Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Answers to the Question

I know I posted the question a few weeks ago, but I've had to really think this one through. However, I haven't gotten much further in my thoughts than when I started. I am going to assume this is because I have never personally dealt with this. The question of course being, why do we return to the abuse.

A recent post from a friend of mine kind of triggered this one because it helped me understand a different part. -Thanks for the comments by the way, I really appreciated them, and found both to be enlightening.-

While I agree with Dan that there is definitely a chemical thing that we overlook and I liked the idea that we as humans take what we like and exaggerate it to the point of it being harmful; I also liked this idea that perhaps self-image has something to do with as well that Erik brought up.

So, I find myself back where I started, because there are so many things to take into account.

Still, I came across another thought about it. Perhaps we return to the abuse because we feel numb to the world? Like I said, this post is triggered by another (which contained this sense of needing to be and feel alive). Perhaps, we as humans, have this deep, innate, unquenchable desire to not just survive, but to live. I have yet to meet a person who likes being in so much routine that their brains go on autopilot and they stop being the individuals they were created to be. Which leads me to believe that maybe, on a subconscious level, we all find ways to keep us from becoming total zombies.

So, am I saying that people enter abusive relationships because they feel like it's the only thing that reminds them they are actually alive? It's plausible, but I can't really say one way or the other because I don't really know. But there is a reason, why can't this be one of them?

Everyone has a reason for the things they do, whether it's to start trouble or run away from it; to overeat or not eat at all; to be around people all the time or to refuse to be around people, etc. There is a reason, and I think that reason is actually a lot of different reasons all wrapped around and intricately woven into each other that they can't be picked apart like twizzler candy.

So, that's about how far my thoughts went on this, even though I spent time trying to get further. I guess this is one of those things where I have to experience it to understand it better (but I don't really want that to be honest).

This concludes my thoughts from "A Question For You"

Grace and Peace

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christian Haters

I know I said I would post more on the relationship thing when I got my thoughts together, but unfortunately that hasn't happened quite as of yet, however, I did come across some comments on a video I posted to facebook recently. The video is irrelevant to this topic, however, because it isn't just this video that has procured the type of response that was presented in the comments. No it was how the "Christians" were presenting themselves that makes me want to say sometimes, "I hate being a Christian." And right now, I just need to rant a little.

Why is it, that the people who follow a God who wants to bring people to himself, feel the need to bash people with our truths and actually turn people away? It boggles my mind how unloving we can be toward others. No wonder everyone hates us!

The issue being discussed in the comments was gay marriage. To be honest, I'm not 100% sure where I stand with it, but I am looking through it and working out that part of my faith; both sides of the argument feel a little weak and blanketed in Scripture (yes, both have Scriptures to support their view). Regardless, I don't think it is right to just start spouting Bible verses at people and expect them to accept it with grace, much less to change their ways. When has that ever worked?

In a society who puts so much emphasis on intellectual and critical thinking, the Christian institution is years behind. Our churches keep trying to bring about this emotional response, but emotions are fleeting and I, for one, don't put much stock in decisions I make when I'm emotional. I try to think about the decision after I have calmed down enough to think clearly.
Still, I see a lot of people get incredibly aggressive when trying to "defend the faith". I've seen people get into screaming matches over predestination and free will. In the end, does it really matter?

In the narrative of Jesus' life we find that the religious leaders of the time went to Christ with a lot of controversial issues trying to trip him up. More times than not he would end up turning the discussion a completely different direction. I think he did that, because he knew that there was something more important and deeper to consider with each issue than just the topic on hand. I wonder if he sometimes sighs in exasperation at our simple thinking.

"I gave you critical thinking! Why are you oversimplifying this again?"

I don't think he's necessarily frustrated with us, but I think he wants to knock some sense into us sometimes.

An additional thought: I spent a lot of time at a "Christian School" and "Bible College" and let me just say that know-it-all Christians tend to cause more harm than good. I can list at least five examples where an individual did something that led to a lot of harm, and all in the name of "God". To fellow believers! While unacceptable, one might understand why there might be a schism between Christians and non-Christians. But when there is a schism between the people within the organization, trouble ensue.

