Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Burma

This morning I'll be heading out for a two-week trip to Burma and China. We'll be visiting some of the thousands of new believers who have come to Christ since Cyclone Nargis hit Burma last May killing at least 130,000 people.

When you have a little time, do yourself a favor and watch this documentary about Burma that has been playing on PBS this past week. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/episodes/eyes-of-the-storm/full-episode/5457/. It's a good way to catch up on what has been happening there and get a feel for what our native church planters go through as they preach the gospel.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bread Alone

It has been said that man can not live on bread alone. But we have discovered that boys can live on popsicles and gatorade alone for about two weeks with few apparent side effects (other than being extraordinarily sticky). The swallowing issues have finally worked themselves out for the most part, which means for the first time ever we don't have doctor's appointment on the schedule. Now that is a good feeling!

Over the 4th of July weekend, Ben had his first pool party at Uncle Chris and Aunt Michelle's apartment. When we first arrived at the pool, Ben latched onto me like an anaconda and didnt' want to go in. But after he realized he had the green light to splash his oupa as much as possible, he was hooked on aquatic life. I didn't really enjoy giving Ben baths for a long time because I was always concerned with water going down his trach so it's nice to be able to watch him float around in the pool for an hour without worrying that he'll try to go snorkeling.


Here's a picture of Ben and Adrienne in Italy. It could also possibly be the Philbrook Museum. You make the call.



Monday, June 08, 2009

Quick Update

Ben is back home now after a few days in the hospital. He has been having trouble keeping down food and even drinking water makes him gag right now. The doctor said this is typical for this type of hernia surgery, and hopefully it should go away in a few more days.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Even 20

Tuesday morning at 7:45 Ben will be having back-to-back surgeries in OKC. Dr. Digoy will be performing the last procedure to close the hole in Ben's neck since it has not healed up on its own. Then Dr. Tuggle will be working on Ben's hiatal hernia, and he will also close up the hole from Ben's stomach tube. The doctor said it's the largest hernia he has seen in a child. I'm glad Ben tries so hard to impress his doctors. At least he has an excuse for his gigantic belly. These will be the 19th and 20th procedures that Ben has endured during the past 2 and half years, and we're hopeful these will be the last ones until it's time for the obligatory gruesome sports injuries.

Ben will be in the hospital for at least one night, but it could be a lot longer depending on how complicated the hernia surgery is. It will be such a relief to finally have all of these problems fixed up and behind us. Thank you for holding our family up in prayer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Parakeet

I recently finished reading a thought-provoking book called The Blue Parakeet, and I'd like you to chew on a few ideas with me if you've got the time.

A great theme of the Bible is God's desire for oneness and restoration with everything he has created. The disobedience of Adam and Eve messed up the relationship between people and God, between men and women, and between people and the rest of creation. But we learn that through Jesus  we can be reconciled to God, to each other, and to creation (Colossians 1:15-22).

Since the church is God's body, we continue this reconciliation until it is complete at the 2nd coming of Jesus. An example of this reconciliation is the issue of race and slavery. If I decided that I was going to move to another country, start a plantation, and buy some slaves, how would the elders at my church react? Would they quote Ephesians 6 and remind me to treat my slaves well? And if I brought the slaves back to Tulsa for a visit, would they quote Colossians 3 and remind the slaves that they need to obey everything I say?

Both of these are biblical New Testament responses, but can you see the shepherds of the flock saying these things?  Hopefully they would reference Galatians 3 and say in Christ "There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free." Because Christ has freed us from bondage, we no longer bind other people. 

If this is the way we interpret the Bible when it comes to race and slavery, why do we interpret it so differently when it comes to women? Mary and Elizabeth prophesied at the beginning of Luke's gospel.  Anna prophesied about Jesus to both men and women.  She did not do this in her house but in the Temple of God. The four daughters of Philip were all prophets.  And Peter himself said at Pentecost that God would pour out his Spirit on both men and women, and they would prophesy. 

Why have I always gone to 1 Timothy 2 and read about women learning in silence without balancing it with the numerous examples of God pouring his Spirit out and speaking through women? Priscilla shared the load in educating Apollos because she had knowledge about Jesus through the Spirit that Apollos needed but did not possess. That passage in 1 Timothy also prohibits braided hair and pearls, yet I have never found it necessary to be legalistic about those commands. Why have I lived my whole life being legalistic about women using their gifts to teach others about the glorious good news of Jesus Christ? Why do I feel comfortable snuffing out the Spirit of God as long as the person was born a woman?

In one of the best lines from The Blue Parakeet, the author says that Paul would roll over in his grave if he knew that his letters were being treated like Torah (the law). I think one can read Galatians and agree that this is certainly true. Paul destroyed the early Christians' reliance on the law not so that we could create a new law based on his letters, but so that we could actually live out a life where the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Before the Fall, there was no concern between man and woman about who was in charge. God was in charge and they were in complete union with him and each other. Why do I have so much pride and arrogance now that I would not want to hear the words of God coming from one of my own sisters in Christ who has been given the gift of teaching or encouragement? Should we not let the Spirit of God determine what each person's roles and talents should be? 

As a wise man once said, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." I need to let these verses sink into my soul.

I have defended the silence of women in the church for much of my life.  I think the time has come to humble myself and learn from whomever God chooses to teach me through his Spirit. I no longer want to demand respect but to live a life that is worthy of respect. I want to do more than read the New Testament as the new law.  I want to realize that it is the new covenant being lived out daily as the Spirit works through us just as he worked through Paul.

