Saturday, October 29, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
- It just wasn't that hard. That sounds crazy, but once I got over the hump of this seemingly hard decision, I discovered that I wasn't suffering. Richard Foster quotes the famous Arctic explorer Richard Byrd, who lived through months of deprivation in his travels to the North Pole: I am learning... that a man can live profoundly without masses of things. Indeed, I discovered the same. Once you wean yourself off the constant acquisition of stuff, you realize it's all rather fleeting in its satisfaction.
- I was much more grateful for what I received. Once you orient yourself around God's provision rather than thinking of it all as the fruit of your own labors, you see everything as a generous gift! The novelty of something new regained its meaning. When someone had me over for a meal, or took me out for coffee, or gave me a gift, I delighted in every part of it, since these things came less often.
- My default became "Why?" instead of "Why not?" When I faced the decision as to whether to buy something or not, now I operated from the assumption that I would not be getting it, and was forced (by my own decision) to think through what I "needed." Rather than get something just because I had the money or because everyone else already had one, I jumped off the treadmill and thought through my spending far more carefully.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- When I buy something new, I give something away. For example, when I buy a new pair of shoes, I give away a pair.
- As I have mentioned here previously, I sold my car about a year ago. I now use my scooter, my bike, and public transportation (with occasional rides from friends). This slows me down and often forces me to think through how many things I try to do in a given day.
- I eat seasonally. I love, love, LOVE red bell peppers and could eat them every day. And in 2011, I can eat them every day, thanks to hot houses in South America and semi-truck trailers hauling food all over tarnation. But I choose to eat red bell peppers when they are in season where I live. By eating seasonally I am reminded to enjoy God's provision in God's timing. Sometimes he gives us things to enjoy, and sometimes he asks us to wait. And it is often in the waiting, and anticipation, that I learn how to deeply enjoy the things he gives me.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I'm here to report, as a former English major, that I am glad I have never entertained notions of actually making a living as a writer. After 3 years of concerted effort to get my work published, I can say that I have had many articles (at least 30?) accepted and published. I've listed some of the links on my blog.
- Tweets, Texts, Technology... and Theology: my first cover story! This was published in Light & Life magazine, a national and international magazine produced by the Free Methodist Church. (I'll try to find a link to the Spanish-language version of my article and post it here as well). This goes out to the thousands of churches around the country, and is also shared around the world.
- Augustine's Confessions - Still Going Deeper: I was contacted by Immerse Journal to write a response article for one of their articles. I have been impressed with the deeper content they provide here.
- It Happens - Dealing with Everyday Stuff in Youth Ministry: I was contacted by the general editor, Will Penner, and asked to contribute a chapter to this book. I told a great story about having to decide whether or not to take a student to the hospital after being injured during a night game at camp, and what I learned about safety and youth ministry (which should not be mutually exclusive terms!)
- Conversations Journal: I have just been asked to be a contributing blogger to this incredible online publication committed to spiritual formation. This is an outstanding resource for a wide variety of work on discipleship. Bookmark this website -- you will not be disappointed by the breadth and depth of content there.
- YMToday: this is a really useful youth ministry resource produced by Memphis Seminary. They have archived a bunch of my work. We are in discussions about me writing a monthly column for them on spiritual formation for youthworkers.
- Youthworker Journal: I appreciate the quality of their publication, and I am indebted to them for being the first ones to accept my work. I have another article coming out with them soon on turning "doctrine into devotion through small group ministry." Here are most of the articles I have written for them.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
The monastic life is a search for God and not a mission to accomplish this or that work for souls.
To have a truly spiritual life is then to think and love and act not just as Christ would act in a given situation, but as He precisely does act, by His grace, in us, at the moment.
We have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. (verse 12)
The monk (and I would say, the follower of Christ) does not in fact, exist to preserve anything, be it even contemplation or religion itself. His (or her) function is not to keep alive in the world the memory of God. God depends on no one to live and act in the world, not even on His monks! On the contrary, the function of the monk in our time is to keep himself alive by contact with God.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Hands down, my favorite thing about vacation is having unlimited time. It's wonderful to just let the day happen. I get to sleep whenever I want to, read for hours, listen to podcasts, enjoy creation, and cook. It may not sound fun to you, but this is glorious stuff for me.
Today's photo comes from June Lake, where my friend and I relaxed all day at the Double Eagle Resort. It just does not get better than this, and all for only $20 for the entire day. Huzzah!
At one point (gosh, was it before the fish taco lunch or after the hot tub...?) I listened to an interesting podcast that included Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist and author. Maybe you know that he wrote a book titled The World is Flat in 2004 (about globalization in the new millennium). He has just come out with a new book, and while he was writing it, he looked back to his 2004 edition of The World is Flat and compared the realities of what he wrote with life only seven years later today. He said:
I looked under "F" in the index in the first edition, and Facebook wasn't in there... Twitter was a sound, the cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking place, Linked-in was a prison, applications were what you sent to college, and for most people, skype was a typo...
Clearly, technology is changing our lives at a mind-boggling pace. Friedman's drumbeat was that the entire world is connected now, more than ever, and he wasted no time in describing the profound implications in every way, shape and form for our lives and for the whole planet. He predicted some pretty dire things for our country if politicians don't stop wrangling over their differences... but that is for someone else to blog about.
What I thought about was the fact that while pundits are making a whole lotta hay about this new reality (the whole world can talk to each other so easily, leveling the playing field economically), that the kingdom of God has already been this "flat" for 2000 years! Whether believers are in Moombai or Miami, the Holy Spirit unites them across geography, cultures and time zones. This is wonderful and amazing, to say the least.
In light of that higher reality, Friedman's words were an interesting counterpoint to what I had read this morning, again from the prophet Jeremiah:
This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken! (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
In no way do I want to dismiss the discussion regarding the changes going on in our world today. I actually care very much about how the economies of India, China, and others are changing. It is fascinating stuff. But at the same time, I try to constantly remind myself that I do not want to place my faith in my pension or my government as much as I want to rest in the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth. It is profoundly comforting to know, furthermore, that God delights in these things.
Imagine what could happen if the church around the world -- don't forget, it is more interconnected than the internet, people! -- truly embraced these words from Colossians 3:1-4,
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
I want to imagine that vision because of the implications. As I kept reading in verses 5-17, I was reminded that the results would have far greater impact than Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest combined. Think about it -- what if billions sought to "put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you" (vs. 5), and instead "put on our new nature" (vs. 10)? What if all Christians (roughly 1/3 of the world's population) were to "make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends"? (vs. 13) Transformation.
How I pray that God's people around the world would "clothe themselves in love." (vs 14) We can certainly be in awe of the profound changes ripping through today's world. But I hope we are not so impressed by iPhones and the cloud and all that rest that we forget our greatest challenge: "Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives." (vs. 17)