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I’m feeling better.  Thanks for praying for me, and being concerned.  Last week I spent most of the time in the bed and trying to do anything to get that tennis ball dislodged from behind my nose.  I’m closer to being done with all the medication, and I feel closer a lot closer to normal.  Again … thanks for the prayers.

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I’ve been feeling pretty sickly over the last few days.  I finally went to the doctor today and have bronchitis, which isn’t extremely pleasant.  I’ve basically been in bed for five days and don’t want to talk because I cough a lot and my throat hurts.  I’m starting to feel better, and I’m sure that the drugs my physician prescribed will start taking affect soon.  

A friend of mine often says that health is one of those things that you never miss until its gone, but without it you have nothing.  He’s pretty much right.  Good health flies under the radar; it’s white noise.  That is, until it’s gone.

When I think of the pervasive effects of good health, I’m reminded of how God’s grace reaches into our lives from every angle and to every degree.  It’s not something that we notice, because for most of us, it’s just always been.   Grace is what hold’s us together, it’s what keeps us.

Every time I’m sick, there is this moment when I’ve returned to health and I suddenly become aware of the fact that I’m back to normal.  In that moment I embrace the gift that is good health and thank God I’m over the illness.  It’s the contrast between the illness and normal life that brings out the true gift of health.

There is not such contrast between God’s grace in our day to day living.  God doesn’t back off and won’t let us down.  There aren’t moments where Jesus could have done more.  There are no days when we aren’t fully and completely loved by Him.  So, it our duty, it the midst of blessing, or perceived trouble, to see His Grace and respond to Him for it.

Especially when you’re sickly.

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I'm Enjoying …

Here is a quick list of stuff that I’ve been enjoying lately:

1.  The new ZAO benefit CD, “I Dreamed There Was A Fountain”.  It’s really one of the best artistic compilations I’ve heard in a long time.  It can be purchased by [clicking here].

2.  The “Campus Legend” mode on NCAA Football 2009.  Seriously, its remarkably addictive and so engaging.  Especially when you’ve been playing straight up for years.

3.  Military Shirts.  Enough said.

4.  Good coffee.  By good coffee I don’t necessarily mean a brand, but more or less the experience of drinking that hot goodness in the morning.

5.  Short hair.  I’ve realized that the only way my head will look good again is if the hair is kept short.  

6.  Country Music.  Yes, I’m pretty serious too.  Not just the new Keith Urban stuff, but Willie, Waylon, and the boys.

7.  Beards.  I don’t have to shave every day. which is an incredible advantage.  

8.  Jeans.  Lately I’ve been getting three or four days of use out of a single pair of jeans.  Then I spill coffee or bleed upon them, which renders them useless.  

9.  My wife.  I’m still learning what it means to be a good husband, but I’m glad I have that opportunity.

10.  The Banjo.  I recently acquired the last bluegrass instrument to complete the cycle.  I even played banjo on Sunday, which was a feat in and of itself.

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I’m tired.  

I flew out on Friday morning to speak at a conference in Memphis.  It was a good opportunity to share with a group of college students that are very active and influential on their campuses. 

When I haven’t traveled in while, flying really gets me nervous.  I completely loathe that first takeoff.  Once I’m up in the air, I’m OK.  But its that first take-off that gets me.   I have my own personal ways of coping with this, but the only thing you can do is sit back and let go … right?

I guess that’s a lot like life.  If you’re ever going to go some where, you’re going to have to risk something to get there.  You might lose, but where are you going if you do nothing?  I’m going to guess, nowhere.

This morning I led worship for our church with a group of WONDERFUL musicians and friends.  It’s always fun to be here and play music with my friends.  I’m really thankful for them and the time they put in week-after-week preparing for this gig.  It is really a privilege to serve alongside them. 

This afternoon I helped with a memorial service, and tonight I’m starting a new series of lectures at our church.  

