Stopped Traffic and the Unanticipated Slowness of Transition

One thing I can’t stand is stopped traffic.  Earlier today, I was headed downtown on I-70 and I noticed on the sign that the left lane was closed and to expect delays.  I guess maybe I am an optimist, but since I was in the center lane I looked to both sides and considering the fact that the traffic was pretty light, I deducted that we really did not need the left lane.

It was just about that time that I saw brake lights and for all practical purposes I pulled into my parking space in the westbound lane of I-70.  I became a hostage to the pavement in the left lane.  I was calm for about 10 seconds and then I began to panic….it was written all over my face….frantic, piercing eyes going from rear view to side mirror over the shoulder and then looking ahead in a hysterical cycle.  I spotted a break in traffic and then took the chance to move over one lane and then the right lane opened up and with the thought that the meek may inherit the earth but certainly not the right lane I pulled out.  Now there are two ways to look at this move: 1. It is self-centered or 2. It is my new ministry to test other driver’s spiritual depth.  I prefer to look at this as my ministry.

Unfortunately, I have a conscience and so after driving at least a mile and passing hundreds of cars in the exit lane, I had to make the decision to either test more spirituality or take the exit and go way out of the way.  Since the topic of my sermon is on the Holy Spirit for Sunday, I opted to actually take the exit.  After driving a few miles I was able to turn around and find my way back to I-70.  As I pushed my way back into the parking lot, I realized that everything was down to one lane.  Now the reason for the parking lot was three Mo-Dot crews that were patching the concrete.

At the moment, I was frustrated because it seemed like a lot of hassle for three patches.  However after pondering the situation I realized that they were patching the potholes that I mentally threaten to call the city about when I pass by every day.  Since it has been several hours since this incident, my emotions have come back under control and I will share my lessons learned.

I struggle when everything does not go my way at every moment of the day.  There are events that I wish for (fixed potholes) and then when that is happening I get frustrated because it slows down my day.  As we look to relocate to a new gathering place for our church, I have found myself frustrated over how long it is taking and that we have to go into temporary space.  However, I am confident that we will have opportunities as a result of this “slower than hoped for” transition that will cause me to look back in appreciation.

With this in mind, this Sunday, March 2 is our last Sunday at the Scarritt building.  We will be moving out of our offices tomorrow beginning at 9:00am.  However we will be meeting one last time at the Scarritt building on Sunday, March 2.

I invite you to take a few minutes to look over the blogs on our website: http://www.newlifekc.org/blogs.html

I invite you to be a part of our last service at the Scarritt Building.  We will study John 16:4b-15.  We will participate in worshipful music, prayer and communion.

I close with a verse that God has used in my life this past week from Ezra 7:10 “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

I love you all!

Troy

The Fallen Kayaker and Recognizing our own Shortcomings (John 15:18-16:4)

There is a lot of stuff I could write about this week after an incredible trip to Puerta Vallarta.  Instead of boring you with details about the beautiful weather and resort and the incredibly revitalizing time we had on the beach, I will narrow the topic down to one funny experience we had yesterday.

Since we had to leave for MO – (Misery) in the early afternoon, we got out on the beach early.  We found two loungers in the front only a few feet from the crashing waves.  We could see dolphins playing out in the water only about 500 yards off the shore.  Right next to us was the activity building where you could find kayaks, snorkels, windsurfs, etc. to use.  Immediately after they opened, two women headed out into the ocean in the kayaks.  They made it look easy as they paddled through the waves out into the calm water.  We watched them head for the dolphins and could tell they were having an amazing time with them out there.

After 30-40 minutes they decided to head in…this is where the entertaining part of the story begins.  The first one made it in pretty easily.  The waves were pretty big and the guy on the beach was waving her to come in fast and ride the wave right on to the beach.  She followed in textbook style.  Her friend was about 50 yards behind and came paddling in furiously.  Then a wave of fear washed over her face (pun intended) and she nearly stopped paddling, it was obvious that she sensed the height of the waves around her.  By this time she was only about 15 yards from the beach, but while she was looking at the waves parallel to her, a huge wave was coming behind her that she could not see….the guy on the beach was waving at her to paddle frantically.  She managed a weak smile in an attempt to hide her fear and then froze possibly thinking that everything was going to be OK.  That certainly was not an accurate assumption…..

Leigh-Ann and I were locked in on this drama from the front row.  We could see on her face that she thought she had made it in to the shore.  We could also see the guy on the beach waving frantically.  In addition, we could see this big wave behind her to which she was oblivious.  The next five seconds would have made the perfect home video.

