Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 26

Peace & wholeness. God, order a peaceful and whole life for us because everything we've done, you've done for us. Isaiah 26:12 (MSG)

I spent a good part of my day yesterday listening to a person share their life story. I'm often astonished at what people will tell you when you simply start asking questions. I sat amazed at the tale that unfolded before me. It was tragic. You would have never guess that this person's journey included events of murder, abuse, addiction, and intense brokenness.

I walked away from the conversation with a greater appreciation of this person and all that they have endured. I also walked away with a renewed appreciation for how very blessed I am.

I know that every life is touched with tragedy and pain. My own path has included its share of brokenness. Your path has, too. I get that. Yet, more and more I understand how truly, lavishly blessed I am. As I read today's chapter in Isaiah, I identified with what Isaiah meant when he wrote that everything we've done, God has done for us. It's not about me. It's not about what I've done. It's about what God has done. His will, His order for us is peace and wholeness.

Today, I walk in gratitude for what God has done for me.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and audreyjm

KOLD Radio is Off the Air

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It was great to have a lot of family come to see KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay this past weekend (thanks to Madison for taking lots of pictures for us!). Thanks to everyone who came to the show (and to Uncle Brad who came twice). The crowds weren't as big as we had hoped, but those who did show up left worn out from laughing! We performed four times and finished with a Sunday afternoon matinee. Then the cast and crew tore down the set and gathered one last time for a cast party.

Wendy and I had a ton of fun performing together and loved the little community of Whitefish Bay we established over the past five weeks. Now, we're happy to have our lives back. After rehearsing practically every night and weekend for weeks straight, we turned our eyes back to our messy house, stack of mail and list of to-dos.

Uff-da.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 25

Divine appointment at the airport bar. "And here on this mountain, God will banish the pall of doom hanging over all peoples, The shadow of doom darkening all nations. Yes, he'll banish death forever." Isaiah 25:7 (MSG)

Flying through Denver International airport last night, I sat and had dinner at the bar of a restaurant on the B Concourse where I could watch the Cubs get pounded by the Mets (being a Cubs fan requires a lot of faith). It was there that I met Joe, who was quite drunk and sitting to my immediate left. I instantly liked Joe. He seemed like a nice enough guy, even in his inebriated state. He was friendly and charismatic. Joe had been at the bar a long time. He'd missed two flights already according to the lengthy description of his day.

Joe talked a lot, and I got to know him quite well as I ate my caesar salad. He made his first million in Iowa. Joe had everything, it would seem. He was healthy and looked much younger than his early fifties (He thought we were the same age, and told me I looked much older than my age. Sometimes drunk people just can't filter things the way they should.). Joe was good looking. He clearly had a ton of money and all that it could buy. There were, however, two things Joe clearly did not have. He did not have a friend (I was it), and he did not have peace. Joe was alone. Joe had "the pall of doom hanging over all peoples." His spirit was tortured. I could see it in his eyes. It was in his posture. I heard it in his slurred words.

I listened to Joe's story. I learned of his many broken relationships. He told me about his inability to perform sexually with his young girlfriend. His life was a total mess. All the money and success were worthless to provide that which he truly needed. He was an empty shell of a man medicating himself from the pain of his soul. I tried to be a good friend and love Joe well in the few minutes that our lives touched.

Today, I'm praying for my friend Joe. I'm grateful for God's amazing grace in my own life, which I do not deserve. I'm thankful that Jesus came to banish death and it's morbid pall. I'm praying that I will be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is despair I can sow hope, and where there is darkness I can shed light.

Even at the bar on Concourse B.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and drh

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 24

A beautiful sight. Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, Disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant. Therefore a curse, like a cancer, ravages the earth. Its people pay the price of their sacrilege. Isaiah 24:5-6 (MSG)

A few years ago I went to see an exhibition of Iowa artists. I ran across a simple landscape of a cornfield drawn with pastels. I was surprised by the emotional reaction I had to the picture, and how beautiful it was to me. I'm sure a lot of people looked at it and muttered, "It's just a stupid cornfield."

That experience of standing in front of that beautiful pastel taught me a lot about who I am. Though raised in the city, I am a child of Iowa. I've never been a farmer. I have a "brown thumb." Yet, my life has been framed by the never ending cyclical seasons of tilling, planting, weeding, detasseling, and harvesting. I have a real appreciation for agriculture. It's all around me. It's part of who I am.

Today, I'm reminded that man's first home on Earth was a garden, and the first occupation given to man was that of a gardener. Our responsibility to care for God's creation goes back to Adam and Eve, and I don't believe that responsibility was ever taken from us. When we ignore our responsiblity to the Earth, we pay the price for it.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and toddandd

Shooting Star on Steroids

So, the other night after rehearsal Wendy and I are sitting in the couch talking. I look out the living room window and see this strange sight. A huge fireball rocketed across the northern sky and then was gone. It was like a shooting star on steroids. My mind conjured up images of the space shuttle falling out of the sky in flames. Not something you see everyday. I shouted and and ran for the front door. Wendy, who didn't see it, wondered what in the world I was so worked up about.

I found out yesterday that it was a meteor. The Astronomy prof at the University of Iowa was on public radio yesterday talking about the event. I guess it's a pretty rare sight to behold. The last record of a meteor this big in Iowa was about 150 years ago.

Awesome.

Speaking of Opening Night

So it was opening night of KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay last night. We had a small but lively audience who seemed to really enjoy the show and it was great to finally get the show in front of a crowd. There were plenty of small mistakes on stage. Few, if any, would have been noticed by the audience. I always like it when opening night has a few glitches. It means that your best performance is still inside you waiting to come out.

Went out with the cast and crew after the show. What a great group of people.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 23

Truth offends. For the next seventy years, a king's lifetime, Tyre will be forgotten. At the end of the seventy years, Tyre will stage a comeback, but it will be the comeback of a worn-out whore, as in the song:

   "Take a harp, circle the city,
   unremembered whore.
Sing your old songs, your many old songs.
   Maybe someone will remember."
Isaiah 23:15-16 (MSG)

Last night was opening night of the local community theatre show. It was really well received by the audience. Nevertheless, there was one patron who made a comment about being offended by something in the show. No surprise. I've served as the president of the board of directors for our local stage troupe for the past few years. In that capacity, I get to answer the letters and e-mails of offended audience members. There's always a few of them. Interestingly enough, every complaint has come from a good, upstanding religious person.

When I read passages like today's from Isaiah, I wonder how straight-laced religious people with their undies in a bunch make it through God's Message without being offended. Do they take out their exacto knives and cut out the offensive passages or just ignore them? What do they do with Isaiah? He pulls no punches. The old prophet walked naked in public to make a point. He used worn-out whores and used menstrual rags as metaphors.

So much for propriety.

One of the things I've always loved about God's Message is the way it presents Truth in all sorts of powerful ways. When you read it for yourself, you find that God doesn't play it safe. He doesn't pander to anyone. Sinner and saint alike will find it inspiring, convicting, and regularly hard to swallow. Truth, communicated through intense metaphors, will offend all sorts of good religious people. It's akin to what I've come to learn and love about art, literature, music, and theatre:

If you communicate what's true, you're always going to offend somebody.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and libbyrosof