The Complex Simplicity of God…

    There was a board game that fascinated me as a child, named ‘Mouse Trap’. The game would begin with each of the players working together to build this incredibly elaborate and complicated mouse trap (because we’re so good at naming things for kids). Once the trap was built, it then became a game of trying to trap your opponents’ mouse so that you could get the cheese at the center of the board. It was the kind of game that made me wonder about getting into engineering and building things.
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    The game itself is built around a ‘Rube-Goldberg’ machine, which is a machine that performs a seemingly simple task (catching a mouse, for example), in a seemingly complicated system (a 17 piece mouse trap). In the moment of it all, you look at this contraption, the path that has been created, and ask a lot of questions: Is this actually going to work? Was that entirely necessary? Is it supposed to look this way?
    People often talk about the way God works in our lives as “mysterious”, implying the unseen, unknown elements working together. Scripture talks about it. Pop culture references it (“The Lord works in mysterious ways”). But often times it seems to be so overly complicated and complex, or so loosely held together that many people are left wondering if it was God, or if they just wanted it to be God. (At least, I know I have been left wondering that).

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Growing by giving…

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During my first year in seminary, I had a friend who I would regularly meet with for coffee. They were just beginning college, and needed a proxy big brother. So almost every Wednesday, we would meet and share about each other’s weeks. I would hear about drama from parents or friends and offer some insight. The tables would even turn from time to time, and I would be given some good advice along the way.

Turns out mentoring, even informally, is a really good thing.

Elijah was battling depression, and in the midst of his time in the cave, he was given a solution. Elijah was called to go and find a guy named Elisha (the names sound almost identical), and take him as a protegé. Elijah is going to shape and mold Elisha into the next prominent prophet in Israel.

I’ll be honest; this seems like a bad idea to me. You’re taking a guy who is just coming off of the lowest possible emotional point, and giving him the responsibility of molding Israel’s next great prophet (as a side note, that sounds like an spin off of the talent based shows liked ‘America’s Next Top Model’ or ‘America’s Got Talent’). I would be questioning whether or not Elijah was emotionally stable to handle this kind of responsibility.

It turns out that it was exactly what Elijah needed.  Continue reading

Insecure faith…

When I was in high school, in addition to being heavily involved in my youth group, I played trumpet in band and tennis. I wasn’t particularly good at either, but I had fun and enjoyed both groups of people. There was just one problem.

His name was Steve Seeburg.

Steve was a really good guy. Polite, well behaved, and smart. He got good grades – better than me in fact. He played tennis – better than me. He played the trumpet – better than me.

That was the problem. Almost everywhere I turned, there was Steve, being a better Brady than me. In high school, it’s incredibly easy to go from confident to insecure wreck in a heart beat. For me, it only took Steve showing up at the courts or band room, and I could feel twelve inches tall. (To be clear, Steve was never anything but nice.)

I wonder if you and I struggle with insecurity in our faith. I don’t mean doubt, where we question parts of our faith because of a lack of understanding. I mean we become insecure – anxious that we may be wrong about something in our faith, or that we’re not as good at our faith as we should be.

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We all need a Charlie Taylor…

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Yesterday marked the anniversary of when Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first successful powered flight, thus changing history. In recent years, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the brothers who grew up just down the road from where I did. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Kitty Hawk, where the flight was made (it was an awe inspiring moment for me, comparable to visiting Athens, Greece). I’ve visited their original bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, as well as Hoffman Prairie where they experimented with flight. The brothers were truly geniuses who revolutionized the world. But they couldn’t have done it without Charlie Taylor (the third person in the above picture).

Now I know what many of you are thinking: “Who in the world is Charlie Taylor?”

Taylor was a friend of the brothers who they hired to manage their bicycle shop when they were running experiments. He wasn’t an aeronautical innovator like the brothers. He wasn’t a leading engineer of the day. He didn’t even have a college degree (neither did the brothers).

So why was he so instrumental in the history of flight? And why do you and I need Charlie Taylor’s in our life?  Continue reading

Prickly Grace…

Snowy Cornfield

We had our first real snow of the winter last night. Apart from the fact that it made me realize I miss the two hour delays I used to get as a kid, the snow got me thinking about grace.

The backyard of our house goes right up against the edge of a farmer field, who alternates between soybeans and corn. When it’s soybeans, there really isn’t anything left after harvest. However, when the farmer had planted corn, there are little stalks left all over the place. Seeing as how I grew up in western Ohio, it’s fairly common to see corn and bean fields all over the place.

But there was something about the last time I saw the corn field after fresh snow got me thinking. Continue reading