Category Archives: Culture

When Abuse is all the News . . . I believe you

believe

To the victims of abuse, I believe you.

From Roy Moore, to Harvey Weinstein, to Louis C.K., to President Trump, to Kevin Spacey to US Gymnasts  . . . . .  the news of sexual assault, sexual abuse and the misuse of power and influence is all the rage.  The human stories have become rhetoric in a mass of information culture wars and political ideologies.   To protect wealth, power, prestige and status, the accused double down in their darkness through the denials and shaming of victims.  There is not a perfect judge on earth, one day there will be reckoning for us all.   We get to choose what side we want to be on for that day of righteousness.

Thy hype, the rhetoric, the 24 hr news stories do something quite different for the survivors of abuse.  They are not news stories, they are auto-biographies.  The stories act as a trigger to latent memories when no one believed them.  The fresh written descriptors online about someone else’s horrific night cease being about the other and become a reliving of their own trauma.  PTSD and Secondary Trauma are unintentional consequences for the survivors when Abuse is all the news.   

They don’t see someone else’s story, they see their own again.  It’s memories of a face, of a room, of a time, of a smell, of a feeling, of a touch, of a boundary crossed, of powerlessness, of shame, of denial, of secrecy, of protection, of physical pain, of emotional confusion, of psychological hell, of cover-ups and perhaps most insidious of all the evil, the reliving that no one believed them.

If this is you, I am sorry.  I believe you.  You deserved more.  It wasn’t your fault.  The shame isn’t yours.  You can love again.  You are not alone.  You survived for a reason.  You are so much more than a survivor.  There is hope.

When Abuse is ALL THE NEWS . . . I believe you.  #metoo

Where are the Peacemakers?

peace“Blessed are the peacemakers,
 for they will be called children of God.” -Matthew 5:9

I am pretty outward and vocal that I am a person of faith.  To be specific, I am a follower of Jesus and the Ancient Scriptures.  I have journeyed long and far with the questions and seekings of my heart and soul and these are the conclusions I have come to.  The ways of Jesus are what make sense to me, are what have captured my heart and imagination and are in harmony with my created intention.  It is in him that I have found peace, the kind of peace that satisfies.  I don’t need to prove him, I don’t need to defend him, I just know that I come alive when my heart and mind is aligned with him.

I live in a nation that is deeply divided, but it is not the divisions of proper patriotism or partisan politics that grieve me, it’s the replacement of our ancient faith with a civil religion of nationalistic fervor of which there can be only one Caesar.  We can not serve both God and man, so one must take the throne.  We get to choose and the fruit of our lives will indicate who or what is on the throne.   What comes out of our mouth is the state of our heart.

What I read on my social media timelines are full of vitrol and hate for the ‘other’ and much of it in the name of a brand of American Christianity that doesn’t resemble the scandal of the Cross.  The ardent participation in the power structures of the Empire of our day do not reflect the ways of Jesus; the Son of man, the friend of sinners, the suffering servant nor the Prince of Peace.  He didn’t seek to acquire power, but by his own transformation to be like his Father, he acted powerfully.  His power was quite literally not of this world and therefore could differentiate from the conflicts of the Empire of his day and serve and love all his neighbors.

Where are the peacemakers?  Where are the ones who do not belong to this world and therefore have the capacity and burden to love all of those in this world of which we are called to serve?  We are defined not by power positions, but by love and service to all our neighbors.  Peacemaking is not an option, it is our inherited identity under the Cross.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  

 

Let Your Life Speak

questions“Seeking a path more purposeful than accumulating wealth, holding power, winning at competition, or securing a career, I had started to understand that it is indeed possible to live a life other than one’s own.  Fearful that I was doing just that – but uncertain about the deeper, truer life I sensed hidden inside of me, uncertain whether it was real or trustworthy or within reach – I would snap awake in the middle of the night and stare long hours at the ceiling.” – Parker Palmer

Is the life you are living the highest version of you? 

