"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

This morning my family will be making our annual trip to the cities to spend Christmas with our extended family. All that separates us from the laughter of family, the card games, the food, the stories and gathering together to worship a God who wrapped himself in the skin of a helpless baby is a 6-7 hour car ride. But I don't mind the car ride, in fact I enjoy it. one of our traditions is reading through all the Christmas cards and letters we have received as we make the drive. It is fun to hear the highlights of the past year for family friends we may have lost touch with over the years, and it is always exciting to hear how God is moving in working in lives. The Christmas letter has always been a bit of a big deal in this family. Dad used to have one of us kids draw the cover of the letter every year. One year he had our Uncle Steve, a cartoonist do caricatures of our family. Now that we three kids of busy schedules are, the cover of our letter rarely is original art work, but dad still tries to be "original". A big challenge every year is finding a family photo that every one can agree on. This is our Christmas Card Photo this year. I suggested it as a joke, but we went with it. This is the power of catching a family in a goofy mood. Some people will be getting the "face forward" version, but my shirt says "Unicorn, the other white meat" so, I win either way, really. This is a Christmas letter photo from before JaNae was born....

May your Christmas be more joyous then riding a kitten with your family. May we all, like Mary, Ponder the wonders of our Lord, the baby in a manger, in our hearts this Christmas season. God bless.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I would like to ask any of you who read this to pray for a precious little girl, and her family. On the 17th of Nov my Cousin Nicole and her Husband Matt were blessed with a beautiful little girl. They named her Evangeline. They soon discovered that Evie was born with a heart defect. Evie was scheduled for surgery today at Children's Memorial Hospital, but it has been postponed. As of know, I do not know when the surgery has been rescheduled to.

I am so thankful for the faith of Matt and Nicole, and that they are parents anchored in a relationship with Christ. Though this is a scary time, it is comforting to think on this little ones name, Evangeline, and how God will use this whole experience to speak to many people in a powerful way. what a beautifully powerful and appropriate name.

Please pray for Evie's surgery. that God will grant wisdom to the surgeons and guide their hands. Pray that God will grant peace and trust to Matt and Nicole in this very difficult time. Pray for grandparents, family, friends, doctors and all the people who are tied to this special little person.

if you would like to know more you can visit http://evangelinemarie.blogspot.com/

thank you for your prayers

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Yesterday I picked up my Philosophy of Science text book, The Soul of Science; Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that its actually quite an enjoyable read. As I was reading I came across this sentence, "The Bible stands firmly against any deification of the creation." I had to read the sentence again. "That doesn't make any sense." I read it once more. In my mind I was reading, "The Bible stands firmly against any defecation of the creation." I was reading it wrong. Deification, Defecation. It just shows how easily "I" can make a god out of a loud of crap.

What do we make into gods in our lives? what or whom do we worship with our time and energy? What am I placing before Christ?

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ--Philippians 3:8

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pain Valley

Pain is a thief that robs my comfort, and reaches eagerly for my hope, but I refuse to let him take it away. There is such a struggle. I yell, "Stop! Thief!" but I am so alone. So alone with all these people.

Everything looks bleak, and nothing sounds so good as leaving everything behind and going home. but going to a home that no longer even exists, a home where I am a child again, and I have friends and family to laugh with, a place where I can run around with Nerf guns and watch cartoons and bike to the park and float homemade boats down the river.

I hurt. Is it selfish to say that?

I watched this survival show on TV. This guy is in a desert and he desperately needs to find water to survive. He finds this valley, and at the bottom of it is water. but it's stagnant and full of dead animals and filth, he'd be better off without it. and though he's in the middle of one of the hottest deserts on the planet, the water is below freezing. So he works his way down into this canyon, and now he needs to find his way out. but the walls are so steep, and he is all alone.

Why is it that in the the lowest trenches of our darkest valleys we begin to see our failures and faults even more clearly. The ice cold sludge of who we really are sloshes around our shivering bodies and we long for the warmth of the sun.

