Embrace and Pursue Life to the Full

Many of you are staying up late cramming for finals, rushing to complete projects, and turning in that last paper of the semester…that is due by 5 o’clock. Rush.  Hurry.  Stress.  Crazy.  Busy.  These are words that describe your last few days before break.  Speaking with many of you in this time of crazy I try to reduce the 1000 tasks that must be completed to focus on one thing at a time.

When the wheel begins to crank and time begins to bleed together into one giant monotonous blur we can feel stuck, This can effects us relationally, spiritually and physically.  Friendships seem stale, spiritually we feel distant, and physically we are drained.   In most of these areas we usually feel like we need to be doing more or doing better.  We think in our heads or even say out loud, “I need to hang out with so and so more”;   “I need to pray more”; “I  need to go work out more…”.  More this and more that in a life that is already taxed with tests, papers and projects.

There were some religious leaders back in the day who added a lot of “do mores” to an already intense list of do’s.  The number is estimated to be 613 do’s by the time Jesus arrives on scene.  It is normal for people to add rules to established rules to add clarity, but not Jesus.  Jesus was given a pop quiz, which of the do’s is most important?  Jesus revealed to the world the relational core of God when he answered the question: love God and  love others.  Love. Just Love.

Instead of viewing your faith as a bunch of do’s…view it as a life of Love.

If faith becomes a list you are missing it.  If faith and how we measure growth is ran through a grid of, “are you’s” we are of course.  If we begin with questions, then we better know the goal or the desired picture were are working towards.  Many times after students leave high school, church attendance drops, reading the scriptures slacks and many of the “to do’s” get jostled and end up on the back shelf. (This is true for adults… when life just gets busy…we are all in this when it comes to faith)  If our question is, “are you going to Church” and the answer is no…then we assume their not growing…we assume they just are not doing very well…or they are really not taking their faith seriously.  If questions like, bible reading, prayer and church attendance are the metric then its game over for Christianity.  People miss Church! People may not read everyday!  My friend says, “I read my Bible everyday..except the days I miss”

The practices of the faith are not the end game!  They are important and matter, but they do not complete the final picture.  Whats is the picture?  What was Jesus all about?  “The Kingdom of God is near…there are so many stories that Jesus told about the Kingdom.  He uses farmers, seeds, plants, animals, business men, and the lowly things of the world.  It seems like we don’t know what a “christian is.  Many times we will define it with a, “to do list” that includes, bible. prayer, going to Church..and then we add a bunch of “do not do’s”  Don’t do bad stuff  and you are good…

Does that seem shallow?  Did Jesus die so that we could read our Bibles and go to Church?  Don’t you think His dream was bigger?

Have we been following the wrong stoires…or the wrong dream/vision?  Maybe? Probably.  If our faith is get saved and then go to church read the Bible…etc..then yeah thats probably the wrong dream.   Jesus came to the planet to awaken the people of his day and those to come…  A song that I enjoy listening to while I read/ study is Awake My Soul by Mumford and Son’s.  So I am listing to that song and reading some of the stories Jesus told about the Kingdom.  When Jesus began telling stories(preaching) some of the very first words of Jesus were:

The Time has Come

The Kingdom of God has come near

Repent and Believe he good news! (Mark1:15)


Then Jesus begins telling all kinds of stories about this kingdom…The kingdom of God is like, a field, a rich man a poor man…all kinds of images that are simple yet profound.  In one story jesus says,  26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The people hewing this story would have known this story.  Everyone knew about planting a seed and it growing and then harvesting.  So common.  So recognizable by all. So ordinary…

Scott Mcknight writes in his book One.LIfe,  that  Jesus imagines a world where God is at work in the ordinary?   When you sit and drink coffee at Starbucks, when you walk to class, when take a test and pass…or fail.  God is at work.  He is working all the time in the most ordinary happenings of your day.

Do you see it?  Do you see Him in the ordinary rhythm of your day?  Maybe its time I started looking…maybe we can begin looking together…

More later…

We search for God in order to find him with greater joy, And we find him in order to keep searching with greater love -Augustine De Trinitate 15.2

Many faith journeys revolve around 2 stories:  One,when I was seven years old I accepted Christ.  This story revolves around when one gets saved. There is nothing wrong with this story and for most Churches and Christian groups this is the goal…get-em saved.  Not a bad goal, but I think it produces saved Christians, but not followers of Jesus.  We have believers who are shallow, superficial or fake. It can produce those who are “born again:, but that is it…

Part two tells the story of what to do now that you are, “saved”  It is a list of activities like, read your Bible, pray, go to Church(every Sunday) and make sure you witness to people.  Part two also leads the “saved” to define themselves by the things they do and things they don’t do…All of these practices are good and valuable, but have unintended side effects.  When these practices become disconnected from the larger picture of God we tend to loose Jesus and we discover legalism.  We begin to find our faith, or place our trust in these practices and not in the life giving message of Jesus.

