Fast From Feast On

FastFromFeastOn

William Arthur Ward was an American Army Soldier, Author, Teacher and Pastor who lived from 1921-1994. I wouldn’t agree with most of his theology, but I came across this poem of his a few weeks back and it’s a beautifully written challenge to my life. It was originally written for Lent which is when catholics and some others give up something they enjoy from Ash Wednesday until Easter, roughly six weeks.

In reading this poem you’ll find real quick there are things to object to. Christ does not dwell in all people as line one seems in imply. In verse 3 it denies that darkness exist, that can’t be true since Christ has sent us into the darkness to be lights (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Despite all that, the basic concept of this poem is worth our consideration. Give it a read it and I’ll tell you why I say that.

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ within them.
Fast from emphasis on difference; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from worry; feast on trust in God’s Care.
Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.

What is it you need to fast from? Not in the sense of chocolate or TV or cokes [soda pop], but in terms of what God has called us to fast from in His Word? The other side of that is what helps with that fast, what do we need to feast on that will give us real fulfilment in Christ? That’s the devotional aspect here, ask yourself what do I need to fast from or even write your own poem using this model. Fast from…Feast on…

Page CXVI put together a song based on this poem as well, give it a listen.

Never Too Broken

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It always surprises me when I find beautiful phrases in secular literature that point me to the Gospel, to what Jesus has done for me on the cross. I recently read “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.

It’s a story written from the perspective of an outcast boy who goes to boarding school in the south in the pursuit of the “Great Perhaps.” He wants friends, and life experience. What we learn along the way is that so many people are broken for so many reasons. I don’t want to ruin the story in case you ever read it, but after much tragedy the main character Miles comes this conclusion.

“We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken.” – Miles Halter

That’s an empty message when proclaimed by a secular humanist. That’s an opiate for the masses because who are you hoping will fix you? Self? Not even the most skilled surgeons can operate on themselves and no created device repairs itself, another most do so. Preferably the one who created it to begin with, for who knows the creation better than the creator?

When the above quote is understood with the truth of the Gospel behind it there is weight that gives real hope.

It’s always encouraging to know that we are not hopeless, but why? Why are we not hopeless? We are not hopeless because no matter how screwed up and broken we are, we are never so broken that Jesus can’t repair us.

We break easy. We break when our parents fail to love us or to love each other. We break when we give our hearts to boys or girls and they stomp them to dust. We break when we pursue a dream only to find they are severely out of our reach. We break when we pursue the longing and lust of our hearts that lead us down dark alleys and out into dry deserts.

But this is the hope of the Gospel. No amount of sexual failure on your part or sexual abuse against you can break you so much that Jesus can’t repair you. No amount of lying or unfaithfulness can break you beyond the skilled hands of Jesus the master builder and repairer. So come to Jesus and be healed, be repaired by His loving, nail pierced hands.

Devotional: What’s Better Than a Fruit Tree?

One Tree Many Trees

When I am working on a sermon the concepts of the text roll around in my head as I go throughout my day. When I ride my bike, walk to meet someone, shovel snow, whatever. Most of what comes to mind goes nowhere, some ends up in the sermon and some ideas keep floating around in my head until I write them down. This is one of those ideas. It’s from preparing to preach on Covenant Community originally and again with Philippians 1:27-30.

In Galatians 5:22–23 we learn what the Fruit of the Spirit is. It says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

That verse always makes me think of a fruit tree. An orange tree standing by a road with full of fruit covering every branch. Just by looking at it we can see that the tree is healthy and everyone who passes by benefits from this healthy tree. The fruit is a blessing.

How true is that for all those aspects of fruit in Galatians 5? Don’t you enjoy the presence of people who are loving? Who are full of joy? Who bring peace into your life? Those who bring kindness in expressions and in words. A good friend, a faithful friend who is gentle with your feelings. Don’t you prefer those with self-control compared to those who are out of control with you?

Those are aspects of something being true in our lives. Those are the result of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

For most of my life that image of a single tree standing by a road side has encouraged me to want to grow myself, to learn to love God more myself, to be planted in the Word of God by myself. I thought if I could grow up to be a healthy tree then I might stand tall as a blessing to all who pass me on the road of life.

As I learned in God’s Word about unity, about our dwelling like one body in covenant community this image of the tree seemed suddenly like too little, like I had focused so much on how I might personally bless others I had failed to see something greater. I forget who originally said it, but sometimes good is the enemy of great. This is one of those cases.

What is better than a healthy fruit tree along the road side?
Two healthy fruit trees.
Even better than that would be an orchard full of fruit trees. That’s the Church. The people of God working together.

