Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brain Dump

When I began this blog it was in part due to a great need of mine to write down the thoughts that pass through my mind throughout the day that are worth following up on. At least in my estimation there's a few! For example, having a pastoral disposition I tend to view the world through a "teaching point" or "sermon illustration" lens.

Like I'll see a tree on our walk where one branch has died and all it's leaves turn brown. All the branches around are green but this one is dead even though they come from the same tree. So I'll go to verses in John 15 about the vine in the branches. Or I'll think "this is just like character. Just because your parents are one way, or you came from a certain family, culture, or school, doesn't mean you will have 'good' character." I could expound...

So I'll always say this stuff and Virginia will tell me to write it down but...I've not had any kind of sustainable system for doing so...until now. Thank you blogspot!

I'll also simply get ideas for how to do church, or for leading small groups or teaching. So occasionally I will post these. So heads up - there may be short posts without much of an intro or context - but they are my mental note to revisit a thought before it dissolves in the distraction of the mind.

Friday, July 30, 2010


For whatever reason, I grew up terrified of seafood. I think it has something to do with dad's fish phobia. He can't look at them when they open their mouths...something about the black mysterious depths...I dunno. Sounds weird eh? Well growing up it made perfect sense - fish are weird cuz they open their mouths and terrify you.

Well, fish and life of the sea, guess who's opening their mouth to terrify now? Yessir that's a me. The week started by me buying seasonally fresh, never frozen, sockeye salmon and grilling it up all nice with a brown-sugar and spicy mustard sauce. I've never grilled salmon before! (except for the time on the big green bus at potlatch where we grilled 1000 lbs of it for the entire tourny to pay our way there and I smelled like fish oil for a week - there was that - another story though). I've never bought and grilled it before - there! The week previous I had bought and marinated and grilled shrimp! Never done that. Check. Then there was dinner tonight. Well well well little fishies, who want to get eaten? how about you mister catfish (1st time, check) or you shrimpy shrimp, or sushi grade tuna tuna, or, hello, what's this? a little seabass? I mean dang. 4 types of seafood in one sitting - and I ordered the catfish...and I liked it...a lot. I guess if you fry anything and dump it in cheese grits with a honey glaze sauce it'll taste yummy.

So there it is. I consumed me a little seafood smorgasbord tonight and was surprisingly satisfied. Thanks for dinner Thad and Suzanne! Fears to conquer - seafood - check! Next up - mowing the backyard (what? it takes forever and it's disgustingly hot down here; and we never use it...probably because it's not mowed! OK - peace!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Catalyst 11: Mark Batterson

I really dig this guy. He speaks with such a laid back and unassuming style that belies the fact that he is clearly a highly effective and task oriented leader of a church doing incredible things at the seat of world power. Nation Hills Church now has various locations but its largest gathering is in the movie theaters of Union Station just adjacent to capital hill.

Influence the influencers. This has become one of the main missions of this church. I believe he said 70% of attenders are young singles who work on the hill...imagine the potential for strategic influence! So how did he get to DC? Mark graduated seminary from Trinity in Chicago and felt a call to the area. Incredible! Like the typical story they started small, were good stewards, and now have a thriving and multiplying congregation.

Coffee. Maybe I'll just have to get in to it! NCC runs a shop next to the hill that is the largest and most critically acclaimed in the District. I love seeing churches thinking outside the traditional means of engaging culture. Is there a decaf way to do this?

Work Ethic. So I mentioned how he seems laid back and comfortable with his are some of the practices and mantras in the DNA of NCC...
  • Control your calendar or it will control you.
  • You can't be all things to all people but you gotta do this for your family
  • Only hire those we can laugh with in interviews
  • Pray and Play. (this is what they call certain staff meetings...guess what they do?)
  • Teaching Church (like teaching hospitals; intentionally disciples the next leaders)
Staying Connected. Mark was a pioneer of pastoral blogging, starting way back in '03. Today thousands follow him and receive his podcast. Through the podcast NCC's ministry reaches even more listeners around the world than they do live on Sunday's. In the same vein of the coffee house, they are creatively and effectively leveraging technology for the Kingdom!

