Category Archives: Story as Life

Seeing God as the Creator of our stories, and The Story.

Can Mustard Seed-sized Faith move a Mountain…of trash?

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?

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

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

Jon Acuff: Funny man. Serious man. Modern Legend.

 

 

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.) 🙂

P.S.
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.

Fall, Harvest, Fall-o-ween

I didn’t get to go trick-or-treating as a kids. My parents didn’t want us to be any part of what seems to them to be the Devil‘s Day.

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?

Here’s one:

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

[Did you know] Mark Driscoll is Gay?

macho man: Mark Driscoll (in a flattering blouse)

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.)

Another person to recently point out Mark’s hyper (and suspicious) masculinity, is Brett McCracken, within the pages of his new book Hipster Christianity, (pages 103-105.) Get a free copy here.

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 [4]
    (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 Driscoll's Jesus: Tough and Buff.

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.

(A bit like gay twins?) Driscoll and Gay WWF wrestler "Giant Gonzales"

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?

🙂

The small door- update

The irony of the small door

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)

Update– p.m.

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.


(Change the channel or take a walk?) “The Show About Me” (part 2)


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…

Reflections questions:

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?

“The Show About Me”…is just re-runs (part 1)

Life *seems* like a "show about you" b/c you are in every scene and every episode.

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.

Deconstructing the “Show about You”

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.)