Faye and I have discussed adoption. We will adopt one day in the not too distant future. It was on Faye’s heart before we were married, and while I had never really thought about it, the Lord brings people into our home and hearts and has been showing me the intricacies of love.

Dave and Tami Kromer… and their kids Ray, Dean, Lillie, Josh, and Lydia… recently adopted a precious little girl named Clara.

Clara was born without a brain.

To be honest, the question “Why would they do that?” never crossed my mind. This is the type of family that would do that. This is the type of family that, when you know them, you understand that the answer is Jesus.

I’ve watched them love this little girl, and by extension, bring people face to face with what love is.

As I have thought about what they have done, I can’t help but think about what I would do.

Would I be able to adopt a little girl knowing that she would die soon?

Would I be able to adopt a little girl and fully love her knowing that she would die soon?

Would I be able to adopt a little girl and fully love her and never tangibly know if she was ever receiving that love knowing that she would die soon?

Man… Father help me, but no… not yet anyway.

On Tuesday April 16th at 11:50am, Clara saw Jesus face to face… literally. She never knew hurt… sin… emotional insecurity… debt… etc.

Most of the pastoral staff at TFC went to see the Kromers that day. I was going to see that little girl… I thought “I’m going to freak at the sight of a dead infant.”

She looked normal… like she always had.

I didn’t freak…

I was sad for them… for us… but I was happy for her.

I spent a lot of the day thinking. The Lord hit me with a crazy thought…

“Imagine how I feel”

I had been thinking about those questions that I wrote above.

“What do you mean?”

I didn’t actually have this dialogue with God, by the way. Do you know how it feels when a conversation is had without actually having it? It’s like a zip drive… this is me extracting everything for your sake 🙂

“I love fully and extravagantly knowing the outcome.”

“…”

I thought that the whole “imagine how I feel” deal was going to be a revelation of frustration. Isn’t that what people say when they want you to relate to their frustration (that apparently is greater than yours) on a matter?

He isn’t people… He is God… and God wants me to imagine what it would be like, not to be frustrated at unreciprocated or ignored love, but to love fully and extravagantly simply because people ARE!

Snaps.

God knows that some will ignore His love and die never knowing it.

God knows that some will ignore His love and FINALLY see it when it’s too late to show others that love. Faye’s Dad was this.

God knows that some will accept His love… only to ignore it or abuse it or stop ourselves from REALLY grasping it or whatever else from time to time. I am this.

God knows all of this… yet it is not frustration that He shows… the full measure of love is what He shows.

He does not hold back knowing the outcome. He loves those that will never love Him… that don’t know it’s better to love Him… as much as He loves those who are “Christians”.

This little girl’s life is a revelation.

It’s the climax in a story about love.

It’s the lesson that love isn’t about reciprocation or ease or (just) feelings.

We love… because He loves.

Agenda-less.

Extravagantly.

I know I don’t come close to fully grasping this revelation… but I, and now you, have the knowledge.

We’re now responsible for it.

Enjoy!

I miss writing… there are few things that I openly think about having the time to do, because I enjoy so much of what I do.

Writing is one of the things I often think about and wish I had more time to do. Of course, I also wish I had time to watch every episode of The A-Team and The Tick (the animated series, of course!) all over again as well.

When Faye and I first began what is now Encounter at The Freedom Center, being purposefully intergenerational was (and still is) a top priority. We have watched a separation in the Church Body that is, at times necessary, but seems to foster unfamiliarity amongst the different generations represented in the local church.

Here is an excerpt from a book called “You Lost Me” by Dave Kinnaman.

“For too long, we have assumed that we do good youth or young-adult ministry when we separate kids from the rest of the church. Of course, there are times when 6 and 16 and 66 year-olds need to be on their own with folks in their same life stage, but we have swung the pendulum too far. We have segregated (believe me, this is not a verb I use lightly) students and young adults from the rest of the church—and it’s hurting their faith.
Our Sticky Faith research shows that the more high school and college students are engaged in the overall life of the church, the stronger their faith. We’re seeing churches experimenting with countless intergenerational connections, ranging from short-term service to hobby mentoring (e.g., cooking, gardening, art) to intentional small groups. Plus lots of churches are taking the “adult” events they already do (e.g., women’s breakfasts, men’s dinners) and strategically inviting kids to join in.
I believe the future of youth and young-adult ministry is intergenerational. It’s good for students and young adults, and it’s great for the church.”

