Chase Fireflies


For the Love of Coons….

This story made me cry, I laughed so hard. I have reread the thing more times than I would care to admit. I am posting it here for my own posterity. Please forgive the location of the humor. You’ll see when you get there. I am not one for this sort of thing, but this story clearly stands as a formidable exception. I am still laughing.

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To Live on Purpose

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.

– Paul, in Philippians 2:5-6

Our speaker at church this weekend drove home this premise:

To know God is to love Him is to serve Him.

Paul and I were talking last night about the general state of our youth group. From what we’ve observed – the kids, for the most part, serve God because it’s what we’re doing at the time. They’re not opposed to serving God, but they’re also not crazy about it. There are the select few that head to the homeless shelter whenever the opportunity presents itself and are always clamoring to help more in other areas, but most of them have to be nudged a good bit. And some, with nudging, could still care less.

So maybe the serving isn’t there cause the love isn’t? And maybe the love isn’t there cause the knowledge of God isn’t? I guess our daily decisions always point back to our hearts. Our lives will tell a story of who God is and whom we are not. It’s easy to say that the kids have some work to do, but I’ve got to be honest and say that I’ve got work to do. I need to know God more. I need to love Him more. And I need to serve Him more. At the end of the day, I want my life to have been lived with significance. And I want it to say that God is my everything.

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So in Love…

I long for the day when every village, town and city has congregations of Christians so in love with Jesus Christ that they lead scores of people to accept Him as personal Savior and Lord every year – and so sensitive to the cry of the poor and oppressed that they work vigorously for justice, peace and freedom.

– Ron Sider

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Joining Up with the Mission of God in the World

Here are some of Mark Oestreicher’s ideas for helping high school students engage in what God is doing around the world. Some of them could be scaled down for children as well. I suppose it’s never too early to build these foundations.

Paul has been challenging our youth group of late to do this exact thing. We believe in our kids and know that they can live outside of themselves and accomplish something greater than they even considered possible. They have the potential to fight great injustices, if only their compassion can team up with their ambition. We couldn’t be prouder of a handful of them who are already being Jesus’ hands and feet around our nation and world. I just can’t wait to see what’s going to continue to come out of P’ville. Whoohooo!

Anyway, here are those ideas…

• Regularly share stories, and ask for teenagers to share stories, of places we “caught a glimpse of God.” Allow this storytelling to become natural and normative in your group.

• Encourage your students with the biblical reality that the earth is God’s, and everything in it . The natural extension of this is that God can be found, living and active, all over the place. Since all of us our God’s creation, even those who aren’t intentionally following Jesus leek out bits of the gospel in art, film, music, print, conversation, and other public arenas. Constantly ask your students – while standing in a forest or on a mountaintop, or in the middle of slum, or in the parking lot of their school – “What can we learn about God from this place?” and “Where and how is God present in this place?”

• Learn together about various injustices in your community, your region, your country and the world. Together, discern your individual and collective “holy discontent”. Devise a way, together, to address that issue.

• Try a wide variety of missional activities and together discern where God is moving you or calling you.


Why Green Matters in the Least

To my shame, environmentalists have always confused me. From my vantage point, there were better things to do, more noble ventures, like caring for people. It was cool that they planted trees and launched recycling campaigns and complained about diesel fuel, but me – I would tackle greater causes. Because caring for people with needs is much more honorable than caring for the ground that was cursed anyway, right? Yipes.

Then my brother started getting all weird and environmental on me. He bought energy saving light bulbs, insisted that I not use any of the plastic bags at Giant Eagle (and how was I to get a week’s worth of groceries home without them?), and bought locally grown produce. He only shopped at Goodwill, he spoke about fair trade, and he ate organic. And then my husband quickly followed suit, which really confused me. He so doesn’t meet the environmentalist stereotype! I couldn’t help but wonder what good their little global fight was doing anyway? It was bigger than them. Thank God my skepticism and defeatist mentality crumpled under truth and reason and justice. Here is what the guys taught me.

