Friday, December 5, 2008

Barbara Walters 10 Most Fascinating People

It has been too long since I have shared...well...anything on this blog.  Not many people have missed it, I'm sure.  However, I'm at a point in my life where I'm desiring to write down my random thoughts and rants and raves again.  So, I jump back in.  I think I'll start with something I was mulling over back in December after the Barbara Walters 1o Most Fascinating People special.  I realize the whole concept is a bit outdated, but frankly I don't care.  I wasn't too impressed with Walters' list, so I came up with my own...although they are not in any particular order.


Benny Hinn - let's just say he didn't make the list because I like him.

Heidi Blakeney - not a day goes by that I am not thankful for this woman.  I find myself loving her more each day, and I am truly in awe of her love for me and her incredible gift of being an awesome mother.

Bill LaBurn - my Father-in-law...if anyone has taught me to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, it's this man.

Rod Van Solkema - my Pastor.  Week after week I listen to this guy preach...that's right...he preaches.  Preaching isn't the coolest thing to do these days...it's much more en vogue to "teach" or "speak" or "have a conversation."  Rod preaches, and God uses him to cut right to the heart.  It's been awhile since I've sat under this kind of pastoring, and I'm very thankful for it.

Rick Hopkins - A great friend and a great musician.  Sometimes when I listen to his music, I hate him and love him all at the same time.

Ella Blakeney - my first-born baby girl.  I forget what life was like before she came along, and it's only been 11 months.  She shines a light in my life like nothing I've ever expected.

Me - Yes, it's a bit Narcissistic, but I really do fascinate myself.  Mainly because I know how much of an idiot I am and how I go back and forth from faith to doubt, from positive to negative, from moving mountains to being crushed, from drive to apathy, from energy to drained...you get the picture.  

Suzee Geha - Seriously, how does she still have a job as a news anchor?  You call this journalism?

David Crowder - An amazing worshiper with an amazing beard.

Tim Blakeney - my Dad.  He has shown me what it means to love your bride like Christ loved the Church.  

Friday, November 28, 2008

What Are The Odds?

On Wednesday afternoon Heidi, Ella, and I hopped in the car and headed to Pigeon.  We met my parents in Birch Run to do a bit of shopping at the outlet malls, and then we went to dinner.  We just opted for Applebees, as there really isn't much to choose from in Birch Run (although I was really pulling for Halo Burger or Tony's).  Anyway, as we were waiting for our table, Heidi asked me to run back out to the car to get Ella's food (mashed up green beans was the entree for Ella tonight...in case you cared to know).  As I was approaching our car, I hit the remote to unlock the door.  You can imagine my surprise when not only did the lights on my car flash, but so did the lights on the car parked two spots away.  At first, I thought it must be a coincidence as the owner of that car must be on his way to leave.  I looked around and realized that I was the only one in the parking lot.  So, I hit the button again...sure enough, my remote worked for another car.  So, I did what anyone in my situation would do...I hit the start button to see if the engine would start.  After the two second delay, both my car and the other car started up.  I smiled, thinking of all the fun things I could do with this discovery.  And, if I had more time, I'm sure I would have done all of those things.  But, I decided to stop the engine, grab the green beans and go eat some supper.  Pretty anti-climactic, I know, but some things are better left undone.  

It's Good No One's Out to Get Me

Last weekend I had to work.  On Saturday it was pretty busy...meeting with a few new clients, giving tours of Stone Falls of Ada, signing leases with new residents, etc.  So, much to my surprise, I came back to the office after a tour and there were three freshly-baked cookies on my desk.  Now, part of our policy at work is that we leave the office unlocked when we give a tour so that if anyone happens to drop in, they can wait in the comfort of a warm room on a comfortable couch.  So, after thinking about it, I realized that anyone...and I mean anyone could have given left those cookies for me.  Which, in turn, caused me to start running through a list of people who I thought might be out to get me.  Thankfully that list was short, and I came to the conclusion that if there were indeed any people who might dislike me enough to get me, they would probably rather pull some prank on me (like TPing my house or seran-wrapping my car) rather than give me cookies laced with anything that might cause bodily harm.  So, I ate the wonderful cookies and forgot about it.

On Tuesday, our leasing agent, Sarah, came into work in the afternoon.  She asked me how I liked the cookies that she left.  Mystery solved!  It was a simple kind gesture.  This made me think that I'm really glad I don't have any sworn enemies.  Even the people who probably don't like me much really don't carry much animosity towards me.  That's a good thing...and makes me a little more comfortable eating mystery cookies on a work weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks...

In no particular order (except for the first two)...

for my wife
for my daughter
for my family
for my in-laws (seriously...no joke)
for my house
for my job
for my church (seriously...no joke...hard to believe, huh?)
for facebook
for naps with Ella
for deep fried turkey
for deep fried anything for that matter
for my Ford Contour that has 183,000 miles on it and is still running strong
for the grace of God
for healing and restoration
for the laughter of a 6 month old girl
for the incredible friendship of The Good Reverend
for my grandma's improved health
for my grandpa's sense of humor
for Marie Catrib
for The Green Well
for Big Bob
for Mister Pizza
for Tacos El Caporal
for Real Food Cafe
for Founder's
for faith
for hope
for love

Friday, November 14, 2008

Random Thoughts

Tonight is full of random thoughts running through my head.  Here they are...

1.  I wonder what would happen if I...and others I know who have experienced similar things...started to call out the people who have socked us in the gut.  I'm not talking literal punches.  I'm thinking of the ones who really messed with our lives.

2.  I can't believe it's two weeks before Thanksgiving and I'm going to hang up Christmas lights.  I will not light them until after Thanksgiving.

3.  My daughter is cute...and funny.

4.  I really need to repair that hole in the kitchen ceiling.

5.  It's supposed to snow this weekend and my leaves are not raked yet...whatever happened to youth groups doing a "rake and run" where they come, rake up and run away?  I've always been involved in these, but no youth group has ever done it for me.  You'd think in Grand Rapids, the town with many youth groups, that one of them would eventually hit my yard.  This would be a good year for it.

