Tag Archives: relationships

Traveling Light with Crazy Love

Francis Chan

We don’t just have upon us a crisis of faith, but also a crisis of faithfulness.

We’ve been reviewing Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. I encourage everyone to read it. It’ll do you good. Also, it makes an interesting and thought-provoking small group study, or Sunday School class.

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan

This last lesson was on Risk and Faith. Chan asked everyone to do something in their regular life that requires faith. He asked that we abandon the typical planning we do to minimize our risk. We should do something others could think of as silly, and allow ourselves to live and act in a more vulnerable way. We shouldn’t rely in our stuff to satisfy us. We should live bigger lives.

Along the same lines, Rolf Potts leads this sort of recommended simpler type of lifestyle. He calls it vagabonding. (I found out about Rolf through the Tim Ferriss site. Thank you, Tim.)For Potts, a travel writer, his style is not just a method of travel, but a way of life. It’s unlike the American way of life, because it does not trust in stuff.

I’ve wondered if it’s the case that in America we seem to act like “in god we trust” refers to the money itself, or the things we can buy with it.

We do a lot to feel safe. We buy insurance to minimize various kind of threats. We buy things we feel sure will help us, or at least soothe us. What is the lasting consequence of this approach? A false sense of control? Feathering our pillow of self-sufficiency? Other things…

Rolf Potts takes the theme of traveling light to a whole new level, as he now begins his No Baggage Challenge: Traveling to 12 countries in 6 weeks—With NO baggage (not even a man purse/satchel). [His blog details his travels, and his packing techniques are also quite useful.]

The journey of faith is the same way. When we seek out the comfortable, and we travel heavy, by preparing (mentally or physically) for every potential event, challenge, or threat–something important gets left behind. Perspective for one thing. But what else?

In the life of faith, “taking nothing for the journey” means that one must trust in God’s provision (and his way of providing), trust others, and build relationships. It’s not about what we’ve packed (prepared) for, it’s about the trip itself. It’s about being brave, and opening up to others, and the experience of not being weighted down (both literally and figuratively) by our presuppositions: What we think the trip should look like, and feel like.

You don’t like bumps, you say? Sorry, it’s bumpy. You just might have been insulating yourself. For some perspective… Think: padded cell.

The spiritual journey (journey of faith) is undertaken so optimal preparedness is removed as an option: It’s a method of living, not to be comfortable, but to survive, live, and eventually thrive, where you are, as you are. You come as you are. When the going gets tough–and it will–you stay. [The only thing you “plan on” is love and loyalty.] You work it out. You don’t let yourself have but that choice. You live has though you don’t have a chance/option to flee–like we are too often ready to do. We trust others, and God with abandon, despite the risks, or pain that may/will come.

Why? Because it is the surest way to growth, more rewarding experiences, and a sense of being in a Story bigger than yourself and your self interests. In spending ourselves, we gain our lives.

When we take a risk to help or love (without examining the our potential losses, and assessing all the personal risks) we live by and in faith, not by sight.

[Now, realize, I’m not talking about a life of folly, or veritable reckless behavior. I’m talking about being okay with discomfort, and sacrificing the known and manageable, for something greater at stake.]

What could that look like for you?
Please-Leave your ideas.

Maybe giving away the extra car to someone who needs it? Opening up your home for someone else to live in? Inviting a family to your home for supper once a week? Using a paycheck to buy someone groceries?

What kind of faith will you live by?

In this sense, a little pain goes a long way. Soon, our sights move away from ourselves in pursing selfless faithfulness.

AND-How light can you travel? (on vacation, etc.)

Comments, thoughts, and questions welcome.

Banqueting Table, Part 3: Factory Food and Slow Cookers

Mass produced factory food, simply re-heat.

I’m not a big fan of prepared foods, like the one you see above.

But, I have to admit, usually when food comes from a factory, it’s quick and simple.

It’s also sealed with cellophane and full of sodium to keep it “fresh”. How long could you keep this “meal” before heating it? …months for sure, maybe a year. It’s a bit of a one-size-fits-all cuisine approach, right?

A frozen meal typically comes tidy, in a divided plate. So, no mess, no worries. There’s no long prep time, no plate, just a piece of plastic flatware is needed-say a “spork”–to cover any food texture. One might not even need a napkin, if one eats it…calmly. But, I think, you’d have to be on the verge of starvation, have non working taste buds, or have little experience with eating delectable food if you wish to devour this quickly. Not too many salivate over or pine for pre-fab food, like only a mother a factory could manufacture.

When people want to “serve up” the love of God, or share the gospel can’t the same thing happen?

Serving up God. yum... ?