I can never return to the comforting home of my childhood (even if I could, it would be selfish to do so), and even though the warmth of the sun seems nothing but a dream, I am not alone.

I don't think there is anything quite as astonishingly beautiful as these two things; a person who willingly enters into the valley just to walk through it all with the wanderer. Second is that the Creator of the wanderer and of the valley leads the way, revealing truth as they go.

Pain steals my comfort, and he can have it. But he can't take my hope, because I know I am loved, and that one day, I will feel the sun once again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I am a worm.

Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. --Isaiah 41:14

Here is the truth. I am a sinner, a coward, a liar, a cheater. I can be cruel and inconsiderate. I have hurt people I love, (indeed, those I love most) and I continue to do so. I fail and fall, and sometimes I am scared to even try getting up again. I am little. Even more then little, I am a worm.

Yet for some reason,...Christ died and rose again for the sake of humanity so that anyone who believes and calls on his name might be in relationship with him from now and until forever. This is a paradox to me. Why does the LORD desire to redeem a worm?

Matt Chandler, one of my favorite preachers, shared this verse in his message on Oct 21 (hear it at thevillagechurch.net). He talks about "the Cult of Self-esteem" the idea that "you are good, I am good, and the answer to all our woes is feeling better about ourselves and attaching Jesus name to it."

He claims there are two messages "one that says you are worthless and in need of a savior and the other one says you are so worthy, you got a savior."

Matt gives some character examples from scripture. here is a few of them.

Abraham referred to himself as dust and ashes,

John said he was not worthy of touching Christ's sandals.

Peter, as he fell to the feet of Christ said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful wicked man."

Paul said that he is the foremost of sinners.

Notice that God doesn't respond to these men. He doesn't ever say, "Don't talk about yourself in that way." or, "I created you. You are far greater then dust and ashes in my eyes."

This sermon intrigued me, and at the same time, bothered me. I think sometimes we forget how insignificant we are in comparison to our Creator. I think at other times, we compare ourselves to the next guy, and think we are doing pretty well...only to be reminded that no one is righteous...no not one. We are all totally helpless, and 100% unworthy.

But, I am left with questions.

Are we really worthless? I am bothered to hear this said. If so, why does God send his only son to save people of no worth? We must have worth for God to willingly give up so much for our sake. God does not need us. But I believe he wants us. if we have worth for no other reason, we have worth in that the God of the universe desires to redeem us and have relationship with us. He created us in his image. When we are saved, as Matt Chandler would say, our value is in the fact that we bear evidence to God's grace.

We have nothing we can give to God that he hasn't already given us. Our worth is not in our own strength or in our own being, but in the one who made us.

I cannot praise God for the great man I am, because,...I'm not. I can praise him for the great God he is, and that he loves me despite my lowly state.

I am a worm. Yes, that is true. But I am a worm that God desires to redeem. Thank you Lord.

Monday, August 13, 2007

hug a lefty today

Today is a good day. Why? because it is August 13 today. Why is August 13th a good day? Because today is Left handers day. Some people may say that this is not fair. Those people are wrong. We live in a right handed world. Every day is the right day but only one is the left day. On average, right handed people live longer then lefties. Some of you may think this is bogus, but if you think about it, it really makes sense that righties would live lives of peace and harmony while lefties die young. Everything is designed with right handed people in mind. Where is the mouse of a computer? how many desks in schools are left handed? Lefties have to rest their wrists on the brutal spirals of notebooks as they write, every word feeling the intense pain of leftiness. what side of the machine are the buttons on a pop machine? Lefties know the anguish of the scissors. The pain is as emotional as physical. Guitars. Most are designed with the right handed person in mind. You rest your right hand on the Bible while making an oath. You place your right hand on your heart while pledging aligence. the wedding ring goes on the right hand. People shake each others right hands in greeting. the left hand is left to the dirty work. I could continue, and would continue, but I don't feel like it, and since it is my holiday, I won't. This is a dominantist world. You don't believe me? Look at this--"Right handed" and "South Paw". South Paw? Yes, we are reduced to animals! Maybe some of you are finally seeing the truth. Maybe some of you are saying, "You know Tyler, you are RIGHT" But what you really mean to say is "Tyler, you are CORRECT". Is there any justice left in this world? No, it is all right.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Condemints and the Kingdom

