Thursday, June 28, 2007
This week I got to thinking about this in connection with our daily rhythms. In such, we live amidst a culture where everything going faster and faster - louder and louder. The faster and louder life becomes without moments of silence...the quality of life diminishes significantly. Watch this excerpt with this in mind...
Garr commented, "When there is no quiet, there can be no loud. And where there is no nothing, there can be no something."
In what ways, then, can we apply the spirit of “dynamic range” to all aspects of our lives?
that one can see rightly;
Antoine de Saint-Exupery,
The Little Prince
For centuries followers of Jesus have joined with the Holy Spirit by intentionally participated in various "patterns and practices" or "spiritual disciplines" to assist in developing character, greater intimacy and strength.
Here's a couple of ideas to put into practice, as we combat the busyness of life and the Cult of Speed. On the surface they may seem to not be very 'spiritual' in nature, yet often it is in the mundane moments of life that God is most involved in... Moreover, it is often in these 'unseen' moments of our day that the potential for Christ-likeness to be exercised and cultivated in our lives.
- Over the next month deliberately drive in the slow lane on the by-pass/highway.
- Declare a fast from honking.
- Force yourself to chew at least 15 times before each swallow.
- For the next month, when you are at the grocery store, look carefully to see which check-out line is the longest, Get in it. Let one person go ahead of you.
- Make time to pause and let your mind dance. Carve out time(s) in your day/week where you can reflect and allow God to bring things to your attention. Time for things to "catch up to you." These can be some of the most powerful and intimate moments with God.
Reflect on the following quotes from the book The Life You've Always Wanted:
but settle for a mediocre version of it.”
“We have largely traded wisdom for information,
depth for breadth.
We want to microwave maturity.”
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
“The press of busyness is like a charm,
Perhaps the Ancient Chinese have long had insight into this that the West has yet to discover. The ancient Chinese pictograph for the word busy is made up of the symbols/pictures heart and killing.
The understood that as we become busier and busier in the world around us, our hearts are prone to experience death – lifelessness.
Our world has become the world of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland:
to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else,
you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
The challenging-life-altering question is:
Will we continue and try to "run as fast as we can" or will we learn to begin living in Slow Motion, Pausing, Reflecting, and Begin Experiencing Elements of the Full Life Christ promised...
Researchers at Sharp have developed a TV that can show two different programs at the same time. Your viewing angle determines the program you watch.
Monday, June 25, 2007
In a recent post I began to explore the idea of "Learning to Pause." Yesterday's during the message, we began to develop this idea a little further and the implications that it has on our daily lives. Because our culture is so marinated in speed, it can be extremely challenging to begin to establish new patterns of slowness into our daily rhythms of living. I suspect it will take more than a message to dislodge most of us, so this week, I'd like to continue the conversation of Speed and our need to begin incorporating elements of living in Slow Motion.
We'll start by looking at the symptoms of what Lewis Grant calls "Sunset Fatigue." Consider the following questions/symptoms:
• You find yourself rushing even when there’s no reason to;
• There is an underlying tension that causes sharp words or sibling quarrels;
• You set up mock races (“OK, kids, let’s see who can take a bath fastest”) that are really
about your own need to get through it;
• You sense a loss of gratitude and wonder;
• You indulge in self-destructive escapes from fatigue: abusing alcohol, watching too much
TV, listening to country western music [okay, the last one is mine, not Grant’s].
• When a person is talking slowly, do you ever find yourself wanting to (or actually)
finishing their sentences?
• Do you nod a lot when a person is talking slowly in an effort to keep them moving along?
• When you stop at a red light with two or more lanes with cars in them, do you ever try to
anticipate which car looks faster so you can get behind that car and save a few seconds
when the light turns green?
• Do you ever try to gauge which line at the grocery store will be the quickest and get in
that line? And, if it turns out you picked the slower line, does it bother you?
