Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reclaimed Barnwood

Reclaim: to rescue from an undesirable state

My wife Julie wrote me this poem in late February when i was in sort of a wilderness season.  The poem speaks to that deep place in me that often fears being passed by, or overlooked by God.  Having lived in a couple very rural Tennessee settings, old, broken-down barns are a familiar sight to me.

RECLAIMED BARNWOOD

There's a barn in an open field,
Standing alone...

It's been there for years,
Ignored, weathered, rain stained
Wind beaten
Rotting.

It's gloomy, grey
And where it meets the grass, it's slightly green
With moss.

Empty, unused, serving
No purpose, but shelter
For the occassional passerby.

It sits idle.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sacred Space

Re-monking” is like having a garage sale. Let me explain. Over time, we accumulate so much stuff, that we actually have to begin refusing blessings we are offered because we have no room for them. There comes a time, for most sane people, that enough is enough and we must clear the clutter from our lives! Sometimes, it's a move that gets us motivated, sometimes it's to scrape up some extra cash, and other times it's just to make room for something else we plan on getting. Whatever the reason, having a garage sale is a great way to lighten the load.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Thing You Could Do Over The Next 30 Days That Could Change Your Life Forever...

Last week I decided to officially start my re-monking journey...in a practical way.  The excitement of actually doing something to enhance my devotion to Jesus instead of just talking about it compelled me to give up tobacco.  Yes, approximately 9 days ago I stopped putting peach flavored, long-cut snuff into my lower lip after my evening meal. 
 
Disclaimer:  Re-monking is NOT about giving up bad habits, (although this may occur in the process).  However, it IS about making incremental steps to improve our devotion to Jesus one baby step at a time. Removing hindrances and creating space, that's what we after.

You see, I had slowly begun to fashion a large segment of the day around my evening "dip" and it was clearly interfering with the precious little time before bed previously designated for being relational with my wife, reading, writing, and talking with God.  It's not that I'm opposed to the occasional  dip of snuff, cigar or pipe (much to the chagrin of those more holy than i), it's how one simple,after-dinner enjoyment of mine subtly became a thief.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spiritual Obesity

In the last post, i mentioned that we would begin looking at practical steps (see assignments at the end of this post) to pursue God's most treasured desire for us, His ultimate will for our lives: to be conformed to the image of His son Jesus.   It is pointless to read a book or a blog, listen to a sermon, or have a conversation over coffee about how we are going to be more devoted to God, unless it somehow leads to some sort of repentance or life adjustment. 

i can't tell you how many amazing conversations i've had, books i've read, and sermons i've listened to without responding in genuine repentance (or making a life-change based on a revelation from heaven).  i admit, i have been content to leave those moments with a fleeting inspirational feeling and an empty promise to myself that "i will change starting tomorrow"....It rarely happens. 

i'm sure that i am not alone in my confession that i eagerly consume information about God and the Christian life on a grand scale.  As Christians in the West, we avail ourselves to innumerable books, sermons, lectures, conferences, discussions, etc. to the point where we have become spiritually obese.  It's a shameful thing that i have such a large library on how to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and do very little with what I learn, whereas a 16 year old girl in China is about to plant her 24th house church this year with only the book of Matthew as her guide.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Incremental Growth

The White Cedar is the slowest growing tree on earth.  It is not the tallest or the thickest tree in the forest.  In fact, it's kind of short and stunted compared to its brethren in the Northern forests of Canada due to the difficult growing conditions in which it is often found growing. However, the White Cedar is also the oldest tree in Canada and eastern North America; many live to be over 1,000 years old.  It's probably the wisest too! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Doldrums

The doldrums is a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was an area that sailors would dread (before the age of the engine) because of its depressed wind and the likelihood of becoming stuck there for days or even weeks.  Metaphorically speaking, I have found myself in a sort of spiritual doldrums for the past few years.

After the Lord dragged me out bloodied, bruised, and barely breathing from a painful divorce, I went through about a two year period of healing.  Healing, however, as I have learned through many unanswered prayers, does not always mean fulfillment. It means healing, recovery, not an immediate return to the way things were .  And though many fulfilling and wonderful things have happened to me and in me since my healing, I still have that unfulfilled longing that comes from wanting to pour my life out to the One who laid his down for me. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Does One Do Ordinary Radical?

Is living radical something that i have to make happen? 

Am i to uproot my family and live amongst the urban poor?  Am i to set my course for having a huge family? Am i to quit my job and live by faith? Or get a second job and focus all of my efforts on providing for my family?  Or should I be looking for other families who want to move in together in some abandoned farmhouse? I wish I knew how God wanted me to express His love, His life, in a radical way.

What is it in me that wants to be something other than the status quo?  It's the normalcy that's so maddening! The desire to be other-than the typical Western Luke warm Christian is almost like a drug I crave, yet i can't seem to get a fix.  And sometime's it's hard to think of being radical for Jesus when the everyday responsibilities of life seem overwhelming. 

i guess this is the place where the reader expects me to answer my own question...unfortunately, I don't have the answers to my own question...That's part of the reason i'm blogging. i'm hoping to encounter others who are on a similar journey of re-monking their lives.  i want your help.  i covet your prayers. i want to start a dialogue.  i have a lot of questions...and not a lot of answers. but here is what i do know:

1. i'm not satisfied with the status quo
2. i want to live a radical lifestyle for Jesus
3. i often struggle with the fear of getting passed by for someone more "willing or able"
4. i tend to be paralyzed by uncertainty of God's will or missing His timing
5. i struggle with balance: the ordinary and the radical
6. i'm far from radical, but it's where i'm going...my sights are set.

In the Lion, In the Lamb,


Mark