In an instant the wave caught up, carried her to the crest and then sent her into a nose dive right in front of us.  It was almost surreal as her face changed from fear to absolute terror…the kayak went from being parallel to the ground to being perpendicular to the ground.  The waves pulled her out of the kayak like a vacuum and covered her like a blanket.  When the wave rescinded its beating on this poor woman, she quickly pulled herself off the sand and said, “I did great until the landing.”  You think?  I hate to sound cold, because this whole crashing the kayak into the beach is something that I could easily see myself doing.

This woman’s reaction to her landing mishap is so parallel to our own reactions when we are faced with our own failures in life.  We naturally tend to focus on all the things we have done right instead of taking a realistic look at what is wrong in our life, accepting God’s grace for the situation and experiencing forgiveness and restoration.  I guess the story I shared above is so incredibly comical to me because nobody that saw the situation remembered how well she could paddle (they probably didn’t even notice), but they did remember the “landing episode.”  In addition, no one on shore blamed her for being a “poor kayaker” in fact at least Leigh-Ann and I were just glad it wasn’t us pulling ourselves off the sand.

If the “fallen kayaker” had simply said, “Wow, I could really use some help with the landing next time” she would have walked away like a champion.  Why is it that we so often try to take focus off of our mishaps by reminding everyone of everything we do that is right?  Let’s all make a commitment to recognize our own shortcomings and embrace God’s grace.

This Sunday we will study John 15:18-16:4…I hope you can take a few minutes to review the text and spend some time praying for the service as well as thousands of Christians in the world who are being persecuted for their faith.

Living the way Life is meant to be!

Troy

Valentines day and 24/7 Faith

Pheew!  Valentine’s Day is over for another 364 days.  I know, you probably think I am the least romantic person in the world.  Leigh-Ann would probably testify that I am somewhere in the middle.  This whole romantic idea aside, there are certainly some observations I made throughout the day that I am happy to share today.

Beside the controversy over the origins of Valentines Day, a quick look at the money spent yesterday will attest that the spirit of St. Valentine lives on.  It is a beautiful thing to have people in our lives that we love.  Kids, singles and couples alike can be a part of the joy of giving out and maybe even receiving valentines.  We can all get a little carried away as well.  So fortunately for me, I received an e-mail on Sunday morning advertising flowers to be delivered on Valentines Day and I had the presence of mind to order immediately.

On Monday, I remember walking through the store and thinking to myself that I should pick up some cards for my three valentines, but then I saw all the people climbing over each other in the card section and for some crazy reason thought if I came back later, I wouldn’t have to wade through humanity for the opportunity to spend money on an overpriced card.  Unfortunately, the population in the card aisle multiplied exponentially throughout the week.

The morning of Valentines dawned and I still was hanging on to the fact that I had my flowers ordered, but nothing else.  At the risk of falling down toward the bottom of the romanticism scale I had planned to take the girls out for dinner.  As the day wore on, I think Leigh-Ann started to get worried and mentioned the possibility of ordering out.  This was the perfect solution.  After getting a busy signal three times I made contact with Olive Garden and submitted my order.  I drove into the parking lot and the closest possible parking spot opened, so I took it.  Unfortunately, the “Good Luck” ran out at the curb.  When I walked in it was more crowded than a bathroom at Arrowhead.  It took me several minutes just to locate the line for carry out.  Then I waited for in line for 20 minutes.  After another 10 minute wait while they found my food, I still had a smile on my face because I just knew the incredible stress we had sidestepped.

People were packed in like sardines, servers were stressed out, food was mediocre and if romanticism were a temperature, it was below freezing.  So why spend all the money and time to celebrate Valentines Day and in the end leave fed up and stressed out?  Honestly, there is a risk of falling down the romanticism scale…the flower and greeting card companies have collaborated to create this exceptional standard for people to live up to.

What would it be like to have some grace on Valentines Day and not be forced into living up to some artificial standard of romanticism?  If we lived out our romanticism 364 days of the year I am confident that people would not feel left out if we decided to boycott Valentines Day altogether.  The problem is that we do not live it out for 364 days so we guilt ourselves into celebrating alongside everyone else.

Our spiritual lives are much like this as well.  We often attend a church service to alleviate our guilty consciences.  Obviously, it is not bad to go to church, but it is not good to go to church for the wrong reasons.  If we lived out our faith 24/7 we would be able to attend church and be recharged for the week ahead instead of feeling absolved for the week behind.  This Sunday we will study John 15:18-16:4…I urge you to spend a few minutes reading the text and praying specifically for God to recharge you for the week to come.

Blessings!

Troy