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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sex Charades, Individualism, Gouche-ism, or simple Deception?

What kind of fish are you?
I live a long distance from the so-called cutting edge of societal "progress." But the majority of uninvolved blokes like me used to be able to figure this stuff out. It fell under the category of "common sense," which is increasingly difficult to find....(and when it is found, it's ridiculed). Culturally compromising sexual practices are being encouraged and experimented with. This is stuff that when it was talked about, even behind closed doors, used to bubble the paint on the woodwork and lift the wall paper on the surrounding walls.

For example, it really isn't cool to sleep with your boyfriend, do "hook-ups," decide you're bi-sexual, or make it your practice to chase around promiscuously with the same or the opposite sex, etc. (although we're being told that it is...and never mind the insightful research). Can anyone spell, s-t-u-p-i-d! It's a fact--and you should know it too. Why? Because I'm very familiar--as we all should be--with the dynamics  and tragic implications of addictive behavior.  

American society is increasingly committed to it's own haphazard destruction---and the vast majority of us appear to do our level best to ignore it! That, in and of itself, is N-U-T-S. We humans are amazingly susceptible to our own pleasure producing endorphins. It's a basic tenant of social (forensic and clinical) psychology that "all behavior has meaning." Why? We predictably repeat pleasurable (stimulating) and pain-avoiding (pleasurable) experiences. And, for example, just about nothing is more pleasurable than the sensual payoffs--the endorphin pumps--we get in and around sex and our sexuality. Duh!

Similarly, there is just about nothing more predictable than the growing preoccupation we can observe in, for example, all things sexual or sexually stimulating. As more and more people are doing, exploring, or just talking about "it" (whatever that "it" is),  the social stigmas around "it" declines (since the need for a social pain-avoidance diminishes). At the same time the potential for the experimentation around "it" GROWS. For example, the personal and societal appetite for the physical, emotional, and psychological pleasure associated with "it" gets bigger and bigger.

So, what's so bad about it, if so many people really seem to want "it?" It's ADDICTION. Contrary to the pervasive PC arguments of our day, it's really not about tolerance, character building, diversity, or progressiveness. There is nothing noble, creative, independent, progressive, or even praise worthy here. It's just stupid, permissive, enabling and "falling down drunk" ADDICTION. 

My dad used to say, "Any old dead fish can float down the stream, but it takes a live one to swim up the stream." So, what kind of a fish are you...are you daily practicing your crawl stroke?

NEXT TIME...A metaphor: 70 years of sugar, processed foods and simple carbs, type II diabetes and a society in trouble.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Got Obstacles Ahead?

There is stuff to say about a support raising effort. As I prepare myself for a fruitful outreach ministry at the Colorado School of Mines, the first step is that of raising my needed financial resources...including my salary. Of course that comes through a detailed ministry budget and the administrative oversight of Campus Ambassadors parent organization, Missions Door.

Some people predictably ask me, "Why do you need to raise your own support...isn't ministry hard enough of itself?" One of my answers to that question rehearses how the process helps me discover people with vision and heart who will partner with me. These stand financially and prayerfully behind me--invisible warriors, as they become--for my on-campus presence. Their passion is, in part, because of their financial investment through me for the Kingdom of God. I feel it assigns me a precious and sacred trust.

There's another answer I offer to this question, too. I sincerely believe I am partnering with God in this ministry effort. I want and need to learn to trust Him with it and in it. A big part of my own faith-growth starts anew and matures, often AWKWARDLY, in this support-raising crucible. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

So what's next...where does the faith road go from here? God knows and I'll follow Him. What are the challenges ahead for you?  I Peter 1:3-7.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Got a life plan?

"Life's Road"...near Birkenfeld, OR
I had an early plan for my life, but I'm here to tell you that it looked a lot different from the one I'm living. For example, if I was doing My plan...   


  • My boys would have had a great deal more familiarity with the Pacific Northwest...and a relationship with their Grandparents--my parents!
  • My dad and mom, sisters and brother--and my life's earliest friendships--wouldn't have been truncated by a 35-year hiatus to the Front Range of Colorado.
  • I'd be a seasoned builder of custom homes with a reputation for creative, innovative inside-outside living designs.
  • Yada, yada, yada, ...and you get the idea.
As a general rule, life just doesn't work our way. Either life gets in our way all by itself --and God permits it--or GOD himself gets in our way to change-up our plans (eg., Jonah 1: 1&2; Acts 9:3&4; Proverbs 16:9).

