More Toddler Worship

Anders has been singing more of his own versions of worship songs:

One of his favorites is Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. Anders' version goes:
Indescribable, You made the stars in the sky and You are amazing.
(The real lyrics are: Indescribable. Uncontainable. You put the starts in the sky and You called them by name. You are amazing).

I also once heard him singing Awesome God by Rich Mullins. I didn't get it down right away, but I think this is close:
Our God is an awesome God. He is from the heavens above. He is the Heavenly Father.

He has a CD of kids singing modern worship songs (well, used to be 2 CDs, but after the move, we only have the case to one of them--no idea where the CD is). I know we've gone on about it before, but Anders will just randomly break out into song. It's wonderful, and not much makes us prouder of him.


The City of Roses

On Wednesday Bruce and I headed down to the 122nd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Portland, Oregon (a self-proclaimed City of Roses) for the ministerium part of the meeting on Thursday. We headed downtown for supper that night to try and find Chinatown (Bruce was in the mood for Chinese). Without a map, I somehow managed to get us there--we drove through a bit of the downtown area first, and then asked for directions (yes, men can do that). The downtown of Portland was quite an eye-opener. Plenty of gay bars, shops of an adult nature, homeless people in abundance, unbridled consumerism. I happened to bring with Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz. He's from Portland and I happened to read a statement of his the next day that Portland has the least amount of churches per capita (or something along those lines). It was evident, driving through what we saw of Portland.

On Thursday we sat through a continuing education session on Hosea (and why/how to preach on the Minor Prophets in general). The beginning of Hosea is a poignant lesson in how we treat God when we turn away from Him (the story involves God having Hosea marry a prostitute in order for him to understand and be able to share God's hurt with Israel). The afternoon was mostly our business meeting, which I won't go into the details of.

But the Thursday evening worship session was wonderful (as they usually are). Missionaries on home assignment, as well as ones being commissioned, proceeded in with the flags of the 39 countries that the Covenant church is serving in. After wonderful worship, a video was shown on the ministry of Foundation el Pacto, which does amazing work reaching out to the poor, homeless and destitute in Columbia (truly I have never seen a greater example of reaching out to "the least of these"). The message that night was given by Andres Bunch, a Covenant pastor in Columbia and president of Foundation el Pacto. He preached on David's time fleeing from Saul, living in a cave and having 400 men come join him--men who were of low stature, much like the people Jesus drew to Him. And with those 400 men, Jesus conquered many nations. By investing in people like that--people who wold be humanly incapable of changing the world--we are now here today 2000 years after Christ. It was a wonderful message (made all the more enjoyable as the missionary who was interpreting, tried to keep up with Andres). The message was followed by the commissioning of short-term and project missionaries, and the church coming together to send them out in prayer and the laying on of hands. It was a wonderful time of uniting together in Christ, seeing friends from throughout the States, but mainly by being challenged in this whole becoming like Christ thing we're called to do. (If you want to see some of the service, I believe it's available under the Annual Meeting link.)

So, it's a struggle that I've been wrestling with over the last few days. On the way down I saw a few different people standing on street corners, on the entrances to highways, with their signs stating their current position in life. I'm never sure what to do with them. I feel I'm supposed to do something, but nothing really seems appropriate to do. On the way back, Bruce reminded me of the fact that Jesus didn't heal everyone, He didn't meet the needs of everyone who needed help. That's why we're supposed to live, as one of the six Covenant affirmations states, in dependence on the Holy Spirit. Only through the Spirit can we discern who we're supposed to help and how. But all the while we're called to love. I know. I'm still struggling with it, too. But we need to wrestle with, rather than ignore, those hard parts of the gospel.


What Grew in the Garden

There's this tiny patch of garden behind the house--we weren't sure what was in it when we came, if anything was a flower or if it was all weed. Here's some of what's blooming so far:


Ebb and Flow

In some ways today was more like Father's Day than yesterday was. Mostly because the weather was fairly nice and we got to spend the day together. After running south across the border for some shopping (and lunch at Jack in the Box, which is fast becoming one of my favorite fast food stops), we came back and Anders was asking about going to the beach. So we did.

We headed down to White Rock and walked down the promenade. We made our way down to the pier, where we had a picnic at the end (we thought Anders might enjoy having a picnic over the ocean). When we walked out, the beach extended almost all the way out to the end of the pier (which is 1500 ft long). We ate, watched some people crabbing, looked at tiny jellyfish and started to head back. By the time we got to the shore, the tide was almost all the way in. I hadn't even noticed while we were out there--it happened so quickly. I believe I've noticed signs before, warning people to pay attention tot the tidal schedule so that they don't get stuck out there. I suppose it's a good analogy for sin--how it can seem harmless, but can easily get you trapped if you're not paying attention, especially the further out you get away from the beach--or God. I don't think I need to go on too much with that one--if you're like me, you've probably been there before. You're probably more interested in the pictures anyway.

1. Anders and the bear
2. The family underneath the "White Rock"--the city's namesake (it's painted white now--some say it was originally white because of gull droppings; it's in the history books as a land mark for early explorers like Capt. Vancouver)
3. Our picnic spot (that's Washington behind across Semiahmoo Bay)
4. The boys trying to get a better view
5. Gulls with the mountains in the background (if the clouds had cleared out you'd see some of the Cascades a little fuller). We didn't think to take a before and after picture of the tide


I Love You, Honey

Today's our 10th Anniversary. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Once upon a time we had big plans. We'd saved up money to go to Sweden. However, during 6 months of mostly unemployment the money has gone elsewhere. And now we have two kids--and Nils isn't really up for being separated for long from his main food source yet. So that's not happening this year. Plans change. And that's fine. Life isn't about getting what we want (sorry to burst the American Dream).

