Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Brain's Still at DFW

This article originally appeared in the 11/30/05 edition of The Grapevine, a publication of NewLife Community Church.

The plan was for Shari, Braeden, Collin & I to return home from Missouri Tuesday afternoon. If all went according to plan, we'd land here in Fresno at 1:11 pm, Nancy would pick us up & bring us home, I'd start work on the Grapevine & some sermon notes... and then, seeing as how it's the only free night in our schedule until next Tuesday, we'd put up our Christmas tree.

Only, as you can probably guess by now, it didn't work that way.

Springfield, MO is a nice town, but the airport isn't much larger than ours here in Fresno. So when our plane had mechanical problems, we got bumped to a later flight - so much later (nearly 4 hours) that we missed our original connecting flight & had to hang out at DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth airport) for 5+ hours.

Thankfully, DFW has lots to do. In fact, the new terminal reminds me a bit of the fake airport they built for the Tom Hanks film, "The Terminal" (one sentence review: watchable but no big deal). We ate dinner, we shopped a bit, Braeden played in a sound sculpture (which was actually pretty cool). Braeden & I even rode around the airport in the new Skyline train system, which was kind of like the Monorail at Disneyland. And, of course, we topped it all off with Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

And another delay, as the plane we were supposed to fly in came in late from Phoenix. But what's another 45 minutes to our already overly-long day? Sigh.

Thankfully, we got home in one piece last night (thanks, Neil & Nancy) and crashed. The only suitcases that are open contain essentials: toiletries, underwear, Braeden's favorite stuffed animal. Otherwise, we're just happy to be here.

Heck, I'm happy to be here - in the office, back "on the job", so to speak. But my brain is majorly fuddled - so I don't think I can squeeze a coherent article out of my misfiring synapses. Instead, I'll just do a core dump of some random thoughts about life, God, and the coolness of pastoring NewLife.

- I finished reading The Present Future (by Reggie McNeal) during my week in Missouri... and promptly started reading it again. I'm convinced that it's a key set of questions for where the church (and in particular, our church) is headed in the next 20 years. (It doesn't hurt that Reggie is a Southern Baptist... though he tries mightily to give this book multi-denominational appeal, it's easy to read between the lines and hear his excitement & pain of years as an SBC pastor & denominational consultant.)

- My grandma's 95th birthday party/Thanksgiving gathering was a huge success. We figured out that the last time all of my cousins & I had been together was in 1978 for Grandma & Grandpa's 50th wedding anniversary. Of course, we were the kids back then - now, most of us have kids. (Collin wasn't the youngest - my cousin, Kevin, has a daughter a couple of months younger than him.)

It's very cool to be reminded that my relationship with Jesus Christ was fed by parents & grandparents (and extended family) who follow Jesus themselves. It's not that their faith makes mine real - each of us get to have our own relationship with God - but it's sweet to see the pool of faith that I grew up swimming in!

- Narnia's coming! The movie (The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe) premieres a week from Friday. I have two thoughts:
  1. I can't wait to see one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors come to the big screen.
  2. Oh, please, don't mess this up.

- I'm still a bit in shock from the First Fruits offering - we, with God's help, gave $43,467.00 on the first Sunday of the giving portion of Get in the Game. Wow! We serve a VERY big God.

- It's really nice to pastor a church where I can leave town for 8 days and know that things will go on without me. In other words, NewLife is not primarily about me - it's about God! (And that's a very good thing.) It doesn't hurt, of course, that we've got a great staff - thanks to Aaron & Nancy!

Well that's about all that's rattling around my head this morning. Oh, yeah, I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get everything done today, but that's pretty much SOP (standard operating procedure) for my life. The nicest thing is that God isn't wondering - He's not surprised by delayed flights or $43,000+ offerings or my Aunt Wylma's peanut butter pie (which was, as usual, incredible).

We think we are headed toward the future. The truth is, the future is headed toward us. And it's in a hurry (we now know the universe is speeding up, not slowing down). We also generally think that the present makes sense only in light of the past. Again, we need to check our thinking. The present makes clearest sense in light of the future. We humans write history by looking at the past. God creates history ahead of time. He never forecasts. God always backcasts. He began with the end in mind. The future is always incipient in the present. Before the foundation of the world, the Lamb was slain. Calvary was anticipated in God's kiss of life into Adam. The cross gain dimension silhouetted against the empty tomb. The empty tomb confirmed the invasion of the future into the present. When Paul encountered the resurrected Jesus, he realized the future had been fast-forwarded. That changed everything.

It still does.
from The Present Future by Reggie McNeal

God is roaring back toward us from the future, not playing catch-up from Bible times. So, wherever we are, it's nice to remember that God is working in our lives in view of who we will be - who He knows we will be - and not just based on the garbage & mistakes of our past.

I'm sold on the fact that God's not going to leave you half-finished. No way. What he's doing with you is superb and he's going to have you ready for when the Liberator, Jesus, comes back.
paraphrase of Philippians 1:6 from word on the street by Rob Lacey

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