Today we're marking the 12th year since those horrific events of 9/11/2001. we're all remembering, as confusing as it may be sometimes, that God permitted some of the worst to happen in and around NYC. Lives were lost and other lives were dramatically changed--and let's not to forget the influence those events have had on all Americans as a whole!

Perhaps you're wrestling with something today--maybe even something other than 9/11? It may be that whatever it is, it seems to make no sense? Hmmm. Might you be wrestling with God or against something else he has permitted to impact your life?  

Of course I can't know, but I know there is that for which we can be completely confident, and it's this: HE promises--and has already demonstrated conclusively that our existence, our life, yours and mine in time and space today, right now--is not all there is. He promises his followers he will make-up for the sacrifices, the disappointments and the hurts we experience here, if we will just trust in HIS rewarding plan and faithfulness for our forever future (1Peter 1:3-8).  

So, together, let's swallow hard. Let's challenge ourselves to assume an attitude that says, "Yes, I will trust Him...and with his help I will persevere!" Then, let's watch what God can and will do through our dedicated lives.

"For God is at work in you, both to will and to do for his good pleasure."...and..."I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him--for his safe keeping--until that day." Philippians 2:13 and II Timothy 1:12.

Bless you.

Dick

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Entangled in a web....of my own making?


I walked into our chicken house and found a poor scared little mouse. At first I thought she was just hanging out in some string dangling in a corner of the feed area. But she didn't run away--and then I realized she couldn't!

A closer look discovered she was painfully hung-up in the string. Yes, in her nest-building effort she had become entangled in the very strings she was trying to drag away to her nest. She was horribly stuck! Check out this video of the situation.

What happened next? As you observed, my best attempts to help her wiggle from her confines didn't work. She was terrified, so I couldn't touch her for fear of being bitten. At the end of the video I had to put my phone down to retrieve some scissors. I'd carefully cut her free....and that worked, but even then it wasn't easy. Probably hours of wriggling had tightened the the strings across and around her little belly and back legs. She was wearing a tiny string girdle. Gradually my persistence to free her and her not so unconfused patience with my help prevailed. She was finally able to slip down, scamper across the floor, and then race out the door into the yard. 

It occurred to me how this little Mousie Incident might offer a valuable instructive lesson. How easily we can become imperiled by the very things we think are in our best interests. (Proverbs 16: 9) What we may initially anticipate as a blessing can sometimes become...a curse. But how does and how can one discern the difference--before it's too late? I think the key is time and wise (informed) perseverance. When or as we become (let's say) "vexed" by our effort to persevere, and fearful of missing out on our dream--one that's intended to be in your very best interests--it's important to be asking some prayerful questions in the counsel of and with the input of some close, caring friends. 

As you know, I'm in the midst of a challenging support-raising effort. God willing its successful outcome will place me in a ministry role on the CSM campus. BUT I have a time-limited window of opportunity to make that happen. That fact alone could emotionally impale me. So far the effort isn't going well, which could make me really fussy. But I'm not going to let it beat me; I will not allow myself to be vexed by the to-this-point-poor-outcome of my best efforts, nor will I allow myself to assume OR DEMAND that the support-raising success HAS TO HAPPEN! (Proverbs 3: 5 & 6) I will trust in the God of the challenge, not in the nature, promises, or outcome of the challenge.

I sincerely appreciate your ongoing prayers on my behalf...and please stay away from "mousie hang-ups!"

Dick

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MAD Goals

The Greater Boston Area
I received a very impact-full text late last week. It came at a great time--and on a day when I really needed it. It was from my friend, Jeff, in Boston. Thirty years ago--in the early 80's--he was an undergrad at the University of Denver. He had committed his life to Christ there at DU. He became one of my student leaders--a member of the CA "Team" for several consecutive years. He also became a loved, "adopted" member of our young family. Today he serves a professional counseling role at a county outpatient resource in the Boston area.

His text included this: "...I want you to know I used something in my group yesterday that you, Richard Brandow, taught at one of our Campus Ambassador's retreats. It just came to me. It was that goals should be MAD...measurable, attainable and definable. I hope one of my clients remembers it 30 years from now!"

Wow.