I don't think we are supposed to all agree on everything. Fact is, we're probably all wrong about something in one way or another. This is why I try to stay open to how others "interpret Scripture" and why I try to truly -listen- when people are sharing how they feel about anything. I want to know and then work through it myself and decide whether or not I feel like it lines up with the God I know in such a limited way.

We need to wake up to what we are doing; people have been telling us for years. We need to get our heads out of the sand, and leave our little Christian bubble and observe, and listen, and discuss, and love.

People didn't listen to Jesus because he was some phenomenal speaker, or because he had great wisdom. No, I think people listened to Jesus initially because he showed them how much he -cared- for them. Ultimately, they benefited from his wisdom, and they were able to learn a great deal about God through him.

But, as cliche as it is, it rings true:
"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

No one cares what you believe, until they see that you care about them as an individual.

And, I am probably oversimplifying things again, I do that often. So, if you have any questions, as usual, you can always post them in the comments or talk with me directly. I'd be more than happy to flesh these thoughts out with you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Question for You

I'm starting to see a trend. As most of my immediate circles consist of single people I suppose it would be easy to spot but still it catches me by surprise almost every time.

The trend is that both men and women tend to get themselves wrapped up in the "wrong person"; meaning, they are in relationships that are abusive or unhealthy in some way. I am constantly baffled by this. If you are unhappy why keep going back to that person? I suppose the psychoanalysts would probably comment on some obscure past where the individual is so wounded that they feel like at least the person they are with gives them attention. While that might play into it sometimes, I think that is a really weak analysis and that they need to look a little deeper.

I do believe that our past has a part it plays (which is why you might like one person over another) and I believe that there are wounds in our lives that influence how we treat each other, but I have a hard time believing that this is all there is. I suppose this comes from knowing some people who have actually been with good people but the relationship refused to work because of one thing or another, or from some who refuse to leave the relationship permanently because of something that drives them toward each other. Perhaps it is the result of faulty logic, but again, that would be a side effect and not always the case.

So what is it? What drives us back to the same type of people over and over again?

I have a few theories but I really want to work those thoughts out a little further before I post again on the subject. So, I ask you, the general populace, why do you think that we as a species do crazy stuff like this?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Truth about Something

It's been too long since my last post. Do I even have any readers? Well, I don't really write for them anyway, hah!

I've been going through a little bit of trouble lately. Not so much in the physical sense, and certainly not a negative thing, but still trouble nonetheless.

You see, my spirit is troubled over my own complacency.

Lately I have been having these thoughts along the lines, "Is this really all there is?" Don't misunderstand, I love my job, the church I go to, and the family I've been blessed with. I believe that I am where I am supposed to be at this point in time, but I also feel like I'm missing something; like there is something else I need to be doing and I'm just ignoring it completely. This had led to several different interesting situations, and perhaps left me a little bewildered by it all.

What is that something I'm missing? Is it merely an emotion? Is it some higher task that God has called me to? Is it just the result of going through some of the emotional lows last week, and now that I'm on the rise the feeling will pass? I don't know. All I really do know is that I'm experiencing it here and now, and so I will address it.

I think writing has become a big part of who I am. That isn't really evidenced by this blog at the moment, and I hope to change that, but I do write frequently and enjoy it immensely. I enjoy it to the point of haven written over 40,000 words in a story that may never get published and desiring to continue in that story until it is complete. Which is something I've never felt before. So perhaps this is the something I'm missing?

I also think that teaching is something that is to arise in my future. Specifically, teaching Scripture to people in a public speaking medium. I in no way have the training for such a thing, and yet I can't escape the feeling. I have been out of a full time ministry position for around a year and a half now, feel hesitant to return any time soon, and yet I feel, with a high percentage of certainty, that God is going to take me back into the belly of the beast known as ministry. And it is a beast; no one else in all of the Christian circles are held to a higher standard than those who are more than volunteers in any ministry. Perhaps this is the "something" missing?

