Friday, April 25, 2014

Velveteen Thoughts

Every once in a while a passage from a book or dialogue from a movie will spark my mind ablaze. Recently I've been thinking much on friendship. These thoughts of course begin with love. How do you love someone as yourself? How do you receive love? What does it look like to share life?

More recently though I came to the realization that my closest friend helps me to come alive. 

By loving and being loved through the good and the bad, THIS is how we come alive. This is what reality is. Real love is impossible apart from relationship. When I love someone I push them to be closer to Christ, when someone loves me they do the same. Apart from this our live is meaningless.
Iron sharpening iron.

The thing about iron sharpening iron though is that it hurts sometimes. Being open enough to love and be loved takes courage, because your flaws are on display along with your weaknesses. Yet, these deep relationships push us in the Holy Spirit to live despite that.

I feel that I can come alive when I have someone that loves me for who I am and believes in me. When I love my friends selflessly, it helps to empower their own life visions. 

All of this fits into the framework of love that we see in 1 John. Through this love we experience God's love, the world sees God, and we get to experience Jesus more fully. 

With all this being said, now read the following passage from Margery William's book "The Velveteen Rabbit":

"What is real?" Asked the Rabbit one day. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you when a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real." 
"Does it hurt?" Asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once like being wound up?" He asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints, and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are really you can't be ugly, except the people who don't understand.

To the people in my life that have been real to and with me, I am indebted to you for helping me to come alive despite hardship, doubt, and trials. Mom, Dad, Brandon, the guys of LWH- this post is for you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Migration Patterns

What if moving on to greener pastures was not as great thing as it was cracked up to be?

I've been thinking a lot again about ministry goals, and how that relates to where God has placed us in life, but more importantly WHO he has placed us with. 

I've noticed a common mentality among my peers, both in seminary and in other areas of life, for the "corporate model" of living life.... That is, the constant move to a bigger platform and a larger spotlight.
Let's face it, everybody wants to be noticed, to make a lasting impact, and to know that their life is validated in some way. 

Why, though, have we bought into the lie that this validation is correlated with what we do and not with who we are? 

Lives are spent moving all over the country, from one sphere of influence to another, seeking to provide better opportunities for ourselves and our families, but at what cost? My fear is that at the end of the day, we will find that our lives have been spent without the depth of community and level of trust that we need as people.
This is especially true of the church. 

I have written already about sharing life, about bearing burdens, and have attempted to explain my thoughts on the importance of Christian community. I barely know what to write now, as the life philosophy I am now developing is so colossally different than everything I have ever held to.

For the first time in my life, I believe that staying is better than going. Instead of being eager to experience life by going to "new exciting places" and starting new ministries in a completely different context, I am challenged by the thought of simply committing to those around me completely and sacrificially, as if this is my final destination. 

So often I become so distracted by the future that I fail to live to my full potential in the present. Worrying sets in, and preparation for what is to come obsesses my mind.

Don't get me wrong, preparation in life is important, but we are always being prepared for the next thing throughout life until we eventually die. Preparation is not something we are taught but something we experience. 

This leads me to the realization that life happens now, not then. Life is not where you will spend your life, but who you will spend it with. Life is the everyday moments, not just the mountaintops and valleys.

When will we realize that the people who are around us, sharing the seemingly small moments, are what make us truly experience life in a full way? 

We desire to experience life "moments", but what do they matter if you don't have those you love to share them with? 

Acts 4:32 describes the church the following way. 
"Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common." 

One heart. 
One soul. 
They had everything in common. 

This is what it is like to live life. 

I am excited to see how sweet and fruitful my friendships will be 5, 10, even 20 years in the future. I intend on committing and cultivating these relationships, because that is what makes up my life.
My best friend made the comment to me the other day that in the future we will be "a force to be reckoned with." On the surface this seems comedic and we laughed, yet in context this was a very true and exciting thought. 

What could be accomplished in the world if we invested in others completely? With hearts knit together in The Lord what kind of healing and hope could we see in this world? When the church has one soul and a unified voice what kind of impact can we have for the Gospel?

1 John 4:12 tells us that "no one has seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."

If the world could tangibly see Christ in Me, the hope of glory, then what would change? 

We love because He first loved us.

Instead of moving on to greener pastures to make the best life possible, how about we realize that the people around us are what make up the best life possibile.