Lent Reflection Week 1Matthew 5:21-22: “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (The Message)I’ve long been a believer and a teacher in the power of words. Our words have to power to create and they have the power to destroy. Those of us in positions of authority, do we use our high position to build others up with our words, or do we use our position to keep others down with our words? Or do we even notice to care? We are most susceptible to hurt those we love with our words, I suppose because we take these relationships for granted. What words are you choosing towards your spouse today? your kids? your friends? your parents? your neighbor? Our words can carry blessing, or they can carry curses, which do you choose today?In this Lenten season, I’m wanting to monitor and be self-aware of my words. The choice to bless instead of curse comes from the well within us. Look inside, is the well fresh with grace, or dank with bacteria? That’s the place to start, its an issue of the heart. That my heart would bless today. peace,marshall
With Google Buzz coming out this week, there is a real rush towards more forms of social netoworking online and how to streamline it all into one place. I certainly get what Google is trying to do. I am at the shallow side of this reality and I have these accounts: blog, facebook, twitter, tweetdeck, IM, digby, linked in, classmates.com, google, yahoo, zoomtown, cbssportsline, paypal etc. etc. etc. This article raises some interesting questions. What kind of “friendships” am I actually creating with these connections? How much time am I losing in downtime to keep these connections updated? It gets even more scary when you think about Generation Y and the generation after them that have been raised on these “virtual” connections and constant need for immediacy. If this is their only language for relationship, how equipped are they for the real world? There is certainly a place for these kinds of connections, but at what dosage and at what price? Questions I’m asking myself today. With the new facebook design acting so quirky, perhaps I should worry less about status updates of “friends” and read an actual book. GASP! I just might.I pray, regardless of the tools, that we seek relationships that have depth, character and perseverance. These are the building blocks of true community.peace,marshall
What do you do when you get that antagonizing voice in your head that says to cash it in, give up, walk away, stop trying . . . just quit? I mean what can you really know about yourself until you’ve come to this place over and over again? What is your response? Do you dig in? fight back? bail? primal scream? find a quiet place? talk it out? walk it out? run it out? pray it out? or give in to its sultry voice?I suppose there are times it depends on your context and the externals in your life. I suppose as well it has a lot to do with your make-up and your upbringing. Down deep in us are natural and learned responses for most any situation. But when your back is against the wall and every button in your patience is pushed, well, those kind of times reveal quite a bit about your moxie.I’ve long been a lover of the movie, Fight Club, for its insight into cultural philosophies and its complete undressing of the empty notions of consumerism. It’s not cute or clean, but it is real. Here’s the classic quote from the main character-
Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God —- it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy (stuff) we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.
When you are faced with these struggles within you, that tell you to settle, give in, stop pursuing, stop caring . . . do you give up or kick it in? You really don’t know that about yourself until you find yourself there. Tyler Durden later says, “How much can you know about yourself until you’ve been in a fight?” There are no letter grades for this class, it’s pass/fail. The voice to give-up is a bully, how do you face your bully?I’m at this sort of place this night and I’m hearing these kind of voices. Well, I don’t like being bullied. I don’t trust outside voices that tell me who I am or where I’m going. I listen to the voice of the One who made me and the community of voices I belong to.As to the voice that says to give-up, well, I feel like fighting back.peace,marshall
Tonight, being snowed in, watched Dancing with Wolves with the wife and eldest daughter. It was actually the movie my wife and I saw on our first date so always will have sentimental value to me. I love movies set in historical contexts, I love the time of the Civil War and I’m a sucker for Tatonka.But there is certainly more to see in this movie. The community of the Sioux. Not to romanticize too much, the life then was incredibly harsh and barbaric at times. But the in-between times. A community built around proximity to one another, shared possessions, gathering of resources, each one playing a part, receiving meaningful names that marked one’s life. Most importantly in my eyes, seeing one’s identity not as a me but as a we. There wasn’t such a thing as a glorified individual, it was about the tribe. They had individual meaning as they lived in their belongingness to one another.There was a Ruth moment towards the end where “Stands with a fist” tells her husband “Dances with wolves” that her way is with him. Wherever he goes, is where she is to go. It wasn’t about keeping up with Jones’, it wasn’t about the seeking of trivial pursuits, it was about her belongingness to him and him to her. It wasn’t about an american dream of health and wealth, they knew none of that was a gurantee, they gave up control of those things. It was about something more primary, that their path may lead anywhere, but it will be traveled together. We as spouses need to say these kinds of words more to one another. Give one another assurance like my wife gave me on our wedding day in her vows, “when the tough times come, I’m not going anywhere”. (and she’s lived it) Say the words of assurance and meaning, and then enjoy the bonds of matrimony all over again.But the scene that rips me up is at the end when Dances with Wolves has to leave the tribe because he is a threat to them being hunted by the white men. “Wind in his hair”, who reluctantly became a warrior brother to Dances with Wolves , bares his soul on the mountaintop. With his heart breaking and a lonely farewell, he exclaims 1) who he is: I am Wind in his hair 2) who his friend is: you are Dances with Wolves 3) the cry of his heart: “can’t you see that you are my friend?” His primal scream releases this emotion over and over with powerful words of confirmation and affirmation.When was the last time you knew who you were? When was the last time you knew whose you were? These are the primary questions of community and hear me very clear on this next point, OUR CULTURE SUCKS AT IT! This world sells a bag of lies and fools gold. You will find yourself washed up on the shore over and over again wondering why the waves of life have such a profound affect on you. There is no life in things that are dead. The american dream is folly, consumerism is hollow, the false idols of pop culture will not satisfy your deepest longings. Over and over, you will find yourself thirsting for more.So what’s the answer if the world won’t give us the goods? Simple, we rebel and make it ourself in partnership with the One who created it all. A God who is by very nature community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Begin by being redefined not as what you do, where you live, what you’ve done, what you look like or what you have. Radically redefine yourself as one loved by God. And don’t move from that place until you’re convinced it’s true. Once you come to hold that belief, it becomes a belief that holds onto you. Just try and shake it, its a virus that runs deep in your soul. Then what? well, then you’re a virus carrier, go infect with words and actions of life and truth. In a world of loneliness, offer belonging. Speak the words of intimacy and belonging to one another, it’s a good place to start. I find that many of the answers to our future, are found in the communities of our past.Stop and notice the Kingdom around you,marshall