Unsolicited Peace

20 01 2009

I have been blessed with peace in my life recently, but not the peace I wanted.  It’s a peace I’ve been blessed with before, however it is somewhat precarious because I sometimes find myself forgetting, ignoring, or fighting with it.  To better understand, here’s a short history of my (short) adult life:

2002 – Got laid off, got married, moved to Seattle, started junior year of college, got job flipping burgers
2003 – Tons of schoolwork, lots of burgers flipped, we got pregnant
2004 – Graduated college, moved to Kent, Daniel born, got job at a bank call center
2005 – Raising Daniel, changed departments at work, we got pregnant
2006 – Moved to Fife, Jonathan born
2007 – Raising boys, work moved to Tacoma, we moved to Tacoma, labored on fixing up new house
2008 – We got pregnant, wrangling boys, Megan born

It would be an understatement to say we’ve been busy the last seven years.  So when 2009 came around, Michelle and I were excited at the prospect of a down year.  My tenure at work earned me a boost in vacation days, and we were finally going to have a year where we weren’t anticipating moving or having a baby!  The Allen Family ship was sailing out of chaotic waters towards peace on the horizon.

Then there was an emergency meeting at work.

I was joking with my manager going into the meeting: “hey, are you giving references? yuk, yuk, yuk!”  The message at the meeting was, in a nutshell, “You guys are awesome, times are bad, we’re closing this call center… Sorry”  I turned to my manager, “no seriously, are you giving references?”

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A story of prayer

9 01 2009

Since the last time I wrote, some time has passed and many diapers have been filled.  Sometimes I think my new daughter is an undercover agent for Huggies.

On December 17th, our daughter Megan Elizabeth was born, and our lives changed again.  I have many thoughts, emotions, and anecdotes about the labor, birth, and life with the baby, but I will leave most of that to my wife.  I wanted to share here a special interaction I had with God during the birth of my new little girl.

Coming into December, my wife was getting more and more uncomfortable everyday, and the doctor scheduled an induction for December 17th.  We were looking forward to the day, but with each day came more and more ominous reports from the weather folk of a horrible storm coming.  The storm was going to bring feet of snow to all of western Washington and everyone should take necessary precautions.  This did not help my wife’s state.  This could be bad in a lot of ways; my Mom (who was going to watch our boys) might not be able to get to us, my Mom might not be able to bring the kids to the hospital to see their sister, Michelle’s family might not be able to come.  Really the biggest and most important concern was getting Michelle and baby safely to and from the hospital.  I neglected to take that “Emergency Childbirth” class in college, though I am trained in CPR… which probably wouldn’t have come in handy.

I tried not to think about it and just resolved to wait and see.  Then, on Sunday the 14th, I woke up slowly and started praying as I sometimes do in the morning.  As I was laying there, verses started coming to mind such as James 1:6-8, Matthew 17:20, Hebrews 4:16, and especially James 5:16b:

“…the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”

Right then I started praying for God to hold the storm back for us.   Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Christmas

25 12 2008

On this glorious Christmas day, I hope these words of prayer and reflection resonate with your heart.
May you have a wonderful and worship time with family and friends, rejoicing in our Lord who stepped so low to rescue us and raise us up to him!

“My heart melts at the love of Jesus,
my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,
married to me, dead for me, risen for me;
He is mine and I am his,
given to me as well as for me;
I am never so much mine as when I am his,
or so much lost to myself until lost in him;
then I find my true manhood.

But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow;
Let his love warm me,
lighten my burden,
be my heaven;
May it be more revealed to me in all its influences
that my love to him may be more fervent and glowing;
Let the mighty tide of his everlasting love
cover the rocks of my sin and care;
Then let my spirit float above those things
which had else wrecked my life.

Make me fruitful by living to that love,
my character becoming more beautiful every day.
If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me,
may he work on with his divine brush
until the complete image be obtained
and I be made a perfect copy of him,
my Master.”

from “The Love of Jesus” in The Valley of Vision

Thank you, Jesus.

Psalm 32 part 4 – Faithfulness Beyond Forgiveness

20 09 2008

I am working through Psalm 32 in an attempt to share it’s depth with you as well as help my endeavor to commit it to memory.  Read my thoughts on the previous stanza here.

Psalm 32:6-7

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance.

I see a “therefore”… let’s see what it’s “there for”!

The prior stanzas speak about the blessing of forgiveness, the chastisement of the unrepentant, and the faithfulness of God to forgive.  Now it’s talking about praying to God and relying on Him for deliverance.  Does it seem like a subject change?  I don’t believe so.

