Wednesday, April 28, 2004

It is Like . . .

I got the privilege of speaking at Grace last night. What an amazing experience Grace is! Hundreds of college students from many backgrounds, three different universities, with one purpose: Give God glory through biblical unity. Powerful.

The usual speaker, Luke Norsworthy, was a former intern for Kim and I at U-turn. He spoke last night after I did (I was the opening act - you know, the no name band from North Dakota that screams a lot and breaks their guitars?) and was amazing! God used him to passionately challenge his peers to not be content with the "sit and watch" approach to living Kingdom lives. Luke was a man possessed with the Spirit. It was so cool to watch. I felt proud to be his friend.

The following is a transcript of my notes. I concluded my message (only about 6 minutes - some of you are saying, "no way, Quile only spoke for 6 minutes! Ain't no way!) with a prayer of commissioning for God to show himself to us, convict us of times that we place a lower value on the Kingdom than we should (apathetic living); cause us to repent, and send us out. I prayed specifically that our adoration would grow up into proclamation. Anyway, here are the notes:

• It is like the 1 yr old baby girl whose parents say “show ‘em how you can bounce!” and the little girl smiles and bounces up and down in delight of her new talent!

• It is like the two yr old boy whose older sister affectionately ask in front of her friends “how old are you? How many years are you?” The little boy proudly holds up two fingers as if he was the wisest man in the world.

• It is like the 3 yr old girl who learns how to write her name and writes it on every piece of paper in sight.

• It is like the 4 yr old boy who learns, latter than the girl, how to write his name and he proudly pens it on his bedroom wall with a big black marker he found in dad’s desk.

• It is like the 5 yr old who pulls out his new spider man lunch box at lunch on the first day of pre-school and yells, “check this out!” to his best friend that he just met on the playground at recess.

• It is like the 6 yr old girl who can’t wait to show her kindergarten teacher her missing tooth.

• It’s like the 7 year old boy who can’t wait to show teacher and entire class his cool new shoes that make him jump higher and run faster.

• It is like the second grade girl, who at 8 yrs old is so proud of her broken arm she gets a neon green cast so that no one will miss it!

• It is like the 9 yr old girl who returns to the third grade after Christmas break riding her brand her new Barbie Bike, couldn’t be prouder! The boys on the other hand plot to pull off those dumb pink & purple streamers from her handle bars at lunch.

• It is like the 10yr old boy in the fourth grade who brings his puppy for show and tell but really its just to show off to doubters in the class.

• It is like the boy who at 11, gets his first “real” baseball glove and takes it to practice with pride.

• It is like the girl who at 12, gets her first “real” bra and gleefully displays it to every 6th grade girl in the PE locker room. The boys know about it before schools out.

• It is like the 7th grader girl who dawns her cheerleading uniform down the halls on the first Friday of the fall at school.

• It is like the 8th grade stud of a boy, who rips up his sleeves and announces to anybody who will look, “Check out these guns! And notice the arm pit hair while you’re at it!”

• It is like the high school freshman girl, who at 15 is wearing the sweatshirt of her “senior” boyfriend in front of everyone but her parents.

• It is like the sophomore girl, who on her sixteenth birthday, runs into class after lunch and yells, “I got it! I got my drivers liscence ya’ll!”

• It is like the dude who is rolling hard to the first day of junior year, in a rust bucket of a truck that put the “ghe” in “ghetto”, his arm out the window, beats bustin from the 89.00 K-mart cd player, dude is proud ya’ll. He is proud!

• It is like the senior linebacker on the football team who wears his letterman’s jacket. Everywhere. Seriously, you’ve seen this. Shower, Prom, Grandma’s funeral, first week of college!

• It is like the 19 year old freshman girl who wears her “college” sweatshirt back into youth class during Christmas break as if to proclaim, “I’m so mature, so mature.” Of course the freshman dude who is now working at Dairy Queen is sitting there in the same class going, “check out my letterman jacket yo!”

• It is like the 20 yr old sophomore girl calling her mom seconds after receiving a bid from the same social club her mom was in! You can imagine it. Loud shrieking, jumping up and down, crying, it’s sickening. But it is like that.

• It is like the junior guy calling his dad up in May, and proudly declaring, hey dad, good news, I pulled a C- minus in Economics – I’m a senior now!”

• It is like the 22 year old senior sweetheart of a girl who is showing to her girlfriends the monster of a diamond ring she just got from her boyfriend turned “fiancĂ©” Again, more hysterical screaming, jumping, hugging, crying, loss of brain activity, blah, blah, blah.

• It is like the 32 year old brand new dad whose wallet is constantly opened as he is pridefully producing pictures of his “new baby boy”

• It is like the 42 year old dad who is actually proud of their new minivan. “Check it out Frank, see how easy the seats fold down?”

• It is like the same dude a year later whom at 43, has just traded in the family minivan for a red 2005 mustang. Mr. Midlife is so proud!

• It is like the 50 year old grandma at the beauty salon who is passing out pictures of her new baby granddaughter. She says, oh look at this one, isn’t it just the cutest? It’s a picture of her bouncing!”

• Pause, open my bible and read passionately:

• The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

• The kingdom of heaven at its core is good, great, glorious. That’s why we call it good news. The nature of good news is that it is so good that it is shared, spread, and sacrificed for.