It could go beyond these things though (and I suspect that these things are part of the answer). What the beyond is I can only guess at, and I suppose this is where the "comment on the human life" comes into play today.

I think when it comes down to the grind, everyone has these points in their life where they feel troubled by a "something" or maybe a "someone". I think the most noticeable evidence of this is what we call a "mid-life crisis". However, I don't believe that it is limited to middle aged men and women. This is an underlying thing that permeates every age. To be honest, I don't know what the source of these moments are, and maybe it is different for each person, but I have a sneaking suspicion its one of God's ways of trying to get our attention.

It is also a way to become more aware of who you are as an individual. I recently just finished a book. The final book of the Inheritance Cycle to be exact. In this series of books, there is mention of a "true name" for every living and innate thing. Furthermore, if you know the true name of that person or thing, you had complete control over them. Thus, the knowledge of your true name (which revealed all of who you are for better or worse) is incredibly dangerous, but as you might imagine, can also be very enlightening. As I read I wondered, do we have true names? Now, I don't really think that there is a name out there that if said I'm just going to fall over unable to control myself, but the idea that there is a way to understand ourselves so deeply is intriguing. As one who strives for self-awareness, I think it would be worthwhile to learn my "true name" or "true self" as I'm really referring to it; however, it isn't always the prettiest and it is hard to not want to hide from the truth of it all. Definitely something to think about.

Well, I think I've bored you enough with my broken and incomplete thoughts. Besides, if I wanted to leave a novel for you to read I would have just copy and pasted my story.

Grace and Peace

Monday, July 4, 2011

Trusting to be Delivered

There are many things in this world I simply do not understand. Sometimes, I do not even really understand my own responses to situations at hand.

For example, someone might say something crude at work, and deep inside of me there is something disgusted by it, and yet I laugh. I hide behind a mask of tolerance, I suppose, and I have to wonder if it really is acceptable. Of course, the answer is no. As a believer of the truths found within Scripture, I cannot say that my actions are "Okay". Yet, I still feel this thing within me that shuns away from being assertive about it all. It is not that I am ashamed of my Savior, for indeed if I was I might not mention anything about him at all. No, I believe at some point or another it intrinsically comes down to my subconscious level of trust in Him.

This 4th of July I wanted to discuss my opinions on the fact that every church around the world shouts "God Bless America", and then ignores the blessings that God has provided for them in abundance. Instead, I find myself struggling with this question that occurred to me only a few days ago. Do I trust God?

Now, I would definitely say that I have faith in God, but that really isn't the same thing is it? To have faith is to believe in something that may not be seen. uses this as one of its definitions of faith:

Belief that is not based on proof.

I would say that every person exhibits faith in some form or another. Some choose to have faith in reason, some in a supernatural being, and still others in money or something else, but all operate on faith.

However, the fact of the matter is, faith is not the same as trust, and yet, we use it so interchangeably that we forget about the differences. Faith tends to be a matter of head knowledge, while trust, at least for me, tends to be putting faith into practice and operates on a level based off my heart. In fact to quote again, trust is:

Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

Relying on someone is a whole lot more emotionally involving than having faith in someone.

Which brings me back to the question: Am I (are we) trusting God?

Do I trust God to provide money for that Water Bill I can't pay this week?
Do I trust God to give me the kind of job I need so that I can provide for my family?
Do I trust God to defend me when I attempt to stand for what is right?
Do I trust God to take control of my life so that it will glorify Him rather than myself?
Do I trust God?

I have begun reading a book by Brennan Manning called Ruthless Trust. And within the very first chapter, Manning makes this comment (paraphrase), "God finds Trust so enticing and desirable that Christ died for the love of it." That thought blew my mind, and it has led to a deepening in my understanding of God.

Trust is allowing myself to be OK with the fact that I may have to quit one job after only six weeks of work, to submit to another position that would be full-time because it would be closer and provide for my family better.

