Monday, March 30, 2009


She now has a name. We brought her home on Wednesday, but couldn’t decide on a name that was suitable for four days. I liked the name that Kacie gave to her Beagle several years ago, “Hosanna”. It’s original. It’s cute. It’s meaningful. But Kacie said we couldn’t use the same name twice.

There was Abby, but that’s the name of one of Kacie’s friends. We thought of Doxie, Roxie and Lexi, but those are too traditional. I liked Jasmine, but Kacie did not. She liked Rory, but I didn’t care for it. It didn’t matter much to Kim—she just refereed between Kacie and me. I finally reached a point that I didn’t care—I just wanted to know what to call the dog when she started yelping or began chewing on things.

It finally came down to a choice between Sookie/Suki (we couldn’t even agree on the spelling) or Sophie. Sookie/Suki was the name of a character on one of Kacie’s favorite TV shows (if we were going to name her that way, I would have preferred “Mork”). I don’t know where Sophie came from, but Kacie seemed to prefer it. So that’s her name. Sophie. The Dachshund. Miniature Dachshund to be exact.

It’s been five days now, and I still wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Naming the dog was the easy part, compared to…well, compared to everything else. Like the housebreaking. Frankly, I’m about ready to just let her turn the living room into one giant potty. It’s tough enough to housebreak puppies, but we had to try to do it in the middle of a snowstorm.

And she does not like to be crated, let me assure you. She yelps and barks until she develops laryngitis. When we go to get her out in the morning, she turns her back on us like we’ve done her wrong.

So, for all the trouble she’s been, why am I anxiously waiting to get this blog finished so I can pack up my laptop and get home to see her? Why can I just picture her tiny little tail wagging when she hears my voice? Why do I envision her thrusting her 2 lb. 11 oz. body on me as soon as I get seated?

Maybe, in some small way, this is how God views me. I know I’m much more trouble than I’m worth (though I am pretty well housebroken). I’m sure I frustrate the fire out of Him from time to time. But maybe He thinks I’m worth it for those few times that I abandon myself to Him and shower Him with unconditional love and affection. I’d like to think that despite all the trouble I cause, He gets pleasure when I just curl up in His lap and go to sleep.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness

If you’ve ever wondered what a “works-based” religion looks like, just take a glance at the brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament that starts this week. Getting invited to the big dance and staying there is completely based upon what you have done lately.

Just because you’re the reigning national champions, that doesn’t mean you get any preferential treatment. Think you’ll get to stay close to home because you won it all last year? Think again, and wear your long johns because it’s still cold in Minneapolis.

Beating a couple of powerhouse teams during the regular season and winning your conference tournament doesn’t mean you get a favorable seeding or get to open the tournament in your own backyard. Just ask the guys feasting on all things potato this week.

Just getting invited to participate in the tournament is completely based upon recent performance. Started off the season strong, but hit a rough patch late? Say hello to the NIT.

And staying in the tournament—well, it’s one and done for a lot of teams. One missed free throw—One errant pass—One three-point attempt gone awry. It’s the little mistakes that cost a lot of teams the chance to advance.

Now all this is fine in basketball. I have no problem with it. I wish college football would adopt a tournament system as well. Such “works-based” tournaments are fine for sports, but I’m glad it doesn’t work that way in the spiritual realm.

One bad thought? You’re outta here!

One comment you wish you could take back? Pack your bags!

One reckless deed? Well, there’s always next year!

I am grateful that the God who was powerful enough to defeat sin and death is powerful enough to keep me saved. I am glad that it is by grace I have been saved through faith, not from anything that I have done (or not done), it is a gift from God.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give our best. It doesn’t mean that we should slack off or sit on our laurels. But it does mean that we should have a peace of mind that even when the ball falls short of the basket, we’re invited to remain on the court and stay in the game.

Monday, March 16, 2009

All in the Family

Kim & Kacie are in Oklahoma for a few days this week. They left on Sunday after services. I really enjoy having the house to myself.

It’s kind of nice to be able to leave dishes in the sink, or to not have to throw away my soda can before I go to bed. I can eat out of the same dish I warmed my dinner up in, and if I don’t throw my dirty clothes in the hamper right away, there’s no one to say anything about it.

That freedom is great. Except that it is also pretty lonely. I came home tonight, and there was no one to share the news of my day with. There are a few TV shows that we really enjoy watching & discussing together, but I’ll have to watch “24” on my own tonight. And while Kim always leaves me with plenty of food, it’s not much fun to eat by myself.

I have decided that the few obligations that come with being a part of a family are worth it, given all of the benefits.

The same thing is true about being a part of a church family. Yes, there are obligations. Scripture has a lot to say about the responsibilities we owe one another as a part of being in the family of God. Bearing one another’s burdens can be wearisome. Loving one another is not always easy. But these obligations are well worth it when you consider all of the benefits we enjoy in being a part of a community of believers.

We’re blessed at Life Spring to have a loving and compassionate church family. As a part of that family, I owe certain duties and responsibilities to others in the church. But the benefits I enjoy far outweigh my obligations. And if I wasn’t a part of this fellowship, I’d miss my family—just like I’m missing Kim & Kacie right now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, WWW

I just read that today (March 13) is the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web. I don’t really understand all this, but evidently the “Internet” was out there already, but it became a more useful tool after someone came along with a way to make it accessible to the masses (ergo, the World Wide Web).