The image of you ministering alone is one fruit tree in a field that is a benefit to some. This would be “striving side by self for the faith of the gospel” in the words of Philippians 1:27.

But that’s not what Philippians 1:27 says. It says, “Striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” In the image of the trees that is an orchard and that’s a blessing to many. How can you better partner with those around you for the furthering of the Kingdom of God and not the Kingdom of self? 

The First 100: 24 Crazy Hours Camping at Chick-fil-a

It’s 5 am in the morning as I arrive at what is the newest sign that our little apple is growing larger and larger. Chick-fil-a is finally opening a store in Manhattan, Kansas. I’ve heard for years about the first 100 contest and I figure this is the best chance I have at ever taking part. Whenever CFA opens a new store, the first 100 customers get “Chick-Fil-a for a year.” I add quotes because it’s 52 free number 1 or 2 combo meals, which means I won’t be enjoying the spicy sandwich for which I actually come to their establishment for.

Anyway, I have other reasons for taking this challenge as well. I want to get to know people in the community of Manhattan and I figure if lock-ins help awkward junior highers get to know each other, it might help my still awkward self do the same. And then of course there is the fact that we love the food and our “out to eat” budget is large enough for our family to eat out about once a month, so this would certainly stretch that a bit further.

So when I arrive at 5 am I find there are 30 to 40 people waiting. As I join them I begin to realize while they’ve come from Wichita, Kansas City, Tulsa even Chicago, these people mostly already know each other. There is a subculture of people who travel taking vacation days and bringing their whole family for the event. They share about epic openings in faraway towns and favorite DJs who manage to get everyone dancing. I’m a little anxious that guy might be our DJ since I don’t dance without a posse and I’ve come to this party all alone.

By 6 am only 85 people have arrived which means we won’t face the dreaded lottery that can ruin the hopes of so many who travel this strange circuit of grand openings. I brought with me a bag of books and my wife’s pink lawn chair. As tent city is being erected it occurs to me just how under prepared I am for these 24 hours. One group had a couch and ping pong table, yes an actually ping pong table. I do find Jonathan Haney is here  as well, he’s a friend and fellow pastor in town and he’s come for the same reasons I have. Yet, we both realize quickly that very few of these people are actually from our community which means one major motivation is moot.

I find these people intriguing. I do basic math in my head and realize being local this makes sense for me financially, but many who traveled here will spend more than they make meaning they’re really bad at math or they have other reasons for being here. The way they talk about other openings begins to open my eyes to the reality that most aren’t here for the free food.

I meet a guy from Chicago named Rich, this is his 40th opening, it’s August and it’s already his 12th this year. That’s 2,080 free meals. He’s about 60 and as I listen to him I think he belongs on NPR’s “This American Life.” He speaks with an Italian accent and immediately feels like an old friend.

He says he’s always loved fried chicken and had heard about Chick-Fil-a for years but couldn’t find it near his home. Then on a vacation with his family they happened upon a restaurant right a dinner time. He still remembers his first order: a number 1 and a vanilla milkshake. The way he tells the story sounds like a religious conversion. He took a bite of the sandwich and let out sounds of ecstasy, of immense enjoyment so much so that his family sat embarrassed by the sounds. Not everyone experienced it the same, they liked it, but not like Rich did.

He then went on to tell me about driving and taking buses to openings around the country. He has friends who were traveling to Atlantic City to gamble, he joined them on the trip, but went to a first 100 event while they hit the casinos. Those same men who flew across the country to gamble told him, “Rich, there’s a thin line between being a fan and being a crazy lunatic.” We got a t-shirt at the end, and since he’s been to 40 of these, he owns 40 CFA t-shirts. It’s literally the only t-shirts he owns. He uses some of the free meals, and gives a lot away (to friends, or even the lady checking his groceries at the store).

He was the most accomplished, but by no means the only person traveling with this unexpected carnival of grand openings. There were a couple of families who used vacation time to camp in a parking lot for 24 hours. At first it seems ridiculous to me, but as the day went on it made sense. It’s camping, but you don’t have to cook any food since they provided us with every meal. Plus you get use of clean restrooms, electricity, no one smells like fire, your friends are provided for you and there is no chance of the campers next to you getting drunk and shouting obscene things you hoped your children wouldn’t be learning about on a camping trip.

I found that everyone had their own reasons for being here and apart from first timers it was never about the free chicken. One man traveled two hours to be here. He’s in his 50s, lost his job in June, has grown children and a wife who is still working. He said it gave him something to do, some way to contribute even while he searches for new employment.

