Naps make you smart

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Naps make you smart?  ooooh, Me likie. Check out this article on Naps.  Here is a quote from the article:  

Naps make you smarter and boost your ability to learn, say researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. In fact, they’re the brain’s way of making room for new information.  The longer we stay awake, the less able our brains are to learn. But just 60 minutes of shut-eye can boost learning ability significantly, says Matthew Walker, a Berkeley professor of psychology and the lead investigator of a study presented over the weekend at the American Association of the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego, Calif..The research could be interpreted to mean that a biphasic sleep schedule – a good night’s sleep and a solid midday siesta, could increase intelligence.

I was just listening to some Jack Johnson this morning and he was crooning, “slow down people, you’re moving too fast . . . ” and I couldn’t agree more.  Our culture is built on and measured by speed.  The manufacturers have produced more and new products designed to increase our quality of life by giving us gadgets to do more and do those things faster to fit more stuff into our day.  What results is not more time to chill, relax, decompress, reflect, be with family etc.  Nope, we’ve filled our days with more deadlines and more productivity which in my opinion makes us less human.  We do more and relate less.  When relationships and connectivity to one another is what re-charges us (just look at the Cruise commercials, they are brilliant), doing more and relating less is not good for us. We are humans, not robots.  Our bodies respond well to rest and negatively to stress and strain.  But productivity is king and health/wisdom is a side item.  We are better humans when we live simply, do less, relate more, get plenty of rest and feel grounded. On the 7th day of Creation, God rested.  Shouldn’t we take the hint?peace,marshall

Words kill

Lent Reflection Week 1

Matthew 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

Going for it

So, we are dead middle in the symphony of the olympics and we revel in the glory of the accomplishments of these quite talented athletes.  They have worked incredibly hard for their entire lives at a shot for their goal, their end game.  I was completely glued to the TV last night watching Shaun White, what an incredible talent.  So here is my question:  Are they the only ones who get to play?Yes, they are going for it.  But what about you?  Are you at all touching the deep place within you that harnesses a passion just waiting to be revealed?  Is there a dream on your heart that you have never even considered making an attempt at?  In short, are you going for it?  And if you haven’t gone for it, have you really even started living yet?One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was the loss (death) of 2 of my best friends some 4 years ago now.  Both in their young 30’s and so full of life, both taken by sickness.  They taught me that life is actually short.  Nothing is guaranteed.  So with the time that we have, why not go for it?  Why not start believing in yourself?  Why not put some feet on the dream that has been buried deep inside you?  What’s the worse that could happen?If you fail, you at least had an experience in something you love and that by itself has a very satisfying result.  And winning, well that has its own rewards.  So I guess I’m saying tonight, take care of your responsibilities but don’t settle,  Don’t sit on dreams, they are present within you so that you can live them.  In short, go for it.  Life is just too short not to.peace,marshall

I babbled on about things far beyond me

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Job 42:1-6 (The Message)
I Babbled On About Things Far Beyond Me

 1-6 Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.   Nothing and no one can upset your plans.You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,   ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,   made small talk about wonders way over my head.You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.   Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’I admit I once lived by rumors of you;   now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!   I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

 I find this a great reflection on this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.  The saying goes, “a wise man says there is a God, and I’m not him.”  Knowing your place in the cosmos is both a humbling realization as well as a taste of true freedom.  To know that ultimately we are not in control is both scary and exhilirating.  I’m a type A personality, I like to be in control, making things happen and getting stuff done.  But what also comes with that is the delusion that everything and everybody is your responsibility.  That kind of thinking is folly and recipe for personal disaster.  I had a graduate school professor who said with this kind of thinking, “you are a train wreck waiting to happen”.  I’ve learend he was right. So on this Ash Wednesday, recognize your limits and surrender that sense of control.  Ask yourself this question:  Did you bring yourself into being?  If not, then stop taking yourself so seriously and relax a bit.  It’s not about you.  The question is, if you let go, are the arms of the One who will hold you sufficient?  That is the question of faith.  And today, by faith, I’m letting go.peace,Marshall

New Ink

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This is my new ink, thanks to Jeremiah and Mother’s tattoo.Elpida is the modern Greek word for the New Testament idea of hope.  This word has carried a lot of meaning for me for a long time.  I got it etched in initially about 5 years ago, and Jeremiah touched it up to match the rest of the design here.Resurgam is Latin for “I will rise again”.  The monks of old used to have this put on their tombstone facing east towards Jerusalem and where they believed the 2nd coming to happen.

