A Memorial Message for my stepson, Shad LeFevre – 1974 to 2014

IMG_0027Little Girl prayer – A to Z – when you don’t know exactly what to say just throw your words out there and hopefully God will put them all together and they will make sense

Honest with you – in many respects, I don’t know exactly what to say…but I know what needs to be said.

When we heard the news last Friday night of Shad’s death, there was NO shred of doubt in my mind that I was going to do this today…this is my honor and privilege to stand here and share with you some of the things and truths I know Shad held dear – so permit me to give it a shot

1. First of all – from our family – thank you to you his friends, coworkers, compadres

• Your smiles, encouragement, time on motorcycles, movies, cups of coffee, video games played, conversations and fun and struggles you shared with Shad

• Your love, the life and love you poured into Shad’s life blessed him

• You were each important to him in profound ways…and because of that, you are important to us as his family – so thank you

2. Secondly, we’ve spent some time talking about Shad and his legacy…something I know I enjoyed…now it is time to switch gears because I don’t know about you, when I can’t make sense of things, there is ONLY ONE place to turn…place I turn for sure…God himself

• Truth is – I don’t know how people without some sort of connection to and with god can walk paths like this…I really don’t

• I’ve talked to 1000’s of people over the years…a lot of smart and wise people…people who have forgotten what I have cumulatively known throughout my life – and I’ve discovered this – NO ONE really has the answers to ALL of life’s circumstances and situations/its joys and sorrows/its victories and defeats but I know someone who does – that is none other than Jesus

• Because when we walk valleys, deep, sad and lonely valleys – we have the arms of the Good Shepherd to embrace us, guide us and give us strength to take another step – “no shame, no guilt” reality of Jesus

So do me the honor of giving me your full attention over the next few moments as we try to see what God can share with us about what we’re all experiencing

And friends, this is not about me and my ability to solve our common distress

Truth is I couldn't find profundity if it hit me in the face

But I do know a few truths that I’ve found in my life help me make sense of what happening today…maybe it will make a difference in your life too

By the way, if you want to have more discussion with me or any of Shad’s family, we’re here for you…as crazy as it sounds, there has been an incredible peace and comfort and even a sense of joy that we all have experienced this week that doesn’t come from the answers we have or the inner strength that we can muster – it has to do with Jesus – plain and simple

So we’ll be at the reception over at the Barrelhouse and we’d love to talk with you Because this is what we’ve experienced again this week – when the pain in life seems to be at its worst and shadows and darkness swirl all around us, simple words comes to us from Jesus, “today YOU SHALL BE WITH ME because today, I am with you”

The Message

Some of you if not most of you have heard about this book, called the bible It’s the story of God, history – his/story – how God’s story intersects with our human story

It’s the story about how people like you and me were given the opportunity through the hand of a loving and gracious God to see and experience, walk and relate with the God of the universe

In God’s story, this wild, capricious, unruly and, by the way, thoroughly gritty human narrative, there’s a story about a guy named Jacob

His story appears in the opening book of the bible, book of Genesis (which means, “origins or beginnings”)

Jacob was an interesting but troubled man…he had an amazing background

His grandfather, a guy by the name of Abraham (maybe you’ve heard of him) was a man who heard a voice, a voice from the heavens telling him to follow him 1000’s of miles to a completely foreign land…a man who received, not because he deserved it or even showed any appreciation for it, he received a promise…bible calls those promises a covenant – a covenant (binding, everlasting, sealed in love promise) that would sustain his family and give his family a grounding in spiritual realities for centuries to come His dad, a guy by the name of Isaac embodies a story in and of himself – when his mom found out that she was going to have a baby, she laughed her butt off…why – no one has babies at 100 years of age – that’s how old her hubby and her were…in fact, some scholars think that Isaac’s name traditionally translated “laughter” really means “joke”…In this instance, the joke is on a mom and dad who were a century old

Now, Isaac had his share of struggles but he eventually marries and has a couple of kids…one of those is Jacob…in fact, Jacob was one of twins born – story goes that when Jacob was born he grabbed on to his twin brother’s heel as they both were delivered…weird in and of itself You see, Jacob’s name a lot like his dad’s with its double meaning…“heel grabber” really means “you’re pulling my leg!”