Trust is expecting and almost demanding God to take over me so that I can love my family, friends, and strangers with His love and not my meager attempts at kindness.

Trust is maintaining a confidence in the face of doubt and uncertainty that everything will be all right because God loves you too much to let you go.

Trust is a decision.
Love is a decision.

Trust is a decision to put all your hopes, dreams, quirks, failures, successes, everything, into the love of the Father.

Trust is being vulnerable, unarmed, undefended, naked.

Trust is about a human Being, and not a human Doing.

Trust is... Surrender.

Complete and total surrender to a Master who conquered the city of sin that I was in and being pleasantly surprised by the freedom there is in being a slave. I've never thought about it that way before.

Do I trust God? Not as intrinsically as I used to or should, no. But, and this is the beautiful part of it all; God is teaching me what it is to trust in Him again. Will you join me?

Grace and Peace

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Art of Decision Making

As most of my readers probably know (if I have any more than the two that I know of), I have come face to face with a difficult decision to make. One that was made in cooperation with my wife whom I love and cherish. While this decision has been a hard one to make, I believe that she and I have made the right one, and that God is leading us in this direction. The decision being that we will be moving back down south to my hometown of Birmingham. Of course, now there are multiple other decisions to be made as well. Questions that arise would be things like: How soon should we move? When should I turn in my resignation? How are we going to pay for moving expenses? How long will it take for us to close on a House? etc. And all need some type of response, even if the response is to temporarily put it on hold until you have more information to make an educated decision. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Decision making is simultaneously incredibly easy and arduous. It's easy for some people to decide what they want to wear for the day (especially for people like me who just throw on whatever they see first as long as it matches), and there are others (to use a stereotype) who will spend hours trying to find that "perfect dress" for the occasion. We make decisions all the time without a second glance until we hit a point in our lives when the decision we make will have ramifications, good or bad, on our life. That is when many people begin to hesitate, and rightly so, about what kind of decision they should make. We all desire to make wise, good, and right decisions, but how do we do it?

I think one of first ways we should approach a decision is through logic. As I stated in a previous post, God has gifted us with a brain, and most of us can use this brain to come to logical, reasonable, and intellectual conclusions. So, it seems to me that it is only fitting to weigh out the pros and cons of a decision and approach it analytically because it is a waste of a gift that God has given to not use our brains. To go back to the decision I have had to make, when I looked at the decision from an analytical standpoint I realized that there would be a lot of good things that would come from moving down south, and not just good, but potentially healthy outcomes as well; some of which I have already seen beginning to come into fruition. So, then becomes this: Is the decision I am trying to make going to be good or bad for me?

Another approach that I believe we make as humans but do not usually think about doing it would be this approach of intuition. Many of us have had moments when a decision sounded like a good idea at the time, but something just felt wrong and thus decided to not to do whatever was suggested. This "gut" feeling can oftentimes lead to a prevention of a bad decision. For instance, if I am trying to make a hard decision and come to a conclusion about it I will either feel peace or unrest concerning my conclusion. These feelings, I believe, are partially coming from my intuition on whether or not I should pursue one thing or the other. The most amazing part of our intuition, I think, is that it is also a gift from God. It's almost as if God decided that he wanted us to make good decisions so he gave us multiple ways to approach a decision. Plus, I am sure that many of us would say that if we had not listened to our "guts" we would have probably ended up being miserable, dead, broke, etc.

Still another approach that I try to make is the opinion of my friends and family. In this, I usually have to proceed with caution because I know that if God is directing me one way beyond a shadow of a doubt, I cannot let the opinions of the ones I trust get in the way and cause me to hesitate if they disagree. That being said, I think there is great value in seeking the advice of people you trust to give you a straightforward answer. In Proverbs, Solomon alludes to the wisdom of taking council when making decisions multiple times, and the truth is humankind cannot sustain itself on the individual level. We are too wired to work cohesively as a united whole to be able to stand alone completely. That is what I believe, and truthfully "the proof is in the pudding" as the saying goes.

