Oddly, I don’t think we have any more weddings until December. Last year they were stacked up like a plate of flapjacks—with syrup oozing over the edges. Jonathan and Chloe’s had to be the most unique wedding I’ve attended yet. Ushered into a candle lit building, all seats facing toward a canopy in the center, we waited while the event unfolded—almost like watching a movie. Devoid of Nathaniel, who was enjoying a front row seat as an “honored guest”, Lauren whispered to me, “I want the soundtrack to their wedding!” The ceremony was everything that describes Jonathan and Chloe—poetic, creative, romantic and focused on Yahweh. But the reception that followed was made quite lively with the addition of outdoor games—arm-wrestling, shot-putting and a piñata. Lauren and I went arm to arm and proved ourselves, once again, pretty evenly matched. It’s a pity the bystanders didn’t have the benefit of seeing her without her jacket, and watching those softball sized biceps at work. Catching up with everyone felt like an impossible task. Caleb, who silently shadowed me at every speech tournament, now towers over me, still mostly silent with the same innocent, half awkward smile. I think I met at least three of the guy’s girl-friends—all named Anna. As I talked with Cory’s mom, I realized she didn’t recognize Josiah, standing behind me. Well, of course not. He’s sprouted from the upstart little boy proud of outgrowing his sister into a young man with facial hair and a shoulder span. Grabbing his hand I pulled him forward and introduced him: “I want you to meet my boyfriend.” Her face glossed over with polite surprise. “Josiah Scott.” She extended her hand, completely missing the name. Grinning I added, “You remember my little brother, Josiah?” Finally her face relaxed and she laughed, “I sure didn’t think there was going to be any of this boyfriend stuff.” As Melissa told stories on Chloe during the reception, she began to describe how, several years ago Chloe and Hannah had insisted I’d be married with kids in a couple of years and they’d be old maids. The reason? I knew so many guys and they knew none. I shrugged, told them not to worry: “Whatever. It only takes one.” Three years later Chloe is now married, Hannah is not only married, but ten weeks pregnant, and guess who’s still single! I couldn’t contain my laughter when it suddenly occurred to me that I’d even known both of their husbands at that time, before they did. I’m beginning to feel accomplished in proving folks wrong.
I can’t remember how long it’s been singe I worshipped in a large church building. Blue Springs Christian Church has moved on with the times—casual clothing, theatrical feel, with a foyer that feels like an airport: hot coffee and donuts served! The thinly disguised marketing pitch delivered by the pastor in a goal to convince congregants to give toward the three and a half million dollar youth building saddened me. Deception, I thought. Not that the pastor was trying to deceive, but that the pastor, himself, was deceived. Do we really believe that three million dollar buildings or large praise bands will help us to “evangelize” the youth of America? Do we really believe that supplying them with video games, entertainment and food will bring them to salvation? Show me the expensive buildings, the technology, the theatrics of the church in China or Indonesia or Ghana. Our brothers and sisters across the globe are worshipping in basements, under the stars on inside thatched-roof huts and their numbers are growing phenomenally. In our search to please American consumers, we’ve missed the purpose that should really drive the church. We’ve spelled ourselves right into a run on sentence—it doesn’t end. We’ll always have to pump more money and time into keeping up with the entertainment industry, since we fill our churches with those seeking an “experience” instead of those seeking Yahweh.
Josiah and I left our bags to be unpacked after dark, buckled on helmets and mounted our bicycles to work out dangerous levels of energy. It’s not a surprising sight to round a bend and see a pack of dogs loping to meet us, howling yipping and barking. Lanky hounds, rolly-polly terriers, square boxers and a spindly legged—excuse me, is that a deer? Sure enough, a soft-eyed fawn bounded up to the fence and sniffed my offered hand before retreating back a few steps to watch the rest of the “dogs” wiggle, waggle and beg to be scratched.
Once upon a time I eagerly read any book I could get my hands on. Now I find myself tossing books down in disgust after a few pages. The novel I picked up yesterday ranks high on my list of horrible books. Veiled by the backdrop of an oriental supermodel heading home for a mission trip, the plot turned my stomach with mistaken perceptions of finding God’s will and making godly decisions. Snares laid by misunderstanding, and ready to entangle the feet of many a believer. Let’s throw in how we “prayed about something”, but how’d we get our answer? “I prayed about it,” someone tells me, by way of expressing the authority for their actions when contrary to scripture or sound judgment. God’s not a mystical eight ball that we put questions to and then sit, waiting for a gut feeling to guide us. Ah, but prayer is an important part of every decision, every day, every moment, and I know without a doubt I let it slide. In scripture, I see a pattern of seeking things that appear in accordance with God’s goals, accompanied by prayers of thanksgiving and pleas for wisdom and godly counsel. David said God’s word is the light that guides us, not our feelings, our senses of peace or unrest, or even the thoughts that pop into our heads while praying. At the end of the day, startled back to an awareness of time by the click by which my lamp bids me good-night, I know the reminder to seek Yahweh in spirit and truth was timely.
Lord, Thy wisdom from above,
Thy timeless gift bestowed in love,
Is what I lack, and so I pray
That Thou would give Thy power today,
That I might be a pleasing child
To walk before Thee, undefiled,
That Thou would keep me from each snare
That where Thou art, I would be there.