If I Were a Cow, I Would Like to be a South Dakotan Cow and other Random Reflections from the Road

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Been on the road for five days now. Here are some random reflections and thoughts from the road:

  1. America is beautiful! Well, most of it. Montana and Wyoming are truly spectacular. I understand why people fall in love with the land.

    I am pretty sure I discovered the place where Lightning Mcqueen and Sally go driving on the outskirts of Radiator Springs…

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    It’s in Wyoming, right outside of Yellowstone National Park’s East Gate. I would have loved to have been riding instead of driving. So beautiful!!!

  2. The cattle in South Dakota are much more social than the cows in Montana and Wyoming.

    The cattle in Montana and Wyoming are scattered all over the place…each cow doing its own thing over vast expanse of land.

    But, cattle in South Dakota are always bunched up together. There is still vast expanse of land, but these cattle are always hanging out together in one corner or parcel of land over the vast expanse.

    If I were a cow, I think I would rather be a South Dakota Cow.

  3. A good night’s sleep makes all the difference in the world!

    When I’m traveling with my wife or kids, I typically never book a hotel less than 2.5 stars.

    But when I’m traveling by myself, the only things I require is a place to shower and sleep. It really doesn’t matter what kind of a motel/hotel it is….so I thought.

    I was fortunate the first two nights of lodging. I booked the cheapest rooms I could find and they turned out fine.

    Not the 3rd night. What a nightmare! The entire motel stunk! It smelled so bad! It was in the carpet, the sheets, the bedding, the pillow…everywhere. I should have left when I smelled it in the lobby. But since I had already prepaid for the room, I decided to stay.

    What a mistake. I tossed and turned until 2am and seriously considered leaving then and sleeping at a rest area in the car. But I was so tired. But every time I breathed in, that smell. Every time I turned or moved, the smell was in the sheets, the bed, the pillow and it was making me sick!

    Finally at 6am, I left the motel.

    Lesson: Don’t get the cheapest motel. Get a reputable one and pay a few more bucks. A good night’s sleep is more than worth the extra few bucks.

  4. What the heck Illinois people?!?!?!

    Move over if you’re going slow in the fast lane.

    Most people in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana get it. Why don’t you get it!!! The fast lane is for passing not for lollygagging! Move over Illinois people!

  5. Love the speed limit in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota – 80MPH!!! Yeah!!!

    After driving through Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, driving in the rest of the country feels so inefficient. Pshhhh…please…70MPH?!?!

    Let’s be like Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota!

  6. I should arrive in Virginia by Friday. Looking forward to what God has in store for Little Church/Lakewood Grace and me in this sabbatical.

Don’t Start With “Sin No More”

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 1.40.41 PM.pngGrace and Truth.

I don’t know of any Christians who don’t think these are essential values of the Christian faith. It is never a question of grace or truth. It is always grace and truth.¬†We know both are necessary and we know that without either one, we would all be toast.

Truth – right knowledge of God, God’s will, God’s word, who we are as sinners in need of a Savior, etc. are absolutely essential to our faith. There are some truths – that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that the Bible is the only authority, that Jesus is the Son of God, etc – that are non-negotiable, for should any of these truths change or be compromised, we cease to be Christian.

Grace – that it’s all God’s grace, all of it – salvation, eternal life, kingdom living, purpose, meaning, joy – it’s all God. It’s all God’s gift. We are completely and absolutely undeserving of any of it. God’s love and plan for salvation for us purely God’s idea, God’s doing, and sustained by God. It’s all grace. No one is deserving. Not one.

This is not up for debate.

The question that is up for debate is in which order should these be applied to people and in relationship with others, particularly those who are not a follower of Jesus Christ.

The right ordering of grace and truth or truth and grace make a huge difference in how Christianity feels to those who are not Christians.

When truth, and people’s acceptance of God’s truth (or our interpretation of God’s truth), is demanded before relationship, that truth is often experienced as offensive, repulsive, and not good news – did you get that? it’s not gospel!

It is still truth, but instead of it giving life and being generous, such truth kills and destroys the possibility for relationship, conversations, and the possibility for someone seeking the Jesus of truth.

Truth is absolutely necessary. But it must not be first. Grace must come first.

Grace says, it’s not just you and others who need Jesus…I need Jesus! Anyone who is in need of Jesus is welcome, loved, and made to feel like they are someone whom Jesus would willingly sacrifice himself on the cross because Jesus could not imagine spending an eternity without you! That’s grace. That’s good news. That’s the gospel!

When such grace is offered and experienced, people are open to conversations, relationships, and opportunities to deal with truth – that we are all sinners in need of a savior.

Jesus doesn’t begin his conversations with people with “Sin, no more.”

That’s how he ends his conversations with people he has conversed with, healed, eaten with, hung out with, and eventually people he’s forgiven, and then he challenges them to “Sin no more” since God has forgiven and changed them.

Truth and grace are both present but grace is offered first.

That’s my aspiration. That’s my hope. That I can offer the grace of Jesus to all people, all sinners in need of a Savior – gay, straight, bi, trans, white, gray, yellow, red, black, young, old – all people, all sinners in need of a Savior – so they can experience the transforming truth of God through grace.

Day 4 – Sabbatical

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 3.33.00 PM.pngI have been resting, sleeping, watching golf and playing golf, reading, etc. And when not doing those things, I have been assisting Helen organize the house and moving the girls back home for the summer from college.

In the next few days, I will be celebrating the graduations of Karis from the University of Washington and Kailey from Lakes High School.

Here’s the first thing I am learning on Sabbatical: practicing Sabbath is harder than the idea of sabbath-ing.

One of the items that was left undone before I started the sabbatical is the consideration of the work that is required in an 80 year-old facility. We have some major work to do with the sanctuary, and I have been copied on the emails of the session and staff working on the steeple, siding, sanctuary, etc.

It has been soooooooo tempting to chime in. But I have been resisting it.

I want to practice Sabbath…rest…trust.

Here’s what that means for me:

  • God is at work. This is God’s church. God knows what’s best for us
  • God is at work in through our session and staff. The Little Church and Lakewood Grace has an amazing staff and fantastic leaders on the session. I trust fully in the session and staff’s capacity to listen for God’s guidance and to act on God’s voice

So looking forward to seeing how God will lead the Little Church and Lakewood Grace!

We are blessed with amazing leaders and staff at the Little Church and Lakewood Grace.