Finally, of course would be our approach to God with the decision we want to make. This approach is often associated with looking for the "will of God". Yet, as I said previously, that really is not the question we want to ask. What I, at least, am asking is quite simply: "What do you think?" Sometimes He will tell me directly what he thinks, and other times He waits for me to make a decision just to see what I'll do. I suppose it is similar to what a parent would do with their child growing up. Sometimes, the parent has to tell the child how to act because they do not know any better, and other times the parent can walk the child through the decision making process, teaching them how to think for themselves (even to think critically depending on the context). I believe that God operates in much the same way with us, His children. And God knows and understands better the things we could never hope to, which is why I feel that decisions, specifically "big" ones, should not be made without God's input.

Oddly, when I started writing this post I did not expect it to come out in such a formulaic fashion, but that is how it turned out as I wrote my thoughts. Decision making is anything but formulaic, but I suppose, at least for me, seeing the different approaches that can and probably should be made is helpful.

Grace and Peace

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dying to Life

What is life? Or rather what does it mean to live?

I am not asking about life in the sense of eating, sleeping, or even breathing. Nor, am I asking what life looks like within the constructs of interpersonal relations on the societal, familial, or intimate levels. Although, I suppose that those constructs might be involved to some degree. What I'm really asking, or at least looking for, is what does a fulfilling life look like. A life that has value and significance. A life that leads an incredible story that when "read" by others inspires them to be greater than themselves. This life cannot be conducted by the individual alone. It comes from both internal and external influences. And if you would allow the term, a super-external influence as well; the influence of a supernatural being that we have titled by the name of God.

To clarify, I believe in a creator God who, in love, created a world full of wonders and beauty, among which humankind is one of them. This same God also gave humankind free will so as to allow them the opportunity to choose Him, which makes their devotion and love that much better. The previous statement concerning the title of the being named God was more of an objective approach than anything. Perhaps, I am attempting to sound more intelligent than necessary. That is not my intention. Moving on...

I think I would like to look at the super-external influence first. The foundation to the message of Christianity is that human is innately sinful and that the first sin committed by the first humans are what lead to physical and spiritual death. To counter the schism between God and people that this sin created, God sent his son Jesus, from which Christianity gets its namesake, to die upon a cross. This action performed by the Christ, this sacrifice, took the sin of humanity and placed it on one perfect, sinless, and holy man. This sacrifice gave humanity an opportunity to be redeemed in the eyes of a God, who cannot look at evil, through bloodshed of Christ, and thus giving them a new life. In a very real sense, when we accept Christ as our savior, we are raised from the dead.

Jesus gave us life so that even though humanity still experiences the physical death, they will have a life after death; an eternal life. However, this life does not begin after death, but rather begins the moment it is given at the confession of Christ as Lord. Like joining a company of a good reputation, it has good pay, but also great benefits. So this new life then, leads to a fulfilling life because now there is a purpose behind the madness. Where there was hopelessness, there is now a hope that can't be squelched; where there were sorrows, there is now a joy that goes beyond just the emotion of happiness; where there was chaos, there is now peace; and where there was hatred, there is now love. And these are all things that make life so much more satisfying than just going through the daily motions of whatever rituals and traditions you follow (rituals in this sense would be regular practices, and not strictly religious in nature).

The reason I started with this influence is because I strongly believe that any type of life that is had outside of the life Christ has given to us, and given us the ability to have, is not a complete and truly fulfilled life.

The second type of influence I would like to look at is the external. This type of influence is interconnected in some ways to the internal influence, but more on that in a minute. External influences are where the interpersonal relations I had mentioned early come into play, because it is by the people we surround ourselves with that we are influenced. To give an anecdote, my mother has always told me that we pick up the traits of those we choose to befriend; thus, surround yourself with people that have traits that you desire. Or, to put it more succinctly with a cliche phrase, "garbage in, garbage out." Essentially, a fulfilling life from the external standpoint comes from surrounding ourselves with people who themselves have a fulfilling life.

