Friday, October 31, 2008

Spirit & Wisdom

"There's a constant contradiction, what feels good and what feels right. But, you live with decisions that you make in your life. And what steers your direction is hard to understand, the spirit of a boy, or the wisdom of a man." -Randy Travis-

So I love country music. I grew up listening to it, and I still love it today. I cannot help but think about these lyrics right now. For whatever reason there seemingly is a divorce between older generations and younger generations. I think that is one of the things that makes this such a bitter, bitter divide in this election. The sad reality to me is that I think both youth and age bring about important perspective and viewpoints of how to make decisions and move forward. Being young tends to bring sarcasm, cockiness, and a certain amount of brash/bold decision making. It is that "spirit of a boy" that moves us forward. Being older seems to bring about more calculated, wise, and long thought out decision making. It is that "wisdom of a man" that moves them forward. What feels good in a decision? What feels right in a decision? In my opinion, I think both are needed.

Here is my problem. I feel like many people "of age and wisdom" love to approach us youthful people with condescending attitudes. We get treated like idiots, like we do not know how to make decisions, and that we cannot possibly have any intelligence because we are young. I understand that some of that is deserved because of how brash and cocky we can come across. But in reality all it does is cause further separation. At some point both sides need to concede a little in my book. Because if the power of the "spirit of a boy" was actually combined with "the wisdom of a man" - great things could happen. My issue is that I don't think they will because both sides remain so far apart, mainly because their pride automatically thinks of boasting of their side's strengths while deriding the other. Do I make mistakes and foolish statements because I am young? Yes. However, attempting to belittle me into thinking I am so stupid because of my youthful ignorance does not necessarily move me forward. And I understand being older brings about wisdom, but I lose count on how many times older people have lost that "spirit" quality that brought excitement and joy to life. Playing it safe may be wise and yet it may come at a cost of all that makes life worth living.

What are the chances we can move forward? Who knows. All I know is instead of writing insults and poking holes in each other's thoughts/opinions, it might do us all some good to realize the benefits of both the spirit of the boy and the wisdom of the man.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Way of the Fool

The way of the fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

Okay. So let me admit that I have a tendency to think out loud - in other words speak while still processing my thoughts. The point of my blog is simply to throw down whatever it is I may be thinking about at any particular moment. Is everything I say/write true? No. It just helps me process my thoughts as well as allows others to see and speak into my thinking. I am happy that Jim B. decided to post a rebuttal to my last post. It means that someone is trying to help me process my thinking better (at least that's what I hope his post was about, it may have just been trying to put me in my place - which I probably could use too).

So pride on the shelf, I admit that I do not know who to vote for this upcoming Tuesday. I have to believe it is more than political party. I think both candidates have some key things I like and both have keys that I dislike. So this is YOUR chance to weigh into my decision making process. Please let me know who you think I should vote for and why by leaving a comment on this. This is not to breed argument or frustration, it is to make sure I along with anyone else who reads this is informed come Tuesday the 4th.

I promise to read, listen, and learn. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Liberal Judges

I am beginning to lose count of how many e-mails I am receiving from people who are convinced that putting John McCain into office will end abortion, bring school prayer back, eliminate the idea of homosexuality, and make everyone a believer in Jesus. As I recall, it wasn't that long ago when the Religious Right and conservatives were bashing this guy. Now that he is up against the "evil Obama" - he is looked at as a saint. Each person is entitled to their own opinion and vote, but here is what thing that drives me nuts. When asked about Obama and why he is so evil, I am continously told by church people that it is because he will appoint evil, liberal judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial posts. In my opinion, this is a stupid argument. Why? Because look at people like John Paul Stevens or David Souter (even to a degree Anthony Kennedy). Stevens & Souter were both appointed by Republican Presidents and both have turned out to be liberal judges - especially Stevens! What is the guarantee that a McCain appointed judge will not turn out to be just like them? What is the guarantee that an Obama appointed judge will not view decisions fairly and even possibly become more conservative while on the bench? There are just no guarantees that a person's judicial/political viewpoint will not change. Plus, before needing to suck-up to the ultra-conservatives of the Republican party, McCain always seemed to be more middle-of-the-road rather than staunch conservative. My guess is his appointments would be more like that than guys like Scalia or Thomas. Do I want judges who favor pro-life over abortion? Heck yes. However, I worry about making a decision for President simply based upon the assumption that McCain will appoint and get approved judges who will support the right to life. History has a way of showing us that this just doesn't happen like one would assume.

What do you say?