It was a bit like being in detention or camp or maybe a really great prison. We weren’t allowed to leave the premises so when I wanted to walk to burn calories it was in circles. I tracked my progress using RunKeeper on my phone and laughed at myself when I saw how ridiculous 2.4 miles in a tiny circle looks like.

I loved the adventure of meeting all these new people, but one of the best parts was visits from friends and family. Laura came by twice and brought me a pillow and blanket as an up grade to my chair. Then Jon and Tricia Dunning upgraded my pillow to a whole tent which gave me an honest to goodness residence in this tent city. The Arnett’s stopped by after Audrey’s first day of school and brought a much needed Cherry Limeade. Damian and Heidi mostly pointed out how insane it was that I was doing this and then sought to afflict me with news that they would all be going to Taco Lucha while I sat in prison. :-) That night I almost talked Josiah into staying the night while he visited, but with only a small chance of getting the prize it just wasn’t worth a night sleeping on asphalt.

As the day progressed CFA provided games and prizes on a regular basis, in the evening a DJ came and ran a talent show and a dance contest which prove to be very entertaining. The college students were great, they danced their hearts out song after song and when the DJ packed his stuff up and left they broke out a guitar and started an impromptu time of worship. Late at night they brought us Chocolate Chunk Cookies and a glass of milk. Some people headed to bed after though I don’t know how they slept with the heat and light and noise.

The owner David is great, he loves Manhattan and is a graduate of K-State. He’s very personable and I was impressed how he remembered both Laura and my names from when we previously met him. I don’t think I’d do it again, but I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I was there for the Manhattan opening and to see into this world I never knew existed. If you have a chance to do it (Wichita in the Spring) I would highly recommend it. And if you do tell Rich hello for me.

You can check out the whole album of pictures if you’re interested

Here are a few videos

LoveManhattan: Trains, Wildcats and Adventure

(Found this straggler in the “drafts” folder…it’s a little retro now…)

This Saturday we slept in, then we headed to Wamego to ride the train. After this weekend it closes until the spring so we had to find out what it was like. Wamego is a small town about 20 minutes eastish. Below is the train station.

The is free, which is really hard to beat.

Even us adults get to ride.

It goes around a cute park.

I totally fit, though not real well.

"Look Laura, I fit!" Sure Brian, sure!

Here is a video of the train in motion, it’s worth checking out.

After the train we stopped by this Wizard of Oz House, the wicked witch of west’s legs are sticking out. It was then that we realized our children had never watched The Wizard of Oz. Which is sad cause that’s literally all we knew of Kansas when we moved here 7 years ago. So then we watched Wizard of Oz the next day. The kids didn’t like it when it started out black and white.

Berkley the next day said “Dorothy wanted to go back to Kansas. But why? Kansas was dirty.”  Laura: “You mean black and white?” Berkley: “Yes, it was dirty”

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!!

After that we headed the Hilton’s tailgate where we munched on some walking tacos and a John Daly, we were told it’s called that because it’s like an Arnold Palmer with alcohol. They drink Purple Lemonade instead of Pink Lemonade at these tailgates. Very cool. That’s Laura and Heidi here.

The stadium was upgraded this past year and looks fantastic.

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Damian is showing Beckham how to make a pretzel.

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They met a Cheerleader. I was in line at the port-a-potty. I asked the guy behind me if he minded if I held their place while they went to get a picture with the cheerleader. He said sure as long as you’ll hold my place when I go get a picture with the cheerleader. Seemed like a good deal to me.

We bleed purple now...kids excited to find a K-State cheerleader at tailgate!

After the tailgate Laura and the kids went to a birthday party, Beckham and I went on a bike ride.

He wandered down some railroad tracks.

Collected some railroad nails and wanted to bring them home for his treasure box, seemed like a bad idea.

He caught some frogs and minnows.

Climbed a “mountain”

Caught  more frogs

Became very afraid when he thought water was about to rush out of this gate. No idea how we got the idea that would happen.

Finally  proved he was a little taller than 8 feet tall.

Played in what I believe are soybeans.

Then found this grave stone grave yard. It’s a bunch of typos and such. I guess the delete button on marble slab doesn’t work so well.

Beckham wanted to try and ride down the tracks. It’s hard and bumpy and not fun.

Then he wrecked and scrapped his knees. I’m not a bad a dad. At least not for the reason you’re thinking. I checked on him first and then had him turn back over to take the photo placing him back how I found him. Public Service Announcement: When you drive off sidewalk don’t drive back on if there is a lip/curb. It ends like this.

