Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Something More?

There has to be something more, right? Something more than just living this thing we've come to know as the "American Dream." And who came up with the "American Dream" anyway. As I sat in what has become one of my favorite places here in Knoxville, The Orange Martini and smoke my pipe, which is part of why I like it, I like smoking my pipe because I feel a little smarter when I do and maybe a little bit like C.S. Lewis or someone like that. I was sitting there watching the individuals in that place thinking, "Yeah, I wouldnt mind living the American dream, but isnt there something bigger, arent we made for something more? Something more than just going to work, making money, getting married and supporting our families and buying things that we think make us happy?" Isnt there something bigger than this "American Dream?"

Sure following after Christ and giving up our lives isnt always as appealing at first as all the money, power, fame and materials that the "American Dream" offers us, but from my experience, nothing compares to the love, acceptance and family that you gain from giving up that "American Dream."

I might be off or wrong, but to me, pursuing that "American Dream" seems like the gate that everyone goes through that Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:13, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." I love The Message version of this passage, Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life--to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention."

Does it seem in some way that it really is like a shortcut to try to get to God by pursuing after the "American Dream." You make it all about you and what you want to do and where you want to go, and you isolate yourself from other people and even God. Im not saying that when we chase after that dream rather than God, that we stop seeking God, but it becomes harder for us to catch the vision of God and of being in community with others and stop being dependent on God to some extent and even to others. And by all means I am not saying that if you are wealthy, you are going to hell, dont hear that, Im not saying that at all, but what I am saying is bless others as you have been blessed.

The market is flooded with formulas for a successful life, but the way to life, to God is vigorous and it requires total attention. Until we, and mind you I am talking to myself probably more than anyone here, but until we come to see the dream of God, this dream of taking care of each other, of loving each other as more liberating than the "American Dream", nothing will ever change.

I believe that giving is more fulfilling than keeping, that love really can over come hatred and that light really can overcome darkness.

"If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear." (1 John 3:17 - The Message) To quote Mark Nelson, "Live beyond yourself."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I have. . .

So I had been wanting to get this fleece jacket for a while now. So Court and I were out and about one day and we happened to stop by The Mast General Store, which is awesome and I found it there on sale for 50% off and I just couldnt pass it up because I couldnt bring myself to pay full price for one, which is why I never had one until now. But here is my dilemma with the purchase I have made.

When we first showed up there, I wasnt in a bad mood at all, I was just kind of its good to be here and with Court, but Im not overly excited type of mood. When I first saw the jacket I thought, man thats a really good price and I liked the color of it and thought, you know what, Ive been wanting this jacket for a while so why not. As soon as I made the purchase, I immediately entered into this new realm of happiness for the day.

As we continued on our journey for the day, we were driving out west and my mind was just bouncing around as usual and I thought to myself, you know, Im in a better mood. So I thought, what got me into a better mood, and I came to the conclusion that it was the buying of the jacket. And its already been kind of a long month or so with wrestling with some questions and with trying to find a new job and so I was happy about a very good purchase I made.

Then I thought to myself, why cant I be this happy about my relationship with God? Why cant I be this happy after a good read or a good conversation Ive had with God or with a friend or after an encounter with a customer or with Sam at Panera? Why do I have to buy something to make me feel better? Buy? Why is it that buying things make us happier but spending time in prayer doesnt, we just end up complaining, whether in our head or verbally after 5 minutes of prayer. Im not saying buying stuff is bad at all, because I love to shop, I know, its the girl side coming out in me, but I enjoy buying stuff, which Im sure we all do. But why do I have to buy something to make myself happy? Why cant I just be as happy when I hear about a friend getting a job that pays pretty good when I still dont enjoy my job? Why cant I be just as happy when Courtney has had a good day teaching? Why cant I be just as happy about someone overcoming an addiction or whatever it may be? Why is it that I really only become happy inside when something good happens to me? This just seems so selfish on my part.

Maybe because somehow in my life Ive bought into this idea that its about me and in order to be happy and make myself happy I have to be the one succeeding and I have to be the one doing good and I have to be the one that looks good and I have to and I have to and I have . . .

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


You ever feel just beat down?

And not just physically, but mentally, spiritually. I feel like my head is just way to full to hold all of the information, all the questions, all the doubts and fears that I have going into my head. I have been meeting with two of my closest friends one night throughout the week and we have been discussing a book(The Shaping of Things To Come) and this book really challenges the way the Western Church is done and how they have gone about being Christ in the flesh and even how we are still going about being Christ. And this book has been great and we have just been through the introduction and the first chapter and already I have myself questioning a lot more than I ever imagined, on good level though.

And in one of the paragraphs, he explains that our Christology(study of the nature of Christ) should define our Missiology(study of the mandate, message and work of the Christian faith) and then those should define our Ecclesiology(study of the scriptues pertaining to the Church itself as a community and what the "church" is). And this was a beautiful to me. How did I miss this order of things?

For too long I myself and I would almost go out on a limb and say that we here in the Western World have gone backwards with that. Our Ecclesiology defines our Missiology and they define our Christology. We have made Jesus into who we want Him to be for us in our comfortable world. During the end of the discussion Tuesday evening, my friend Kenny made one of the most soul bearing, raw, honest and truthful statements I have heard in a very long time. With bearing his soul to us, he said "Im not sure I know what my Christology is." That comment cut to the core of me. This is what my mind and my soul has been telling my heart for the last few years, but I've missed the signals and all the signs and I just got hit with it Tuesday night. Who is Jesus? Who is Jesus to me? What does my life say about who Jesus is? Who is He really in our lives? Is He really the Lord of all, the King of Kings, the Savior of the world? Or is He just a prophet and someone that said some really meaningful and thought provoking things 2,000 years ago? Who is Jesus? Who is Jesus to you? What is your Christology?