Mark reads a lot, in fact, at the time of this interview he was reading 7 different books, one of them being a Seth Godin. He's a marketing guy who to my knowledge is not a Christian, however, he has spoken at Catalyst. I'm totally new to the idea of keeping up with marketplace publications but all the next generation leaders who are making an impact seem to read all of this stuff. Mark also said the two magazines he couldn't live without are Fast Company and Relevant. I've gotta get Relevant. I'm realizing that these guys are all totally up on their culture and they are leveraging it well. Like Paul in Acts 17? Perhaps. Either way, this is all spurring me on toward using my time intentionally to strategically work for the Kingdom.

I'll sign off with the mission on his blog,

WARNING: May Cause Excessive Creativity, Enlarged Dreams and an Increased Appetite For God

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catalyst 10: Chris Seay

From 9/12/06

Great quote: "You can't love from a distance." Chris, who planted United Baptist Church at Baylor with David Crowder, recently moved back to Houston to plant Ecclesia church in downtown's Montrose district. This neighborhood is in fact the second largest gay community in the nation after San Francisco. It's amazing to see them going where many churches wouldn't, and doing so with such grace and creativity.

Community Center. Ecclesia intentionally wants to be known as a center where the community can gather 7 days a week, not just a building that host "church" services. They are doing some really neat stuff: hosting poetry nights and art shows; facilitating an organic food co-op; running a "literature" store and free-trade coffee shop. This truly seems to be a church that would be missed if atit shut its doors.

Lifeguards. Chris was a lifeguard once upon a time and he draws on this imagery to describe his work as a pastor. Specifically he referenced the fact that as a lifeguard, he can't obliviously spend a day at the beach or a public pool. He's always aware of possible dangers or threatening situations that other may not see. In the same way, the church should be spiritually discerning what dangers may be lurking in the waters. It should be our love of people that drives us the advise, protect, and sometimes save from these threats.

Bringing the conversation around to Jesus. Chris mentioned that a lot of different folks show up at the church asking a lot of different questions. Often people come looking for a political, economic, or minor theological argument. Chris said it's the goal of the church to bring it all back to Jesus. I love how he says, "We're a church that believes in redemption." I agree. There is so much power in the story of those overcoming incredible brokenness by the grace of God. This is the starting point. Once we lay down the foundation of a community defined by broken saints, redeemed by grace, we can better have the other conversations.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Recently at the grocery store: "Hey hunny - let's get this the new Moose Tracks frozen yogurt...after all it's yogurt; it's good for you." When you look at the nutritional info the yogurt is still packed with sugar and fat...just not as much as the Paula Deen-two-sticks-of-butter-extra-chocolate-heavy-cream-and-probably-two-pieces-of-bacon-for-good-measure version. So is it Good for you? Or less bad. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig!

The other day I listened to an old Catalyst podcast with a "creation care" theme. It was encouraging to hear honest dialogue within the church critically considering how to engage this important issue. It hurts that often Christians have an image of being ignorant about what it means to care for God's green earth. While overall the conversation was positive, certain moments betrayed some of the naivete that the church still holds.

One of the creative designers at Catalyst had recently bought a Toyota Prius, giving the hosts a perfect opportunity to interview a Christian intentionally making a environmentally impactful decision. During the spot, the host quipped about checking out 12 mile per gallon Tahoes that weekend while the creative designer was "saving the environment" in his 60 mpg Prius.

And that's where I had to laugh. I hate to say it, but driving a Prius is not saving the environment, or as they later said, it is not "good" for the environment. Here's what I mean: If you smoke 4 packs a day we might say this is bad for your lungs. Now lets say you drop to one pack. Is this "good" for your body? Maybe it's relatively good, but really, it's "less bad" for you.

Driving a Prius is not "good" for the environment, it's only "less bad" than a Tahoe. Or maybe a nicer way to put it is, " a Prius is more environmentally responsible." A Prius still burns fossil fuels; it still requires steel and aluminum that is mined somewhere causing deforestation and toxic run-off; it still uses plastics derived from fossil fuels. Really, the only "good" option is walking or riding a bike.

