Summer night sky…..

We just came back in from stargazing this evening. Our local weatherman happened to put out some information about sighting the International Space Station several times this weekend and the first opportunity was 14 minutes away. I put down my laptop, called out to my son and we grabbed spots on the hammock out front.

It was a beautiful night to be gazing above at God’s majesty. The temps were Goldilocks pleasant — not too hot and not too cold. The sky was moonless and cloudless allowing the sparkling lights to come alive in the night sky. Soon enough, while we were waiting, we spotted a satellite slowly and methodically aiming across the night sky. My son spotted a shooting star but it was gone before I could move my head that direction.

And then it appeared. The ISS first looked like any other star but was low in the northwest sky plodding upward. Its brightness intensified as it climbed. At 45-60 degrees angle above it was the brightest thing in the night sky and was beautifully silent as it aimed for our house and our viewing spot. At its pinnacle in height and brightness a nearby shooting star careening east punctuated our experience. And this shooting start was long enough for my son to see it, say it, me to turn my head, see it, and then it lasted another two seconds as we both watched it burn out and fade away. Right after the ISS faded away to the southeast, a satellite faintly trekked across the path just laid by the ISS. Interestingly, a hand’s width behind that satellite was another satellite on the same course — like it was chasing it only to never catch it. It reminded me of several years ago where we watched the ISS and the space shuttle prepare for docking. The first night they were a sky’s width away from each other but the second night they were like a dog and cat chasing across the night sky. Very cool and very memorable.

This was another one of those times. It made for a great impromptu summery star night.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Proverbs 31…..

The image below is a snippet from a text I received from my wife last week while traveling. I am indeed blessed.

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.” — Proverbs 31:10-12

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

This SEA-TAC Delta guy rocks…..

My week of work on the west coast has concluded. It was a great opportunity to be with my boss, my team and also take a side trip to visit my family. I was so happy I could bring K and drop her off with my sister so the cousins could hang out. Ultimately, I wish I could have just stayed as well, but someone has to be responsible and pay the bills.

In the photo above, I almost wished I was on that Hawaiian Airlines planes headed to an island, however, I sure miss my wife and other kids so that will have to wait for another day. The Olympic mountains sure looked pretty in the distance and after we took off we had a spectacular view of Mount Rainier peaking (and peeking) above the clouds. In the distance, we could also see Mt. St. Helens and another volcanic mountain a bit closer.

As the plane was pushed back from the terminal and began to taxi, there was one maintenance worker who happily and eagerly waved goodbye to the plane. His enthusiasm was wonderful to watch and he was an obvious standout to the rest of the folks down there who were mundanely going through the paces of a regular Saturday morning flight departure. Not wanting his energy to go to waste, I leaned across K who had the window seat and waved back to him. He smiled as we went by and pointedly waived to me. It was so cool to see someone go about their daily work with energy, enthusiasm, and joy in addition to wanting to spread happiness around. So this is a shoutout to that SEA-TAC Delta ground crew member who excels at his daily job. Dude, you ROCK and your extra mile effort is noticed and appreciated.

Imagine if everyone you came in contact with was joyful, energetic and enthusiastic. How different and joyful would your day be? Now go even further and imagine if YOU were one of those people. That SEA-TAC Delta guy sure inspired me to do that.

Go do it!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Spiritual facades…..

The other day when I went on my walk through a local park (while on a business trip to the Portland area), several ideas came to me as I sat on the bench enjoying the view (see previous post here). And a few of those thoughts really paralleled the sermon from 2 weeks ago titled “The End of My Performance”.

Links
http://kyleidleman.com/sermons/

http://www.southeastchristian.org/default.aspx?page=4754&series=56

I encourage you to go watch/listen to the sermon because Pastor Kyle details it much better than I can. I really liked one analogy he used. It was from back when a lot of us who grew up in the church attended Sunday school. We would get a sticker for attendance. We would get a sticker for remembering to bring our Bible. We would get a sticker for memorizing Bible verses. And while all those things are good behaviors, many of us as adults bring that “sticker” behavior into adulthood. We wear the right clothes to church. We drive the right vehicle. We attend the right church groups or Bible studies. And we get “stickers” from others that we can place on our church facades. However, we do not let any of those things change our hearts. And those behaviors are not done because of our hearts; they are done because we feel like we HAVE to do them; like there is some “check the box” obligation. And we look so good on the outside — like a perfect plastic church person — but we are exhausted on the inside trying to hold up this facade because it is heavy and burdensome.


As I sat at that park bench admiring the checkered lawns, the manicured beds, the trimmed bushes, the directed and flowing creek, and the meandering paths, the similarities with the perfect plastic church person struck me. While the park looked very nice (I was enjoying the beauty), it is a high maintenance facade. None of it would be there without the efforts and ongoing maintenance by man. Left to its own accord, grass would grow unmanageable, bushes would be overgrown, the watershed would do whatever it wants, and nature would slowly reclaim the manicured area. I would compare the man’s beauty of the park (manicured and maintenanced) with the natural beauty of God’s nature as one would find in the surrounding Cascade mountains or at the Oregon sea shore (wild, unclaimed, and natural). The park, while ascetically pleasing to the eye, is not sustainable long term — especially without tax dollars and city landscapers. However, God’s nature and wilderness has a larger, overall beauty that cannot be mimicked, copied or replicated. His nature is how He intended it — beautiful, natural, sustainable. And that is how He wants US to be in our hearts regarding our relationships with Him and with others. He wants us to be genuine, He wants us to be real, and He doesn’t want us to spend all our time and effort manicuring our facades and outsides.

