Category Archives: life

the norm

pexels-photo-191710

In the introduction to Walden in an essay entitled Economy, Henry David Thoreau writes, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” In the 1850s Thoreau felt the need to escape life and run away to the woods because he felt that everyday existence had become so desperate, so mundane, so meaningless that he had to find something more. Can you imagine what would happen if we stuck him in the middle of the civilized world today? A world of enslaving technology, over prescribed medications, processed meals, incoherent work schedules, meaningless division and loosely connected family lives. I imagine Walden pond would not be deep enough for him to escape into.

And yet for many of us these routines, habits, diversions and crutches not only define us, but even give us some false sense of security. It is as if our routines, habits, and definable patterns make us feel normal. OPEN YOUR EYES! This is not normal. This is robbery! This is theft! You are being led away from who you were made to be. The writer of the book of John quotes Jesus with the following, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.They will come in and go out, and find pasture.The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:9-10. And the problem I have is with the way we read these verses. We read that those who come through Christ as the gate will be saved and we think it refers to an eventual reality and we stop there. We rob ourselves of the next verse! Jesus says that he has come to give us life…and life to the full. The Greek would be played out a bit like this; life that is more than, greater, exceeding, abundant, overflowing, passion filled, surpassing, uncommon, superior, more remarkable, more excellent, etc., etc. Are you getting the picture?

And yet so often we get to the end of the day and are glad we “made it through another day”. One of my favorite shows as of late has been the BBC’s Sherlock. In the season 2 finale (this shouldn’t be a spoiler at this point) there is a scene where Sherlock comes upon Moriarty who is listening to the Bee Gee’s Staying Alive. Moriarty then launches into an odd soliloquy, but this is my favorite part, “Staying Alive. So boring, isn’t it? It’s just…staying.” Now granted this is a delusional maniac saying this, but he does have a point. Why are we ever content to just “stay”? And especially those of us who are people of The Way! We should be moving. We should be active. We should be transforming those areas of our lives that people could see as normal into something that is truly incredible! Think about the ares of your life you could transform today. Maybe it is time with  spouse or kids. Maybe it is an encounter with  co-worker or fellow student. Maybe it is a chance encounter with a clerk or a waiter or waitress in your daily routine. Maybe it is something as simple as walking with a smile and a skip in your step. There are multitudes of ways to take your life to the fullest! Why not allow Jesus to do that for you and go out and make His name great today!

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you are

I’m a sucker for cartoons; truly. Maybe it’s because I never really grew up. Of course nowadays I can use my kids as an excuse, but I do love animation. And all cards on the table I love Disney and Pixar movies the most. There’s just something about their ability to tell a story. Whether it’s an old man embracing his sense of wonder and adventure again with a floating house or a young adolescent struggling to make sense of her emotions after her family moves cross country or even the loss of innocence told through the eyes of toys, you find yourself caught up in the magic of storytelling and imagination. I can’t really say if I have a favorite or not, but I love certain scenes in all of them. One of my favorite scenes comes from the 1994 hit “The Lion King”. Simba (the protagonist) has run away from his pride and his responsibilities for fear of repercussions from an accident that resulted in the death of his father Mufasa in his early childhood. The scene opens with him being confronted by the old wise baboon Rafiki. After some weird dialog and pestering from the baboon Rafiki says to Simba, “You don’t even know who you are!” SImba’s response, “Oh, and I suppose you know?” “Sure do. You’re Mufasa’s boy!”

Wow! I don’t know if you caught that or not, but I find myself having God moments in movies all the time. And this is one of the best. Rafiki doesn’t tell Simba that he is lost or that he is running away from responsibilities, or that he needs to step up to the plate. No! He tells him, “I know who you are. You are a child of the King!” I think we all to often forget that. So let me remind you of something today.

You are redeemed.

You are priceless.

You are a child of God.

Your Father is the one who spoke everything into existence.

You are the beloved of God.

You are a child of Abraham.

You are a royal priesthood.

You are a holy nation.

You have been set apart, called out and been made new.

You are chosen.

You are friend of the Divine.

You are salt and light.

You have been bought with a price.

You are treasured.

You are God’s pleasure.

You are favored.

You are the bride who waits with expectation for the return of the bridegroom.

The Spirit that gives life to all that is loves you with an undying, never fading, forever enduring love that defeats sin, death and hell and will stop at nothing to show you how much you are worth. You are a daughter of the King. You are a son of the Most High. And not just you, but everyone who steps upon the face of this earth and has the breath of God in their lungs. So let us live into that promise and realize who we truly are. For that changes everything.


a happy ending

Once upon a time this morning…

At least that’s how I would like for it to begin. As is sometimes the case my daughter and I began the breaking of the day with the viewing of a Disney Princess movie. However today was unlike any other because she had made up her mind that she wanted to watch it differently. She did not want to watch all of the adversity and drama, but rather skip to the very end when the bad guy is beat (Mother Gothel) and Rapunzel and Eugene get to live happily ever after. She said the bad person would give her nightmares (although this has never happened) and she just wanted to see her “get beat”. And of course I found an excellent opportunity to argue with my 3-yr-old about the reward of seeing adversity overcome and the persistence to chase after your dreams whatever hardships come your way, but I got the feeling it was falling on deft ears. Yet I think we all kind of share my daughter’s sentiments. We all want a happy ending and if it’s all the same we would like a happy beginning and middle as well. The problem is this isn’t really life.

