Some days you take your faith to the scales. You wonder…is it up to mustard?
Today is one of those days–and it’s epitomized in the not-so-scenic view from my front porch.
Will you pray for me?
What do you need faith for today?
Seeing God as the Creator of our stories, and The Story.
Some days you take your faith to the scales. You wonder…is it up to mustard?
Today is one of those days–and it’s epitomized in the not-so-scenic view from my front porch.
Will you pray for me?
What do you need faith for today?
I’ve known Jon Acuff for few years now. We have the same agent. And he’s even given me an invitation to write on his blog. (Here’s the post). I was a fan of Stuff Christians Like long before Jon wrote his first book, called, well, surprisingly Stuff Christian Like. And even long before he was selling ads to….what?! NBC… (what the heck? wow. whoa. Jon Jon, way to go.) Oh! and even way back (sort of ) when he was using his spy name “Jon Christopher”… seemingly to throw weaker fans off his scent.
This is all to say that this post isn’t to actually rival Jon’s awesomeness, or his blog. (Jon gets more views in two minutes than I get all week.)
In fact, I’ll tell you outright that Jon’s new book called Gazelles, Baby Steps, and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt promises to be awesome. And Jon delivers in a way that could compete with Octomom. Delivers.
Is this a “coattails post”… like something written to ride on another writer’s popularity and winsome humor to get more readers? Of course. [And frankly, I’d be surprised if you’d need me to ask such an obvious rhetorical question. Will I always ask rhetorical questions?]
Anyway: I highly recommend you order Jon’s book for a loved one for the holidays. It makes a great gift. A limited time special here will give it to you for only $10. Laugh, Learn about Money, and Linger on the comedic stylings of Jon Acuff.
If you’re a Jon Acuff fan, you already know all these things, and I hope you’ve stayed with me. We all must be on the same page. You know this. I know this. Jon knows this. We’re a
fan club, er… family, er… community…team. So we have to move like one. As. one.
7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog
1. Unlike Jon, I only rarely talk about orphans. Right now, I’m tearing up just thinking about a person (Jon) writing about orphans. So this has to be true. You need more proof, then click here. Orphans break out the water works like nothing else can. The only thing worse for your tissue stock pile is an orphan with cancer. That cute bald head. The sweet bloated belly. Horrible stuff. I’m changing the subject. ugh.
2. Jon can make plenty of us cry, just by being a tad more serious, on Serious Wednesdays. That’s skill folks. I’ll never do that to you. It just not in me. (I mean I don’t haz the skillz) For future notice, I happen to be sillier on Wednesday than Jon is, thereby making my ability to incite tears pale by comparison.
3. Jon writes touching things about his kids, that are profound and can make your eyes as moist and irritated as rubbing a hot chili pepper on your iris. Go ahead get a chili pepper and see for yourself.
4. Jon raises money for orphans. Frickin’ orphans, dude. If that’s not so sweet to be tear jerking, than you must be the Tin Man–pre-Emerald City–my friend.
5. When Jon cries, we cry. More proof here. Don’t miss the comments section. About 400 people admit to crying. Unbelievable. I never cried in an airport except when I’ve been with a TSA.
6. Jon loves his wife, and it shows. Witness this. Honestly, where the heck are my tissues? (I don’t know if people even know if I’m married-which I am. There I said it.)
7. Jon is generous. He’s always helping out struggling writers, ahem, and plenty of other people. Plenty. It’s almost too good to be true. (I have NEVER given iPads, or shuffles, or really any Apple products at all. I’m so lame, but unfortunately not lame enough to stir your tears of pity.)
Have I made my case?
(If you enjoyed this post, please come back soon, or click the “update button” for … you guessed it–post updates. Thanks.) 🙂
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.
With our kids we try a different approach, we don’t try to get into it that much, but allow them to carve pumpkins, dress up, and shake down the neighbors for candy. It’s hardly different than any other time of the year, really.
What do you think about this “holiday”, or do you have a great childhood memory you can share?
