Saturday, December 26, 2009

Paper Airplanes

Its Christmas Day 2009, with just about 1 hour left in the day. And, like every Christmas, the kids made out like bandits with gifts from mom and dad, grandparents and great-grandparents, and a great-aunt and uncle. Among the spoil were Legos, Lincoln Logs, some RC cars with ultra-bright blue and red LEDs, a Dippin' Dots maker, a Pixos art machine for each girl, and jewelry boxes. But one gift emerged as daddy's favorite. It's a book of paper airplanes! Specifically, it has ten different airplanes to make, some gliders, some darts, some stunt planes. There's even one plane, called the Hurricane, which is a circle. Timmy and I had a lot of fun making airplanes and throwing them across the room. As I sat there tonight folding paper, I found myself taking a venture back to the wonder I experienced as a kid making airplanes. Not just the fun of tossing them across the room, but the work that goes into them. To make a good plane, you just don't fold paper any old way. Each fold must be precise. What is done on one side needs to be done on the other. A paper airplane, to fly properly, requires symmetry. It's really kind of cool.

As I was flying the last plane I made tonight, it hit me that paper airplanes brought out in me something that makes the Lord Jesus very happy-a childlike faith. He said to His followers, "If you want to enter the Kingdom of God, you must have faith like a little child" (my paraphrase). When I think of childlike faith, I'm not just thinking trust. While that is a huge part of faith, it's not the only part of faith. Think back to you childhood. Think back to that sense of wonder that you had. How was it that dad could mow the lawn, and instead of dying, a week later it was flourishing and in need of another mow? How could that Space Shuttle make it from that launch pad in Florida to outer space? How is it that a caterpillar morphs into a beautiful butterfly in about 2 weeks time in that tight chrysalis? Those are just a few of the things that put a sense of awe in us.

When you go out tomorrow, I want to stop and look around. So much of God's creation simply passes by without us giving it much thought. We adults get so focused on "important stuff" that we become colorblind to the wonderful things the Lord has put here. We need to stop and smell the roses, to use a very tired cliché. Remember the commercials for a popular allergy medication? The one where someone is outside, but the shot is blurred and dull? Then the person pulls out the allergy med box, and the dull, blurry image peels away to reveal a vibrantly colorful and clear picture. That's what I think we need from time to time. Call it a spiritual antihistamine. Why spiritual when we're talking about a physical world we are in awe over? Because we need to see the world as it really is. It's the creation of our all-powerful God, who happens to be Spirit. When we can let our minds take in the wonder and majesty of creation, then we in turn should let it translate into praise for the infinitely creative God who made it. Instead of stuffy noses, we have stuffed up spirits. We need to get our sense of wonder back.

I believe that we honor God when we explore and experience this world He made for us. He's made this whole universe as a vast backyard for us to explore. We not only have the technology to see the deepest places on earth, and the now unfolding catalog of new species to find in them, but we are getting glimpses of the awesome things outer space is full of. Distant stars exploding and imploding, beautiful nebulas, and new planets dazzle us. The psalmist was right. The heavens really do declare God's glory! I know that sadly, many of those who see these things daily don't translate it to faith a really big God. Honestly, I don't see how they don't. But the more I learn, the more I explore, the more I want to praise God. Why, just the human body alone is so impossibly complex that all I can do is give God glory.

I never thought I'd find inspiration in a few paper airplanes. Till next time!

God bless!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Primal: The Review

OK, this is officially my second review of a Mark Batterson book (or any book for that matter!). As an avid reader, I have several authors that I enjoy. But I don't have too many that I can relate to on a level that is "real", for lack of a better term. I'm not a lot younger than Pastor Mark, and on that point alone I have a lot more in common with him than other authors I read. Pastor Mark's first book challenged me to chase a lion in the biggest move of my then 30-year old life, uprooting my family from our comfortable home in southeast Michigan to sunny central Florida, where we have really seen the providence of God in our lives and ministry. Now comes the chance to review yet another great book, Primal: The Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. So here goes.

For some time, deep inside me, I've sensed a longing for what Mark conveys in the pages of this book, though I couldn't quite place a finger on it till now. Do you sense in your spirit and heart the need to reflect back on what a relationship with the Lord should be? That is exactly what this book is doing for me. It is a call for us to get past a surface faith that can develop in even the most seasoned Christian. This book calls us to descend back to what the heart of our faith is all about, namely, loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

So, taking the Great Commandment referenced above that the Lord gave us, Mark takes us on a journey through each one, looking at the ways we love God in them. Do the things that break God's heart break ours? Does the wonder of God's creation awe us? The soul of our faith is often expressed in the wonder and amazement of what God has made. How about loving Him with our minds? We have the ability to continually grow in knowledge. But too many of us allow ourselves to stop learning at some point in life. God is honored when we don't stop trying to understand Him, His ways and His universe. Finally, love God with all our strength. In other words, putting some elbow grease into our faith. I used to attend a church that operated a large warehouse for benevolence ministry. We stored food and drinks there that we gave out both locally and around the world. But people had to maintain the warehouse, lest it fall into poor shape. Things needed to be put in order. I did that for a while, and each time I went home, I left with the sense that I had done something of value eternally. I was tired, but I felt that I had loved God with my strength.

Our faith isn't simply reading a few verses, saying a few prayers and calling it a day. Our faith is living and real. It finds outlet in our experiences and practices on a daily basis. Primal
takes you to the place that you look at the foundational things that make our faith. So pick up a copy today and start digging down into the primal roots of Christianity!P