Category Archives: community
For the past four years it has been very natural for me to relate to Jesus’ story of “The Prodigal Father” and his two sons. It has been a story that has shaped my life from my growing up, my turning toward Jesus, my journey toward pastoral ministry and into marriage. I am an oldest son of two boys. Amy and I have two sons. My younger brother and his wife have two sons. As I reflect on the past 18 years since I responded to Jesus’ call to follow, I can clearly recognize moments where I have been the youngest son and the oldest son in relationship with God (and others) and how God has also invited me to be the Dad who is always longing for his sons to come home and join the party. To say the least, this has been a story that has been life shaping.
If all goes as planned, tomorrow morning between 7 and 8 am I will no longer be Dad of two and Amy will have brought our third son into the world. At this point, I don’t know what will life will be like on the other side of two sons. I have a sense, God wants to continue to shape me through the story of “The Prodigal Father” yet it may a bit more complicated as we keep our eyes and ears aware of 3 rather than 2. As I keep hearing from other dads, we move from “man-to-man” defense to “a box and 1” for a season.
Here’s to life in an unknown season where God continues to invite me into his party. May we all be open to new invitations, new seasons, and new relationships.
As I was about to go to bed on Friday night at 10:30 I received a call from my uncle who was with 37 other people stranded at the U.S.-Mexico border on a broken down bus. These 38 Oregonians had been trying to get out of San Ysidro since 4:00 pm without any other viable options.
After a few minutes of thought and a few phone calls to coordinate. I drove 300 miles between 10:45 pm and 4:45 am in order to get them up to Anaheim so they could meet their replacement bus the next day. (By the way, I heard the next day that their replacement bus broke down in Sacramento on the way to rescue them…I might not rent from that company again.)
On Saturday morning, I woke up after a 4 hour nap, packed and got ready for the day, dropped off the boys, married a couple and then drove from San Diego up to Porterville, California for another wedding. On Sunday morning, Amy and I did the return trip to San Diego. When all was said and done, I had driven over 850 miles in less than 41 hours. I am finally catching up on sleep after 2 days.
In the midst of other things today, I started a book that I hope to finish in the coming days called A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin Friedman.
In it, he writes, “Living with crisis is is a major part of leaders’ lives. The crises come in two major varieties: (1) those that are not of their own making but are imposed on them from outside or within the system; and (2) those that are actually triggered by the leaders through doing precisely what they should be doing.”
My series of road trips in less than 2 days encompassed both of these varieties of crises as he describes. If there is anything I have learned in leadership in the church it is this.
How about you, is crises a part of your life and work?
It is hard to imagine how yesterday, I was building a house with a group of people from our community of faith and Amor ministries for a family in need of a safe, dry place to lay their heads at night. It was an amazing experience as within two and a half days, we built relationships with each other and the family we were building for and put up a house that is significantly better than the structure that was on the property already.
One of the images that I can’t get out of my head is of 2 boys playing outside in the sand with my tool belt. As I sat in the house we just put up for Josephina and her family and ate my delicious lunch, I watched Jesus (age 2) and Jorge (age 1) play in the sand, pull out my tape measure from my tool belt and pull it out a few feet, take my hammer out and swing it a few times, pull out my dirty, sweaty gloves and start boxing with each other. After they put a couple handfuls of sand back in my belt, they reluctantly returned the gloves to their pocket after their grandmother told them to stop messing around in spanish (I think that is what she said). This image left me thinking about 2 realities of my life.
First, this experience made me reflect that I did not travel outside of the western United States until I was 18 years old and a senior in high school. When I started to travel and see the world, nothing could hold me back. Travel around the world and mission gave me a new experience of what God was doing in the world and how I might join him in his mission. I long for a day when my 2 boys will experience the wideness and vastness of the world and God’s creation. I hope they get to fully engage with our world before they are 18 years old.
Second, this experience made me reflect on my own two boys and how I thought they would love to cross the border and share in this type of play with 2 boys that speak a different language and live in a different culture…they just might discover that they have more in common than first assumed. Playing in a pile of sand with a tool belt is a beautiful image of how I would like to introduce them to a culture that is so different than the world they live in . I can see myself telling my boys to stop playing with the tool belt and to put the gloves back where they belong like Jesus’ and Jorge’s grandmother.
Tonight I found myself talking with my oldest son in our kitchen about the reality of the Kingdom of God. I want him to understand at an early age how big God’s Kingdom is and how he gets to participate in God’s work wherever God is present. So here I was talking with a little boy about this huge idea that many brillant theologians, let alone me, have a difficult time explaining in a clear and brief explanation. In fact, Jesus only tells stories about the Kingdom because it is so hard to explain and understand. Stories help illustrate the beautiful mess that the Kingdom is.
I tried to explain how big God’s Kingdom is by raising my arms as high as I could and said, “The Kingdom of God is bigger than Daddy.” I didn’t see it click in his eyes, so I pointed at our house (or the walls of our kitchen) and raised my voice (slightly) and said, “It’s bigger than our house!” Again, I didn’t see it click so I stretched my arms out as far as I could stretch, raised my voice again and said, “It’s bigger than Legoland!!” By the way, he had just gone to his favorite place on earth (atleast for the moment). His eyes got real big and he had a huge smile on his face like he understood.
May we be people that learn to communicate the Kingdom of God through story…our story, God’s story and even stories that little boys can understand.