Browsing All Posts filed under »Authentic Christianity«

If We Are the Sum of the Roles We Play in Life; Who Are We When We Are Not Playing a Role?

April 23, 2012

2

How does one define their identity and their worth? Is it the roles that they play during this life, their level of activity, whether or not they are in charge or serving in some capacity? What does it say about a person who is very comfortable when placed in charge of something or similarly at ease when serving behind the scenes BUT is clearly ill-at-ease when asked to just be part of something without being asked to be in charge of it or even serving in any capacity?

In a meeting over lunch, I was challenged by the observation of a friend who pointed out that he's noticed that behavior in me. This began my meditation and mental wrestling with why I am like that and what that says about my personal assessment of my own value and worth. If all of life’s a stage, what does that say about us when we don't have an active role to play during a scene? Do we transpose this evaluation framework on other people; assessing their value based on what they do or what they might be able to do for us?

If you have ever wrestled with something similar, I encourage you to read on and hopefully share your experience(s) with me.

Perspective Makes the Difference

March 27, 2012

0

Have you ever noticed that in life, perspective can make all the difference on how you act, react or judge a situation or person? I’ve recently rediscovered this principle at work in my life. I am not proud of the fact but when I see someone do something which I would not do or ‘not do’ something which I believe they should do; I have begun catching myself as my first inclination is to judge that action in such a way as to ascribe a negative motivation for the action or inaction.

The reason is that whether or not we consciously acknowledge it, we all have an internal barometer or scale which we use to assess ourselves and others against. The fact that all have such an internal measure guide is not wrong in of itself. The main problem with using our own scale to evaluate actions or inactions is that our scale is fundamentally flawed. There are two primary flaws with using our own scales to evaluate ourselves and others against.

  1. Our scale is flawed in that it is biased in favor of us and biased against others.
  2. Our scale uses the wrong measurement criteria.


Let me explain.

Asleep in the Light

March 12, 2012

9

One observation about life I have discovered is that that you can receive inspiration and insight from anyone, anything and at any time; assuming that you are open to it. The challenge for me has been that by the time I am home and can log the insight, I find that the memory of whatever nugget of truth which surfaced during my day is no longer accessible. The memory of what it was has since drifted from my mind, like a vaporous dream quickly dispersing upon awakening. Life it seems is equally capable of providing to us as it is in snatching back the insights from us.

With that awareness in mind, I have taken to carrying a small notepad with me. The goal of which was to record any observations, insights or newfound awareness’s which strikes me throughout my day before life has the opportunity to snatch the awareness from me. On a more practical note, it also has proven helpful in reminding me of the myriad of commitments, milestone deadlines and the occasional milk purchase required on the way home from work.

Yesterday, I had the need to pull out the notebook and record some thoughts at church. For many perhaps that might be a strange place to take actual notes, but I found myself agitated and disturbed and wanted to capture the thought. The sermon itself was honest, well-thought out and a source of encouragement to me. I much appreciated it, but something else was occurring during the service which distracted me. Three rows ahead of me sat a family. Well, mostly they were seated; all but the son. He must have been around eight to ten years of age. Instead of sitting up like his family and the others which had gathered that Sunday morning, he decided that it was appropriate to lay sprawled out across four chairs. He appeared to be attempting to sleep, as at a regular cadence he would shift and turn over.

Now, let us ignore for the moment, the parents sitting next to the boy which apparently condoned this behavior, as hard as that might be to do right now. I found myself thinking, what message is it sending to that boy that he alone of all humanity could recline such? What message was being sent to the speaker? What influence might it have on other children who witnessed this ill-mannered behavior? What was that boy learning that morning at church? I think it strikes at the heart of matter, which is why do any of us get up early on Sunday mornings and attend church in the first place? I wanted to get up, move over to where the boy reclined, push his feet out of the way and sit down next to him and ask him why he goes to church.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VIII)

January 19, 2012

0

As I reflect back upon my travel to Tanzania today, I am snowbound in my house. It has been snowing for the last four days and the snow on the ground continues to accumulate. Each day the weather forecasters tell me that the rains will come, but of 2pm on Thursday, it’s still snowing strongly. I am reminded of Tanzania. I am at the mercy of forces outside of my control. In Africa I was completely dependent upon the schedule of others and was required to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. Here, buried in snow, I was similarly prevented from driving off on my own at my own whim, but the forces of nature. I am finding that it’s not a bad thing at all.