That was both really humbling and exquisitely challenging...for sure! May God grant me--and you too--the opportunity to influence many more "Jeff's" in the course of our lives. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliott

Dick 

My Missions Door website

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Of Hair and Worship

Yup, a barber pole
Think about this with me. I get to the barber every two weeks. You? As a general rule the ancient biblical character, Samson, never darkened the barber's door. He was a Nazarite from birth (Numbers 6:2) and a biblical Old Testament Judge. He actually worshiped GOD by not cutting his hair. It was a vow he swore to keep from his childhood. If you've not revisited that story for a while, check it out in Judges 13-16.

When I was younger, Samson  was a bit of a  puzzle to me. I saw him as physically STRONG and morally weak. I said "weak"--not corrupt. Now, as an older adult, I look at him through a different set of lenses. I observe, for example, that Samson was amazingly used by GOD despite his singular weakness. Even way back then--in the Old Testament--God demonstrated His GRACE in Samson's life, because it wasn't until his vow was compromised--until Delilah cut his hair--that his amazing strength t-e-m-p-o-r-a-r-i-l-y left him.

So I ask myself, "what do I love?" How does what I love influence the way I am spending my life--my day-to-day? Why? Because as a child of God (John 3:16) I too have a vow, a love-obligation to worship HIM. Just like Samson, I am privileged to serve the gracious eternal GOD with all my strength (Romans 12:1,2.) as he was similarly privileged to do. Throughout his amazing life Samson was obedient to his vow--with just one short and painful vow-related slip-up. 

Can I say that about me? Nope. For me--and for Christ-followers in general--perhaps even more jaw-dropping and encompassing than Samson amazing life and experiences--is my awareness that God has called me to worship HIM through and in my life-style choices (John 4:25 & 14:6, Philippians 2: 5-7 and Romans 12: 1 & 2, again). Worship, by God's grace, becomes my life-style and effects all my daily choices. So, it's not about hair cuts per se, or about Sunday-go-to-meetings, praise songs or musical worship events, what movies I see or the books I read, or about Bible memory, do's and don'ts of all kinds, "the company I keep", or my career or vocational choices, etc. It's about all of those things and no one of them in particular and influences them all in general (e.g., Matthew 6:33).

So the next time I visit my barber I'm going to look in the mirror, think of Samson, and then ask myself, "Hey bro, how's your worship goin...today?

Dick 
PS: Here's a fun, virtual "barber visit"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Step-by step forward

This support-raising effort sure isn't for the faint of heart. There us so much on the line for me, for Judi, for our future...and for the potential impact I can have and bring to students on the CSM campus. 

I know that God knows all that, and that's very reassuring, but this effort to build a team of friends who partner with me to get there, and then be there, is a huge GUT check...every day. Its back and fourth both painful and exhilarating, so I have my good days and not so good ones...the gut check ones.

So, I revel in your prayers for me through this process...and of course I get really excited when the staff in the Missions Door office emails me to report a new pledge. I am again reminded...
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't lean on your own understanding...." Proverbs 3: 5&6.

Dick

Monday, July 22, 2013

Helping In A Deep Hole

About 6' Down...and counting
This spring I began the challenging task to dig a l-o-n-g French drain on the west side of our house. It was about thirty feet long, 30 inches wide, and eight feet deep! Yup...that was a hole...a little over 22 cubic yards of dirt--and rocks. And to shorten a long dirty story, I got about a third of the way into the project and had to get some help, no thanks to a developing knee situation that summarily required surgery.

So I paid some highly recommended college age or college focused guys to help me forward the job; as it turned out--three brothers. Coincidentally all of them had connections to the Colorado School of Mines. They helped me get the job finished in fine order and we had a great time working together--well, they worked and I hobbled around, convalesced and talked (as they worked). Ha

At one point in the process one of them was asking me about my ministry experiences at DU. In my response we discussed the CAIRD program at DU and how it came about. I told him how I saw so many of my student friends devastated by sudden personal pain and disillusionment with that horrific news--that their parents were divorcing--and how it prompted me to create a faculty sponsored outreach to these men and women. He got all quiet and said, "Wow, that happened to me and my brothers, too."

So, I told him more about CAIRD, about it's informal nature, student leadership, students-supporting-students through some really emotionally painful and stressful times, like just going home for weekends or holidays, for example. He responded with a, "Wow, that would have been a great blessing to me and to many of my friends on the CSM campus." 