6.  Reverend Larry Moonshine is the coolest band name ever.

7.  A man that I like to call "Todd Pull-one-on-ya" was the first one to sock me in the gut (see number 1).  It's a miracle that I even go to church any more.

8.  It's November 14, and I just tested Christmas lights...why?  I'm trying to remember...oh yeah, she's sitting across the living room and she has the most beautiful brown eyes I've ever seen.

9.  Yesterdog sounds really good right now.

10. We have a dictionary on our bookshelf that I don't think we've ever looked at.  We also have a book by T.D. Jakes that I don't think we've ever looked at.

I hope you've enjoyed my random thoughts for the evening. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Perfect Day

5:00am - Ella wakes up to eat.  I wake up to feed her.
5:20am - Ella goes back to sleep.  I go back to sleep too.
8:00am - Ella wakes up, I get up with her, we go downstairs and sit on the couch, she falls back to sleep on my chest while I pray.
9:00am - Heidi wakes up, we eat breakfast and get ready for church.
11:00am - Ella is in the nursery, Heidi and I worship and pray with our church.
1:00pm - We grocery shop
2:00pm - We return home, eat lunch together, laugh at Ella while she gags on green beans.
3:00pm - Heidi and Ella make sweet potatoes, I work on raking leaves in the yard.
5:00pm - We have dinner with our dear friends and neighbors.
6:30pm - Ella falls asleep on my chest again while we sit and chat with our dear friends and neighbors.
8:00pm - We return home, feed Ella and put her to bed.
9:00pm - Heidi and I watch Desperate Housewives (I'm not ashamed to say it)
10:00pm - Ella starts crying, so I go bring her back down.
10:20pm - I sit at my computer watching the two most beautiful women in the world sleep on the couch...Heidi and Ella...gorgeous.  How did I end up here?  Only by the grace of God.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peace

One of my favorite things to do with Ella is to whisper in her ear. Ella is typically very intense. She doesn’t relax much. She’s always…and I mean always moving. Looking around, standing up (although she obviously needs us to hold on to so she can balance), laughing, crying. The girl doesn’t stop…except when you whisper in her ear.

When I put my mouth close to her ear and begin to whisper, it usually calms her. She just lets her head fall against my face and stares as I speak softly. It is an amazing feeling…it’s as if when I whisper to her the world is ok…there’s no need to fuss, there’s no need to be moving, there’s no need to be tense. She can rest in the safety of my arms and hear my voice ever so softly whispering in her ear. I usually say things like, “I love you baby girl…you’re so beautiful…I love you so much.” And then my words of affirmation begin to shift to prayers. I’m not talking to her anymore, but I’m praying that God would not let Ella deal with the same sins that I’ve had to deal with. That she would always know who she is in Christ. That she would always walk in the grace and mercy of God. That she would always follow Christ. That she would influence others and not be swayed by them. And as I whisper these prayers to God in Ella’s ear, it feels as though the Spirit of God is moving…like his presence is there. As Ella lets her body rest and listens to my whispers, I let myself rest in knowing the presence of the Living God inside of me. It’s as if when I whisper to Ella, my father whispers to me…and the same rest that Ella enters into when she hears my quiet voice, I enter into when I hear God whispering to me. And for a few brief moments, this world is as it should be…quiet, calm, peaceful. Oh how I long for quiet. Oh how I long for calm. Oh how I long for peace. How I long for this world to be restored to the way it was meant to be…where we pray and play. Where we walk with God in the cool of the day. Where we aren’t driven and tossed by our need to make money, our need to be recognized, our need to be someone. Where we can just rest in knowing that “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Where we can live in the moments of whispers in our ears.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ella Joy...the Song

I have been writing music for awhile.  You can hear a few rough recordings at my band's website or on my jake.blakeney.music site.  There's not much more I love to do more than write music.  Most of everything I write is never allowed to be heard by anyone because, well, it sucks.  But, every once in awhile a good one comes along, and it must be shared.  

The following song is one such as this...I started working on it about three months ago, and for the last three months I only had one line..."I can't take my eyes off of you, even if I could I wouldn't want to."  Last week Heidi went out with her sister-in-law, so I was home with Ella.  We went for a long walk together, and when we got home she was so tired that I put her to bed early and she fell right to sleep.  Now, thanks to my parents, we have an awesome video monitor that enables us to not only hear Ella when she is in her room, but also see her.  So I did what any good dad and songwriter would do...I got out the guitar, my journal, and a pen...turned on the monitor and there was baby Ella on the screen.  Long story short is that I was able to pen the words to Ella Joy and finish up the music for the song.  

Though we didn't know this when we chose her name, Ella means "bright light."  We simply liked the name Ella, but knowing that it means "bright light" is great.  Match that bright light up to her middle name...joy...and you've got bright light happiness (thus the chorus).  Something that many of you probably don't know is that we tried to have a baby for three years.  It was a difficult three years filled with hope and disappointment and sadness and heartbreak.  We felt helpless and frustrated, and when God decided to provide us with a baby, we were overjoyed.  And, the day Ella was born, it was as if the darkness of our struggle was gone, and the sadness that we suffered was done away with.  So, I leave you the lyrics and a little video of the song...

I can't take my eyes off of you
Even if I could I wouldn't want to
Cause when I see you smile and I watch you sleep
My knees start to buckle and my heart skips a beat for you
My love, my little love, my little one
You are my live, my little love my little one

You're my bright light happiness
In the darkest of night
You're my bright light happiness
All our saddest days are behind us now

You came to us in the middle of the night
When hope was almost gone and we couldn't see the light
A sunny fall day when the leaves were fallin'
We walked across the street and the tears started crawlin'
Down our face for you our little one
You are my love, my little love, my little one

You shine his light in the darkness
You shine his joy in the sadness
You bring love to the ones who are broken-hearted
Ella Joy
video

Monday, September 29, 2008

6:30am

I love this house in the morning.  I love sitting in the den with a cup of hot cider.  The lamp is on low, no other lights are on.  I've got the video monitor out so I can look at Ella while she sleeps. My wife is asleep in our bed.  Everything is peaceful.  I love this time of the morning, when you can hear a few dogs barking outside in the distance as their owners let them out and get ready for work.  I love seeing the lights go on in the neighbors' houses around me.  Soon cars will begin pulling out of their driveways to go to work.  Soon I'll pull out of my driveway to go to work.  

