Monday, June 11, 2012

Welcome James Thad McCune!!

James Thad McCune graced us with his presence at 1:45 this morning, June 11th.  He weighs 9lbs 4oz (!!) and is 21 in long.  Everybody's doing great- praise the Lord.  We can't believe we're a family of 4!

Not only that, but now I'm a dad with SON!! Some more responsibility just got put into my life.

Lord - what an opportunity - remove the anxiety that comes with raising kids. Open our hearts to receive this little one and to love him as we've loved Hannah and as you love us. 

It was a WILD day!! I can't believe that even as I write this at 10:45pm only 24 hours ago we didn't even know James would be here!

At 11:15 on the 10th Virginia felt the first pangs. We we're sure if this was it as she had been having braxton-hocks contractions for the past week. These felt a little harder so we paid attention.

Rewind a mom had come into town on the 9th, the official due date according to our only sonogram. We really though James would be here by then as Hannah came on her due date. Alas...But we did have a great Saturday and Sunday taking it easy as we had no plans whatsoever. In fact, on Sunday we even tried a few things to speed labor along. We had egg plant parmesan for lunch. Virginia did the elliptical. She walked up and down stairs. Apparently it worked!

She passed the mucous plug at 10:45 or so, though, according to our Bradley Childbirth book, "this is the least trustworthy of all indicators." So we didn't get our hopes up.

By midnight we called Charlotte, our midwife. Being in Alpharetta, she understandably wanted to be sure this was it before making the drive. At this point we were at minute long contractions, 6-10 minutes apart. In other words, nothing to hurry for.

however, within 15 minutes we were at 90 second contractions 5 minutes apart. This baby was coming!

I split time coaching Virginia through contractions and setting up the family room. With my mom, we covered windows and started filling the birthing tub. Ya, we were't going to have to to fill that 150 gallon thing!

While I was out, Virginia's was burst - and I do mean BURST!! There was a puddle in the bed. Not only could we have not made it to a hospital, Virginia couldn't have even made it to the family room! With the water breaking, contractions immediately increased in length and intensity, going longer than 2 minutes and coming 2-3 minutes apart. This baby was coming!! Good thing Charlotte arrived at 1:15 or so.

I would have helped her carry her instruments in through the rain but for Virginia having what we know know were pushing contractions. Charlotte thought she was kidding when she called out, "I'm ready to start pushing!" The next few moments are a blur that flew by. Hair appeared. We tried to hold V back so as not to tear. I dug through Charlotte's bag to find the heart rate monitor as she held James in. Turns out his heart rate was dropping. Charlotte yelled for V to push wether she wanted to or not. A head appeared, cord was around the neck but Charlotte easily removed it. One more push and James came into the world!

It was unbelievable and I had a front row participatory seat. After some tense moments, we learned we had a boy, James Thad, and that he was doing great! All this, two and a half hours start to finish in our bed!!

I told my mom to go downstairs but she understandably disregarded this and ended up being an incredible help. So she immediately came in. Thad and Suzanne arrived shortly thereafter and went out to Walmart at 3am to get us diapers because we forgot. Meanwhile Hannah, whose room is across the hall, slept through the entire ordeal. 

Unreal. A wild experience and we can only thank God for arranging all the pieces to fall into place. Should we have decided to give birth in a hospital, I'm not sure we would have made it - after about an hour, Virginia was a place where she couldn't even stand. We are grateful for this experience.

The real hero though is Virginia. She was incredibly brave, taking no meds and relaxing unbelievably through a series of intense contractions. Her pushing when she didn't have a contraction potentially saved James life at the cost of several sutures to her. I am so lucky to be married to such a strong, yet loving woman.

Well it's now just past 11 on the 11th. Just about 24 hours from when our birth story began. Virginia sleeps soundly next to me and James is sleeping in the family room with Nonee, who has been an incredible servant to us this week. I have slept 2 hours in the last 48 so am signing off for now!

Welcome James Thad McCune - we love you!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Crazy Talk #1

What Does it Mean to be Blessed?
~ Matthew 5:1-12

Key Questions:
- What does it mean to be blessed?
- Who is blessed that you know?

We had a great discussion covering these questions before diving in. "Blessed people" we came up with ranged from athletes, to singers, to people we know in would you answer?

Then we read the passage. What a surprise! As we said, Jesus says some surprising things. He says the poor are blessed, as are the losers, the meek, and the peacemakers. This sure isn't what comes to mind first, eh? This doesn't mean we're wrong, this is just a different perspective.

We really zeroed in on one passage in particular. After several says of "blessed are those", Jesus gets personal and says "blessed are YOU..." Here's what it says:

Matt. 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Ya right, so I'm supposed to "be glad" when people make fun of me?! What is this all about?