Sunset Fatigue is "When we come home at the end of a day’s work, those who need our love the most, those to whom we are most committed, end up getting the leftovers. Sunset fatigue is when we are just too tired, or too drained, or too preoccupied, to love the people to whom we have made the deepest promises.” (Lewis Grant, quoted in Dolores Curren, Traits of a healthy Family and The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg.)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Live as if you were going to die tomorrow."
"The people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world are the ones who do."
-Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple
Recently, in Creative Learning Conversation, Color Outside the Lines we we're talking about utilizing various means of technology as a part of the creative process to better gather and develop ideas. For several present, some of the means and usage of various technological tools discussed were new and at times, even overwhelming.
The speed of change and increase of knowledge, innovation and technology is amazing. It is an ongoing challenge (as thrilling for some that it may be) to stay constant and "up-to-speed" with the latest and greatest. After this particular time together, Amy tipped me off to a recent video she had seen on uTube demonstrating this very idea of technological innovations and the challenge humans can experience to keep up with the changing of the times... Mad props and thanks to you Amy, it is brilliant, true and hilarious.
Check out this Norwegian sketch about technological innovations and how people initially struggle to get acclimated...
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Darrly Dash recently highlighted the following quote by Michael Horton. It serves as a great commentary on the Church in America, the cycles it has experienced over the past several decades and the shift(s) that are currently taking place. Horton says,
" According to one Wall Street Journal study, in fact, the number one element that young urban professionals in New York said they would look for if they decided to go back to church: theological discussion groups! I guess I’m getting older. To me, the megachurch movement was contemporary, but now it’s old news and the generation that was raised in it is now looking for something more serious, meaningful, beautiful, and truthful."
Monday, June 18, 2007
by the tail you learn things you cannot learn
any other way."
Every public presentation/communication should aim to design an unforgettable experience. Isn't this what Jesus did with boats, nets, storms, fish, bread, seeds, even spittle in the mud? Jesus delivered much more than data and facts, He crafted an experience, an encounter, an engaging at the deepest level. Did jesus prepare for these encounters? Did He have a mental notebook full of objects and such and how they could communicate supernatural truths? Was the first time He spoke the parables connecting earthly realities to spiritual principals the first time He had ever thought about it? Was it just some spontaneous combustion of Spirit inspiration?
Or had He taken notice, reflected upon and stored away somewhere in His memory bank these images...? Creative ideas emerge as we develop the tenacity to see the world around us as a canvas filled with insight and inspiration. Creativity grows as we learn to look in the most unlikely of places for truth and insight. Experiences will begin to take shape, as we dive into the unknown, rediscover the curiosity of a child, and the persistence of a pirate looking for hidden treasure.
This is the Art of Exploration... Where is it taking you and what are you finding...?
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Once upon a time, not so long ago, if you asked any individual where one would go to "learn," you would quickly be told with no uncertain doubt, "school." Schools were the primary place of learning, teachers where the foremost conduits of information. Children simply went to school to learn and be taught.
Once upon a time, if you wanted to tap into higher education, you would have to pay untold amounts of tuition fees, travel great distances, and shoulder your way through uninteresting lectures and predetermined curriculum. But, what if you could customize your education? What if you could dive into the courses you wanted, pause for personal research and exploration, only to pick back up where you left off? With the advances of the digital cultures at hand this is more than a bizarre question.
Currently the landscapes of learning are undergoing significant transition. Individuals are once again experiencing the art of self-discovery learning and exploration. However, much of this is taking place "outside" of the classrooms. How our educational systems intuitively and creatively interact with these present realities will considerably influence the future of educational systems and institutions.
Currently, you can tap into half of the nation's top 500 schools and universities. How? Our good friends at Apple, it's called "iTunes University."
iTunes University is a collection of podcasts and vodcasts created by university professors. All of these are made available - for free. Free university lectures on topics of my choice? This is simply amazing! You can search by School, Topic, or Subject. As such, you can begin to customize your own educational experience. Just yesterday I took part of a Communications Class at Stanford University and then jolted over to Seattle Pacific University to watch a special lecture by Dr. N.T. Wright. Talking about a "Personalized Learning Environment" right in front of you. Tuition: Free. Where will you go? May the explorations of learning begin afresh and anew.