There was a popular commercial that came out in the mid eighties. It has been satirized in the movie Wayne's World as well as in many TV shows. It starts out with this beautiful Rolls Royce driving down a quaint country road. It comes to a stop as another Rolls Royce pulls up along side it. the back window rolls down and a man in a fine suit says with a perfect British accent, "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?"

With one ad, the way we view mustard was changed. All of a sudden mustard moves from the world of the squeeze bottle-everyday man to the high class world of the rich Grey Poupon Sophisticate.

But, I think Jesus had a different view of mustard. In Matthew 13, Jesus describes the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven through the use of Parables. As we look at some of these parables, specifically the parable of the mustard plant, our challenge is to ask ourselves, "How do we live as the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth?" Matthew, 13:31-33 says,

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Shane Claiborne, in his short sermon on this passage pictures giggles from the crowd, and maybe even a few hushes directed towards Jesus as he shared these stories. We hear it said that cleanliness is next to godliness. to a Jewish person at this time, orderliness was next to holiness. The mustard plant was far from orderly. It was like a weed. It could quickly take over a garden, choking out the other vegetables. Father Thomas Keating says that a mustard plant in a household garden was forbidden.

But Jesus goes on. He tells how the birds will come and make nests in its branches. Shane Claiborne, points out how this imagery isn't anything new to this audience. They would be familiar with the Psalms and the Prophet Ezekiel speaking of the Cedars of Lebanon and the Birds resting in their branches. Ezekiel 17:22-23 says,

22 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. 23 It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches.

So here is an image of God making his kingdom into something great and majestic. a Cedar of Lebanon, not much different then the Great Redwood Trees of California that tourists gaze upon with awe. These people hold the image of these great Cedars in their heads, and then Jesus says that The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard plant. From a tall tree to a garden shrub. Not much more then a weed.

The Jewish people expected the Messiah to be a great political and military leader that would bring them their freedom. They expected a Cedar of Lebanon who would stretch out his branches, not a man who illegally plants mustard in a garden.

Ezekiel later speaks of Assyria as being once like a Cedar of Lebanon (chapter 31) with its great branches outstretched to the birds. He said all the trees in the garden of Eden were jealous of it. But because of its pride in its beauty, God cuts it down.

So what do we learn from this?

The first lesson we learn in living as the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth is that it starts small, but then it grows. And more importantly, it spreads. It stretches across the whole garden, affecting all plants in its path. It isn't majestic like the Cedars of Lebanon (that majesty we will witness in Christ's second coming). It is simple, it is common. It isn't proud.

Jesus's audience probably would be just as startled by His parable of the yeast. Throughout the old testament, on many occasions yeast is viewed as unclean, something to be avoided. it was often associated with evil. Shane Claiborne points out that Jesus spoke of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16). Their yeast was false teaching. And here Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like Yeast. Why?

This is our second lesson. I believe that once again Jesus is speaking of how the Kingdom of God spreads, this time showing how it permeates culture. Unlike the Pharisees yeast that was false teaching, I believe The Kingdom of Heaven's yeast is God's perfect truth.

But let us savor this mustard a bit more. Why a mustard plant? though it is a humble plant, not much more then a weed, Mustard is powerful.

Both Ray C. Stedman and Shane Claiborne share this story. Darius, king of the Persians, invaded Europe with a great army, and met Alexander the Great. To taunt Alexander, Darius sent him a bag of sesame seeds , indicating the vast multitude of soldiers he had at his command. When Alexander received this taunting gift, he sent back a bag of mustard seed to say, "You may be many, but we're tough and biting and pungent. We can handle you."