Ezekiel 47:1 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea.  When it empties into the Sea,  the water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

This passage is my metaphor of what church is to be on earth.  More accurately, this is what I think Jesus meant when he said:  “may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”.  The church is the people of God, those whose hearts belong to him and desire to be continually transformed into his image.  It is not a place, an event, a belief, a feeling . . . it is a people.  You can make a free choice to jump in this river and become a part of the movement of this people.  The power of the Kingdom of God is present on earth.  It’s very spirit is flowing from the temple into our world, first brought with the birth of the Christ in Bethlehem.  Since then, the Kingdom is accessible through the source, which is Jesus.  Through our mystical union with Christ, we are carried into life change.  Transformation of ourself and transformation of everything we touch and choose to do good in.  We are the trees planted on the sides of this river and since we are connected to the source (the river flowing from the temple), we teem with life and everything we touch teems with life.  The spirit of the Kingdom of God is infectious, and we are carriers.  We carry the virus of the hope and resurrection life of the Christ who is within us.  We are participating in the eternal Kingdom of God both now and the world not yet.  This river is our center, as long as we stay connected and nourished in it (John 15) then we will renact the Kingdom of God on earth.  If we choose to do our own thing, we find ourselves lost.Frankly, when I read the Scriptures for myself, I do not resonate with the “gospel” I grew up hearing.  One that was about a cognitive belief in historical information about Jesus who died for me thousands of years ago.  And to be a good christian boy, just try my hardest to not make him mad.  The whole point was to go to heaven some day and “being good” in the meantime was kind of like extra-credti work if you felt like doing it.  Understanding more clearly the Kingdom of God, I have a relational connection to Christ.  When I remain in the stream of this river, I am full of life and power.  My life has meaning and context now.  I am participating in the ongoing creation of a new heaven and a new earth that Christ is returning to unveil.  I don’t think we’re supposed to be “good, safe, little girls and boys” as Christians.  I think we’re supposed to be a part of the conspiracy, the rebellion, the resistance.  This world and the enemies of God are active upon their destruction, who are the people that embody a rebellion to its cause?  Here is where we live as the Church.  We oppose wars, hatred, evil, loneliness, fear, isolation, suffering, hunger, poverty, abuse etc. etc.  In a world of destructive voices we exist to SCREAM a bit louder.  In a world of death, we ARE the people of the Resurrection.  In a world of fear, we offer Hope and a home.So, in short, this is my mantra for what I believe the Church is all about.  Hope and life is our rebellion, and it’s a beautiful rebellion.Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,marshall

Brian McLaren is not the anti-christ

Start here  (Mike Morrell does a good job of summing up the explosive issue here)

BRIAN MCLAREN IS NOT THE ANTI-CHRIST.  There, I said it.  Phew, glad I got that off my chest.  In fact, I may even go as far as to say that my experiences with Brian have revealed a Christ-like character (GASP to my fundie friends).  There, it’s out now, I’m out of the closet.  I think Brian is 1) just a guy  (not  lucifer’s son)  2) a good thinker (though I don’t agree with everything) and 3) most importantly someone I consider a friend  (he’s the shrimp in the left back corner of this photo behind my sasquatch-like friends at Mayhem in Cincinnati 2003)A few years ago, the last time I talked with Brian, we were on a panel discussion together with George Barna and a few other leaders in Seattle at an Off the Map Conference.   (Notice that while I am sitting next to him, I am not punching him in the face as some suggest is the right etiquette.  Most notably this guy). Brian has just released a new book, “A New Kind of Christianity” .  I have not read it, I may not, I haven’t read any of Brian’s books in about 5 years or so.  Not because I deeply disagree, I just have got the jist of who he is and what he is suggesting.  There are parts of it, the stuff I read 10 years ago or so that was absolutely lightning in a bottle for me.  Liberating, provoking, dangerous and full of life.  I loved it and read a lot of it while shaking my head in affirmation.  At some point I got the jist and moved to other authors and other viewpoints.I am not a card-carrying member of Emergent.  That’s another post altogether of why I’m not but in general, many of them I count as friends and would break bread with them regardless of where we put our emphasis in.  Me and my friends, we’re mostly practitioners, trying to work it all out in community and in context, we’re not thinkers first.  We spend our time doing and surviving, we don’t have time nor funds for conferences and think-tank sessions.  But I certainly don’t debunk those who do or can, the emerging church is not any one thing, idea or set of people, that’s for sure.I probably agree with about 50% of what McLaren has been suggesting/teaching of late, of what I’ve read, and that’s cool.  I mean, how much do we have to agree on to be friends or brothers?  How many of you like everything your biological brothers have to say?  But the character slander out there of a guy is not exactly intelligent dialogue, let alone representative of the Christ you claim to be defending. Here’s the bottom line to me.  I met Brian and worked with him on some projects at a time in my life when I was considering giving up completely on the Church and my voice in it.  I was vulnerable, broken, abandoned by my fundie church background, persecuted by my christian brothers because I was thinking differently and more creative about how to do church in the future.  I was seeking something more communal, more connected to the historic christian roots and something honest.  When I had no spiritual fathers, Brian came alongside me and believed in the gifts that were within me.  He spoke words of affirmation that have carried me to this day.  He used his platform to speak grace into my life.  He was a blessing and a fountain of living water in a desert period of my life.  Since then, I have sought to be that sort of influence to others.  I fully admit, for believing in me when no one else did, I am fiercely loyal to Brian McLaren.  I don’t agree with all his ideas/thinking, but I deeply believe in Brian the person and Brian the brother in Christ. I guess my point is, stop with the immature character assasination and maturely deal with the issues/ideas.  The anti-christ may be the one in the mirror.peace,marshall

