Just For BEG …

I’m hanging with BEG for the week, chillin’ in the hills of SW Wisconsin. He mentioned that he likes how Pink’s site takes you straight to the comment when you click the link in the recent comments list at right, but in my list it doesn’t do that.
Now it does. 😀

Car Repairs

I’ve mentioned before how an easy way to save money, if you’re mechanically inclined, is to do your own brake jobs. Routine disc brake replacements (drum brakes, on the rear of many cars, are a bit more challenging) are easy to do and inexpensive. Most brake shops advertise a $80 – $90 2 wheel brake job, but it’s rarely that cheap. Your car isn’t one that can use those cheap parts and the there are the parts you need that aren’t included. Before long you’re up over $150. You can usually buy all the parts needed for under $60. Well under if you skip the dealer parts and get after market.
This weekend, I did a major brake overhaul on the Odyssey. At 143,000 miles it needed more than just new brake pads. The rears were pretty routine, rear brakes don’t do much of the work so they don’t wear very fast. In fact, there was still a little life left in those rear brakes and they had never been replaced. The fronts were on set number 2 and they were shot. They needed new discs as well as pads. All told, I spent $200 in parts for what would have likely been a $400-$500 brake job.
Anyway, so I spent the bulk of the day doing brakes. We had a bunch of extra kids over and when they went home, I asked of the girls wanted to help me finish up. That’s Jessica up top on the torque wrench (20 ft/lbs on the caliper bolts, Jess), Emily in her cat face makeup tightening the brake hose bracket (she’s got some strength, it was about as tight as I would have made it) and then Jessica the new torque wrench pro teaching Emily how it’s done.
It was fun showing them how things go together and explaining a little bit how it works. I remember spending time in the garage with Dad when I was their age. Dad didn’t do much beyond changing spark plugs and rotating tires, but it’s still fun remembering spending time with him in the garage. Later, little Audrey asked where the brakes were and Jessica was pointing through the wheels at the ‘black thing’ and the ‘silver thing’ and showing her what they were.
The only tiny regret I have with an all-girl house is that they are unlikely to share my, my Dad’s and my grandfather’s car passion. I wouldn’t trade my girls for anything, but I do at times wish I had a boy to do car things with. That’s why this day in the garage with my girls was so special.


Missy recently was talking about relationships she missed. That got Kansas Bob talking about the cost of friendship. In his post, Bob quoted this scripture:

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Matthew 5:23-24

That got me thinking about priorities.
We, it seems, tend to think that ‘God things’ have a high priority. Things like attending church, the way we worship, communion and offerings and contributions. These are Important Things, things that must come first, or at least high on our list.
Look again at this passage and notice God’s priority.
The man is there to pay honor to god, to make his gift, to give his contribution, to write the check and God says stop for a moment and examine. He’s about to put God first. He’s about to proclaim his allegiance and God says don’t just yet. Why?
God says your honoring of me through gifts, gifts I’ve commanded you to make, is less important than your reconciliation to your brother. My gift can wait, go be reconciled.
That hit me powerfully when I read it earlier today. How often do we have that backward today? If you skipped church this Sunday to go visit someone you had issues with or had issues with you, would you be praised or chastised? Don’t we tend to emphasize the practice of religion over the practice of our relationships? We say, your relationship can wait, go worship God.
How ironic that so many are willing to sever relationships for the sake of ‘purer and holier worship’, when God says you should interrupt your worship to fix your relationships.

Ezekiel – Chapter 26-28

It’s amazing to me how God calls me back to His word. There was a time, if I missed a few days, that I heard man calling me back. The guilt of not having a quiet time, the thought that someone would ask me about it, would get me back into the Bible.
Lately, however, if I go for a time without focused reading, there comes a moment when I relize that I miss it. More than that, I can feel God, gently, tugging at me to read. It’s as if He’s saying “I’ve got more to tell you, come, listen to Me.”
The guilt was pressing, almost frantic. The pull is gentle, but determined and persistent. With the guilt, I didn’t miss the Bible or God. When I feel God pulling, I suddenly realize that I do miss Him. I like that feeling.

Ezekiel 26 – Funny, how I revel in returning to my reading, and then find little to comment on in my first chapter.
God here continues laying out his judgement on not only Israel, but on those around her. Tyre evidently rejoiced as Jerusalem’s fall, thinking that it would benefit them commercially. God say to them through Ezekiel, not so fast, your time will come as well.
Ezekiel 27 – But God does not rejoice in their destruction. Here He lifts them up, praising their one time splendor. He laments that such a mighty city should fall. Why and how should this be?
Ezekiel 28 – Here God tells us why:

Because you [prince of Tyre] make your heart
like the heart of a god,
therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you,
the most ruthless of the nations;
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down into the pit,
and you shall die the death of the slain
in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’
in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a man, and no god,
in the hands of those who slay you?
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
by the hand of foreigners;
for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.”