So I'm sitting in my REL421 class in Flagstaff this past Monday, when the concept of heaven comes up. We are talking about Manichaeism right now, and we were looking at their concept of light/darkness and the eventual pull towards heaven. Usually we incorporate other ideas and stories from other religions (including mainstream Christianity), so it wasn't a surprise when the girl sitting next to me started sharing a story that her "Christian sister-in-law" said to her. Apparently the sister-in-law was attempting to witness to her (or something) and when this girl would not budge, the sister-in-law responded with I'm going to be sad when I am looking down at you from heaven and you are burning in hell. Wow. The entire class was laughing at the stupidity of the comment (coming mainly I would assume from a complete lack of belief in Christianity as well as the absurdity of the comment). The rest of the class I felt terrible for this girl. She does not seem all that shaken up by it, but what a terrible look "Christianity" has in her mind from the stupid comment of one person. It made me realize just how damaged the idea of Christianity is in this world. It is so refreshing and fun to spend time with people who don't believe in Christianity, and yet it is so sad and depressing at the same time. What am I suppose to say in a situation like that? Do I apologize? Do I attempt to show the girl how off-base that comment is from what her sister-in-law should have said? I was just left speechless. I pray for forgiveness in a moment like this. It is my hope and prayer that God will forgive all of us who understand the saving grace of Jesus from the sins we have done in damaging the Name and Being of God. Hopefully I get a good opportunity to start a dialogue with this girl in my class. Not that Jesus cannot restore His own honor, but simply so I can apologize for the mistake made by yet another Bible-thumping, lack-of-grace&love Christian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

God Bless David Bowie


Growth in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitterness. Friedrich Nietzsche

For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin. Acts 8:23

I recently experienced a couple of people who lashed out on me in complete bitterness of stuff that had nothing to do with me. They were upset about circumstances in their own lives and decided the best way to deal with it was to bitterly yell at me. The funny thing is at first I wasn't really upset about it. I could see their immaturity in the situation and could tell that they were the ones suffering, not me. Yet given time I grew increasingly frustrated at their stupidity. Why was I getting yelled at? Why were they so blind to their absolute bitterness and ugliness from the inside that they were exposing? But the million dollar question came down to what should I do in response to that? Honestly, I wanted to tell them to shove it and jump off a cliff. However, I realize that I was letting their bitter, emotional outpouring control me now as well as themselves. Why is it that we as people let bitterness just sit and stew inside of us? Why do we enjoy being miserable? Why do we enjoy dropping our crap on other people? Honestly, I am beginning to think that most of the sin we have in our lives comes from a form of bitterness wrapped up within us. So I want to take the "wisdom route" and decrease in bitterness, and yet I know that I am still very frustrated by what happened. I would say I should just confront them, but knowing them they'll be extremely defensive and nothing will come except another blow up. Do I still do it? Not sure, but this is what I am trying to figure out right now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where are my tangible relationships?

Advertisements by their very nature are intended to coerce thinking and behavior. They are needed when there is no personal relationship between the seller and the potential buyer. This type of coercion is expected when you're trying to decide what beer to drink or car to buy, but it's highly offensive when people try to tell you important truths without any tangible relationship. If you want an authentic heart for people outside the've got to be with them. [The Tangible Kingdom - Halter/Smay]

This book continues to challenge me beyond belief. I have had to read it in such small doses because my head is reeling after each chapter. I have forced myself to journal on the discussion questions that come with each chapter and that has proven to be far more important than the actual reading of the book. The quote from above is convicting me on every level. Why do we advertise Jesus instead of actually building relationships with people? Even more gut-wrenching is the thought of how many tangible relationships I actually have with people who know Jesus in the same way they know Miller Light or Toyotas - from an advertising perspective. So much of my time is wrapped up inside the church with the idea that I can come up with enough programs and "coolness" that somehow people will fall through the doors to hear about God. Even if they somehow do, is what I am doing even effective? I would like to think that I am a relational guy - yet my concern is that I am pouring my time into relationships that don't necessarily need my time. Harsh sounding? Maybe - but in reality is spending time with people so that they will continue to serve versus pouring into neighbors who don't know the Lord more important? I guess on some level they are both important, I am just trying to figure out where and what I need to be doing with my time. Am I realistically doing enough to advance God's Kingdom? In other words, am I communicating the most important truths of life in the most effective manner to the people who need it most? Am I pouring into relationships where people desperately need to hear about why Jesus is actually important beyond just avoiding hell? Or do I think like the Miller Brewing Company and assume that if I make funny enough commerials and broadcast them enough times that people will naturally want my "product" [Jesus] that I am trying to "sell"? Sadly I think that is where I, along with the Church, happens to fall right now. The goal would be to spend time starting NOW making tangible relationships that will lead to natural paths of sharing the news of Christ.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Savior and Lord

