Sunday, September 30, 2007

Always time for pics...

Little MacGyver started kindergarten recently. We're part of an academy that helps homeschoolers. They had a back-to-school picnic this past Friday. As you might expect, my kids were the cutest of all, and I have proof.

This is Little MacGyver, after he found a tree to climb. It took about 5 seconds for him to find a tree that was climb-worthy.

Here's DisneyGirl. I think she's rolling down the hill, just like the Laurie Berkner song. But it's hard to tell what adventure is playing in her imagination...

Toddler Houdini somehow manages to become the center of attention for the 5 to 8 year old girls. She's so small and charming, and before long they are doing her bidding...

The kids had a great time playing and making new friends. And the Mighty Mrs. J and I had a terrific time getting to know other parents. Sometimes it feels like we're going into the whole homeschooling thing by ourselves. It was great to get together with other parents who understand what goes into homeschooling. I can't wait for the next get-together!

Obviously, I'm the king of technology...

OK, here's the deal. I posted information about my brand new podcast. turns out, some of that info was wrong, or just confusing. Now, while I do pride myself on being the internet's leading source for wrong, confusing information, I'd like to set the record straight. The blog connected to the podcast is called Notes from the Way. That's where all the podcast info will be.

This blog will continue to be the place where thousands (well, hundreds) (OK, several) come to get thoughts on family and faith. And shameless pics of my children...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Finally, a podcast!

Well, the long national nightmare is over. I know you've all been waiting, wondering when I would start podcasting. All of you, in fact all humans everywhere, will be glad to know that the day has come. It's called "Notes from the Way" and I think it's pretty OK, with potential to be really average.

Seriously, it's about living as a Christian in today's world. I think most folk will find it interesting, maybe even encouraging. Just right-click here to get your fill of podcasting wonder!

Here's the info on the music I used:

The intro/outro music was from Jacques Grant.
The cool classical/style guitar was by Deyo.
Our first news story was at Christian
The second one came from The Barna Group.

Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think...

UPDATE: Apparently, I don't have the technical acuity to run the podcast from here. So, I created a blog just for the podcast. It's called, creatively, Notes from the Way. From now on I'll post details of the podcast over there. But, never fear, I'll keep everyone here updated...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If Jesus came to my town today...

I was reading through Matthew 8 this morning. (Shocking, I know.) In the last part of the chapter, Jesus drove demons out of 2 men who were possessed. In the story, the demons ask to be sent into a herd of pigs that were feeding nearby. Jesus does it, and the pigs go nuts and drown in a lake. The men return to normal.

The thing that gets me is the reaction of the town. Verse 34 says, "The whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with them to leave their region." What?!? They wanted him to leave? After he had healed 2 of their people?

I think it's a great lesson: we humans will put up with almost anything--illness, wars, arguing, even demon possession--as long as we don't have to stay in the presence of holiness. The power of God was so scary that they would rather have had 2 demon possessed guys running around their town.

It reminds me of an old Oak Ridge Boys song from way, way back. It was called, "Would They Love Him Down in Shreveport." (I can't find a good link to the song, but it's out there, I'm sure.) The basic premise of the song is that Jesus may not be all that welcome in today's America. Even in "religious" places like Utah and the South.

True godliness is more powerful and less predictable then we realize. I do wonder if I would really want Jesus to live in my city. Would I find Him a nuisance, or threatening? What if he tore down some of the idols I want to keep? Something to think about...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This is where the church ought to be...

Please, please, PLEASE take a couple of minutes to read this great story on the Mars Hill Journey blog. I can't think of a better illustration of the real mission of the church. And if you can read it without a lump forming in your throat, let me know and I'll have paramedics come over and check your pulse.

(Thanks to the Voyage blog for posting about this a few days ago. You are a man among men!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Be careful little hands, what you do...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way my kids relate to God. I don't want them to see God as primarily the Guy watching in Heaven, waiting to catch them doing wrong. (Like the song from the post title.) When they do wrong, God is there to swat them down.

I want them to grow up knowing that He loves them. I want their relationship to the Father to be natural and intimate. I want them to see that God delights in them. They don't need to perform a certain way or be involved in certain activities to be acceptable to God.

In short, I want them to experience God in a way that I seldom have. I think it's really true that kids form their perception of God by looking at their earthly father. And my father was completely absent. That means that I've often felt a great distance between myself and God. Even though I know that the truth is He is here with me, always. I just haven't experienced that truth in my life.

I have wasted large chunks of my life trying to be good enough, active enough, Christian enough for God to love me. I think that explains my entire career in vocational Christian ministry. I was hoping that God would approve and give me the pat on the back I needed. Of course I could never do enough to feel approved by God, because I've already been completely accepted by God. And not accepted because of anything I did, but because Jesus did everything I needed.

That's why I was thinking about the little chorus in the title of this post. Obviously, my kids need to know right and wrong. They need to know that when they do wrong, they break God's laws, and His heart. But I want them to know more than that. The same God who hates sin loved them so much He sacrificed His own son to pay for their sins. God doesn't want them to perform great Christian works. He just wants them to delight in their Father the way He delights in them.