Pray for me...maybe you'll help me get there to "...extend a cup of cold water to these..," your cup through me (Matthew 10:42).

Godspeed,
Dick
Missions Door website








Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is Old-er More Beautiful...Relating to Those Twenty Somethings?

Lana Del Rey
So how am I supposed to relate to these twenty something men and women? I know for a fact that several college-focused ministries retire their staff in their 50's. They've decided age doesn't relate. In a cultural environment so dedicated to young and beautiful (click there), and old is stodgy and stuck, that decision might make a lot of sense, but it makes anxious has-beens and cast-offs of what was once handsome and beautiful. 

Lana Del Rey's popular song, summarizes the crucial question...
And will you still love me
When I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I'm no longer beautiful?
Will you still love me when I'm no longer beautiful?
Will you still love me when I'm not young and beautiful?

Clearly, our universities and colleges across the country don't buy into that "old doesn't relate" and it's no longer beautiful decision. If they did, the bulk of their professors would be...well...much younger. So, if the question we're really asking is about the variety of really effective ways we can create to reach into the hearts of collegiate men and women, then age actually offers advantages! Consequently, I'm realizing, Wow LORD, maybe you've carefully prepared me for THIS....amazing opportunity!

And that confidence has already been confirmed. Where and how? In the recent statements made by "my" students (since since those DU days) at Rivendell College, at the University of Colorado, and in my work with Centers for Christian Study International. I've been in collegiate-related trenches with some amazing students through the past three decades....so maybe I'm even better now than I was some years ago!? 

While I was at the University of Denver I really did learn some things, and I was able to do some really fun stuff with the students. Yes, some of those times were pretty physically rigorous. Admittedly, that more rigorous stuff won't figure as prominently into my personal ministry plan this time around. But my younger team members can and will do those things. Thank God for "team." I am already prayerfully anticipating the men and women God will raise up to play those roles to compliment this effort at the CSM!

Through the years at DU, CU, CCSI, and most recently at Rivendell College I looked for "itches," and I soon become an"itch scratcher." We did some really fun and practical stuff to address obvious--and not so obvious--student's needs. Those successes opened all kinds of doors for other ministry-related efforts and some shoulder-to-shoulder experiences with students, faculty, and staff--especially at DU. They paved the way to some amazing campus-community relationships and huge opportunities to share the Good News of the Kingdom. With God's blessing I anticipate seeing some of that happen at CSM. 
Examples?...
  • DUELIX...A university-wide mentoring program for juniors and senior students matching potential professionals with seasoned area professionals and respecting disciplines and passions.
  • CAIRD...A university-wide support group experience for undergrads and grad students nursing the wounds of parental divorce.
  • Volunteer Investments of time and professional skills to help students and staff in the counseling and career center at the University under institutional supervision.
  • The Man Class...a 12-week tutorial and discussion format about male-female expectations and communication enhancement in general and in dating
  • Smarter Romance...a dating paradigm, seminars, and an appropriate Biblical dating posture that helps couples appropriately and best answer the question, "Should we continue this relationship?" 
  • Leadership Development opportunities through the the Dean of Students offices at DU.
  • The Peak Leadership Program at CCSI and Rivendell College matching students with Boulder area field ministry opportunities.....
  • E-Cubed...Engineers Reaching Engineers with the gospel; students, professors, and old-new alumni.
Not as pretty but...
I'd like to be on the campus in the fall, 2014. If you know me, and you have not done so already, please do these four things for me, starting initially with some thoughtful prayer: 1) Go to the Missions Door website; 2) Read through my bio page and consider, "Is God challenging me/us to be a 'behind-the-scenes' partner in Dick's ministry at CSM"; then, 3) after your careful and prayerful consideration, make your decision. If you say, "Yes," then, 4) Go back to the Missions Door web page, above, and sign-up.  Please join me; I will be thrilled to have your ongoing prayer and financial support!

Next time:  We'll see...God knows!

FYI...I'm going to use this blog to help me keep you up to date on what's happening on my way to ministry at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Please subscribe to this blog...and it will come to you automatically. (At the top of this blog where it says "email address" enter yours and click, "submit.")




