Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Moving Day

I appreciate blogger. I really do.

I've learned so much during my time here. But I feel it's time to move. Try something New

Still Blogging, writing, stretching out my wings.

Visit it, check it out. Let me know what you think. Give me suggestions for improvement.

Imagine me taking one last look around, slowly turning to leave and hitting the lights and the credits roll over a darkened room.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Friends....

Ah, my dearest friends. Welcome back. Man-hugs and greetings.

My sincere apologies for not being to regular in my updating.  It's about to get more irregular, as it were.

Basically...I'm taking a break.  My domain name goes up for grabs at the end of the month and this seems like a good jump off point to really and radically redesign the whole shebang. Possibly leaving this platform.  I'll let you know.  But giving my brain some refreshing times. Love you guys.

Also if anyone doesn't know what a man-hug is, it's the hand shake with the one hand back-pat. y'know....man-hug!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Suffering and Blame

**Short note: I originally wrote this last year. Nearly no one read it.  Which is okay.  But this is a conversation that I feel like the church needs to have.  We get so focused on picking apart each others sin, or being offended by Chicken sandwiches that we completely ignore the suffering in the world or even in our own city.

   Not too long ago I was clicking around on Amazon.com and I saw a "Christian" chat forum.  Acting against my better judgement I clicked on it.  After scrolling through various posts with only one or two replies, I came across a post with two hundred and fifty replies and curiosity got the better of me.  I opened it up and found a well worded message from a man explaining why he refuses to believe in a loving God.

     He says that If God was truly loving, then why do people suffer?  Why do good men go without jobs and shiver in the cold?  And his best point was when he expressed that he could not bear to watch an innocent child slowly starve, suffering every day until death finally claims them, especially if he supposedly loves them and that if he couldn't bear it how could a loving God bear it?  That because of these terrible things that happen every single day then if there is a God, He must not be loving, but rather cruel and unfeeling.

    It was an interesting post but inside I knew that this person was looking for someone to argue with him.  You don't go onto a Christian chat forum and tell them their beliefs are wrong and then look to be persuaded , you come guarded looking for a fight.  He got his wish, at least two hundred and fifty replies some arguing how he was wrong, others supporting his point.  With each rebuttal I could feel his glee at getting to make another Christian come off as ignorant and reactionary.

    I didn't respond.  I tend to not argue my point, if something is true then truth shall bear itself out.  Another thing is this gentleman had a good point.

    People suffer each and every day.  Everyday good things happen and terrible things happen.  Many arguments pointed towards a devil, that what is good comes from God and what is bad comes from the devil and he destroyed each of these arguments explaining that an all-powerful god should easily destroy a devil.  I think the truth is more complicated than that.  It usually is.  While I am not denying that the devil exists, I will unrepentantly say that he is un-empowered and was beaten by Christ's work at Calvary.  Whose fault is it that bad things happen and people suffer everyday?

The blame falls squarely to us.

     God gave man authority over the earth, way back at the beginning He did this.  He didn't take it back.  Some would say He should have.  He gave it to us.  There's an old saying that "The only thing evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  Why are people suffering?  Not only is it because good men are doing nothing, but because evil men are actively doing evil.  Why did that man shivering in the cold lose his job?  Maybe an evil man cut costs to improve the bottom line, maybe this man lost when faced with temptations from other evil men.  Inside every human is the potential to do great good and great evil and it is up to us to choose which.  Inside each and every one of us is a Hero and a Monster.  This is our earth and we have to step into that authority and take the responsibility.

The oldest argument: Why does God allow bad things to happen vs. Free Will.  We choose.  It's up to us.  We can't shrug off our responsibility when an evil man forces children into slavery and claim that God should have done something.  We should have done something.  Grow up and take your place.  See the good and work for it.

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

Why do we allow bad things to happen?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Peaks and Valleys

My friends...my very dear friends, welcome back to this humble blog. You know what? I think I hate that word. Not humble. Blog. It just kind of falls out of your mouth, like a gross frog sound, or worse. Dear internet, can we collectively come up with a better word than "blog"? Leave suggestions in the comments and I will solely use my favorite from amongst them.

What did I want to talk to you about today, you ask? Certainly he has more to say than expressing a mild disliking of the word "blog", you exclaim? When will snack sharing technology be invented, you demand? Why won't he stop putting words in my mouth, you quietly ask?  Well, dear friends, I have all these answers AND MORE!