But until then, I'll cherish this hour and a half of quiet...calm...it's just me and God for the next hour and a half.  Today I am reminded of the frailty of life.  A guy I know (albeit not very well) passed away Saturday night...33 years old...heart attack.  Surreal, unbelievable, shock.  It helped center me...back to what I know is important...Heidi, Ella, the rest of my family.  Tomorrow isn't guaranteed.  But here I am today, so it's time to live.  So, as the sun comes up, I live...not in darkness...not with regret...but I live deeply with those around me...I love unconditionally with those who cross my path...I dive into the mess that we've made of life and I try to somehow, some way, use the light of Jesus to restore and complete and make new.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Evening

This is weird.  I haven't worked past 6pm in years, and yet here I find myself wrapping up a day at the office at a quarter to 8 in the evening.  Looks like this is going to be my plight on Tuesdays and Thursdays for awhile.  I'm very happy about my new job, but not so happy about the hours.  I would much rather be hanging out with my beautiful wife and baby Ella.  So, for now, a picture will have to do.  Only about a half hour till the three of us are together again!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Change

Lots of things are changing in my life right now (and over the past few months).  Notably, I became and dad.  We became parents.  That has been an amazing change.  Earlier this week I spend four days in Cincinnati with my new company.  I have never been so ready to get home to my wife and baby as I was on Wednesday.  I'm not saying that I particularly enjoyed being away from Heidi before Ella was born, but with the baby at home, I want to be with the both of them as much as possible...I feel like I missed so much even though I was only gone for four days.

Speaking of new companies, my new job is going extremely well.  The company, Miller-Valentine Group, seems to be one of those rare companies that cares for their employees and performs well in all aspects.  It has been a fantastic experience thus far, and I expect it to only get better as I continue to grow with the company.  And, if you're in the Grand Rapids area looking for an apartment, you must check out Stone Falls of Ada.  It is by far the nicest apartment community in the greater Grand Rapids area.  

And, finally, it is with great sadness that we must watch some of our best friends, the Mahons, move.  We have grown very close to JR, Di, Mia, Angel, and Zian over the past two years.  We've spent countless nights hanging out at their place, walking to El Chisme (R.I.P.), or sitting underneath the maple tree in their front yard.  They're only moving to Cleveland, which is about four hours away, but it will be such a huge adjustment to not have them two doors down.  I will especially miss Angel running and jumping into my arms saying, "My brother!"

So, that is a very brief update of what's been happening in our life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We turned Sharon's Patio into the Bayou

At the end of my last entry, I mentioned that the neighborhood was going to have a shrimp boil this week. I was, of course, in charge of this since I was the only one who had experienced a true shrimp boil before. So, on a whim this Saturday, I bought a turkey fryer, which works very good for a shrimp boil. So, yesterday I went shopping to get all of the ingredients. Last night I made some homemade cocktail sauce with fresh horseradish (which, by the way, is very potent...I had no idea). Woke up early this morning to cut up the sausage, wash the potatoes, and clean out my new turkey fryer so everything would be ready when I got home from work.

Altogether, we used 4 lbs. of shrimp, 5 lbs. of sausage, 6 lbs. of potatoes, 24 mini ears of corn on the cob. A bunch of Tony Checere's Creole Seasoning (a staple in our kitchen), 4 bags of McCormick shrimp and crab boil. It took about a half hour to cook once the water came to a boil, and then we dumped it onto newspapers on the table and dug in. Now, I feel it necessary to point out that when this is done in the south, they do not use plates. They dump it on the table, pour some cocktail sauce...on the table...and eat with their hands. Because all of the neighbors are from the North, they opted for plates...and I even saw a few forks being used.

At any rate, it was a lot of fun, and the food was fantastic...especially for my first shrimp boil. Special thanks to my cousin Andrew from Alabama who taught me everything I know about a shrimp boil.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Job, Ella, Letterman, Shrimp Boil

I wanted to quickly update tonight to let you know that the new job is going great. Miller-Valentine seems like a great company to work for. Stone Falls of Ada is an amazing apartment community, and I can tell that I am really going to enjoy working there. Today Ella and Heidi came out to Ada and had lunch with me. It was fun to go sit on the balcony of Schnitz in the Village of Ada with my two favorite ladies.

Speaking of Ella, tonight she became a David Letterman fan. Those of you who know me well, know that I will not tolerate Jay Leno on my television screen at 11:30 every night. I have been a Letterman fan since high school, and this is still the case today. Tonight as I was wrapping Ella up in her blanket, getting her ready for bed, she turned her head and started watching Letterman. I then sat with her in my lap for about 15 minutes while we were entertained by his stand-up, a couple of bits, and of course, "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches." However, I'm not sure if it's a good thing that she is already watching TV at 2 1/2 months.

The neighbors cooked out tonight. It was a grand time. We are planning a shrimp boil next Wednesday. I, for one, cannot wait. Ok, 12:30pm, time to go make sure Ella is sleeping while Heidi finishes up getting ready for bed. Life is good tonight.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

6

Happy Six Year Anniversary to Heidi! It's been an amazing ride so far, and I only expect the next six to be just as much fun as the last.

I love you,
Jake

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Almost Done

First off, to all of you Facebook users. I feel it necessary to let you know that in order to read the complete post of this blog, you must click the "view original post" link at the bottom. Apparently Facebook will only import so much of my blog. If anyone knows how to remedy this situation feel free to let me know.