David just asserted that when one comes to God seeking forgiveness, forgiveness will be given.  But then what?  Are we caught up in the sky to sin no more?  Does God impart holy Scotch Guard to our souls?  If you are human, you know that sometime after being forgiven, sin will come knocking at the door again.  If we have any maturity at all, we understand the peril our souls are in.  I believe it is temptation and sin that is being described in this stanza in the imagery of calamity.

In light of this, it is interesting to note that the “godly” are not those who are capable of perfection, but those who know well enough to run to God when sin is preying on them (see Romans 12:9).  After the last couple of years of tsunamis, Katrinas, and Gustavs, the reference to a “flood of great waters” is a little clearer to me.  Think of those disasters where whole houses, cars, and people were just swept away.  Now imagine a towering stone pillar on the coast of this onslaught, impervious and unphased by the cascading storm surge and the harrowing winds.  Would you rather be in the stone fortress… or in a pup tent on the beach? Read the rest of this entry »

My Gospel “Dream”

5 09 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I had the most amazing experience in my life at a workplace, from a spiritual perspective.  Here’s what led up to it…

My manager is in a leadership development class and is reading a book called “The Dream Manager”.  The summary of the book is that the best managers are the ones that strive to make their employee’s dreams come true, whether it be career dreams, personal dreams, community dreams… whatever kind of dream.  My manager has become very excited about this concept and brought it to our team.

She approached me and let me know that we were going to have a team meeting coming up in which the plan was for everyone to share a dream of theirs with the group.  Participation was voluntary, but if we would go along with it, the team would brainstorm ideas for how we all could help each other reach our dreams.  I was initially reluctant, but I told her I would give it some thought.

I considered what it was I would really like to do or see happen; visit Europe, raise my kids the right way, get a new car.  Then it hit me that the most important thing I could dream for was much more selfless than anything else I could think of.  I would like all my coworkers come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

The thought of sharing that at an official meeting of 10-15 colleagues and my supervisor sounded exciting and scary.  I consulted with my “Christianity in the workplace” guru, Chris, who thought it was a cool idea, but suggested that I be “less specific” in describing my dream.  His thought was that if I was a bit more vague, it would encourage more questions and be less likely to throw up a dialogue-stifling wall.  I admit I didn’t agree with the idea, but since Chris is an elder at my church (and has generally proven himself to be smarter than me in most aspects), I decided to take his advice.  This turned out to probably be the best advice I’ve gotten from someone in recent history.

The day of the meeting came and I wrote down on a post-it note “My dream is for my coworkers to have the same relationship I have with the one true God”.  The butterflies started buzzing around my stomach.  I keep a copy of Evantell’s very effective “May I Ask You A Question?” tract in my jacket and started reading it over and over.  I was pretty nervous. Read the rest of this entry »

Together for the Gospel

14 04 2008

Today I leave for the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  I am blessed to be able to go to this conference and to be able to make the trip with our Sr. Pastor and two of our Elders.  I am really looking forward to my time there and hope to be able to do a little blogging from the conference.  Tomorrow, for lunch, I am going to a meeting of over 100 christian bloggers who have gathered there at the conference to discuss blogging and the gospel.  That should be really interesting and helpful.

Pray for my precious family and the young families of the two Elders as we are away from them the next four days. 

Hopefully, the next post you read will be from Louisville! 

The Testimony of Two More

23 02 2008

How are you doing in your commitment to pray during these 40 days (Feb. 6th- March 16th) for an end to abortion?  I hope you have made the decision to join us in prayer and that this issue weighs heavy on your heart.  I praise God that this week, as I again gathered with others to pray outside of the local Planned Parenthood, I was joined by my friends Jenaya and Becky who stood with me and prayed for 2 hours!  My heart was so encouraged by their presence and to be part of a group of believers filling the sidewalk in front of that evil place with the sounds of scripture, song, and prayer.  At one point we had a lovely choir of eight singing “Amazing Grace” and joining together in reading Psalm 103:1-2!

I asked Jenaya and Becky if they would share with you some of their thoughts on our time at the prayer vigil and they graciously agreed (and wonderfully exceeded my expectations!).  I hope their “testimony” of our time together in prayer will encourage others to join with us during these 40 days, and not just pray with us from home but make your presence known publicly by joining a prayer vigil in your area.  Again, if you’d like to join me this week, just drop me a note and let me know.  Now to the testimonies… 

Jenaya writes:
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