A Lego Among Many

So well said, Dayle. Thank you so much for sharing.

Tip of My Iceberg

Back in the day when our kids were little–and so was our budget–we would haunt garage sales for the treasures we knew we’d find there. Gently used clothes. Buckets of broken crayons. Toys we’d never consider purchasing new.

And Legos.imgres-1

All our kids went through a Lego phase. We never considered buying them new–for the length of time our kids would engage in the building, new was not worth it.

But we’d find buckets of the things from families whose kids had moved on to bigger things than Legos. Small pieces tossed together with random parts from a variety of sets. And for awhile, they’d build things of incredible height and color. Even if it wasn’t architecturally sound.

What makes Legos fun is the bazillion things you can build with them.

And the colors. Bright. Bold. Different. You wouldn’t want to buy sets of only one color.

Boring.

We’ve just finished…

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Staff Conference Update

Wow. What an amazing time we’re having at Cru15, the 2015 Cru Staff Conference. The schedule has been full, but with top-notch speakers and driven by a passion for the lost as well as equipping and building up believers. We’ve heard from an incredible line-up of speakers, including Pastor James White, Dr. Christena Cleveland and Andy Crouch, the editor-in-chief for Christianity Today. So many memories have been made…too many to share, really.

Because words just won’t communicate, hopefully you’ll enjoy the photos of some of the moments we’ve captured over the last five days.

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The theme of this year’s conference is “together.”

Hiking in Horsetooth Reservoir

Hiking Horsetooth Reservoir

Sliding at the Street Fair Cru15

Sliding at the Street Fair Cru15

Making memories at the Cru15 Street Fair

Making memories at the Cru15 Street Fair

Worship with almost 10,000 staff. Wow!

Worship with almost 10,000 staff. Wow!

Lunch with Bob Tiede, of Leading with Questions

Lunch with Bob Tiede, of Leading with Questions

Mrs. Bright couldn't join us, but she sent a video message.

Mrs. Bright couldn’t join us, but she sent a video message.

The Good News we get to to share as Cru Staff. Wow!!

The Good News we get to to share as Cru Staff. Wow!!

The unique life of a staff mom...listening to sessions via live-feed while hanging with kids in the apt.

The unique life of a staff mom…listening to sessions via live-feed while hanging with kids in the apt.

Potential opportunities for Cru Spokane to partner with GAiN, the humanitarian arm of Cru.

Potential opportunities for Cru Spokane to partner with GAiN, the humanitarian arm of Cru.

Just Be Held

The words to “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns are so powerful. You can find them here, and the official music video is here.

Lately, I’ve needed to just be held…life has certainly hit me out of nowhere. And I don’t know how not to hold on desperately to anything within my grasp. I am on my knees, and answers seem more than far away…they seem non-existent. What does it mean for God to be on the throne? What does it look like or feel like to be held, to have Him hold my heart? As I type this, I really don’t know.

I feel desperation, like the father of the boy who was demon possessed in Mark 9. And like that desperate father, I’m crying out to Jesus to help my unbelief. I am struggling with unbelief…not the kind that wonders if God loves me or if He is still on His throne, but the kind that wonders if this pain will ever stop…the kind that wonders if I will ever again see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). Because life doesn’t feel good right now, and “being held,” raising my hands, believing God is holding my heart…

none of those have made the pain go away.

When I was growing up, I thought Romans 8:28 meant that God would fix up my mix-ups and life would feel good. Then life collided with my beliefs and I discovered what a bad theologian and exegete I really was. God doesn’t promise to fix up my mix-ups and make life feel good. Jesus actually said that life would be hard, but we didn’t need to worry because He has everything under control (John 16:33).

So often, however, it feels like God is anything BUT in control. Life hurts. Bad things happen to good people. Good people do bad things. Bad people win. And the good guy finishes last.

How do we reconcile that with what we read in Scripture?

How do we come to terms with the fact that life doesn’t necessarily feel good?

Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that Scripture has much to say about suffering.

Psalm 34:18 says that God is near to the brokenhearted.

Psalm 147:3 says He heals the brokenhearted.

Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) says:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…”

This is Jesus. It is how He described Himself in Luke 4:18. The words are almost exactly the same.

What does it look like to let go? What does it feel like to really be held by Jesus…to truly trust Him to that degree? I don’t know…yet. But, I have a feeling that the God who came to earth to bind up the brokenhearted can show me.

I’m counting on it, actually.

What is Freedom?

On this hallowed day, July 4, we celebrate 239 years of declared independence from England. And while many in our nation have forgotten or never really learned the significance of this day, and while others challenge the celebration of freedom as the rise of oppression for their peoples, this day of celebration really begs the question,

what is freedom?

