NaBloWriMo 2013 Day 28

IMG_0523It’s Monday.  Commence with the gnashing of teeth and tearing of ritual sackcloth!

I’m back podcasting about church, Jesus and the future of it all.  I’m a bit bonkers and wander with my ideas but it’s fifteen minutes worth of marinating on the future of The Church.  Give it listen and tell me how wrong I am.

NaBloWriMo 2013 – Day 7

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I have a fellow Christian friend who also writes about her Faith and reading her posts always makes me smile and fills me with hope. She’s a new Christian and has taken to writing about her journey. Why does her writing make me smile and fill me with hope? Because whenever I think I’ve screwed up, lost my way or failed my God I read her posts and realize we’re in the same boat and not alone. Her youthful tenacity in biting off pieces of her faith and taking it apart from there inspires me to continue to understand who I am in God. It pushes me to shut up and listen to what He desires for me and from me.

One of her latest columns talks about “Leaving the Room of Grace” as it relates to the book “The Cure”. I haven’t read it yet but every time I hear from our young adult small groups about where they are in the tome I realize that I need to pick it up for myself. What caught my attention was the last line of the post. It said, “There is absolutely nothing apathetic about accepting God’s grace.” When I first read it earlier today I was struck sideways by the words.

I went through the day marinating on the sentence and marveling at how fantastic it is. Its truth is also exceptional. When you accept God’s grace you are accepting that you are pretty helpless, useless and hopeless without Him. You agree that His sacrifice for your life via the cross is exactly what you need. Accepting His grace is the most forward focused thing you can do simply because you are throwing off the chains of apathy and breaking loose into the land of tenacity in Faith.

It reminds me of what it means for my daily living in Grace – that apathy isn’t part of the equation.

The other quote from her post was this, “When I choose to not beat myself up for failing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t care.” I struggle with beating myself up over most things and have to continually remind myself of my worth in Christ. That I am loved, adored, treasured and wanted. In what can only be called a serendipitous moment this goes right along with lyrics to a song that’s been bopping through my head over the last few days. “Hello My Name Is” by Matthew West is a fantastic little ditty that zeroes in on this subject like a cruise missile. The opening lyrics are this –

Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget

Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief

Oh, these are the voices. Oh, these are the lies
And I have believed them for the very last time

And then it jumps into the chorus and verse two – which is how I am going to close this blog post. Certainly much to think on today!

Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life

NaBloWriMo 2013 – Day 6

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Welcome to day six. Also known as another catch up post in which I try my very best to keep up with National Blog Writing Month and fail fairly well. This year I’m focused on getting to the finish line with 31 posts and if that means playing catch up every single week, I’m going to find a way to accept it.

Sunday’s on my previous NaBloWriMo were sometimes reserved for theological thinking – something I do enjoy writing about and talking about fairly consistently. As fair warning – I’m not theologically trained. Basically – buckle up.

Devotional time and quiet time is something I’ve always struggled with and found hard to maintain. I know that everybody wrestles with it especially in a day and age where the world moves at a breakneck speed with so many things keeping us beyond busy. I’ve had my share of devotional books and plans but have yet to complete one. Recently my church did a month long series on worship and the Psalms.

I’ve never read through the Psalms at length and given the 150 chapters that dominate the landscape of the book it’s not hard to understand why I’d avoid it. After the series I realized that each Psalm was filled with God’s word for a world in need or a person in crisis. That describes the world around me for sure (*cough* Miley Cyrus Generation *cough*) and I’ve had my days where it seems like the trials and tribulations will never end. In other words – Psalms was a perfect fit for what I was looking for to study in my devotionals.

So I’ve been taking the time every day (or so) to sit down and read through a chapter of Psalms. I circle, I underline and highlight. I think, I pray and I look to my life and the world around to find meaning for it all. I talk to God about the world the psalmist was in and what compelled them to write the particular words down. I wonder how it would have sounded (*cough* not like wrecking ball *cough*) and how it would have felt hearing it in a moment of praise and worship…or even in a silent moment in a room alone with God.

We are constantly bombarded with things to do, places to be and words to learn. We are told to move, shake and roll with everyone because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Yet in the quiet moments spent in the Psalms I’m finding none of that really matters. What matters is love, hope and following Jesus every step, every jump and even every fall.