Now before we go on a big guilt trip, I'm not saying we shouldn't drive cars (or that we shouldn't eat ice cream for that matter)! The point of all of this is to be honest with ourselves and with those we dialogue with. In this way we as Christians can take a big step toward shedding a layer of ignorance that, fairly or unfairly has been applied to us. It's all about presenting ourselves as honest thinkers who are able to critically engage in the most important issues facing our world and humanity. And it starts with little things like ice cream...

Our language not only helps us gain respect with outsiders, it benefits our daily lives. By using "good for us" language in situations where "less bad" really applies we hurt ourselves. If we are in less unhealthy relationships this is not "good", this is "less bad." If we watch less porn this is by no means "good", but "less bad". If we gossip less...we get the idea. And don't get me wrong, progress is to be celebrated in these areas and should be rightly seen as "relatively good compared to where we've been." We can rest in the grace of God as we reach these milestones but in the end, settling for "less bad" is not settling for "the best." Who wouldn't want the best? Let's not let our language trick us from reaching it...

So how about it? Have you experienced the "lipstick on a pig" phenomena? What pigs are you dressing up in your life?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Catalyst 9: Louie Giglio

From 8/9/06

How appropriately named is Giglio's ministry Passion? I mean, dang, this guy bleeds it - in a totally humble, get you psyched up at the same time, authentic way! What I take from hearing him is that the Kingdom is moving; why not make yourself available to it? He likens our lives to a sail, and where the wind blows (John 3:8) so we should be taken. He speaks about needing a heart in ministry; that without it we won't make it. How true!? David's heart is so evident in the Psalm's; Jesus' in His prayers; Paul's in his letters. It's interesting, I had actually thought recently how, as much as I love Andy Stanley's preaching, I don't feel like I really get to see his passions. Maybe that's part of the plan at North Point, that being overly passionate keeps the message from being as widely accessible as possible. I gotta tell you though, Giglio's passion is contagious! I feel bottled up almost. LORD, I want to be available but I feel like I'm in a waiting game. Forgive of this because real life is going on now, not just when we get to Atlanta. Thank you for this message - grant us vision and the perseverance to pursue it.

Bonus: There was a new leader profile on a staff member with Dave Ramsey's radio show. The show is run by Christians but it airs primarily, and intentionally, on mainstream radio. When asked how they have gone about getting access to the biggest stations around the nation the staff member was quick to say one word; Excellence. He lamented that for too long, the adjective "Christian" in front of an industry name has been synonymous with "sub-par", "mediocre" and "second-rate." At the Ramsey show they work diligently to produce an excellent product.

I agree with with this and have experienced it with Young Life at their camps. Now, there can be a fine line between being excessive and being excellent and so we must stay humble and centered in prayer and accountability to find it. But God wants our best and indeed we are commended to work at all things as if working for him. This is our full witness, not just our words, but our very lives as well...

Catalyst 8: Mike Foster


Mike Foster is co founder, with Craig Gross, of xxxChurch. This courageous ministry seeks to compassionately and honestly confront our culture's struggle with pornography. Their ministry is twofold. One the one hand they minister to men, women, pastors, leaders, couples, teens, etc who struggle with porn addiction. They offer several support systems, including blogs, videos, and software to help those broken by this addiction find freedom. Their free software, xWatch, is an accountability tool that sends an update of all the websites you've visited to two other partners. It is not a filter, but rather a history tracker and reporter. Many Christian organizations use this tool and highly recommend it, including the guys at Catalyst.

On the other hand, xxxChurch ministers to the porn industry. In fact, you may be surprised to know that they not only set up booths at porn conventions, but they have been invited back year after year by the organizers to do so! They have even printed Bibles with "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" printed on the cover. They have heard incredible stories and witnessed lives changed as many have left the industry and found faith.

It's amazing to see the different visions God gives to those advancing his Kingdom. What a challenge it must be to do such work, tough on the soul and tough on marriages. It was awesome to hear Mike talk about his wife being just as on board as he is with all this, and that if she wasn't behind it, he wouldn't be doing it. They face criticism but I agree with them when they say that if Jesus were walking around today he would be where these people are, loving them. And so it follows that if we are Jesus walking around today, then the church should be there.

