All posts tagged reckless

Here Lies a Ragamuffin


“Shalom, be at peace. I understand your fears, your failures, your brokenness. I don’t expect you to be perfect. I have been there. All is well. You have my love. You don’t have to pay for it and you can’t deserve it. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself. You only have to open and receive it. You only have to say yes to my love – a love beyond anything you can intellectualize or imagine.”

It was three years ago, and I was on a time of personal spiritual retreat. On my drive to the retreat location I had stopped at a bookstore and picked up a book called Souvenirs of Solitude by one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning. He words above are from the first chapter. They were words he felt like God spoke to his soul during a similar time.

Brennan Manning died last Friday. Far from perfect, he was a man who struggled with grace. He was a Korean war vet, a Franciscan priest who left the priesthood to get married and then eventually divorced, and an alcoholic. Far from being remembered as a Saint, I think Brennan would want to be remembered by the moniker he proclaimed in one of his books: A Ragamuffin. In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan described himself this way:

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

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Agree to Disagree


Picking up the Pieces

Whoever you are planning on voting for tomorrow, most of us can sympathize with how this little girl was feeling:

There is light at the end of the tunnel! Tomorrow we vote and hopefully by Wednesday we will know who the next President of the United States will be. (I say hopefully because the polls have the race so close we may be in for a very long tabulating process)

There is a problem that has begun to plague the relational landscape in our country, and it has been brought into sharp contrast by this election: We have forgotten how to agree to disagree. We either don’t engage in conversations that may be harrowing, and so avoid the conflict, or we engage and get so passionate that we destroy whatever relationship was there in the first place.

I have seen far too many adults who allowed disagreements to become permanent wedges that drove people apart, because they couldn’t agree to disagree. A recent Rasmussen poll reported that 27% of people reported that this election cycle had negatively affected a relationship with a friend or family member. It has pitted brother against brother, father against son, Facebook friend against Facebook friend.

How do we learn to have civil discourse, disagree, and still be friends? Here are a few thoughts to help patch those relational wounds that may have been caused in time to have Thanksgiving dinner together without throwing a drumstick at the other person:
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The Man Who Gave


Ann Arbor is about a half hour from my driveway. It is most well known as the home of the University of Michigan and, this time of year especially, as the home of the Michigan Wolverines football team.

It was also recently the location of an incredibly Reckless act.

Howard Cooper Import Center was long known as a reputable and fair car dealership. The founder, Howard Cooper, started the business 47 years ago. This month the business is changing hands as he has decided at the age of 83 that it was finally time to retire. The dealership has been sold and Howard is — rightfully so — ready to take a break.

But he had one piece of business to take care of before he left. Last week he walked into the office with a stack of envelopes and gave one to each employee. In that envelope was a check worth $1,000 for every year they had worked for the company.

One man who had been driving the parts van for the company for nearly 28 years received a check for nearly $28,000.

Another received a check for $26,000. Everyone got something – 89 employees in all.

In a day where the news stories that make the headlines are those of corporate corruption and downsizing, this is a story that needs to be told and retold.

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Where Is The Wind Taking You?


Trust is hard.

We all like to be in control.

This past weekend was an event called the Hot Air Jubilee here in Jackson. Hot Air Balloonists from around the US converge on Jackson for a weekend of flying and competition. Tens of thousands of people flock to a local park to see the balloons, have a corn dog, and get spun around on carnival rides.

Several years ago our church, Rivertree, got involved as a way to serve our community. One thing led to another and now I sit on the Board of the event. It is one of the largest annual events in our county, and does a great deal for bringing our community together.

Our balloon, Syncronicity, piloted by Jeff Halitzer on a different flight

This year my wife and I had the opportunity to fly in one of the balloons. We lifted off from behind a local Middle School and floated over downtown Jackson. Dogs barked wildly as the sometimes noisy bags of color floated above their domains. People stood on back decks and waved. And I tried very hard not to pee my pants. As the town of Jackson fell behind us, we floated out over land that is nothing more than forest and farm land. We startled deer, and flew near a group of sand hill cranes. It was a beautiful flight.

There was one problem: finding a place to land. Most of what we could see by this time were trees. The few open areas that we saw were farmer’s fields, something that balloonists try to avoid landing in because they don’t want to damage a farmers crops.

We had one other problem: You can’t steer a balloon.
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How Big is Your God?

Hot Water Bottle

I have only cried like a baby in front of our church a few times. Yesterday was one of those times. We have been doing a series called The Circle Maker, based off of a book of the same title by Mark Batterson. It focuses on prayer and has been thoroughly challenging to me as we have walked through it.

In preparation for this week’s message I came across the following story. Before I share the story I want to preface it with this: I am pretty careful about the stories that I share with the people of our church. I have heard too many pastors pass on stories they said were true only to bump into them later online and find out that they were elaborate fabrications. I have no problem with fiction, just let me know it is fiction.

I’ve done some digging and to the best of my knowledge, this is true. The narrator is Helen Roseveare, formerly a missionary in Central Africa.
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Twisted Ankles


Have you ever been mad at yourself?

I mean really mad?

Last week, for the second year in a row I went on a four day backpacking trip with a group of guys.

These aren’t your “lets take the camper to the lake for Memorial Day weekend” campouts. These are your “take everything on your back or you don’t have it with you in the woods, no bathrooms, filter your water out of the nearest stream” campouts.  Each year we explore somewhere new and this year we headed for Red River Gorge Kentucky (about an hour Southeast of Lexington).

A lot of personal preparation goes into a trip like this. Because you have to carry everything on your back (your house, your bed, your kitchen, your food, your clothes…) you are very careful about what you take. I spent a lot of time getting ready. I also spent time training, walking area trails with a full pack to get my body used to the idea of carrying an extra 40 pounds.

After all of the preparation and a six hour drive I was excited to get started when we finally set out. We had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to hike and the things we wanted to see when we got there. The first day was great. We arrived in late afternoon, hiked about a mile and a half in and set up our first camp. The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast, struck camp and set out.

Sky Bridge rock formation in the Red River Gorge

We were hoping to cover around ten miles that day. The Red River Gorge area is beautiful, with huge rock formations, large stone arches, and beautiful streams. It is also amazingly hilly. Hilly doesn’t do the terrain justice. These are the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. The valley floors are several hundred feet below the ridge lines. Trails descend down one side of a gorge to the floor, and then ascend brutally up the other side.

The first trail of the day was a descent into one of those valleys. The trail was downhill and steep. After only ten minutes of hiking I made a mistake. I planted my foot in the wrong place and when I shifted my weight the weight of my backpack swung me around, but my foot stayed still. I twisted my ankle badly and skidded ten feet down the hill on my back.
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