I’ll be taking more time this week to talk to God, marinate on His word and understand what He desires for me – not what the world wants.

Kingdom Come

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Tonight’s podcast is my lesson I’m teaching tomorrow on “Kingdom Come”. Listen in as a wax religiosity!

Talking With God

The story of Samson is another one of those Old Testament stories that I can’t claim to know from start to finish.  We all know the story of Samson and Delilah.  We all know how it ends with Samson having his final revenge on his captors by giving his life.  It’s a fantastic story of intrigue and wiles and a tremendous reflection of God and how He works in ways sometimes we’re not all that comfortable with.  In my last post I talked about how we as Christians have to reconcile the entirety of the Old Testament with it’s blood, gore, death, destruction and even (gasp) sex (Song of Solomon anyone?) with the general understanding we have of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and His sacrifice for us in Love, Mercy and Grace.

It’s something I’ve been recently challenged on with our young adults pastor just finished up pushing through the OT subject.  It is a revealing and troubling thing when you have to start thinking critically about things most of us would rather not talk about or even deign to accept as the reality of our Faith.  I always come back to the quote about Aslan from “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” when one of the animals answers a question about The Great Lion being safe by saying,

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Our faith is never safe.  It is a rocking rolling adventure without end.  If anyone tells you different, slap ‘em with a fish.  Or whatever animal or vegetable you may have on hand.

And so when I look to Samson’s story it’s not a safe story.  It’s a messy story.  It’s violent, filled with stories of women behaving badly, men behaving badly and in the end the ultimate moment of answering to God for it all – the final curtain with Samson in the middle.  And it all started quietly enough with a man named Manoah and his wife who remains nameless.  Manoah’s wife has a visit from an Angel of God telling her despite her curse in not being able to have children she will indeed have a son and he’s going to save the world like Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and James Bond.  Perhaps not in that order, but you get the gist.

The part that I love about this entire thing is that when his unnamed wife tells him the story Manoah takes a step in talking to God.  He asks for more information and details.  God sends the Angel back but Manoah doesn’t realize it’s an angel until (in typical Angel fashion) the Angel of God ascends into heaven through the blazing flames of a sacrifice the man and his wife built.

They fell with their faces to the ground and Manoah loses his mind figuring fire, brimstone and lightening are coming for them because they’ve seen God.  His wife counsels them that God accepted their sacrifice as they talked to Him.  They will have a son named Samson.

It all starts here in Judges chapter 13.  Samson is born, grows up blessed by God and soon begins to feel the stirrings of the Spirit of the Lord.  There’s plenty more of the story but the part I focused on tonight was when they talked with the Angel and by proxy – God.  Manoah’s speaks plainly and simply to the Angel – something we can learn in our conversations with God.  It doesn’t have to sound High and Mighty with big words and practiced sayings.  It can simply be, “Dear God – I’m having/have had/going to have a helluva day.”  And take it from there.

I like the challenge of talking to him face down and I’ll be giving it a whirl this week.  How do you pray?  What do you find helpful in drawing you closer to God?

Until tomorrow – To God be the Glory, the Honor and The Praise in all things.

Not Taking Credit

You ever have one of those moments when life and devotional collide in a terrifying manner that defies logical explanation and you find yourself looking heavenward going, “I see what you did there.  Nicely played God of All Creation, nicely played.” Yep.  Had one of those moments tonight.  And it was brilliant.

The biblical basis for my devotional tonight was out of Judges in chapter 7 where Gideon is tasked with destroying an enemy of the Israelites.  But God doesn’t do anything halfway or simple.  He’s got a plan with this impending showdown and it’s going to be a prime example thousands of years later on a late Monday night in Littleton, CO.  God has many senses and one of them is Humor.  And Irony.  Tonight those two collided.

