A Third of a Year

It’s been some time. I must confess that I didn’t think it would be this long. I’ve taught some classes and there have been blessing all around.
There has also been great sadness. A friend was shot and killed this week while at work and another friend is facing his second great battle for his life.
Longfellow said that into everyone’s life a little rain must fall. I think the poem says a lot about my present feelings.
I find that faith is no longer an albatross around my neck. Instead, it has become a great comfort. I tend to worry about things that are out of my control. Into this worry, a good passage and a ton of faith go a long way to refresh my soul.
There are times I still feel burned out, but there are more times that I feel tired from many good things that happened from the day.
I hope it will not be another four months til I write again.

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Starting Over Once Again

Typically, I’m a person that enjoys starting projects, but not very good at finishing them. I’ve tried everything from GTD, ZTD (like Getting Things Done, but with Zen as the first word), Franklin Covey and a host of others. Yet, I have little to no success in completing a project.

I’d like to think that it is a function of being an eternal optimist. Beautiful as that thought is, though, the issue is simply that I am lazy.

So, I thought a while before I titled something Starting Over because I find that I post something like it about every 10 months.

Still, there is something outside of me that is motivating the change this time: my son. He has really latched on to the idea that the food panty in our little church needs to feed other children. He consistently wants to bring food to it, despite what I might consider a lack of money.

On Sunday, he brought a box of pasta. This wasn’t the 98 cent box, but the stuff he likes – the comparatively pricey multi-colored, vegetable based pasta. At the store, he chose penne pasta for the pantry because that is his favorite.

This week, we are going to the store to bring about $30 groceries to the food pantry, partly due to his eager request. He has a list of things that are ‘missing’ that he plans to find at our local grocer.

I used to think about the Bible stories we read every morning and wonder if he understood what he read. Now, I wonder in the other direction. Today, he asked me to forgive him for having a hard heart.

A bit of context, we don’t say I’m Sorry much in our house. For things that are not purely an accident, we say do you forgive me for fill-in-the-specific-offense-here? I was expecting to hear Do you forgive me for disobeying you? When I heard him mention his own hard heart, I realized that he heard a lot more of the midweek last week than I thought. Family midweeks aren’t usually like that, but it was a surreal night for a lot of us.

Back to the point, I’m starting over again.

This time, I’m putting away my projects of teaching another adult class, work on the library and some of the Sunday Night service plans. My son wants to build a food pantry, so that is what we are going to do.


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Guarding Your Heart

I’ve taken some time recently to re-examine my digital life. It’s not a bad thing, but I have discovered that most things I do in my spare time involve being online. The first step in that process involved working through all the items in my Google Reader. During that process, I discovered something fairly startling — I do not like religious blogs.

Not only did I drop some rss feeds, but I erased any record in my history or favorites of even more sites that I frequented, but didn’t have RSS feeds. A sampling of sites dropped includes:

The Thinklings
The ICC Discussion Forum
Several church websites of various denominations
Rob Bell

I thought that a vast majority would come from within my own denomination, but it seems to be more widespread than that. So far, the only criteria I have is the site had a lot of things that hurt my heart in bad ways.

What that means is that I want to follow someone that hurts my heart in the right ways. Something stirs my heart to change or reconsider (Matthew 18:3Open Link in New Window). Something hits my heart and gives me an opportunity to take a sober estimate of some aspect of my walk with God (1 Thessalonians 5:8Open Link in New Window, NAS). Something just rings true that is sad (Ecclesiastes 7:3Open Link in New Window).

It’s no mystery to anyone that knows me that various Church of Christ sites hurt my heart in bad ways. No sense in detailing it too much, suffice it to say that I get deeply angry/sad many times reading certain sites. I think the last straw for me came from a thread on the ICC discussion forum about vocabulary. After I posted a few peculiarities that I remembered, the thread author posted a comprehensive list of suggestions.

Seeing the list of my stilted vocabulary that I used in what I thought was spiritual speech just made me cry. Some items represented words I used to hurt others. A few represented things I saw used against others as weapons instead of encouragement. I don’t say this against the thread author in any way – it’s the memories I have that hurt, not the list itself.

Broadening out from that, I saw more hurtful words on other sites as well. Tone is hard to convey in a written medium, but some of the things said in the name of “speaking the unvarnished truth” was just an excuse for being mean.

God is not mean. Mean is not the same as jealous. Rebukes are not mean. There was a time when I would call someone a rank heretic of a psuedo-calvinist stripe, but I hope that I have put those childish things behind me. The point is, that there is enough meanness in the world and I have decided that I do not want to willingly partake in any more mean in the name of God.

It’s fair at this point to mention that I also got rid of other sites that seem to prey on fear in the name of news. It may surprise you to learn that I tend to get news from Al-Jazeera, Reuters, and one of the local stations in town. Yes, I even dropped the BBC, but that may have more to do with Dr. Who than news. 🙂

I’m not better than anyone. I’ve done the same thing multiple times on this site. It’s just that I really cannot intentionally pierce my own soul anymore. My son does not care about Douglas Jacoby being banned from certain churches or repeated calls for a spiritual enforcement mechanism. My daughter is not outraged that Linsday Lohan is not in jail. My daughter could also care less about Rick Warren or Harold Camping or Bart Ehrman. Neither of my children wrestle with the concept of convincing avowed atheists of the logical supremacy of the concept of middle knowledge.

My son, upon hearing about earthquakes in Japan, went to his toy workbench and built a machine to make toys for children in Japan that lost their homes. If the water level rise much more, he and my daughter will probably want to help stack sandbags along the Missouri River.

When Jesus said that we had to change and become more like children, I think this is what he meant. For me, I have spent too much time damaging myself for no good reason. I’ve become indifferent to the suffering of those around me and to the needs of my family wrestling over matters of no import.

Proverbs 4:23Open Link in New Window says Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Today and everyday, I want to choose life.

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