-Kara Powell (executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and co-author of “Sticky Faith”)

I need the generations around me, and other generations, you need me.

I need you because there are places that you have walked that I have not… you need me because of the same thing… no one generation has it figured out. The heart of one generation can teach lessons to the heart of another generation.

As I’ve thought about this… more intensely over the last few days, I’m reminded of Encounter’s first intergenerational prayer night. It was so encouraging! It was so comforting to see older generations praying life into our generation. Connections were made… familiarity was birthed… steps were taken, but we also saw a more complete picture of the task that is in front of us. This wasn’t just about teaching our generation to be spiritual sons and daughters. There are generations ahead of us that have no idea how to be spiritual fathers and mothers either.

We should care about that… a lot…

I’m no expert, but here are 4 quick points of thought on the topic of unity amongst the generations that won’t leave my head!

Have you READ the Bible!?
Can’t really argue with this one. Titus 2:1-8 speaks of the duties of older and younger men and women. We have duties towards each other… I have a responsibility towards guys who are younger than me. John writes to 3 different age groups/spiritual maturity levels in 1 John 2:12-14, and conveys his own knowledge to each of them. Need I even mention the examples of non-familial discipleship throughout the Bible?

Thought not…

Recognize that you don’t recognize your need for this.
My life was changed because the generation before me passed what they had of the Holy Spirit on to me… quite literally, actually. I thought I had a pretty complete picture of life, or at least as complete as I thought I could have at the time. That experience opened my eyes to a depth of the Father that I never knew existed. I have no doubt that its because these men, who had what I didn’t, passed what they did have on to me.

I had nothing to compare my life to. Then I did. Consider my world rocked.

“Fear not!” -Jesus.
Think about this statement: Each generation has some level of intimidation by and towards other generations. You know that’s true. I have seen POWERFUL people feel utterly powerless in the presence of a 17 year old. I have watched (and been) men and women who have accomplished Kingdom things, feel belittled in the presence of the elderly. Don’t get me started on children! You have to admit that people tend to fear what is unfamiliar… and we are quite unfamiliar with each other.

This is SO crippling individually and corporately… seriously… you see that don’t you?

…don’t you?

We are a bunch of 1 legged people in an… well, you get the idea.
I alluded to this earlier, but there are many within our generation that have no idea how to be spiritual sons and daughters. There are also many in generations above us that have no idea how to be spiritual fathers and mothers.

So… how do we do this then?

How do we do this, and also put my generation in position to be the next spiritual fathers and mothers? You can’t teach someone to walk when you don’t know how, and you can expect them to walk when they’ve never been taught.

Everything starts with being intentional and deliberate. We have to be purposeful in our interactions with each other. There has to be honor and respect across the board. There has to be a purposeful atmosphere of family produced even when it isn’t safe, comfortable, or easy to do so. That is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

Kids just believe… I don’t know how… they just do. I have them pray for me in the Clubhouse at TFC.

Middle aged men have walked where I haven’t. I learn that all the time at Men’s Ministry.

I sat across the table from an elderly man at The French Laundry this past Wednesday morning and listened to his wisdom… things from the Bible that had never crossed my mind.

Likewise, I hope these generations get something from me… a different perspective on manhood, different views on the Bible, a passion for truth, an appreciation for The A-Team and The Tick.

Regardless, I have to be intentional in my interactions with everyone in order to bridge this generational gap. I expect it to be bridged at The Freedom Center and beyond.

I hope this was informative and encouraging. Be courageous, Church. Go out and be deliberate… deliberate with the WHOLE Church!

I don’t really have anything to say about myself… the fast is going well, and I’m really stuck on how to continue this intimacy with the Father… how to continue being sensitized to the Holy Spirit when I’m done. Thanks for all the support and prayer!

I’m sitting here in Goodrich High School a few miles away from Fenton listening to a presentation called Chasing the Dragon. It’s a drug awareness program that involves an organization called Community Parent and the Genessee County Sheriff’s Office.

I’m listening to 2 fathers give their testimony about literally watching their daughters die of drug overdoses… they were 17 and 19.

I’m listening to a sheriff’s deputy talk about how her sister was robbed and killed because of her addiction to Heroin… which is a big problem in Genessee County… and probably where you are too, you just don’t know it.

