Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's all about me

Let me start by saying that some of you won't get anything out of this post. For those of you that don't struggle with thinking about yourself first, stop reading. For those of you who don't take the biggest slice of pizza stop reading now. For those who have never gotten upset by not getting what you wanted for your birthday or Christmas please stop reading now, and you make me sick. Now that we have eliminated all of those nasty "good" people let me talk straight to those of you including myself that have the sickness, the sickness of selfishness. Oh yes I am gonna go there, my blog followers just went from a whopping 4 to maybe 1, my sister in law can't drop me because then we would have massive family drama. I will come right out and say it, I am selfish, and so are the rest of you, the people who stopped reading this post are just in denial. We all have been saddled with this instinctual impulse to only think about what we need and want. I call it a sickness or an infection because I think it can take over who we are. I have been noticing how prevalent this issue is in my life lately. I love my wife to death but there are times I find it very very hard to put her first and frankly sometimes I just don't. I am not proud of that, I am just being honest. My questions come from some deeper thinking. Why is it so easy to take care of myself first? How do I break this pattern of selfishness? The thing is, sometimes I am not aware that I am being selfish. How do we stop doing something that seems like a part of our human nature? Well I think that is exactly the right place to start, our human nature. Our flesh calls us to fill the me, me, me voice inside, but I know God is calling us to something different. Jesus says in Mark “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Oh crap….how many times can we say we have tried that? I mean I try to be the greatest all the time, I haven’t as of yet been very successful at it, but that won’t keep me from continuing to try. But when was the last time I pursued true servanthood? Our culture is built on getting ahead of people and taking what is “yours”. I don't think God is calling us to be wimps, but I think if we were all servants things would look a lot different. What if the greatest leaders and church leaders were all amazing servants, because at the end of it isn't that what we all are anyways? How easy is it for us to pray and ask God to help us in our money troubles or marital conflict or other everyday issues. But then think of how many times we pray for God to take away our selfish desires. I know I don't pray that as much as I should and I am struggling with it! I think at least for me something inside is afraid of giving up my selfishness. There is a unknown with going out and being a servant and reaching out, if I just think about myself I can avoid that. If I just think about me I can stay safe in my little bubble, but I am missing out! So giving lip service to unselfishness is really easy but moving to action is much more difficult, almost like fighting our own human nature. Jesus gives me hope because he accomplished true servanthood. And if our Savior was willing to get on his hands and knees and wash his disciples feet, I think I can pursue servant hood as well. I know God can heal us of this sickness of selfishness, I think we just have to find the will to say yes Lord.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Welcome back from somewhere

Well well well, back at it again. I think that 3 posts in 2 months is great work people, so no more grumbling about my post frequency. You can say I have been a little busy, buying a house. leaving the country and so on. Ha see now you feel bad for thinking I was just being lazy. With so much going on I have not had a lot of time to gather my thoughts. As I near my 26th birthday I feel like its a great time for some reflection on where the last few months have taken me.

I just got back from spending 7 days in Guatemala City, Guatemala on a missions trip. It was truly a life changing experience and there as so many memories that I will take from the trip. But while I was there I could not help but think about some very problematic thoughts and questions I kept having. Why is my heart not like that of God's? Why can't I feel for the poor and the unfortunate? I have now in my life been on missions trips to Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala and each time I am blown away by how people live and their not so great situations. This bothers me, well of course it bothers us but there is something more to it for me. I get frustrated that it takes me going on a trip to feel for the needs of the struggling people. Now I know that this is part of a missions trip to spark our desire to help. But as of right now I am 0 for 2 on having missions trips make a permanent change in me. I am not saying they have not been impactful, because they have. But as soon after I get back to my comfort bubble here in MN you really wouldn't be able to see a difference in my life. One of my selfish goals through this blog is to inspire myself into some life changes, and this is one area I need some change. I would be fairly surprised if I am the only person who suffers from this disease of not caring. I feel that the church as a whole struggles in this area. Now we do send out missionaries and have wonderful ministries that help people in need. But what I am getting at here isn't about those things. Its about each of us in our hearts truly feeling for the less fortunate. And there very little chance that anyone will be able to convince me that the church in the US has been sensitive to this. We all cry and get emotional during the videos on Sunday morning and some of us get out the checkbook and give something to help the sad people in the video. Some of us get motivated and decide we will help on a missions trip and we go and serve. All of these things are great but my question is, do we truly have a change of heart? Should we spend only a few moments each year thinking and caring about the unfortunate? Or does God call us to change our way of thinking? To truly mirror his heart for the unfortunate I think something needs to change in us. I guess I think of it this way, while Jesus was on this earth who did he spend his time with? Let's see tax collectors, former prostitutes and fishermen. Not exactly a who who's list but he wasn't here thinking the way we think. He was here for the lost and abandoned. It bothers me that as of yet I haven't been able to see things that way. This isn't a lightswitch I can flip but I feel that maybe now at almost 26 I am willing to let him change my heart for the lost and abandoned. I am excited to see where that leads me. Here are some words I wrote down while in Guatemala that I think help explain how I feel.