Catalyst 7: Rob Bell part 2

From 7/10/06

Bell talked at length about his church, Mars Hill, in this episode. Two stories stood out the most to me. First, that nearly 1,000 members of the church have begun attending an annual AIDS walk event in the Grand Rapids area, making it the largest of its kind in Michigan. How cool for the church to be known for that? Especially when compared to a time when AIDS instantly was paired with the homosexual community...and the church in turn paired with unwelcoming said community. What are we known for?

Along the same theme, he also told of a group of families from the church who intentionally moved into a low income area of Grand Rapids. As white families, they enjoyed acute minority status! These families did things to bring the Kingdom to this neighborhood including running after school tutoring programs and community art shows.

These stories stir a deep place in my heart that I somehow often neglect. I hear of these things and read books such as The Irresistible Revolution or Who Is My Neighbor - or I take part in the outreach events that our homegroup is a part of or am able to help a stranger - and I am reminded that i want to be living this way. But honestly I feel my participation is more the exception than the rule at present. What is it? It'd be easy to blame having a child, or being in school etc. But life's not going to get any easier! If I'm going to preach this, we need to be involved. Further, to loosely quote Claiborne from Revolution, "When I was involved in compassion ministry, feeding the poor, loving the lonely, caring for the downtrodden, scripture jumped off the pages and become alive." Bell says something similar in his "Dust of the Rabbi" talk. I want to be living this stuff and one of my passions is to promote Biblical literacy. It seems to authentically teach the living word, I would authentically live it!

LORD, we're us we pray

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lake Sermon

...Working on tomorrow's sermon at the lake. Today's been peaceful. Thank you Lord for making this work so pleasurable. It certainly is challenging, though. Lord, this is Your sermon, I am the messenger. Keep me from exalting myself. Let Your truth prevail, let the people be encouraged toward proactive love...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Catalyst 6: Rob Bell part 1

From 6/2//06

Wow - this was an incredibly rich interview...and it was only part 1! Looking forward to part 2...

Sabbath. Rob Bell, like Eugene Peterson, is a big proponent of practicing Sabbath. It took him a while to get there though. Sabbath would be Saturday afternoon as he works all Sunday. At first he recalled being bored out of his mind come 4pm. Soon he realized it was because his body was so used to creating that to take a break meant a period of withdrawal. which brings up something he said that I loved: Sabbath is a day when we don't create. It's so obvious! God rested from creation on this day. And this is incredibly counter-cultural. We are constantly baited to consume products that help us get more done faster. We are told our value is from "creating". And so for us to break from "creating" is to tell the world, "I feel I am loved and valued for who I am, not by what I create." Powerful stuff...

Translation. Bell is lover of history so naturally I really engage with his teaching. He spoke at length about how a Messianic-Jewish friend helped reveal the world of the NT through the lens of the OT in elucidating fashion. Further, Bell pointed out that scripture is meant to be read in community. "The fact that we can read the Bible ourselves is a 500 year old luxury that has existed since the printing press." Again, this is obvious, but he reminds us that the majority of the "you"'s in scripture are plural. When Paul wrote his letters there was an expectation that the community was receiving it as a group and offering their own thoughts as they heard it.

This got me thinking about the possibility of having a bible study group that was more focused on simply reading and reacting. That is, reading through scripture together and letting that guide the time versus coming to the meeting with prepared questions. There seems to be place for both.

Pastoring. One of the biggest lessons Bell has learned is to say "no". The interviewer mentioned that some are saying that we're better known by what we say "no" to than by what we agree to. This certainly challenging but it's lesson I feel I am continually learning. On the Church in general he says "there is nothing more beautiful than the local church." Though the sermons at Mars Hill are podcast, they are specifically not filmed or broadcast so that there won't be those "telecommuting" to church. He said he would be grieved if his work ended other churches. It was interesting to hear him state a philosophy so clearly counter to North Point's. Not that NP want's to close churches down, or even that they have, but they intentionally broadcast to attendees who are not in the building.

