Life changes and expired food

This probably is a little odd, but a specific memory I have of my senior year of high school headed into college was looking at the expiration date on a package of cheese and thinking, “by the time this cheese expires, I’ll be in college.”

In that moment, it hit me that my high school career was quickly coming to an end and I was about to be a college student. I mean, this cheese would see the transition!

Well, I just looked at our bottle of ranch dressing and realized that by the time it expires, I’ll be a father.

Two people sharing life

In Donald Miller’s most recent book, he shares a priceless thought about marriage. I don’t remember if it’s a thought from him or someone else. Check page 205/206 and see for yourself. But the general thought was that marriage just involves a guy and a girl. Normal, regular people. It won’t solve any of your problems. More than anything, it’s someone to go through life with.

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are,” he writes.

I like that…

Rest well (again)

I wrote a post a year ago (ok, exactly a year ago – didn’t realize that – a little crazy), that I’ve thought about frequently since then. I always meant to follow up on it. It was about the importance of resting well – not filling your time with useless stuff but really resting in ways that are restful.

I talked about the concept, but a few people asked me about examples of how I rest well.

I never responded.

Truth is, I don’t think I knew.

But recently I’ve had some more thoughts. And I’ll share them in the next few days.

But for now, here’s the original post that started it off:

Who says resolutions are just for new years? I have a new one. I came to it roughly two minutes ago. Here it is: Rest well. (Yeah, it’s the title of this post. Anticlimactic? Maybe…)

Here’s the deal. Life is busy. For me, it’s busier than it really should be, but there’s not much I can do for this season except sit back and enjoy the ride. But busy lives can lead to being tired, stressed and all around filled with that feeling of “blah.” To top it off, it’s easy to fill free time with things that don’t really help. From mindless putzing online to “kind of” getting things done. They aren’t really productive, but they aren’t really restful either.

So my goal is to pick a few “restful” things I really love doing and focus on those in that downtime. Even plan for them. It moves more toward the “work hard, play hard” mindset rather than the “kinda get through life doing whatever’s most immediate” one that most of us tend to work off of.

What do you think? What are those things you’d do to “rest well”?

Leaders see the good

Some people have a gift for seeing what needs to be improved in an organization or group. I tend to see ways to change things fairly quickly. But one thing I’m learning is that the best leaders are also great encouragers. They can see the strengths of others and draw them out. They cast a positive vision that people want to be a part of. They build a positive momentum.

I want to be the kind of leader who brings out the best in people. Sure, we have to confront problems. We have to bring about change. But it’s much easier to inspire change than to require it.

I have this verse on my desk. I’m trying my best to live it out.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13

God & pain

I’ve been thinking about Steven Curtis Chapman and his family today. My heart is so saddened at the loss of his 5-year-old daughter, Maria.

It’s odd to feel pain for a family you don’t even know, but I guess music can form a connection, too. In fact, a song of Steven’s helped me walk through difficult times (a version of it is below).

I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a kid. I just can’t. All I can do is pray that God will be with the family as they move forward in the upcoming days/months/years.

Here’s a site about Maria the family set up.

Making the most of time in seminary

I wrote a post for the site about what role seminary can play in prep for ministry. You can check it out here.

I’m always surprised when I talk with seminary students who are frustrated with the education they’re receiving. I’ve attended two very different seminaries so far, and the complainers existed both places. So I’m guessing this is a universal thing.

Most of the time they don’t feel like their education is fully preparing them for ministry. They may say it’s too theoretical. It’s not practical enough.

But honestly, I think they’re expecting too much.

 Read more.

Random Thoughts

  • 4 Maccabees is a weird book. Hope that doesn’t offend anyone. But it is.
  • It’s easy to take life too seriously. If everything’s a big deal, then nothing is. I’m constantly having to learn to let some things go and just relax.
  • Been thinking a lot about the tension between absorbing and producing. That may not make sense, but I’ll be blogging about it later. Probably won’t even make sense then :).
  • The more I learn about Jesus, the more I learn that “stuff” just doesn’t matter. The less we have, the happier we’ll be. But honestly, there’s still that part of me that just wants a nice, big house, nice stuff, and comfort. I don’t always know what to do with that part of me.
  • Got Craig Groeschel’s new book in the mail yesterday. I’ll be writing more about it soon.
  • Found a couple online today who blogs their whole relationship. Videos of conversations, thoughts about arguments, etc. I’ll be writing more about this, but what does this online component of people’s lives mean for leadership? We talk about being “real” and “authentic” with people, but most leaders are still fairly guarded about personal faults. Most churches still make a lot of decisions behind the scenes. Does this open, online component change things? Is it just a fad and a mistake people will regret? Or are we jumping into a new time?