Friday, June 15, 2007
You cannot reach your maximum physiological potential by merely doing the same thing over and over. No runner runs the exact same distance, pace, or even place everyday. There are “speed” days where you may be on the track running “quarters” (running one lap around the track [440meters] over and over just over 60 seconds for each split, with only 60 seconds rest in between). Honestly, these were the days I dreaded the most. On the other end of the spectrum there are “long” days or “distance” days. On these days you lace up the shoes and run somewhere between 10 and 19 miles, depending on what point it is in the season. These practices could take up to two-and-a-half hours. When your done with these runs, your legs feel like jello. On other days, you are up for a 6:00 am, 5 to 8 mile run, only to return in the afternoon for a similar run with a variable of elements included. There are a number of ways of switching up pace, speed, intensity, and so on to enhance muscle strength, endurance and speed.
Each of these variations is extremely important if you aspire to be competitive. Each of these workouts enhances a type of muscle and works together to strengthen the whole. Though I hated “speed” days, I knew it was one of the most valuable practice days for me, because “sprinting” wasn’t my strength (other wise I would have chosen to participate in a MUCH shorter race J). I was thankful for a coach who knew what I needed to do more than I wanted to do it. Though I rarely thanked my coach on the day of these work outs, I saw the benefit of the momentary pain and discomfort.
“No discipline (training) seems pleasant at the time,
but painful. Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it.”
Any time a runner does the “exact” workout over and over day by day, they will reach a plateau. A skilled runner has the discernment to know what variation of work outs they need, as well as, when it’s time to change how their working out. The same is true for those who follow the teachings of Christ. Consistency is key, however if we do the exact same thing day in and day out, we may run the risk of spiritual plateau. We need the spiritual discernment to know when we are growing, changing, and being transformed and when we are doing the same thing, only without any advancement in our spiritual formation.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
"In every race I’ve ever run,
there came a moment
when I wanted to quit."
One would think, in order to run a fast time during a race all one would need to do is run and run and run daily preceding the race day. This is certainly true, but there are some other significant factors in addition to running alone. Muscle memory (discussed two days ago) is crucial for pacing yourself and knowing where you are at during the race. Likewise, understanding the principle that “feelings lie” is also paramount, especially on those days when you would rather be any where except training (discussed yesterday). There is another area that has proven to be fundamental to me.
In every race I’ve ever run, there came a moment in the race where I wanted to quit. It usually wasn’t during the first mile (unless I was absolutely getting ‘smoked’ J). I could never predict when these thoughts would come, but come they would. Sometimes they would start out faint and build with every step, every muscle ache, and especially with every person that passed me on the trail. Though, I could not calculate when they would come, I did begin to recognize patterns and times of vulnerability to these empathetic-wanna-quit-mind-sets. Often, when I was alone in the woods for a long time during a race, the desire to slow down, or the thought that I would never catch the person ahead of me was pretty pervasive. However, the worst of thoughts typically comes after the first 2.5+ miles (the race was typically 5mi/8k).
Two runners will be running next or near to another runner. The one will begin to do what is known as a “surge.” This is where you are running right next to another runner and you begin to pull out in front of them, but not to far, just a couple of feet. The other runner will without doubt attempt to follow your lead and keep up. At this point, you let them remain with you, perhaps even slow down a touch, resuming the pace you were at before you surged. Then about twenty-seconds later, you will do it again and again. After a couple of minutes, the other runner will begin to hear those dreaded thoughts, “I can’t keep up with this guy!” “He’s just too strong.” “He won’t budge.” “Just let him go…”
A practiced runner understands how this battle goes on within his opponent and knows when and how to implement these various techniques to ensure his victory.
It takes much more energy for a runner to keep up with a “surger” than it does to be the one “surging.” For the one trying to keep up, there are all these mentally realities that begin to come into play…. “I want to quit.”