Monday, June 24, 2013

A Promontory Challenge

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon
A lot of open beach and one BIG rock!
Appropriately called Haystack Rock this huge chunk of old lava casts a tall shadow on one of Oregon's most scenic beaches. I suspect the length of the beach stretching North and South from its promontory totals perhaps three miles. It's that space, punctuated by this big central rock, that makes its presence both imposing and magnetic. It beckons people and it looms taller and more imposing with each encroaching step.

The noble quest I am embarking on right now influences me in much the same way Haystack Rock influences the people of Cannon Beach. I feel God's call to begin a creative ministry on the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) campus in Golden, CO. The size of the financial challenge to raise the necessary monthly support looms tall above me--just like that Rock. 

And here's a thought...If I was young, maybe in my thirties or forties, I'd have time on my side. As things are--the mature, vital, and strategic age of 66+!--triggers my resolve to address the support-raising challenge head-on and very efficiently--and comparatively quickly!

So, as things are right now, I have run the beach and stand squarely at the Rock's base. I am about to begin picking my way up and up its scraggy face step-by-very careful step. Perhaps within the next nine months, God willing, I will joyously plant my victory flag atop its crusted old crown...and survey the expanse of open beach below. Yah...so easily said, but it still looms above me as we speak. 

Reading this blog you probably know something of my strengths and weaknesses...an old friend? By the grace of God I have "learned to learn" from many of my failures--and even now not yet all of them. Nevertheless, I am excited to have a huge cache of tools and a tall list of skills to bring to the CSM community. But I know this is a "we" challenge, one that will demand a team effort from its start. It will be seasoned with the spices of self-sacrifice for us all. Where and how it will take me--us--toward the future's finish (II Timothy 4:8)? It's something only God knows.

Please prayerfully, purposefully, join me in this quest to lovingly influence men and women in the name of Jesus Christ on the Colorado School of Mines campus. Right now my need is: 1) For your prayers as I put together a creative and strategic accountability team to help me get there; and 2) for your monthly financial commitments. (Please go to my Missions Door web site to sign-up...thanks!)

Next time I will address several questions I suspect will be asked about my quest. For example, "Yup, you're not a young buck any more, so how do you expect to relate effectively to these 20-something men and women!?"

That should be fun.
Dick



Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Where he leads me...I will follow...!?"

I am fresh back from a weekend spent with a rag-tag bunch of guys in the mountains of Colorado's front range. Wow, what a weekend! Suffice it to say it was a challenge to me--body, soul, spirit, and mind--exactly as it was designed to have been. 

Shortly after my return I wrote a response to some of them: "My experience this past weekend surpassed my expectations too. It's interesting because what I thought I needed to happen did, but not in the way I expected. I'm still processing that and I expect I probably will continue that effort for some time...and I may need more help with that effort(?). For sure, and among so many other things, I came away with a renewed sense and appreciation for the power and support of a "band of brothers." It was and is profoundly appreciated. Thanks so much for your part in that! And yes, those early AM events were indeed tall punctuation marks in the poem about an amazing weekend."


"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and being one traveler long I stood and looked..."
 Actually, the big reason I chose to attend that highly attested men's event was about a goal. I wanted to get some timely, personal, and providential insight. With Judi's support I have been weighing the idea of my returning--re-applying--to the organization that brought us to Denver in the first place. In that instance, in February of 1980, we moved from the Pacific Northwest to start a ministry on the University of Denver campus.

 The weekend's outcome--as I intimated quoting myself, above--is affirmative: I am now officially in the application process to return to Campus Ministry(!) under the auspices of Missions Door (click on that). At this point I...we...have no absolutely clear idea what the future holds for me re., application acceptance, immediate time investment, and talents to be employed. So, I covet your prayers and your input/discussion as we genuinely seek God's quiet and wise leadership

If you have something on your heart that you believe He wants you to tell me, please call, text, email. For such gestures of friendship I offer my preemptive thanks!

So, I close this blog update with this quote from The Book of Proverbs (16:9) : "The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

Dick 
720-350-2992
rkbrandow@msn.com

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Say it isn't so!"

"It was a big marshmallow bunny...with a shot gun?!"
There are terrible injustices in life...terrible ones. Car bomb kills 17 in Afghanistan...Local hiker plunges to her death...22 slaughtered in New Towne shooting!...15 year-old high school junior diagnosed with brain cancer...LA plane skids, kills 5...46% first USA marriages end in divorce...Tribal prejudices predict famine...Detroit blight... 