Jesus is suppose to be my Savior and Lord. Savior in the sense that He saves me from my sinful choices that I have willingly made. Lord in the sense that He should be in control of my life. That is basic Christianity, and a point in which I don't think there can be a whole lot of objection to. However, here is my problem. I really like Jesus as my Savior, but I am not always so fond of making Him my Lord. I like the idea of eternal life and not going to hell. I don't always like the idea of my life not being controlled by me. I like the idea of forgiveness and mercy. I struggle with the idea of obedience at all cost. The sad part of this all, is I like to proclaim that Jesus in my Savior and Lord, but often I live a life of deception. I am not always willing to submit control to Christ's lordship of my life. Where does this leave me with God? Can a person truly be saved if they have not given over control to God? How much push-back does Jesus allow on the "Lord issue" while still being willing to acknowledge us before God? Is my whole relationship with God a facade because I struggle with this concept? I truly love Jesus, but for whatever reason my selfishness and control issues get in the way of allowing Him to call the shots for my life. Or I give him the easy calls to make, while keeping others to myself. Perhaps the reason for the desert in my life is to test my heart. To truly see if I will take His path and His choice over my own. What are God's feelings towards me when I struggle with this? Pity? Anger? Frustration? Sorrow? I am jealous of the disciples who though they struggled with their faith, seemingly gave up everything to follow Jesus. I, on the other hand, struggle not only with my faith but my willingness to follow. What am I clinging to that I need to let go? What areas of my life have I refused to give control over to God? Is my dream of happiness in the way of the path of obedience? Can I have dreams, desires, and wants or by having them am I disobedient? I know I need to accept God’s sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of my life. What happens though if at the end of my life when I face God, He declares I never truly took Him as Lord? Will I face eternal separation from God because I struggled so much with this concept? Is part of “selling everything I have to follow Christ” include my wants & desires? Are the preferences inside of me from Christ, or has my fallen nature twisted me in such a way that I don’t see the desert for the oasis that it is? How do I know if I am truly following God? Do I need to be experiencing certain dissatifactions with life to know that I have accepted Jesus as Lord? If so, what are those dissastifactions? Is it possible to truly know exactly what God’s will is in every situation? If Jesus is Lord it seems like every decision must come from Him. How do I get to that position where “every move I make” I make in-line with what God is commanding of me? This is my struggle.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux

The Little Prince. Antoine De Saint-Exupery wrote one of the most incredible books ever. If you have never taken the time to read this, your life is missing out. Take my recommendation and read it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Pizza, Pop & Recess

In the 4th grade I ran for class president in Mr. Anderson's (no relation to me) class. I had never really thought about going into student council, but I did not like Bridget H. who happened to be running for class president at the time. So in the spirit of this great nation, I decided the best thing to do would be running against her. Since student council is almost always decided by popularity instead of actual ability, I figured I had a good chance at beating her. Kids liked me. Kids did not like Bridget. So I made some hefty "campaign promises," and ran under the banner of more pizza, pop & recess for all 4th graders. Needless to say, my campaign was very popular and when it came time to do class speeches I easily crushed poor Bridget (who was extremely intelligent and actually probably knew what she was doing versus me). Well I lasted about 2 months on the job as I routinely forget student council meetings, did not do well at actually reporting back to my classroom what was discussed, and pretty much did not know what the heck I was doing. Oh, and there was definitely no increase in the amount of pizza, pop or recess. Mr. Anderson gently removed me from my post and put Bridget in, who probably should've been there in the first place. What's the point? I seriously am beginning to wonder if McCain or Obama actually know what they are doing, and if either of them have any shot of actually being able to pull off what they are promising. Things like universal healthcare, tax cuts, and massive increase in budget for public education all sound great. But can they all realistically be pulled off without putting the national government in even bigger debt and increasing the economic downturn this country is now facing? I doubt it. This election seems to be coming down to who can make the biggest boasts, largest promises, and who looks the best while doing those things. My worry is that shortly into the new term for whomever wins, we will all realize that like me in the 4th grade, we elected someone with style and popularity, but with no real ability or substance to pull off and do what is needed most.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Iced Venti, 2 pump classic, SPLASH of soy, Iced Coffee

Yum. That's all I can say. Yum.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


So I have been wrestling with God over the issue of happiness lately. God does not care whether I am happy or not. God does not care what makes me happy. God does not care what my personal preferences are. He does not care about any of that. God simply expects me to be obedient to His plan and live/do exactly what He wants me to do. I was talking to a friend of mine who was telling me that it was not his choice to live in the desert, but that is what God wanted him to do. I totally get that. I hate the desert. The "valley of the sun" is a terrible place to live...who would choose the desert? Yet, I know this is where God wants me to be right now. The hard part is knowing that God knows that I do not like the desert, and yet He does not care about that preference. I am just expected to be joyful and be/do exactly what He wants me to. I guess part of my problem is seeing happiness as getting my own way versus trusting in God's way. But I wonder, why did God design me this way? If God wanted me to be a youth pastor in the desert of Arizona, wouldn't it make sense that He would put a burning passion for the hot-dry-desert and working at the church? Why give me a love for cool weather and pine trees? That just tortures me. Why allow me to go off to school to become a history teacher which has given me a love of history only to have me not use that in the slightest bit today? Why allow personal preference and things that make a person happy if they don't mean squat to God? I guess there is a free-will argument somewhere in there, I just don't get it. God does not care about my happiness or personal choice. That is what I have come to realize. Perhaps I have known about that all along, its just now sinking in. Who knows? Anyone else out there struggle with this? What are your thoughts on it?