I truly enjoy pub culture.  I like to be in the places where the crossroads of life and my neighbors are intersecting.  It’s been almost 20 years since I was a vocational pastor but it is in these simple and human spaces in my community where I can perhaps be my best self as a sort of pastoral voice.  This past Saturday evening I found myself in an hour or longer conversation with a 31 yr. old young Dad of 2 who was finishing up a 13 hr. work day and in our conversation began lamenting that he thinks he’s doing it wrong.  He is making a lot of $ for 60 hrs. of work a week but he’s missing his kids lives altogether.  Big house and new cars but cancelled vacations because work owned his time.  He was asking himself deep questions if the rat race he was running was worth it in the end.  He gave me permission to speak into his life and we talked about the freedom of living more simply, that meaning is created it isn’t bought and the reality that we are going to die, the only thing left is to decide how we want to live.  No one can choose that for us.  If we let work choose it, we won’t live the life we were created to embody.  We became friends and hope to continue the conversation, he said “I don’t meet people like you.”  I think that was a compliment, I pray the deep questions haunted his dreams.  😉

What are the questions that keep you up at night?  What is bubbling below the surface of your true identity trying to break through the ice of your surface self you let everyone else see?   Are you living a life to make others happy, enslaved to the unspoken oughts and shoulds of their judgments and perceptions?  In your resting times, do you experience freedom and peace, or does your heart and mind race in anxiety?  Are you asking yourself the big questions about life?  We only get one.

Let your life speak, seek the highest version of your true self.  That is where freedom, truth, power and peace come from.  I’m always glad to have that conversation.

 

Why Live in Community? . . . to offset the lies

community

Life in community is no less than a neccessity for us – it is an inescapable ‘must’ that determines everything we do and think.  Yet it is not our good intentions or efforts that have been decisive in our choosing this way of life.  Rather, we have been overwhelmed by a certainty – a certainty that has its origin and power in the Source of everything that exists.  We acknowledge God as this Source. . . . We must live in community because all life created by God exists in a communal order and works toward community.” -Eberhard Arnold

Those of us who were born into the American story have been told a lie since the day we were born in verbal and then mostly non-verbal cues from our cultural narrative.  We are a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ kind of people, we highly value the rugged individual. The lone ranger is an American icon.  We want to believe that we can do it all on our own.  We want to be self-sufficient islands of comfort, security, confidence, freedom and power.  But in reality we are not.  We are vulnerable, at times insecure, second-guessing and not self-sufficient at all, rather we have a tendency to look for love in all the wrong places.  We put on the mask that we have it all together so that other’s can’t see our weakness and vulnerabilities.

Our cities and suburbs are growing in population yet many are feeling more and more alone.  We’ve never in our history had more proximity to people and at the same time, we lead the world in anxiety meds and anti-depressants.  We have the opportunity to live in community but we choose to build up the walls and live lives of isolation in and near the other humans.  Community only works when you opt in.  Like an AA meeting, it’s voluntary and you come because you admit you have need.  You don’t want to be alone anymore.  You’ve tried the rugged individual American story and found yourself wanting.

One of my assumptions about humanity is that we were designed for community because the Source of all Creation designed it that way.  He by his nature and image is community:  Father, Son & Holy Spirit.  We were created in His image and therefore bear the mark of community.  We weren’t meant to live alone physically, emotionally or spiritually.  We were designed to be known, to be loved by others, to be safe even in our vulnerabilities.  We’ve been lied to, we weren’t meant to be individual American heroes, we were meant to find our meaning and purpose within the context of one another.

I’ve given up my life for the building of this kind of community.  I feel the brokenness of the world all around me, I long for my neighbors (not just the ones I live next to) to find the satisfaction of their soul’s desire.  I long for people to be delivered out of patterns of self-destruction, negativity, isolation, loneliness and mindsets of personal poverty.  Community is a powerful healer but it’s also really, really hard and messy and you have to opt in.

Love is the anti-dote to all the lies you are listening to.  In Community we speak the truth to one another.  I’ve learned I need it like I need air to breathe.  You were designed for it, jump in the deep end.

The American Dream . . . with a side of Jesus

xmas“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”  (Fight Club)

I had a chance this past week to hang out with folk from the Brethren Church  and in particular their church planting crew known as MissioChurch.   I like hanging around church planters because in general they aren’t normal, they typically are all a little ‘off’ in the head you know?  They have dreams buried in them that don’t allow them to accept status quo.  They are used to an identity in which they don’t always fit in with establishment.  It’s not rebellion, they aren’t against establishment, rather they believe that they exist to support and extend the reach of all things good about the Church and its’ service to the world.  It’s a holy kind of discontentment.  Church planters ask a lot of questions and aren’t afraid to live in the land of tension and discomfort.  They’ve worked hard to develop the skills in fact that allow them to thrive in such lands of in-between.

