“Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.” –Norman Mailer(American Novelist)
Which of us is immune to life’s waves crashing on our shore? You choose your metaphor, but life is just sometimes hard . . . really hard. Being overwhelmed has got to be one of the most de-motivating emotions in our experience here. It threatens to squeeze the life out of us. It is a bully that says change is not possible. That the way things are is what will always be. These kinds of voices and this kind of bully is the enemy of Hope. Hope is a rebellion down deep within us that contends with these voices. Hope is about life, a fight for real life. A fight for the things you care about. A fight for the things you want to see changed. It is never too late to change. It starts with a decision to fight for life, to get busy living.
5-6 I pray to God—my life a prayer— and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.
Are you, like me, a terrible waiter? By waiter, I mean one who is waiting. It’s really neither an art nor a science, it’s a spiritual discipline and one that does not come natural to most of us. Of course the culture is all about instant gratification and the promises for satsifaction that it sells, but it’s fools gold. The best things in life are aged and vintage, not rapidly produced. Quality and wisdom take time. Shoddy craftsmanship and foolishness can be cranked out in a instance.
I know that waiting is good, I know that waiting is godly, but it runs counter to my temperament. The very process tells me that I’m not in control, there’s nothing I can do and no amount of productivity on my part will bring the results. The results will come only in the waiting.
There was a time in my life, over a decade ago, that my journal was filled with this line: “God, if you don’t come through, there will be no coming through.” And I find myself there again. My heart has copied and pasted those words to my mind today. It seems, I thought I left this place in the woods, but through a series of twists and turns, I find myself here again. Wishing, wondering, waiting . . . ultimately I”m hoping.
If you are out there today, and you are waiting on something that is weighing on your soul, I’m in solidarity with you. And as you wait, know that somehow it is yet good.
I daily use Celtic Daily Prayer from Northumbria Community. It is a monastic community on the north shore of England bordering Scotland. I stayed there on a personal retreat a few years ago and it continues to have a hold on my thinking and my living. They organized a prayer book and I’m a pretty big fan. I have long been interested in Celtic Christianity and the legacy of St. Patrick. I would say St. Patrick has influenced my spirituality as much as the Apostles. It must be the Irish in me. I read this in Celtic Daily Prayer from today’s Aidan reading and it hit me between the eyes:
“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11) God can take events of the past and weave them so skillfully inot a new plan for us that not only do we find there is a future for us after all, but it is as if there have been no wasted years.”Christ Before MeHe forever goes before us to prepare a place for us. He is on the road we tread. Where life is leading us, He has gone before. Perhaps we have no clue about what lies ahead; we know who is ahead of us, so the future is not quite unknown. – David Adam, The Edge of Glory
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
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 MapConference. (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 notablythis 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
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 Wolveswith 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
My truck is paid off but the gas prices are killing me. I don’t drive that much and its over $300 per month, not including my wife’s car. So what does this project to as a national economy? Recession seems inevitable, will it go way beyond that? A nation already ruled by fear and over-spending with no margins by individuals and the government, what will be the consequences?How will this impact churches and mortgages and credit lines that can’t be fed? As builders pass on who are the committed givers what is left? 1/2 of boomers are there to give and the other 1/2 are driven past their financial margins with consumerism and can’t help. Gen X and Millenials have very little value in long term comittments, are all about instant gratification and consumerism is their native language. Commonly this group of up and comers are living on 125-140% of their income taking on exponential debt per year. What will be the result of these decisions having no margins when the shoe drops?Will American churches go the way of their European counterparts? Becoming really funky coffee houses, restaraunts, art galleries and dance clubs. Just things I wonder about.peace,