Our third Lesson is that the kingdom of heaven carries a message that is powerful, biting and pungent. But it is also flavorful. It is desirable. As Jesus said, the birds rest in its branches.

I agree with Shane Claiborne when he says that these birds are the anybodies, the fowls the crows, all those who desire to find rest in The Kingdom of Heaven.

In the next two parables, Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as treasures that one is willing to sell all he owns to get a hold of, one a hidden treasure in a field and the other a pearl of great value. Looking at this passage it seems almost idolatrous. Why would someone give up everything for a treasure? He could loose so much more then just his possessions; his family, his friends, his job. It seems idolatrous until we see what this treasure is. It is the simple, perfect truth. It is a place of rest. it is powerful and pungent. It is The Kingdom of Heaven. We are a part of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth now.

Are we living this way?

The other day I was in a bookstore in a mall in Winnipeg. The store had just opened, and the employees where walking around making sure the shelves looked just right. I was looking at a book that my eyes shouldn't have been looking at (not a very strong example of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth) when I overheard a couple employees talking to one another. They spoke of a lady and the employee who had helped her the other day. The lady came in and asked if there was a Christian Books section. The employee brought her to the very small section, but before she left her she said, "If you are looking for a book with some real substance may I suggest you visit our sciences section." The two employees talked about how this was inappropriate, but how they had no problem with what she said. One of them, a young man said to the other, "...I mean, I have no problem with them believing what they believe. Just as long as they don't shove it on me. I don't shove my beliefs on them."

Those words stuck with me. We hold the Kingdom of Heaven in our hands. We hold the greatest treasure. A treasure worth giving up everything for. Should we not desire to share it? If we knew the only way out of a burning building, would we not share that with others, even if they were convinced the flames weren't there? Even if we were convinced they didn't want to hear it?

How do we live as the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth?

Are we growing like mustard grows, becoming more spiritually mature as we spend time in Gods word and in prayer, and silence before him?

Are we spreading like mustard spreads, sharing the joy we have found with others, obeying the great commission of bringing God's truth to the ends of the earth, starting here and growing out?

Are we permeating culture, like yeast permeates, reaching all people in all sorts of ways through the different talents God has given each of us so that we can share his truth?

Are we a place for down trodden birds to find rest?

Are we giving up everything we own for this greatest treasure as so many of our brothers and sisters around the world have to do everyday, many giving up their lives? Or are we like the seeds that fell on rocky soil and when we are persecuted, we give it all up. Or perhaps we are the seeds that fell among the thorns and we get choked out by the distractions, and pleasures of this world.

a couple chapters earlier in Matthew Jesus speaks of John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 says,

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!

Wow. do we believe this? John was great, but his ministry could only point to Jesus's coming. We have seen Jesus fulfill what he came to do, dieing on the cross for mankind and rising again, bring the kingdom of heaven here to earth. John could only point to the one who would bring this truth, we point to the one who has brought this truth.

Yes, mustard is flavorful. Are we? God's word says that salt that has lost its saltiness is good for nothing but trampling under foot. If you take salt and put it on a canker sore, it will sting and hurt, but it will heal. Mustard as well has been used medicinally, and mustard as well carries a bite to it. Its that pungency we've spoken of. We can live in kindness and love to others. We can taste good. But we must come with a bite. We may offend. We may anger. We may be persecuted. We must verbally share the gospel with those who don't have the great treasure we hold. because flavor without the bite just isn't mustard, and that's just not what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn't Grey Poupon. It's the big, yellow squeeze bottle mustard for every man and woman. So, I encourage you, please....Pass the mustard.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Don't sweat the small stuff...wear deodorant