I wonder if the Christians of the 22nd century will look back at our times in bewilderment just as we look back and can hardly comprehend the use of the Bible to defend slavery in the 19th century. And I'd love to hear what you, my 21st century family, have to say about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Soaking

We've reached that stage where Benjamin learns something new every day, and we get to laugh and soak it up.  If I had to choose what career field Ben will enter based on his current skill set, I would have to say he should be a conquistador. His talent for claiming things that don't belong to him is unparalleled.  A few weeks ago, he claimed an entire park near our house in his own name and began instructing other children to get off of his swings and slides immediately.  This behavior led to an early ejection from the property, and on the way home Adrienne and Ben discussed his disputed territorial claims. By the end of the conversation, he capitulated with sobbing and tears running down his face, "It's everybody's park."  I don't think we've seen the last of our little "Coronado".  

Our commercial for St. John Hospital has finally hit the airwaves in Tulsa, and everyone else can check it out at http://www.sjmc.org/. It's on the home page in the bottom right hand corner where it says, "Ben's Story: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit". 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to China for a week. It was a fantastic experience, and if you want to know more, you can hit me up on Facebook or shoot me an email. I've included my mug shot in Shanghai just so mom and dad will believe I went on the trip.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Trailing Off

Today we'll go heavy on the media, with pictures by Jenny Connell for Ben's 2-year-old pictures. Our time at the hospital filming the commercial went great. Adrienne did most of the talking, Ben did most of the playing, and I was just there to be the trophy husband. I'm guessing it will probably be another month or two before it airs, but we'll let you know when it will be on TV around here. And maybe if I ask nicely, they'll let me post it here as well.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ben Versus The Molehill

I've been trying to figure out how to express what life feels like now that Ben's trach is finally out. I came across these words from Psalm 116 that say it best:

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me, 
       I will call on him as long as I live...

I was overcome by trouble and sorrow...

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

The LORD protects the simplehearted; 
       when I was in great need, he saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, 
       for the LORD has been good to you.

For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, 
       my eyes from tears, 
       my feet from stumbling...

How can I repay the LORD 
       for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation 
       and call on the name of the LORD.

I will fulfill my vows to the LORD 
       in the presence of all his people.

O LORD, truly I am your servant; 
       I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; 
       you have freed me from my chains.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you 
       and call on the name of the LORD.

I will fulfill my vows to the LORD 
       in the presence of all his people,

in the courts of the house of the LORD—
       in your midst, O Jerusalem. 
       Praise the LORD. 


To see Ben totally healed after the way things started out leaves me speechless.  How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I want to, but I know I can't.

There have been a few times this past week where it felt like my spirit was touching God. I have never experienced anything like it. I don't even know if those are the right words to describe it. It was like God was pouring out so much grace on me that for a little while I could feel him around me. I wish I could explain it better.

My thank offering to God is to try and pour out some tiny portion of his grace on others. Can you imagine that day when we will walk into God's house and experience that closeness with God and each other forever?

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, we are teaching our child not to eat dirt from the front lawn.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jumping Off A Cliff

Since everyone else is talking politics this week, I might as well throw in my two cents.  As you may imagine, I'm very disappointed that my plans to install a presidential puppet regime consisting of my son and cat never really materialized. I found out when I took Ben to Bible Hour on Sunday morning that Ben is deathly afraid of large-mouth puppets so it's probably for the best that the whole puppet regime thing didn't work out.

The first national election that I could vote in was back in 2000.  At the time my criteria were pretty simple - the candidate must be anti-abortion and anti-slavery.  George Bush (or as Ben calls him Jooj Pus) seemed to fit nicely into those categories so I voted for him in 2000 and 2004.  In 2003 he signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and hadn't repealed the 13th amendment so he met all of my standards for a good president.  Since that time, however, he has done very little that I have agreed with, and it has forced me to reconsider my voting criteria.

The 2008 race helped me narrow it down to 5 main factors:
1) Integrity - After Mitt Romney changed almost all of his positions on social issues just to run for the White House, I knew I had to add this one.
2) Basic Competence - After Sarah Palin failed to string together coherent sentences about major policy questions in her television interviews, I knew I had to add this one.
3) Humble foreign policy - I'm not a pacifist, but I think some occassional humility certainly wouldn't have hurt during the last eight years, and it didn't seem to me that McCain would have done anything to change this. Singing "Bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann" didn't help his cause.
4) Abortion - I think there are a lot of things to like about Barack Obama (or as Ben calls him Bak O Mama) but his abortion record is attrocious.  Hopefully, he'll be too busy fixing everything else to spend time on this issue.
5) Not a hobbit - This one may unfairly eliminate Dennis Kucinich, but I just feel like this rule needs to be here. 

I voted for Huckabee in the primaries (even though he is a border-line hobbit), but since no one met all of my criteria, I didn't vote for a president in the general election.  This election season was good because it forced me to sit down and think about what really matters in a president. It also made me think about what principle or ideal Christians should be working toward when it comes to government. Some think it’s freedom, others think it’s lining up the govenment's laws with Christian values, others think it’s social justice, and others think Christians should just step away from politics altogether. I'm curious to hear what you think.

I'll get back to posting Benjamin pictures and videos next time, but thanks for reading.  Don't forget to pray for President O Mama.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miracle Minute

Here's Ben talking it up on his 2nd birthday.

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On Ben's birthday, we decided to take a cake to the nurses at the NICU at St. John Hospital where Ben spent the first month of his life. We were also fortunate to meet the doctor on duty when Ben was delivered.  He started the procedure to put in Ben's trach before the surgeon arrived and was definitely one of the people who helped save Ben's life that day.  He was absolutely amazed that Ben had made it through all of this without any long-term health problems.

While we were there, one of the nurses said that Benjamin should be in a TV commercial for the hospital called "Miracle Minute".  We would get to tell Ben's story and share how the doctors and the nurses at the NICU took care of our boy.  We're scheduled to film it on the 19th of February so please pray that we're able to give glory to God and say the right things.