Then put Beckham in a tube the looked to be steady.

Did some trampoline jumping in the backyard.

Then watched the New York Cosmos online.

Summer Time Konza

Earlier this summer we decided to take another trip out to the Konza. Brian has been more than I have, my only other trip was in January with 30 mile per hour wind! It was a beautiful day this time!

When we drive, we do a lot of turning around. Sometimes cause we are lost (if I’m driving) but most often cause one of us saw something that we need to get on.

This day it was this amazing merry-go-round from forever ago! We knocked on the owner’s door and asked if we could take it for a spin. It was originally from the little school house down the street.

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This is as fast as I like to spin these days:

IMG_6713It’s a brilliant design (it kind of swung while it twirled) and was still solid as could be (“they just don’t make things like they used to”).

 

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I adore old thingsIMG_6737

We also saw this awesome chicken coop!

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We finally made it to the Konza Prairie, swords and all!

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They started out like this:

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But it wasn’t long until that turned to this:

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Brian caught this. Then we were reminded how amazing it is that we have this computer in our pocket that we can, in a few seconds, look it up and find out what it is (and most importantly if it’s poisonous!)

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For being such a weenie about anything involving loud sounds and fire (fireworks are her bane), Berkley is by far the most adventurous when it comes to animals.

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Wouldn’t be a Hough Family Trip without Wiffle Ball…IMG_6774

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Sadie had her eyes dilated that morning before we left, so she sported her Hello Kitty shades!

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Contrary to what many think, Kansas isn’t flat. (Who am I kidding. I didn’t even think about Kansas before we got here…my loss though!)

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Popped a squat for a picnic lunch!

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Lunch time entertainment

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I think that was when Becks was the catcher?

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She said she found a throne. I think one of the other kids told her it was more of a toilet…

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One of these two thought this “hand through the tree” trick was funner than the other one did!

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Running low on water, energy and joy at this point…

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On the way home we wanted to try to get to the big “KS” letters on the side of the mountain. We made it and had a pretty great view of the city!

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Capitol Building of Kansas Visit

After hearing about it from the Albrechts, we visited the State Capitol Building recently in Topeka, Kansas. We were running a little late so we had to make a mad dash around the place to get caught up with the tour. Felt a little like a scene from  National Treasure.

It didn’t take long to notice there was a Texas flag among the American Flag and the English flag. Turns out the collection of flags was all the nations that Kansas has been under. Part of Kansas was once Texas, it’s starting to make sense why we feel so at home here. But I guess by this reasoning Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico would feel like home as well.

Here is a picture of the Map overlayed with the United States today to help you see. 

The building is beautiful, very elaborate.

They were doing some construction at first which Boo did not like at all. She must have good ears cause she hates noise.

Found Lance Kinzer on the wall which was very cool. He goes to Redeemer in Overland Park.

Also found his desk.

This is the State Supreme Court.

Here they are in the seats.

This is John Brown in Civil War painting. John Brown died in 1859, the Civil War began in 1861. But still this is what John Brown would have looked like had he lived to see the Civil War. He’s got a Beecher Bible in one hand (that’s the gun) and an actual Bible in the other hand.

This is the Governor’s Ceremonial Office. Apparently he dislikes Buffalo as much as I do, one dead on the wall, one dead on his desk. It was incredibly soft which was unexpected.

The art work was pretty cool.

I noticed they had a W that must stand for Wiffleball in the center of the circle. Yes, I actually had a wiffle ball in my pocket.

This was from way way up high heading towards the dome. I was intrigued to see they only finished off the side of the columns that can be seen by visitors below. What a picture of how we sometimes function in our faith- only working on the part of our lives that is visible by others.

As we climbed towards the top of the dome we had this nice view. 

This is Laura and Berkley chickening out and heading back to the real floors. The dome below them is the above portion of the dome in previous photos. It’s glass to let light in before the invention of electricity and light bulbs.

I laughed at this. Get there, get there… She’s still Jenny from the block.

This was our final ascent, pretty sure this was a 14,000 foot mountain equivalent.

Now were on the outside of the top of the dome.

We wanted to throw this, but they said no throwing things off the top.

The climb down.

Laura and Berkley were so traumatized they went to the very bottom floor.

World Cup Fever

June Snap Shots

Just a few picture from the month of June.

While on the Taste of the Ville Laura got up on the bar at Tubby’s.

While she was in NYC our children did the same.

I have a friend who is planting a church in Wichita and we had a nice morning meeting in Hillsboro, Kansas. It’s a small town so we had to go get cash from the bank to buy coffee. On the wall was this Kansas flag emblem made from carpet scraps.