Untimely frustration and disappointment and the pain of injustice assumes many forms....it's never humorous to those experiencing it. I don't need to give you more examples--it's all around us, close and distant. And how should we qualify or compare one tragic injustice to or against another? Can't...they're all BAD. 

Something deep inside us argues that life just shouldn't be unjust; it shouldn't be this way. Bad things, people, circumstances, happenings,...bad stuff shouldn't exist; and if it happens, it should get fixed! Someone should make life different. Someone should promise or guarantee different outcomes than tragedies--injustices--or someone should pay! Right?!

Exactomundo. It's why Jesus Christ came...and wept (John 11:35)....then, summarily, he proceeded to do "the fixing deed." He gave himself up to die, in part to fix the ultimate "injustice," forever separation from God and from one another (Romans 3:23; 6:23; John 3:14-16).

OK, so why do we still see and experience injustices...why are they still happening all around us, right here in our lives, near by, and far away in the lives of other people? Didn't the fixing deed work?

Consider this. 85% of my original family members still live in Pacific Northwest. Consequently, I experience some predictable, growing discomfort the longer it's been between visits. When I make arrangements to visit (purchase a plane ticket, make arrangements for transportation, etc.) I realize a visceral decrease in m discomfort--because I know I will soon, at the scheduled time, be there and be with them. Tangibly, that promise is represented by the ticket in my hand. In the meantime, I'm still here and they're still in the Northwest.    

OK, so what? Here's a two-piece very simplistic answer to that comparatively more complicated question, "Didn't the fixing deed work?" Jesus Christ--the GOD-MAN (John 1:1-4)--purchased a ticket for each of us that promises our being re-united with both God and our friends and loved ones. It's for a future scheduled flight. In the meantime, yes, there's some living and dealing with everyday life to do (I Peter 1:3-7)--waiting for the flight. You're waiting; everybody's waiting...living and waiting.

So yes, the injustices will continue to happen...for a while. 

Do you...do your friends...have their tickets in hand!? Then let's make sure everyone knows about em...

 ...the Good News.

Dick 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Of Lions and Pussy Cats...


Perspective. It's amazing to me how much difference just 24 hours can make. Why am I saying that? Because only yesterday I was "looking at" the same things I'm seeing very differently today--just 24 hours later.

No, I don't mean I saw a LION yesterday that's a pussy cat today--but that's how it feels sometimes. Right!? So, I've learned to respond to my own situations and, perhaps, to a tense deliberating friend with words like, "Give it some time; go get some exercise, eat a great meal and talk to another friend before you make that important decision." In a stressful and sticky situation, however, I'm so aware how immediacy's demands can drive a quick decision.

Now...I'm great with decisiveness, but there's a big difference between informed decisiveness and often repeated or just plain untimely mistakes. (Of course, that's an awareness that drives the thinking behind Smarter Romance.) Consider becoming an expert at these "Four Life Axioms"--well, that's what I call them. I discovered how personally constructive they can be when it comes to making really important decisions.

Ax1: Passion and idolatry are kissing cousins.
Being passionate about stuff can be good and it really can help to distinguish us from one another. But my passion can run rough shod over people and even my other priorities. For example, focusing intently and perhaps insensitively on a career goal or a dating relationship, at the expense of my family responsibilities or close friends, is a tragedy in the making. Saying the axiom in another way, "Don't let your passions become idols."

Ax2: Moderation is a person's oldest and best friend.
Spring boarding from Axiom 1, the Apostle Paul's injunction, "Let your moderation be known to all men" (Philippians 4:5) continues its theme, but strategically twists it. Moderation keeps us from going overboard, from "gettin our underwear in a wad," from letting the excesses we find in even good disciplines cloud our vision.

Ax3: Fear is helpful--not directive!
This is particularly true when it comes to goal achievement. Fear is necessary and protective, but it's strength and forcefulness can prevent our pursuit of important, valuable, and even necessary achievements. So, I challenge myself to use my fear response as an appropriate, timely reminder of possible danger. Then I explore the situation from a safe distance with inputs from other wise people before I make my move--whatever that will be. And that doesn't mean I have to do what they say, but I benefit greatly from their perspective and insight. "In the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14). 

