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Allowing Silence: a call to listen

Allowing Silence

A Call to Listen

We have a tradition in our home that, at dinner, our children get the chance to decide who is going to pray and say a word of thanksgiving for our family, friends, food and other blessings in our lives.  Recently, our three year old daughter has insisted on praying first in order to thank Jesus for dying for our sins.  It’s an adorable reminder that the rest of what we’re thankful for doesn’t mean a whole lot without the cross.  Funny how preschoolers can take such a matter-of-fact approach to the profound.

Tonight, during the week after Memorial Day, I grilled up the last of our hot dogs and sat down to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned American cuisine with our family gathered around the table.  Processed meat: check.  Watermelon: check.  Carrots and ranch dip: double check.

We each prayed tonight; first our daughter prayed parts of the “sinner’s prayer” for what amounts to be close to her 47th time, I followed by thanking God for our family and for our sons’s kindergarten teacher, my wife then thanked God for our meal and asked that God would help me finish the projects I have looming and, last, my son took his turn to pray.

silence.

silence.

more silence.

It was at this point that I broke one of the basic rules of prayers that we teach kids – I opened my eyes to see what was going on.  Well, actually, I only partially opened one eye – you know, because sometimes we act like opening our eyes during prayer makes our wishes not come true (not theologically sound, mind you, but totally how we act sometimes).  I noticed our son, sitting under the table, hands folded, eyes closed and sitting silently.  I closed my eyes, thankful that everything looked to be okay, and went back to respectfully sitting quietly as my son finished praying.

silence.

more silence.

I started to think about all of the things I needed to do after dinner:  The email I didn’t send today.  The email I sent but should have proofread better.  The files I needed to download before Sunday.  The car that needed to get washed.  The hot dog that was rapidly cooling back to its refrigerated state on my plate.

still silence.

“… amen.”

Our son, who just finished kindergarten this week, crawled back onto his seat and took a giant bite of now-only-slightly-warm hot dog.  I had just sat through what felt like one of the longest 5 minute stretches in my life and had to ask why.

“I needed to listen to see if God had anything to say,” he replied.  “He didn’t tonight, so I said ‘amen’.”

silence.

It was at that point that I looked over at my wife.  She smiled at me.  I held back a tear.  God might not have said anything to my son tonight, but I got the message loud and clear.

There are times in my life when I feel like I need to say something.  In general, I’m uncomfortable with the void that silence can create.  In no way would I consider myself wired to be an extrovert.  Quite frankly, people exhaust me sometimes.  But, I get uncomfortable if I could be producing something and I’m not.

Sitting in silence seems like the opposite of doing something.  So, more often than not, I say more words than I should.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

And so I sit here tonight, wondering if I can begin to listen for God’s voice in the way that my children naturally lift their ears towards the heavens.  I wonder what being still actually feels like and if, once I experience it, I’ll find myself changed by it.

silence.

Consider this a call to listen this week.  Carve out time to seek the stillness that comes in being silent.  And, in that stillness, ask to see if there is anything that God would like to tell you.  If nothing else, know that God is there in the silence.  Like a father, watching his child learn what it’s like to listen for his voice.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Thoughts

 

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The Importance of Sharing

The Importance of Sharing

Believing in a God who rescues

A few weeks back, I was given the opportunity to preach at all four of our church’s weekend services.  We were between sermon series at the time, so I had the chance to choose what my message would focus on and what text our congregation would reflect on.  If you have 30 minutes, you might want to check out that sermon by downloading it here: In the Image of Dad.

When given the chance to share my heart, I felt the need to share my belief and hope that God rescues us when we cry out to Him and, that in the midst of our cries, He rescues those around us as well.

In Need of Rescue

I’ve tried to be transparent about the miscarriage that my wife and I experienced last year and have written about what it’s like to go through that loss as a parent, as a father and as someone in professional ministry (A collection of those posts can be found HERE).  I think my hope, in sharing that story in written form and through spoken word, was that God would redeem that story and bring hope where there was only pain.  Reflecting on things, I think I also shared that story with the assumption that it would be the last thing that God would have to rescue me from.

I write this post today with hands that are shaking.  Yesterday, I stepped out of a meeting to answer a phone call from my wife (we have a policy that, if she calls, I answer – no exceptions) and couldn’t get her to put three words together without bursting into tears.  I left the office and ran home to check on her and the kids – I’m not sure what I thought was wrong at home, but I was pretty sure I could fix it.

I’m good at fixing things.

The things you can’t fix

The longer I’m married, the more I realize that I can’t fix everything.  There are days when you wake up in need of rescue and find yourself in the same place when the sun sets that same day.  In life, there are days of “in between” when you feel helpless and vulnerable.  Sometimes you feel like you’re in the belly of a great fish, sometimes you feel like a giant stone has been rolled between you and your Creator, and sometimes you simply lay in bed at night unable to sleep because (as much as you know you’re not supposed to) you worry about something that you have no control over.