If the call of our lives is to matter, then our faith must matter.  If the way we are livng out our faith is leading us to fake faith wrapped in legalism, it sure seems meaningless…like it doesn’t matter.   This is when we see people begin to search for significance in other areas like unhealthy  relationships, the party scene or the American dream…because it feels like  the dream of Christ is leaving us empty…

Hang on for a while longer..We have been feed to wrong dream!  Get saved, read your bible and be a “good” Christian is bull crap…(I would use a much more powerful word, but I am not sure who is reading my blog…)

Think…is this the version of faith you have been living?  You may not even realize it…I’ll add more to this thought soon…because Jesus has way more to say


A few years ago someone asked, why are books on Buddhism more popular theses days then books on Christianity?  The person asking the question, responded, I think its because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief.  A way of life?  Interesting…

The book of James in the NT has been monopolizing my study times in the past several weeks.  Scott McKnight in his commentary on James wirtes, ” All his (James) rhetoric (the art of using language to persuade or influence)  is intended to shape a community as an alternative to the “world” around him.”  The message of James is to a community,  its an intense call to live out the way of Jesus. This is a very basic sentence that doesn’t capture the entire scope of James, but it is a good start to a wonderful study on James.

Now it must be said that Christianity is both a way and a belief.  Which is also a central focus of James…more on James in latter posts…A way of a life of faith?  What does that look like?  It’s different for everyone.  Your relationship with the creator God and savior is going to look different than my relationship with God.  We don’t love and follow a static dead god, we follow the living God who is alive, active and near.  However there will be some similarities to our way of faith…

Can I suggest three?

1) Prayer.  Not just at meals, but a flow of prayer that is with you throughout the day.  Its constant.  Its like when Jim and Pam (from the show the office) were apart and they purchased the worlds tiniest blue tooth device so they could be connected/talk all day long.  God is there, connected to us, we simply have to recognize it in the flow of our daily lives.

2. Meditating on Gods word.  There is no greater influence on our lives the the word of God. When we sit at the feet of God and allow him to speak over and into our hearts there is just something that happens to our souls.   My buddy Jay told me this quote a few years ago and it has stuck with me , “The person you’ll be in five years will be primarily determined by the books you read and the people you associate with.”

3. Rest.   A few years ago I was talking with a young super amazing young gal who was working through some hard stuff.  It was clear that this young lady didn’t need a verse to memorize, or to be told to pray more, or go to Church more (which I would never say anyway)…this young lady needed rest.  At some levels any kind of rest is good for the soul.  But beyond a nap there is a rest that can only be found in the arms of our savior.  When we wrap ourselves in his peace, and love and strength there is a deep peace, a subtle pause, a rest that lifts the burdens of life and renews.

CAUTION:  For all you type A personalities or list makers, this is not a check list or a “to do” list.  These three (or others) are simply a way of life that can grow organically into the rhythm of your life.   CONFESSION: My favorite thing about gathering on Sunday morning is not the message or the music or even the people (although they are  a close 2nd)…its the rest.  I read, and think and meditate on God and who he is….and I just sit and rest… (Yes… that means I don’t pay attention…that much…shut up I’m with my God and its amazing!

A way of life in Christ…

Take a little time today before class, after class…during class and pray, or mediate on Gods word or simply rest

I have been reading the letter written by James, who was the half brother to Jesus.  For those of us who grew up with siblings and were at any level competitive or found themselves playing the comparison game this was probably difficult.  Imagine the response of James when all the kids said, “man your brother is perfect!”  This seems like it could get old really quickly.  The letter has some deep truths that often get lost in the discussion or faith verse works and at time seems to pit James and Paul in contradictory camps. Maybe I’ll write about that one day soon.  But in the opening verse James calls himself a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many times we see this in terms of how we view servants form our cultural lens.  The greek word used in this instance means slave.  James is proclaiming a humble status of tremendous  honor and respect.  He sees himself as a servant or slave, to the God of the universe, the sovereign one.  He is saying I am His servant, He is my king.  To be called a “servant of God” was granted to many great ordinary men.  For example, Moses, David, and in the New Testament Paul, Peter and others.  This was not a man claiming lowliness, but great privilege to have the blessing to be considered a servant of God.