One of the speakers at this gathering transparently shared her story of downward progression from an idyllic life of “the American dream with a side of Jesus”.  Her and her husband had it all:  the stable high income jobs, a dream house on acreage, Pinterest quality decor, retirement investment strategies, social status, upward mobility . . . all that the American Dream is designed to be that comes with the white picket fence.  Her name is Shannan Martin and her book is entitled ‘Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted’.  What followed in their story was selling everything, moving into a low-income and broken neighborhood, taking a new job in the local jail, noticing their neighbors, getting involved in the justice causes of their community and adopting kids with little hope.  A life of beauty and hardship, a life that Jesus can’t exist on the side, he wants to be the main course of sustenance.

Here’s what I’m learning, the American Dream with a side of Jesus doesn’t work.  It’s completely unsatisfying.  The American Dream is not a big enough idea for me to give my blood, sweat and tears to. It’s a fool’s gold.  It’s slavery to a system of wants, false securities and anxiety-driven ambitions.  I know that I’m going to die, and none of the purchased commodities are coming with me, so what are the things that last I can invest into?  If I know I’m going to die, the only relevant question then is what do I want to live for?

Do you ask the big questions about your life?  Where does your satisfaction come from?  Whose opinion about you matters?  Who do you want to please?  What makes you come alive?  Does fear about the future dominate your brain-space more than living fully today?  Are the things you’re striving for going to live beyond your last breath?

The answers to our big questions reveal the things we worship, what we worship we become.  What I’m learning is God isn’t interested in being our side-piece.  He’s not insecure in the truth, power and freedom he offers so he’s not shy about what he wants:  he wants all of it.  He is the King and he wants singular allegiance.  We get to choose if we believe he is a good King and worthy of that place in our heart, mind, soul and life.  If we let him, he’ll do just about anything to break us down until we realize that he is all we need.  In him we can find our being and our moving.   Before there was ever a myth called the American Dream . . . He was.  If he brought all things into being then my created life finds purposed and wholeness in him.  To choose him is not foolishness, it’s deep abiding wisdom.  It’s what I’m choosing today, a singular allegiance to the One who made me.

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” -Exodus 34:14

What you look at, You become

looking-glass-721“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” -Matthew 6:22-23

Part of Jesus’ genius teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is the stuff I’ve long believed to be secrets to the universe and humankind. It is against our nature typically, which is what makes the teaching genius.  Part of our design is that we are receptors of sights, sounds, smells and personal experiences that affect us and develops our inner world.  Our outer world directly influences our inner world.  What comes in is what goes out.  What we look at and pay attention to, becomes us.  We are products of our gaze and desire, it is those things that we worship.  So what are you looking at?  It is that thing that you worship and are becoming.

This past US election got me wired up, wrapped up, stressed out, anxiety driven and despondent.  The rhetoric, the hatred, the lowest forms of dialogue, the 24/7 frantic news streams, Facebook preaching, Twitter sewage etc.  It all fascinated me from a historic and culture perspective how we got here as a nation but it’s turned into its own animal.  The anxiety of the drama has become too expansive for me, as I’ve taken it in it has become me.  I’m turning off my gaze into these melodramas and debates, they don’t have the life I’m looking for and I don’t want that crap in my heart.  What I look at and pay attention to, I become.

I need to look at goodness, hope, generosity of spirit, kindness, mercy, freedom and love of neighbor.  Those are the things I want to become so those are the things I’m looking at and looking for today.  Join me.

Capable of Loving the ‘Other’

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” Les Miserables

Our world is amuck with physical and verbal violence towards the ‘others’.  The news cycles and headlines are intended to keep the drama going of one group vs. another.  They profit off of our dissent.  Anti-democrat, Anti-republican, Anti-muslim, Anti-christian, Anti-western world, Anti-left, Anti-right, Anti-immigrant, Anti-nationalist, Anti-globalist, Anti-police, Anti-minority, Anti-gun, Anti-gun control . . . you name the explosive issue, the media exploits the divisions as a kind of control over their profits.  What is lost is the best of humanity.