Thank God for rest. (and a great wife who does an incredible job taking care of me)

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My wife was reading a book to me as we were stuck in traffic on I-77 just south of Charlotte the other day.  Some joker fell asleep and ran into a sign along the edge of the interstate, so the North Carolina Department of Transportation shut the interstate down for the better part of the day.  Yay… memories.

The book is somewhat biographical in nature, and the story was engaging.  The writer of the book had been through a remarkable amount of trauma and consequently reconstructive surgery.  I have a six-inch screw in my left foot, so I could kind of sympathize. 

At one point during the author’s recovery, his doctors instructed him that they would need to remove a metal sheath that protected his femur.  While this metal has protected his bone and gave it an opportunity to heal, it was also damaging them.

The doctors pointed out that the longer the metal plate remained, the more dependent the bone would become on the strength from the metal and the weaker it became on it’s own.

While my wife was reading that to me, I was reminded of how Jesus often changes and alters the trajectory of our lives because the familiar erodes faith.  Its quite easy to trust within a context that factors to be predictable.  Real trust, the kind Jesus demands, isn’t predicated on the outcome, its mandated by the person the trust is placed in.

I think we are a lot like bones.  Even good things, things that heal and restore, can, in themselves, become something we lean on for strength.  The ends of that is a whole different kind of breaking.

Sometimes, for our own good, we are made to be weak, so that through Jesus we might be made strong.  That weakness is full of hurt, pain, and struggle, but it leads to whole life.  In the end, that is what Jesus offers.

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New Year.

Ok. I will blog more this new year.

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Ugly Mug.

I have officially changed my brewing preferences.  I was a traditional Starbucks kinda guy … go to the store by the pound of coffee and grind it at home.  Sumatra.  Gold Coast.  Something bold and clean.  I have found a coffee that I now choose to brew at home instead.  Of coarse, when I’m out I still go get a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  At home, though, its now “Ugly Mug” for me. 

The following ads should convey why (especially if you know me personally):

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My friends at work are gone to China for two weeks to distribute bibles, legally, which has left me alone to work at our church.  I’m proud of what they’re doing; it’s important and lives will be changed because of it.  They’ve been gone a week and are scheduled to return on Saturday night (late).

My wife left yesterday afternoon to go visit her sister, who is moving to Las Vegas in a few days.  Along with her sister and her mother, they had planned to spend last night and today together.  She’ll be back late tonight.

Although I’ve been alone, I have not been lonely.  

My first reaction to being alone is calling friends and family to catch up.  I’ve done that, of coarse.  After a while, I feel caught-up, though, and that desire to just gab really just leaves.  Normally that ends with an odd depression filled with loneliness.

Now, while today has been remarkably productive due to the solitude.  Today hasn’t been lonely.  It hasn’t been lonely because even though I’m alone, I’m not alone.

I feel ashamed that I so often overlook the eternal presence of Jesus with me.   I’m not talking about Jesus residing with us in some judgmental way where he’s looking at my every move waiting for me to do something unworthy of his affection and attention.  I’m talking about the One who called me his “friend”, and simply wants me trust and follow him.

I’m grateful that the God who created the universe, formed the stars, sun, and earth, that this God desires knowing me so much that He literally has taken residence up in my life.  

That’s friendship.  That’s reason enough to not be lonely.

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oh. and i love brownies.

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Running Upstairs.

I noticed a while back that I tend to run when I’m heading up stairs.  When I was younger we used to pick on people walking up the stairs on the bleachers at football games, because there is no way to walk up stairs and look cool or happy or energetic.  With one exception: to run up them.  

I think life is full of stairs to climb, hurdles to get over, and obstacles to overcome.  Most of them are difficult and painful, and, honestly, most of us look bored and pained while we go through them.  However, if we face our fears, own up to our problems, and admit our brokenness there is a momentum that carries us through the problem to wholeness on the other side.  

The momentum that carries us through these problems comes from the realization that we need Jesus.  When facing problems or brokenness, we have the opportunity to see Jesus at the top of the stairs, at the end of the fight, in the outcome of the problem.  

To me, that is a good reason to run up the stairs.

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