And now for the answer portion: 1.)I'm getting to it. 2.) I DO have more to say, please be patient dear reader. 3.) I'm guessing by the year 2525 (if man is still alive).  4.) I will never stop this, dear reader, until I get bored of it.

What I wanted to talk to you about today, dear reader, is faith.  Specifically about the way it wanes and swells like waves crashing on a beach.  Some days you are so full of faith you feel like you could go out and change the world overnight single-handedly. Other days you feel like you are just holding on to your faith with your fingernails.

You are not alone in this.

You see dear reader, these difficult times, what I call "the dark and stormy night of the soul" when concepts like hope and grace seem so foreign, we tend to think that we are all alone in this. That we are the only ones that have ever felt this way. That we dare not ask a friend for help because they are so full of faith that they will simply think that we are awful human beings that are weighing them down.
This is a lie.

And now for the flip side...

When our faith is high, when we feel good and all is right with the world. When we feel like "God is at our elbow." On these days we tend to forget the Dark and Stormy Night of the Soul. We toss pithy scripture references at our suffering friends instead of a sympathetic ear. We forget that we were in this very place not long ago as we denounce them saying "they just need more faith" or "if only they prayed more."  "If they were just closer to God they would be in this dark place."
This is also a lie.

Some days faith simply means holding on by your fingernails. Some days the most eloquent prayer you have left inside you is "Help me God. I need you." Remember this when you are feeling great, when you are on top of the world.  When you feel like you can almost see through this world to the next.

And when you feel you are at your lowest. Like prayer is a foreign language on your lips. Remember those days when you felt wonderful, when you were so full of faith you felt like you could burst.

At these times remember these feelings and have grace for the other.  Have grace for your brother or sister, just hanging on. Have grace for your brother or sister that is so full of joy that they are annoying you.

Remember this is life on this side of the veil. This is what it's like on this side of the paper sky. One day we will know even as we are known. But until that day, err on the side of grace, dear ones.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stop Hiding

Good Morning, dear reader, to make up for the fact that I did not post anything new yesterday, you are getting the rare "SUPER TUESDAY POST!!!!".  Well, Regular Tuesday post.  Well, a Tuesday post anyway.  The reason I did not get up early enough to post on Monday was that I was so tired from spending most of Sunday GETTING SHOT!

Not me on the Paintball Field 
Do I have your attention? I'm sorry that was a cheap trick. With paintballs.  I was being shot with paintballs.

To celebrate the thirty-first anniversary of my birth, a large group accompanied me to a local paintball facility that been converted from one of those slightly creepy Santa's Village places from the fifties.   

Yes, dear reader, I would love to thrill you with my manly exploits of diving for cover, lobbing paint grenades, and single-handedly taking out an entire army of teenagers.  No, I got shot in the back of the head pretty early in the game.  Probably friendly fire.

Between rounds, as we were nursing our wounds and telling painty war stories, a good friend of mine began to tell me about other paintball facilities in the area. "There's one with trenches dug into the ground, and another not too far away that's a Christian paintball place."  Now, dear reader, I will give you a glimpse of how rude I can be. I laughed.  I feel bad about this now because this friend of mine is one of the most earnest people I have ever met.  After I stopped my incredulous chuckling I asked "A Christian Paintball place?" "Yeah! It's called Promised Land." I laughed again.

Okay, before you throw your stones, this is why I laughed.  My imagination immediately went to a place where combatants are humming Onward Christian Soldier while popping each other with paintballs shouting "Sorry! Jesus loves you!" after every hit.

Now I'm sure the people who opened this place did it with the best of intentions, but we Christians have a terrible habit of trying to separate ourselves  from the rest of the world.  We have our own music, bookstores, coffee shops, skate parks, paintball place and even neighborhoods (I guess blogs, too).

It seems like we Christians have gone to great lengths to never have to spend time with anyone that doesn't believe the same as us.  I think this is a travesty.  What kind of impact do you think we are making on the world when all we do is talk to each other.  

Some the of the best conversations I have had about belief and life have been with a confirmed Agnostic.  We trust each other, crazy right?  

You can't make a difference to anyone by hiding from them.  You also can't make a difference by judging and denouncing them.  What makes the biggest difference in anyone's life is love.  And I promise you, that you CANNOT love someone if you never interact with them in a real way.  Not just showing them the polished pretty face that we keep at church.  But sharing both the good days and the bad days.  