Second of all, I only have two more work days at Park Place. I am so looking forward to getting out of there. This week I have been able to really find out just how burned out I've been. With that said, there is a bit of sadness in leaving...especially my staff. At one point, I had my dream staff put together...incredible maintenance, great housekeeping, fantastic leasing staff...then it all sort of fell apart (lay-offs, cutting hours, staff finding better jobs). Oh well, such is the ebb and flow of management. Aside from having a great staff, I have become very good friends with them all. I'll not soon forget Yaime, Seidy, Victor, and Edgar.

The funny thing of this is that I really haven't been counting down the days until I start my new job. I've actually measured it by the number of conference calls I have left. See, every week I have to be in on a conference call with the owner of Park Place. I do not enjoy these calls...never have...it takes away from my precious time to do my work. But, as of today, I only have one left on Monday at 3pm, and then I am done forever with Park Place. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And Yet Another Change

As some of you know, I've really been wrestling with my job. See this post to read more of the details. Aside from the ethical issues I've had with my current job, I've also been extremely overwhelmed. Every week I face drug dealers, drug users, a prostitute, and people who generally do not respect anyone (especially authority) or anything. This is evident by the amount of trash and vandalism that I regularly find at the property I manage. Add all of this together, and it's a recipe for disaster. So, I started looking for a new job. I interviewed at a few different places, but a company by the name of Miller-Valentine really caught my attention. Miller-Valentine is based in Dayton and Cincinnati, OH. However, they are building a new apartment community in Ada, a suburb of Grand Rapids, and it is going to be amazing. High end, luxury, expensive. Long story short is that after interviewing and negotiating, I've accepted the Assistant Manager position at Stone Falls of Ada. So, if you live in the Grand Rapids area and are looking for an amazing place to live, let me know. They are still building the apartments now, and the first buildings are slated to be done by Summer's end.

Needless to say, I am excited about the opportunity to be a part of a community like this being built from the ground up. And I'm excited to not be on a first-name basis with the Grand Rapids Police any more.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Favorite Night of the Year

I have decided that the 4th of July is my favorite night of the year. Heidi and I have a tradition of going downtown to the Pearl Street bridge and sitting in our lawn chairs or on blankets and watching the Grand Rapids fireworks. Earlier in the day we usually cook out with friends and enjoy the day off. This year was no exception to these traditions.

However, this year we took Ella to her first fireworks show. We were a little nervous because we weren't sure of the loud bangs would upset her. However, once the show started, she just kept right on sleeping...it didn't even phase her. About half way through the show, she woke up and watched them for a few minutes before she fell right back to sleep.

Then on Saturday, the parents came into town along with my grandmother on my Dad's side. She absolutely loved Ella...her 13th great grandchild...and it was a lot of fun for her to be able to meet Ella and hold her. That's all I really have to say right now.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Sweet Hour of 5AM

First off, I realize that it has been a very long time since I've blogged. The only excuse I have is that I have been very busy...between work, a new baby, and some worship leading gigs time is a commodity that I don't have any more. If you saw my desk in my office at home, you would easily come to the conclusion that I am busy (or lazy...a messy desk always points to either busy-ness or laziness...I'll let you decide).

At any rate, here it is at 5:19am, and I am up getting ready to head to Evergreen Ministries in Hudsonville to lead worship for the second week in a row. However, I don't really need to leave my house until 6:45. The reason I am up, however, weighs about 8 lbs. and is 7 weeks old today and goes by the name of Ella. See, Heidi and I have this arrangement where she gets up during the week to feed Ella in the middle of the night since I have to work all week. Then, on the weekends I give Heidi a break from getting up by taking over on Friday and Saturday nights. For the first several weeks, this was all fine and dandy...I would get up, feed Ella, burp her, kiss her, and she would fall right back asleep. The last couple of weeks however, she has decided to stay up for roughly two hours. During said two hours, I try everything to get her to fall back to sleep...I rock her, I hold her in 83 different positions, I put her in her car seat and rock that, I walk around the house with her in my arms, and I pray. In fact, I pray a lot...not just that by some miracle she might shut her eyes and sleep until noon, but I pray FOR her. I think I have spent more time praying over that little girl than I have anyone else during my entire life. And then, what's amazing is that my prayers change into sweet times with God...where he and I are talking with each other. It's almost as if he wants me up during these early hours so makes it impossible for me to go back to sleep by way of a cute little 7 week old.

So, I hope that my wife got some good rest tonight because it is now 5:30am, and I'm going to have just enough time to hop in the shower and get ready to go lead worship. I have been up since 3:15am, and a nap will not come until 1:00pm at the earliest. I'm not complaining, though. We've spent the last three plus years asking God for a child, and every minute that I am awake with her in the wee hours of the night, I drink it in. Every time I hear her cry, I drink it in. Every time I feed her, I drink it in. And, when she looks at me and smiles a big smile, I definitely drink it in. And when she's in my arms and her eyes roll back in her head and she starts to sleep, I drink it in and realize that way too soon 8 lbs of baby become 18 lbs...28 lbs...108 lbs. 7 weeks become 7 years and 17 years and 27 years. And, though she may still welcome my arms around her...and though she may still snuggle up with me down the road when she's grown, I will never have this night again. Drink it in, Jake, drink it in.

And now, I've gone and made myself cry. Thank you Lord for meeting with me and Ella this morning. May my arms never take the place of yours for little Ella. May she find you in me always, and may she always look to you as her God, as her Savior, as her Lord, and as her friend.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Trust

Easy to talk about, hard to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What a Week-and-a-Half Old Baby Can Teach You

I was reading from Mark 10 this morning, and Jesus says this, "I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it." I've always known this truth. I've heard about child-like faith. I've preached about child-like faith. I've known that God wants us to be dependant on him. I even remember singing that Jars of Clay song back in high school called "Faith Like a Child." With all of that said, though, I'm convinced that until recently I haven't known truly what child-like faith is. Having a newborn baby in the house the last week and a half I've learned so much.

