Monthly Archives: January 2009

Where are we going?

Patrick Mead is running a new series on his blog about what happened to the disciples after Jesus ascended.  It’s been very interesting.  Yesterday, I finished reading his entry on Thomas, and something in it struck a nerve.

In John 14:1-7, Jesus tells the disciples not to worry.  He’s about to leave them to return to the Father, but he’s going there to prepare a place for them, he’ll return later and take them with him.  Jesus also tells them that they know the way to the place.

Thomas then asks the obvious question — We don’t have a clue where you’re going.  How can we know the way? (my paraphrase)

roadThis sentiment feels familiar to me.  There have been plenty of days when I wonder in my mind — and occasionally even aloud — God, I have no idea where you want me to go, what you want me to do, where you’re leading me.  How am I supposed to get there?

Let me explain.  When I was young, I actually believed them when they told me that God had a plan for me.  And I know a plan when I see one.  Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, . . . , Step 41, Step 42.  Ta-da!  Plan complete! Now that’s a plan.  You follow it step-by-step.  You get to the end and achieve the goal.  It’s a way to go from where you are to where you want to be.  Or in this case, where God wants me to be.

In the last few years or so, I’ve begun to question whether God really has a plan in the same sense that I’ve been expecting.  My walk in Christ just doesn’t fit the image that I’ve had of God having a step-by-step plan for me.  Either I’m missing it or it’s not that kind of plan.

Thankfully, Thomas fleshes it out for me.

When Thomas tells Jesus that they have no clue where he’s going or how to get there, Jesus doesn’t answer with a detailed plan or turn-by-turn directions (Garmin Nuvi-style).  He answers by telling Thomas:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 — That’s the verse you use to brow-beat someone when they think that you can get to heaven some other way than Christ.  Okay — I believe that’s true . . . well, not the brow-beating part.

But maybe there’s something more here.  Instead of looking for a step-by-step plan from God to guide my every major decision, maybe I need to be looking at the Way / Truth / Life that he’s already given me.

As oversimplistic as WWJD seems, maybe that’s exactly what I need to be considering.  There are no step-by-step directions to follow.  Just follow Jesus because he leads the way to my final destination and hopefully he’ll help me be a blessing at all points between here and there.

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More Christian media on the way

Purpose Driven Connection

Purpose Driven Connection

It must be exciting being Rick Warren these days.  Six months ago, he was just another pastor at a mega-church and author of Purpose-Driven series of books, memorabilia, bobble-head dolls, and action figures.  (Okay, maybe not the dolls & action figures.  Rick — if you’re reading this, bobble-head dolls & action figures are a great idea and could make your Purpose-Driven empire complete.) In the last several weeks, it seems that the mantle of “Pastor to Presidents” has been passed from Billy Graham to Rick Warren.

Earlier this week, I read an article in a national newspaper that Rick Warren is starting a new quarterly magazine, Purpose Driven Connection., complete with an accompanying DVD and access to a Christian social networking website (similiar to Facebook?).

I just have to ask a question:  Why?

This isn’t a criticism of Rick Warren.  Never met him.  We don’t hang out on weekends.  I’m guessing he’s a great guy.  My question is about why Christians need another magazine and special social networking site.  (Let’s call it FaceBible for now.)

Christians are already perceived to live in a bubble, their faith incapable of being exposed to regular life — out there.  I’m not saying it’s true or false, just that we are perceived that way.  It seems to me that this helps reinforce that perception.

Setting those perceptions aside . . . I’m sure Rick Warren’s new projects will be successful.  I hope subscribers for this new magazine and FaceBible (that’s my fictitious name for it) use them as tools to move out of the pews and into the community.  Like Jesus did in his ministry — living, walking, and talking among normal, everyday people.  And admittedly, like I should be doing more of in my own personal ministry.

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Why ‘blink fast’?

carcrash1I think I know why people go to races (NASCAR, Indy, F1, etc).  I think they go to see the crashes.  (Full disclosure: I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.  I’ve been to a few minor races, but I’m not a racing fan.  The only race I follow is the Indy 500, and that’s primarily because that’s what people do in Indiana in May.)

Watching from the stands, my eyes are glued to the action, watching & waiting for someone to make a mistake or bump another car, then spin out of control.  It’s exciting, and it makes for a long, exhausting day.  Constantly scanning the field of cars, watching every turn, waiting, waiting.  The only reprieve from this focused concentration comes under a yellow flag.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually witnessed a crash happen.  Only the aftermath.  (You have to actually go to races to see one, or hope the camera guys are on their toes.  But it’s just not the same seeing it on TV.)

Sometimes, I’m distracted.  Looking at another part of the track.  In the restroom, taking a different kind of pit stop.  But even when I’m in my seat and watching intently, I blink.  Maybe a long blink, to kind of give my eyes a brief rest.

In the blink of an eye, I miss the big crash of the day.

I think that’s the way life is.  Only there are more distractions.  There are lots of interesting moments.  I miss most of them because I’m not paying attention, I’m in a hurry, or (if you’ll indulge me) I’m blinking.

Life goes by fast enough already.  And so much of it seems mundane and ordinary.  But does it have to be?  Methinks not.

So, I’m sitting up.  Paying attention.  Eyes on the track.  And I know I have to blink, but I’m going to blink fast.  I can’t wait to see something interesting happen.

So, blink fast it is.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Some unsolicited advice….

Two days ago, we visited friends who had just come home with their first baby.  Great looking boy.  Mom, Dad, and Baby are doing well.  When I walked into the nursery, Baby was sleeping like one (or at least the way the cliche says that they do).  Mom said some cute things that moms say about their newborns, but I sensed that words were inadequate for what she was feeling.  Dad’s chest was swelled with pride.  Great-looking family.  It was a good feeling.  And it brought back good memories.

Looking around the room, I saw several familiar things.  The perfectly assembled and as yet, unused crib.  Perfect paint on the walls, sans the scrawls and scribbles of a toddler.  Burp cloths, newborn diapers, changing table, etc etc.  Even the little log sheet for recording feedings and diapers.  Everything in its place.

While taking in that moment, I almost had diarrhea of the mouth, spewing out advice on parenting, coping, adjusting, etc.  But I swore to myself long ago, that I would not be that guy.  Milestones in life tend to make everyone else think they are an expert.  It’s as if they don’t impart this allegedly unique bit of wisdom with you, you’ll be doomed to make terrible mistakes that will scar you for life.  And of course, all this advice and wisdom comes unsolicited.  It always does.

I know they mean well, but it’s one of my few pet peeves.  You know what I mean….

  • When you were engaged to be married, how many people told you that your freedom would be gone?  Or that life would change forever?
  • When they find out you’re expectant parents, they attempt to be clever or helpful by saying something about sleep deprivation, how expensive kids are, or that those kids will be grown and out of the house before you know it.

I mean this next sentence with this all possible kindness and sensitivity — if I want your advice, I’ll ask for it.  If you really, really think I need to hear it, then at least give me the courtesy of asking if I want your advice.

Like I said about our friends . . . they make a great-looking family.  On my way out, I told them that I was happy for them beyond words, gave Dad a heart-felt hug, and said goodbye.

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