How about it…When we think about giving our lives over to God…is there a sense of privilege, and honor that comes with identifying yourself as a believer or a “servant of God”.  Do you hide that part of your life when you are in class, around the dorms, or with people who are definitly not favorable to God?  There is tremendous power in understanding that belonging to God is not something to hide, but live openly and authentically wherever God has you.


ABOUT THE PICTURE: “Prayer flags are printed with holy Buddhist invocations and often prayer flags bear the image of a winged horse in addition to written prayers; horses are sacred creatures in the Sherpa cosmology and are believed to carry the prayers heavenward with special speed. The Sherpa term for prayer flag is lung ta, which translates literally as “wind horse.””

A new interesting book I am reading is called Into Thin Air by John Krakauer. It recounts his true expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. The author puts you on the mountain on the journey up the beast called Everest. My ignorance of what it would take to complete such an amazing trek is blooming as I turn the pages. The amount of money, time, and suffering that it takes to reach the summit is beyond understanding. It is one of the challenges that will (happily) remain in my dreams.

There is so much planning and detail that goes into an attempt on everest. The gear, equipment, medical supplies, clothing, and food would probably come close to filling a semi trailer. All that “stuff” has to be hiked in, or up to base camp and then to the four other camps along the route to the top. Expedition teams hire Sherpas to help haul a majority of all the “stuff”. Sherpas are men who live in the region who’s bodies are conditioned to handle high altitude climbing. The success of most teams that reach the top are largely do to the quality and stamina of the sherpas.

Many times my “Everest” is simply everyday living; doing the daily tasks, and responding to daily demands. Life can be extremely busy, harsh, and unknown. Its great to know that I have “sherpas” in my life that help me carry the load or complete the task. Spiritually we have Christ who empowers us with the holy spirit to continue the fight when we feel like giving up or taking an alternate unwise trail…that might seem better or easier, but leads to death.

Maybe there is an “Everest” in your life. An insurmountable task, struggle or relationship that continues to defy victory. Maybe its time to involve a “sherpa” in order to finally conquer the great mountain in your life?

What is your “Everest?” Who is your “sherpa?”

I am in a conference listening to multiple speakers. It is a good conference, but I tend to zone out and think about other things…or draw boxes…its just who I am…My thoughts have been drifting to those of you returning to classes or heading off to class for the first time. Its exciting, scary, wonderful, intense, exhilarating and fast paced. There is so much coming at you at break neck speed. Moving, classes, friends, money, supplies, sleep (or lack of), relational conflict, and many other elements pouring down on you like a bucket of water.

A few years ago one of the big dogs of the conference shared something that helped him be extremely organized and strategically focused on the many tasks in his life of leadership and ministry. (he also shared it today at the conference too) It is called 6 x 6. Simply choose 6 task, challenges or projects and over the next 6 weeks focus your time and energy on these six items.

The idea is to take all the demands and break them up into manageable chunks…”None of us can sprint an entire marathon, but we can do short burst of speed.” Hybels.

So…in the next 6 weeks what 6 things in your life will get a laser focus and strategic intentionality?
If you make a list…send it to me and I’ll post them (without your name and if its ok with you) as examples as examples from other people lives. I am working on mine this week and will post them very soon.

The Purpose in life is a life of Love…Love never fails… Love rises above, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails but people do. People don’t always do this, particularly the groups that gather on Sundays. We usually avoid, and hide, ignore, judge…but love pursues, protects, it is kind, and it is never rude. How did love become so divisive and reject more than welcome, hurt instead of heal, push away instead of embrace…The purpose in life is a life of Love. What is your purpose in life?

…is it love?
…does it show?
…I know I don’t always show it…but Love ever fails so I will never quit doing my best to live a life of Love

I saw this video on Eugene Cho blog. Ha has really good stuff! In 2 weeks we will be discussing the issue of homosexuality with our students and with the adults in our gathering. The issue is continually at the fore front of our culture. There is the debate about same sex marriage. Recently, our president stated that same sex couples should be allowed to be married. Is same sex marriage really the issue? Why is there such a fight against it? That is not the beginning of the conversation… The issue is not going away, and of course the Church is falling behind on a well thought out response. The video is not even close to the proper response. Unfortunately it is how the “church” is perceived and that is so sad. We see the signs and hear the language people who say they follow Jesus, use when “standing” up for their beliefs. It is sad, disappointing and it pisses me off! As a precursor to our discussing this issue with the students I will be posting as I work through my response to this issues….I think…maybe I won’t have it all figured out…but I know it won’t be like the ignorant man in the video…not even close!! Maybe it is one of those things that we will do well to keep the conversation open…and always…always respond in love…