The first thing I've learned about child-like faith is dependence. Ella is dependent on me and Heidi for everything...food, changing her diaper, dressing her, bathing her, holding her, loving her, talking to her...there is nothing Ella can do without us at this point. Which is a great comfort for her (though she doesn't know it) because she can't screw anything up in her life. Sure, Heidi and I will have plenty of opportunities to screw up her life. But, if we're to have child-like faith in God...complete dependence...how comforting is that? God doesn't screw up...ever. And if we're truly coming to him like little children, then we won't screw up our own lives either.

The next thing I've learned is innocence. Just looking at Ella, you see innocence. Not only does she not know right from wrong, she doesn't know wrong. She has no concept of sin. Oh to return to this level of innocence. I've lost a lot of innocence over the years, and I long to have that back. Life would be so much easier if I didn't know the pain that sin brings. I dread the day when Ella learns sin. Sin is something we learn by doing. And, the minute we do it, we lose innocence. In an instant we loose a big part of our child-like faith, and it is impossible for us to get it back...on our own. Which is why we must depend wholly and fully on Christ. We must receive the Kingdom like a little child...completely dependent on the one who will not mess up our life. If left to ourselved, in our adult ways, we will screw it up. In fact, it's because we screw it up that we need a Savior.

God, I want to depend on you for everything...my money, my food, my house, my wife, my daughter, my life...I place them in your hands. Restore the innocence that I lost a long time ago.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Work Sucks When You've Got a Hot Wife and a Baby Girl at Home

So, I went back to work today. I didn't want to go. As I sat at the light on the corner of Eastern and 28th St., my eyes teared up. All I wanted to do was be at home with my girls. But, I made it to work, got some stuff done, and made it to 5:00 when I got to go home and be with my family.

One thing that was very cool about work today was that a guy who lives at Park Place came into my office wanting to introduce some kids in the complex to Christ. He and his wife have a ministry, and he wanted my permission to advertise, etc. and basically just start to mentor kids. I, of course, gave him the green light. Then we spend about 20 minutes in my office praying for Park Place...for the kids who are directionless, for the drug-dealers, for the prostitute. And, there in my office while we were praying, this man began to prophesy over me...I won't go into details of what he said right now, but I will say that it was very encouraging and very specific to my situation considering he doesn't really know me at all. It was nice to have some time with God in my office today.

And, of course, it was glorious to arrive at home and hold Ella Joy on her eighth day outside of the womb.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How It All Rolled Out...Or Rather, "How SHE Rolled Out

The family is gone and left in the hospital room are Jake, Heidi, and baby Ella. The room is quiet for the first time since much earlier today. Friends and family have been in and out, passing Ella around, ooh-ing and ahh-ing, snapping pictures, praying. We've enjoyed reading everyone's replies to emails and comments on facebook and here, but I thought it was about time to tell everyone how it actually happened.

First off, it was an amazing experience that I will never...and I mean NEVER forget. We arrived at the hospital on Saturday evening at 7:30. We had scheduled an induction due to the chord placement and low amniotic fluid. It probably wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was recommended by our midwife. So, we agreed that it would probably be best for the baby. So the plan was to show up at the hospital at 7:30. We checked in, and by 8:30 they had administered Cervidel, which was a gel type drug designed to prepare Heidi's body for labor. The gel had to remain in for 12 hours, so we popped in a movie and soon went to bed. I, of course, was out the minute I hit the pillow. Heidi, however didn't sleep well. She tried taking some sleep medication, but even with that she couldn't sleep.

It turns out that she was actually having contractions, though mild ones, throughout the night. As the night moved on they became more intense. I was awakened at about 5:30 to the sound of Heidi breathing through contractions. I slowly got up and helped her breathe through them until 8:30 when the Cervidel came out. After the Cervidel was out we had about an hour window for Heidi to eat breakfast and take a shower before they administered Pitocin, which is designed to start contractions. However, since Heidi was having contractions that were getting longer, more intense and closer together, the reason for the Pitocin was to simply keep things moving along. Heidi took a whirlpool, ate a little bit and then they started the Pitocin drip.

The midwife showed up around 10:30 am, after Heidi had been breathing through contractions for about five hours. She gave her an exam, and and it turned out Heidi was at 4 cm dialated and 80% effaced. It was at this point, the midwife said the wonderful words, "Heidi, if you would like an epidural, we can give that to you now, but it's your choice." Heidi replied, "That would be wonderful!" By 11:30 they administered the epidural, and after a couple more contractions, Heidi was numb and much more relaxed. She took a nap, I took a walk to grab lunch. And when I came back after an hour or so, Heidi was waking up. We watched another movie, and partway through the movie, the midwife came in to check Heidi. It turns out she was 8-9 cm, and 100% effaced...we were getting close to pushing. And the midwife was happy that she would hopefully be home for dinner on this mother's day. At about 4:00, the midwife came back in because Heidi was feeling a little bit of pressure low inside. The Midwife checked Heidi and said, "You're at 10cm, it's time to push...oh, I just felt some hair!"

So, they got all set up, and at 4:30, Heidi started pushing. After five pushes, the baby's head was about half-way out. The midwife told us the next push would probably be it, so she told me to get ready to catch. As she was telling us this, she said, "Oh, Heidi! Are you having another contraction?" Heidi replied, "No." And just as she said this, out rolled our new baby onto the bed. Neither myself NOR the midwife caught her she came out so quickly! But, we both grabbed her and put her on Heidi's chest. It was an amazing experience, and I will never forget it. Heidi did an amazing job, and is just more proof that her calling is to be a wife and a mom.

19 inches of sheer beauty! 6 lbs. 11 oz. of elegance and grace! We named her Ella Joy because we liked the name. Afterwards, though, I looked up what Ella means, and it's of Greek origin, meaning "bright light." My prayer for Ella is that she would light up everyone's life with the light of Christ...as much or more than she has in ours'. We have truly seen the light of Christ shine through baby Ella in what seemed like a very dark situation of possibly never being able to have children. Three years of struggle to get pregnant resulted in a blessing that we cannot even describe! Ella Joy. The Lord has shined his light and brought us joy.