We had a great discussion about why people (people who sometimes includes us if we're honest) make fun of other people. what we came to was this:

"We only make fun of other people because we are insecure...we steal someone else's security to give ourselves some"

Wow this was tough to realize - but we all agreed!

So why rejoice? If someone is insulting us, we should really feel sorry for them! We have the opportunity to pray for them, that they would feel more secure. Not that this is easy...

Bottom Line:
We are blessed in unlikely circumstance...including when insulted

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Tension: Free Grace vs Lordship Salvation

Over a year ago a friend sent me this note about her church that was unfortunately splitting over a theological issue. For me it highlights one of my favorite aspects of the faith to discuss: staying "in the center of Biblical tension" also called "the radical middle" in Vineyard churches.

Essentially, several ideas in scripture might seem contradictory, having two seemingly contrary sides that are clearly supported. This can be a great test of faith for some - for me it has been an exercise in humility and trust as I explain later

First is the note I received from my friend, followed by my response...


Our church has basically divided and split due to this debate over free grace vs. lordship salvation. I think that I won't tell you what side of the fence I am own because I don't want to sway your opinion. To me, from what I have studied, there is one view that is clearly leaving out some important points. However, I, of course, am no theologian. I would appreciate your unbiased opinion on the subject matter.

The bottom line is that it is Satan. Our church was growing and growing and growing. We built it up (literally from the ground up in a 3 day quick build) from about 20 people to over 300. Satan got a little scared and started causing trouble. It is an unfortunate situation. The Bible tells us to seek many counselors, and so that is what I am doing.


I'll try to give some thoughts off the top of my head.

First - it breaks my heart when churches divide. The church is the bride of Christ, His special organism for bringing the Kingdom on earth. Look at Mt 16:15-18. The church is built on one rock - the confession that Jesus is the Christ. If we can agree on that, we should be able to do church together.

Second - there are many tensions in scripture. In any tension it is easier to fall off on one side or the other. For example, work and family. Neither is wrong, but if you spend all your time at work, somethings wrong. If you spend all your time with family, well somethings wrong because you aren't supporting them! It's the same with predestination and free will - both are in scripture - it's a mystery how it all works and really should lead us to worship God all the more.

So it is with free grace and Lordship salvation. Indeed we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8), a free gift of God (Rom 6:23). At the same time Jesus says to "be perfect" (Mt 5:48). Also, check out 1 Jn 1:5-2:6 for an interesting defense of the Lordship side of things, particularly 1 Jn 2:4 "whoever says 'I know Him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him...". Then there's always James 2:14-26 which clearly says in 2:24 "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone". What the...?!

For humans it is easier to fall off on one side of the fence. As Christians we are called to live in the "center of Biblical tension" or "the radical middle" as my last church called it. I think it keeps us humble...from ever thinking we have it all figured out. It leads me to worship a God who is both imminent and accessible yet concurrently transcendent and mysterious.

So what of a conclusion? As I said - to me the big issue is the Lordship of Christ. This is certainly nuanced, but in your church I think all should agree with this. From there, what should a church be doing? Should it be dividing on unclear theology or should it be reaching the unchurched? Should it be catering to the saints or reaching the sinners? Are both sides "wrong" in a sense because they have lost sight of the greater mission of the church in the first place?

I pray for the unity of the local church because I believe, like Bill Hybles, that it is indeed "the hope of the world"!

Hope that helps, late as it is.

God's Peace,



What tensions have you faced in the faith? How do you think about them?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflections on Psalm 53

(v4) "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me"

What else do I substitute as my sustainer?

Recently it is busyness. I have been looking forward to having a job for so long now that I have thrown myself headlong into it. This need not be bad, but it becomes so when thinking about Young Life dominates my thoughts. The danger is that I come to find my worth as defined by vocation, not my identity as God's child.

An interesting thought though from John 4:34. The disciples are urging Jesus to eat when He replies, "my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." That is, Jesus was sustained by the work He did.

Hmmm. This seems to be much more holistic, however, than "I work for Young Life" as, for Jesus, it represents His being under the Father's authority. To this I also am called in whatever I do - be it YL, being a husband, being a father, whatever...

(v7) "For has has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes"

Do I live like this is reality? These are strong words! There are three stances we can take.
  1. Defeated: do you ever live expecting to lose? I know I've done this. It's not how it's meant to be.
  2. Unsure: maybe this is where we more practically live.
  3. Victorious: The way God would have us live is not like watching a football game where we don't know the outcome. In Christ we've already won, having defeated the greatest enemy, death.
How would you live differently today if you believed that God had truly delivered you?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How was Jesus as a kid?
Most of the stories in the gospel about Jesus take place when he is around 30 years old...but Jesus was a kid too. Have you ever thought about Jesus as a kid? Do you think He messed around with his siblings, played games, went to school or even got a skinned knee every now and then? Likely He did! We are fortunate that Luke gives us the only look at Jesus as a child in 2:41-52, in fact when he is 12 years old...