As a follower of Jesus, I’m for peace and I live under a command and a calling to love my neighbor as myself. All of my neighbors.  All of my ‘others’.  Those who love me and those who hate me, I cannot get out from under the command to love my neighbor.  All of them.  I have a calling to love my enemies, to bless and not to curse.  I don’t have a choice.  If I claim to follow Him, but hate another, I am a liar.  The ancient Scriptures don’t leave any wiggle room there.  It breaks my heart to live amongst the violence of our actions and our words, this is not the way it was intended to be.  We can be more than this, but it requires living out of a different center.

The reality is I nor we are capable of this kind of love.  It is God initiated.  I John 4:7-10 outlines the possibilities of our capabilities:

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” 

 So I am getting more intentional with my time, attention and influences.  I am outlining the sources that I am giving time and attention to that give input to my heart, mind and soul which lead to my behavior.  I want peace so I need to be filled with peace.  I want love for all so I need to be receiving the kind of love that is capable of loving all, including my enemies.  If I want to see the ‘other’ and love them, I need to see them as the face of God.

This life is short, it won’t last long.  Peace and love is a worthy cause in a world of violence, it’s the best intention of humanity.  Let’s be good neighbors to one another today.

peace, Chris

The Gift of Unemployment

The dawn of March 1 will mark the beginning of technically my 9th month of unemployment.  I haven’t had regular work/paycheck etc. in that timeframe.  I’ve been freelancing in some management projects, teaching projects, writing projects and hustling our Resurgam Coffee side business, but none of that has equaled anything close to a full-time income.  What have I learned?  I’ve learned this journey has been an incredible gift on so many levels.  Let me explain . . .

  1. The Gift of Self-Reflection – How often in your life do you get the opportunity for a complete do-over?  To go back to the drawing board and ask foundational questions like Who am I?  Why am I here?  What would I love to do?  What brings me joy?  Now this is also deeply frightening, the more questions you ask, the deeper the rabbit hole gets.  I began to realize how much of my ‘accepted’ and unquestioned life both internally and externally did not line up with my deepest values.  The gift does not then become self-condemnation, but an invitation to new life.  Know thyself and then act accordingly.
  2. The Gift of a Simple Life – My wife and I are more connected right now around our daily, weekly and monthly finances than ever before.  Not fear, not panic . . .  connectedness.  We talk about it, daily.  Our grocery list is no longer whatever looks like ‘we have to have’ at Costco, it’s planned out and intentional.  You know what?  It’s fun!  I’m cooking more creatively and intentionally.  Our meals are actually far more fresh and healthy.  We are counting the green beans and the last eggs, but we are also finding creative ways to deliciously season the throw-away and discounted cuts of meat from the grocery.  We are grocery shopping with cash, whatever cash has come in, that’s our budget.  We’ve learned how we don’t need very much income to live a connected, satisfied and full life with some creativity and teamwork.  It’s a gift to be able to have such connection between God’s most recent provision and the food that will be on our family table this week.  We have daily bread, gratitude fills our table.
  3. The Gift of Intimate Marriage – Naturally, this has been a time of great challenge, pressure and vulnerability.  These kinds of storms in life have a way of exposing great breaches in the foundations of even the best of marriage partnerships.  But, there is always a choice.  You can live in fear, isolation, destructive habits to cope and blame etc.  Or you can choose as a couple to look at the storm in the face and hand in hand walk into it and through it together.  Wedding vows take just a moment in a ceremony to say but it takes a lifetime to fulfill them.  We chose to come together in this, communicate and over-communicate, look to the needs of one another and create a new beginning together.  We have no idea how it will all turn out, but we do know one thing, we are gonna be there together.  It’s our eternal vows to one another and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I am so in love with this woman.  She vowed to believe in me on our wedding day, and on my worst and most discouraging days, she believes in me and the gifts God has given me.  I am able to anchor my identity not in the rejection email of another job I won’t get, but in the love and commitment of my wife for me.  Folks, with that kind of love, I’ll run through a wall.  True intimacy in marriage is an unbelievable gift and it’s the result of a lot of choices ‘towards’ one another, not ‘away’.
  4. The Gift of the Myth of the American Dream – In my dissertation I wrote a chapter on this ‘myth’ and how consumerism has robbed much of what we used to experience of so-called community in America.  The assumptions of certain standards of living for happiness, the crazed rat-race of the US corporate life, the dehumanizing experiences of bottom-line company strategies, the false dream of a leisured retirement, the entitlements of the marketing seas we swim in, the oughts and shoulds of a life it seems almost no-one is enjoying.  We are supremely busy, but not busy being happy.  Meaning, connection, community and the things that feed contentment and happiness are not bought, and not even offered in consumer lifestyles to keep up.  Consumerism by definition keeps you wanting more so you buy more, all with the hope that it will finally satisfy.  It doesn’t.  That degree won’t magically satisfy you, that job, that car, that membership, that house, that team etc etc.  All will leave you wanting and never having ‘arrived’.  I’m learning to look at my life of a different ‘arrival’, my own death.  I’m mortal, I will die, this human life will end.  So how do I want to live it?  I get one chance and it’s a result of my free choices.  Should I organize it around chasing things ‘out there’, or can I organize it around the amazing gifts God has already given me right here?  Faith, family, friends, creative work, sustenance etc.  These things can be lived and enjoyed for a whole lot less $$ than the American rat race.  Why live a myth, why not live in ruthless and satisfying truth?
  5. The Gift of Anything is Possible – One of my largest personal values is freedom.  I love the freedom to create, to learn, to dream, to act, to inspire, to encourage, to lead etc.  Feeling confined in close-ended jobs in my history has contributed to a lot of self-imposed depression.  After I grieved my vocational past and choices, I now have come to a place of a free and open future.  Anything is possible, that is a gift to me.  I’m in this place of what Romans 8 says, ‘what’s next, Papa?’    God and I can create together a connected, partnered, grounded and freely sustained life.  I don’t know yet what it looks like, but I trust Him.  His goodness and faithfulness have become so resounding in my life during this journey it’s almost deafening.  I have nothing concrete in my hands but I have supreme confidence in my heart and mind.  Anything is possible, that is hopeful and good enough.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” -Romans 8:15-17 (The Message)

