Month: February 2013

God Questions: Exploring Life’s Toughest Questions

My church, Grace Community of Fremont, Ohio is starting a new series called, “God Questions”.  The purpose of the series is to address the questions that a person may have about God.

GodQuestionsThis week I struck up a conversation with a fellow believer about the upcoming series.  He has been involved in church his whole life.

The conversation spun off with the initial question: Where did evil come from?

Which is… if God was the creator of all things…did He create evil?  Did it start with Adam and Eve? Did it come into being when Lucifer fell?

These are all good questions and  it’s a bit irrelevant, whatever the answer is, because it doesn’t change Who God is, or who we are, or what we’re called to do. 

After some in-depth discussion with him about some of these difficult questions in life, I am amazed about the average church-goer’s lack of understanding of basic doctrinal truths. 

Such as…

1.  Hell is real, and people apart from Christ are condemned to it.
2.  God in His infinite justice punishes sin.   God in His infinite love provided salvation from that punishment through Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection.
3.  God hates sin.   Read any books start to finish from the Old Testament and read where God tells His people and prophets to completely wipe out whole people groups. I mean, have we forgotten the story of Noah? He just started all over. Sodom and Gomorrah? Need I go on?
4.  Anyone who does not know Christ is dead in their sin and deserves hell.  It’s a tough one, but if the consequences for sin are not that dire, then why did Christ have to die?

As believers, we need to know what the Bible says about Who God is, what He does, and who we are in light of that. 

My concern is that I believe we have life-long church-goers that can’t say with confidence that they are certain about these things based on revelation from Scripture.

It is a scary time in our churches today…

Thoughts?

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Lost and Found

Along with our kids, my wife and I worked for a company that held motivational and instructional conferences for small business owners.  We used to travel one weekend each month to Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.   While my wife was organizing and coordinating the event from the front office, I was responsible for what we called the “Tool Room”, which was basically the book store where we sold books, tapes, CD’s and other material to help the small business owner build their businesses.  Our kids worked the cash registers and computers as they filled out orders for the more than 10, 000 people who would attend these conferences.  It was a great time in our lives and we all have good memories of the time we worked and traveled together on these trips.

The only aspect that I really hated about the whole experience is that I had to drive the truck to each of these events. While my wife and kids were enjoying each trip in the cRyder Truckomfort of our family van, I was driving a rental truck from Ryder.  If you have never crossed the border in a rental truck after 9-11 then you have never really experienced anything in your life.  Entering into Canada was not the problem.  Getting back into the United States was the issue.  The paperwork was endless and difficult to get it just the way you needed it to cross the border.  About the time you had it down the rules would change.  More than once I did not know about these changes until I got to the gate.  Then the experience would get real… real fast.  

Now I understand that the Border Patrol and Homeland Security Department have a job to do.  I am thankful for the hard work and dedication it takes keeping the United States safe from those who would do us harm.  But as a rule of thumb, if you crossed back into the US, the inquiry and subsequent search made you a tad bit defensive.  You were always assumed guilty and you would have to prove your innocence.  It always seemed to me to be like the old Seinfeld episode of the “Soup Nazi”.  Stand here and don’t speak until spoken to, don’t smile and don’t lean on the counter.  


At any rate, this week I was thinking about the trips we took to Canada and the fun times I had working not only with my family but of working with the friends I made from Canada.  Even though I am friends with some of them on Facebook, I still miss them.  The  memories we made will always be favorites of mine.  I could tell story after story of all the crazy fun stuff we did all those years ago.  They were great times indeed.

I remember specifically one incident that I have carried with me all these years.

After being delayed at the border for a few hours, I was really late getting to Hamilton for our set up for the conference the next morning.  I finally get to Copps Coliseum and all the doors were locked at the loading docks where we would unload our “stuff”.

I finally found an unlocked door and made my way into the empty arena.  I knew where the Security Office was and I made my way down the hall to that office.  I pushed the buzzer on the outside of the office door and the Security Guard sees me and waves for me to open the door.  He tells me that before he can let me in the hall where we needed to set up for the conference, he had to finish doing the inventory of the “Lost and Found” that was delivered to them after the hockey game that was at the arena earlier that evening.

I walked with hilostm into the Lost and Found storage room and watched him as he took inventory off the cart full of items brought in that night.  The Lost and Found Storage Room  was huge.  There was no furniture, but there were rows and rows of shelving units.  There was barely a place to stand as I navigated my way through the  maze of shelves and carts full of coats , hats and gloves.   In hindsight, I guess I expected a walk-in closet. But the room was triple the size of what I’d have guessed it to be. And in it, from wall to wall and floor to ceiling were racks and racks filled with bags of all shapes and sizes.  I was shocked at what I saw.  Besides the standard coats, hats and gloves that you would expect to find, there were cameras, laptops, cell phones, suitcases, briefcases and bags and bags of what looked like clothes.  Just about anything you can imagine I saw in that room.  

 “Whoa!  What a mountain of stuff!”, I said.

 “You’re telling me!”, he chuckled.

“All this stuff is missing?”

 “Not missing…  They’re just waiting for their owners to pick them up.”