I think the predominant thought with this and other things of this type is “That’s sad.” but I think there is a disconnect of sorts, but no one ever thinks it’ll be them.

Sexual addiction.

Financial issues.

The wrong guy or girl.

Doesn’t matter… there are SO many people who have gone before us in so many different areas of life…

yet…

there remains that disconnect.

“It’ll never be me”

I don’t know how to answer the question of how to help people see. I don’t know how to help people understand that folks that walked before us have so much wisdom in areas that we want to walk in.

About a year ago, I had a bunch of middle aged men pray over me. They gave something to me… the Holy Spirit… they gave me what they had.

I realized that day in December of 2012 that I needed to heed the wisdom and advice of those who had walked before me.

I don’t know where many of you are at that are reading this today, but understand this… there have been many times in my life where I wondered how I got here. It can be you… it can be you or I at any time. That’s the danger of walking on the edge… you can fall off at any time.

Find people who have walked successfully in this life… find them and make them show you how.

I definitely accidentally deleted my last entry about praying with my son… forgive me, but I don’t feel like typing all of that out again, so feel free to ask me about it if you haven’t heard it. Super cool story…

Yesterday and today, I have found myself thinking more and more about when this fast will be over.

Not in a “sit in the corner all feral child style burying my face in a cheesecake” way, but in a more practical, “your body is a temple” way.

I’ve said it before, I’m a big fella. Right now, I’m a little less of a big fella, but a big fella nonetheless. Whenever I fast, I become more aware of that then ever… I also become aware of the spiritual context of that.

The idolatry of food that I (and many) have.

The laziness in cooking so that I have become a slave to “convenience”.

The lack of a priority that working out has become.

Don’t get me started on eating out…

Let me stop here and talk about weight for a second… maybe it’s because of my height and the fact that though I’m big, I’m definitely not built to be small (270lbs is where I look my best), but not many people joke with me about weight unless I initiate it, which I’m fine with doing. To be honest, and please don’t take this as me being hostile, I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks of my body. I respect folks that care because being large can be an unhealthy lifestyle choice (for many, it is a choice, for many, not so easy), but regardless, I am very comfortable in my skin.

A lot of people pass judgement and make jokes and junk like that. I see it in our society all the time. Some people have a hard time losing weight and changing their lifestyle… you try getting your shortcomings made fun of… it isn’t fun.

Be sensitive, folks… surface issues can have complicated roots.

Anyways, spiritual context… taking care of my body is being a good steward. I want to be around to see Trey and Makyah and whoever else that isn’t a twinkle in Faye and I’s eyes yet live their life.

That is absolutely spiritual.

I love Rocco DiSpirito! I have 2 of his cookbooks. He did an awesome one called “Now Eat This!” where he takes comfort foods and makes them healthy. It is good good stuff.

I found myself looking at it and planning for what comes next. Thinking about how after this is done, I don’t want to be the same physically…

Nor do I spiritually… there are things that I see that I don’t want to become desensitized to again. I have found myself wanting to read and pray more with Faye… wanting to be a part of a culture of prayer myself (I mean, what else do you do while everyone else is eating, right?)… wanting to keep this passion and desire to be like Jesus and help others be like Him too.

There are just a solid amount of things that I don’t want to go back to…

I love fasting… not at all fond of the process… love the revelation. I HIGHLY recommend doing a lengthy fast. It’s an underrated, untalked about part of our walk with Jesus. It helps us to see clearly… even when we think we already do.

Look up Rocco DiSpirito too 🙂

I missed yesterday, my bad… jam packed day.

I was copying down my calendar of appointments from my iPad on to my desk calendar as the day closed yesterday.

I figure, if no one knows where I am, they can look at that and see. Unless its Faye, I tend not to answer the phone when I’m talking with people. Now you know 🙂

I was looking at my personal appointments, and I realized that we have dinners with people every night for the next 5 days.

Man…

When I said earlier that I don’t expect people to change their habits because of me doing this, I meant it. I don’t want accommodation… that defeats the purpose. Well, one of the purposes, anyway.

However… it isn’t exactly high on my priority list to put myself in situations where I have no choice but to stare at people as they eat.

I can see why folks feel awkward.

One of the most difficult things about fasting is that life continues to go on around you… and food is a MASSIVE part of life.