I'll have to think about this more but one thought about the NP model is that their whole mission is to get people who don't go to church to go to church. That said, if that's who is watching, they are not taking from other churches. Also, this might be a way for folks who are afraid of church to check it out from a safe distance. On the other hand, I'm sure there are several out there who have substituted NP TV for being involved face to face with other believers.

Catalyst 5: Eugene Peterson / Chris Seay

From 6/13/06

From the guy who brought us the Message! Really humble man - first off, I had no idea that he's 73 and lives on a lake in Montana. He started by doing Galatians for his church, folks liked it, and eventually he was asked to do the whole NT. To his critics he say that every translation is just that, a translation. A literally literal translation would not have meaning (as I know from NT Greek!). Further, the NT was not written in a "high church" or "holy" language, but rather in the vernacular.

He's also a big proponent of practicing Sabbath and has done so for years with his family. Typically they hike, being in the mountains and all. I like his practice of hiking intentionally in silence until lunch, then discussing the musings of the soul on the way out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


As an explanation, I've recently found an incredible podcast that features amazing leadership profiles as well segments on ministries doing really cool things in culturally engaging yet biblically centered ways. The podcast is an offshoot of the Catalyst conference associated with North Point and InJoy ministries that takes place each fall in Atlanta. All 101 podcasts are available through itunes, dating back to '06 when it began. It is my intention to give a brief response to each one as I listen. Too often I stuff my head with doesn't become understanding however until it is processed. So I guess blogging is my "catalyst" to understanding.



Morning Walk in the Park

Hannah and I enjoyed a beautiful walk in PK park this morning. Typically we stroll the neighborhood but I thought we'd take a different root today for no particular reason. Highlights include:

Hannah's first slide! That's right, we played on the playground. I carried her to the top of the slide and down we went. She loved it, smiling big, so we did it again!

The Hydrangea garden. PK park has many incredible volunteers who keep the park eclectically beautiful. One of the plethora of groups is the hydrangea club. This beautiful section features dozens of plants in a shaded area. On this morning Hannah and I had the entire park to ourselves as the sprinkler system came on in the garden. The combination of shade and water created a lush and refreshing ambiance that almost tricked you into thinking that it was 70 when in fact it was 90 in the "cool" of the 8 am morning. Strolling through was nice but so was playing in the sprinklers. I held Hannah above the water streams and let her dip her hand in them. This caused great delight and I soaked up watching her explore while she soaked up water all through her hair and shirt.

These times being home with Hannah are challenging with all the other responsibilities I've taken on. I don't know how single mom's do it! But times like this remind me what we do it for. Thank you LORD for a beautiful day, a beautiful park, and a beautiful daughter.

Catalyst 4: Tim Sanders

From 6/4/06

The four elements of "likeability": It seems you can fake the first 3, but being genuine is the glue that holds it together. Without being real, especially in a post-modern era, we will not earn the right to be heard.
  1. Friendliness
  2. Relevance: ie sharing common interests
  3. Empathy
  4. Genuineness
The ultimate mission for man: Reduce Human Suffering
Interesting that Tim says this. Especially interesting is his claim that the major world faiths, which he has studied, are based around this tenet. I rather like Piper's take on our mission. First, we are to enjoy God, through worship. Second, we partake in mission so that everyone else might also enjoy God through worship. And by worship I don't mean singing, but rather an entire life transformed by the Spirit of God (Rom 12:1-2). Now, this transformation results in our restoration to God, which indeed results in reduced suffering. Yes, Jesus clearly calls us to care for the destitute, ie, relieve their suffering, but the purpose is forward facing, not backward. The overarching purpose is to restore humanity to relationship with their creator. As Christians we often work toward this purpose through actively combating suffering. But if the body is saved, but the mind and the soul are still in bondage, what is gained?

And so I argue that our ultimate mission is rather to bring shalom with God. Shalom is often translated as "peace". this is mis-leading as we often think of peace as the absence of conflict. Shalom on the other hand is not an absence, but a fullness. Really, conflict would be the absence of shalom. The subtle difference is important. Our mission is not so much away from suffering as it is toward restoring shalom with the Creator.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


That's right, breakfast for dinner. It's 11:17 pm and I just finished a glorious plate of cheesy homefries with two scrambled eggs, all done up right with cayenne pepper. Doesn't happen much, but after a night of ultimate it sure hits the spot. Oh and don't forget my po' man's cocktail - ice water with lemon...booyah!