Jesus says in the Gospel according to Matthew, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

I didn't cry nearly as much as I thought I would, but there have been more than several moments where I see my baby girl...sleeping, nursing, laying in her mother's arms, laying in my arms...where a tear comes to my eye. In fact, I'm going to need to go wipe some tears away now. So I leave you with Ella Joy and me...

The Newest Blakeney

Here you go!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Introducing...

...I bet you thought I was going to introduce our new baby. Nope, we haven't had it yet. But, the suspense is killing me.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Countdown is On

It won't be long till I'm a dad and Heidi is a mom.  That's all I have to say today.  

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Last Night's Reverend Larry Moonshine Show

We here at the Reverend Larry Moonshine camp...meaning us, The Good Reverend and The Moonshine...have decided it would be very fitting and good to spend a little bit of time blogging about our shows and other random happenings. So, we will start with last night's show at the Old Farm Shores Singles Mingle. To preface this, however, we must say that whenever you are in a band that is booked to play at a singles mingle, you have arrived. You may not have a song on the radio, and you may not have a record deal. You may not have received a grammy or lots of recognition, but come on...SINGLES MINGLES ARE FUN. Now, we weren't really sure what to expect at this place. It's an apartment complex in Kentwood, which is a suburb of Grand Rapids.

The night started off a little rough. I (and by "I" I mean The Moonshine) thought the evening started at 8pm. But, just for good measure I called my friend Brent who originally booked is for this show, and he informed me that it started at 7. So, The Good Reverend and I didn't have time to go pick up our tuxedos for the event. We had to settle for jeans and T-shirts (yes, we were very disappointed). When we arrived, there was no one there other than a couple of the even organizers. So, we proceeded to set up the sound system and run the soundcheck. 7 o'clock rolled around and no one was there other than the staff. One by one some people trickled in (and by some, I mean about five) and we proceeded to start playing.

Now, you must understand that Reverend Larry Moonshine is really just a couple of idiots who write some music and laugh at each other. So, before we started playing we ordered a pizza from Papa John's (can someone say sponsorship?) to be delivered to Reverend Larry Moonshine. And, as planned, it showed up in the middle of our first set...all a part of the Reverend Larry Moonshine Experience. Then, to top the night off, there were a couple of single ladies who came in part way through the set, and after the first song they heard, they were bold enough to ask The Good Reverend if that band in his finger was a real wedding ring. We, of course laughed very hard at this question, and he informed her that it was indeed real. She politely said that married men are off limits (for which we were all thankful...didn't need any uncomfortable moments). She did, however continue the conversation by saying, "But you are one hunky man!" To which I, The Moonshine, laughed even harder.

All in all, the Old Farm Shores Singles Mingle was definitely a night to remember. If you were there, and you're reading this, thanks for sticking around and listening to us. We had a great time, even though the crowd was small, and we would love to come back for the pool party in the summer. If the chick who thought The Good Reverend was a "hunky man," is there for the pool party, we might even be able to coax him into wearing a speedo...though you might have to shave his back because I'm pretty sure is wife would be a bit too grossed out to do that.

So, let's raise our glass up high...to Singles Mingles and Papa John's! Cheers!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

29 and Counting

So crazy! Exactly 29 days from today is the due date of our first baby. I can hardly wait to meet him or her. Heidi had her first shower yesterday, and we got a ton of stuff that we needed. We're almost completely done with the baby's room...along with all the other stuff we've been doing to the house to get ready...which I am very happy about. It seems like my weekends have mostly been filled with just work around the house, which gets old. I would like to take some time to relax. But, today won't be very relaxing. We're going to try to finish up a bunch of stuff, and then I'm going to take down the Christmas lights and have band practice with Justin.

In other news, I've really been praying recently about my job situation. I really do enjoy my job for the most part. I manage a staff of four (it was five, but I had to lay someone off this past week). My staff is amazing. They are great people who do an excellent job with their work. I have a boss who is probably the best boss I've ever had (which I've determined is very important in a career). However, I'm really wrestling with the ethics of this low-income apartment complex. Not just this one, the whole system in general. See, the way it's set up is that the owner receives tax credits for renting to people of low to moderate income. Their income must be at or below the county's median income based on family size. This means that anyone who rents an apartment where I work cannot exceed a certain amount of income. We also have minimum restrictions in place as well. The rents, however, are not based on the individuals income. That means they are set. $595 for a one-bedroom, $695 for a two-bedroom. A side note here is that Heidi and I paid $655 for our first apartment, and it included heat and had two bathrooms. Then, when we renewed for a year, it dropped to $640 per month. There were no income guidelines...it was not set up for low-income families or individuals. However, the whole idea of tax credit housing is to give owners incentives to rent to low to moderate income people, and I believe it's fractured. What I've experienced in the last five months at my job is seeing person after person fall behind on rent and I have to evict them. Now, don't get me wrong...there are plenty of people who simply don't manage their money well and don't make paying rent a priority (case in point, one lady who received $2000+ per month in Social Security for herself and her children), and it's those people who go purchase a Lexus SUV and a plasma TV instead of paying there rent that I don't have sympathy for. It's the people who honestly try, though, that really bother me. I can do nothing other than advise them of ways to get help, but usually if someone falls behind a month or two on rent it's difficult, if not impossible to catch up. So, the owners of these tax credit properties receive amazing tax credits (millions...I mean MILLIONS of dollars over several years), and instead of providing quality housing at affordable prices for people of low to moderate income, they try to get top rents so that they can make more money. I won't say that making money is wrong (though I do think we have way too much that we keep to ourselves here in America). I do think it's wrong to make money at the exploitation of others, and I believe that is what's happening in this vicious circle of tax credit housing.

So, there is my rant for the day. I also know that God has me here at this property for right now for a reason, and I'm ok with that. Which means I will continue to do my job as best as I can. And, do everything I can to help out these people who are being screwed by the system. My comfort this morning comes from James chapter 1. "Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days."