“How in the world do people just forget to get their stuff? Don’t they realize they don’t have their camera or laptop?”, I ask.

“That’s thL&Fe least of it! You’d be amazed to know what’s just sitting here, waiting to be claimed.”

I now think back to what I’d seen that night.  Mounds of forgotten, lost and abandoned things, sitting in a holding room, waiting for the right someone to show up and take them home.  How could people be so careless or so reckless?  Didn’t these people know that they “lost” something valuable?  Did they not care that their personal belongings were just waiting there for them to claim?

And in the last few days since I remembered this story,  the words of that Security Guard have lingered in my head and my heart.

“You’d be amazed to know what’s just sitting here, waiting to be claimed.”

I’ve caught myself wondering if that could be said of me. What else is lying up on a shelf, forgotten, lost or abandoned and waiting for me to claim it?

The more I live, the more I’m convinced that fulfilling our purpose in life isn’t automatic.  I sure wish I could believe we don’t miss anything important in this life, but I can’t honestly make that case. We don’t accomplish everything we’re meant to do just by being, or obtain everything meant to benefit us and others simply because we’re moving and breathing.  We have to want it.  We have to want to get what was meant for us.

 Our life is ours to claim. But far too many of us don’t reach for more because we find it hard to believe there could be more for us than what we see.

Jesus Christ has prepared a way of  forgiveness of our sin and a way to eternal Salvation.  It is ours to have.  It is just sitting there waiting for us to “claim” it from a loving God, who provided this by offering up His only Son to die on the Cross for our sins.

Besides the Salvation and Forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ, there are many other blessings that come from God that are there for us to claim. This week, I’ve spent some time imagining a room filled from floor to ceiling with all the good things meant for us.  Things meant for us to be.  Things meant for us to have. Things for us to do and to give in this life. 

Have you considered and wondered if  there’s more waiting for you?

  • Maybe a deeper love for your family and friends?
  • A greater purpose and fulfillment in your work?
  • Blessings beyond your hopes and needs?
  • More for you to contribute to the world around you?
  • Maybe a legacy that would shape generations to come?
  • What if your life was meant for more than you’ve ever hoped or imagined?

 With open hands and an open heart… ask for it.

 You’d be amazed to know what’s just sitting here, waiting to be claimed.

The Unmitigated Gall of Being Who I Am

I was trying to fall asleep last night, when I started to think about the idea of being.

By that I mean we as people being who we are – whomever that may be and whatever that may look like.  My thoughts mainly focused around the idea of pigeonholing people. We like to think we have a particular person figured out. For example, I would love to say that I have completely figured out my wife.  I believe I do knowgall her quite well, but I could never know exactly who she is.  Some days she is a complete mystery to me.   I guess I am a mystery to her as well.  That being said, my wife probably knows me better than anyone but I know that I still surprise her from time-to-time.  Sometimes that brings her frustration and other times happiness.   How could she not know me after knowing each other for over 35 years?  The question that really needs to be answered is, “How do I expect my wife to know me when I am not sure I know myself?”  There are things about me that stay the same because there are some things about me that are the same way I was when I was five. 

In other ways I keep changing.  Yes, I constantly change.  I am influenced by education, interactions, music, experiences, opportunities, all of that.   I keep discovering things about myself and sometimes what I find out is not pretty or good.  I am sad about that.  I wish I could hide those bad things from myself and more importantly from my family.   The truth is not that simple.  They see my faults before I do.
puzz

I have always made it a life goal to never be truly figured out.  I always wanted to keep ’em guessing.  The problem is that I have finally figured out that I worked way too hard at that.  It’s been really easy for me to focus on the negative things I have learned, especially since I’m trying to improve my weaknesses as a husband, father and grandfather.   Lately, however, I’ve noticed more positive things. I’m discovering new things about myself that have me a little excited – and surprised. It’s not that these new things are so exciting in themselves; it’s that I’m understanding myself better and seeing more clearly who I am.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  – Dr. Seuss

I am closing in on 56 and I thought I would have had this figured out a long time ago.  However; the excitement I’m feeling about discovering new things about myself is worth the pain of finding out things I don’t like. Thinking that I’m one thing and finding out I’m something else entirely is scary. I’ve certainly ran away from discovering things about myself before, and I’m absolutely sure that I’m not alone in that.

I’ve always had this desire to blow people’s minds. I want to show you who I am, but I really want to show you that I’m not who you think I am.  I’m different.  I am many things—and I am one thing.  That is for sure, but I am much more than that.

Who am I?  

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

I am a man.  I am a “brother” and I am a “son” and I am a “father” and a “grandfather”.   I am trustworthy and loyal, but at the same time I am no Boy Scout.  No, I am certainly not. I am quite the opposite, in fact. And by opposite I do not mean Girl Scout.

I am concepts and thoughts and feelings.  I am he and I am him. I am this anwalrusd I am that.  I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together…  I am the Fool on the Hill and I am the Walrus, but not the one you’re probably thinking of.  I am the Other Walrus, the one who is less the Walrus in the sense of legendary Beatles music and more the Walrus in the sense of his tendency to lie around on the couch for too long.

