Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Elizabeth Lee Hanson

It comes with great joy to announce the birth of Elizabeth Lee Hanson. Anna and the baby are both healthy and doing fine. We had a wonderful experience and the Best Start Birth Center and were super thankful for our midwife Jude!

We thank God for our precious gift! I am on little sleep now and am heading to bed, but I know many of you want some pictures and stats!

The baby is a girl and is named Elizabeth Lee Hanson. She was born at 11:13pm, August 24, 2009. She weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and is 20 inches long.

Thank you all for you prayers and support!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part...

The next section of Scripture I am preaching is Ephesians 5:22-33. Normally when I teach through this passage I am officiating a wedding--this time it will be to the congregation of Valley Baptist Church.

I have been particularly blessed at my church over the last two years in relation to marriage. I have been exposed to a sampling of "the Greatest Generation." I have had the honor of spending time with a couple that has been married for 72 years, two couples that have been married for 60+ years, along with a number of widows who would be amongst these ranks if their spouse was still alive. There are not words to express the impact these couples have had on me. I am thankful for them and their example.

First, I have no intention of adding pain or guilt to anyone who has gone through a divorce--even if this topic is painful. My prayer is that God would bring healing, restoration, to your life with where you are. My aim to to honor those who have blessed me, to encourage those who are married to persevere, and challenge the single to consider the commitments they will make one day if they get married.

Now, back to the couples who have been married 50+ years...

What is different about them? Why or how were their marriages able to survive so many years? What is different about this generation from my own concerning marriage? In spending time with all of these couples, I am learning that going the distance is more about commitment to each other over any other quality. Really this makes much sense. If you are in it till death--really till death--then one seems motivated to improve the relationship over walking away from it. Consequently, their happiness and love for one another seems to grow and mature through their perseverance in a way that my generation does not understand. As I see them, I am motivated to work on my own marriage and am looking forward to the years to come.

I have also been encouraged to see another couple...they have only been married for 35 years. I hope you catch my sarcasm as this is many years of marriage, but they are newly weds concerning the other couples in the church. I have been blessed in observing them. The husband has some major medical conditions and it is difficult on the family. In virtually every wedding this vow is made: "In sickness and in health..." Most people don't think of the difficult times that will come when they are standing at the altar...and many split when they do come. But I have been so blessed to observe this couple over the last year and a half or so as she cares for him. I have never heard a complaint from her, tears yes, but no complaints. I don't know how to put into words the feeling I feel when I see them together, I just know that is something special.

I don't really know where I was seeking to end up with this blog, but now that I am here, I think my aim is to simply thank the couples at Valley Baptist Church for honor marriage and persevering for the long run.

A few years back, on one of my trips to Kansas City, I was driving to the seminary about midnight local time and a song came on that had me in tears! I thought it does a great job in painting the beauty of a lifelong marriage. I hope it blesses you!

The Lyrics:

Looking back
He sees it all
It was her first date the night he came to call

Her dad said son
Have her home on time
And promise me you'll never leave her side
He took her to a show in town
And he was ten feet off the ground

He was walking her home
And holding her hand
Oh the way she smiled it stole the breath right out of him
Down that old road
With the stars up above
He remembers where he was the night he fell in love
He was walking her home

Ten more years and a waiting room
At half past one
And the doctor said come in and meet your son

His knees went weak
When he saw his wife
She was smiling as she said he's got your eyes

And as she slept he held her tight
His mind went back to that first night


He walked her through the best days of her life
Sixty years together and he never left her side

A nursing home
At eighty-five
And the doctor said it could be her last night
And the nurse said Oh
Should we tell him now
Or should he wait until the morning to find out

When they checked her room that night
He was laying by her side

Oh he was walking her home
And holding her hand
Oh the way she smiled when he said this is not the end
And just for a while they were eighteen
And she was still more beautiful to him than anything
He was walking her home
He was walking her home

Looking back
He sees it all
It was her first date the night he came to call

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Life and Chicken Wings

A few years ago I discovered the best chicken wings ever! In National City there is a Chinese restaurant that serves "salted peppered chicken" and they are delicious! Seriously, if you like salty and chicken wings you will love these.

I used to love buying a big bunch of them before youth group, but that proved to be more frustrating than pleasurable. You see, many of kids would take about two bites and and chuck the "bone"--with plenty of meat still on it! It would drive me nuts because I paid for them and I could see all the waste! Why were they not eating every bit of meat off the bone before going in for a new one? There is nothing worse than wasted meat on the bone...especially when we are talking about wings! Can I get an amen? I wonder if this is how God feels when we waste our lives?

So this Sunday I am preaching on Ephesians 5:15-21, one of my very favorite passages in the Bible. During my study this week I had an "ah-ha moment." In verse 16 it says "making the most of your time." I always understood the word "time" to simply mean "time"...like you only have 24 hours in each day so get the most out of them! Conversely, this is how I have always applied it to my life. This partially explains my drive (I think). I am an over-achiever and I set goals and accomplish them as quickly as possible. You know how the old saying goes: Life is short so work and play hard.

Now in Greek there are at least two words for "time." One is chronos which is kind of like chronology. This would be to reference the linear movement of time. This word best explains how I have always understood the word "time" in this passage.

But, to my surprise, the word used here is kairos which refers more to seasons or opportunities given with time. Interesting. Kenneth Wuest explains kairos like this, "The idea is not to make best use of time as such, which is what we should do in the sense of not wasting it, but of taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves."

In looking at my life and the culture around me, it isn't hard to see that we jam pack our calendars. I literally had to buy a smart phone so I could keep up with my day-to-day events. I confess that I justify the business of life by thinking that "I am making the most of my time." Unfortunately, the reality is that I am simply packing as much as I can into my schedule, rather than "making the most of every opportunity" (as the NIV renders this verse).

"What's the difference?" you may be thinking. Well, I can do a bunch of work-type stuff instead of spending time with my family. I think it is safe to say that many dads could make better use of their time by taking a day off and going to the beach with their kiddos, rather than work overtime! Now, on the other end of the spectrum, I think it is safe to say that there are some 30-year old men out there that should sell their Wii's and go to school and get a job that they could provide for a wife and family!

Yes, there are extremes on both ends of the spectrum. The bottom line is we each are given this day with opportunities to be seized or wasted. Are you making the most of the opportunities today, or is life simply passing you by at a frantic pace? Remember the chicken wings mentioned above? When you get a wing, you can make the most of the opportunity by cleaning all the meat off of it, or you can take one bite and chuck it wasting it.

I encourage each of us to think, pray, and reflect about how are we living each day! I don't want to end my life thinking this, "I have wasted it!" If you would like some encouragement in this area, I highly recommend the book Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. Some of us may need to work harder, more discipline, and more sacrifice. Now others may need to cut their schedule, take a vacation, go swimming, play, and have some fun!

Lord, help me to make the most of this day and the opportunities that You give me!