What an opportunity, I think I’m gonna hurl

I am writing this blog from an unusual place… the back seat of my truck.

We’re headed to the Amarillo, TX., area for a week of camp with Paramount Baptist Church and company. Nathan sickly

I usually don’t spend much time in the backseat on 6 hour road trips, but this one has some special circumstances. As the Addis clan woke this morning with great expectation for some time together, poolside fun, fishing, the blob, eating snack shop food, and getting to share Jesus with a crowd we’ve never met before, we heard the words no parent likes to hear: “I don’t feel very good.”

Wasn’t long after that we had… er… evidence?

Poor Nathan, he hates getting sick. I realize no one enjoys it, but this isn’t in his top 5 worst things ever. It is his top 1, and has been for a while.

So it started:

    *”Lay down for a couple of minutes and see if you feel better.” – 10 minutes late
    *”Take this Emetrol baby… Well, if it does make you throw up, you probably needed to (mom logic at it’s best)” – 25 minutes late
    *”Try some crackers, they always make me feel bet… Oh, oh… Here’s the bowl… Use the bowl!” – 50 minutes late

After the clocked ticked past an hour late, I was still sitting on the living room floor rubbing his back. The truck was loaded. The students were en route. Camp was waiting.

Any parent knows this kind of thing usually passes in a few hours. By lunch he’d most likely be trampoline ready, and this sickly business just a not-so fond memory.

Still, none of that changes the present.

Being sick, sucks.

I mentally went over the options:

    *Call grandma and tell her she has a surprise 5 day houseguest
    *Unpack the truck and make a solo flight, leaving the family behind
    *Have the little man suck it up, tough it out and make the trip

So, we had a little talk…

Opportunity, as a word, has its origins in a Latin nautical term denoting ‘favorable winds’. But, the root of that is an even simpler word for ‘port’ (the source of the English word port).

In other words, opportunities are like different ports of call. You can sail past them, ignore them, avoid them, be afraid of them, talk about them, pray for them, visit internet sites about them, but you will never experience a port/opportunity if you don’t sail your boat into that harbor.

Colossians 4:5 promotes the same idea:

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward boutsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

Very rarely do opportunities come to you, as we like to say. We have to make something of them.

What port of experience have you been sailing around? What harbor holds a conversation you just won’t anchor near? What dock connects to the gangway of your future that’s just up the coastline?

It’s time to pull into port and make the most of our opportunities.

So, back to Nathan. I laid out the options for him and let him know that time was getting away from us. We had to make a decision.

I believe my exact words were, “I’d really like you to man up on this one. It won’t be a fun trip. It might even be miserable, but I think it’ll be worth it. Once this passes you’re going to wish you did the hard thing. I don’t want you to miss the opportunity.”

So, here we are. Seatbelt awkwardly wrapped around his sprawled out, lanky frame. Puke bowl on the floor board. Wet wash rag hanging on the door handle. Feet on my lap.

No more crying. No more gagging. Just sleeping.

Five hours to go.

I’m pretty proud of my little man. This could be a great opportunity.

May God Mess Us Up

Who are you willing to die for?

I know it’s a clicheish question, and there have been a hundred movies and a thousands books with heroes willing to die for others. But, have you ever really thought about it?

For your kids? That’s probably just a given. In fact, if its not a given as a parent you probably need to check your MOM or DAD O’ Meter. You’re obviously running low on something. Like decency.

For your spouse? Most of the time. Let’s be honest, you’d die for them any day of the week that you weren’t ready to kill them. Easy now, its completely metaphorical, an exaggeration, no worries. But, just for the record, Kat has showed me the spots in the backyard where she’ll bury me if I don’t watch it. If I ever go missing someone just remember this post… please.

Extended family? Well, I guess we decide this one based on whether we’re talking about in laws or out laws. Kind of a sliding scale in this arena for most.

Would you die for your friends? For a few I’m sure, but which ones? I would guess the ones who know too much about you. You need to be a martyr for them to make sure the guilt keeps them quiet.

Truth is, most of us don’t know, and never will, because talk is cheap and we really couldn’t make that decision until an actual life is on the line.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly where the Apostle Paul found himself in Romans 9:1-3:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

Wow, if you didn’t catch that, Paul said he wasn’t just willing to die for his fellow Israelites. He was willing to go to Hell in their place, if they would just turn to Jesus.

In my Bible, I have written a little note out to the side of these verses: “Wow, not it!”