This is a Kansas flag emblem  made of carpet scraps. It art on the wall of bank. Bet making the Texas flag from carpet is easier. #kansas #kansasflag #hillsboro

Here is Tom and his Barackoccino. That’s a picture of what their actual menu says.

Soooo this is an actual coffee you can order in Hillsboro, Kansas. #obama #kansas

Becks playing on this crazy Dodgers team and loving it.

If look at the details you'll see these guys are basically the kids from The Sandlot. #mhk #baseball #dodgers

Here are a few of his fans, Emerald and Hat.

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

I burn money just for fun. (fake money, real fire)

Laura and I went to watch the Astros plan and Jerome Williams took this picture with me.

This is from the Progressive Dinner Bike Event in Manhattan.

Berkley is barefoot 95% of the time during the summer. We almost never leave a place without saying, “Where are your shoes?”

We’ve been playing bunches of Wiffleball

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I took a nice slow paced bike ride and then made this on my phone while recovering, ironically I was rushing and spelled “Life” wrong.

Yep, more Wifleball

Hat drew this of Beckham.

Shirts for ManhattanPres came in.

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Varsity Donuts made a Frozen donut this summer.

Frozen Donuts

This is a lamp on the wall of Radinas Bakehouse in Manhattan. I’m intrigued by it.

Radinas Bake House in Manhattan, Kansas. Light over a couple of chairs.

In June I was able to do the first Baptism in MPC History, Baby Camille Sheffield Catudal.

It was also the first baptism I’ve done, so after Andria brought the old Redeemer baptismal I practiced on a baby doll. I had to know how much water to put on the child.

Research

As a sign of what a dork I am, I made a Lego WiffleballLego Wiffleball, it doesn't curve.

I got a call from Damian to come play Puddle Volleyball. What? I had to find out. Was seriously fun.

Puddle volleyball might be my new favorite sport. #mhk

I took this on the drive back from the Shanahan’s House, it’s beautiful drive and the rain made it especially cool looking.

A little water balloon fight we had to cool off a bit.

Crushing his sister proved to be quite satisfying.

Free Ice Cream (thanks to MHKlibrary.org)

Sadie Piper in a Mindcraft Creeper head.

We’ve eaten outside a bunch this summer, Sadie’s waiting for the fajitas to grill.

Beckham with his airsoft gun and tin cans.

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham)

This year Beckham played for the World Famous Mike Bean Dodgers Machine Pitch Team. It was fun to see his confidence grow over last year as he began to relax and just enjoy the game. His teammate were great and they had a great time playing and goofing off when things got slow. We are very thankful that God put us on this team though sure wish Aiden and Jackson could have been on it too. (Manhattan Parks and Rec won’t let you pick anyone to be on your team).

I’m a dork and actually keep his stats. Here they are.

Beckham – Dodgers Game Average AB Hits 2nd 3rd HR RBI Runs K BB
TOTAL 0.824 17 14 11 0 0 8 11 0 0
Athletics 1 1.000 3 3 10 0 0 3 2 0 0
Royals 2 1.000 2 2 1 0 0 2 2 0 0
Rangers 3 1.000 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
Giants 4 0.333 3 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
Braves 5 0.750 4 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 0
Pirates 6 1.000 3 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 0

Dodger 2014 (Beckham)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)


Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Here Beckham is the first batter of the inning, he’s up there ready to bat focused like the ball is on the way, however the ball is still in the glove of Coach Mike who’s nowhere close the machine yet. He stayed that way for about two minutes.

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

Dodgers Baseball (Beckham 2014)

This guy was 3 for 3 and I felt sick every time I yelled "Go Dodgers"

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What the Wheat Fields Really Look Like

Anyone who has ever dreamed of Missions or Church Planting or just living Missionally in their neighborhood has thought about this statement by Jesus found in John 4:35

“Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

I’ve done it.

Something like this beautiful field I saw on Zeandale Road outside of Manhattan.

Row after row of perfect golden wheat. How do you pick this wheat? Tons at a time, machines that collects the ripe wheat.

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That’s not what missions and church planting or just being a light to your neighbors is like. At least not 99% of the time.

I rode past the field below this morning south of town. As soon as I saw it. I saw it.

This is more like the field we are called to harvest. You’ll need to look closely. There is wheat in their, but there is also weeds, lots of them and all sorts of them.

Harvesting this field is hard work. You wander through weeds, you pick one at a time. I was encouraged to stop looking for the field above and start working in the field below. It’s slow work, but as God makes the wheat ripe, we harvest wherever it is.

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