Sometimes not only are the workers few, but maybe what workers there are don’t know enough about the richness of the God’s banqueting table. Maybe they’ve been using the spiritual microwave too much. Or maybe they aren’t patient enough to let God into their kitchen and make the meal, and show ’em how it’s done.

It takes a while, it seems he likes slow-cooker and long roasting recipes. (Ask Moses or Joseph about that one.) Sometimes the longer process of becoming a lot better in the kitchen, and letting God be the Chef de Cuisine, doesn’t seem like the smartest or most efficient move for a ministry. “What, spend long hours in the hot kitchen? Chop vegetables, mince, simmer, sauté, reduce…that could take, well, heck, years! We’re trying to help people, here!”

Well, we might give them something to eat, “really quick,” but how edible is it? Is it healthy or good for them? Will it cause stomach cramps and diarrhea? Will they only be able to serve up the same sort of thing? Will we get to the point of creating and serving the kind of spiritual food that God specializes in–the kind we created with him at his side, just like Abba used to make?

Can we reflect God properly by serving up convenient, ready-made, spiritual fast-food?

I’m doubtful.

What if we tried a sumptuous slow roast?

What if we could mentor (disciple) willing helpers (pilgrims/Jesus followers) and give them a solid, theological, narrative framework (God’s Story) from which to see their reality: God’s present Kingdom, and his Kingdom to come.

What if things marinated, and the juices got savory and settled down deep into the meat, rather than inviting others to dig into some version of pre-fab nosh because, the slow cooker style just won’t suit our time frame and ambitions?

Would we be able to offer something closer to the nature and heart of God the slow cook way?

(For our good and theirs.)

Would we be changed to be more to his likeness in the process of that?

Oh, yes, it’s far messier to prepare, serve, and eat! It takes prep time, long hours of cooking, setting the table nicely. We’ll need plenty of napkins and perhaps a wet washcloth or two. Plus, don’t forget we’re talking about REAL people. There are spills, squirts, and stains. Life is MESSY. Even good relationships are fraught with various difficulties. What about the clean up? A sticky, gooey mess for sure. And maybe dental floss will be handy to keep around. Real meat gets stuck in one’s teeth.

Oh, but there’s this: it’s really satisfying, and tastes fantastic.

Messy, and slow cooked

Add some veggies or a large salad to the slow-cooked entrée you see above, and you have an excellent, tasty, and messy meal many will really enjoy. If the company is good, they might even come back for more.

What do you think about it?

Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like you had to choose one way or the other?

What happened?

Does the slow-cooker way seem out of reach? (Does this post need a follow up with specifics? Let me know.)

Comments, ideas, responses…

thanks for reading.

Featured Guest Blogger: CHAD ESTES!

I’ve been enjoying Chad’s blog, and social media shout outs for a while now; so I was quite excited, when this busy guy agreed to guest post here. It’s a joy for me to share things with readers here, including people. 

Chad Estes

 

Chad is a legend. Even “Biblical Learning Blog” (at http://www.biblecollege.org)  included his blog, Captain’s Blog, in their list of Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs. So, it’s really an honor to have him here.

When I asked if he would be a guest blogger, Chad mentioned that wanted to share his heart, and I hope you soak in his contribution.

Leave your comments, afterwards, and show him what a polite readership I am fortunate enough to have by visiting his site, and to say “thank you.” 

Chad, Thank you!

I Want You to Want Me

-Chad Estes

        What we learned on the schoolyard playground seems to hold true in life. Those with the mad skills are the ones in demand. Those who can’t keep their eye on the ball, or catch an easy pop fly are picked to play right field and bat at the end of the order. This peer rejection is like the sting of a wasp, and unless you get off the field, you will probably get hurt by the same stinger, over and over again. 

    Adults play this same game. We want to team up with those people who benefit us, and help us win. We do this in business and in social circles. We even do this in church. Those on the outside of our margins–because of divorce, financial status, education levels, or addictive behavior issues, maynot be the first ones invited to our home fellowships. It isn’t their children that we invite to spend the night with our children. 

   But actually my thoughts about rejection aren’t about being picked last; it is the rejection that comes from being picked first. 

What? 

Yes, there is also a rejection issue with being picked first on a team because, more often than not, you are being picked for what you can do instead of who you are.  

     This is acceptable as long as you can keep up with the performance levels, but if your stats ever start to stumble, so will your value to the team. 

     It would be nice if this didn’t happen in Christian circles but unfortunately, it does.