Freshman year at college, and I had known my roommate just a short time. Halloween is BIG at college campuses–one reason may be because it’s one of the few holidays where most of the students stay at school. There’s trick-or-treating, dressing up, parties…you get the idea.
My roommate went out to get candy with a friend. Clearly that girl was Raggedy Ann. I saw Jen dressed up in a black and white pattern, so I said, “Are you a cow?” She just glared at me and said, “No! I’m a Dalmatian.” Whoops. #fail
Mark Driscoll is gay? Don’t kill the messenger…I didn’t come up with this.
You can find a pretty solid case here, compiled from his friend Don Miller, who–years ago–coined him, “the cussing pastor” in his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz. (When I say “case”…I mean Donald seems to describe Driscoll, in embarrassing detail, right along with [other] male leaders with gay scandals. Maybe it’s a connect-the-dots, or connect the nipples kind of thing.)
AND-gosh-don’t get me started on John Eldredge!
Over-compensate much, Mark?
- “There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left. Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” –Mark Driscoll 
(There’s a common theme of guy-on-guy fights/violence with Driscoll. You may remember he showed, the hot and sweaty brawl movie “Fight Club” as an official church event. Hum.)
Mark, if you’re reading this, you can stop over-doing it to throw us off track. Don and I both realize you’ve painted yourself into a corner, Mark. The gig is up, dude.
Nevertheless. IF Driscoll was gay, we would love him anyway. Right, everyone?
(If you support Mark, no matter what, click the share button at the bottom. If you’re not a fan, um. do the same thing. If you think Mark could NOT be gay, click the share button–Twice.)
And, Don, thanks for bringing up the issue. Where would we be without you? Just in IgnorantVille, I guess.
As a reader, what do you think? There’s a punchline in here somewhere. Can you spot it?
Is Mark Driscoll too overtly macho, and (like recent pastors caught in self-created sexual hypocrisy -Eddie Long and Ted Haggard), too anti-gay to be straight?
Am I joking about Driscoll? Sure. I’m a humorist. (See subheading of this blog.) Despite loads of circumstantial evidence, and the writing stylings of Don Miller, Mark’s certain proclivity could remain a mystery, much like Theodicy, or atonement theories. This is all probably just a loooong series of coincidences. If Mark is gay, or tempted with homosexual thoughts or feelings, I’m sure we could trust that he’d just open up and tell us–straight out. Um. I mean, well, you know. Right? Right?
I’m researching gatehouses and “doors within doors”. It’s fascinating! England was sure fortified back-in-the-day!
Do you see a metaphor when you see this visual?
What are your thoughts or perspective?
(This is no quiz; there are no right answers. Just looking for your take on this visual)
The visual/sense I got from this door image was unexpected. The metaphor was of the big door being too hefty to push open, but the small door–the less grand–the meager entry point is the truest way in. It’s the humble door, and going inside will require a blow to the pride, or be what some would considered undignified. For growth and progress, the small door is needed. We don’t have the strength for the huge one, but a way is provided for us,–if we can get to the point of seeing it.
One of the most common responses people have when they get fed up with the re-runs of living their own small show is that they try to flip to a different channel. That is, they somehow realize a kind of radical change in life is necessary, so they try to re-make themselves.
Perhaps they start a new relationship, change careers, adopt a baby, buy a vehicle or expensive toy, go back to school, get plastic surgery, switch churches, move away, or in some way try to live out a better story. You’ve probably tried it, I know I have.
Maybe a person gets into religion, or he gets away from it. Maybe they start to need anti-depressants or anti-anxeity medication. Some abuse substances or live more dangerously. Something just seems wrong–and one tries to fix it.
Plenty of the time, these efforts do bring some distraction and change, and therefore a certain kind of freedom or renewal is felt (at least for a bit); but down deep, nothing important has changed at all. After a little while, the person still feels frustrated or undone. (Or something else unpleasant.) The channel may have changed, but what is lived out is just a Spin-off of “The Show About Me”. Sadly, very few fully realize that their perceptive, and how they live out reality, is fairly the same even after a massive change. The same troubles will assail them, in some way. However, the baggage gets heavier.
