Nocturnal Summer 4

For fun I’m reposting a summer series from 2010 from when I took a paper route while trying to get MainStreet started. Enjoy!

Almost every night on my paper route this past summer and fall, I would stop into Super America for junk food and pop.  Don’t tell Keri.

Richard is the cashier for the graveyard shift, and we actually worked together back in high school at the local nursing home.  He remembered me, and we would spend ten minutes of bantering every morning as I purchased my Mountain Dew and Snickers.

Richard is a baseball fanatic.  We would shoot the breeze about the Twins and he would tell me about his recent road trip to Chicago to see the Twins at White Sox.  I came to discover that Richard has a unique hobby of buying official MLB score books and scoring old games.  He mentioned the desire to have the chance to score all the games of the 1991 Twins World Series.

As “luck” would have it, I happen to have all of those 7 games recorded off the TV on VHS tapes — old commercials and all!  So, Richard and I began this fun little thing where I would drop off one tape for him to watch and score, and then when he was done, I’d exchange it for the next game.

It’s February, and it’s time for me to get him game 6.  Unfortunately, I don’t get out to SA after midnight these days.  Those who remember the ’91 series realize how cruel it is to leave Richard waiting for game 6 and 7!

But these are the kinds of relationships that are fun when you are starting a church and trying to invite others into community.  I hope to invite Richard to join our LifeGroup sometime in the future — as soon as I feel like making a midnight walk to Super America. Richard is also someone I would never have come across had I not been driving the lonely streets of Mound all night on this paper route.

GOLF & GOD (9): Mulligans & Scorecards

“What did you get on that hole?”  the scorecard keeper asks.  Your answer may not be as simple as just counting up your strokes.  For many, this question immediately forces an ethical dilemma or sparks an internal wrestling match with one’s conscience.  Do I tell him the truth– that I got “a snowman” on the short par 3 — to keep a clean conscience?  Or is it better to save face and protect my ego with the guys, give a dishonest score and deal with the guilt later (when no one’s looking)?  Or, better, why don’t I just try harder, screw up less and always be sure to get a respectable score every time?  Like that’s possible.

Have you ever quit keeping score in the middle of a round?  What’s up with that?  Certainly that, too, is a defense mechanism to avoid the shame and humiliation that would come at the end of the round when you actually had to own up to your embarrassing score.

One spiritual mind exercise I occasionally engage in is to imagine Jesus along with me, taking part in a typical 21st century activity and seeing how he would act (e.g., Jesus in rush hour traffic, etc.).  Play along with me for a second.  What do you think it would be like golfing 18 holes at your favorite country club with Jesus (assume Jesus can get you free passes to any private dream course!)?  If you’re like me, you’re already wondering if Jesus would use his divine powers and ace every hole with 500+ yard drives, whether he would walk across the water to retrieve your water ball, etc.

Yet, the issue I want to focus on in this imaginative exercise has nothing to do with Jesus’ divine swing, putting perfection and the like.  Instead, I want you to ask yourself this question: What kind of scorecard keeper would Jesus be?  Would Jesus be a stickler for the rules, allowing no gimmes and keeping close record of every single penalty?  Remember, you’re probably not going to sneak anything by Jesus — like that secret “foot wedge” to get your ball away from that tree on # 12. Or, the classic litmus test to determine the gracious scorekeepers from the uptight, legalists:

Would Jesus allow mulligans?   Continue reading GOLF & GOD (9): Mulligans & Scorecards

Nocturnal Summer 3

For fun I’m reposting a summer series from 2010 from when I took a paper route while trying to get MainStreet started. Enjoy!

We live in a busy, noisy world.  Sadly, much of the noise is self-induced as we constantly fill every potential silence and solitude with our iPod, a television, radio or constant activity on Facebook, cell phone and texting.

I think one of the best aspects of working an overnight paper route this past summer and fall was the quiet, peaceful world I would experience all night as the tired masses of humanity slumbered all around me.  No cars on the street.  No people walking around. Just darkness, quiet and solitude.  I loved it.

My heart rate would slowly go down during the night.  It was a calming four hours (when the weather was good!).  It was good for the soul.  I got to thinking: “You know, I bet the peace and quiet that can only be experienced at 4 a.m. in our world, was the way it always was in more simple times — for most of history.”

An 8 hour trip through the country side in a horse and carriage without any music. A quiet evening reading by candle light in the frontier days without TV or radio in the background.  Sitting on the front porch swing on the prairie with crickets providing the sound track and the moon and stars providing the big-screen entertainment.

Technology has given us a lot.  But it has taken a lot from us as well.  (See my article “The Constant Buzz of the 21st Technopolis”)

I dream of quieter days ahead for our world.  How can I regain those hours of peace and calm without giving up my nights and sleep?


GOLF & GOD (8): Relax! It’s Just a Game

golfer-angryWe live in a world that has largely forgotten how to play.  When our worth and value is measured primarily by what we DO for a living and how much we ACCOMPLISH individually, then just “wasting a day” in the pure enjoyment of a fun hobby or game is really a lost art and rare occurrence.

What did you do this past weekend?  If you are the typical American you likely spent your weekend away from your professional work catching up on other private work around the house.  Or you ran around with kids, going from activity to activity.  Did you take time to stop and just play?