Paul was standing on some solid ground, from heroes he’d read about in his past. For example, in Exodus 32:31-32 the story of Moses has a similar ring:

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”

These guys were the real deal. Willing to lose their lives, their ministries, their very souls for the sake of others.

I have to ask a question of the church today, who do we love like that?

Our church is considered to be quite successful. Annually we see growth rates of 10-30% and always hear stories about changed lives. But, in reality, those numbers indicate only one thing.

We are broken.

When did 10-30% start becoming good news? It’s a cop out, an excuse, it’s success by comparison only.

“Yeah, we are healthier than the other sick people!”

It may sound preposterous to some, but a real sign of a healthy church begins at a 100% growth rate. That’s when everyone in the house is reproducing themselves spiritually just like the great commission says.

Our churches should be doubling every year, not inching forward like glacial ice packs.

But, this will not happen unless one thing changes: We have to start loving the lost so much… we’d die for them.
God is able, the time is now, the harvest is ready!

But we (including this blogger) are too complacent, lazy and worst of all… satisfied.

I pray for you and I, that God would mess us up.

That we’d fall passionately in love with everyone on our block.

Or, we’d be overwhelmed with concern for every employee, every student and every parent connected to that school down the street.

Or, maybe we’d lose ourselves in another culture and even begin to feel our home is now somewhere else. In a place, with a people, for a calling that you’d be willing to die for.

God, please make us a people with so much to live for, we’d be willing to die for others just to share it with them.

Checked your wall lately?

What do you do when you focus in the wrong direction?

I’m not talking about just looking the wrong way, I mean pointing all your energy in the wrong direction.

I heard it said once that the greatest tragedy in life is to spend all your years climbing the ladder of life, only to find out you had it leaning on the wrong wall.

In ancient Hebrew, this particular human condition is pronounced “bi-gbu-mmer.”

It’s one thing to see a life lived poorly day after day, month after month, and year after year. It’s usually the product of bad circumstances, poor decisions or any number of factors that require a major life change to overcome.

What do you do when your focus is in the wrong direction like that?

Counseling… move across the country… go back to Continue reading “Checked your wall lately?”

My Wife’s Mother’s Day Reflections

I’m so excited. I think my wife has a lot to say that’s worth hearing in a world of people speaking loudly about nothing. I encourage her regularly to speak with me and write. She sent me this late Sunday night (Mother’s Day) and I think it’s worth sharing with you.


Ahh…Mother’s Day. I love Mother’s Day. I remember always loving it as a kid too. It was I and my sister’s turn to spoil my mom for one day, because Heaven knows we couldn’t have kept up the ‘no fighting’ rule for much longer than that! I remember making the macaroni art pictures that really only a mother could love, and doing my best to “keep the house clean.” It is still a mystery to me how a house can be clean when you go to bed, but by the time you wake up, it’s a disaster again…thus, I digress.

I recall part of Mom’s Mother’s Day was that she was not to do anything. We would wait on her hand and foot. Whatever she wanted, we would do. Well, that was from my perspective and our intention. I suppose she did plenty more than we thought since my attention span has never been long and I tend to whine when I don’t really want to do something.

Yes, I know my Mom had mercy on us.

I’m writing this while sitting on our front porch listening to the birds and enjoying the beautiful warm day God has given us. I have just finished a wonderful lunch that my amazing husband and boys made for me. I asked that this be the one day a year that I don’t have to make a decision, which I have not had to do, and I love it. I have peace and quiet.

Every Mom’s dream for a Sunday afternoon. Yet, I am unsettled.

I don’t really know what it is. I love the idea of Continue reading “My Wife’s Mother’s Day Reflections”

The Glory of Moms

Jochebed. Now there is a name for you.

Of all the biblical names you might know, this probably isn’t one of them.

Go ahead, take your guess: some incredible warrior whose story is tucked away deep in 2 Chronicles, a prophet who didn’t last long at the hands of Babylonians, or a Pharisee who conspired against Jesus?

Nope, she’s a mom.

But, not just any mom. Jochebed is the mother of Moses.

I love her story.

She was a mother in unfortunate circumstances. She was a slave in Egypt while a partial genocide was in progress. Baby Hebrew boys were being sacrificed to the Egyptian God of the Nile.

She defied the authorities and hid her son for three months. When hiding him was no longer possible, she got a basket and set him afloat on the Nile where he was discovered by Egyptian royalty and adopted.

This is the story of motherhood.