My family and I have spent some good quality time together this week. We pulled out some board games and had the opportunity to play and laugh together; we baked bread, watched some TV as a family, had a good family meeting and even got to do some sledding. Perhaps life’s inconveniences are really blessings in disguise? I was discovering this in my trip to Africa. I talked about how spoiled we can become in the west to the luxuries which we experience daily with barely a thought; from daily warm showers, running water, having a mirror to shave and get ready in the mornings, clean drinking water piped into our house, hot running water and a plethora of entertainment options to help us anesthetize ourselves to the suffering of others.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VII)

January 13, 2012

0

My first experience of Nairobi was the evening ride from the Nairobi Airport to our hotel. My travel companion and I were exhausted after a day spent traveling; confined to our cramped airplane seats for twenty+ hours, waiting at security screenings and the boarding areas in Seattle, Amsterdam and Nairobi. While physically and mentally fatigued, another long slumbering part of me seemed to quicken and come to life, as I described in Part VI.

The heat of the day had dissipated only slightly, so I relished leaning my head out my open window. Catching even a warm humid breeze was a welcome relief from the stagnant air of the Nairobi airport. Our driver Muhammad engaged us in conversation, telling us about the Nairobi National Park and other notable items as we passed by them, as he deftly navigated his way through a challenging obstacle of people, cars, motorcycles, pot holes, bumps and debris in the road. I marveled as he seemed to know every crack, dip, or bump in the road, slowing for them well in advance. I imagined that he had driven this route many times before.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VI)

January 4, 2012

1

When we are confronted with new experiences and situations which we lack prior familiarity with, our survival instinct seems to kick in and we find ourselves suddenly awake (I mean really awake) as if our life up until that point was really just some rambling extended dream. There is a sense of urgency, even potential danger, but you’re groggy and your mind, still waking from its long slumber, races to try and make sense of the new world to which you have just been thrown into. It can feel a bit like a movie which you entered in the middle of and you don’t yet understand the plot, the characters and what exactly is going on. You smile, fake it and hold on tightly until you can figure out what is really going on. Your prior understanding of reality is suspended and you find yourself back to learning as you go.

That basically describes my experience in Africa, from the moment our plane touched down in Nairobi, Kenya until returning to the United States. Everything around me took on a surprising clarity and sharpness to it and I felt more fully alive than I have in a long time. In Africa, even the most basic tasks, which we not only take for granted in the States, but which we execute upon with little to no conscious thought at all; suddenly became adventures in themselves and required thought, energy and planning to accomplish.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part V)

January 3, 2012

1

I continued moving forward with the pre-work I needed to accomplish prior to leaving for Africa and watched in amazement as the ‘dead vision’ was being continually resurrected. Excuse after excuse to not go, were being knocked out one by one. Necessary funds came in. My passport arrived in time. The airfare to Africa which had jumped up significantly causing me to doubt going on the mission trip, suddenly took a share dive I was able to secure passage for even less cost than my travel companion paid for booking early. The curriculum which still confounded me was beginning to take shape as I had established an outline and framework to build on. I was asked to preparing training on the qualities and principles of Godly leadership.

As a teacher, I had become aware of a key principle of learning and that was that there is no better way for one to learn something deeply, than to be asked to teach on it. God must have a keen sense of humor (or irony) in asking me to speak to others about Kingdom Leadership. Me, the once very visible, outspoken and prolific server, now relegated to years of inactive service. I felt very much like a first stringer in the majors now demoted to the practice squad or to their minor league team, while I was re-habbing my injuries. Perhaps analogy was not so far from the truth.