One thing I have struggled with in my faith over my past few years in college is deciding where it is that I stand on certain issues within the church. All of those things that people seem to either have a strong opinion on one side because of several great reasons backed by scripture, or the other side because of several great reasons backed by scripture, and then the other group who doesn't have a strong opinion either way and feels horribly guilty because of it. And of course, you always have a few who really don't care. These are the issues that can't be painted as black and white as I may want them to be. Was the world created in six days? Can women lead men in a church? Are men really spiritual heads? Is their great importance in speaking tongues? Should churches be lead by a pastor? Should Christians listen to secular music? Is their such thing as secular in a world created by God? Do men and women have different gender roles? Is masturbation pure evil? Should Christians fight in and support war? Should Christians allow evil dictators to rule in this world? Is it OK for Christians to drink or smoke? Is it wrong for Christians to shop at Wall mart? Should Christians be involved in Politics?

These are some questions I have heard raised by Christians. Some of whom have opinions as strong as stone. Others who haven't a clue what to think. And those who simply don't care, and choose to stay that way. I myself have developed some pretty strong opinions in some of these areas, others I am still searching, and dare I say it, some...well...maybe I don't care as much as I should.

The thing that I have noticed as I went off to this school of many different Christian backgrounds and people from all over the world is that there is lots of different thoughts then I may find back home in my small town, Minnesota church. I've discovered that I respect many people very much on both sides of several issues. I deeply admire their faith and commitment to Christ. I also admire their desire to stand up for something they believe in.

There is one issue in particular that I have been struggling with for the past few years, desperately striving to see where I stand. I have been reading books about it, and listening to other people whom I respect share their opinions on it, and (this is really important though it seems easily forgotten, sadly) I've even read a few bible passages on it (and will continue to read more), and I thought that I had came to a conclusion...but now I am not so sure. Faith is a development, and it seems to develop rather slowly.

For the first time in my life, I am beginning to see things with different eyes then my parents (that doesn't often happen. I've always wanted to "make my faith my own" by beginning to see things in a different light then my parents, but that's really hard to do when you think your parents are generally right in what they believe). I find it rather intimidating to disagree with pastors, professors, and parents when I respect their knowledge and wisdom. But a spoon fed faith will continue in infancy until it chooses to decide what it believes on its own.

There are a few things I have learned in the struggle of finding where I stand in different issues. First. It is a big deal. Yes, I know. I'm supposed to say it really isn't a big deal, it doesn't define our faith, and that is true,...but it is still a big deal. If it wasn't a big deal, we wouldn't still be hearing sermons preached on gender roles, or news broadcasts on schools teaching intelligent design next to evolution. though these issues aren't "salvation" issues, they still are issues that greatly affect a person's faith. Some people come to faith in Christ because of the way other Christians have viewed these very issues, a view that another Christian may completely disagree with.

Second, I've learned that Christians can be brutal to each other. It is so easy to tear down another Christian who thinks differently, to belittle that person's belief (which often feels like belittling the person), or make their faith appear weak or foolish. For people who are supposed to be characterized by love, we sure throw a lot of knives at each other. And that is the scary thing. These are important issues because they are tied so closely to some Christian's faith. When we belittle a Christian for thinking differently then the way we do, we may very well be attacking something that is key in their faith, something that helped them come to Christ, or remain close to Him. And yes, they are not the most important issue. Jesus said our most important commandment is to love him, and second, to love our neighbor. It is through loving our neighbor, that we show our love to God. Instead of focusing on unity in Christ, it becomes incredibly easy to focus on disunity in opinion. This is one of the most dangerous areas for a Christian to be. Christians fighting against Christians, what could make Satan more ecstatic?

Last, I have learned that it can be easy to sit in the middle of the road, not deciding what it is I want to believe. But I don't want to do that. I feel it is important to decide where I stand. It is in the small (but still important) things that we make our faith our own. Though these issues should never separate us from others, they should none the less remain important pieces of our lives.

Paul says in Philippians 1:7 "...it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News."