Yesterday, my wife and I were told that blood work that was done last week has come back with markers that show that our baby, now in the second trimester, might not be as healthy as we had hoped.  Because we believe in the power of prayer and in a deep call to living in community, we sent this message out last night to our closest circle of friends:

We just got a call that the second trimester genetic screening blood test indicated that we are considered high-risk and should be offered both genetic counseling and an appointment with a high-risk OB. The test is not diagnostic for any certain problem, but we have been offered further testing to determine if a genetic disorder or other problem exists. The baby can still be absolutely fine. We are choosing to discuss the results with a counselor and have a full ultrasound done this week, our appointments are on Wednesday afternoon.
We believe in doing life in community so we will be making this public knowledge and asking for prayer… Please [pray] for the health of Baby Nutmeg and that we won’t be overwhelmed with worry between now and Wednesday. Thanks so much!

The Importance of Sharing

Sharing has never been easy for me.  I was the kid who stole toys from kindergarten because I didn’t want other kids to play with them.  I’m the kid who went to a counselor in High School and spent an entire session refusing to speak.  I’m the one who sits with the TV remote next to me so that I can control the fast-forward button during commercial breaks.  Sharing means giving up control – and I like control.

Friends, though it’s not my knee jerk reaction to share, I believe with all of my heart that God’s people are called to share their story with others.  When we call out for help, I believe that God comes to our rescue and that, in the midst of rescuing us, that others come to know Him.

In this season of worry, pain, grief, anxiety, nervousness and heartache, my wife and I take comfort in knowing that God writes a better story than we could ever dream of.  Please, during the next few days/weeks/months join us in praying for the health of our baby (“Baby Nutmeg”).  And, while you’re at it, pray that God might use our story in a way that leads others to the Hope we have in a God who rescues.

Today is a hard day.

This is why we don’t do life alone.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Thoughts

 

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Pray for my friend, Sandy

** UPDATED **

Sandy is home!

Details here:

http://sandyboulware.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-17-days-of-christmas.html

 

A personal request:

My friend, Sandy Boulware, is battling cancer.  This has been a hard week for her and today is looking to be extremely tough for the family. Her husband, Jon, posted this on his blog this morning…

Triage Unit

Sandy is very sick. (Please do not call the house, her cell, or text her.) (I know everyone means well, but it is adding to the stress and scarring the kids.) I will update everyone as best I can. We spent the entire day at the City of Hope Triage Unit (think ER) and she received another 3 hour hydration infusion, along with pain medication (for cramps) and anti nausea medication. They also ran a bunch of tests. She was released about 5:30 PM and we were home for no more than an hour before the COH called back and wanted me to bring her back in. A urine test completed just prior to us leaving indicated citical levels of glucose and ketones which could result in a diabetic coma or worse. She also had a fevor spike up on her. She is back in the unit and most likely spending the night there. She is scheduled for hydration infusions over the next 3 days here at the house. She is extremely dehydrated and can’t hold anything down. The chemo toxins need to be flushed out of her system. When people tell you that, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – don’t believe it.

I had been on staff at my current church for just a few weeks when one of my volunteers (and mother of 2 girls in our programs… now in 5th and 9th grades) was diagnosed with cancer.  It’s been a roller coaster of a journey over the last few years.  In that time, Sandy has become one of my favorite people and the Boulware family has been gracious enough to adopt me into their circle of friends.

Having lost my friend Steven** to cancer earlier this year, I selfishly don’t want another family I love to have to walk that same path.  Sandy’s story has been a journey of faith and a tale of a family who refuses to lose hope in following a God who heals.  You can read more of her story and journey here:

http://sandyboulware.blogspot.com/

I know that posts on this page typically deal with kids’ ministry, but today I’m simply asking for prayers.

If you would take a few moments to pass on this request to your network, I would appreciate it.

We need a miracle today – and we have a God who is in the miracle business.

Here’s a picture of Sandy and her amazing family:

(Pictured from left to right: Jon, Michelle, Sandy, Rachel)

Thanks, friends.

-Ap

—-

** Steven was one of our kidmin volunteers and a close friend of mine.  I wrote about his battle with cancer here: https://westcoastcm.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/my-friend-steven/

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The Calm before the Storm

Tomorrow we launch the largest Vacation Bible School in the history of our church.

We spent no money on advertising this year.

We didn’t put a banner out on the corner of our property with dates and times of our event.

We’re seeing a 20% increase in registration over last year… which was a 20% increase over the year before.

Our student leaders, youth in the 6th-12th grade, have doubled in size over the last two years. (you can follow their journey here)

This year, we’ve added an adult prayer team that has been praying for our event over the last month and will continue to do so as the week continues.

Our prayer team will be offering classes during camp to teach parents how to pray for their children.

Nearly 30% of the kids who’ve signed up to spend the week with us, leaders included, have no church affiliation.

During our 20+ hours of volunteer training leading up to the event, 29 student leaders accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Another 150 recommitted their lives to serving Him.

I’ll now spend the next 24 hours praying that I don’t get in God’s way this week.
It should be a blast.

We welcome your prayers as well.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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