After you read Jacob’s story, makes you appreciate God’s sense of humor

As Jacob grew – he discovered he had a talent…a talent for deception…in other words, he had a knack of being able to weasel his way into getting things that we’re supposed to be his – and because of that, as you know what goes around, comes around, Jacob had some complexities in life

But there was this one amazing day in Jacob’s life…it was after he had gotten married, had a bunch of kids…actually became pretty prosperous…where Jacob was going to have to confront some of his broken past…truth is, he wasn’t looking forward to it

And on the day before he was to come face to face with the brother who he took advantage of time and again as a kid, Jacob has this encounter with God – by the side of a river, lonely stretch of beach, he came face to face with his maker

Now, some people who know this story say that it is an angel…some say it is the “spirit” of the brother he cheated…tons of debate …what we do know is that Jacob wrestled, did hand to hand combat with this angel until a couple of things happen:

1 – contrary to what you might expect, Jacob wins the match…in fact, you can imagine Jacob holding the angel on the mat as the angel begs to be let loose but Jacob won’t let go until he gets a blessing…something he’s been looking for all his life

2 – Jacob gets injured in the match – apparently hip injury that caused him to walk with a lip It can be said that Jacob wrestled with God and walked away…but just like you would imagine, when you do life on life action with the God of the universe, you’re never going to walk the same again…your life will be eternally impacted

Well, In God’s story, this wild, capricious, unruly and, by the way, thoroughly gritty human narrative, there’s also a story about a guy named Shad

Shad was a delightful creation of God – but Shad was a boy who started out, just like Jacob, with some issues that would forever mark his life

Many of you may not know that Shad has two issues that he struggled with from day one in his life…his height and his eyesight Shad has problems with his eyes at birth…nothing that a surgery couldn’t take care of but something that Shad was extremely self-conscious of for all of the remainder of his days

In addition, Shad was a bit on the short side in stature – but make no mistake about it – whether he was two feet, three feet, four feet or finally some five foot six inches tall, Shad again and again attempted to prove that NOTHING was going to hamper his adventure of life in any way – he may have had some challenges with inches but not with his stature of heart

In his mind – he was HUGE – tough, confident, driven and up to any challenge Frankly to a fault – many Bball and Hockey and Racquet ball times with Shad…for any body who dared to compete with Shad you would soon discover that Shad hated to lose…in fact there are several of us in this very room who had coasters, hockey pucks and basketballs thrown at our head because we dared to best Shad in some game

For no matter what the challenge, Shad jumped in…

But just like our biblical friend Jacob, Shad wrestled life – it wasn’t just a one-time match…a day-by-day reality for Shad – he wrestled and wrestled and wrestled…he fought and fought and fought

Those who knew him – extreme sports – motorcycles, snowboarding, skateboarding – never safe always broken bones – He never fully accepted himself – he pushed himself mercilessly – and because of that, he wrestled life to the point where Shad ended up walking with a lip

No = it wasn’t a physical limp but it was a limp nonetheless…a limp of the soul – a limp that caused Shad despite all the joys of life, family, a beautiful daughter, massive amount of musical, artistic and athletic talent caused – caused Shad some pain and distress

I think I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that Shad wrestled with life for years God tried, but just like with Jacob, for some reason God didn’t win the wrestling match Shad wanted a blessing…and for years, those of us close to him who saw him embrace the truth of Jesus in his heart and life, thought the illusive blessing had finally been experienced

It’s true – Shad’s life was and had been and was being changed…but there was still a limp!

• And frankly friends, the only time that I can say with confidence that the limp has finally disappeared and disappear for good – that is NOW!

• Because Shad walked and walks with Jesus – and when Shad walks with Jesus now, it is NOT with a limp…because this Jesus touched Shad…but instead of crippling him, Jesus healed him…ultimately, completely, wholly, eternally

• No more limp for Shad…and to tell you the truth – that’s the only news and hope that gives me and the rest of his family and many of you the ability to smile on a day like today

• The Good Shepherd limped with Shad through dark valley to a place where a table of blessing and joy is spread out before him – to feast in the joy of Jesus’ presence for eternity

Well friends, In God’s story, this wild, capricious, unruly and, by the way, thoroughly gritty human narrative, there’s also a story about a guy or a gal like you…whatever your name is, it is a special one to God