As a child I was known as the baby of the family.  I am also a “mommas boy”.  I was known as the “Lee boy” and Linda Lee’s little brother.  I was known as the brother of those that were killed in the car/train accident. 

I was picked first and I was picked last.  I was the center of attention and I was ignored.  I was loved and I was forced to grow up too soon. I was easily forgotten and lost in the crowd.  My elementary school classmates would have hard time ever remembering me.  Just a picture of someone they don’t remember.

leisure suitIn Junior High, I continued being known Linda Lee’s little brother.  I was known as a stutterer and a Smart Aleck to cover the embarrassment of my lack of confidence. I was sure that a light blue Leisure Suit was the solution for all my problems.

I was now known to usually to get into fights  because I was small for my age and I would not have anyone try to put me in my place.  My anger and temper would usually get the best of me and the opponent was usually bigger and older than me.  I never walked away from a fight.  I’d like to think I never lost one but I am sure there are those that would have a different opinion.

I was legendary at Nerf Basketball in my bedroom and I was sure that with every Beatle, ELO, Elton John, Areosmith, John Denver and Temptations record I sang with would make me a star one day.  

RunnerIn high school, I was still known as Linda Lee’s little brother but I was also known as a runner, the cross-country kid that got de-pantsed in front of the whole school.  I was known as the first student in my class to earn his Varsity Letter as a Freshman.  I was also known as a transfer student and a basketball player. I was too short, too skinny, too tall, too angry, too jealous, too loud and too confident.

I was known as being smarter than I let anyone know.  I did what I had to do to stay eligible for sports.  I was a underachiever and at times I overachieved… far beyond my abilities.  I was lucky and I was cursed.  I was not expected to amount to anything and yet I surpassed everyone’s expectations of what I would do in my life.  Truth is I never reached my full potential.

There was one thing I was but I wasn’t known for it.   I was a “Born Again” Christian.   I had a very deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ but unfortunately very few people knew this about me.  What many knew about me was what they would see at the parties and other places.  I would hide this relationship with Jesus Christ yet I would freely show everyone the desperate attempts of a young man trying to fit in.  It is truly one of my greatest regrets of my childhood.  I wish I would have let others know of my faith.  I wish I would have been the witness that God wanted me to be and that includes the time I was a student at Temple Christian Academy. 

People have known me by many titles and nicknames.

My sister calls me Dave.  (she is the only one gets away with that to my face) She has also called me “Dew Worm” as long as I remember.  Why? Who knows?  My brother had other nicknames for me that will forever be confined to vaults of my memory and hopefully to those of my family.

--In high school, I was “Double Deuce”  not because of the modern Urban Dictionary definition of the act of sticking up both middle fingers instead of just one for added emphasis on the unspoken message; while that could have applied to me in some ways it was rather the fact that I wore the number “22” for every sport I have ever played.  I was the original “22”. 

I was known as Pam’s ex-boyfriend and from time to time, Michael.

I was known as the first of my family to go to college.  Then as a traveler.  I left the small confines of that small Ohio town and swam in the Amazon River and sojourned the plains of Africa and shook the hands of two US Presidents all before I was the age of 22.

There was a time when I was known as the “Sound Man”.  I engineered the sound board for many of the popular Christian acts of the early ’80’s.  I was also known during this time as a roommate to some of my lifelong friends.  Then I was known as a college graduate and someone who they used to know.

There was a time when I was known as Mr. Lee; but he died a long time ago.

To some I was known as Coach, to others the teacher and to some the Principal.  If you knew me then, you would much rather have “Pepsi and Popcorn” than “Coffee and Doughnuts” with me.  (An inside joke and shout out for all to whom it applies).

I was known as an ordained minister… a Bible teacher… to some a youth pastor, to others a Sunday School teacher.

I am no longer any of these things.

Today… to some I am known as the boss and to some, David.  I am everything and I am nothing.  I have been called “Hey, You!” and “Get Out of the Way!”  I am sometimes referred to as “Excuse Me” in an annoyed tone of voice, because apparently I am in the way.

I am a parent.  Parenting is the kind of job for which there is no practice.  You give it your best shot, and trust that it is enough.  You hope that God will make your children resilient enough that they don’t suffer too much from who you are.  I am “Dad” to Nathan and Adam and “David” to Crystal and Cassidy.  There is no such thing as “step” anything.  

I am my own worst critic. I am success.  I am failure.  I am the silent majority.  I am a loud minority. I am a friend and I am a foe.   batman-logoI am Batman because I never get invited to parties.  I am fine with that, because that just makes me an even more accurate Batman (because Batman does not go to parties as Batman but only as Bruce Wayne). I am right about this.

I am the proud husband of Pamela Renee.

I’m not what I thought.  I’m more than I’ve been.

I am Indiana William and Brody Michael Kirchenbauer’s grandpa.

I am a man that has come to the conclusion that compassion, understanding and forgiveness  of others and their problems are far better than the  judgmental legalism he raised with.

I am a simple man looking for grace and forgiveness.

I guess I am just starting to get to really know who I am just because I have the unmitigated gall of taking the time to understand and know who I am.