Monday, January 23, 2012

The Ancestor We Try To Forget

Last Saturday, I found myself at Littleton Cemetery for a graveside service. And while I was there, I decided to visit the grave of a long-lost relative for the first time. I've lived in Littleton for three and a half years, but hadn't made it to the grave yet.

It was an interesting experience.

Usually a family grave visit is a place mourning. Not this time.

Alfred Packer isn't the relative you mourn over. He's the relative you accidentally leave out of the genealogy. He's the relative whose blood line you hope you missed.

I'm not the only one with "that" relative. We all have them in our family line. He's the relative that would cause an entire family to alter their last name so as not to be associated with him. Which makes me think, I  haven't met anyone with the last name Hitler in my entire life. Interesting!

Alfred was convicted of manslaughter. But that's not his most dubious act. He's also known as the "Colorado Cannibal," which wasn't just a cute name given to him by his frat brothers. 

Stories diverge about the circumstances surrounding his mountain expedition and those he traveled with. Even Alfred's stories conflicted as he shared his story of survival with police detectives. Eventually he was sentenced to forty years in prison for manslaughter.

I've done the genealogical work. Apparently, I am truly related to Alfred. He is my fourth cousin, four times removed, which means I'm close enough of a relative to get his name, but far enough away in the bloodline that I would have still been born had he chosen not to eat his friends and die beside them in the Rockies.

You've never really lived until you've pulled up to a Wendy's drive-thru window only to hand the guy your credit card and have him jokingly ask if you'd like some chicken "fingers" (emphasis on the fingers). 

Life would have been easier if I'd been a minister in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Everyone would have flocked to Pastor Packer's church on Packer game days without a second thought about my ancestor Alfred. But God calls us where he calls us for a reason.

I'll share more flattering stories about other ancestors in the future. But this visit was worth a blog. 

So, you tell me...who is your most infamous relative?


Friday, January 06, 2012

The Intentional Life

Holly and I are teaching a class at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures this year. It's one of our favorite places and events to attend all year. 2012 is Jerry Rushford's last year to direct the lectureship before Mike Cope takes his place next year. This year's theme is "Living Between the Times," as we focus on Romans 5-8.

When Jerry asked us, we racked our brains over what to teach. We thought about several books of the Bible or topics we could teach. Finally, we settled on a different kind of class.

Each Friday is my day off and a day that we, as a family, commit to Sabbath rest. We did well early in my ministry, but last year we found ourselves hanging out at home more often than not. We wanted to 2012 to be a year to reengage our Sabbath discipline in a renewed way.

We know we're not the only family who struggles to live intentional lives of faith. Time often hurts any commitment. Holly and I have noticed that time is flying by with our young kids and we don't want to miss opportunities to raise them in intentional ways.

So, we've titled our Pepperdine class "The Intentional Life (How To Keep the Monotony of Life From Swallowing Our Families)." In our class, we are going to report on an experiment we're trying out during the first quarter of 2012.

Each Friday, we've chosen 13 activities to engage in with our kids that are tied to some kind of spiritual lesson. Each week we will teach our kids a biblical lesson that fits with our fun activity.

For instance, today we began by going to the Children's Museum of Denver. We had a great time. Not only did we get off the couch and have fun as a family. We also spent time in the car talking about how God has given us the gift of our imaginations for the sake of his kingdom.

Living in the kingdom requires imagination. But something happens between childhood and adulthood to kill our imaginations. One thing we want our kids to have is a vivid imagination to participate with God in bringing the kingdom of God to earth as he imagines it. We want our kids to have Sunday eyes for the world. We want them to see how the resurrection of Jesus has changed everything!

We had a great day and we look forward to many more great Fridays in the next few months!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Website for "The Good Life" Challenge

My lovely wife, Holly, has created a new blog for Littleton's journey through the Sermon on the Mount. At Littleton, we are spending the year journeying through Matthew 5-7. We're calling the year-long series "The Good Life."

If you're interested in growing in your relationship with God in 2012, Please check out I've posted this week's Scripture reading, comments on the passage, and some questions to consider as we prepare for starting into the sermon on the 15th.

Please comment with any conversation with anything God inspires you to write that will be a blessing to others on this journey.

Again, the blog is a place of conversation for our members, but it is also a place for conversation with any follower or seeker of Jesus in the blogosphere.