Social Media and “actual” relationship

Check out this USA Today article

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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

on giving up

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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

Guilt as a bad teacher

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  I grew up around fundamentalist christian teaching where guilt was King.  It was the easiest way I suppose to get good christians to act right, give them a good short-term motivator in heavy doses and then wash, rinse, repeat until you die.  I guess we assumed that’s the way God wanted it, keep us on pins and needles, obsessively aware of our performance or lack thereof.  I think the model was to be a good christian was to feel perpetually poor about oneself and hope that the next good dose of guilt would be the magic pill we needed to get our act straight.  I mean christian summer camp was constant activity + sleep deprivation + guilt-induced teachings + a late night bonfire and its obvious metaphor of an entire lake of fire + a call to throw my stick in the fire this year and “reaaaaalllllyy” mean it this time = I’m a good christian again.  Whether this was because we thought it worked, or what we thought the Scriptures taught or was simply just cultural conditioning of previous generation’s assumptions and conclusions, it was what we got. So, here’s the problem.  Read the Gospels for yourself and look for the same approach.  I mean, go ahead, actually read them.  It’s not there.  Guilt as the King motivator is just noticeably absent.  You have Jesus at the well, with the adulterous woman, with Zachaeus, at Matthew’s house party, at a drunken party in Cana, with sinners or all sorts and yet in the narratives guilt is not King.  There is a call to a higher standard, a remorse and responsibility for wrong doing, but no guilt-induced lectures.  Rather, it appears Jesus “foolishly” chooses grace, mercy, trust, love and truth as his motivators (please insert sarcasm here).  He took the hard route and seemingly got long-term results.  It was like actual deep-life change instead of short-term external habits.  I guess you could say guilt is for like Micro-wave christianity where you just nuke the outside, and grace/love/trust teaching is like the crock-pot that slowly roasts the meat until its very nature changes and it falls off the bone.  (I’m a big fan of cooking analogies).  So if you want short-term results, go with the guilt approach and keep it coming early and often.  If you are interested in actual life transformation, I suppose try a different way.I think that authentic community is the best vehicle for long-term transformation of character and personhood.  Living life with people who genuinely love you and care for your soul perhaps even more than you do yourself.  The problem comes in the form of intimacy.  Being “known” is a scary thing and many of us have a natural instinct to “run” when we get to that place.  Better it seems to keep intimacy at a distance for our own comfort than stay and work it out.  Make no mistake, real community is an intimate thing and a scary thing at times.The other option as well is to care less about actually changing.  I mean, just see your christian spirituality as a static decision to have your sin problem taken care of so that someday you can go to a mythical place called heaven and leave this god-forsaken earth.  That’s a subject for another day.  I think that the conclusion to our Scirptures is something deeply more than this.  Real change is at the core of our self, not just our external habits.  Guilt is a powerful voice for shallow christianity, shallow teaching and shallow living.  I think we are called to something abundantly more potent.  It’s about the heart, always has been, always will be.

From today’s Aidan reading in Celtic Daily prayer: “Yes, I deal with guild every day.  What counts is my heart’s desire, only that my heart’s motives be pure, and that I strive for that . . .  day after day.”  – Ann Kiemel

Seek freedom, not guilt .peace,Marshall

Entrepreneur – Teacher – Writer – Pastor