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Monday, July 30, 2007

Men...

We had a Men's retreat this last weekend at Mike Kline's cabin on Lincoln Lake. What a powerful time! There is nothing like engaging other men in Kingdom conversations. It was hard-core this year with dialogue ranging from resignation to rebellion to lust to love to isolation to cover-up to confrontation to manning-up. I learned once again how much men desire to be challenged to new levels of masculinity. We treat men like incorrigible creatures with an affinity toward the life of a simpleton. It's not true. There is something about the company of other men that unearths the glory of the man fully alive. Quit men speak. Loud mouths hold their tongues. Anger softens. Timidity breaks up inside. Laughter replaces grunts. Smiles replace hardened countenances. I love seeing this stuff!

When we were around Impact this weekend, it was so galvanizing to see all the black shirts with the "Brotherhood" logo stamped across their chest. I could feel the confidence even in my own soul joining together with my brothers for a cause greater than ourselves.

There are few things I desire more than being a strong man. I don't want to get to the end of my life and realize that I was a slacker...a weasel. I want to look back as see myself facing the giants, holding the line, running toward the roar of the battle, and fighting for my brothers even if it means risking my own life in the process. These are things that drive me, and when I don't do them they drive me crazy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My house...my home.

This week, I've been a bachelor. My wife and girls are down in Ohio and I'm left alone at home by my lonesome. In some ways, I look forward to the time to spend with myself. In other ways, being by myself is quite dangerous due to the fact that I am a person in desperate need of my wife's mothering. I don't keep schedule well. I don't manage my life and budget my time and plan my day well apart from her task-oriented heart. She holds a person like me together. He questions throughout the day are like gaurdrails for my drunk heart. I like to take things as the come, which has its merit to some degree, but there are so many things about life that render that philosophy idotic and inane. I need a good level-headed boss, and my wife is the most tenderhearted taskmaster a guy could ever want.

I miss her hug at the end of the day. I miss her questions of how my day went and her probing questions that dig deeper into my short answers. I miss laying in bed and downloading emotions and perceptions. I miss talking about our daughters together and the good and bad trends that are surfacing each and every hour of their existance. I miss her stopping by the office on her way to run an errand. I love seeing her come around the corner peeking into my office. I love her occasional phone calls throughout the day to see how something went or to check in with my schedule for the rest of the day. You don't know how centering so many of those things are until they are vacuumed out of your life. I miss her presence, her stablizing affectionate presence.

I miss my little brood of girls as well. I miss their playful chirps around the house. I miss their innocent questions. I miss their badgering me to play with them. I miss listening in on them playing pretend with each other. I miss their snuggling into my arms on the couch. I miss watching them sleep on their beds at night. I miss hearing their footsteps in my office just before they crash around the corner and dive into my arms almost knocking me out of my desk chair. I miss telling them stories at night and reading them books. I miss wrestling on the floor with them and chasing them around the house. I miss watching them ride bikes outside and pushing them on the tire swing. I miss sitting around a campfire and roasting marshmellows. I miss their little "I love you's" through the day. I miss my little princesses.

Being a bachelor is so overrated. Freedom isn't doing what you want. Freedom is being who you are....and who I am is a husband and a father. I love being who I am. And this week, I'm not who I am. I can't wait for their return. I feel like I will come back along with their arrival. I love that my life is so wrapped up in their presence. My identity is part and parcel with their presence. I can't wait for them to come back to our house...only then willit turn back into a home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

what's the difference?

If we don't fast, how will we ever know the difference between...

Joy and Happiness
Content and Complacent
Concern and Worry
Pleasure and Fun
Friendship and Acquaintance
Discipline and Legalism
Patience and Passivity
Passion and Perfectionism
Sorrow and Depression
Indignation and Anger
Holiness and Self-righteousness
Truth and Feeling
Love and Lust
Peace and Resignation
Worship and Emotionalism
Desire and Selfishness
Spirit and Flesh...

Starving our Flesh and Feeding our Spirit...only then to we see the difference between seemingly parallel attitudes and emotions...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

word to the wise...

The last month and a half (in case you haven't noticed) has been a wasteland of words. I've been preoccupied with life so much that even the prospect of sitting down and gathering words together to talk about the days of my life has been burdensome. When blogging becomes slogging...you know you need a break. I write because I have to. It's a cleansing therapy for me. But there are times when I feel that I need to...and in those times I shy away from the activity.

So much has been happening. Summer has been filled with energetic activity. We've gone to the Beach a few times, the girls are enjoying swimming in a neighbors pool, I got those spiffy lights that line my landscaping (they are kept alive by solar energy), my lawn mower broke (it's fixed now thanks to Brian Kuieck), lots of time is spent at the library, feeding ducks, going to festivals and fairs, watching World Series of Poker, taking in the summer blockbusters (though I haven't seen Trasformers yet...next Monday night), hanging with friends, travelling to see family, having evening camp fires together, hanging out at a friends farm and adopting a mangy cat, riding a four wheeler with the girls around the farm, picking cheeries and rasberries, killing groundhogs in my yard, watching Brian Regan over and over again and laughing harder every time I watch it, preaching a series in church called Renaissance: a rebirth of the disciplines, starting to record another cd with some new music, speaking at a few venues, etc.