Thanks Beth for 10+ years of loving me and letting me try to love you as best I can. I know I fail miserably at times. Marriage isn't easy. I have to give up my own desires (which I usually try and hold on to), I have to do things I don't always want to do, I have to co-exist with someone who thinks and acts differently than I do. And though it may not be easy. It's worth it. Let's face it--despite what the media tells you, the best things in life come with some effort (even salvation from God, which is free and can't be earned, comes with our full obedience and submission to Christ). When I let myself, I learn more about God through Beth. She's very different than I am, but we're both created in God's image (that female-ness of God [read Genesis 1 - male and female He created them in His likeness] is still something I don't grasp fully).

I've said this in wedding messages before, but I'm amazed at how God uses marriage for an illustration of Christ's relationship to the Church (the Body, not the building). Even in the Hebrew Scriptures, God talks about Israel being his bride (and then how they prostitute and adulterate themselves to other gods). God/Christ is a sacrificial giver to Israel/the Church. The husband is called to love in the same way. So again, thank you, Beth, for helping me learn and understand more about God.

All that to say: I love you, Beth. Thanks for 10 years and 2 wonderful (though trying) boys. I look forward to seeing where God takes us in the next 10 years. Wherever He leads us, I know it'll be doable with you by my side.


More from the Mouths of Babes

Lately Anders has been back into a praying kick.
Quick background: the first time he prayed out loud was for a meal we were eating at FarFar & FarMor's with his cousins. We asked him if he'd like to pray, thinking he'd give us the usual answer of no. But instead, he did and proceeded to thank God for the meal, including the pickles--which made Beth and I chuckle, which made the others think we were terrible parents. His usual M.O. became to pray with squinted eyes, thanking God for every individual thing he could see at the table. One evening while the volunteer youth group leaders were at our house for a planning meeting, we opened in prayer. Each of us (I think there were 5 that night), prayed for quite a while. The whole time, Anders sat there praying himself--for each individual thing in the room he saw: his toys, the people there, etc. It kind of frustrated him, I think, when one person finished and another started. He thought he was done, but then he started again--thanking for the same things for the most part. He went for quite a while praying at meals, but then came to a point where he had enough and stopped.
I guess that wasn't so quick. But he's back in a praying mode. And it makes us thrilled. It's mostly the same prayer: Jesus, thank you for everything. Thank you for Mom and Dad. Amen.
But he desires to pray. And that is what's cool.

That last one is the "I'm frustrated that you're taking pictures of me" look.

I often feel like I'm striking out at prayer. I don't feel like I'm connecting the way I should. Sometimes it does just take practice and perseverance. Jesus told parables about the persistent woman before the judge and the neighbor knocking for bread. Sometimes you just keep going, even though it doesn't feel like much is happening. God is there and He can handle whatever we bring to Him--even our frustrations and anger.

Prayer is about our relationship with God. It's about remembering that He is always present with us--and relating to Him throughout our day accordingly. Unfortunately, that's not always easy to remember to practice. But be patient--and persevere. God's always there, waiting for us to draw close to Him--even when we forget about Him.


We Put the "Fun" in Funeral

We came off quite a week last week. Thursday we had a congregational meeting, Friday was a funeral, Saturday a funeral, and I was supposed to tag-team preach on Sunday and have a picnic with the youth group afterward, but I got sick on Saturday night and missed church on Sunday morning.

The funeral on Friday was for a former pastor in Canada, Tom Wilkinson. As a former pastor, there was quite a lot of involvement in the memorial service. The superintendent of the Canada Conference of the Covenant Church flew out for the service. I got to read scripture. It really was a nice service. Tom had been in the hospital for a while and had been thinking about what he wanted for his memorial service. He had even written the message. It was a wonderful reflection on his life shaped around Psalm 23. The family didn't really have to do much planning--everything was pretty much in order as to what Tom had wanted. (Side note: do your families well--have it thought through and planned out for them)

After the second memorial service someone had brought up how different Christian funerals were from ones for unbelievers. Most of us hadn't been to a funeral for an unbeliever. I had actually been thinking about how terrible death must be for someone who has no hope. Or the support of the Body to get them through.

On the shelf where death's book sits, the focal point is really on the bookends--life on both sides. The here and the hereafter. Maybe a better image is a suspension bridge between two lush plateaus--one of which is unimaginable as to the beauty of what awaits us there.

And so, life goes on for us.

Embrace life as it comes now and enjoy it, but put your hope in what is to come. Don't compromise your identity as a citizen of Heaven for the lures of worldly living. But be sure to enjoy the ride along the way.


From the Mouths of Babes

Psalm 8 says that from the lips of children and infants God has ordained praise.

The other day Anders starting singing, "My soul, my soul must sing. My soul, my soul must sing." It took me a few seconds to figure out what he was singing, but it turned out to be "Beautiful One" by Jeremy Camp. He has a version of it on one of his kids' praise CDs.

Beautiful One, I love You.
Beautiful One, I adore.
Beautiful One, my soul must sing.

I'm not sure if there's much else that can move a parent's heart than hearing their toddler praising God out of the blue. Maybe that's part of what having faith like a child is all about--just being able to worship God spontaneously.