Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Buried somewhere inside...

I have a lot of creativity buried inside me I think. I have moments of wild passion and my heart strains out of my chest to follow after something that has inspired me to write or photograph. But most of the time it's somehow overlooked, neglected, and forgotten. How do I tap into it more often? Sometimes I want to write so much and nothing comes out. I feel it, but I don't end up thinking it. Same with photography - mostly due to not having a camera handy and especially just not feeling like I have time. So many other things I HAVE to do. Well, I'm taking off from school this summer and I'm going to try to make time - really concentrate on drawing out my inner, hidden, creative self. I know it's in there, and I'm sad when I have moments of realizing it's inside and not out and active, and I can't just make it so on the spot. I think I just need to make time. I also think I need to take more thoughts down in note form. I re-introduced myself to my moleskine today. The world doesn't need more people who put their energy into doing what they HAVE to do. It needs more people who are willing to realize there are passions inside them that need to be drawn out and pursued with great ambition.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Be a Real Man

The older I get, the more I realize how backwards my views on being a man were when I was younger. I used to think being a man meant being physically strong, knowing how to do everything, not taking crap from anyone, and having lots of people respect you.

Then I got married. And I realized that trying to gain those things meant that when I always had to be right, it hurt my wife's feelings. And that not taking any crap meant being a jerk. And showing off and spouting off to get people's respect actually took it away. I have talked in length with my friend Kevin about how glad we are that we're getting older - because it means we're further away from the young idiots we used to be. It's the process though. It's called maturing, and if you're a man you need to do it. Being a real man is about inner strength, taking responsibility, leading humbly but courageously, and following God.

Then I had a son. Now everything I do is up for potential adoption by my son as he grows up. Suddenly I want him to be different than I currently am. I don't want him to have problems with anger like I do. I don't want him to waste his time watching TV and playing video games. I want him to be passionate and bold about his beliefs. And I realize that these are all the things I wish I was, but am not.

So, what to do? What to do is to stop going on being the man I don't want to be, and start becoming the man I do want to be, and the man I want my son to grow up wanting to be like. It's time for us men to start living the life of the strong Christian we're supposed to. Stand up against injustice, give generously, lead humbly and wisely, get your strength and wisdom from God, respect, honor and cherish your wife, and for the sake of their future and yours, spend lots of time with your kids - loving them and affirming them. Watch what you say. Leave your pride behind and live for others for a change. It's time that being a man meant something more than sitting around being bossy and watching football. Stop being a control freak, stop micromanaging, start encouraging. Start being a real man. It's time for us to get off our butts and start working hard - for God, and for our families, and for others. And get in shape so you CAN work hard. Stop living for yourself like some selfish little kid - shut up about how great you are and prove it. Prove you're great by not trying to be. Help raise your kids, love your wife, lead your family financially, spiritually, and morally. Be a man of integrity in your job - don't squeeze out extra minutes if you're hourly, and if you're salary, don't use that as an excuse to not put the hours in. Are you spending time with other men, sharpening one another as iron sharpens iron?

The world needs you. Your family needs you. The people around you need you. When they look to you for leadership and integrity, will you stand tall as a real man? Or will you not be up to the challenge. Start now. I am. Get involved.

What Have You Done This Week?

That mattered. For eternity. Listened to a great sermon this morning by Francis Chan on "Living a Life that Matters." He used a great visual illustration on how important this is. He uncoiled a rope that was maybe 100' long. On one end was a little red tape wrapped around maybe 3 inches of it. He said, this red part - this is your life here on earth. And all the rest that comes after it, this other 97 feet and 9 inches is eternity (if you imagine the rope going on forever). This time we have is so small, yet so significant. What we choose to do with the time in the red part determines what we will be doing for all the rest of time. Either we choose God, or we choose not God, and we spend eternity with Him, or not with Him (hell, in agony from the absence of God's presence).

He asked two questions at the end of the sermon. First, "what have you done this past week that matters in light of eternity?" And second, "what have you done this past week that will not be remembered in eternity?"

Thankfully, I was able to recall things done that have mattered - maybe this was a good week for me. But there were a LOT more things that were on the list of things I've done that won't matter in the end. All the TV I've wasted time watching comes to mind.

What have you done this week that really matters in light of eternity? What will you start doing? What will you stop doing? When will you stop saying, "I'm going to" and start saying "I am" or "I will." There will be a day when all who stand before Jesus have to account for the way they chose to spend their life. Make that day a day He is proud of you. Live a life that matters.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Choice is Simple

The more I study in depth the Sermon on the Mount, the more I become convinced that there is a very simple point that Jesus keeps bringing you back to. In everything, you're either choosing God, or you're choosing yourself. When he talks about not being like the hypocrites who draw attention to themselves when fasting and giving to the poor - they're doing that for their own benefit and those things are supposed to be for the benefit of God and others. They're choosing themselves, not God. He also says, you can only serve one master - you cannot serve both God and money. What'll it be - God, or your own greed?