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sabbath

It's gonna be a busy day tomorrow. I'm pretty sure it's not the way God intended Sabbath to be. Three worship services. When will I rest? Guess it's good I got some rest in today. Even though it will be busy tomorrow, I am excited to lead worship again. Not sure what the crowd at Evergreen Ministries will be like, but I'm praying that God does something amazing tomorrow as we come together to sing and let the Word of God change us. Should be a good time.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sleepless Night

For those of you who know me, you know that I sleep well...anywhere, any time. I'm pretty certain it's a spiritual gift. I have taken amazing naps on airport floors. I've slept through some of the worst thunderstorms. It is very difficult to wake me from my slumber when I am out, and about 2 minutes and 37 seconds after my head hits the pillow, I'm usually asleep. There are a few things that have kept me awake over the years though.

Some of these things have been, in no particular order:
- a girlfriend that I had off and on for a long while through high school and college
- my grandpa (on my dad's side) when he came to visit in middle school (loudest snorer I've ever heard...shhhh...if you turn your ear towards Arkansas, I'm pretty sure you can hear him now)
- the night Heidi and I first kissed
- the night before I proposed to Heidi
- one of the times I lost my job (it was the second time I lost my job...the first and third times weren't as bad)

Last night I tossed and turned most of the night. Heidi was visiting her brother and his family, so it was weird not having her in bed with me. And then my mind started racing about the coming kid...and I was excited. So much so that I couldn't sleep. Then my mind turned to the fact that I really miss leading worship...I haven't done it much since November. So today I get a random call out of the blue and it turns out that this coming Sunday I will be leading worship at Evergreen Ministries in Hudsonville. This is where some might say, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." But I don't think there's really anything mysterious about this move. God knows I want to lead people to worship him, and he's opening up doors for me to do that. I think I'll sleep good tonight.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Week In Review

I was thinking this morning about my past week. It is Friday and now I sit here watching Dateline. I just had an amazing meal at The Green Well in the East Hills neighborhood. It was the first time Heidi and I had been there, and we were very impressed. And then you can't go wrong with a little Coldstone for dessert. However, I wanted to talk a bit about my week. It was full. Many conversations. A couple moments of feeling the baby kick. A busy week at work.

Work first: I'm currently managing an apartment complex. It's an alright job. At least I get to be around people all the time. I love people...even if they are sort of dumb sometimes. Sometimes being an apartment manager means I have to chase people down to pay rent. I don't like those conversations that much. So I try to forget about those and will not write about them here tonight. I will however, say that I got into a really good conversation with a girl who makes a living dancing naked for money...yes, she's a stripper. It was an interesting chat about God and life and faith and church. She just moved in, so I've got about a year to pour into her life and hopefully show her who true Love really is...and true Love sure ain't stuffing dollar bills in a g-string.

Had lunch with my good friend Rick on Wednesday. It's been awhile since we hung out, but I love his honesty and openness about the things he deals with. Nothing beats a gordita and an hour with Rick (although this isn't entirely true...I can think of many things I would rather do).

Thursday night Heidi's mom was here and they had an Upper Case Living meeting. Now, this wasn't actually a meeting...it's a party where women get together and eat food and buy these words that stick on the wall (much like a tupperware party or a Tastefully Simple party). However, now I refer to them not as parties, but as meetings (thanks to aforementioned Rick who referred to a Tastefully Simple party as a meeting). So, while my wife and her mother were at the meeting, I met up with Rick and couple other guys at Applebees for half-off appetizers.

Some sad news that as sort of made me think a bit is that a guy who I went to high school with just died from cancer. He was less than two years older than me. Sobering to say the least. I don't know what it would be like to be on my death bed. I don't want to know what it would be like. I hope my wife never has to face that.

In other news, we're less than two months from the projected due date of Baby Blakeney. Can't wait...simply can't wait!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Snow

A typically three-hour trip to Pigeon ended up taking six. It's times like these that I would like to live down south. At least we had some Phil Wickham, the new Passion album, and Mat Kearney to keep us company.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"Backhanded Compliments" or "It's a Freakin' White Undershirt!"

This weekend Heidi and I are up at the Grand Traverse Resort. There's this big youth conference/retreat thing with like 1200+ kids here. I'm speaking to the group for morning "devo's" (which is the cool student ministry way of saying "devotions.") It's sort of ironic that they booked me to do "devo's" because I hate calling them "devotions." It just seems like another thing we can check off our list for the day in order to be a "good Christian."

But that is not what this post is intended to be about. I was told that the devo's were optional, and that there would probably be anywhere from 50 to 200 students who came. I thought, cool...50 to 200 students who wanted to be at devotions. This could be good. Well, they changed the format, so that the devo's would be done on shifts. There would be two sessions, each identical. Which is cool, but I thought oh man, that will cut the group that I talk to each time, so it will be a potentially pretty small group each time. I was pleasantly surprised when at least a couple hundred...maybe even close to 300...students showed up for each session! Anyone who knows me knows that I get more and more comfortable the bigger the audience is.

So I gave my talk, did a couple worship tunes and called it a day. Now Heidi and I get to hang out with friends, hear Shane Claiborne talk, and enjoy Northern Michigan. However, I must take this opportunity to rant. I told a story about me wearing boxers and a wifebeater...it sort of had to do with the subject, but was more for entertainment purposes. A youth leader came up to me afterwards and said, "I really enjoyed the talk." I offered him a "thank you" but could tell that something else was on his mind. I could tell that he was a bit frustrated...he had that look of wanting to confront someone on something...you know, that sort of constipated look? I looked around and realized there was no one else around, so the frustrated, confrontational look was coming at me. I realized that I jumped in with the "thank you" before he offered the "but." What he was trying to say to me was, "I really enjoyed the talk, BUT you should really refrain from using the word 'wifebeater.'" I will not say what I wanted to do, because I'm pretty sure it is sinful. I just said "thanks" again and went to get my wife a bagel and some OJ.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