I’ve been in races when my mind began to sing this sad song. It’s amazing how many ways you can think of to “throw” a race during these moments! “Coach, I got a bad stomach cramp.” “I fell.” “Someone pushed me down.” “I’ve been kind of sick the last couple of days.” “Something I ate didn’t sit well with me.” To just name a few of the excuses that race though one’s mind.
To be sure, the battle rages in the mind and the skilled runner is one who knows when not to listen to the silent counselor. This pseudo-counselor is always looking for the easy way out, and in short, he is a “wimp!”. The trained runner is one who understands how the mental battle rages and has developed the character in practice to endure the mental-war on the course.
Scripture speaks of specific and strategic moments in the “race of life” where we are susceptible to similar mental battles. The Greek word for these moments is kairos. Kairos is the word commonly translated for “time.” It doesn’t just mean time as in chronological sense or calendar time, it is used in the context of a very specific and strategic time. “There will be an open door at this place, at this specific time, and that is the moment to strike.” This word is used to describe how Satan comes against and attacks followers of Christ, even Christ Himself.
For example, “when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him (Jesus) until and opportune time (kairos) (Luke 4:13). In other words, the devil would pull back, but not too far. He would be watching from a distance, waiting, looking, longing for a moment when he could “surge” against the Son of Man and bring Him down.
Satan knows at what “mile marker” we are typically most vulnerable. It is during these “times” the he “surges” against us, bring strain to relationships, circumstances and situations. At these moments, the battle will rage in our minds. What will we allow ourselves to think…? “Just quit.” “It’s not worth it.” “This will never change.” “I’ve been in this place again, what’s the use.” “No one will really notice if…”
It is the skillfully trained runner who is not surprised by these thoughts, nor thrown off course.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life
that God has promised
to those who love him.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The Apostle Paul likened the life we live on the Earth to a runner in a race. What does a runner go through? What could Paul have been referring to (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)? In this message, we look at the body, emotions, mind, and spiritual make up of a runner and a life lived well on the Earth. Like a runner, we each go through cycles in our lives. The more aware we become of where we're at in the journey, greater will be the quality of life we experience along the way. This is the second message in the Sermon Series Hero's Journey. This message is presented by Jerrell Jobe.
“On the days
I felt the least like
going to practice,
I ran the fastest times.”
The human psyche (soul: mind, emotions, & will) is absolutely amazing to me! Of all the lessons regarding life and spirituality, this one has been a definite keeper. Two thoughts: one, on the days I least wanted to go train, I ended up producing the best results and running the fastest times. I still have vivid pictures in my mind of this reality. It would be mid-afternoon, and I could be found doing what I loved most to do…take a nap. I was often done with classes around 2:00, which left me a good hour to nap before Cross Country practice at 3:30pm. On more occasions than I can remember, I would wake up to the alarm clock around 3:00 o’clock. I would wake up in a daze, my body stiff and my comforter softer than ever. I DID NOT want to go to practice. I could imagine myself remaining in bed until the next day. My body, my mind, and my emotions were dead set against me getting up and going to practice. There was one miner problem, I signed a scholarship contractual agreement thus simply not showing up for practice wasn’t exactly an option.
I would grumble my way out of bed, share my intense lack of desire to be a practice with my roommate (who was also on the team), and then the most amazing thing would happen. Half way through practice my body began producing results that I did not expect it to produce just ninety minutes earlier. In other words, I would run the hardest and fastest times. And when practice was over, I had full energy, fully amazed at the times I had just run, and in awe of how “good” I felt. At the end of the day, there was one concrete conclusion I came to again and again…”My feelings lie!”
How often, in our spiritual life in Christ do we simply “not feel” like doing something. We don’t feel like praying. We don’t feel like reading Scripture. We do feel like waiting in the long line at the grocery store, and we definitely don’t feel like stand behind the person with 12 items in the 10 item line. We don’t feel like serving our spouse, or co-worker. And, please! I don’t feel like committing to another night, afternoon, or Saturday morning.