The more I thought about it, there really is only those two choices in just about every aspect of life, no matter who you are. The main difference between Christians and non-Christians? One has chosen God, the other has not. There are lots of ways to argue around this that I'm sure many people can come up with, but reading through chapter 6 of Matthew, it seems Jesus is trying to draw out this point - you have a choice, and there's only two options. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Monday, March 16, 2009

An Empowering Statement on Faith

My cousin, Paul, posted on his blog this evening one of the most interesting and insightful ideas that I have read in a while. It deals with the way Jesus used His faith, and it directly correlates with how we are using ours. It's very thought-provoking and I highly recommend reading it - you can read the entire thing in a few minutes. You can read it HERE.

Great stuff!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grinding out the Sermon

The Sermon on the Mount, that is. I am co-teaching a high school class at my church on Sundays and we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount since oh, about early December. We're about halfway. I think I once taught Revelation in a shorter time frame than this. But I was younger then... Anyway, it has been really great. Our class is comprised of various age high school students, military academy students, and one young man who is an atheist. There is nothing better for young folks to hear about and to be challenged with than the way Jesus told Christians to live life. The Sermon on the Mount was counter-cultural when it was first given and it is just as counter-cultural today. And that causes a lot of questions.

Questions are great though - I wish more churches did like Erwin McManus does at Mosaic where he incorporates a question and answer time at the end of some of his sermons. People have questions, we need to let them ask them, and do our best to answer. I realized this recently. We (the teachers) dictate what few verses we will study each week, and it's all focused around that narrow topic. We usually end 10-15 minutes before our hour is up so we are using that time now to allow any and all questions that the students may have. Of course, when you allow teenagers to ask "any" question, you don't get easy ones like 'what's the book right after Acts called?' No, we get more of this type - "Why does God always get credit for the good stuff that happens but not the bad stuff He allows too?" "Why do you need God to get through life?" "What is your definition of adultery?"

But this is one of the most important things we can do I think - allow them to ask questions and do our best to answer them. They have the questions in their minds, whether you allow them to ask or not, so wouldn't you rather let people ask and get them closer to figuring things out? I would. We get a lot of questions during class too that point to the problem mainstream Christianity has today. Jesus says, you can't serve both God and Money. Hand goes up - "Don't lots of Christians today do both?" YES! And that's the point! Even among the Christians, these ideas from the Sermon on the Mount are counter-cultural. Hardly anyone actually does them. If they did, Christianity would have quite a different reputation. Is it any wonder that Jesus refers to many of the bad examples as hypocrites, and Christians today are believed to be many things by non-Christians, and one of the main things is hypocritical? It's no surprise. The hypocrites back then were the Jewish leaders. The hypocrites today are many of the Christians still.

The entire Bible is worth studying in depth and reading over and over. It's a work that must be taken as a whole. But if you just want to start living the way a Christian is supposed to - OR if you want to know what those people you know who say they are Christians are supposed to believe and act like - just read the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5 - 7. That will get you started. After Jesus finished preaching that, the people "were amazed." If you want some amazing guidance for your life, read the Sermon. It's life changing!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Listening to an old sermon series from Elevation Church today (from last summer). It was entitled One and involved some prominent pastors from around the country preaching to many (over a thousand) churches about their ideas on if they got one prayer, it would be ______. Craig Groeschel preached to Elevation the second week and it was pretty awesome stuff on the idea of the Church becoming One. It's something I've been passionate about for a while now - ideas like how denominationalism has been so divisive and how critical we are of each other instead of working together, etc. This was his final thought:

"When the world stops hearing about Jesus and actually sees Him through the Church, they won't be able to say No to Him. What would happen if we the Church across the world united and took all the resources that God has given us and we became one? What do you think God could do through us this week if we became one? Here's what God could do: By Monday - starvation around the world could be eliminated; by Tuesday - every person could have access to clean drinking water; by Wednesday- everyone with a medical need could receive proper medical attention; by Thursday - poverty could be completely irradicated; by Friday - every orphan with a need could receive adequate attention; by Saturday - the whole world could not only know the name of Jesus but they could see Him, if we became one; and on Sunday we would worship like we've never worshipped before, because the world would know the glory and the power and the love of Jesus through His people. That's why if I had one prayer to pray, it would be "Father in Heaven, make us One."

This is my prayer too.