My journey is my journey.  I know many of you out there are experiencing far more painful stories and realities than me and you aren’t seeing the same conclusions I am.  My intent is for encouragement and help, I can’t change your reality, but I can offer you my human compassion and story.  All of life is a gift, the learning is the fun part.  Let’s live out loud!

Nothing wrong with a safe life, it’s just Boring

viking4

The Nordic Vikings of old had a term we Anglo-Saxons translate as “Berserk”.  ‘Bersekr’ literally means ‘bear shirt’ or one who would run into battle in a crazed confidence wearing only the animal skin as armor.  Not a safe life, but a confident one.

I’m not advocating a Viking lifestyle, generally we have evolved in our domestic and international diplomatic relations past shield walls and pillaging.  The old world of desperation and scarce resources has been replaced with modern comforts and a surplus of goods.  But I do want to speak against narratives of safety, security, small thinking and small living.  We don’t have to settle for the safe, we can step onto the field with a fierce confidence and stare an enemy in the face. Life doesn’t have to be boring, we can choose to go Bersekr’ .

We can choose the safe life that’s largely all about us and our comforts and security, that’s the mythology of the American Dream. The more as a culture we pursue this dream, the more our use of anti-depressants is rising; correlation?   Is it possible we just have all the wrong dreams?  What we thought would make us happy, content, purposeful, fulfilled are not the things we are pursuing at all?  Something deep inside us wants to armor-up and go ‘Bersekr’ but we are choosing the fool’s gold of the American dream.  There is nothing wrong with a safe life, it’s just boring.  😉

10 years ago this past March, I lost one of my best friends to colon cancer at the age of 32. I visited his grave this week and it got me thinking.  His name was Mark Palmer and he was as much my friend as he was a co-mentor in my life.  We filled that role for one another.  I walked with him as he grieved the loss of his 26 yr. old wife to stomach cancer.  I walked with him as he suffered through his own battle against cancer.  What I observed in my friend was a heart of courage that would never give up on his fierce commitment to hope for himself and the community he loved so much.  He gave up the pursuit of the American Dream of comfort in order to live in solidarity with the poverty and suffering of his neighbors.  He made it his life and calling to mentor young hearts who were filled with angst, passion, talent and pain and dreamed for a better world.   He lived his life on purpose.  He got 32 years to ‘Bersekr’ in his own giftedness and then he gracefully passed over the veil to the reality of another Kingdom in fullness.