Our Creator is the true center of the Show (not us). The Supreme Being is irresistibly calling out, wooing us, and our thirst deepens.
It’s a fact that when a person is too dehydrated they may actually stop craving what they truly need-water/hydration and replenishment of nutrients. They may feel tired, ill, hungry, or numb, instead of thirsty. In an ironic twist, the person doesn’t desire what will make them healthy again. It’s a perilous situation. Without help, people die this way.
This kind of confusion happens spiritually too. Often, in fact. A common (household) term often used for what turns out to be a spiritual problem like this is most often called a “midlife crisis” or sometimes an “identity crisis.” It’s common for people to get a point where they need to “find themselves,” or re-define themselves, sometimes multiple times throughout one’s life. This “want to” to change is healthy, though many times misread. An identity shift like this may happen once or several times in one’s life where a person tries hard to better one’s circumstances, and find relief.
If you haven’t enter a stage like this yourself, I’m sure you can think of someone who has. For instance, in the last 18 months seven marriages at our church have spun out of control or failed. I believe a misunderstanding of this spiritual opportunity is a big reason why.
What must happen to be truly free, and on a full path to growth? Something more like a walk has to happen rather than a small show we create. A walk with God and changing one’s perspective to surrender to God and “his” Big Show (the authentic one “Reality”) is a path few take, or attempt for all that long. It just isn’t a simple or smooth road. It is a mysterious, sometimes troubling one, where the answers are rarely simple or pat. This is the path of faith (believing in what you can’t see, but still know is quite real). Sometimes changing the channel, multiple times, seems like the only sensible thing to do. The negative part is that we only get more of the same when we do that. It’s still our story we want to control, and our story stays small and frustrating.
As many who have done the enormous personal work to recover from drugs or alcohol can attest, one usually has to hit “rock bottom,” (or be fully ready), before surrender to a new, and bigger Show occurs (a life centered in God’s Reality). It all starts by doing something very rare and counter-intuitive. It’s something we all fear: Losing control and Humbly yielding to the Higher Power, and admitting that without grace, and true dependence on God and others, a better way cannot be possible. Perhaps the scripture comes to mind, …”if you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. But if you lose your life (yourself) for my sake, you will find it…”
In contrast, we wish to be self-made.… yet, only a small show about “me” is self-made. Transformation, growth, and sturdy happiness (joy) comes instead through the bravery of surrender to the greater Reality, and taking the more treacherous but rewarding path that comes with this decision.
In part III installment on this topic, I’ll mention some things that happen once this pivotal choice is made. A person’s attitude and outlook change; and how one orders one’s life undergoes critical and unavoidable development with radical shifts in thinking, acting, and relating to others–for the better! We’re talking here about spiritual formation.
I’ll describe that a bit more, soon, in part III. Check back in the next few days and see.
This is a lot to chew on, especially if this is a new concept, and you’ve never encountered these ideas before. Some people call it “being born again”…. and in a real sense, a new life starts for the person who is ready: A whole new life begins.
…to be continued…
Have I been living my own small story?
Have I longed for a richer life, but have really only being encountering re-runs or spin offs of a short-changed Show?
What is stopping me from walking a new life?
What are your responses, insights, or thoughts on this topic?
If you’re reading because of my column in Schuylkill-News, welcome! (Be sure to join up with S-N on facebook, and get hip to the latest news items and great tips and stories before they hit the newsstands. Tell Amy you enjoy her publication! She needs to know.)
Thanks for reading, and please leave your questions or comments, now or anytime.
By default our heads are filled with an odd and faulty knowledge/sense that Life is a Show about ourselves. Each person thinks he/she must be the center of the universe (think: reality lived out), until something, or someone interrupts this notion. Living outside this worldview takes practice, increased maturity, and concerted effort. Cultural norms and money makers do not encourage us to turn the channel from “The Show About Me”.
Sounds like a blanket statement, right? It sounds like I’m saying everyone is a dirty, rotten jerk, and that can’t possibly be true?
Okay, let me back it up and just start with a few questions:
Think about these 5 questions as you read them and answer truthfully (to yourself, or if you feel that sharing will help others, leave your results in the comment section).