At this point, I believe it is important to state that I believe that we cannot have a perfectly fulfilling life until we have reached perfection in the afterlife with Christ (which is another topic all together). However, I will say that different aspects of our lives can be quite fulfilling; just as everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so too are different aspects of our lives more fulfilling than others. That being said, I think its important to surround oneself with individuals who inspire greatness. Search for people who make you want to be better than you are. Because when you aspire to be greater than yourself, the super-external influences begin to shine through. We cannot be more than we are without the help of something that is already greater. Surrounding yourself with friends, family, and loved ones who make you aspire for such greatness will keep you from growing complacent with where you are at. When you stop learning and stretching and become comfortable with where you are, then your life is no longer fulfilling. Instead, it becomes a half-life full of dull and asinine motions that are repeated regularly with no hope for something more, something new.

Which brings us to the final influence: the internal influence. This is probably the most difficult influence to control. I hesitate to use the word control, but I feel like it is the best word for what I am trying to say. Internal influence is based solely upon one's own discipline, desires, hopes, fears, beliefs, and everything else that makes a person "tick". No matter what type of influences you encounter externally, nothing will happen to give you a fulfilling life until you decide that you want to have one. A resolution, if you will, that leads to going beyond a mere decision and into action. Nations were never changed on ideals alone, there has always been an action to push those ideals through. The same is true for an individual. For instance, I can tell myself all I want that I want to be thinner, but until I put in the effort of controlling my diet, and regularly exercising, then I might as well have had no thought at all. The effect would have been the same, and my mind may not have hurt so much from the thinking. In the same way, I can want to live a life that has significance and value, but until I act upon the influences around me, and find things to do that are seen as significant and valuable, then all I am doing is wasting my potential on something that will not happen.

Obviously, there is much more that could be said on the subject. Things that I have considered but have not pondered through, or things that I would not have ever thought about, but that is the beauty of exploration. I dare to be wrong in the hopes of being right. The most beautiful and painful thing about having a fulfilling life (and perhaps the hardest aspect of internal influence), is that to truly live one must die. One must cast away their own hopes, dreams, fears, wants, needs, sorrows, and joys to take on those of another. Which brings us back to the super-external. When we take on Christ's aspirations, we discover what it really means to love. To live is to give all of yourself to this selfless, unconditional, gracious love. A love that can be defined by the term Altruism, and one I have not used in some time. I suppose, if I were to wrap up all that I've said into a sentence it would be this:

True life begins when you die at the hands of Altruism, because when you are more concerned about others than yourself you begin to see what life is all about.

These are just thoughts of a 20-something year old trying understand life as he sees it now. And that is where I end this post. As always, you are more than welcome to post your own ideas and opinions. After all, discussion is great for refining thoughts so, who knows?

Grace and Peace

Friday, May 6, 2011

Will or Will Not?

What is the "will of God"? I constantly hear about how we just need to, "seek the will of God," and wait for Him to give us direction. I know that I have said things like this in the past as well. In fact, I would say that even now I probably would use the terminology as I try to discern what is the correct course of action. But all that being said, the question still is this: What is the will of God?

Now obviously there is something to be said for the Great Commission. It's pretty obvious that Christ wanted us to go out and share the truth of His gospel. That is to say, He wants us to share about the salvation He is offering to all humankind. I would say that following this command would be within the will of God, and many would, at the very least, agree if not take it further by saying it is the will of God. In the Old Testament God spent time teaching His people, the Hebrews, what His will was by giving them the law. The very same law that many of them adhere to today when they can. This law encouraged actions that were beneficial to others, and despised the actions that caused harm. And this too, is within God's will. Suppose now that these two examples could fit under one category, which is to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

Jesus himself said that this was the greatest commandment, and then added that the second greatest is to love others. Jesus also stated that, "If you love me, you will obey my commands." Because Jesus claimed to be God, it is easy to say then that God wills us to obey the commands He has given us, and to do so out of a love for Him. I suppose this is why free will appealed to Him so much. I believe it is safe to say then that the will of God is that we freely choose to love Him and thus obey his standard given to us through His commands found within Scripture.