I guess now that I think upon it, about the time I started to drift from blogging was the same time I got a viscectomy (sp?), that just took me out of the mood. I have yet to make a full recovery, in fact, I'm seeing the doctor again today. Things just aren't normal, so we're going to get to the bottom of what gives. That was an experience that I feel like I could write a sweet blog about, and maybe one of these days I will, but suffice it to say that I'm pert' near a Eunich now. I did find it strange that they wanted to talk to me during the entire surgery. They were asking me questions about what I was preaching on that weekend and how I went about putting a message together. I was gripping the side of the bed like I was preparing for a crash landing in a prop plane. Somehow I managed to give them intelligable answers in the midst of the less than ideal circumstances. Who would have the nerve to ask you pointed questions while your legs were in stirrups? The nerve.

I'll try to make it more of a priority to get on here and log my life. If I don't, much of it will be forgotten. I'm already forgetting how my last month was spent...I wish my brain was stickier. Oh well. Until next time...stay away from doctors who tell you to do unnatural things that you were never meant to do prior to the fall of humankind in Genesis 3. A word to the wise.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Studied Life...The Storied Life

As I've read through this discipline of study I'm seeing a reoccurring theme. Those who have invested large amounts of time and ambition to be and to become a student of culture and Scripture are the ones who have influenced the world for the greatest good. They are the ones who are quoted in nearly every book, they are the ones who have started revolutions, reformations and great awakenings. They lived outside the box of narrow-minded dogmatisim, and took on the posture of a student, teachable and discerning. This life is not one of careless tolerance and thoughtless relativism.

On the contrary, it is highly analytical and passionate for the truth. It isn't just a life of liberal acceptance at all costs, it is a movement toward intentional thinking, reasoning through issues and beliefs and cultural shifts and occupations that screens and filters and sifts through life. It cares so deeply about the truth that it can't help but explore information and understanding and wisdom to get to the bottom of things. It doesn't accept the surface answers, it wants to examine life wondering if conclusions are, in fact, true or false. I think it matters that we care about such things.

And the consistent thread I see with a studied life is that it becomes a storied life. A life with all the elements of an epic story...full of suspence, adventure, risk, danger, romance, heroism, friendship, rescue, battle, creativity, and ultimately love. People who live with their head in the perverbial sand don't live life worthy of being talked about or emulated. They simply exist to perpetuate self-preservation and personal safety. Instead of Jesus model of integration, we have a life of isolation. A life of isolation doesn't make for a good story. I'm glad Jesus cared about culture and people and entering the world in which he lived. I'm glad that he stood for truth without seperating himself from a society with errors. He lived inside an erroneous environment and brought the truth to bear in culturally creative ways. He used the stories of his day to convey timeless truth. He drew from the metephors of his culture to convey parables about the kingdom. He had his eyes open all the time watching the world in which he lived with intrigue and curiosity. He was constantly using culture as a bridge to the kingdom...not using kingdom language to bridge to the culture. That takes a scholar of society, a student of modern day language, a teachable heart that engages the pop culture of his/her day.

We certainly have to balance out our time in Scripture and our time in culture. Many are well-versed in culture and are illiterate when it comes to Scripture. This is dangerous and in need of a counter-balance. But there are some that are packed with Scripture that live clueless as to the heartbeat of culture...they are equally as dangerous in my opinion...they create just as much devistation.

As we stretch our minds to study culture and Scripture always trying to build bridges back and forth between the two, we begin to live lives that speak of something bigger and more hopeful, teeming with relevence and reality. The studied seems to lead to the storied life.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's been a while since I've tickled the keys of my computer for the purpose of slogging through a blog. There are times when I need a breather from the world of words. Though I find journaling my thoughts to be therapeutic and cathartic, there are those seasons when it becomes a drudgery and those are the times I distance myself from contaminating the joy of writing with obligatory nonsense.

I feel my heart surging as of late. There are times when life seems to be on a crash course and I'm overwhelmed by almost everything around me. Granted, most of the chaos is only present in my mind, but it still feels real. I don't seem to have the same stamina to bear up under life's demands and duties. I get taken out quite easily. A simple word. A small disappointment. A disowned desire resurfacing. An abiding lonliness though I'm always around people. A loss of heart. A listlessness that renders me useless. A feeling of defeat before I start to try. A gradual leaking of passion until I'm left dry and brittle. An overwhelming sense that I'm failing someone or at something. A civil war between my emotions and my mind. A constant questioning of my motivations. A starvation for simplicity and innocence again. A pit in my stomach that something's about to come unglued. A premonition that people are disappointed in my decisions. An unshakable feeling that I'm becoming boring, uninteresting and increasingly banal.

But as I said, my heart is surging...those feelings haven't been quite so daunting the last couple days. I feel spry and eager, trusting and at ease. I can't say as if I have any idea why. I just do. I sense God stirring inside me, and I don't always feel that. I feel that latent desires are awakening and emerging from deep below the surface of my skin. And I'm thankful.

Though I am growing to follow Jesus regardless of how I'm feeling on a particular day or week, it sure is nice to have my emotions standing along side my motions. It is enough to follow Jesus because He is. I must continue to remind myself of that, so that I'm not more in love with my ideas of Jesus than Jesus, or my desires of Jesus than Jesus, or the blessings of Jesus than Jesus. I've fallen prey to those subtle shifts before.

So I will bask in this sunray of strength right now. The clouds are surely on their way, but I will enjoy the sunshine in the meantime.