1. When you wake up in the morning do you think about the upcoming events in your day, or focus on your feelings?
2. Do thoughts of your past, present, or future occupy your time in your day?
3. Do you endeavor to find pleasure and avoid pain?
4. Do you mentally weigh the personal benefit when making decisions and actions?
5. Do you long for people to think well of you, and you make decisions based on this factor?
Okay, maybe you skimmed those questions.
Maybe you don’t want to do a personal inventory. If you want to move on, and this is getting weird or uncomfortable, you’re headed for a rerun. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Before that happens, please, go back, for one more minute and read and consider the 5 questions. After you’re done,consider your results. If you answered “yes” or “sometimes” at all, you are fairly normal, and you are also living your life as the Main Star of your Show. You perceive reality as something that centers around, basically, _________. <—— (say your name here.)
So what? you say, doesn’t everyone? What’s the big deal?
Well, friends, it’s only a big deal if you want to feel unstuck….If watching the same re-runs of yourself meeting the same sorts of dead ends and disappoints, and having the same insatiable cravings, growing frustrations, and restricted and delayed growth wears on you, then yes, the deal is starting to head into a biggish area.
Seriously, re-runs are really what you get when the season’s over. No one is working anymore, and the networks hope more rehash won’t be too egregious and lame. After two or three times of the same stuff, we usually want something new, something better.
A whole other Reality is going on, and has been long before you, and will long after you. You may have been skimming on the surface of it, but you have to wake up and realize thoroughly that you are not the Star of the Show, and more importantly, it’s not your Show.
‘Ever seen the movie the Matrix? It’s like, but with fewer people wearing sunglasses. …. oh never mind, The Matrix explanation is WAY too long and slippery. You’ll think you’re Neo, and we’ll be back where I started.
There’s a bit more to come:
In a few days, Part II of this reflection will get down deeper. Soon, I’ll also offer mental, spiritual, and emotional (concrete) ways many people have truly shifted their view to a more healthy one. We’re just getting the engine started on this vehicle to a new perspective. Let’s stick together–Meet back here soon.
Always feel free to leave your thoughts, experiences, or comments here. (Just after the tags below this post, it’ll say Leave a Comment. Not to be too obvious, and insult you, but….You click that.)
Or answer some questions:
Any guesses who the Star of the Show is?
What do you think Reality looks like with this different worldview/perspective?
And how would it be lived out? (examples, generalities, etc.)
WOW! 25,000 times readers came by to check out this blog! What an honor. Thank you for being a part of something that is much bigger than me and you. May God’s love and grace be with you. May the posts and comments here be a benefit to your growth and your relationships.
I encourage you to link up (scroll to the bottom, click the “Yes!” button). to get email updates when something new gets posted (you pick whether that happens daily or weekly.) Your interaction is very much appreciated. Thanks for participating when you can.
Edited from ethoughts weekly 5/13/04
Lisa Colón DeLay ©2004
Indulge with me in a short scenario to see if you can relate:
Suppose one beautiful spring evening you sit in your living room enjoying a good book, or something on tv. Outside you hear the sound of adolescent laughing. Mildly amused, you peek through your curtains and see some familiar neighborhood youth tossing several ping-pong balls to each other as they go up your street. You smile and settle back in your chair reminded of the simple but fun antics of your younger days. The following morning you go outside to find your car crusted in egg yolks and smashed shells.
You fume with anger. “How dare they! Rotten kids,” you think. “Those weren’t ping-pong balls! If I had known they were going to egg my car I would have stopped them.” Your blood boils. You fantasize of chucking an egg at those ankle bitters who made your car a target of vandalism. You feel the need for a good vent for your fury. Right?
However, as you approach your car you notice a mother bird in a tree branch high above your vehicle fussing about her nest nervously. Suddenly an egg falls from the nest and lands amongst the other destroyed eggs. You realize the young people had nothing to do with your car’s condition. Does your attitude change? You feel a certain sense of relief, right? If so, what happened to the anger? Where did it go?