One of my favorite versus of scripture to see quoted is Jeremiah 29:11. And a lot of people quote it, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And this is great. It speaks of hope, “a future”…in essence a happy ending. But if you’ve ever read the rest of the book of Jeremiah you realize that this verse is the exception rather than the rule. You see, Jeremiah’s prophecy to Judah was of destruction. Babylon is coming and they are going to destroy you. Life for you will literally become hell on earth. And yet in the midst of all of this there is this silver lining. God promises that even though all of this tragedy is coming there way that he will never forsake them. So it kind of looks weird when we live off of the promise alone and don’t understand the circumstances out of which it was spoken.

Life is hard. Look around you. There are people dying from cancer, war, disease, hunger, etc. every day. There is poverty, violence, oppression, slavery, injustice like there has never been before. And yet, God has not abandoned us. He is actually with us in the midst of all of this. I read a quote today from Dr. King’s sermon A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart , “God is neither hardhearted nor soft-minded. He is tough-minded enough to transcend the world; He is tenderhearted enough to live in it. He does not leave us alone in our agonies and struggles. He seeks us in dark places and suffers with us and for us in our tragic prodigality.” That is the God in the midst with us. Powerful enough to give us a hope and a future and compassionate enough to walk through the tragic with us.

I hope for a happy ending. I hope for a happy beginning and middle as well. But I take comfort in the fact that even if the beginning and middle are rife with life’s difficulties that I have a God who walks with me in order to bring me into His glorious future.


inertia

It’s been a while since I have been out here. I realized that when I was at a party last evening and someone asked me what was happening with arpology. And I had to think. Has it been that long? You see, I love writing. Or at least I love to say that I love writing. I love seeing my thoughts and the thoughts of those around me put to paper (or screen…you get the gist of it). And so that fact that I had to think about how long it had been to me was troubling. I realized that I was in kind of a state of inertia. Merriam-Webster defines inertia as, “lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is wanted or needed.” Can I confess for a bit that I have been stuck…at least as far as the blog is concerned? I have been so busy with other things that some of the stuff I enjoy in life has gone by the way-side. And that’s where the flip-side definition of inertia comes into play.

Merriam Webster also defines inertia as it pertains to physics in the following fashion, “a property of matter by which something that is not moving remains still and something that is moving goes at the same speed and in the same direction until another thing or force affects it.” You see two weeks ago a Movement began in Peak Student Ministries.* And then last week I decided to Move. And with all of the exciting things I have been caught up in I just haven’t had time for some of the other things in life. I kind of wish that I could get in all the things that I know keep me moving in the same direction and forsake all of the things that build into the “outside” force that could knock me off course. I think that is what the apostle Paul was trying to get at in Philippians 3. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

The word he uses for “press on” is diōkō and can be translated, “to pursue, run after eagerly.” That’s ultimately what this is all about. We are here to learn to purse, to run after becoming the image of Christ to the world around us. And that’s what my life has been about lately. But I want to keep pressing. I want to keep adding those things to my life (prayer, scripture reading, communion with others, even blogging) that keep me moving in the right direction and I want to forget those things that try to throw me off course. May we find ourselves the victims of a holy inertia pressing on to becoming more like Christ each day.

* Stay tuned for more on this. I have some really cool stuff I want to share that was born out of Disciple Now 12: MOVE


trivial

I can’t help it. I guess it is the Southern in me that can’t look away from tragedy and its’ various responses. Last evening I found myself glued to news sites and to social media as the weigh-in began on the tragedy in Moore, OK. My heart is still sickened by the extreme loss and the pain some of the families are experiencing. I honestly can’t imagine that kind of hurt. But in the midst of responses around the internet, a few posts struck me. Some people felt the need to point out that they didn’t want to post their normal trivial family stuff in the midst of such a tragedy and all I kept thinking was…these things aren’t necessarily trivial. In fact, I am sure many of the parents standing around the rubble of a descemated elementary school longed for trivial things. They longed for goofy Facebook posts about their kid’s drama. I am sure they are pining for pictures of stupid things their sons or daughters had done. They’re wishing back time that was once perceived as trivial.