If this is the will of God, then perhaps we are seeking the wrong answer when we say that we are seeking the will of God. Perhaps, what we really are looking for is God's advice. Now, I don't mean advice in the sense that I would ask my friend for their opinion in which way I should do this or that, but rather in the way I would ask the for the advice of my parents in how to do something. I think what we are really asking God when we are seeking his will is closer to the question, "How do I follow the will of God." To which I respond: is what you are about to do showing love to God and is in accordance with the standard? Then you are following the will of God.

However, there is a fine line in our perceptions of this. Even the best intentions can end up making situations worse. So then we get to the real question that is behind all this seeking, "Is this or that what I am supposed to do?" And this is where I am stuck. What I truly seek is God's voice telling me, "this is what you should do for this situation." But, the truth is, God rarely gives me such a direct answer. I think often times He wants us to actually use the minds He has gifted us with. I think He wants us to make a decision based upon logic and reasoning, but also discernment must be involved. He is quick to gently guide us back to the point where we went wrong as long as we are open to His instruction, but I think most times the decision still remains with us.

This isn't to say that God just abandons us to make decisions on our own, but I also do not think that He will "spoon feed" us the answers either. Maybe He likes to see what we'll do and How we'll do it.

But all this is just the ramblings and opinions of one individual. I would like to hear the thoughts of others on the subject. I apologize if anything I said seems contrary or confusing. I have been slightly distracted when writing this by my nephews. Overall, it is just some thoughts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Life is a Story

All too often we take things for granted. Recently, Japan was slammed with two relatively close together earthquakes and a massive tsunami in between. Many people lost their homes, family, and some even lost their lives. Just days before those same people were making plans that were taking place the day the earthquakes and tsunami occurred.

I know that so many people have had moments where they realize that life is beyond our homes, our cities, or even our country. We can gripe and complain all we want about how our jobs are annoying us, how we disapprove of how our government is run, but ultimately it comes to nothing. In the greatest success or the worst failures our purpose cannot be found. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "It's all meaningless."

I cannot go through life as an audience to my story. Instead, I want to be an active participant. A side character to the protagonist, if you will. If the world is a stage, then perhaps I could be the background musician in this concert of life. The lead, of course, belongs to Christ. His story brings about a purpose to every event I have experienced. The events that lead to a climax that our history has yet to experience. I look forward to that day.

You may choose to believe that there is no God, or that what the Christians believe is a bunch of ravings of a mad man and his insane followers. However, I believe that the way of life, of living really, depicted in a series of books that have proven consistent for over two thousand years, known as a religious text by some, and the Word of God by others is the correct way to live. Nothing else that I have read, seen, or even heard brought before me seems to focus on the benefit of others like Scripture. Nothing else seems to show a way, that if executed perfectly, could lead to a world peace. A peace, I might add, that man people desire but do not know how to live it.

I choose to live my story this way because nothing else can give me what I want and need. A holistic identity that comes only from a being not with my understanding. A supernatural deity, if you will, whose infinite dwarfs my finite. So, I will live for something greater than myself in hope that a greater future lay ahead. To quote a character from the recently released move Sucker Punch:

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything ."

And, Honestly, if there is no hope that drives you, then why bother with anything?

Grace and Peace

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I am no genius, but I am smart.

I am no Superman, but I am not weak.

I am never alone, but I am often by myself.

People don't get me, but I am understood.

I can do nothing, but I'm not helpless.

My life is a paradox.

Such is the Christian life, no? We live in an upside-down reality. Where the world says success comes from getting all the wealth you can; Christ said to give it all away. Where the world says love is all about the feeling; Christ pointed out that it was all about choice. Where the world says that the life is all about the individual; Christ said that it was all about the many. To love God first, and then to love others.