For example, none of us expect to see a decaying log in a park. When a tree falls in a park, arborists show up with their chain saws, cut it up and take it away because it does not fit in the manicured landscape. However, in the forest, that downed tree is part of the process. It might be an indicator of one of the storms that hit our lives. Or of a disease that made it weak before toppling. But it is in the decay of the fallen tree where it leaves its mark but also provides nutrients or shelter for new growth. That fallen tree and decaying log is a part of the forest. It actually is a part of the park too. But in the park, rather than benefit from the decayed matter that can provide nutrients or shelter for future growth over a long period of time, we cart off the debris and stain before giving it a chance to have a benefit.

How often do we do that in our personal or spiritual lives?

This sermon series has challenged me to take an objective look at what outward facades I am maintaining. Why do I continue to maintain them? And what changes am I going to make so that I look more like God’s natural creation instead of man’s manicured park.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Evolution vs. God…..

Ray Comfort has shaken people up with his evangelizing videos and interviews. While his methods are effective and straightforward, I like how he also cares about each of his interview subjects in spite of their pride, assertiveness, ignorance, secular nature, or conviction. Even though he might confront their beliefs, he does not yell or put down or attack. Instead he uses tactical, pointed questions to separate topics, break into sections, and debunk popular thinking and cultural attitudes. In the end of his interviews and videos, he will share the Gospel with interview subjects (that is the care part of the interview). I don’t know if folks accept his sharing of the love of Christ, but the fact he does that rather than just interview them sets him apart from others who might just attack someone’s belief system for their own reasons without caring about the subject.

Below is one of Ray’s latest videos which breaks down the evolution theory and shows it is really no different than the creation story in us needing to have faith to put our belief in it. The video is long but worth watching.

Here is Ray’s website — http://evolutionvsgod.com/

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Hidden in plain sight…..

The other evening after arriving at my business hotel I set out to explore a local park I saw and walk its trails. It was close to where I was staying and offered manicured lawns, several duck and geese filled ponds, trees, and meandering footpaths amongst the flowing creek and watershed. Part way through I took advantage of some benches that afforded a beautiful view of the polished scenery. I rested a while and soaked up the mild evening as the sun departed in the west thanking God for a beautiful day and safe travels.

That evening walk became the template for each morning now. At dawn I strike out from my temporary abode and proceed to put in a few miles of walking throughout that beautiful park. It helps that my body is still on east coast time and I have been getting up at the crack of dawn without my alarm. I guess that is sleeping in on the east coast but never-the-less it gets me up and an early start on the west coast.

While walking, I decided to pull out my phone and see if there were any geocaches in the park. If you don’t know what geocaches are, they are a modern day equivalent to mini-treasure hunts. With the advent of the GPS – global positioning system – and accurate coordinates, a concept was created for people to locate and hide small caches of various sizes and mark them using GPS coordinates. These caches are then uploaded to the web site GEOCACHING.COM where anyone can go, write down the coordinates and head out on their own mini-treasure hunt. There are also phone apps that use the triangulation coordinates in the phone to hunt for geocaches as well. The geocaches can range in size from very small micro hides (think camouflaged 35mm containers) that contain nothing but a signature log to large ammo cans that hold little trinkets and things along with the signature log. A person takes the geocaching.com coordinate information or their phone app and zeros in on the location of where the geocache is hidden. Frequently in the app or website there are also hints and you search within the GPS measure of accuracy zone looking for the concealed cache. I have found many and the methods, containers, and locations of hides has been clever and interesting. The caches are not only fun to find (once you find them) but they also get you out of the house and out to a place you normally wouldn’t see in your daily life. For my family, it has become a fun, inexpensive way to have fun, get out and spend time together. Some areas – parks, hiking trails, etc – have several scattered about. There also might be some hidden in the plain sight of day. In fact, you might pass by several every day and not even know it.

Which leads me to my introductory paragraph. That evening I went out walking and sat at that bench to enjoy the view, I was sitting on a geocache. Now, of course I did not know it at the time, but had I pulled my geocaching app out, it would have revealed one right there. Instead I had to wait until the next day when I searched for ones in that park. The geocache had been very cleverly constructed in that it was built to be integrated into the bench. The bench was made of hollow tubing and had caps at the ends. One of the caps had been removed and affixed to a tube with a cover at each end. That tube could then be slid into the bench with only the normal cap showing. I was very impressed and the method caused me many more minutes of searching than I normally spend.

I encourage you to try out this modern day treasure hunt, especially if you have kids. They love the adventure and the challenge of finding “treasure”. It is also fun for adults too. All you need is a GPS, smart phone or navigation device. Check out this guide to get started — http://www.geocaching.com/guide/default.aspx

Have fun and be safe,
…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Teddy nailed it…..

I love the quote below. So often in this life along our path we allow detractors, naysayers, pessimists, know-it-alls, clowns, asshats, buffoons, wannabes, posers, haters, and so many other low lifes that live life in the cheap seats to sabotage, deflate, demoralize, demotivate, dismiss and diminish our idea, ambition, fortitude, momentum or dream by throwing cheap barbs, insults, opinions and sarcastic comments at us. Well, for me it stops right now. Hopefully, I was not one of the contributors of that negativity, but if I was, it stops now. And for those I allowed to negatively influence me, your influence stops now.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt – excerpt from “Citizenship in a Republic” on April 23, 1910

So in summary, if you ain’t in the arena with me getting your butt kicked, I ain’t open to your feedback.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net