I'm preaching this Sunday and spent a good day hammering out the outline. Lord, I need your protection and guidance over the next few days to best deliver Your word to Your people...

Catalyst 3: Donald Miller

From 5/9/06

So I still haven't read any of his stuff but he's on the list of must reads once the MDiv is done.

The takeaways from his interview:

1) He Loves the Church. He spoke at length specifically about his church, imago in Portland. As I've been checking out North Point a lot these days it was interesting to get a glimpse of a church going about things totally differently but clearly effectively. Besides size, the whole philosophy of staff/congregant relationship is completely different. Where at NP the staff seems to be the brains and the engine behind everything, at Imago it seems to be the people. According to Miller, the staff exists to help the congregation carry out their visions. From what I can tell, NP is driven by the staff and the church jumps on board. As I said, both work - it's nice to see different takes.

2) A passion for big issues. A question was asked about what are the biggest challenges facing the church. 2 Things - the Homosexual question; and the Africa Humanitarian question. Basically he sees a church with half their theology right. On homosexual issue, many leaders are technically "right" but they lack love. On the humanitarian issue, we care in word but often not in deed. We need to put our resources where our mouth is. And he admits that many churches are doing this very well - he just has a vision that the church could do so much more. What if the church was known for solving the AIDS and water crises, and not for hating gays?

3) He has no internet at the house! At least at the time of this podcast he didn't. And why not? Because there were no internet filters for Mac at the time. Wow! Not only does Miller have great integrity, he has some guts and humility to come out and say they this in public. I am very challenged and encouraged by openness.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


"Our transformation is never for ourselves alone. It is always for the sake of others." ~ Ruth Haley Barton

Great statement to help us maintain balance. This quote came from the context of Moses' 40 years in the desert, for the purpose of Moses "finding himself" was not for personal well-being. Certainly that came, but Moses was transformed for a purpose; to lead the Hebrew nation out of captivity. This is a great reminder to me of a distincitve of our faith: "Our lives are too important to spend on only us." So much of pop-spirituality is about the individual reaching a state of peace. While this is certainly a result of spiritual transformation in the Christian tradition, one of the main purposes of this transformation is that we might be used to further the kingdom of God...and thus catalyze transformation in others...who do so to others etc (2 Tim 2:2).

LORD I feel as if I'm certainly in a state of transformation. It makes me feel alive. Ironically, I fear this feeling because part of me fears that I seek change for selfish reasons. So LORD, center and ground this desire. I fear "losing myself" in this change, becoming someone new. But maybe losing myself is exactly what is needed. You designed me and programmed me and know the code to unlock the potential you've put in me - so let me lose myself in Thee - to kill the false self and come alive in Christ.

My heart stirs - LORD tend the flame...

Catalyst 2: Erwin McManus

From 4/24/06

Big Idea: "I'm able to be so involved in ministry without burning out because I love living."

That's more or less his quote. Anyway, Erwin remarked being flabbergasted that there seem to be so many depressed workers in the ministry. To him the feeling of walking in Christ's redemption is so tangible. Just hearing him speak so was greatly refreshing to me. And this thought was related to another. He said that stress doesn't necessarily come from doing too much work, rather from the kind of work. Andy and Hybels say this too: when you're in your "sweet spot" you feel like you could work forever. It's when you're doing things our of your gifting that you burn out. Again, this relates to what Andy said about knowing what you're good at and leveraging it...

Catalyst 1: Andy Stanley

From 3/9/06

Big Idea: Find out what you're good at; find out what you're not good at. Learn to leverage what you're good at...

There goes Andy using "leverage" again! LORD I certainly lack clarity in what exactly I am good at. I like so many things and feel like I can do several things well. Where is it exactly that I'm called, however? It's like the jack of all trades in the end accomplishes just that, "jack", because their talent is spread too thin. So then, I pray for clarity, that I may be best plugged into what you're doing in this world.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teaching Bible Ideas #1

Idea for teaching Bible: major character study throughout each semester

Genesis-Song of Solomon: Moses or David

Prophets: Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel (or combination of Daniel and 2 minor prophets)

Gospels: Jesus (or maybe Peter and John)

Acts-Revelation: Paul or the Church

A Civilized confession

This morning started like many others: wake up at 6:30, read the bible, and smashing computer games with a hammer.