Webster’s dictionary defines freedom as the quality or state of being free. It goes on to describe freedom as: the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action; liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; independence, among other things (from www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom).

Pharrell Williams debuted a song called “Freedom” last weekend. In the intro, he said, “Tonight I want to share something really special with you guys…it’s a song called Freedom. You see, I don’t care how much money you have in the bank account, I don’t care how rich your family is or where you come from, if you’re a human being you need some sort of freedom. There’s always somebody or something in your life trying to chain you down and tell you what you can or can’t do, but tonight England, we’re going to get freedom!” You can watch the whole thing here.

The song doesn’t really seem to paint a clear picture of freedom, even if it does have a catchy tune. The heart behind the music is revealing, however…the celebration is about throwing off chains and being able to do whatever one wants, without reservation or constraint.

But what is freedom? Union Gospel Mission-Inland Northwest asked 20 residents from their crisis shelters how they would define it. You can find their answers here. Then, Phil Altmeyer, the Executive Director for UGM-Inland Northwest, shared his thoughts, here. Both are fantastic articles. And it got me thinking, how do I define freedom?

Having lived by myself for the first time in over twenty years, I have experienced Pharrell William’s kind of freedom; nobody has been here to tell me when to go to bed, what to eat, or how to spend my time. As an adult, nobody can tell me to exercise or eat dessert last or get my classwork done. Admittedly, if I choose poorly, I will deal with consequences.

But nobody is constraining me to do any of those things.

So, according to the definition, I have freedom from constraint. But on the other hand, if I choose to take full advantage of my freedom, I suffer consequences…consequences that can be very unpleasant, expensive, and even painful. How does that fit into the definition of freedom? Is it really just not having anyone tell me what I can or can not do?

In a word, no. That is not freedom.

Freedom is having the opportunity to make wise choices, and to be able to constrain myself.

The best example of this is from the movie Braveheart starring Mel Gibson. In a powerful battlefield scene, William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) rallies troops of free Scotsmen by challenging them to really think about freedom. The scene can be viewed here.

Though our circumstances are different, we face the same dilemma…                            what will we do with our freedom…

The other question we must consider, especially on this day of celebrating freedom and independence, are we being wise stewards?

Freedom is a tremendous privilege, not necessarily afforded to the majority of the world’s population.

With privilege comes responsibility…

The Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to secure for us what we celebrate today.

Would they be pleased with their ROI?

What about the more than 1,000,000 men and women through out history who signed the check that bought our freedom with their own blood?

Or the 6, 825 who have laid it all on the line in just the last sixteen years for others to experience what we take for granted?

Would they feel like their sacrifice was worthwhile?

What about the families who even now grieve the loss of a beloved son or daughter, husband, wife, mother, or father?

Will they be satisfied with our choices?

If you were in their shoes, would you be?

 

 

The Idol of Abstinence

The news is spreading across the Internet…Bristol Palin is pregnant, again. And she is still not married.

In most any situation, this would be awkward. But for Bristol, the issue is even more complicated. She’s been an outspoken advocate of abstinence for the last six years. And she has been paid a significant sum of money to be that outspoken advocate…to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Well…I guess we can see how well that worked…

 

abstinence idolYou know what I think? I think we’ve made virginity some kind of idol…as though it is the most important thing in the world to preserve and protect. Our children’s virginity is our measure of success as a parent (“well, at least they stayed pure…”) or our scarlet letter of shame.

But should that be the measure of success for us as parents?

Is our most important metric whether or not our children abstain from sexual activity until they say “I do”? Really?

What about rebellion?

We joke about it and make light of how teens rebel. In some ways we expect it.

But that is wrong.

The Bible is clear about a spirit of rebellion…it is like witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). And I’m pretty sure that is worse than having sex before you’re married?!

More than worry about rebellion, or purity, or behavior in general, what we need to worry about is guarding our children’s hearts. The New Living Translation says it best, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23.

Please, parents, don’t focus so much on your child’s “sexual purity” that you forget to guard your child’s heart. That is what drives their behavior.

Remember, sex is designed by God for our pleasure. Yes, it is designed to be shared between a husband and a wife. But, bodies do what they’re designed to do, whether they are married or not. Our children can very easily and quite by accident find themselves in compromising situations. They make mistakes. And so do we. 

That is the beauty of a relationship with a God who knows and understands our brokenness. He has already made provision for our sin  and He empowers us to walk in His strength.

Brokenness with repentance is a precious thing.

Rebellion, on the other hand, is ugly and has few remedies.

So I ask…what do you really want? A child who does all the right things but for all the wrong reasons? Or do you want a child who may or may not stay morally/sexually pure, but they recognize sin when they commit it, love Jesus, and are willing to repent when they make a mistake?

What is a better measure of success?