"Men, you have not been created for comfort or the couch."
Matt Chandler (via he-will-increase)
"An old man was living in a temple and the demons came to say to him, ‘Leave this place which belongs to us,’ and the old man said, ‘No place belongs to you.’ Then they began to scatter his palm leaves about, one by one, and the old man went on gathering them together with persistence. A little later the devil took his hand and pulled him to the door. When the old man reached the door, he seized the lintel with the other hand crying out, ‘Jesus, save me.’ Immediately the devil fled away. Then the old man began to weep. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Why are you weeping?’ and the old man said, ‘because the devils have dared to seize a man and treat him like this.’ The Lord said to him, ‘You had been careless. As soon as you turned to me again, you see I was beside you.’" This story shows that only in the context of the great encounter with Jesus Christ himself can a real authentic struggle take place. The encounter with Christ does not take place before, after, or beyond the struggle with our false self and its demons. No, it is precisely in the midst of this struggle that our Lord comes to us and says, as he said to the old man in the story: "As soon as you turned to me again, you see I was beside you."
Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
noted excerpt, after finishing the book. (via jinnnyang)
"To be a great photographer, you have to love what you’re photographing more than photography itself"
i’ve been thinking about serving a lot these days - because im in a stage of my life where i’ve stopped serving explicitly in so many capacities and im making money and thinking in very me-centric and me-future oriented ways, and i am feeling the truth that my soul needs to truly thrive - to serve.
I was walking around in the park today, imagining how God might have felt walking around on earth during new testament times. Like a boss? Like THE most swaggerific uncreated being that ever graced this planet? Like someone who is more important than the president, cooler than Mark Zuckerberg, more popular than Justin Bieber - and while being literally the center of the universe by which all things hold together - he didn’t act like a dick and he looked to the needs of those who were hurting around him. Not alienating himself from those who were stupider than him, more sinful than him, more social inept, diseased, awkward, or gross. Instead he came for those people, and came to heal, and came to set free by ultimately suffering and dying for us and taking our sins to the cross.
whoever wants to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God must be servant of all.
it is better to give than to receive.
you must lose your life for the sake of the gospel in order to find it.
i’m surrounded by grumpy employees at work all the time, myself often included
many (not all) hate their job, and many (not all) are trying to get to the next level in the rat race, many (not all) think that if they could just do what they were passionate and if they had a bigger raise and easier promotion their lives would be so much better, myself often included
those things are all good and important and even essential at times to life but something that i keep seeing is the importance of viewing your entire life in the context of giving yourself - serving others - having your entire life like a worthy offering - poured out for others enabled by the fact that Jesus as already done the same for you
many times we think of people who serve in the church and give lots of their time and money to good causes as incredibly holy and good people and we think of how hard and difficult that must be - but the truth is that life is a lot easier for them, they found something that’s better and more life giving and more fulfilling than wasting our days chasing our own passions and desires and complaining about how they aren’t getting what they deserve; these type of people have made it a habit by the power of the Holy Spirit to find a deep joy in serving others and they’ve unloaded the heavy yoke of selfishness off their backs -
i’m so far from this ideal but i know it to be true - because it’s what Jesus did and he’s the happiest person i know.
by grace, i pray to get there.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written, but I’m going to try writing something anyways. I feel like my prose and voice has deteriorated, god I sound like an old man reminiscing in his glory days.
Oh, how to spill the amalgam of my thoughts and feelings upon this screen. How to express with fervor and urgency with this asphyxiated ember I call my heart..
I was reading this in 1st John the other day, and it cut to my heart.
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
When I read this passage, it makes me think about myself and also those of all my peers around me. It makes me think of myself when I was so eager to forsake the world for Jesus. High and lofty in my thoughts, I thought I would be able to live on 10% of a six digit salary.. but I find myself worrying about career, saving up, that damn american dream.
And I find myself more accustomed to comfort. More loving of money. More controlled by hunger for food. More jealous of others success. More worried of being left behind. With less fervor for prayer, less vision for the Kingdom, less desperation for Jesus, less willing to take risks, and a dulling heart and lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit…
And why am I writing this ..? Because the thesis of this post is stuck here in the middle of this paragraph. Because I think me and those of my peers who can resonate to this writing need to recognize this and recognize it’s death… death of our spiritual lives and death of our relationship with Jesus.
Death in the relationship in our lives with the most wonderful of persons, the most interesting of beings, the wisest of kings, the most glorious, most awe inspiring, most holy God who oh so beautifully whispers into my ear the most beautiful words when the verses of the Bible simply lift off the page and straight into my soul.
It’s weird, I never understood the need to pray for prayer. But now I get it - to pray for more prayer is to ask for more people to want to spend time with Jesus.. the need for prayer is the need for need… the condition to depend on God… and so..
we’re missing out.. we’re slowly missing out.. as we trade in our time everyday going through the motions of work, church, life… if our heart’s aren’t truly in it and we’re all running around like Martha and never sitting at the feet of Jesus, we’re going to miss it all.
Tired of being a momma’s boy.