You’ve probably had an amazing, unique and sometimes glorious and other times struggle filled life…everybody does

The question is not whether you walk or live with a limp, truthfully, that’s a given…the question is how much of an impact is that limp going to have upon your life

The limp can be something that haunts you or leads you to embrace the truth You either deal with it, deny it exists, try to overcompensate for it, or give it up If you give it up, acknowledge you have it and seek God’s healing, your limp will be transformed and you won’t be a hobbler but a runner, a thoroughbred and walker and leaper in the name of Jesus

There’s a truth that is alive today – Friends, the truth is that the truth is not a what…it isn’t a magic incantation or a belief system or even a church – the truth not a what but a who – that who is Jesus

That truth will set you free – it will make your toe a tapping and your feet a moving…I don’t know how Jesus does it but He just does…that's what God does…that's what He is good at

That's the good news for today – if you are like me, you so desperately looking for some good news today…well look no further – the good news isn’t a what – it is a who and that who is Jesus Because of what Jesus did who Jesus is – we can face our limps and we can face our tomorrows

Well, In God’s story, this wild, capricious, unruly and, by the way, thoroughly gritty human narrative, there’s also a story about you…and a story about God’s love, the love of Jesus bringing you the type of meaning in life that all of us so desperately need

In Celebration of his Iife – Shad LeFevre, my son

IMG_0568A Celebration of Life – Shad LeFevre

Our son, brother, dad and friend, Shad LeFevre passed away last week at home. The family is asking for your prayer support. A Service of Worship will be occurring at Eagle Nazarene in Eagle, Idaho on Saturday, November 29th at 2pm. There will be an informal reception afterwards at the Crooked Fence Barrelhouse. Would you take a moment and share a sentence or two of what blessed you about Shad and his life? Thank you and God bless you!

I will be posting the message that I write for Shad's memorial service later this week!  I loved Shad and his insatiable energy, curiosity, intelligence, humor, wit and creativity.  Memories will suffice…his legacy will endure and God's love will insure a life of joy for him for eternity!  More to come…


The Art and Blessing of Affirmation

IMG_0014Its amazing to celebrate birthdays.  Personally, I would prefer to celebrate OTHER people's birthday than my own for the pure reason that I really enjoy the celebration of the uniqueness and specialness of a person's life.  I love seeing old pictures and hearing stories of a person's growing years and having an opportunity to say, "you are loved and you are special" to someone who is making the journey of their lives.  Each of us are a blessing to the world in a manner that God chooses.  In fact, God's fingerprint upon our world is unique in every person whom He creates…in other words, there is something that God can only do in this world THROUGH each person to whom He gives the gift of life.  Without the individuals that surround us there would be some aspect of God that we might miss. I don't know if you have ever thought about it in that way before but YOU are a unique gift to the world revealing some aspect of the character and nature of God that can only be experienced in the person that you are.  So, we are cherished and celebrating a birthday is ONE way to honor the people in our lives and saying to them, "there is something about you that I really love and appreciate that HAS TO BE publicly shared in these moments of celebration."  

This past week was my birthday and since it was somewhat of a milestone, there were plenty of affirmations to go around.  My daughter put together an affirmation jar and asked my family and friends to contribute one word summaries of what they thought about me and to place them on a piece of paper within the jar.  After the party, there were over 75 bits of affirmation…each very humbling but each important for me to read as I realize again how blessed I am with the people in my life and in how I can share the unique giftedness and person that I am in those relationships.  Affirmation is a powerful thing…they change a mind, they shape a heart, they bring the gift of optomism, the position a person to be able to self-appreciate which in and of itself is a life transforming reality.  Affirmations can reprogram a heart that has been bombarded in a negative word with self-defeating and crushing criticism.  One devotional I read lately stated it this way:

During a recent study, 200,000 employees were interviewed to discover the missing ingredient in their productivity. The study concluded that appreciation and affirmation topped the list of what they wanted most from their superiors. This research implies that receiving affirmation is a basic human need.  The apostle Paul seemed to realize this basic need in the Corinthian believers, so before he peppered them with firm words of discipline, he showered them with affirmation. As their spiritual leader, Paul began his letter with thanksgiving to God for the grace being displayed in their lives.