Ax4: People take priority over things.
A biblical focused life puts people first (John 13:35), so the needs of other people must be in our life-goal's "cross hairs." And believe me because I'm no extrovert--rather a social introvert, so this is a hard one for me, and perhaps you too? But it's the way we're supposed to live life, growing this acquired skill "muscle." Yes, it comes easier for some people than for others, and that's OK...just more challenging sometimes.

So, do you have any LIONS staring you down? 

Godspeed,

Dick

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Celebratory Pain

A wonderful old friend...a morning of anguish!

Our recent pain around the loss of our beloved dog, Gandalf, was a not so gentle reminder. The Apostle Paul (prompted by the Spirit of God), challenged Christ followers to carry one anothers' burdens. In the process we would help fulfill the responsibility we have toward
one another as fellow believers (Galatians 6:2).

But, aside from some of the more obvious empathy in "burden-lifting," what's the rest of that code really about?

Before the Fall (Genesis 3:1-6ff), as best we can understand it and at the least, the concept of human death, dying, and destruction didn't exist. Creation was "good" (Genesis 1:10, 25, etc.). But then, no thanks to the Tempter's deception (Genesis 3:1-6) and the first couple's good-intentioned disobedience, CRASH!, everything changed. Before that noisy and confusing moment, expectations for life were justifiably and understandably high; life was really good. Now, of course, life's joys quite often come confusingly post-scripted with emotional chaos and pain. From that wreck forward there's been a dis-connect between our great expectations of life and then all the stuff that does or can go wrong. "Stuff" happens to us and around as we live our lives in a very broken world.

"What goes wrong" is about a whole lot of really bad and painful stuff. Following a spiritual disconnect from Creator God, Spirituality goes completely downhill. Consider a couple obvious (?) examples:
  • Our Spiritual disconnect finds us, on our own, incorrigibly inclined to explain life, assign a purpose to it, and then "do it" all wrong. Unwittingly, we distance ourselves from its intended meaning and purpose. It's like my stumbling across an honest-to-goodness real magic wand.  But because I don't know what it really is, and being a coffee fan, I  decide to wash it off and cut it into shorter, discard-able stick pieces for stirring my morning brew. Ha.
  • Given our chronological distance from the crash....We hear that maybe there is a God somewhere "out there"  or "up there" in Heaven. We also hear it reported that He is said to be good, loving and kind, benevolent, and all-knowing, etc. So when someone close to us, or maybe when we ourselves, experience the tragedy of some great disappointment, injustice and pain, "this good, loving and kind God" predictably becomes a target of our anger and contempt. 
OK. Enough of that for now.

Mercifully, God's compassion toward his fallen creation promised a rescue--at great personal cost to Him. His own precious Son sacrificed his own life, inside our time and space continuum, to dramatically change the outcome of it all. But between the final, full realization of that hope there lies a temporal distance--a lag. It's like the momentary pause between depressing the accelerator on a turbocharged engine and then experiencing the turbo boost. 

Here's where the pain in Gandalf's loss fits into all of this. This big, fluffy, smart, "talking" DOG became a really good friend to us. We had the privilege to know him for 11 years. Then, suddenly the morning of Sunday, February 3rd, he was taken from us. "Aargh...it's just not fair!"  

As a Christ-follower I ask, "What am I to do with the loss of this great friend...this pain. Didn't Jesus give his life so I wouldn't have to experience such awfulness any more? Actually the answer to that is both, "Yes," and, "No." Yes, he did, but, no, the complete realization of Jesus precious gift will not be our experience until I--we--step away from this still broken earth, or until He returns, whichever event comes first. In the meantime...tragedies happen.

So, how are we to deal with the pain and disappointment of loss in this meantime? Two ways: 1) We resolutely hope in (anticipate!) that future "turbo" burst (1Peter 1:3-7), WHILE, 2) we tenderly and self-sacrificially stand in the gap to support one another, and for one another, and grow that hope in our hearts. The losses are still painful...but we remember...that promised turbo-burst is coming!!

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

Dick

Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Gandalf is Gone

Zack with Gandalf...a happy moment
Yesterday, quite suddenly, Judi and I were forced to do the unthinkable. We had to put-down our beloved dog-friend, Gandalf. We are all grieving this huge loss...his absence. 

So today, for me, is occupied with many mini-discoveries--realizations about how much our Dog has filled even some simple places of my--and our-- life.