Perseverance. Even in the most difficult of circumstances she never gave up. She was a slave (any mothers beginning to identify?) in a culture so difficult to raise a child she literally had to save his life everyday.

Humility. Her name is hard to find, let alone spell. She is not even identified in this story that describes her most memorable moment. Its chapters later, in the genealogy of her son, that we finally see her name.

Risky. Hiding her son not only implied he was in danger, but her actions now put her and the rest of her family in danger, too. But, it didn’t matter. She made the decision that being a mother was risky business.

Creative. Without the back story, placing your child in a basket and floating him downstream hoping something good might happen probably won’t win you the mother of the year award. But in reality, this was brilliantly creative: children were daily being sacrificed in the river and a floating basket with a boy inside would not be out of place, placing the child in the reeds so that he would not float aimlessly was strategic, and selecting a spot on the river where he could be discovered by the only ones who could save him… that’s how biblical mommas roll!

This Mother’s Day weekend I hope you will celebrate the mothers in your life. Whether it’s your mom, your children’s mom, or just a mom near you, I hope you’ll take time to be thankful and thank them.

For all the times moms have persevered by making those sack lunches creative when the budget was tight. For all the times mom humbly helped with homework for which she never got a gold sticker. For all the times mom risked personal safety to stare down that bully who dared lay a hand on her baby. And, for all the times mom creatively schemed, manipulated and implemented her “whatever it takes” plan to get you in the church; we say thank you.

Mom, you are amazing and today we call you Jochebed, whose name in the original Hebrew means, “Glory of God.”

We see His glory in you… Happy Mother’s Day.

When you can’t wait on hope

Don’t you hate that, “We’ve got good news and we’ve got bad news” conversation.

It’s always followed up with the question, “Which one do you want first?”

Neither! Why don’t you go back out the door, fix the bad news and then come back in here with just good news… sound like a plan?

But, it never happens that way. Taking the good with the bad just seems to be one of the natural processes of life:

  • You get unexpected cash, and the car breaks down
  • You get some time off, you get a cold
  • You get married, you… wait, I think you get it

It’s a pattern that plays out almost everyday, but the blessings are hard to see. For example, you would not have had the money to fix the car (bad news) if the unexpected money hadn’t showed up (good news).

This same pattern seems to be confirmed in Continue reading “When you can’t wait on hope”

Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

That’s not really meant to be a statement of fact, because by now it’s extremely old news. It’s really more of a measuring rod.

When you hear that phrase, what does it do inside of you?

I’ve been watching Facebook,Twitter, reading other blogs, and have stayed dialed into major network news for the last 24 hours.

It appears the responses to the worldwide obituary run the gamut of human emotion:

  • Predominately there’s an expression of glee, in exuberance and celebration.
  • To a lesser degree there is an expression of relief, with cautious optimism.
  • Yet others, in a much smaller minority from what I can tell, are actually conflicted.

By conflicted I do not mean there is an outpouring of sympathy toward Osama Bin Laden. Far from it!

But, in several expressions I have read and heard, there is a difficulty in reconciling the spontaneous joy over the news of another man’s death (undoubtedly evil though he was), and the “Christian” call to be a person of grace and mercy.

The emotions on both sides of the fence are very real, but seem to be contradictory. The only normal response is frustration, confusion, hurt and… well, being conflicted.

I have no desire to be a global psychologist, but I must admit I find myself in that minority of the conflicted.

Here is why:

  1. I believe the world is a better place without the leadership of a mass murderer who cloaks his “mission” under the veil of God. I believe he and his actions were evil, reprehensible and totally deserving of punishment afforded by the authorities that are over us (Romans 13). I do not weep for the life of this terrorist at all.
  2. I believe God cares, loves and pursues even the worst of us. I’ve preached it before, so I better stand on it today, that no one’s sin is worse than anyone else’s sin in the eyes of God. In our human economy it does not seem to make sense that my gluttony at the buffet after church on Sunday was just as much a sin as acts of terror and murder. But in God’s economy, sin is sin.
  3. I believe that justice should be carried out, future lives protected, and the world made safer by the absence of one of evil’s chief architects for the current generation.
  4. I believe God’s people should take on the character of Christ (Philippians 2:5), who was willing to empty Himself and make Himself nothing becoming obedient even to the point of death, offering forgiveness even to those who were crucifying Him in the moment.

My problem… everything I believe doesn’t seem to hold hands. So, I’m conflicted.

I’m sure I will wrestle with Continue reading “Osama Bin Laden”