Friends, we get one life.  ONE!  We will be buried not with any of our creature comforts and not with one of our retirement benefits, not with any piece of security.  All that the American Dream offers us, we get buried with none of it.  It’s a fool’s gold, a chasing after the wrong dreams.  We live in a broken world crying out for hope, leadership, courage, peace, goodness and the identity shaping of fierce community.  You can live a safe life, it’s just boring.  You can choose to go ‘Bersekr’ and make a difference with your one wild and precious life like no one else with your skill-set can.  Oh the stories people will tell at your funeral, it won’t be about your stuff, it will be about your amazing life and battles won for the good of all.  We get one life, choose wisely, all of life depends on it.

palmer

“I guess what I really want to say is this: be hopeful. Don’t stop fighting. On some level this thing is bigger than all of us. It’s not about having a wife die of cancer at 26, and then 2 years later getting the same terminal illness. It’s not about me and how I fight this disease or how our little family walks through it. The bigger picture is the battle against sickness and death that we all face because we live in a broken world. But it’s even more about the Kingdom that has broken in and offers us a chance at relief from that disease. It offers health and victory where before there was none. There is hope in the midst of hopelessness. Death is not where we lose; the onset of hopelessness is the great defeater. So allow hope to rise up within you. And when it seems that hopefulness is the least appropriate response in this situation, let it rise up even more. Whisper your hope when you lie down at night; scream your hope when you wake in the morning. Live your hope as if it is the one and only thing that sustains you in this ravaged world. You will not be disappointed.

-Mark Palmer, last blog post before he passed 3/25/06

A Paycheck is Not a Big Enough Idea

bansky

What if I told you that you’ve been lied to?   That the American Dream is a myth meant to enslave you to a life of consumption that makes you dependent on systems of control and the illusion of personal choice.   That the ‘good life’ is not good at all; not for our health, our sense of peace, our experience of joy or our personal power to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  Living the ‘good life’ was what it meant to be truly American. It is this idea that has grown like a virus in the American worldview; the American dream is now a benchmark cultural assumption about how the world works.  . . . As the narrator says in Fight Club: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”  But it doesn’t work, because getting a paycheck is not a big enough idea.

The existential questions of humanity are the same at any point in time within recorded history. They are the same in any economy, in any political system and within the context of any particular culture. The questions may vary in importance, however they typically carry the thematic structure of the following: Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose? Where do I find meaning? Is this all there is? What happens when I die?

These questions outline the longings of our human hearts; they dictate what we organize our lives around. The answers to these profound ponderings become formative attachments psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and then deeply influence the pragmatic choices of our physical lives. We organize our lives around what we believe to be true and meaningful, the cost is really high about how we answer these critical questions.

You get a paycheck to live, but what do you want to do with your life?  How do you want it defined?  You get to choose your attention and investment, what do you want out of it?  For the love of God, don’t let the stupidity of our culture and consumer markets dictate that for you.  You get to choose, so what do you want to do?  You want to earn up enough over a lifetime, save up enough so that you can stop working for the last 30 years of your life and collect shells on the beach?  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just boring.  😉

I think you were designed to count, and count quite uniquely.  You are wired to matter.  Dallas Willard said it this way:  “As water is meant to run downhill, so you were destined to count.”  A Paycheck doesn’t make you count or matter, it just helps you live.  It’s the choices of your life that help you experience meaning, purpose and  well-designed empassioned mission.   Our consumer culture is a system of control and it doesn’t satisfy; it is designed to keep you wanting more because in the end, it’s a bankrupt set of ideals.  It’s all the wrong dreams, all the wrong goals and all the wrong living.  You were meant for more giving, not getting, and it’s at your fingertips to choose and experience.  Don’t settle for anything less.  You have one life, one chance for real living, a paycheck is not a big enough idea for you.

My wife and I have re-designed our entire life and budget.   Today is the last day of my severance pay from my full-time job.  We are now embarking into the reality of purpose and life in the hands of the God who made us, designed us and calls us to live a life of purpose and great meaning.  We are no longer defined by a paycheck, we are free to work at the callings deep on our heart for justice, community, truth, love and a dangerous call of hope.  A paycheck is not a big enough idea when there is a call to love the orphan, the widow, the lonely, the oppressed, the poor, the captives etc.  We want to live life on purpose, not for a paycheck.  Income helps us live, it doesn’t define us, our life defines us. How do you want to live?

Choose to be dangerous, choose for your life to count, choose hope. You won’t be disappointed.