Time to Understand
Lord give me courage when things seem to overwhelm me
Lord give me strength when I can no longer move
Lord give me joy even when I want to despair
Lord give me hope when I have nowhere to turn
There are times when I cant go on
But I wont take your help
There are times where you seem so far away
to hear my whispers for help
Lord give me what I need for each day and nothing more
Lord give me wisdom to know when others need to hear
"He loves you"
Lord tangle my heart with yours so I begin to fade away
There are times when I will say no
Because I am scared of where yes will take me
There are times I wont go because
I lack the faith to trust you
Lord in the moment's that I can't
Let me learn that you always can
I am too selfish at times to be
compassionate for the needy
Lord give me your heart for the unfortunate
At my best I am a broken vessel
Lord heal me and fill me up
Make my reliance on you total
And make my praise for you continuous
Lord thank you for showing me it takes everything

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Second Time Around

So I think I can say that my very first dive into blogging was not a colossal failure. I do reserve the right to mess things up at any time. I hope that if I start making consistent commentary on growing fruits and vegetables or start talking about politics everyday that everyone (4 people) will stop reading my blog immediately. Thank you to everyone who has checked out this blog so far. If you can think of anyone who would be interested in the ramblings of a 25.83 year old church volunteer then pass this along.

I was inspired by a conversation I had the other day and it really got me thinking. Here are the questions that I have been wrestling with. Are some of us OK with ordinary? Do some of us settle for less? Before we get too carried away let me clarify. I know that we are all ordinary people, and we all have different gifts and abilities. What I mean by ordinary is the picture of the american dream, the ordinary life. The 9-5 job, the nice neighborhood and so on you can fill in the other details. Do we strive for the wrong ordinary? Is there something more for us? I think deep in all of us there is an attraction to the adventure or the journey. We are always pushing to get somewhere, a better job, a bigger house, to be smarter and better looking. We strive to become better people and some of us try to become "better" at our walks with God. Some of these things will be accomplished in this lifetime and some will not. But that doesn't stop us from continuing the pursuit. But sometimes when we achieve our goals we get stuck. The pursuit of ordinary we will call it, is working towards and achieving our "dreams" and then becoming totally OK with that being it. What if that's not all? What if God is calling us to something more or something different? What if his ordinary looks way different than ours? What if his plan really isn't ordinary at all? Are we willing to accept that this is possible? In the christian faith we always talk about our desire to not be "comfortable" that we want God to push us outside our comfort zones. My question is why do we continue the pursuit of ordinary? It's one of the biggest lip services we give, that we don't want to "settle" or be "comfortable". But if you stop and search your heart, isn't that at times exactly what we want? We want by the world's standards to look successful, in essence we want to be safe. If we were truly willing to step outside of that, what would happen? What if that meant moving to the middle of a jungle and living in a hut? What if that meant quitting your job? Quitting the pursuit of ordinary and pursuing what God has for us requires us to believe God at his word, that he really does have a plan for us. I am not saying we need to become extremists and all sell everything and live on that small island. But I think that we should be willing to. I think some of us need to accept that he has called us to minster locally. God has a plan for all of us and it may not meet our standards of ordinary. I think we don't have to worry about arriving, we just need to keep moving. One step at a time. We don't even need to see where we are going, we just need to trust that he will get us there, where ever that is. The beauty and the curse of blogging is that I can raise interesting questions but not always know or have a clue what the answers are. I am still, like I said wrestling with these thoughts and ideas and I am excited that it might take quite awhile to come to any sort of answers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The start or the end of something

I have been having a internal debate for some time now. The question I continue to ask myself is, "Do I really want to be one of those people?" By those people, I mean those of you across the great expanse of the Internet with a blog. The answer to that question was and still is a resounding NO, but here I am writing my first blog post. It feels like a nice leap off a 1o foot cliff. Its not going to ruin me but it will probably feel really crappy. Anyways hopefully this will keep all those crazy voices in my head quiet for a bit.....just kidding. I decided to label this site slightly deep thoughts and observations because I wanted to be able to spread my humor to everyone that reads this. If you think about it if I were to take off the word slightly from the title, people would be expecting C.S Lewis, Billy Graham or Socrates. Now with one word I have completely lowered everyone's expectations and put myself right where I want to be. This now allows me to spread my wonderful cheer and try to touch on a serious topic here or there.

So onto the things that I want to testify about. Here's an idea, what if we were authentic in every single thing that we did each day. What if we let other people know we were broken? Why do we first try to fake it? For example I have been going to church all my life, (approx 25.83 years) and there is no other place I have ever been where people fake it more. You may be asking what is "Faking it" Faking it hides the truth, it comes from those times, where we lie and mask the things in our lives that we don't want people to see. It's almost arrogant, we want to seem like we have it all together, that we are better than other people. Like the Saviour that we say we follow hasn't put together all of our broken pieces. Shouldn't the church be the place where the most humble people reside? Aren't we by asking our king to save us, admitting our failure? We needed someone to save us and he did and we know it. So why is it that when people talk about the church they use words like "Arrogant" and "Judgemental?" Do people want to hear that they are failures? Do you want to hear that? I don't, how would people respond to the phrase "We are failures," cause we all are. I am no longer just willing to accept masking my life to avoid having other people look at it. I can't say that I won't fake it anymore or that I am going to lose the desire to fake it. But if we are supposed to show others his light, then I guess we need to be see through.