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Our daughter loves to sing. She sings while she’s playing, while she’s brushing her teeth (quite an experience!), in the car, right before she takes her nap… She’ll sing songs from church, from her favorite CDs, and from her imagination. One day, we heard her singing a song that some of the big kids from church had performed one day. According to her, the chorus of “Supernatural God,” by Hillsong Kids is:

Super-vegetable… super-vegetable God!

vbs.jpgWe just finished up our VBS this week.  Our theme, as you can see to the left, was “Avalanche Ranch,” by Group Publishing. Group always puts together a great VBS, and this summer was no exception (the design, however, is mine).  One of the kids’ favorite songs from this week was “Forever,” by Chris Tomlin. The third line of the first verse in our daughter’s version goes like this:

For He is good, He is a bubble thing (For He is good, He is above all things)

I tried to correct her one day, but she was extremely offended.  These misheard lyrics might go down in history like “Purple Haze,” by Jimi Hendrix… “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy“…

Doesn’t it always work out that way?

Somehow, it has just been one of those weeks.  Some things were out of my hands – external forces creating extremely difficult and frustrating situations.  Some things were completely my responsibility – my internal response to adversity, my frustration at my lack of Christ-likeness, my guilt at venting my hurt on those closest to my heart.

I don’t want to over-spiritualize things here, but it is very interesting that the last couple of days have led me, quite literally, back to the cross.  I don’t want to be one of those jaded ministry professionals who looks at the cross as just another tool of the trade, a familiar company logo.  It frightens me that my heart, when left unchecked, seems to drift in that direction.

For Good Friday, our youth group had a night of interactive prayer stations, each one centered around a different aspect of the cross and Jesus’ crucifixion.  At a station called “Bitterness” we tasted a bit of vinegar, just as Jesus drank the vinegar after declaring His thirst from the cross.  There, we experienced a small taste of the bitterness of sin – the brokenness it has wrought upon the world, the shock it causes when we see its ugliness within us, the distance it creates between us and God (and between one another).

I didn’t want this to be a guilt trip.  That’s usually not a worthwhile journey.  But sometimes, in order to experience the uplifting victory of Easter, we need to go through the depths of Good Friday.  At least, I know that I must. The cross puts my life back into perspective.  At the cross, I see more than just the devastating effects of sinful depravity or the immeasurable love of Christ who bore the consequences of that sin.  I still can’t get my head around it fully, but I am starting to see the cross as a place where God is putting the world back in order.  The way things are meant to be.  Something that we dare not speak aloud (maybe fearing that we would sound foolish or naive for even hoping such a thing).  And yet, at the cross, I see God restoring our broken world.

One of my students sent me an email this morning that, in a way, set me on the right track.  During Passion Week, our church has been having a special round of early morning prayer meetings.  Well, she had been meaning to attend all week but, because of a number of different circumstances, she had not been able to come out until this morning.  So, there she is at her car, getting ready to leave the house at 5:00 am (yes, 5 o’clock in the morning) when she notices that her stereo is missing.  Worse, the trunk is open and also missing are fifty dollars worth of fundraising chocolate and a gift for a friend.

Here’s the amazing thing: Instead of shaking her fist to the still-darkened sky and cursing God for her misfortune (after all, hadn’t she gone above and beyond the call of duty by seeking Him first thing in the not-quite-morning?), she decided that she would still go to church to pray.  And she was actually thankful — not in a masochistic, self-flagellating kind of way, but with the kind of gratitude that usually comes with many more years of walking with God.   First, she wrote, she was thankful for the opportunity to start her day in prayer because, otherwise, her day really would have been ruined.  And, beyond that, she took this as an opportunity not to run from God but to run to Him and trust Him through difficulty.

May God bless your journey to Easter with wonder, gratitude and joy.

Do people even talk (write) like that anymore? Maybe I should remove the “v” and just call it Headsparks*2.0 — sort of like Web 2.0 (not that I really know what that means, despite the Wiki help). But I redesigned the banner, and I like the cleaner feel of this site, so hooray for 2.0!

In any case, I decided to move on over to WordPress. Like the Kings of Convenience, I hope I can get into the swing of things pretty quickly over here. I am also in the process of setting up this site with a simpler address, but since I’m such a technological caveman (not to mention a cultural Philistine) it might take a little while.

Edit: It looks like I might not be such a technological neanderthal after all.  It looks like headsparks.com is up & running!

Hello to a new article I wrote for relevantmagazine.com.

Goodbye to my favorite pair of Pro-Ked sneakers. You will be missed.

moving to san diego has been tough. i think it’s mostly because i am questioning God’s specific vocational call in my life. there always seem to be more questions than answers. i certainly want to trust in God, but it has been hard. i think this year will be crucial in figuring out what on earth we’re supposed to be doing.

my wife and i were talking the other day about how we pictured the future when we in college. being a graduate of the wharton school of business at the university of pennsylvania, i guess i assumed i would have a high-paying job. that was, of course, before i obeyed the call to enter into full-time pastoral ministry.

when it was just me i had to worry about, what did it matter if i was not going to enjoy the financial success of my peers? these days, i find myself more and more worried about my family – especially our daughter. again, i want to trust that God is the best Father she could ever have, but as her daddy i want to provide everything for her. not only financially, but in every way. and it’s extraordinarily frustrating when i know i cannot. it crushes me every time i hear say she misses her old friends and how she doesn’t like our new church.

and yet, in the midst of all these questions and struggles, life and ministry roll on. we have our youth retreat coming up. just imagining staying up past midnight makes me sleepy. yikes. but i know God will work in the lives of His people. here is the logo i designed for it:

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i really love last fm. it’s like having a nonstop mixtape playing on my laptop. i type “sufjan stevens” into the search engines, and i get to listen to artists like clap your hands say yeah, the decemberists, and belle and sebastian (in addition to mr. stevens, of course). please don’t let it be some weird source of viruses!