I contend that the notion of purging or venting our anger for good mental health is actually a myth, and a destructive one. It seems it rarely is necessary for feeling better at all. We don’t go around like human forms of unopened soda pop that have bounced down the stairs. One crack in the container, and–POW!
The only thing that cools, or adjusts the anger, in the scenario I mentioned, and many others like it, is the change of the mind. It’s a choice, rather than a reaction. It’s a way to see a happening without being emotionally hijacked. In reality, all that is required to alleviate anger is a change in mentality, or a new perception. As one modifies anger, the feeling is consequently neutralized.
I think the idea of the venting our anger as a tactic for good mental health may have been birthed when those burying anger found it coming forth in baffling and unconstructive ways. (The technical term is repression.) The discovery of psychoanalysis was pioneered by delving into the sub-conscious mind; including the newly named matters of “repressed feelings”. If matters are dealt with– pop psychology tells us– in a proper visible “exorcizing,” we won’t have unexplained, reoccurring anger problems, frustrations, and related psychological disorders. This kind of “repressed anger management strategy” of our era is so intertwined with our culture and norms, we scarcely see it as a recent invention.
Notwithstanding, repressed anger is real and dangerous, like submerged toxic waste. I will dare allege anger buried becomes guilt; and this anger pointed inward (guilt) ferments, and turns into depression. It is also quite avoidable–without ever discharging the anger like steam from a blazing locomotive. These negative emotional features and many others surface because anger isn’t transformed or neutralized. Buried, anger of the past however; in contrast to present-day, situational anger, is not the same matter.
Surely we should attend to anger and not stow it. A constructive, respectable dialogue regarding upsetting issues is quite wise. Unfortunately, what often happens in using venting as anger resolution is we may feel entitled to vent, or ill at ease if this venting doesn’t transpire. This is simply not accurate. In reality, expelling our anger is so often counter-productive or damaging. It can be like throwing a grenade on a comfy campfire. Additionally, we are bound to be angrier people if we rehearse being angry and letting the vehemence rocket rather than changing our perspective.
Next time something deplorable happens we can think to ourselves, “How can I consider this differently ? Do I have all the fact to warrant blowing up, probably not.” This will transform the mind and transport us from anger. We don’t have to rely on the ventilation of anger. Understanding this is truly a victory. We need not be captive, or slaves, to anger. We need not give vent to it, like detoxifying a poison from our system, if we truly resolve it, and more importantly transform it.
If something offensive occurs soon think of it as a chance to practice this principle. I believe it will also develop our strength of character to think this way more often.
Please leave your thoughts about venting, anger, or anything related to this topic.
When you’re gone, Snuggles the Bear will hover over your sleeping baby, and drape a blanket on her. Isn’t it great to know child care is so simple these days?
I’m sure this commercial was made to be sweet, or perhaps so jolting as to be memorable. Personally, teddy bears rate right behind Chatty Kathy dolls, and right before Sock Monkeys for my childcare needs. Snuggles is really the stuff of nightmares…. or is he?
Have you noticed that it’s not the wisest choice to put words in someone’s mouth.
For example, I highly doubt teddy bears make good babysitters, even under the best circumstances, with the most eloquent, and most intelligent stuffed bears. It hasn’t been my experience anyway. The biggest problem is dialing 911. Their paws usually dial 991. It makes many parents leery. Me, for one.
Can’t the same thing happen in our relationships? Our perceptions place certain expectations or presuppositions that have little or no connection to Reality. How do our wrong perceptions change to be more correct? The simple answer: Deeper relationships, and a fuller knowing of the other.
Doesn’t the same thing happen in theology? (Our study of God, be it formal or folk.) You or I can determine what God is like, or what “he” is up to, but the voiceover won’t really be accurate.
1. The movements we imagine will be stiff and unreal.
2. Our humanity will skew our translation of God.
3. We’ll make determinations about his sovereignty, or attitudes, in ways that probably reveal more about us, than God.
And when all this happens, we make God into our own image. It works best when it’s the other way around. We grow and mature, as we give in to our Creator, and mirror those qualities of love, holiness, goodness, and mercy.