Ezekiel 8:6-10

And to the King of Tyre …

You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.

Ezekiel 8:15-17

Pride. Self importance. Arrogance, cost these men and their subjects much.
Ezekiel 28:24-26 – After Ezekiel prophesies against the surrounding towns, God gives him this work of comfort to Israel:

And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord God.
Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.

Before, god said they would know that he is God by the punishment brought upon them. Now he say they will know he is God because of the security they have after he punishes their neighbors. Not only so, but after everyone, including Israel, gets their due, god will be honored when He lifts Israel up from among all of them.

Miss Belvedere

Last week my work time distraction was the unearthing of the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere from a time capsule in Tulsa OK.
Back in 1957, to celebrate the state of Oklahoma’s 50 year anniversary, they buried a time capsule in Tulsa to be opened 50 years later. In addition to the standard time capsule proclamations from local dignitaries and other 50s stuff, they buried a beautiful 1957 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop coupe. Those full size Chrysler products were among the most beautiful cars of their day. They also tended to start rusting almost before they left the lot, according to Dad. They also took guesses as to what Tulsa’s population would be in 2007. Person with the closes guess (or their heirs) would win the Belvedere in 2007.
Well, the 50 years was up this past Friday. On Wednesday they opened the vault in preparation for the big reveal. The top picture is what they found – Miss Belvedere in 3 feet of water, with evidence that the water level was much higher at some point. Not good. Word was, however, that they had wrapped the car in multiple layers of plastic, cosmoline and other stuff when they buried it, so maybe …
Layers, yeah right. As you can see, whatever layers there were were useless. Maybe I didn’t see the right pictures, but all that seemed to be around the car was a loose layer of plastic. My theory was that the folks that buried the car had little to no money, so they draped some plastic over the car and made up this story about the layers and the cosmoline, figuring that in 50 years most of the folks hearing it would be dead. At the very least, they would be dead so no one could hold them accountable or some ask them any questions. 😀
Miss Belvedere was a mucky, rusty mess. You could see water lines just above the wheel wells, at the top of the doors and at the center of the windshield. The interior & under hood looked like the inside of the Titanic. Maybe, just maybe, the body will clean up (you can see a promising spot on some pictures where they polished a bit of the front bumper), but it seems unlikely.
What a shame. When I heard about this a year or two ago I had hoped to see a dirt but pristine old Plymouth rise from the ground. Oh well. It was still a PR coup for Tulsa, one they hope to repeat in 2048 when the open the vault (above ground this time) that was sealed in 1998 with a 1998 Plymouth Prowler inside.
Check out pictures, article and video at kotv.com, more pictures at the car’s official website, buriedcar.com and even more at the Tulsa Chevy club’s web site including a lot of detail shots, including the undercarriage.

Blue Collar Opera

Consider this your feel good video link of the day. I’m not a big opera fan, but listen to this blue collar, cell phone store worker sing from the Brittan’s Got Talent. No, It’s not a spoof or lip sync’ed.
He won, and I think they could have pretty much scrapped the entire season and just given him the prize after this audition. OK, then we wouldn’t have heard the 6 year old sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, so it was worth it.
I guess his (former) boss is a big opera fan, throwing opera parties every year, and had absolutely no idea he could do this.

Jessica on Perfection

After a particularly challenging afternoon, Jessica, my 12 year old, tells her Mom something like this:

I’m glad that I’m not perfect, because if I was perfect, then life really would be easier and it wouldn’t be adventurous. I like having adventures. It’s more rewarding to do something right when you have a choice whether to do the right or wrong thing. It makes me proud to make a right choice.
I like being able to seek and find God myself, not just knowing Him automatically and being born close to Him. It’s more fun to seek God and find Him on your own.

Not much to say about that but “Wow.”

The Fourth Watch

This weekend we were in Toledo with Mom and Dad. They get up for the early adult Sunday School. Dave runs the class, and I always enjoy Dave’s classes, so we went along. The text was Matthew 14:22-34:

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

This has long been one of my favorite stories, but Sunday brought to light new things in this familiar tale.
The key was in verse 22:

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.

