Thursday, May 22, 2008


Last night I had the pleasure of filling in for our preacher, Allan Stanglin, while he was away at a conference. With the exception of a couple of small classes, the adults all meet together in the 'gymnatorium' for a time of worship. (By the way, in a few months when our new worship center is completed, the gymnatorium will be converted to an actual gym). So I'm not sure you can technically call it 'preaching' but as a friend told me, "you were in the pulpit, man that's preaching."

I spent about twenty minutes talking about our focus. The lesson revolved around the story of a young man named Chris McCandless who struck out on a journey to Alaska to find peace, solitude, and happiness. He spent two years wandering/hitchhiking/adventuring around the western US before finally making it to his destination. He went alone and he went with very little in the way of supplies. The goal was to 'live off the land' and get by with as little as possible. He had grown weary of all the materialism he saw around him so he tried to put himself as far away from it as possible thinking it would bring the life he desired.

The story of Chris' life was made into a movie in 2007 - directed by Sean Penn.

I enjoyed the movie although it may not be for everyone. Now that's it's on DVD I'd say it's definitely worth a few bucks for anyone to rent. (Note: it is rated 'R').

I'm not going to give away the ending just in case you want to check it out. But I will tell you that Chris made it to Alaska and lived what he thought was the ideal life for a while. By the end of his time there it is apparent that the joyful life he was looking for had more to do with his focus, his attitude, than his surroundings. It also became obvious to him that a happy life had to include others.

The point was for us to not lose our focus. It's obvious that we can be distracted by work/school, etc. But we also need to realize we can lose focus even when working for God. I've certainly seen instances where someone's mission, ministry, program or outreach became more about their efforts and accomplishments than a way to impact others the way Christ wants us to. I don't think it ever starts this way - it's simply a lack of (or loss of) focus.

By remaining focused on our relationship with Christ we grow closer to him. The closer we grow to him the more we want to please him, the more we want him to be proud of us. It's exactly like the bond between a parent and child. In a relationship like that, one that's based on love and selfless thinking, we don't strive to serve the other person out of some sense of obligation. Our love for them makes us want to please them. It makes us want to serve them.

When we have this type of relationship with Jesus we automatically become servants. We can't help but to want to go out and feed the hungry, provide clothing to the needy, find shelter for the get the point. We can't help but to want and go out and treat people the way Christ would have. It all boils down to our focus.

Christ offers happiness. He offers joy. He offers fulfillment. We're not going to find it running around trying to keep ourselves busy. We're not going to find it out alone in the wilderness. The only thing we have to do is fix our eyes on him. Everything else will come naturally.

I received some very kind feedback after the lesson last night from several people. Paul Brownlow went so far as to say I should be preaching more. I told him that if I get the chance to fill in now and then I probably would. As for the pulpit at Legacy, I assure you that position is set securely within the capable hands of Allan. I even checked in with him for some pointers to tie all this together. I'll leave you with the first thing out of his mouth:

Matthew 6:33 - seek ye first the kingdom of God

Stay focused.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I told you Nanny rocks!

A few weeks ago the boys were at Wal-Mart trying to figure out a way to spend some Christmas and birthday money that was apparently burning holes in their pockets. It was the same old, same old. Dillon heads for the Xbox games and Dawson wants to check out bicycles and remote controlled cars. But they were instructed to stay together and as they strolled the aisles they found it:

Rockband. It's not just a game, it's like having a band. You can have a singer, a drummer and two guitars all playing at the same time. It's the greatest thing since, well...Guitar Hero.

Separately they can't come close to paying for it. But together? Yeah, together there's just enough. So that night we're tearing open the huge box and setting up stage. Bedtime was extended - I mean, have you ever heard of a rockstar with a bedtime? So they got an extra 45 minutes and were able to get a few songs in.

They were back at it early the next morning before school. But it wasn't long before they added a new band member:

Yes, that's Nanny tearing it up on lead guitar.