Friday, October 19, 2007

Achieving Holiness

“I can only do what I see the Father doing” - Jesus
“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a half a pound of cocaine and a sixteen year old girl with legs so long you’ll need a step ladder to get up them - that may not be happiness, but it’s alright” – Randy Newman (the next best thing)

Our contemporary consumer value set reaches far and wide within and around our Christian language, culture, and most broadly life. We use phrases that, if not directly taken from our secular culture, are a pretty damn close carbon copy.

One such phrase that struck me during a conversation with a friend, was the simple “more of”; for example: “more of God”, “more holiness”, “I want more of your peace.” Now while there is nothing “wrong” with the more phrases, I have begun to realize just how at their heart, they are stunningly consumer value driven. No one in our current climate could argue that “more” is bad. Bigger, better, more, larger are all synonymous with greater. When we ask (for example) for “more holiness” it feels more like an all-you-can eat buffet, where holiness is the extra mashed potatoes we’re trying to fit on the side of our plate ‘o Godliness. And provided we don’t trip on our way back to the table, we can get “more holiness” in our life.

So we ask for more holiness in our lives, and we’ll try to squeeze it in; right beside “more God” and “more time with God.” And this creates one heck of a problem as we eat, not to be satisfied with what God wants, but rather out sample a bit of everything at the salad bar. While it’s not necessarily bad, it misses the point altogether as we struggle to figure out what expressions of these characteristics should be. Our expressions through time become learned and not sought, our balance becomes skewed – and before long, we find ourselves hopelessly overweight, and wondering how anyone can actually do this.

Our contemporary consumer value set has us walking up a ladder with no end – when I would argue that this sort of language creates a metaphor, that creates an attitude, that creates a motive that is ultimately hmm how do I say…unfulfilling.

What if the metaphor was shifted to something of asking to have the exact meal that we should have at that time? Calories, health, etc. to the wind – we simply ask for the right meal and stop going after the most “bang” for our buck.

What would worship look like if we spent more time worshiping who God is and not asking for more potatoes? What would prayer be like? Would we find the bible interesting?

I’ll slow down now – as I should get to bed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


"To be able to regulate "velocity," both our desired speed and the pace of accelaration is undobutedly a useful skill. One of the signs of discernment and wisdom in this area is the ability to know when to move forward and when to stand still. Aquiring this skill requires clarity of purpose and some moments of quiet reflection. For many people, the busyness creates a sense of motion without necessarily having any real sense of direction. Even though the people are working hard, they are moving further away from any form of life and career satisfaction. Activity without focus creates an imbalance and does not contribute to our overall well-being." [Norm Amundson - Physics of Living]

There are many times when I envy the skilled, driven and [excuse me while I puke] "called" individual. The doctors, engineers, and mechanics of the world. With clarity, and purpose they seek out their education, plunk into their career and emerge from it 30 some odd years later, a satisfied individual. Sure there are some bumps along the way, but this, this "whatever" can be enough of a pull to by and large keep them on the "straight and narrow"

There are many who do not set up any parameters for regulating velocity in their life. They accept it for what it is - and tend to respond to things that throw their velocity off by introducing their head to the sand. This bear down and give 'er framework is really the reality of most indivuduals - whether "called" to a career or not. I would argue it is in fact more common amonst the "called" and even most amonst the "called christian" than the 'non.' Excuse the broad strokes.

"Activity without focus creates an imalance and does not contribute to our overal well-being" - it seems to plague many christians. Zeal without foresight, or rather zeal without insight is easy; I guess it's zealously ignorant. And so our lives tend to be articulated by much activity with little focus. We are called, committed and guilted into just about everything with zeal and enthusiasm - but our parameters for creating a healthy vocational or even just life velocity are simply non-existant. So we're busy busy busy for the kingdom with little focus - and yet wonder why we burn out (velocity overload).

There are many ways to regulate velocity, people have made millions selling formulas for the right life- but ultimately, as Christians we are not called to the "right life" neither are we even called to a perfect velocity. We are however, called to live in response to what the spirit is doing, saying leading etc. And while most of the times I have no idea what's going on up there in the sky (I keep thinking their just doing some internal housecleaning), I can promise that much of this deafness comes from a velocity that does not allow for a life of response. As motion is confused with intention, production with purpose it becomes increasingly difficult to slow down, and listen.

"I can't find the joy within my soul, it's just sadness takin hold. I wanna come in from the cold, and make myself renewed again. It takes strength to live this way, the same old madness everyday, I want to kick these blues away, I want to learn to live again. All the fires of destruction are still burning in my dreams. There's no water that can wash away this longing to come clean..."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hot and Ready

There's a difference between being full and being satisfied Jeff.
Being full takes no skill at all. Anyone can be full - it's addictive, it's temporarily satisfying, it does the job. No one, when I talk to them at 50, says they intended to be this overweight. It just came about, from eating poorly over the years.
If our goal is not to be full, if our goal (stay with the food metaphore Jeff) is to be satisfied, to enjoy what we are producing; then how does that change our intentions? See because intentions are what lead us to Goals. Even if you don't have goals (because of your so called 'intuitive decision making'), what are your intentions when you eat?
We live in a time when for $5 you can have a medium pizza. $5 will FILL you up. You don't have to wait for it - just walk in and pay. What does that say about the quality of living?
I'm not trying to overwhelm you with metaphores, or even saying that your life is on a crash course (may or may not be). Eating well (metaphorically) can actually just start with understanding intentions - of course we will have to look at some suggested recipies, and ways of cooking at some point - but for now, just think of the intentions. The thing is however, not to sound too harsh, but, you actually need to do this. Otherwise, all the future talk of cooking, all of our discussions around leadership, church, god, friends, community - whatever - are useless unless we start with basic principles of nutrition.
and i close with a passage:

In this there is no measuring with time. A year doesn't matter; ten years are nothing. To be an artist means not to compute or count; it means to ripen as the tree, which does not force its sap, but stands unshaken in the storms of spring with no fear that summer might not follow. It will come regardless. But it comes only to those who live as though eternity stretched before them, carefree, silent and endless. I learn it daily, learn it with many pains, for which I am grateful: Patience is all!

Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Did you ever lie awake when you were a child listening to them talking down below? You couldn't understand what they were saying, but it was a noise that somehow comforted. So it is now with me. I am happy listening, saying nothing. The house is not on fire, there's no burglar lurking in the next room: I don't want to understand or believe. I would have to think if I believed. I don't want to think anymore. I can build you all the rabbit hutches you need without thought."