There’s something in there that I hadn’t thought of before. Jesus, being God, knew what was coming. He knew that He was sending them out on the lake, straight into a storm. Alone.
Meanwhile, He went to spend some quality time with Dad. Hours, he prayed on the mountain, while the disciples headed strait into a storm. Not until the fourth watch, which, acording to the online parallel Bible, was after 3 AM, did Jesus come to them.
We like to think of Jesus as one who rescues, saves us from harm, but here he send the disciples straight into danger. The question is why? Why would He send them into danger? Why would have them face it alone and what does it tell us about God?
It seems clear that Jesus sees opportunity in the storm. Opportunity to teach the disciples of His power. Opportunity to put things in perspective for them, to help them see the storms that seem to loom large from God’s perspective. That opportunity is great enough that not only will he refuse to shelter the disciples from it, he sends them right into it’s midst. And he’s content to wait and have them battle that storm for hours before strolling in to join them.
What this tells us about our God is at once shocking, scary and comforting.
The shocking and scary part is that God isn’t concerned with sheltering us from pain and hardship. In fact, it’s just the opposite. For the opportunity for growth presented by trials, he will lead us right into them, and let us fight with them for some time before coming to our aid.
The comforting part is that He knows exactly what He’s doing. He can see what lies on the other side of the storm, we cannot. He know that we will emerge stronger and closer to Him in the end. Once Jesus appeared, the disciples weren’t focused on the storm anymore. And once he got in the boat, they had a perspective on Him that no lesson on shore could ever deliver.
The comfort is that the fourth watch comes, and with it Jesus, in ways that we couldn’t see Him otherwise.

Good News Sharing

Last night at our midweek service, we simply had a session of good news sharing. This is a tried and true ICOC tradition that would degrade at times into “I did a good deed” sharing instead. However, while giving the congregation an opportunity to share what God’s doing can be risky in that you don’t have control over what is said, it can also be profoundly up lifting and faith building.
I’ve heard folks complain that they don’t like these sessions because they feel cheated. They don’t get anything out of it. My response to that is, are you listening? Here’s some things I heard last night:

  • This was Mat’s first service back with us. It’s been a month since I updated you and in that time he was moved out of the ICU to the James Cancer Center. I’m not sure when he was released, but I suspect it was within the last week. But he was there last night and he stood up with Jess as she shared for the two of them what an encouraging journey it has been. All the support of the church, seeing Mat sharing about Jesus with anything that moved in the hospital to how his doctor’s office took up an amazing collection to help them pay for their wedding. As Jess shared, they were responsible for him being alive, yet they were still giving to them. Through it all, they were drawn closer irresistibly to God.
  • Mark and Sandie (yes Jeff, that Mark and Sandie) stood up and shared that their newly adopted baby boy was officially and legally theirs now. If you knew them, you’d understand that it was an answered prayer that Sandie was standing, let alone standing and holding her own son up high.
  • Cheri stood and shared about her niece. This young woman, who’s she’s shared about and asked for prayers for in the past, has spent most of her 18 years in abusive relationships. Her mother was married to an abuser who isolated her from her family. He was recently convicted of that abuse and sentenced to 18 years as a result. Escaping that into foster care, she was placed with a foster parent who behaved the same way. She’s known nothing but abusive situations and when given the opportunity to escape a few years ago, chose to stay because it was all she knew.
    Last night, thanking the church for their prayers, Cheri shared through tears that “Tomorrow I’m finally picking her up and bringing her home.” That emphasis was her’s not mine. That’s how she said it, she will finally be home. She’s spend years loving her through praying for her, researching the psychology behind her situation and reaching out to her. It’s only for a few weeks, but the joy in Cherri was obvious that all of that effort in love was finally bearing fruit.
    This made me think of the parallels to our own lives. We spend years in an abusive world, trying to meet it’s demands and follow it’s ways. It beats us up no matter how we try, but we keep trying. God is there, calling us out, but we return because it is all we know to do. He hurts each time we do, but He does not give up. When we finally decide to turn from the world and to Him, I imagine that His tears of joy are as real as Cheri’s as he says “I’m finally picking them up and bringing them home.” No wonder the angels rejoice.
  • Erica stood and shared about her reaching out to a coworker and a work social function. The conversation turned to his social life and she mentioned that he should stop some reckless behavior. He said something about how he needed something in his life. Erica immediately though “God, I guess that’s my cue.” and shared with him about Jesus and our church.
    What an amazing heart. How many times do I miss my cue? Am in tune with God’s spirit the way she was, always on alert, waiting for my cue? God made the hand off, ans she ran with the ball. Too often, I fumble because I’m not ready or paying attention.

That’s what I heard last night. There was more. I didn’t share about the news from the Amazing Race statewide teen event that we hosted last weekend, the Big City Christain hip-hop concert last Saturday that moved teens into their Bibles and encouraged his heart as well or about our new summer campus interns that are already bearing fruit after only being here a week.
You could argue that our minister got a pass last night, not having to prepare a lesson. I would say no, he just stepped aside for a minute to make sure that God was getting center stage.

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