clinched tightly to my wrist as the race began. I plunged into the water and began to swim. Then I felt the dreaded feeling. A feeling I imagined would never hapen, yet a feeling as real today as it was Saturday. The feeling of my trusted partner loosing grip and letting go of my wrist.

Immediately, I dove down into the water, looking for signs of life, but found none. The water was not clear enough and there were too many other swimmers behind me. I emerged back to the surface and in sadness continued the long journey that was before me - only this time, alone.

May this faithful training companion Rest in Peace. My consistent and timely Ironman Distance and Speed GPS Watch. Isn't it ironic that one would lose a watch with GPS? I will miss the navigation, pace and distance readings, along with beeps at the end of every mile completed during a training run.

...This, along with my left shoe that was lost last week in a mud-swamp in Buchanan, Michigan during the Redbud Extreme 5k - not making for a good trend these days...

During last weeks race, my shoe got sucked down into the mud about a foot deep. I was a mile-and-half into the race, with a little over a mile-and-half to go.

Considering that, even if I stopped and able to dig out my shoe, I wouldn't be able to put it back on for all the mud. Further, if I stopped, the chance of getting trampled were significantly high, beings there were quite a few people soon approaching the swamp. The best pensive decision at the time (and to this day), was to not look back, not even a glance. Instead, to look intently on the trail before me, take every step with the left foot cautiously, once out of the trails and back on the road, look for green grass and step on it with the left foot at every chance, not to mention, get as far ahead of the rest of the pack during the next mile-and-half, so as to not have to sprint to the finish for preferred placing.

Fortunately, I managed to dodge, rocks, stumps, trees, pebble, find lots of grass along the road, pull ahead enough to establish a lengthly lead, remain blister free and win the race...

I'm sure it will make for a good story someday for the grandkids.... but today, I could careless about my shoe -- I stinking miss my Timex GPS watch...