I love you guys, but Christians have got to stop hiding in our sterile environments.  Yes, the Bible says "be in the world, not of the world."  We still have to be in the world.  Not removing ourselves until we get to go home.

Sorry if it turned into a rant, I love you dear reader.  We're still friends, right?

Got something to add to the conversation? Put it in the comments, baby!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Politics of Public Prayer

Alternate title: how I got over myself and learned how to talk to God normally.

Hey guys, nice to see you again.  Did you notice the alliteration in the post title? Amazing, huh? Like magic...but less magical and more like a literary device.


So, last week over one hundred people clicked over to my humble little blog after I commented on Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like.  If you are one of those people, thank you, we should be friends you and I.

Anyways, back to story!

So his post was on avoiding being called on to pray in front of the group.  This was my comment:

Here's why people don't ask me to pray in public. My prayers are short and lack all religious terminology. Here's an example.
"David, close us in prayer." "Okay. Hey Jesus, thanks for letting us do this thing, man. It was super cool of you, Talk to ya later, bye."
This was the truth.  Still is.  Anyway, this silly little confession of simplicity inspired a long list of replies and visits and it has me thinking...
What about, you ask? About THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC PRAYER! I answer, alluding to the title of this very blog!

Come with me, dear reader, come with me to the past, into my memories.  Comfy? Good, let's begin.  Here we are in my very first Sunday School class.  Hear the teacher ask for volunteers to close the class in prayer? Notice no one volunteers?  She calls on me "Dave, why don't you close us out in prayer?" "because I don't know how"  Aww little preschool me is so cute.  Our teacher takes this moment to teach, the way teachers do.  "All prayer is, is talking to God, that's all".
Now come with me, dear reader, further into my memories, when I am eighteen and serious about my relationship with God.  Serious and little cocky about it, even.  I tell everyone I know "it's not about religion man, it's about relationship!" like I'm the first person to ever figure this out, and future me will look back at this passionate-to-the-point-of-alienating-everyone-else-in-the-world me and shake his head.  I hope I get called to pray, I jump at the chance, volunteer before I'm asked and begin "OOOh most holy and gracious loving and kind heavenly father who is in heaven Lord Je-SUS!" oh yeah I hit that second syllable of "Jesus" like a Pentecostal preacher.  "Oh Lord, we are nothing but worms compared to your most holy ways, because you are so amazing" I am turning this prayer into a sermon, I am unconsciously turned this prayer away from God and towards the people in this circle.  I am making points, encouraging the others, I hear them say "amen" or "mmhm" or my favorite "yes, Lord".  Oohh, I think to myself, I am totally winning at prayer, no one else gets this kind of response...and then it hits me.  The truth.  I have been preaching at others and not talking to God. My voice cuts out.  I stammer.  I'm humbled.  I end with a pathetic "uhh...thanks, that's it."
Years later I am at Thanksgiving at my inlaws.  I am asked to pray for the food.  I hear people groan...see this written on their faces "here we go, they asked the religious one to pray.  I may as well get comfortable."  I bow my head and say "Hey God, Thanks for the food, thanks for family.  You're awesome. Amen"  The people literally cheer for that prayer. 
Here we are back at the present, that was a fun trip.  I hope you learned a thing or two from my embarrassing past.  We're better friends now, right?  If you're curious how I pray, I can tell you this, it almost always begins with "Hey God..." and  almost always ends with "...you're awesome! I love you allot!"
Love you guys. Hugs!

Good Morning!

whuzzat? huh? mm  mmmornin'..is mumble grumble...s'cuse me muh coffeees readyy. mumble.

Good morning, dear reader.  At the very moment if you could see through my laptop's screen (only if you have new "spy on bloggers" app) you will see me clinging to my coffee cup like a lifeline, hoping it will pull me out of this sleep fog into better conscious thought.  So my friends, this will be a very short post.

"But what about Book Recommendation Fridays?" you ask "BFR!" you demand.

Whoa guys, it's too early for demanding stuff.  I have book for you, I really do, and boy howdy is it a good one.  But I haven't finished reading it and I want to close the last page before recommending it.  Plus I gotta leave for work soon.

I have another great post brewing, it's about prayer.  You'll love it....just like I love you.  Hey! hows about a classic reposting or something?  yeah...that'll work.

Hey guys, have an amazing friday, I'll hit you with fresh inspiration tonight, after I've been fully caffeinated, until that time...enjoy this post from the archives.

A classic post just for you!

Oh and here's a great poster for the new batman movie...love you guys.