While we can't know for sure if Jesus did the things we mentioned earlier, we do know that he ran away from his parents. Have you ever done this? Why did you do it? Where did you go? How long were you gone and what made you go back? How did your parents feel?

When Jesus was 12 he ran away from his parents for three days! And he went to the temple - that would be like us going to church! This probably isn't where you went, huh? Check out what he was doing when they found him in 2:46-47...

* Sitting
* Listening
* Asking
* Understanding

Apply It
What would you like to understand more about? Who would you hope would be "amazed" by it? What would this progression look like for you?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Luke for Students: 2.3

Luke 2:21-38

What's with these people? Why all the fuss?

What's your favorite way to talk with your friends? Online? A cell phone? shouting out your news in the street? Just kidding about the last one but if you didn't have technology you might! That's exactly what two characters in the Bible did...

The "waiters"
Luke 2:21-38 introduces us to two new characters, Simeon and Anna. Now both of these folks were old, but I think we can still relate to them. They were both looking forward to something with all their hearts. I know you've done this at Christmas, a Birthday, maybe a visit from someone or something else. How did you act when you finally got that present, when that person showed up, or when you team won the game?

When Jesus shows up...
In a way, Simeon and Anna were waiting for Christmas...only they were waiting for the first Christmas. Their story takes place 8 days after the first Christmas when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for a dedication ceremony that Jewish people practiced back then. These ceremonies happened all the time, and Simeon and Anna were at the temple all the time, but when Jesus showed up something changed..

Simeon. This guy shows us two interesting things about just who this Jesus baby is:
  • For all people! Where have we heard this before? Well verses 29-32 show Simeon's response to Jesus showing up. He praises God, surely causing all the people in the temple to look at him. Have you ever been so excited that you didn't care how silly you looked? Anyway, Simeon again sings about Jesus being for ALL people. Seems like we have a theme here...
  • Tension. Check out verses 33-35. They may seem strange but essentially we learn that not everybody is going to accept Jesus as Simeon has. We need to keep reading to find out why people would not be excited about Jesus.

Anna. Anna was an old widow who stayed at the temple all the time. Can you imagine never leaving the church building? Now that's dedication!
  • Thanks! (v38) Have you ever given someone a present and they didn't thank you? How did you feel? Well thanked God for the birth of Jesus. Why should she say "thanks" though? Think back to some of the things we've already read and pay attention for more as we keep reading...
  • Redemption. (v38) This might be a new word, but it's powerful! Essentially it means "to take something broken and worthless and change into something beautiful and valuable." Can you think of any examples of this? Jesus came for broken people with broken redeem them.
  • Share the News! If Simeon and Anna had our technology there is no doubt they would be posting on facebook or using twitter, gchat, or buzz to share their news. Have you shared good news lately?
  • When Jesus shows up. If Jesus showed up and brought a present called "redemption", what would it look like in you life? How would you react?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Luke for Students: 2.2

What is the Good News? Like we said, the book of Luke is known as a Gospel, meaning "Good News." Chapter 2 begins giving us insight into what exactly this good news is:

The Angels (vv10-14). In the broadest terms the angel lays it out there, "Jesus, the Messiah (Christ), is Lord and is born today." If you go to church or know the Christmas story, this is all too familiar that it's easy to lose sight of how crazy this sounds.
  • For all the people. Think about what this means. How often do we think about the story as it pertains to me or my family or my church. The Good News is for all people...for a child on the other side of the world living in poverty, for the child in our city living in poverty, for the weird kid in school, for the popular kid in school, for our friends, and for those who are more like enemies. All people. Who might this make you think of? Pray for someone unlikely to experience the good news.
  • Peace on earth. How often do we hear, "Peace on earth, good will toward men"? Try imagining what peace on earth would really look like. It's so much more than wars ceasing. It's the end of racism, it's the end of injustice, it's a mom and a dad staying together in marriage, it's neighbors being friendly, it's a community bringing wholeness to broken places. What does peace on earth look like in you home or in your school or in your city? What would it look like in another country?
  • God's Favor on men. This is truly incredible as well. The God who created this universe - the stars the galaxies - wonders that we will never even see...has made the time to have favor on little old us. This is truly good news because God has every right to act like an angry parent and cruelly punish his children for the times when we are wrong. Instead, through Jesus we are offered favor - an opportunity to get right with the God who made us. Where would you like God's favor in your life?
Follow davidjmccune on Twitter