We sometimes look at things in our lives as less than in the face of something so horrific, but I am sure that the victims of this tragedy would scream at us and say that nothing is trivial. Every moment, every conversation, every touch that you have with your loved ones rings with the echoes of eternity because they are a gift from God. If there is one thing tragedy can possibly help to redeem for those not immediately effected by it, is the fact that life is short and we are only given so much of it. In writing to the church the apostle Paul said, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) Everything we do is to be done in the name of the Lord. All of a sudden everything we do carries weight. It carries substance.

I look around at the situation right now and I don’t think I even have words that can help comfort those who lost people in Oklahoma. All I can possibly do is offer my prayers and support.*But I can speak to those of us on the outside looking in. Life is a gift. Each moment loaded with possibilities for the greatness of God to shine through. Cherish each moment. Regardless of how trivial it may seem….one day it won’t. May we be so bold as to hold on to each moment and encounter life knowing each moment is precious. Pray for Oklahoma. Grace and Peace

* One tangible way we can support is by offering up our resources to those who are meeting the immediate need. I encourage you to do so as well:

https://secure2.convio.net/cn/site/Donation2?df_id=5320&5320.donation=form1&JServSessionIdr004=vs6iy8zzb6.app214b

http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations


longing

So for those of you who don’t follow me on other forms of Social Media let me enlighten you as to my activities for the last five days. Last Thursday my wife and son left on a trip to visit a close family friend, leaving me and my daughter to fend for ourselves for five days. Although this might be a daunting dilemma for a lot of dads I was looking forward to our time together. The best part about it was that the weather was uncharacteristically warm and so we were able to fill our days with various outdoor activities and ice cream (you know a daddy has to spoil his daughter). But one of the main motivations behind our busyness was to somehow distract ourselves from the longing for mommy and brother. And for the most part we were successful, but there were still times where their absence was overwhelmingly evident.

Now for the most part we attempted to fill our time with things that were good. We went on bike rides, runs in the park, visits to playgrounds, etc. But then there were other times when we would just veg out in front of the TV or waste time in some other fashion. But the most rewarding time was the time spent in preparation for my wife and son’s return. Whether it was doing special projects around the house, cleaning, or even taking a bit more time in shaving…well, these became the most fulfilling. Why? Because the longing we have for my family to be complete can only be cured by their presence and so the anticipatory activities planned for their arrival become the best use of our time apart.

This reminds me of a passage out of Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” It’s important to define the word evil as spelled out in the Greek text here. The word is ponēros which is probably best defined as pressing, hard, difficult. The apostle Paul, in speaking of our days on this earth, defines them as hard, difficult, pressing, filled with longing. And what are we supposed to do to redeem them? By making the most of every opportunity! Sure we could fill our days with activities that just busy ourselves to distract us from the fact that God’s Kingdom is still to come. Or maybe we could fill our days in the anticipatory activity of bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth. Maybe each moment is an opportunity for redemption as we await the return of the Bride Groom. 

The one thing my family’s separation has taught me is that longing affords us a choice. What choice will you make today?


unchristian

I am reluctant to write this post. But sometimes when you experience something your eyes are opened to greater truth. And I feel that this truth I recently encountered is something that we in the church need to hear. I think our behavior, as in those of us who call ourselves the church, as of late can best be classified as ‘unchristian’. Don’t worry, I am not jumping on some political rant or some evangelical bashing bandwagon in order to prove a point. Let me give you some context.

Recently my wife and I attended a party. I was both nervous and excited about the party because it was thrown by some friends of ours. However these friends of ours, although they are dearly loved, live a different lifestyle than us. And a majority of the party attendees would also fit into that category. I love meeting people, but this was going to be a unique scenario as I was afraid as to what many of the people might think when they learned what I did for a living (As a side note, this often takes people by surprise…I guess I need more sweater vests). But the party actually went swimmingly. And there was never any judgment levied against me for who I was and everyone was super friendly. In fact, I made some new friends.

A couple of days later I begin to think a bit about Jesus and the people he was often seen with. Luke 7:34 has Jesus depicting himself in the following fashion per the religious gossip, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus was accused of hanging out with people with whom he had very little in common. In fact, he was sometimes viewed as less because of it.

Now back to my original thought. Christian, at it’s core, was originally a slanderous term calling followers of the way “little Jesus'”. Their actions and lifestyles were completely modeled after Jesus. And although this was originally meant to carry negative connotations, for many of us who follow Christ it is now filled with honor and pride. But sometimes in the culture and media around us it once again has become a slanderous term. But I don’t think it is necessarily because our lifestyles always reflect that of Jesus. Let me explain way by terms of Confession…I don’t have too many friends who aren’t part of the church. In fact, my life is characterized by the fact that I surround myself for the most with other Christians. I don’t think if anyone looked at my life from the outside that they would accuse Andrew of being, ‘a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’. And this troubles me. Am I, by my very associations with Christians and not so much with others, being unchristian?

Just a thought….


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