She Called Me Ned

At work, I'm responsible for collecting rent and depositing it in the bank. Our company uses LaSalle Bank, and I've noticed that the tellers are very friendly at LaSalle. They have all learned my name and welcome me by saying, "Hello Jake" when I approach their window. There is one lady, however, who never calls me by the correct name. When I first started going there, I told her my name was Jake. The next time I was in the bank she said, "Thanks, have a great day Drake!" I could have corrected her, but I thought it would be more fun to let her keep thinking my name was Drake. Until yesterday. I went in, made my deposit, and as she handed me my receipt, she said, "Have a great day NED." Now seriously! Ned?!?! I mean, who is named Ned these days? I can understand Drake...it at least rhymes with Jake...but Ned? And how did she get the idea that my name is Ned? I think the funniest part, however, is that she is so confident in addressing me by a name that isn't even close to Jake.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

You Learn Something New

Er, at least I learned something new yesterday.  I left the office around lunch time to go visit Heidi where she works.  I hung out for a bit, and as I was leaving, noticed some change under the seat of my car.  Incidentally, it was enough to buy lunch at the best hot dog establishment in the world.  Yes, that's right...YESTERDOG!!!  I happened to be in the area, so I swung through.  Luckily I found a parking meter with a few minutes left on it because the change I found under the seat was not enough to purchase both a hot dog and a parking spot.

So, as I stood in line waiting to order my regular Ultra-dog, the young arrogant high school preppie kid who surely went to East Grand Rapids high school and could have very easily replaced any of the leading cast members of American Pie (which was based on East Grand Rapids) proceeded to order a Cheddar-slut.  Now, I've had a Cheddar-dog, but I was curious as to what a Cheddar-slut was.  It wasn't on the menu.  So as the board full of hot dogs came up to the counter, I noticed one particular Cheddar-dog that had two hot dogs in it.  That's right, one bun, two wieners.  I think I now know what a Cheddar-slut is.  

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I Really Need to Post More

That's really all I want to say. My life has been so busy as of late that I rarely have time to write on here any more...and I miss it. So just over 2 1/2 months till Baby Blakeney comes. We had heard that sometimes at this stage of pregnancy, you can actually hear the baby's heartbeat through the mother's stomach. So Friday afternoon I laid my head on Heidi's stomach trying to hear the baby's heartbeat. As soon as I put my head there, the baby decided to kick. So, make note that it was the first time my kid hit me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Peace, Be Still

We had our Level 2 Ultrasound this afternoon/evening. Let me first say that throughout the course of this ultrasound they examined and measured everything they could on Baby Blakeney...the heart, the stomach, the brain, the legs, the nose, the spine...I mean everything. First and foremost, we were excited to know that there are no neural tube defects or exposed spine or anything like that. Everything is physically right on track. Baby Blakeney is 1 lb. 6 oz., and he/she is in the 56th percentile for weight and size...just above average.

There's still that unknown as to why the AFP levels were so high in Heidi's blood. And to this, we don't really know. The doctor talked about other risks involved with women with high AFP levels in their blood. Some people think that the AFP test could have been a wrong reading, but we're thinking that there's a pretty good chance that it was right...and that since last Thursday when we found out, God has answered our prayers and the prayers of people literally all over this country to bring healing and wholeness to the little one. We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he's brought peace to me and Heidi, and so once again we come to him, not being anxious about this situation, but presenting it to him with prayer and petition...with thanksgiving for the good news tonight.

It was fitting that the sermon I heard Sunday was about Jesus calming the wind and the waves. The last four days have felt like an incredible storm...and I feel like tonight he stands before us and says, "Peace, be still." And when the peace is here, we can be still and know that he is God.

Friday, January 18, 2008

news no expecting parent wants to hear



As most of you know that Heidi is pregnant. We are overjoyed that we have the opportunity to be parents and raise a child starting in just about four months. However, yesterday we received some news that no expecting parent ever wants to hear. Apparently the levels of alpha-fetaprotein in Heidi's blood stream are higher than normal. This is cause for concern and could mean a number of things. One of the things that it could mean is that there could be neural tube defects in our baby. Last week at our ultra sound, they were unable to get a clear shot of the spinal column, which is normal for an active baby. They ordered a blood test to make sure everything was ok, and that's when we got the call. There's enough cause for concern that we have to go in Monday afternoon for a more in-depth ultrasound. This could be anything from a major birth defect to something that could simply be remedied from a simple surgery once the baby is born to nothing at all...we just don't know at this point, but we'll know more on Monday.

Yesterday Heidi and I were both a wreck. I was at work, trying to get stuff done. I called one of my best friends Justin to let him know I couldn't play guitar last night, and I just lost it on the phone. Then I managed to get through the rest of the day, and when I got home it caught up with me again as I finally had time to process what might possibly be happening.

So here's what we need you to do...PRAY...for us, for our baby. My prayer last night and this morning has been, "Lord, if there needs to be healing, bring healing God. Bring rest and peace to Heidi and I. Please let this pregnancy and this delivery go on without complications. Give us a healthy and strong baby. Continue to knit together our baby in the womb...as you've already started to do. Thank you for giving us this child." I'll also be fasting until the appointment on Monday if anyone would like to join me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Observations Regarding the Church

My father-in-law gave me a book last Christmas…as in like a over a year ago…and I finally got around to starting to read it last month. I wanted to blog about a passage from it, but rather than talk about my thoughts on it, I’ll just type the text from part of it now…it really speaks for itself. Here it is:

In this all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: Within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct “interpretations” of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.
This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a man’s hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the Church of God in our day.
But this hunger must be recognized by our religious leaders. Current evangelicalism has (to change the figure) laid athe altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in theier ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.
I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpists is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table. The truth of Wesley’s words is established before our eyes: “Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this.”
Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.
This book is a modest attempt to aid God’s hungry children so to find Him. Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discover which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.

As I read this preface to this particular book, it resonated within me so much that I found myself growing more excited to read on…I was ecstatic to know that someone else thought similar to me regarding the state of the Church today. You can imagine my surprise when I found that this passage was written on June 16, 1948 by A.W. Tozer. I find it sad that the same things he saw on the Church in 1948 are still happening today, 60 years later.