Since middle school I've loved the Civilization series of computer games. Who knows how many hours I've spent since then conquering the world? Recently I've looked forward to playing as a way to challenge my mind and relax a bit. Typically though I find myself playing for hours, completely infected by "one more turn" syndrome. And what of "relaxing"? I usually wind up frustrated by how complex the game fact I've finished very few games. I love the beginning, get out and explore the world phase, but then as the game progresses and the turns take longer and longer and the end is pretty certain, I get bored and start a new one. This lack of follow through is something that has plagued me for a while, and only recently have I been intentional about facing this up. And then, of course, I get frustrated that it's 3 am and Virginia's not going to happy with me! For all the dearth of pleasure though there's something about it that entices me much so that I shared with a friend that a rare day is one where I don't think about the game. Sometimes when I home with Hannah I'll even watch other people play on youtube! Just like gambling, the idea of playing, and even the early stages get my system all juiced...but time...I'm angry with myself and not responding to my wife!

So it's time to confess. I'm a Civ addict - in the very bad way. For a while I'd thought about getting rid of the 3 dvd's that comprise the game but I always had excuses. "It's just recreation." "You can control this." And the worst: "You paid money for this! It'd be a waste!" That last one was probably the biggest. I've probably spent close to $100 throughout the years on Civ - now that's not huge in monetary terms compared to what an addiction can be, but it's enough to make one think twice about giving it up. But then I had this thought - "what is peace worth to me? Self-peace, family peace, peace with God? Surely if I could pay $100 for peace I would!"

Last night was the last game of Civ I'll play for a very long time, if ever. "One more turn" had taken hold and Virginia went to bed frustrated with me. Totally lame by me. And so while reading Jeremiah early this morning, a book full of warnings against idolatry, I couldn't shake a nagging voice, "get rid of the game...and really do it this time!". I remembered that it was trash day so I dropped my reading, collected the games, and ran them out to the street. I was glad to know that the trash man would be coming soon so I couldn't change mind. Virginia came back from her walk and caught me throwing them out - I can tell you she was thrilled! Over breakfast though I thought, "that was not enough - it's gotta be more emphatic." So I found my hammer, dug the games out, and smashed them on the front step! Here's the post mortem:

There's just something about a hammer that speaks of finality!

Last thing about this event. Our church has been in the midst of teaching on the principle of Sowing and Reaping. Meanwhile I've been pursuing ministry opportunities. I've been reading a lot leadership books and study leadership in scripture. What I've learned through all this is that what you put in your mind, soul, and body, you're going to become. If I put in hours of fantasizing about playing a computer game, and then hours of frustration while playing, there will be negative results not only immediately but down the road. Now my prayer is that God will guide me to redeem this time for the benefit of my personal spiritual formation, for our family, and for our community. This is not to say that rest and relaxation are wrong - rather there is a big problem when the object of rest becomes your master. We must master our affections in this world, not vice-verse...else we forfeit the chance to become all we've been made to be.

What are you sowing in to your life? This has been a challenge for me and hopefully is encouraging to you in some way. Let me know your story!

Romans 12:1-2
Colossians 3:1-17
2 Timothy 2:2-7
2 Peter 1:5-9


I've been thinking about it for months and now I'm finally doing it! Not sure how this will turn out but my hope has been to start journaling. I've hemmed and hawed on the fence of indecision, going back and forth between doing an "e-journal" and a hand written one. Finally I realized I just need to start somewhere! So here it is, "Head, Heart, Hands" - a personal mantra that represents a lifestyle...the Truth of God and knowledge of His nature and creation effects my thoughts; these thoughts move my heart to compassion; finally this compassion moves us to a tangible application.

That's the idea at least, and it's not always as cut and dry as that. Well, that's a good explanation for now! It's 7:30am and I need to go finishing reading Jeremiah and look after Hannah...


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