I just emptied out my dishwasher for probably the 1 millionth time in my life. No it has to be about the 2 millionth time! I also have had a week of nothing but meetings and conversations that could leave me wondering if all I ever do is talk. There is so much that is repetitive and mundane about life that it’s tempting to think it doesn’t really add up to all that much. But then I’m reminded of my favorite passage from G.K Chesterton, in his dense work Orthodoxy:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. – G.K. Chesterton
I have many spiritual heroes in my life. People who I could look at and follow them “as they followed Christ.” My Dad and Mom are of course high on the list, but there are others as well. This morning I just read the sad news that one of my heroes is now on hospice care. Eugene Peterson re-translated the entire bible in his work The Message, and also wrote countless books to all believers. But Eugene had a special place in his heart for pastors. He challenged us, and encouraged us, and loved us in his writings. I am deeply grateful to God for everything he wrote to help pastor me, as I tried to pastor others. May God grant Eugene a smooth, and peaceful passing from this life into the next. May his “long obedience in the same direction” finish with triumph. May my life in turn inspire, challenge, and encourage others as his life has inspired me!
Right now Faith Community Church is in a study of the book of Amos. Man, it can be so easy to preach things at people, but it’s not easy to look deep into your own life as you study God’s word, and be deeply convicted by the words of an ancient prophet which speak right into your own life. I think I’m actually one of those “cows of Bashan” that Amos rails about in Amos 4:1. It’s a commentary on people who aren’t directly engineering systems of injustice, but are certainly enjoying getting fat on the privileges that come their way from systemic injustice. If you’re interested to hear more, please join us this coming Sunday at Faith Community Church. For now I just want to share something I found in my study this week. I stumbled upon this quote which is very convicting.
“To live for yourself alone, hoarding your life for your own sake, is in almost every sense that matters to reduce your life to a life hardly worth the living, and thus to lose it.” Frederick Buechner
I just finished reading a wonderful interview with Richard Foster, a pastor who has spent the last 40 years trying to address the church about the importance of spiritual formation. In the Christianity Today article he is interviewed and makes this observation:
“This is a great overarching theme in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, to Moses, I am with you. I am with you. I am with you. Then there is the haunting question: Are you willing to be with me?” – Richard Foster
So the question for me, and for you, today is not about whether God is with us or not. God is with us. The question is, will we lean into God t0 be present and alive to Him?
I’m a recovering control freak. I’ve been in this process of continually learning that a) I’m not really in control of anything – except my responses to God, others, and situations and b) the God who is in control does a better job controlling things that I ever could anyway. Do you wanna know what God’s version of graduate school training in relinquishing control looks like? It looks like losing control! Over this last month I’ve been dealing with one thing after another needing fixing, or radical repair around my house. Light bulbs have gone out, an entire sub floor of my daughters shed/room rotted out and required radical construction work, our oven stopped working, our vacuum cleaner broke, and now we have to replace our dishwasher. You can only imagine how every new breakdown hits on my raw nerve of control. Through it all God is laughing with me (maybe a little at me) as I’ve just had to let Him show me what to do next, how to fix things, where to ask questions, where to get help, and how to trust Him in the ambiguity of unsolved breakdowns. God is hilarious in how He chooses to refine us – but I’m thankful for each breakdown because God is using all of it to help me experience just a little more recovery from my addiction to control.
Just look at how beautiful that square piece of concrete is. In my mind that flat monolith is a work of art! It represents a lot of sweat on my part, having to schlep 90 60lb bags of concrete into my backyard, then mixing 71 of those bags in a cement mixer one bag at a time, then schlepping 19 bags back to Home Depot for a return. When you put in that kind of work, you stand back and admire something even when it’s just a square chunk of rock. But the real reason this concrete is beautiful to me is because it also represents friendship and help. My friend Toby Kraft was totally willing to drop what he was doing to take even one hour away from work to help me mix and pour this slab. My friend Kevin Moon directed the entire job, and my friend Nathan York just worked hard to help me make it all happen. I am incredibly blessed, and my family is incredibly blessed, to live in community with people who are willing to drop what they’re doing to help me with a project that has been overwhelming me. These guys inspire me to be that much more willing to be generous with my time for others.
I don’t know how we got to this point where our Johnny Cash cover band Man In Black was given this opportunity. But this coming Saturday September 29 we get to play at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk first ever Bites & Brews event. The Boardwalk is bringing together all of the great micro-breweries in our city, along with local bands, to have a day of community and fun. I love the idea! I love that our band gets to play! I also love that two of the other bands come from people in our church. Maybe you’ll be able to come out and join us this Saturday when Man in Black plays at 2:00pm, and maybe check out the Grandfather, Father, and Son Trio of GrandSam, or Harry and the Hitmen. Yes, this city I live in has a lot of brokenness, but God has also given it a whole lot of beauty, and this coming Saturday is going to be one of those great experiences where we can see some of the beauty God has gifted to this community.