It is pretty amazing to think of the fact that just 9 days after I wedded my blushing bride in 1989, the World Wide Web was born. Now, I admit that in those days immediately following my wedding, I was preoccupied with things other than the news, but I really don’t recall there being a big deal made about the creation of the World Wide Web. No bells and whistles. No paparazzi taking photos of its creator. No big press conferences with the President, foreign leaders or business moguls. It happened rather quietly, with little fanfare.

Which just goes to show that some of the most amazing things happen when no one is watching. Like a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. Like a couple of disciples talking quietly with a stranger as they approach their home in Emmaus. Like a zealous persecutor of the church struck blind on a business trip. Only in the light of history do these events take on significance and meaning.

Yesterday’s big news was the conviction of Bernie Madoff. It was the lead story on all the news shows. It was talked about incessantly, even by late night comedians. But something may have happened yesterday (or last week or last month) that got little attention, but which may have eternal consequences. That’s why believers are constantly admonished to be alert, to be on guard, to watch & pray. You never know when the next big thing will happen, maybe right under your nose.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Catching the Vision

I think I can safely speak on behalf of our Elders by saying that we were absolutely thrilled by our Dream Day activity last Saturday. Almost 50 Life Springers showed up to offer their thoughts and ideas—their visions and dreams—for the new church campus.

One of the things that I found most gratifying was the degree to which our congregation seems to be catching the vision that our leadership has been laying out for the past two years. Experiencing and Expressing the Love of God is not just a slogan—it is the expression of the vision that our leadership has for Life Spring. And the ideas and suggestions offered on Saturday indicate that this vision is becoming a reality among those who call Life Spring “home”.

There were plenty of ideas offered about how the property and facilities can assist us in Experiencing the Love of God. Novel classroom ideas for children’s ministry, great discussions about worship that is innovative yet respectful and wonderful thoughts about how we can promote fellowship among the saints all lend themselves to our freshly experiencing God’s love.

But as a church, we are not content to be a gathering place for Christians. There were plenty of ideas about how our property and buildings can be used to benefit Spring Hill and surrounding communities. I didn’t write down all the ideas (that was our architect’s job), but here are a few of the creative proposals for Expressing the Love of God to each other and our neighbors.

An outdoor amphitheater that could be used not only for church-related services and productions, but also could be used by the community for plays or performances.

A community garden that people could use to plant vegetables for their own use, or to make donations to the Farmer’s Market.

There were several suggestions about ways to open up our property to the entire community, such as walking trails with exercise stations, playground equipment, a skate park, and a coffee shop that would be open all week to the public.

We talked about ways to meet the needs of the disadvantaged, including a clothes closet, temporary housing and emergency housing.

These are just a few of the many suggestions offered during 4 ½ hours of discussion. I wanted to share this sampling of ideas just so that you can see why our leadership is so proud of our congregation for thinking in broad and visionary ways.

I drove by a church recently that has signs prominently posted in their parking lot, For Church Use Only. I understand where they are coming from, but what message does that send to the community? May our congregation never have the attitude that we have to “protect” our church from the community. In fact, let’s never lose sight of the fact that it’s not “our church” to begin with. May the property and facilities God gives us assist us in more fully Experiencing and Expressing the Love of God.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dream Day 2009

This coming Saturday, March 7th, we will have a great opportunity to give input into the development of the church campus on 169 Highway. We are hosting a “Dream Day” with our architect at the Life Center from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. This will be your opportunity to offer your thoughts and ideas as to how our 35 acres should be developed over the next 10-20 years.

As I mentioned on Sunday, we don’t want to get tied up in minutiae—what color the carpeting should be or whether we put a steeple on the roof. But we do want to know your ideas about how the property can be used to serve our church body and reach out to Spring Hill and surrounding communities.

So far, some people have come up with some interesting ideas. It has been suggested that we consider putting in a coffee shop that would be open throughout the week to serve the community. One person had the idea of building an outdoor amphitheater that we could use for outdoor services (like our Easter sunrise service) and which we could make available for community plays or activities. Another individual proposed putting in a community garden that people could maintain for their families. Someone else advocated a picnic area, including a shelter house and volleyball court.

I love these ideas. At this point, I have no idea how many of them are likely to become a reality. But I want us to dream big. I want us to think the unthinkable. And then, we’ll prayerfully consider all our options and see where the Lord leads. We won’t get everything we dream about. But we serve a big God, and there’s no telling what He’ll allow us to do.

We’ll be meeting Saturday morning at the Life Center. You can get a copy of the day’s schedule here. We hope you’ll be able to attend the session that most closely aligns with your ministry passion and interests, but you are welcome to attend any of the 30 to 45 minute length sessions. You can even attend multiple sessions if you’d like.

The last session of the morning, which starts at 11:45, will also include an Open Forum, to which we have invited community and civic leaders. We want to hear their ideas, too, as to how Life Spring can be a valuable and contributing member of our community.

I hope you’ll be able to join us and share your ideas as to how to develop our church property for the benefit our community and for the glory of our God.