I think it is high time to commit ourselves anew to the "ministry of affirmation."  Just think about how many negative, "you aren't a good person," "you are being short changed in life" type of messages that a person hears every single day in their lives…the only way to be able to counter that tide is to be swept up into the minstry of affirmation and to witness its power in the relationships of your life.  Pick up that ministry and use it liberally!  Affirm somebody today before you think of anything else that you could do in any given moment…bless others and do it right now!  

Birthday reflection…

Well, today is bound to be one on which I am overwhelmed by the friendships and love of Jesus that has made my life one of fulfillment and joy! Thank you Lord for each one who has shared even small moments over 60 years that have changed my life! Thank you to each friend for who you are and the life we've built by God's grace!! Thanks to Vicky Dugall and my kids and g-kids and my bigger family who continue to love me and support me despite my obvious idiosyncrasies and failings. Grace has always been and will always be that which marks any life! It has marked mine! 

Interpretive Pluralism and Unity within the Body of Christ

1huh_450Interpretive Pluralism and Unity in the Body of Christ

  1. Four people will use one map and find four different routes to the same destination.
  2. Four army officers will use the same binoculars and suggest four different battle strategies.
  3. Each member of a family will have different opinions on the proper use of a camera.
  4. Cooks will follow the same recipe and each will produce a dish that is distinct.

Each of these scenarios is indicative of the issues one faces in reading and interpreting the bible in spiritual community.  In his important book, The Bible Made Impossible, Christian Smith attempts to answer the question, “Why are there so many alternative interpretations of the bible?”  The truth is that discerning the truth is not always that simple.  Each reader comes to the text with their own wealth of experience and ecclesiastical perspective and, despite a sincere desire to find “oneness” and agreement in discovering biblical truth, any honest disciple of Jesus has to acknowledge that finding commonality among Christ followers in biblical interpretation is often as likely as discovering a pink elephant.  That does not necessarily spell doom for unity within the Body of Christ because unity is not spelled, “agreement” but “Jesus.”  In fact, let me spell that out for you again – unity in the body of Christ has never meant agreement unless that agreement is on the significance and life transforming presence of Jesus.  Jesus is the glue in our relationships one with another.  With our eyes on Jesus, even when opinions divide, hearts and spirits are united. 

Friends, our plethora of interpretations should lead us not to pride or divisiveness but to humility and loving conversation.  Unfortunately, for many of us, that is often not the case.  There have always been and there most likely will always be those who claim that they have the corner on interpretation.  Often demonstrated most by divisiveness, attack and condemnation, many Christian voices will see a diversity of interpretation as mere indication of someone else being at fault.  Trust me, it is very easy and very tempting to be able to sit in one’s ivory tower of perceived textual blamelessness and purity and take shots at those with whom you don’t agree.  That reality, not the reality of the plethora of biblical interpretation, is that which brings sadness to the heart of Jesus who prayed (and prays) for his community to be one. 

Here are some of Smith’s own words:

“The very same Bible—which biblicists insist is perspicuous and harmonious—gives rise to divergent understandings among intelligent, sincere, committed readers about what it says about most topics of interest. Knowledge of “biblical” teachings, in short, is characterized by pervasive interpretive pluralism.” – Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible, Brazos Press

“What that means in consequence is this: in a crucial sense it simply does not matter whether the Bible is everything that biblicists claim theoretically concerning its authority, infallibility, inner consistency, perspicuity, and so on, since in actual functioning the Bible produces a pluralism of interpretations.” – Christian Smith

Intelligent, sincere, committed readers of the bible have divergent understandings of what the bible says.  That statement is not doubted.  And I believe that most of us need a good dose of understanding that there are many others who approach the biblical text with just as much love, honor and reverence for the text as we do.  If our pressing desire is to be one through Jesus than even our textual differences pale in comparison to faithfulness to Jesus’ call for brotherhood, sisterhood and love. 

By the way, in light of the comments above, I read another insightful and challenging article about the bible and how it needs to be studied within spiritual community.  I must add, for many of you, this will cause you to stop and ponder.  Truthfully, there may be some real insight in this article but first; it will most likely take you aback with ideas and insights that you haven’t processed in this manner before!  So, read at your own risk!

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