Many churches and ministries recruit to a position based on a person’s perceived contribution value (Do they have good speaking skills? Can they lead a team? Do they agree with my direction? Will they serve this vision?) like it was written on stone tablets. But, when recruiting is all based on performance there will be a day when those skills will slip, or someone, even more qualified will come along. And when our positions are challenged, we may resort to some sort of spiritual steroids to help keep us on the field of play. The bad thing is these unnatural growth hormones actually stunt spiritual development It’s a cheap trick. 

       Today, I had a meeting where I was being recruited because of my ministry skills. But, as I drove home, I realized I was actually feeling the sting of rejection even though I’d been offered a position. The recruiter wasn’t really interested in me as much as she was interested in what I could do for her. She doesn’t really know me, nor does she know my heart. And unfortunately with her priorities all about her vision, she never will take the time to know what my heart is about. And so though it is a heady offer, it is a path that leads to performing, pretending, and pain. 

       My real value is my heart, not my skills. The skills are deteriorating with age. My heart is in the process of being renewed.

                  What I really want out of this life is to be picked by someone to be on their team, or be their friend not, because I’m a good player, or that I fit a niche, but simply because they want to be with me.

How about you?

  • Which rejection hurts you more—the kind from not being included, or the kind from being selected for performance-based reasons?
     
  • What do you suggest are ways to build relationships outside of these judgments and expectations? 

Who do you Love? (this guy’s tat proves his love)

Sometimes it’s painfully obvious what a person loves. Take this guy. McDonalds is really important to him. I can’t stress this enough, and by the looks of it, neither can he. The golden arches are embedded on him–for LIFE. How’s that for a Mac Attack? How…er..um..sweet, I guess.

McDees tat

One of the most earth-shattering things I’ve come to comprehend spiritually is that God desires loyalty, and not perfection. For a performance-oriented person like me, this comes as a great relief. I only wish I had known this in my teens and 20s. Now, loyalty doesn’t mean you have to be devoted enough to get a fancy yellow tattoo with clouds and stars on it, but it does mean you’ve decided to hang in close, through thick and thin, for life. Loyalty is actually simple to understand, but it’s rare to find. It is really what we all hope for in true companionship from a spouse or best friend.

What would you have tattooed on you, if anything? (hypothetically)

If you have one, submit your real tattoo photo, or a great idea for one, and maybe I’ll send a nifty goodie your way.

Thanks for stopping by!

Free Book- “Embracing Soul Care: Making Space for What Matters Most” by Stephen W. Smith

Book excerpt from page 129: “[A walk with God]…is an encounter and experience when we become aware of his presence, and this experience reminds us that we are not alone, that “God is with us.” The movement from being alone to be being with God is a life-giving step in soul care.”  

This goodie this month is a book give-away available to visitors from now until the end of September. To be eligible, simply leave a comment below stating your interest. One recipient will be picked at random. (Detailed book information below.)

"Embracing Soul Care" book image

(info from Barnes & Nobles dot com)

Synopsis

 

We live in a high-maintenance world; cars, homes, computers, and even relationships need continual attention. But what about our souls, the center of our selves where our passions, gifts, and individuality unite? Do we ever consider what it means to care for our souls? In a world where the quick fix and instant gratifications are many people’s most immediate focus, author Steve Smith invites the reader to focus on what truly matters most; the lifelong process of nurturing our souls by focusing on relationships, spiritual and personal growth and healing, and living out God’s purpose for our lives. Step off the hamster wheel of endless activity and purposeless action to find a deeper sense of self and spiritual transformation. Foreword by Dr. Gary Chapman.

 

Publishers Weekly

Smith, a confessed former workaholic, introduces readers to the unique joy of caring for the soul, which he says “contains the deepest part of who we are.” This founder of the Potter’s Inn Ministry, which helps people experience soul transformation, shares his wealth of knowledge about the soul in 92 brief chapters presented in 13 sections that address issues such as soul identity, soul formation and threats to the soul. Each chapter includes several questions to help readers address their own soul struggles. Smith certainly covers all the bases of the soul, but one wishes for more depth. Staccato chapters whet the appetite for deeper exploration, but Smith moves on quickly to new topics. The book, however, does bring important issues to light. He speaks often of the need for those who believe in God to slow down; he urges readers to use their senses to nurture the soul and highlights the importance of companionship on the soul journey. Studying the soul, he says, “is an incomparable journey to explore the depths and heights of the soul, for we travel the contours of a holy land.” (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

 

Biography

 

The founder of The Potter’s Inn, Stephen W. Smith has been involved in Christian ministry for more than twenty-five years. He and his wife, Gwen, are frequent speakers and retreat leaders who focus on the spiritual growth and transformation of individuals, couples, churches, and organizations.