July 24, 2010
This evening I spoke at NBC Camps. Tonight my talk was on the power we have everyday to 1) choose to speak/be Life into people; 2) choose to make the decision between being identified by our activities/circumstances or first thinking through (prayerfully) the kind of people we want to be in the end and working today to set the table.
I’ve recently talked on this topic and I thought it had presented well, and through my preparation God used that message to stir up the hearts of a couple of campers. The Lord is doing some pretty cool things in their life.
Today, when it was my turn to speak again, I found myself praying that God would again grant me the same grace and delivery as last week despite my lack of adequate preparation. I thought I could just waltz up there and deliver the same partially extemporaneous message, and in the process I attempted to leverage God into giving me great words without first having a clear, focused, speech prepared.
I talked on identity. Then I proceeded to put my identity in the grade I would give myself. “I was a B-…maybe C+”. I started to dialogue with other staff passive-aggressively probing for a compliment. That’s when the veil fell. That’s when I felt exposed and guilty and frustrated.
Truth is I wasn’t being a good representative of NBC Camps and I wasn’t honoring God. I prayed, “God use me tonight” which was code for “I didn’t prepare enough and I want you to throw me a bone”. God doesn’t owe me that; He doesn’t owe me anything.
May I never forget this lesson. May the Lord brand on my heart and mind the night when I spoke my words and not His Word.
June 23, 2010
I’m reading a book written by a beloved professor from my Alma Mater Whitworth University – Dr. Jerry Sittser. Jerry teaches a year-long History of Christianity class (broken up into two semesters) which is required by all students endeavoring the Theology Major. Jerry teaches “like a house on fire”. Most of the time I scratched between 2-5 pages of single-spaced notes floundering to keep up, pay attention, and engage in the material. Needless to say, it was a tussle that I both loathed and craved.
Jerry’s class was a beautifully woven tapestry of Christian history (think Augustine, Popes, Councils, and the Reformation) and Christian Spirituality (think the Desert Fathers, Teresa de Avilla, Saint John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul, Christian Mysticism, and monastery asceticism). He passionately argued that although, the New Testament closes with Revelation, God’s work in history doesn’t end in AD 75.
That brings me to today. Today I travel to Seattle to take a class for work. Jerry’s book Water from a Deep Well – Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries has already challenged me to pull out Augustine’s Confessions and remember how we learn.
CS Lewis writes in an essay Meditations in a Toolshed that there are 2 ways to learn something. You can look at a subject from another point of view – which can lead us into a booby-trap of superiority issues – or we can look along it, allowing the subject itself to illuminate the world for us.
May the Lord help me read Scripture this way. So often I use my mind to strip the Word of its influence on my heart and, maybe more a grotesque feat, I can read Scripture with an arrogant familiarity.
When you hear the phrase “Christian Spirituality” what comes to mind? Does it, like it does for me, make you feel uncomfortable? Why does this phrase make us cringe? I hope to be open to what Jerry is going to teach me through this book. I’m excited for the fresh perspective.
June 20, 2010
Every good book starts with a preface.
Let me explain why I decided to join the hundreds of millions of people who blog regularly. It’s not because I have a love for words, pouring out my soul via the worldwide web, or because I think it’s the thing to do. Rather it’s because if you know me you know I most often speak quickly and labor to listen. This is an attempt to listen. Not to you, but to me. Maybe this will be a thing I do for a season. Maybe this is something I’ll do for years. But hopefully it will be something that allows me to process what I’m reading, learning and hearing. Investigate thoroughly who I am and what I stand for. Listen patiently as God expresses over and over again his fondness and love for us….for me.
Whether one person reads this or ten or a hundred my journey will not be any less fulfilling.
And lastly on the name. I’ve been doing some yardwork and some gardening recently around my house. I’ve discovered two things – both of which I already knew: 1) I procrastinate doing things that are hard and 2) pulling weeds are hard work. The tap roots are often deeper than expected. Sometimes the weeds have sharp barbs that make it hurt to pull out. Sometimes they have pretty flowers on them giving me the illusion of something other than a weed. This metaphor has been powerful for me these last few weeks.
Additionally, feel free to comment whenever and however you want. If I’m going to be honest you should be able to be too.