Lifting that sail and catching the winds of destiny

Let’s be honest. Poetry is a little too heady and cultured for this blog. It just is. I write in three-word sentences. I don’t write poetry.

But there’s this poem that Edgar Lee Masters wrote in his Spoon River Anthology that I think about every few months or so. The book is filled with poems – each a self-written epitaph of someone who has died in the fictional town of Spoon River. There’s one that stands out to me:

64. George Gray

I HAVE studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me—
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire—
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Since we’ve been talking about action and following God, it just seems to fit. How can we live a life where we dive in and follow God? A life of no regrets?

Life starts now

I recently dropped a class. The reason? I was headed toward major overload. Between work at church, work as a community coordinator, five different classes, time with friends and family, and time to do things like eat and shower, it just wasn’t all going to fit.

For the first time in a long time I realized I had hit my limit. It wasn’t worth it. During it all, three words kept going through my mind from a post I wrote last year: Life starts now. Here’s a part of it:

A lot of life has felt like it’s just preparing me for that next thing. It’s easy to think that things will start clicking or big things will happen at that “next stage.” Even now, in seminary, it’s easy to think that life and ministry will all start once I’m out. That leads to a temptation to rush through, get it done and move on. But time and again I hear God say, “life starts now.”

What does that mean? It’s not about waiting for that next big thing. This time – right now – matters for relationships, ministry and more. God’s at work. We can be a part – today.

It’s easy to rush through current circumstances to get to the next thing. But I’m learning that this – right here and now – matters. This is life, and if it means saying “no” to a few things to really live it, it’s worth it.

Community takes work!

We just wrapped up an outdoor movie night in our apartment complex. As Community Coordinators, Grete and I get to plan periodic events for the community – this time we did an outdoor movie (that almost got rained out – it rained all day in Pasadena! I haven’t seen that in the whole year we’ve lived here!).

I’ve seen two movies in the last three days that have had strong messages about community. This time it was Pixar’s Cars. I love some of the messages in kids’ flicks. Maybe they’re just simple enough for me to understand! (That red car realized that winning isn’t everything – who we help along the way and how we get there matters! Got it!) But I get almost choked up any time a movie has a loner who is going his own way, runs into a group of people who show him life is about more than just his plans, has to go to some big thing from his previous life, and the whole group of his new friends come through at the last minute to support/help him out in some way. That “one guy (or gal) helping others out and then seeing the community come together to support him (or her) in the end” theme gets me every time!

Grete and I also saw an advanced screening of Into the Wild Thursday night. Good book, pretty good movie. But here’s what stood out to me (and I don’t think I’m giving anything away – it’s a book you probably had to read in high school or college anyway, but be warned…). Toward the end of the movie, this rebel, free spirited kid who’s running from a family he doesn’t respect and working to get away from everything finally writes in his journal that “happiness is meaningless unless it’s shared.” He trekked to the middle of nowhere to “find himself” and find true happiness. But once he got there, he realized that part of “himself” and “happiness” is dependent upon others.

Continue reading “Community takes work!”

Be thankful – here and now

There’s always a struggle to not let things you “get to” do become things you “have to” do. God’s used some recent events and conversations to remind me how thankful I am for the place God has put Grete and I and the opportunities and relationships he’s growing around us. For me, it’s easy to look at where I am verses where I want to be. But sometimes it’s good to see where I am compared to where I was.

Even though life is busy, it’s filled with exciting, important, and challenging stuff. And even the challenges are building and growing us for the future.

Don’t chase other people’s calls

Sometimes, when I look at the “Christian” world, I get stressed. Not from the bad things but from the good.

You see, I love God. I deeply believe that God sent Jesus to teach us, lead us, and die to rescue us from a death we brought on ourselves because of sin. I also love the church. I’ve seen God use a community of Christ followers to impact the world through spreading his message and, more importantly, living his message.

So what’s the stress about? There are a lot of Godly men and women doing things it seems like God is blessing. But they’re doing it in vastly different ways. If put in a room together, many would strongly disagree with each other.

Continue reading “Don’t chase other people’s calls”