Nothing changes other than you…

People still want to be around you and you still want to be with people…

Food is still my love language, and coffee is still the ideal thing to discuss stuff over…

See my last blog on why coffee is no longer an option for me… which, I had a cup yesterday… I know, I’m a fool sometimes.

When I feel like I’m supposed to fast, I try to pick low holiday months, and times where it might be slower in the “lets get together” department.

But… it’s inevitable… and I don’t mind that… it is what it is.

As a follower of Jesus, it kind of reminded me of what life can be like.

Things don’t “stop” because I know Jesus… and at times, it’s very tempting to remove myself from the everyday happenings of life. As a matter of fact, we do a really good job of that… many have a “church=Christian Country Club” mentality.

I’m not meant to separate myself from life around me. Jesus dined with the tax collectors and sinners in Mark 2. He didn’t separate Himself from people who needed Him.

Don’t separate yourself from the life around you… live your NEW life so as to enhance life around you!

Peace!

I have this bad habit of wanting filler. A smoothie… some type of frappe… something with more substance than liquid.

I know that I shouldn’t… it isn’t that it’s bad or evil or anything… I just know that it’s a comfort, not a necessity.

I’ve asked my wife, Faye, to keep me accountable with that recently.

She wasn’t around for my poor decision making when I went to the store last night… so needless to say, this is her fault 😉 Unless you are reading this, Love… in that case, I love you very much and you’re the best and J.D. Wiegand got a hold of my phone and wrote that other part.

I stopped at McDonalds after going to the store and as I was thinking of order a sweet tea, I found myself asking, “What kind if blended coffee drinks do you have?” The drive thru woman told me, and I decided to order a medium Caramel Frappe.

Let me pause and say that I have learned, at this point in a lengthy fast, that about the 2 worst things that I can ingest are dairy and coffee… and I decided to order a drink that contained both… because of Faye… STOP WRITING THAT, J.D.

So, I drank my frappe, and it was glorious… I loved it. I love caramel. Agape love, not phileo love. A little Gospel of John humor there for you.

I loved it until about 10:45pm… then I didn’t love it so much. I also have not loved it this morning either.

Did I break fast with a drink? No… it’s a drink, but without being “hyper-spiritual”, the Lord has revealed a few things to me this morning.

1. I need my wife… just sayin’

2. There are things that I would define as good… that seem as though they are within the boundaries of God’s desires, but the more sensitive to His Spirit that I become, the more that even those things hurt me.

3. I am sad to leave Caramel Frappes behind for the next 20 some odd days, but it’s not worth this pain. Neither will the things be that fade off of me in this process… will I be sad in the moment, possibly, but I want to be able, like Paul, to say that I count everything as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

That’s all I got… enjoy the day!

My wife swears by The Sagebrush Catina here in Fenton. It is quite the wonderful little Mexican restaurant.

Their Super Burrito is literally the size of my head… and I have deep feelings of affection for them because of that fact.

Keep in mind 2 things as I write this…

1. I haven’t eaten anything in 13 days. Like, nothing.

2. I’m a big fella… 6’3″, 300lbs… so to lug this around for that long without food in me is like trying to drive a Chevy Suburban from here to California when the gas light just came on.

I walked into the church office today and I was greeted by, to most people, the glorious smell of Sagebrush.

I, on the other hand, wanted to cut my nose off my face.

I don’t expect anyone to change their regular habits because of what I am doing. People feel odd around me when they eat and I don’t… I do not feel odd sitting there while everyone around me eats.

I go to breakfast meetings, order a hot green tea, and drink away.

I have my Nalgene… alternating between Gatorade and water throughout the day, as I do lunch or they snack.

I sit and drink water while my wife and kids eat their dinner.

Consequently, my record for trips to the bathroom in a day so far is 17.

Anyways, the smell of Sagebrush, once glorious, made my stomach howl and it continued to howl most of the day.

I don’t know how many of you struggled or do struggle with addiction… I have… and the feeling the rest of the day has been really familiar.

Craving.

Need.

This is the chaos that happens at times that I talked about yesterday. It’s at these points that will power, though romantic, isn’t enough.

It’s also at these points that the reason for me doing this is at it’s freshest.

It’s not about me… this is an act of worship to God. An offering to Him… and even though it’s hard, I can say that I am genuinely grateful to offer it.

He doesn’t DEMAND this… I want to give it, and in doing so, I feel closer to Him.

All in all… good day.