Just as with my “super-duper-power-napping” afternoons, we can think of numerous reasons that validate and support our feelings. But the lesson I’ve learned in the training days has been a powerful one. For, many have been the days in my walk with God that I’ve not “felt” like doing something and had numerous reasons to support and validate, yet many, if not all of those reasons are founded in the feeling itself, which I discovered…was A LIE, mostly rooted in my selfishness.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is get up and go. Do that which we know to be truth, and the “feelings” will more often than not, follow shortly along.
“If what you believe does not reflect truth, then what you feel does not reflect reality.” (Neil Anderson, Victory Over the Darkness)
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
1. You get a workout while you preach.
2. It appeases those who prefer you to stay in one place so that they don't have to exercise their eye muscles following you across the stage.
3. It requires you to talk a whee-bit slower...
4. If you're talking about "running" or the Scriptures that refer to life as a "race," the message is demonstrated rather than merely 'talked' about.
5. It's fun... And, I've always wanted to preach in shorts and a T-Shirt on a Sunday morning...
The Bible is a book explosive with imagery and metaphor. Any image or metaphor is only as strong as the connection between the image and the reality it represents is clear. Paul uses the metaphor of "running a race" on a number of occasions. The sport of running is something that the Apostle had working knowledge of, and he assumed those reading his letters would also.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“24-Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25-Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26-So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misers his punches. 27-I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
Corinth was the site of the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympics. It is believed that Paul himself had been in Corinth during the games of A.D. 51 and, according to Gordon Fee, may even have made tents for the visitors and contestants needing accommodations.
Paul states, that every person competing enters into strict training.
All of us have ran at some point in our life, but few ever enter into "training" for a race. So how do we cross the gap of time, culture and context? Sometimes the best way to build bridges of comprehension is as we engage Scripture with creative re-enactment of what's being said. Perhaps watching a person run for forty minutes speaks just as loud a message about endurance, running, intentionality, sweat, perspective and the mindset we are to have in this "race," as the words used to describe the process. Often, that which is silent, but seen, is louder than that which has volume and is spoken.
Sunday, I did just that... Run on a treadmill for forty-some minutes, in front of some 500 people, while talking about Training, Running, and the cycles of life we all go through...
What was your experience?
Monday, June 11, 2007
is not a P.R. Day,
yet everyday is key to having PR Days.
Consistency is the key!"
Every runner, on race day hopes to have a “PR Day.” PR stands for “personal record.” This means that you run the race faster than you have run it before, or at least for the present season. If a runner’s training is well planned, their times should progressively get faster and faster as the season continues. However, there are several factors that play into this happening or not. We will discuss some of these factors over the next couple of days and their application to spiritual formation
Though it has been stated that achieving a PR is a goal, there is much more that goes into a race than merely the finish-line. In fact, it is that “much more” that determines what happens at the finish-line and how fast one reaches it. Moreover, it is the practices and training times that precede the race that will ultimately determine what one is even capable of doing on Race Day.
Consistency is the key. In consistency, muscle memory is developed. When I was in college, during practice, I didn’t even need a watch to tell how long I had been running. With great accuracy, I could tell you how long I had been running, how far I had run, and at what pace (mph) I had been averaging. Several teammates and I used to make a game of this during practice. We would periodically ask, “how long have we been running?” and before another would look at their stopwatch, I would give an answer. Someone would then check their stopwatch and see the actual time.During the heat of training, I could usually get within 60 seconds of the actual time. How? Your body begins to develop what sports psychologist call “muscle memory.” My muscles could simply “feel” the pace we were running. I had timed myself at various paces so many times that my muscles learned what various paces felt like. (For example: 5:00 minute mile pace, 5:20 minute mile pace, 5:40 minute mile pace, etc.)
There is another side to the “muscle memory,” that also has direct applicability to our spirituality. Muscles begin to deteriorate within 72 hours of not being worked out. In other words, if one goes three days without working out, they will feel the digression when they hit the trails on that third day. This is why it is often advised to at least go for a 20:00 light run, even on the day after a big race. This is just enough to keep your muscles at strength, while allowing for them to rest and recuperate from the race.
After 72 hours, if one gets out of their training rhythm, training begins to be everything but enjoyable. It is always challenging once you get out of sync with your training rhythm. It’s hard, your mind fights going, your body resists, you would rather stay in bed!