We as Christians hold a great truth, the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ that we must confirm to others and fight to defend. But it is the truth of Christ that we must defend. Though the other stuff is important (and our opinions are worth defending), we are focusing on the shiny quarter sitting on a thousand dollar bill when we focus all of our energy on defending the small stuff before focusing on defending the true treasure, our unity in Christ.

So, I will push to come to my own conclusions in all areas until the day I die, not settling to be unsure. But as I do that, As Paul did before me, I will hold my brothers and sisters in Christ in a special place in my heart, remembering that they share God's special favor,...no matter who they voted for in the last election, or which kind of church they attend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about sex lately. I know, that doesn't sound so great. I probably should do some rephrasing, but I won't because I said what I mean. I have had sex on my mind. It really shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. We've all heard that statistic (that no one could ever really prove) that says guys think about sex every ten seconds. I don't know if it's true or not. I don't even know if guys think about sex more then girls do. God created man and woman with sex in mind, and God put it best when he looked at his creation and said, "It is good." Sex is good. We are wired for sex, to desire sex, to create through sex, and to experience intimacy and love with our spouse and God through the act of sex. So why has sex become such a dirty hush hush word within the church? Why is it that every time I type the word sex i feel as if I am doing something a bit risque? Let me tell you why I think I have had sex on my brain. I just ordered a book by Rob Bell called Sex God. I haven't got it yet, so I can't tell you much about it, all I can say is that it is supposed to explore the links between sexuality, spirituality, and God. I thought it sounded incredibly interesting, and it really got me thinking, "How do these things connect?" The more I thought about it, it seemed to me that the bind between sexuality, spirituality and God is huge! God created man to have relationship with him. He created human beings, both male and female so that they could cleave to one another, becoming one flesh. This represents the oneness God has with himself (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), Distinctly three parts but somehow one. And then I thought of Christ calling the church his bride, and how He desires to become one with us. Did God simply create us as beings that cleave to one another in the union of marriage and sex so that he could give us the greatest possible example a human mind can grasp of what we as the church are to be to God? And then there is heaven. Could sex be a glimpse of heaven? Putting aside the sheer physical pleasures of sex as a "heavenly" experience, Heaven can be defined as perfect union with Christ. Since Christ chooses to call us his bride, it makes sense to think of sexual intimacy with ones spouse as an act this side of heaven that resembles our heavenly union with Christ. If all this is true, sex is a holy act, creating a holy union. It not only is a beautiful gift from God to married couples, but it is their gift to God as they reflect the relationship Christ desires to have with his church; intimate and close. It is astounding how we can reduce something so spectacular, beautiful, and holy into a course four letter word and a cheap physical thrill. No wonder hearts are broken, diseases are rampant, and minds are confused. God said the two would become one flesh, yet countless people are willing to share that "flesh" with anyone for the minutes of fun it provides, not taking into account the years of pain that result. No wonder we have a tough time talking about sex in the church. Sex has been belittled from something holy, to something trivial. Isn't it amazing? We've taken something beautiful that reflects God and the relationship he desires to have with us, something that is amazing, incredible and, well...fun, and then narrowed it down to simple bodily mechanics, a physical act, the frosting without the cake, and made it into an idol. The very gift designed to bring us closer to God is placed before him. So I guess I say all of this to confess, that I screw up. I lust. I more often then I wish to admit love sex for all the wrong reasons. I allow my mind, and my eyes to go places they shouldn't, but when I do, I take away the beauty of sex, and steal from myself the opportunity to one day express my love to God in this way and to the one he has saved for me. Perhaps you are sitting right beside me in this sinking boat. We all have made mistakes but just like the prophet Hosea, who took back his adulterous wife, God willingly and lovingly takes us back offering forgiveness and another chance. Christ said to the Adulterous woman in the New Testament, "Go, and sin no more." He knows that there is something so much better for us out there and he wants us to have it. Sex is good. Maybe we should think about it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

From the Inside-Out?