Gideon starts out with a gazillion men (ok, that’s a big stretch but go with me) and he’s ready to pummel the enemy into the ground.  And yet God can see where this will end up.  He says that if he allows the gazillion men to take on the Midian army, the nation of Israel would boast against him and take credit for a battle that was not won without God’s influence and power.  So God whittles the gazillions down several times until just three hundred men stand ready.  The rest of the story is equally brilliant as the buildup suggests when the Midian army turns on each other in the midst of their camp and starts killing each other.  The power of God is shown in a incredibly brutal fashion.  The violence in this passage (and honestly much of the Old Testament) requires that Christians reconcile God’s track record in the Old Testament versus the New Testament.  It also asks that as people of Faith we have to realize the track record is incredibly consistent across both sides of The Bible.  This is entire blog post on it’s own so I’m going to move on.

And so tonight I had my moment of glory.  My mentor and friend was given the chance to write a column for a Children’s Ministry magazine titled, “K! Magazine”.  The article is part of a larger overall topic of “Technology in Children’s Ministry”.  Together with my mentor and friend we put our ideas together.  I threw my nerdy geeky knowledge of social media, internets and all the fun things about those things.  She took all that with her masterful skills of writing, her incredible knowledge of ministry, kids and everything else and put it together into an article.  Tonight she gave me a few copies and I was over the moon with pride.  I was published in a magazine!  A life long dream of having my name in a glossy had been accomplished!

And then I had my devotional.  And I was like, “Aw….maaaan!”

I couldn’t take the credit for this article.  That’s a God thing.  And yes, it sounds corny but it’s God’s (meant in the truest sense) honest truth here.  Without His gifting in wisdom in understanding all these wonderful social media technologies I’d be sunk.  Without His gifting of hunger of knowledge into my cranium I’d have given up long go.  And without His amazing servant heart that beats inside my friend (and fellow author!) I would have never been given the chance to share space with her in a magazine with a shiny cover.

And so I have to step off my podium and point it all back to God and His Son Jesus.  They get all the honor, glory and praise for the accomplishment.  I’m nothing without Him.  And that’s how I came to understand Gideon in a deeper and more manifest way.  Thanks God.  Consider my Ego cross checked into the wall and elbow dropped on the ground where it should have stayed in the first place.

God’s got some funny senses.

A Monk Returns

I don’t know who told me that Adult Life was going to be awesome and full of amazing adventures and that I would be able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with whoever I wanted but they lied.  I was tricked into the Adult Life and I’m going to write a very angry letter to whoever is in charge of this mess and give them the what for and a few slaps with a fish for good measure.  I mean business.  Serious business.
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A Mad Monk Podcasts

Always the innovator in the National Blog Writing Month world, I decided a podcasty thing would be fun.  So, here we are.  I talk about religion, Faith and Christianity in some pretty intense manners to be aware.  And feel free to comment and tell me, ask me, talk at me, etc.  Woot.

NaBloWriMo Day 20 – NaNoWriMo Prep

Today was supposed to be politics, but I’m pretty fed up with the whole political chess board right now.  I think if I tried to quantify my frustration I’d probably have another stroke (this is a joke…nobody wants another stroke) or end up throwing myself into a padded room with locks and a custom fit jacket.

I’ve also discovered that I primarily enjoy fictional writing.  It’s taken less then twenty days of National Blog Writing Month but I figured it out.  I’m just not that into blogging anymore.  I obviously have things to say but most of the time it’s not worth trying to put the small voice out there.  I’d probably write more about politics and religion but I feel as if both arenas have been overrun and fouled beyond recognition.  Any kind of courteous discourse has been left at the edge of the field that has now become a battleground 0f ideology, theology and political theory.  The lines between the two subjects seems to blur, twist and turn at times into something that is both terrifying and fascinating.

Couple that with the “devils advocate” perspective I’ve taken on Christianity and you’ve really not going to get anywhere with what you’ve got bouncing around in your head.  I think given some time and maturing I can get these ideas fertilized and marinated into something that resembles a strong steak worthy of a few awards.

All this to say that I’ve found that nurturing my novel writing side has begun to take root within my heart and soul.  Come November I’ll be writing a novel through the entire month.  I may not survive.  I may end up going crazy or wandering around 16th street mall telling everyone Hilary Clinton is a lizard intent on killing us all (*cough* balloon boys dad is crazy *cough*) but dang it I will have written a novel by the end of November.

It is my destiny.