I know that's what I want for my kids. The question is: how can I create an environment so this can happen? I just don't know.

Any ideas?

World's Sweetest Toddler no longer...

I have always referred to my youngest daughter as the World's Sweetest Toddler. And she is. Even though she has her Terrible 2's moments, she is a charming, wonderful little girl. But she has developed a very disturbing habit.

To be blunt, my little darling is a nudist at heart. We can't keep clothes on her, especially at sleeptime. For several weeks now, the Mighty Mrs. J and I have experienced being surprised by our sweet angel wandering down the hallway. And she is naked. Completely naked. The problem is, she's not potty trained. You can imagine the trouble this can cause.

It's not like we haven't tried keep her clothed. We put layers of clothing over her diaper, hoping to discourage her. But she won't be denied her naked freedom. She strips after we put her to bed. Later in the night we find her, sleeping, in her birthday suit.

In light of these developments, I think it's time to change her nickname. For a girl who is this good at escaping the constraints of clothing, only one nickname will do. From now on, she's Toddler Houdini.

No father wants his daughter to be an exhibitionist. I mean, it's cute now. But if this is still going on when she's 17, there's going to be a problem...

p.s.--The pic with this post is a rare look at Toddler Houdini, fully clothed...

UPDATE--This post has gotten a couple of hits from some people with questionable motives. Specifically, it has shown up on searches where people were looking for things like "sweet family little nudists" and "little kids completely naked." I can't think of a legitimate reason to run these searches.

If you got here because you were looking for naked kid pics on the internet, I can only say one thing--what you're doing is sick and wrong. You have to know that. You only have one hope--turn your life over to Jesus. He is the only one who can break this demonic hold on your life. He will forgive you for everything you've done wrong, give you new life, clear out all the garbage that currently fills your life. Also, get some help from a qualified counselor.

Don't continue down this road. It will only result in ruined lives...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Do I expect God to be present in my life?

I just finished the book, The Naked Church by Wayne Jacobsen. It's got me thinking about a lot of things. A lot of those things make me really uncomfortable.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is a survey that Jacobsen quotes. The survey is of US Christians, and over 70% of them don't expect to encounter God when they go to a worship service. Think about that for a minute. 7 out of 10 people at the next worship service you go to are probably not expecting God to show up.

This brings so many questions to my mind. Do these people ever experience the presence of God? How far is this from the New Testament church, where it seems God consistently interacted with His people? Can a Christian go through his entire life and not feel God's presence in his life? I don't think so.

Granted, God lives in every one of His children. And we don't always feel that truth, even though it is true. But I'm afraid we've lost something that was a part of the early church's life: the expectation that God was powerfully at work in their midst. It was His presence that gave them the ability to preach with authority, see people saved, see people healed, have people give their belongings away, have many suffer and die for their faith.

It was His presence that caused the church's enemies to call some New Testament Christians, "These men who have caused trouble all over world..."
Are we causing trouble all over the world to Satan's kingdom? Is evil on the run in our cities because God's people are unified and showing God's power and presence? More personally, am I experiencing God in my life? Is He changing me, molding me to become like Jesus? Is my goal really to know Jesus, and the power of His resurrection?

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but I don't see it, either in the church as a whole, or in me. What needs to change?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Trip to the fair...

We spent Friday at the LA County Fair. What a blast! The kids had a great time, as you can see by the pics. It wasn't too hot, like it is many years when we go out there.

The fair is our yearly chance for the kids to see farm animals. Otherwise, they would only interact with a cow when they go to McDonald's.

It was also a very cool chance for Little MacGyver to go rock climbing. He's a natural at it. He's light, he's strong, and he's great at figuring out where to put his feet and hands. And I get to stand at the bottom and cheer him on! It's such a great picture of what I think being a dad is all about. I get to encourage him, point him in the right direction, make suggestions about what he should do. But in the end, he's responsible for what he chooses to do. I pray he'll make life decisions that are as great as the ones he made yesterday on that rock wall.

However far he climbs, I'll be there to cheer him on...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Am I building a relationship with God?

I'm reading a great book right now. It's "The Naked Church" by Wayne Jacobsen. (His unbelievably great website, Lifestream, is right here.) It's been really convicting and challenging for me. I've mentioned before that one of my spiritual life goals is to develop a first-hand faith. A faith where I see God at work in my life, and the lives of people around me.

Jacobsen talks a lot about developing intimacy with God. He talks about the normal Christian life as one where we actively hear His voice and depend on Him for everything. Sadly, this isn't true in my life, or in many lives of the Christians I know. But it seems that it was more normal among Christians in Bible times.

Instead, we depend on everything else. We look to preachers, churches, disciplines, anything except God Himself.

The thing that bothers me most is this: if intimacy with God is the norm for Christianity, what does that say about me? What does that say about the church in America, where over 70% of people attending church don't expect to encounter God during the service? It must break God's heart that I'm so far from what He wants to be in my life.

It's times like this that I'm really thankful that God loves me in spite of what I am...