Christianity is very much a paradox to life, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meaningful out of the Meaningless

If there is one thing I miss more than anything else at the moment, it would have to be the meaningful conversations I used to have with my friends while at college, or even in high school. I cannot remember the last time I spent an hour or more just sitting and talking about life, love, God, or any other topic concerning humanity. I deeply, truly miss it. It might have been those types of conversations that led to some of the biggest changes and shifts in my perceptions of said topics. Maybe, it is simply because I am impressionable, or because the discussions I had were with friends that at times I wanted to be like; whatever the case, I know that I am different from who I was because of conversations like that.

I don't really have meaningful conversations anymore. Sometimes, my wife and I will talk about something with significance, but that usually occurs because we need to resolve an issue, or it is concerns an aspect of the story I've been working on. Otherwise, I don't really have friends here who I can talk to about absolutely nothing, and everything at the same time.

However, I can't say that meaningful conversations are the only thing I miss. I also miss the feeling that I'm doing something meaningful with my life. I look at my life and ask questions like: “What am I doing that can impact another in a positive way?” or, “How am I doing anything significant where I am at now?” But the truth is, I just never learned to fully appreciate how even a friendly smile can be meaningful for someone else. It seems that I have fallen into a trap that I never wanted to be in. I think that I had subconsciously come to the belief that only when I was in ministry that I was doing something significant. This is a mindset that makes me blanch, and one that I have fought against for about as long as I've been able to understand the negative aspects of the mindset.

The truth is, there are thousands of Christians who, every day, put meaning in the work that they do. Every day they go to work and share the Master's way through their words, their attitudes, and their lifestyle, and here I am feeling so insignificant because there is no grandiose title that says “look at me, I'm doing good stuff for God!” What a way to start an ego trip. I'm actually glad that I'm not working for a church at the moment. It has been very good for me.

I am working on fully understanding what it means to find significance in what I do. Let's be honest here, working in retail doesn't really change the world; however, on the bright side, all the people you interact with and leave a good impression with can lead to a life that is changed one day at a time. So, although I'm not where I want to be, I know I am where I need to be. I am thankful for the moments like this when God makes me realize something that I didn't even realize I had done. He is everything meaningful in all the “meaningless” times I experience, and I know that one day I will be given the opportunity to have a plethora of meaningful conversations again, and I know that every day is a chance to do something meaningful, if only for one person. It is something worth pursuing, even if only one individual is impacted.

Just some thoughts.

Grace and Peace.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Updates 101

So, I haven't really written in this blog in a while, and I figured it was about time I did so.

Life has definitely been full of ups and downs, lefts and rights, and even some diagonals. While I have had quite a few good things happen to me in the past few months, the reality is that growing up has not gotten any easier, and it still sucks.

Lately, my wife and I have been having trouble with the people she got a school loan with. They call endlessly, are generally uninformed of the things we have done to correct problems or make up payments that we are behind, and do not do what they say they will do. So, despite doing our best to take care of the loan payments, they are not making it easy, and it is hurting our pocket book quite a bit. Of course, this would not be such an issue if I did not have to make payments to my school, or try to find ways to rent an apartment and finally get out of my in-laws house.

Don't get me wrong, I am completely grateful to my in-laws for housing us, but I want to get out. I feel a little trapped within the walls of the house, and I'm constantly on my toes. I need a place for my own, and I don't want to burden them any more than I already have been (though, they would never admit that).

I am grateful for having a job, but truthfully I don't have the hours or pay I need to satisfy the greedy loans. I'm hoping that I will actually have some type of return for taxes, even if it is small. Still, a small paycheck is better than no paycheck. And I can't really say that everything is awful, because it's not. I still have a roof over my head, I still have family who loves and cares for me, I still have friends who actually like to talk to me, and God is still providing for me in ways that blow my mind, including financially.

So, all that to say, "Hi, I'm still alive." Things really aren't all that bad, it just feels overbearing at times.

Grace and Peace