Sunday, September 22, 2013


To do list after constant do to list. Never ending cycle of accomplish this and check that off. The ceaseless marry-go-round of tasks that are forever repeating and never content: brush your teeth, shower, go get groceries, do the dishes, go to work, pay the bills, exercise. The relentless tasks of daily life. I suppose they can be viewed as relentless and tedious or joyous opportunities to experience the beautiful details of life. Depends on what kind of a day you're having I suppose.

Today, my day is one of tedium and tasks, to-do's and get-er-dones. I wish it were not always so, and it isn't-always, but all too often the tedium and dailyness of life overwhelms the possibility for beautiful moments and savored seconds of time we shall never have returned to us. Sad truth, but truth nonetheless. Tasks are tasks, to do's must get done, and showering is not optional--although flexible in its frequency. Life is relentless, period. The reality of having to brush my teeth every morning--if I'm being good--and make a lunch for myself every night won't change. So, what will? Perspective perhaps. Attitude. I suppose so, but if I'm honest--tonight, I just don't want to brush my teeth. So, sue me.

And then there's the constant nagging sense that you're behind. Say I do decide to brush my teeth--that's only one thing on a long list of "to-do's." I still have to try and wash the car, get groceries, clean the house, appease all feelings of friendship negligence via various coffee dates--and that's if I'm being productive. I won't even tangent onto the whole "productive" strain, that could take all day. And if writing becomes another to-do, I have nothing redeemable left. So, I will leave thoughts unfinished, a task undone and attempt to not feel like I've dropped the ball on life by not finishing this post...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hipster: alternative, or is it?

Hipster. The word probably evokes very specific images in your head, as it does in mine. It might include any of the following: over-sized plastic eyewear, cut-off jean shorts and tank tops with converse tennis shoes (if you're a dude) and high waisted pants paired with blouses your grandma would have worn (if you're a chick) all coupled with copious amounts of colorful tattoos, usually spilling out of said cut-off jean shorts and grandma's blouse. There's the vintages purses and backpacks that can only be found at your local good will or thrift store. And then there's always the shoes: Keds, Vans, Toms, or some other variety of shoe that by seeming requirement are horrible for your feet. And if you're a chick your jewelry can't have been made within the decade to count as cool. Vintage. Oh, and don't forget mustaches. If you're a dude and ever hope to be a legit hipster, you've got to sport the 'stache. What else am I missing...

As a hipster you must own at least one Mac product, even if it's a first generation ipod. You must also spend excessive amounts of time at your local--and it must be local--coffee shop. Starbucks is just too mainstream. Duh.
You must recycle, own at least one re-usable grocery bag, and in general consider yourself "green." And if you're legit you commute to work on your bike, but you're really legit if work at your local coffee shop and commute there on your bike. Total hipster points.

If you're reading this, you know exactly what I'm talking about, you see it everywhere. To the point where you wonder if "hipsters" are really as alternative as their entire culture claims to be. That's the irony about alternative lifestyles and thought processes, eventually, they become mainstream. Isn't it ironic? And no, I'm not quoting alanis morissette, although I'd be totally hipster if I was.

So, how does a philosophy or lifestyle that began as so "alternative" become so utterly cliche? I mean, despite my wanna-be hipster status (my students refer to me as the "white hipster teacher") I have become somewhat irritated by the whole movement and image. I recall being in Austin recently during a popular music festival-alternative music of course-and being pretty turned off to the plethora of hipsters that inundated the streets and venues. Too many tattoos, too many mustaches, too many plastic-rimmed glasses and in general just too many people trying desperately to be different, but in reality looking and acting much the same.

Perhaps it's cynicism that causes me to be so critical, and even hypocritical, but it's also just pure observation and curiosity. I imagine that every alternative movement or philosophy began this way, and then sadly and slowly shifted into mainstream. I mean it wasn't always cool to not shower and be a hippie, but now, in some circles, would be considered just being "green." Isn't it ironic? No, I'm afraid it's not.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The irony of the expectant

It's sadly ironic how entitled we are as people, especially as believers. Whether we would admit it or not, we believe we are entitled--entitled to a good life, to health, maybe a spouse, a home, wholeness, happiness. And the sadder side of this entitlement is that we think we can do something to get these things, or we have done something to deserve them. When truly, nothing could be further from the Gospel truth: we deserve nothing and can do nothing to garner favor or a good life, and have done nothing to deserve them should we be blessed enough to have them. Where then do we get off thinking number one that we deserve a life of goodness and number two where did we ever imagine that it had anything to do with our own efforts or stellar qualities that would qualify us for such blessedness?