Is there a way to cut to the marrow, and perceive better?
Probably. I believe it stands to reason that when we speak of God, we must begin to understand “him” on “his” terms, not ours. We start with his nature, with God’s holiness, perfection, omni-benevolence, and mercifulness. If it were not so that God is thus, there would not be enough evidence or reason for all there is that is good, and beautiful in creation, and even in us. We bear this image, in part, as does the world designed so intricately by a Supreme Being we only begin to understand.
After that starting point, we continue what must be a humble (and unassuming) path to pray (ask, request) for the desire to know and love God, and to see God as “he” is. God’s revelations abound, if we have the eyes to see. I once was blind, but now I see.
What perceptions of other people, or of God have changed for you?
Anything else on your mind?
I have a body, you have a body, and…..
we’ve gotten used to God (the Father) having one too. “The Man Upstairs” We’ve heard this dysphemism, right?
This almighty person* of the three-in-one Godhead, who is the center of Reality, is the One Jesus invited us to respectfully, personally, and literally, address as “Dad” in our prayers.
Yep, this is probably why the male depictions crop up. And, it’s not surprising that since God has been around for quite a while (okay. That is hyperbole….it’s been forever and ever) that he would be depicted as elderly. There’s the white hair, wrinkles, and, of course mad skillz at wisdom etched in the contours of his face. He’s usually shown as robed (relaxed fit clothing , perhaps), light-skinned (really huge shock, right? Thanks, Rome.), and bearded. There’s a verse about Jesus having the hair in his beard ripped out, but God the Father having a beard, well, maybe he’s just too busy to shave? Did famous Greek Stoics look like this, so it was a jumping off point for artists? God, so many questions…
AND-Yes, curiously the depictions appear very much like Father Christmas (Santa Claus). If you think about that bit for too long, it will start to get creepy; especially with those holiday songs that include lines, “he sees you when your sleeping…” and such.
Here’s the part where I pop the fantasy bubble, like it or not.
God is not a man.
God does not have a body.
“He” isn’t “upstairs”.
That deity in art, and in our minds, looks like a human, and acts as such. It’s human created. The street term sadly, I’m sorry to say, this is, an idol. There, I said it.
More importantly to our spiritual growth, those types of pictures of God are bitty and short-changed. God does not have body parts, or biology to make God one or another gender. Jesus, and others may say “he” for God because it is a term of relationship. It is a gift of grace, goodness, and love toward us (as children) that no human father can accomplish perfectly well. But God can. God displays qualities most often distinctive to both genders respectively, and in perfection and holiness.
God is everywhere. Let’s just try to wrap our brains around this a bit, because we are not at all everywhere. I’ll just repeat it: God is everywhere. This is one big benefit a Spirit Being has, someone like “the man upstairs” is only, well, upstairs. And sometimes downstairs, but not both at the same time. This is where Deism is straight out against the Trinitarian percepts of the Bible. Deism, separates God from his creation: God-The Watchmaker. Distant, Aloof. It’s just dead wrong, because Jesus called him Father, and invited us to do so, too.
To perform an act of God in the flesh (in human form) Perfect God needed a body. So, yes, God incarnated a real human body to heal and redeem humans, body and spirit.
That incarnation: Jesus, the Anointed One.
The Holy Spirit, also a full member of the three-in-one Godhead (not just a pale bird in flight above a placid, pasty, bearded white guy often seen in artistic depictions), is the full power of God that is with us who receive God and Jesus. This Being, works on us to teach us, and transform us into Jesus’ character, what we call “Christ-likeness”.
In a recent survey, Two out of Three members of the Trinity prefer being body-free.
From Jesus, written by John in Chapter 4. Verse 23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
*(person here does not signify a human person (i.e. human individual), but instead, one with a personality. personality |ˌpərsəˈnalitē|noun ( pl. -ties)1 the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character)
Now it’s your turn.
Like me, have you ever thought of God the Father as a man? Or an old man in the sky?
Or a Being with a body?
How do you image God?
Which artistic depiction of God (shown above) do you find the strangest, or most fascinating?
All Comments welcome.