It is the same with spiritual practices such as prayer, engaging Scripture, reflection, study, etc. Have you ever noticed, the more consistently you read, the more relevant, desirous, and applicable Scripture seems to your life? And, the less you read, and the more sporadic you read, the less and less Scripture seems to be relevant, desirous, and applicable to your life, as well as your current circumstances. It is the same with prayer. The more one prays, the more they become conditioned to hear the voice of God, His direction, and see His involvement in even the minuscule moments of the daily. There grows an expectancy and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s moving and involvement. However, when we get out of sync and don’t pray, prayer seems less and less significant, we are less expectant, less sensitive, and we begin to develop a greater dependence upon our selves and our own strength.
The daily is supremely significant to continual growth and spiritual formation. It is the daily that adequately prepares us for the day.
Consistency is the key?
Thursday, June 07, 2007
the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
In our Western world, we are often influenced to believe that to get more we must do more. To grow in strength and power we must exert more energy. Success is achieved by arriving early, working hard, staying late. Working as long as needed, no matter the cost. Though elements of this may be true in the world of commerce, it is not so in the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God operates on principles vastly different. To be strong, you must become weak. To become great, you must become small. To go up, you must bow down. Everything is seemingly backwards and upside down.
In the day of Isaiah the prophet, 8th Century BC, success and status was achieved by frantic, anxious military and political posturing. It is in this context that the word of the Lord comes. Rather than a reliance in one’s military, political or personal strengths, he say’s, let your complete reliance and trust be upon Yahweh. Isaiah is not a pacifist; rather, he believes that trust in Yahweh is the taproot of security. All trust in arguments and alliances, he reasons, is an act of mistrust and idolatry that will only lead to destruction.
It will never happen unless we are intentional about making it happen. The writer of Hebrews even says that there is a rest that remains, but that it is not automatically experience and appropriated by followers of Christ. It is something that we must position ourselves in such a way to partake in it.
Monday, June 04, 2007
"Learn to pause...
...or nothing worthwhile
will catch up to you."
(Doug King, Poet)
Peter Senge in his book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization makes the comparison between eastern and western ways of thinking. They used the illustration of a person walking down a hall way and looking into another's office or cubical and seeing them sitting there in a chair "doing nothing" no typing, writing, talking on the phone etc, just sitting there with eyes closed.
In our western world we would assume this person to merely be day dreaming, dozing, wasting time, loafing, etc... Yet, in an eastern culture, they would be assumed to be in deep contemplative thought. Thought that would give rise to innovative ideas, strength, energy and creativity...
In this case, the less was considered more. We typically, peer into the office of another...and if there busy at work, typing, phoning, writing, frantically moving about their desk...we assume they are busy, significant and on the move upward.
In eastern cultures, this would be considered more of the "rat race" -- lots of churning in the wheel, lots of noise, but in the end - not much movement - only perceived... interesting.
How often do I equate my "movement" to success and significance? Too much...
Doug King is on to something, "Learn to pause... or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you." Daily, we are bombarded with so much information and external stimuli. More than we could possibly process in a week, much less in a day. And, yet it is imperative that we don't simply exist within the speed of life. God desires that we develop the ability to 'extract the precious' out of it... (See Jeremiah 15:19 - "If you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman.")
It is when we develop the Art of Pausing in the midst of the business of life that God is able to break in more readily and that which is valuable begins "to catch up to us..."
Friday, June 01, 2007
We've done everything from smashing bugs, chasing robins, long bike rides, trips to multiple parks and Tuesday for Naylah's first time - went to play Putt-Putt.
You know you've entered into a new stage of life when - as you're driving down the road you pass a playground and think to yourself, "Whoa... Now, that's a rock'n playground... I've gotta bring the kids here. I can't say I ever thought I would become a full-time scout for play-scapes, splash-pads, and side-walks suitable for training-wheels. But I must say I have one keen sense of discernment with dexterity when it comes to scoping'em out.