I don’t want to be a 60 year old man with a 28 year old wife. I don’t want to be a 50 year old dad in front of a TV. I don’t want to be a 40 year old man playing with his toys in his garage.
I want to be a man.
I want to learn from men.
From whom when I see their lives, when I see how they work diligently and take care of others, how they love their wives, how they play with their children, how they laugh and make others laugh, how they tell stories of adventure and mystery, how they lead by sacrifice, how they stand firm under adversity, how they respond humbly to criticism and feedback, how they confess sin and mistakes and weakness and repent, and how they take incredible risks with courage and stare evil in the eye with boldness and ultimately how much they know they are loved by the Father above and know what is right and what is wrong and what is on His heart.
I want to meet a man that is convinced of one mission, with one God, with one wife, with one church, and knows the value of his one life and think “Now, that’s a man.”
Some thoughts from today accompanied from a corvette from work:
1 - What would tempt / compel a thirty year old married man to go bar hopping to chase young tail? You’re not old enough where your wife’s external beauty will be fading yet.
Possible answer (not excusing the actions because they are sinful): perhaps an unfulfilling marriage, with a controlling wife. If respect is not found at home, and you can get respect and hotties much easier elsewhere - why not. Instead of working on the marriage, go elsewhere where it’s easy.
2 - Ministry involves admitting one’s sinfulness and imperfection and pointing to Jesus righteousness and perfection. Ministry while married will have to look like admitting the couple’s sinfulness and imperfection while pointing to Jesus’ righteousness and perfection. This is going to be a lot harder if our normal social psychology keeps trying to build justifications on “why we’re together” or “why we’re good for each other” or “why each other is awesome”. Gospel oriented couple duo ministry would say - “we are completely imperfect for each other”, “we’re terrible influences on each other”, and “we suck” - but Jesus is awesome and He is the reason we’re together.
3 - Getting full on life is really debilitating. Having two fully expensed meals in one day, gorging myself with a rack of ribs, swordfish, and seared ahi tuna - I’m glad that my life is not as fulfilling as it should be because being full and bloated feels really crappy. I’m glad my church isn’t as perfect as it should be. I’m glad my job isn’t as great as I thought it would be and I’m not going to fake it and try to keep a veneer of everything is great. I’m glad that life doesn’t turn out to be as cracked out as it would be - so I would be taught to yearn and hunger and find joy in the hope of life in the next. As the flesh dies, the spirit grows stronger.
I’m reading this book called “The God Argument” by A.C Grayling. Essentially, the book is split into two sections. The first half is title “Against Religion”, the second half is titled “For Humanism”. While reading this book, a few things stand out to me from time to time and I’m gonna write them down here… and perhaps in subsequent posts.
1 - An interesting theme that seems to pervade humanism is to let people get what they want (within a reasonable sense) - if someone wants euthanasia, give him or her it. If someone wants abortion, give him or her it. If someone wants to be relieved of suffering, give him or her the happiness that he or she deserves in whatever form they deserve because essentially - we’re only here for a little bit so lets be happy while we can be, and the most compassionate and sympathetic thing that we can do is to give them that happiness and spare them the suffering and the pain. If someone wants a better wife, let him divorce. And I think of the implications of my own life… If I want a better job, let me leave it. If I want a better church, let me find one. If I want a better this this and this and this - give it to me.
Quoted in his very own words, the quality of life is valued above the sanctity of life. In other words, happiness is pursued and suffering is to be avoided and skirted at all costs - even if that means ending your own life or ending the potential life of a fetus.
I keep reading this and honestly think, what the @#$! this is not it. This is not real love and real compassion - because it’s all supposed to be in the name of sympathy and compassion. I imagine some ghastly, bony ‘ol smart ass humanist doctor who looks over a suffering patient. His eyes drooping down, and some self-generated tears falling. Looking at the poor human being and thinking “good ol friend, you shall rest soon - I will help you because I’m so sympathetic and compassionate and I’ll help you on your way” as he pulls the plug or gives him some drug. Maybe I’m just making a straw hat caricature of a humanist - but wheres the suffering, wheres the glory, wheres the passion, wheres the angst, wheres the crying out, wheres the deeper sense of deepness? It’s so empty, its so sterile, it’s so easy, it’s so therapeutic.
Perhaps the corollary truth is this : true Love has to consist of suffering. If you’ve never suffered for someone you thought you loved, you’ve never truly loved. (I’m not telling girls to get into abusive or toxic relationships, or guys to get into stupid and harmful situations for the sake of suffering) - but I think you get what I mean. The doctor I caricatured above, perhaps had empathy - but he did not love. There was no suffering on his end. Not at all.
There’s something about chasing a life of non-suffering that really kills the spirit in a man, although this is something I do every single day honestly in my work and my relationships. It’s hard guys. Reading books like this really helps me understand what Christianity is and is not - and the closer my Christianity mirrors secular humanism, the more I know I’m compromising on Life.
thoughts from today
realized we are all going to die
sorry for being so morbid, but its true
all i really want (even knowing that my righteousness is in Christ)
is to hear -
"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’