God has designed the world and humanity to operate according to a bio-rhythm of 6 days of creative, productive work and then one day of “sabbath” or rest.  The sabbath is NOT a day to avoid activity period.  Rather, it is a day to pause all creative tasks and to instead involve oneself in the pure enjoyment of the blessings and joys that already exist.   Continue reading GOLF & GOD (8): Relax! It’s Just a Game

Nocturnal Summer 2 – Night Watchman

I’m reposting a fun summer series from 2010 from when I had a paper route while trying to get MainStreet started. Enjoy some late night ramblings!

I’ve long been a ‘night owl.’  At first, I thought it was a college phase that would eventually fade.  I thought ‘real adults’ become early birds like my dad when they grow up and get real jobs.

Nope. Not the case with me.

My brain seems to be just getting fired up and inspired around 11 p.m. most nights.  I have formed the habit of taking prayer walks about the town around midnight lately. I’ve noticed some things on these walks.

1. I am apparently in the extreme minority of people who take walks around midnight. Most ‘normal’ people are fast asleep.  I often feel very alone in my conversations with God.  I often ask myself, “Am I the only person walking the streets and praying for revival in this little town?”  I hope not.  But maybe the other prayers get offered up during regular business hours.

2. The few people I occasionally encounter are usually up to no good.  Drunkards, revelers, late night partiers, thugs and ruffians.  These are the kinds of folks who yell profanities at me as they drive by, or I’ll run into at the Super America station where I occasionally stop to visit our friendly overnight cashier, Richard.

As I reflected on the kinds of people who characterize the “night life” I was reminded of the warnings in the New Testament about living as children of the day and avoiding a life characterized by darkness.  Here’s one such passage: Continue reading Nocturnal Summer 2 – Night Watchman

GOLF & GOD (7): Mastering God’s Green

Ask any golf expert what separates the pros from the pack of beginners and intermediate “hackers” on the course, and they will all tell you its the putting game.  Many people mistakingly believe that its the 300 yard drive that makes the pros so good.  While a long tee shot doesn’t hurt at all, it’s a polished short game that really saves you the most strokes.  And how many of us prefer the time on the driving range over hours of practice on the putting green?

Putting excellence requires extreme patience and an obsessive commitment to practice and fine-tuning.  Putting involves great attention to detail and a mastery of the art of reading the smallest slopes and slants, bumps and grooves.  If we think of a potter making a jar, the tee shot, approach and chipping game all give the jar it’s basic shape and mold.  Yet, the putting game is the gentle, artistic touch of the detailer that gives the jar its finishing touch of beauty.

Putting also reminds us of the significant and much neglected virtue of “finishing well.”   Continue reading GOLF & GOD (7): Mastering God’s Green

Nocturnal Summer 1

For fun I’m reposting a summer series from 2010 from when I took a paper route while trying to get MainStreet started. Enjoy!

I picked up a weekday paper route this summer to earn some quick cash as we begin to plant a new church.  No, this isn’t the cute little 30 papers in a saddle bag on the back of my bike kind of route.  I’m talking 350 Star Tribunes stacked from floor to ceiling in all seats of my car. I put on some 50 miles of driving each night.  I’ve been leaving home about 1 a.m. and crawling back into bed around 6 a.m.

Fortunately, I’m getting faster each day and hopefully will have the entire thing done and back in bed by 4:30 soon. (Update: This never happened!)

Becoming a nocturnal creature brings some strange experiences and observations that I hope to share in future posts.  Being out and about while the rest of the (human) world sleeps is quite interesting.  For now I will just leave you with a typical scene that occurs almost every night: deer in head lights!

In only 2 weeks I have probably seen 30 deer.  They’re everywhere.  Stunned and spooked as I approach, one almost jumped in my driver’s side open window.  Other night dwellers include dozens of rabbits scurrying across the road, entire families of raccoons skipping along like furry four-footed bank robbers with masks in place.  I’ve had to break for cats out in the country multiple times.

I get to thinking that this is their time of the night, and I’m interrupting their parties.  Each one I look in the eyes seems to glance back thinking, “Shouldn’t you be in bed, human?”

Yes, I probably should.

Welcome to Stumphole Field!

I’ve been creating a baseball field on our lower lawn this summer. I’m letting the outfield grow wild in order to create habitat and let wild flowers and native grasses return. I’m also trying to create a Field of Dreams-like outfield grass fence — our own Green Monster. (Should I plant some corn out there for the full effect?)

One major issue is finding and filling the many stump holes all over the field. This used to be an apple orchard so there are lots of them. To honor this signature characteristic we have named the field “Stumphole Field” or “Turnankle Stadium.”

We debuted the new field with a fun game of church kickball. I’m happy to report that the outfield wall is just the right distance to make home runs challenging but very doable. (Earn an extra run if you clear the horse fence across the driveway.) Congratulations to Adam Noreen who kicked the first home run deep into the center field weeds! I’m also happy to report there were no twisted ankles.

I cannot wait to develop this field as the kids grow up and get to baseball age! I’m already designing dugouts/benches, backstop, foul posts in right and left field and more. :)

Stumphole Field

This recent Sunday School photo shows one person short of our own future ball team!
This recent Sunday School photo shows one person short of our own future ball team!

Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life .


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