God’s creation pours forth speech. Its sheer beauty is unrivaled, unmatched, and awe inspiring. Consider the creativity in the giraffe, the currents of the Atlantic Ocean, the etchings of the Grand Canyon, the interdependence of a colony of honeybees; how every single humpback whale tale is a different piece of art, you name it. When God created, He resoundedly said that it was good, and it was good, and it was good, and…. Yeah, it was good. And then we humans introduced brokenness into the world. Not only did we ruin our relationship with our Maker, but we destroyed our relationships with our own flesh and blood and with the ground that we stand on. The world has been wounded ever since. Not so good.

When we watch the evening news, we hear about drought induced by climate change, children orphaned in Africa because of AIDs and the lack of clean water, and malaria epidemics compounded by deforestation. We hear the reports and we shut off the TV. We wonder how such a good God could allow this. But truth be told, we are allowing this. It is our consumerism and lack of concern for the environment that is hurting people. And it seems to strike hardest those whose voice is seldom heard: the poor, the children, and the elderly. While it is true that we may not listen to their cries because they are marginalized, we also don’t hear their cries because we’ve been shielded from the consequences of our environmental decisions.

In America, we’ve forgotten that the environment is our life-support system. When something goes out of whack, we pay for effects to be reversed. We pipe our water and purify it with all sorts of filtration systems. We buy fertilizers to fix soil degradation. We spend a ton more money on lobsta (okay, I do!), but we can still purchase those delectable little buggers because we’ve got the money to spare. We don’t often feel the effects of a wounded world because we’ve often got the bank accounts to buffet us.

The poor don’t have this luxury. They suffer due to scoffers like me. They die because of my neglect. The developed countries (20% of the world population) are consuming over 80% of the earth’s natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and unfair distribution of wealth. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Under all this doom and gloom, there is a pure and simple story of redemption. Christ came to restore us. And when Christ restores us, he heals our relationships with Himself and with our own flesh and blood. He makes all things new. He fixes what our hands have broken. He gives us new eyes to see wounds that need healed. He turns our ear to those whose cries have been silenced for far too long. He cultivates beauty in desolate places.

All that being said, green matters to me these days. I have a long, long, long ways to go yet, believe me. But, my mindset has changed. And that’s probably a good place to start. This is an honorable cause. Environmentalists aren’t nuts. And yes, one person can affect change. As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to care for our relationships – with our Creator, our brother in Uganda, and the ground that we walk on together. And it is more than a responsibility. It is an honor to be a part of the hope that Christ offers, even if that hope looks a little more green than it used to.

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Restoring Beauty

To lose the chains of injustice
To set the oppressed free
To share your food with the hungry
To provide the poor with shelter
To clothe the naked
To not turn away from your own flesh and blood

To get rid of the pointing finger and malicious talk
To give good news
To bind up the brokenhearted
To proclaim freedom for captives
To comfort all who mourn
To provide for those who grieve

To act justly and to adore mercy and to walk humbly

To live towards God and to not act like we’ve already arrived

Will catch the gaze of the world and restore beauty back to the church.
Forgive us God. Forgive me.


Run To Break The Cycle

So I’ve got my eye on this 5K on August 30th. It supports the Women’s Center of Beaver County, which is committed to promoting safety and independence with the goal of reducing and eliminating the causes and effects of abuse on women and children. They strive to educate the public to provide shelter, counseling, support, advocacy, and education to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

If anything is going to get me running, this may just be it. I love the cause and I need motivating. The problem is, I’ve got a long way to go. I ran the kids (in their beast of a stroller) to the park today to meet Paul for a picnic and I just about died. Yeah, I was huffing, but mostly I just felt absolutely horrible and like I was going to be sick. By the way, the park is just down the street. It was an embarrassment.

So, do any of you runners have any suggestions? Any schedule that I can try to follow? And would any of you in the area want to join me on this one? I think it would be a ton of fun, runners and non-runners like me alike.