Sunday, March 29, 2009

Get a piece of the Rock

My soul finds rest in God alone; He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1,2

When Kim and I were Spain at the midyear retreat for STINTers across Europe and the Middle East, we took a trip to Gibraltar. You drive along the coastal highway, through some hills, round a corner, and then you see it in the distance, rising out of the ocean. Gibraltar is stunning as you look at from up close or faraway. But then you drive onto it, and you realize how big it really is. It is a giant rock fortress that is also a city, still fully owned and operated by the United Kingdom. Everywhere you go, there are signs of past conflict - tunnels dug out of solid rock, large cannons, military barracks and monuments.

But in the middle of this rock is a beautiful garden, with paths, fountains, waterfalls, benches, and scenic views of the bay, all designed for rest and reflection. We were stunned by its beauty, simplicity, and serenity in the middle of this rocky reminder of war and conflict.

King and songwriter David, no stranger to warfare, compared His relationship with God to the experience of a warrior who runs to the high ground, the rock, to be saved. Only in the middle of this fortress can his soul can find rest. The battles may still rage, but rest can be found during it all.

This reminds me that the very need for rest is natural, brought on by the conflicts we find ourselves in each day. Whether we are facing large scale invasions that seem to threaten our stability, sanity, and survival, or the small daily challenges of life common to all, Jesus wants to be our Rock right in the middle of it all.

Real rest is found in Him, in the middle of real life. I can’t find it elsewhere.
Prudential’s slogan had it right – “get a piece of the rock”. It’s just that they don’t offer the rock that never fails.

A view from the top, with the airport and Spain in the background.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

40 Days and 40 Nights...

Yes, it has been that long since I've been on the Global Road. There was not master plan for this, like Jesus' 40 days/nights in the wilderness, or the 40 days of rain that pummeled Noah and his family in the ark. I just ran out of the time and energy; but I am back again, and will bring you up to speed on all the provocative stuff I've been doing.
I'll start with the most recent, 48 hours in Sarasota on the beach with Kim. We usually like to head to Longboat Key, but this time went to Siesta Key, and the beach there is so much better than Longboat. We enjoyed 2 perfect days of weather on the beach, with lots of reading, sleeping, walking, and talking. No real swimming though it was perfect for jumping in to cool off.
Below is a pictorial review of what you've missed while I've been blog-less. I start from the most recent and go back to my trip to Turkey in mid February.

On the way out of town today we visited the Selby Gardens in Sarasota. If you are in that area and you like gardens, you should take time to visit it. This is an awesome tree that I've never heard of before, and I wish I had written down the name. It's all about the root system. It looks like its moving. There were great views of Sarasota Bay, large trees with the canopy to walk through, banyan trees, this incredible tree in the middle, and dart frogs that looked like they were ceramics painted by an elementary school kid. A nice ending before heading home and working on the blog during American Idol.

Walking off the beach at the end of the day, we ran into this drum circle that formed up on Siesta Key. It seemed to include some planned hula hooping and then little kids who just jumped in and tried it on. There were also a few who were just dancing in their own world.

Packin heat in Orlando

This is neighbor Mike. Last weekend he takes me out to the gun range, and we de-stress our lives by shooting things. Last time I remembered firing a gun I was a junior in high school. Wayne Smith took me through a field of corn stalks and mud in November. I shot at stuff. I didn't hit anything. I got really cold. Only 2 redeeming things; I laughed a lot at Wayne and knew I could save time and money by crossing off hunting as a future sport to take up.
So, I was wondering if this would de stress or add stress. I missed the first 2 clay pigeons, but then went 4 for 4. I had found my game. Bring it on. Thanks Mike.

Yes that's me, with a semi-automatic 22. And a slight bald spot. And 2 very impressed friends casting long shadows alongside me. The first several shots I missed completely. Gun range director comes over and says, "You're left-eye dominant". Huh? Who knew. I shot left handed the rest of the day, even got a few on the target. Yours truly, left eye Bubalo.

Bulls Eye with a 22. Hey, I was too aiming at the one on the right. Notice the lower right corner black dot of the target on the left. Oops.

Sea Shack

National Leadership Conference at Hilton Head at the end of February. This annual US Campus Leadership gathering is known for cooler than average weather, meeting with great friends who serve together, celebrating all God has done the past year, and unifying around a common vision for the future. It also requires a pilgrimage to the Sea Shack, standing in line outside to get in, eating seafood prepared with a little homemade flavor and love. (Aka "cheapest seafood dinner on the island.")

On the free afternoon, I took on this challenging par 3 over water, the toughest hole on the course. Great was the celebration as we all - me, Ron, and Jon - all planted on the green and 2 putted. The rest of the game was well, a bit less successful. But it was still a blast.

Friends and colleagues at a Leadership Conference in Turkey Feb. 9 - 11. These men and women have incredible faith as they follow Jesus in some pretty challenging places. I receive far more each time from these gatherings than I ever imagine I will.