• We began last fall praying that everyone of us would gain an Appreciation about the Kingdom of Heaven this school year. It is our prayer that this summer our appreciation grows up into proclamation. Grab a hand of someone close, and let’s talk with the Father:

• God,

It was the last Grace of the year. When it starts back up next fall I really encourage everyone to check it out. It is like . . . well it is like grace.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Graduate School of Me-ology

I've learned something really important about grad school. It doesn't care if you have a family. In fact, it doesn't care if you have a wife. Heck, grad school doesn't care if you have a life!

Don't get me wrong, ACU graduate school of theology is a blessing and I absolutely love it. It just demands so much time.

This terrible feeling of being robbed of free time probably has to do with the fact that I'm desperately trying to finish up a 25 -30 page paper on the date of Revelation and that I'm a student on a mission, trying to make up for a bad undergraduate GPA by making a 4.0 in grad school (won't happen - that's ok too) but I just feel so "me" focused these past few weeks. Let me clarify: More "me" focused than usual.

I live at the library during the day, come home at 5:45pm and wolf down dinner that I didn't lift a finger to help prepare, kiss my kids and wife goodnight at 6:20pm and then head back up to the life-sucking library until midnight. I come home to a dark, quiet house where I'm the only one awake (barely). This has been my schedule for the past two weeks. It will be for the next two.

I do have the unspiritual gift of embellishment. I have had a little free time. Not much though. It just seems as though my world is orbiting around me instead of others these days.

I'll sure be grateful when class is over in a few weeks so I can go back to being the amazing servant of others that I was before.

Okay, at least I can kiss my kids goodnight when they are going to bed and my wife when she is awake.

Oh grad school . . .this too shall pass.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

My Easter Sermon

I'm in Houston (Woodlands/Conroe area) for Easter this year. This is the first time we've been in Texas for Easter in over 8 years. This is one of Kim's favorite holidays as she has fond memories of big family gatherings, fun-filled children's activities and a massive egg hunt. Suffice it to say, I was glad that we got to come down. Yesterday, Saturday, John asked if we missed being in Redwood City and specifically the Redwood Church to which I replied, "I do, I especially miss preaching." This eventually lead to the topic of church and to where and when (and why in some adolescent minds) we were going to church for Easter Sunday. I had heard of The Fellowship of the Woodlands and was determined to lead the family there today (Sunday) for church. I can't speak for the remainder of the clan (could, but won't) but I was really excited to "hear" an Easter Sermon by a pastor of a large "successful" church. We are, in fact about 20 minutes away from leaving to go to church there but I am not as anxious to "hear" the sermon. I already have "seen" an Easter sermon. Let me explain.

Last night at about 6:00pm Houston was hit by a nasty thunderstorm. Softball size hail, deadly lightning, a tornado or two, and a Niagara of rain beat down on the area. My brother in law, Keith (Kim's older sister's husband), the guru of the grill, was in the middle of grilling our grub when the call came. One of his friend's home fell victim to a falling tree. The tree had crushed through the roof of their child's room and rain was filling the room. Keith's heart was immediately filled with compassion and he told the caller that "he'd be right over." I witnessed this act of kindness as I witness most others - oblivious of the spiritual significance and unmoved myself to action. Kim, as usual, opened my eyes to the opportunity to participate in the Samaritan situation. She said, "Joel, you should go with him to help those people" and then she gave me that look. (All the husbands say "Amen") To which I replied ever-so-spirit-filled, "What about my shoes?" You see, I had only brought one pair of shoes with me on this quick trip and they, ironically enough, were my "church shoes" as in the shoes that I would wear into the Lord's "house" tomorrow (today). The combination of Kim's face and the Spirit's filling forced me into a commitment. Together, they are an almost unstoppable force! We loaded up in Keith's wrecker (a tow truck - not a junkie car) and headed for a nice drive into a little place I've affectionately dubbed, "Vortexville" as we drove into the storm. We safely arrived at the home and entered the room that looked like it could fit in the Rainforrest Cafe. While waiting for the lightning to subside we cautiously cleared out the room of priceless pieces of memorabilia, more than mindful of the roof completely caving in on top of us. We finally decided that the lightning was not going to go away, we moved outside to remove the rogue tree from its unwanted nesting in the roof.

Keith and I began to chain saw the tree into sections. (For those of you wondering how two people can operate a chain saw . . . OK, Keith did the chain sawing while I stood in the storm and smiled. I did, however, get the saw 'unstuck' from the tree that Keith got it 'stuck' into . . . so I wasn't completely useless!) It was like a scene from a movie. My brother in law is standing on the top of a box blade lifted 10 feet in the air, rising up to the roof. Lightning crashing in around on every side and thunder booming so hard the ground shook in response. I watched in awe (at his servant heart and the fact that he was moving so quickly on a slippery roof) as he, for the next 20 minutes risked his life (lightning) and back (slip and hit the ground) for his friend.

As we loaded up the truck and drove home, lightning still popping, thunder still booming, God spoke to me about what I had just witnessed. My brother in law had just done the very thing that God has asked me to do countless times over and over again without thinking about it for one second. I realized that I had seen a great glimpse of the sacrifice that I wanted to go "celebrate" tomorrow (today). I became convicted about what being a "pastor" really means and what constitutes "success" after all. Keith, preached to me that night and the crazy thing is he didn't even know it.

So as I walk out the door to go "hear" the Easter sermon I am reminded that its better to have "dirty" shoes and a pure heart than the other way around.

Keith is not going to church with us. . .

He is outside cooking for about 50 of his family, neighbors and friends. In fact, he's been up since 4:30 am cooking.

What a sermon!