I'm sure much of it has to do with our rewards-based society where everything is founded on performance: do this, get that. It's how we're programmed to process and proceed through life. But, it's an unfortunate paradigm that has carried over into our Christian-thinking. It has become subtly laced into our theology, permeating our thoughts and thus influencing our actions. It's the idea that "serve and obey God and He will bless me." As I said, it's subtle and not altogether incorrect; however, egregiously wrong when it comes to how we relate to our Father. It's very much like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son. The elder brother didn't truly love the Father, but wanted the Father's "things"--ironically just like his wayward younger brother; however, the elder brother tried to gain these blessings by doing what was right. It's a heart issue. He didn't want to please his father because he loved his father, he wanted to please his father so his father would bless him. How often do we treat the relationship with our Father the same way?

"God, I will serve you, if you bless me with ________." As I said earlier, whether or not we would admit that this is the true posture of our hearts, I'm afraid that all too often it is. I can sadly admit this for myself. All too frequently I know my wretched heart wants God's blessings more than I simply desire my Father for Himself. And if I'm honest I'm not entirely sure how to break--or rather be broken--of this gross mentality. I think it all comes down to Grace--all of it does.

Grace that reveals our need for God. Grace that causes us to realize we not only don't deserve salvation, but we deserve nothing else besides (i.e. health happiness). And Grace that ultimately frees us from ourselves and our own depravity, thus allowing for freedom (again by Grace) that we might walk humbly before our God.

Paul was right: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." In other words, we have zero grounds for these notions of entitlement. We got nothing. And the moment we do is the moment the cross ceases to have significance.

Now, for the Grace to fully comprehend and be changed by this life-altering truth.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all."

-Emily Dickinson

The desert place

I can remember in former days when my burdens were light enough that I could unload them on a confidant, take a nap, or have a good cry and they were out, gone, sufficiently processed. No longer. It would seem that with age not only comes more responsibility, but bigger and heavier burdens. Is this revelation part of spiritual growth? Or simply an inevitable part of growing older and finding life is simply harder than you thought? Perhaps both.

Either way, there are growing pains, and I'll be straight--I wish I could skip it--this whole growing up thing, both actually and spiritually. But, I can't, and I know I truly don't wish to. Everyone must grow up, I just wish it didn't have to be so hard. Yet, I know there is no growth without opposition. No refinement without trial.

James, the author of the epistle affirms this when he writes, "Count it pure joy my brothers when you encounter trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (1:1-4) There's a purpose behind all of it--our growth and ultimate completeness in Christ.

It's learning to trust Him in the trial that's hardest. Knowing and trusting that there is purpose in the pain. Scripture says God disciplines those He loves, just like a father disciplines his children, so our heavenly Father disciplines us. And if I'm a child of the King I know I must go through the desert.

I don't like the desert. I wish there was a different way, but it's His way. His way is through the wilderness. He takes us into the desert to minister to us: to strip us of all comforts, of all things that keep us from Him alone, to refine, to test our hearts, to produce steadfastness. The desert is unfortunately necessary. And sometimes the desert lasts a long time, but we must remember James' words: "Count it pure joy my brothers whenever you meet various trials..."

Inasmuch as I might ponder going back to when my burdens were lighter, or my trials were fewer, or when deserts were gardens--I would never go back to knowing my Lord less. As the Psalmist said, "Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, my salvation and my God."

I shall praise Him in the desert place.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Do not be anxious..."

This is a command in Scripture, to not be anxious. But, it's not just a command, it's a command followed by a promise, "...and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." This is the promise. But, what is a promise? According to it's "a declaration that something will or will not be done" or "an express assurance on which expectation is based." God promises us peace. It's a declaration that something will be done, an assurance on which something is based. And that something is the command to not be anxious. But, do we believe Him? Or is this simply another nicety that we glaze over in Scripture and placidly ignore? I pray not.

More of what Scripture has to say about anxiety..

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on...But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient is the day is its own trouble."

Why are we so prone to anxiety? Is it in our nature? Does it originate from the fall, that left us literally crippled by our own insane desire to control, thus leaving us not trusting our God and creator, Lord and sustainer in whom all things hold together? What a sad state...


We don't have to remain in this state. Because He Jesus Christ came and died, saving us from this, our wretched state. "The old has passed away, behold the new has come." That's good news!
Although, the enemy would like us believe we are still bound by that old nature. He is indeed most cunning, seeking those who he might devour. Devour. That's intense. And we mustn't underestimate his evil ways and desires. BUT, we can take heart, because our Lord has overcome the world and has beaten sin and death-including satan and his evil minions. We've won! And we can live like it. We should live like it.

So, let's start living like sons and daughters of the most high King, ruler and sustainer of the universe, giver and taker of life, crusher of death, the Great I AM. He who has commanded us with a promise: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything my prayer and petition with thanksgiving make your requests known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." This is our assurance.

Let's start believing Him. And living like the redeemed, not like those who have no hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Batter my Heart

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

-John Donne