I have heard many Christians say that we are to love God "from the inside-out". I know that I have used this phrase as well. I was thinking about this line today, and I asked myself, why? Why are we to love God from the inside out? what does that mean? The truth is, I have no clue what that means. when I think about it, there is lots of Christian lingo that I don't understand, and if we don't understand it, why should anyone else. One of my favorites is, I want to be "authentic" in my faith, or "real", but I don't know if I am sure what that means either. I think that some Christian's idea of being "real" or "authentic" is swearing when things are going bad, because they aren't hiding their "real" feelings (I still don't know if this is ever really necessary, although I confess to letting a word or two fly when friends of mine are really down in the crapper), or spilling their guts out by sharing personal struggles from behind the pulpit. This is all fine and well in the right place, pastors need to do that from time to time, but I would argue that emptying your personal baggage on your congregation is more self serving then "authentic" community building. But enough of this tangent, this blog isn't about christian lingo, I want to focus on loving God from the inside out and why I think this can be dangerous terminology. What are some of the possible ways in which this line could be read?

I have taken a couple personality tests this year, and one thing that both seem to say is that I often think more quickly with my heart then with my head. I tend to think that in the current Western Christian culture, we are very feeling based. Recognize that I don't have any hard core evidence to back this up, this is just what, from my observation, I would believe is the case. In any case, I know it is often true with me, and perhaps you can relate as well. This is why I find the term "loving from the inside out" bothersome. When we talk about inwardness, we relate it to feelings. When we think about loving from the inside out then, it is easy to think of love sprouting from feeling. When we love on the inside, we show it on the outside. But, I think that perhaps this is a backwards approach.

Sometimes I don't feel like loving others, and in those times, I most certainly don't want to act in love to others. But I believe we really, REALLY need to examine our Faith, Hope, Love, Joy, etc. apart from our feelings. I won't always want to love others, but through demonstrating love to them in my actions (outwards), I learn to love them (inside). I won't always feel like believing in God, or trusting in him, but if I choose to remain faithful and follow him (outward) despite my feelings, I will slowly learn to put my trust in Him and recognize that He has my best interest in mind (inward). I could choose to be joyful, in the mist of great sorrow, whether I'm feeling happy or not. I want to learn to love my neighbor and my God from the outside-in.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Me and Castro

I got a hair cut today, much shorter then I've had it in several years. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I just have to look a bit ridiculous for a few days. For those of you who don't know, I am in a club called Hairy til' January here at school with a few other guys. We haven't shaved since Oct 1st, and aren't shaving until we all get back to school for the semester on the 8th. The beard wasn't so bad when I had my long hair; it looked cheery, as if I was a younger, slender, perhaps sickly Santa Clause. But now, I look like Fidel Castro. I'd rather not look like a dictator, but it does make me feel a bit more powerful...and likely to be assassinated.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A nonpost

I hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas break. I realize that I have not posted in quite some time. I don't often post when I don't feel like posting, and so you see that it has been quite some time since I've felt like saying anything. I guess that's the thing with a blog about nothing, sometimes you have nothing to say. but all of these nothings mean so much somethings to me. that was just a really stupid way of saying that I appreciate having this space to share things even if they aren't earth shattering, even though they are thoughts that have already been formed in the minds of others before me, even though my mind changes and the things I've said I may no longer agree with. My mind has been rather blank for quite some time, and it is hard to scrap up enough paint from an empty pallet to create something of beauty. Right now, I feel like my mind wants to say so much, wants to free itself by blurting everything in me out, but at this moment, I don't know how to do that, or what to say; and so, I deliver a nonpost. This is a post about nothing. but not really. there is something I wanted to tell everyone. I discovered that you can label your posts, and so now I've put the majority of my posts into different categories; those related to Poetry are labeled "Poems"-makes sense, i suppose. the categories I've created so far are poems, art, videos, incredibly random, quotes, and faith. feel free to browse through almost three years of blog entries by category.