I headed out the door for my early morning ride, 
But he wasn't in the room as I moved to step outside. 
Nope, he wasn't there to raise that handsome, fuzzy head
And bless me on my way 
Into darkness as I sped...
Or wish my haste return 


When later, stepping up the walk,
I caught my eyes reaching, reaching, reaching...
Toward just inside the glass,
Wanting to see his happy form, 
But alas, and of course, he was not there 
As I approached the stoop this sober morn. 

Of course he was not there.
Re-opening the door,
I peered into an empty room
With second-guessing thoughts
That do not stop my heart's eyes looking, blinking...
Just wanting him to share.

Then as I stepped up my pace, 
Out back to feed our birds,
 (A favorite romp for Gandalf,)
 I missed his friendly behind-me scolding,  "Woof!," 
If I closed the door upon his face. 

But I thought I saw him, once or twice,
Cuz he'd chase around the yard. 
But no, my imagination is just hoping, hoping, hoping all to hard.

You get the idea. It's another one of our Gracious God's reminders about how it is all too easy to take our family and ALL our friends for granted. Yes, we are going to be OK...it'll just take a little while.  

I saw a fun little phrase in the vet's office yesterday morning. It read, "Dog's are miracles on four paws." Hmmm, ponder that.
And here's another:
 "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Prov. 18:24, KJV

Dick






 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Timely and Humbling Reunion

In 1980 we drove to Denver in a U-Haul truck....to start a new ministry. Consequently, through the 1980's and 90's, I had the esteemed privilege to direct two evangelical Christian ministries at the University of Denver. As it happened, the original ministry's sponsorship (i.e., Campus Ambassadors) changed in the late 80's (i.e., Dayspring Ministries at DU), but the efforts, under my leadership, remained effectively and seamlessly the same. During those 15 years, that ministry was a team effort. It was recognized and honored twice for it's "...outstanding contribution to the students, faculty and staff..." at the University of Denver. But I'm not reporting that because I want to toot a horn of recognition. I merely want to provide a brief context for what I'm about to say next.

In the years since then, I have wrestled. Candidly, I've been increasingly disappointed in the sameness, the stuck-ness and the tameness of my/our life's situation and experiences after those so comparatively rich 15-years at DU. I've thought "nothing's happening anymore." The excitement I/we knew in that part of my/our lives has been very difficult to replicate--and I'm still STUCK in Denver! So I've quietly wondered, "OK, where's God?"...in our present stuff (compared to what I/we have experienced so routinely in those many unmistakable, evidential events that wrote HIS unmistakable signature into our past?  

Through a good friend..."God speaking!"
The ministry's design was one that developed and then enlisted student leaders. So, today Judi and I have many friends who were students, then, involved in that ministry effort. These men and women are now spread across the globe. Some of them variously stayed with us in our home through holidays that were, for them, collegiate years, very much away from their families and homes. Having purchased a home near DU, we established an onto-the-campus spring board. So, for example, we hosted a twice-monthly all-comers and all-you-can-eat dinner in our home for students, staff, and faculty. It quickly became an a highly anticipated event. It was one that our student leaders had little difficulty encouraging hungry student friends to visit for a real home-cooked meal.

Sunday through Tuesday of this week, Judi and I again hosted one of our then student leaders from that era--Gerardo Silva. Today this remarkable man lives in Venezuela with his extended family, his wife Maria and his three children. Gerardo is now 50 YEARS OLD, and during his visit with us in our home he reported about how much our lives impacted his own. On Monday (it was really c-c-c-cold!--5 degrees F) we walked around the DU campus together. He reported how grateful he has been to God for the kind of content, personal relationship and life insights he gleaned through his experiences as a beloved student, and as a member of our leadership team at DU in the early and late '80's.

God was talking to me, through Gerardo: "Dick, quit your silly whining....be still...Quiet your impatient and angry heart! Right now recommit yourself to patient perseverance and to forward movement...because I'm neither asleep nor are you 'lost.' Time and eternity are MINE to do with--and with you--as and how I please. Trust me!!" 

Wow.

"Therefore...as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling....Not in your own strength, since it is God Who is all the while effectively at work in you--energizing and creating in you the power and desire--both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." Philippians 2:12,13. (Amplified Version)

OK. Give that some thought...if it "speaks" to you.

Godspeed,

Dick