Wednesday, January 28, 2009

quote of the week + a big time paradox

"on the day of judgement, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived."

thomas a' kempis, if you were alive i'd give you a hug and a very platonic kiss.

as we start searching Jesus' life for joy, and as we start specifically looking at the ways he loved the people around him i'm struck with a paradox. this jesus says such difficult things sometimes. "whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." seriously?? lose your life to find it? he might has well have told me, "hey austin, crawl to be taller." or maybe, "eat your bebe's bacon sandwiches to get thinner."

but i think there's something intrigueing here. i don't remember who, but i heard someone say there's an art to losing your life. an art to finding a life thats sorta hidden, one thats under the surface of the noise around us. the kingdom of heaven. and this life Jesus is offering, i want it. and to have it i have to lose my life.

so here we go. learning a new way to live, learning new acts that identify us, learning new disciplines to live by. we have to have our lives reinvented and for some of us it means starting all over. the disciplines of selfishness, of retaliation, of greed, those have to be lost so that disciplines like loving the poor, helping the widow, and seeking peace can be found.

another quote from mr. a' kempis may help us here...

"we must be ones who uproot vices and implant virtues..."

Monday, January 26, 2009

but disciplines??

okay, i have two thoughts before i get into "reprise again."

1. i saw another sea turtle today during the morning swim... they are probably my favorite. so so beautiful.

2. i don't know that i've ever read two books in a row as good as "same kind of different as me" and "what is the what." thanks cara and lakyn. i highly highly recommend these books to anyone. i may have gotten emotional reading them... thrice times.

Celebration of Discipline is one of my favorite books. i read it in college and haven't been able to get it out of my head. i looked for it in my apartment yesterday and realized i didn't bring it to guam. i don't think i ever fasted or practiced solitude before reading the book, and i love the idea of simplicity being a discipline. mr. foster is the first to say that his book doesn't encompass every discipline in the christian life, but his book was a beautiful starting point for me on my "following Jesus journey."

now whenever i read about the life of Jesus or listen to his words or see prophecies about his coming i wonder if i'm missing some other... somethings. we can read our bibles, pray often, fast, and worship only to see that our following him goes only so far (Isaiah 58). passages like matt. 25 throw me for a loop when Jesus himself says to live lives that visit the prisoner, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and give the thirsty something to drink... for if we don't live lives like this we really aren't his disciples at all. i've heard these things preached to me before, and i've tried to do some of these acts randomly, but i usually feel awkward or don't know where to begin.

i feel the same when i try to start running after the holidays. i know i should run. i know i can eat all the green beans i want and drink all my water, but if i don't run then i'll still be out of shape. yet when i start it feels awkward and i'm sore for three days. this is simply because i'm not disciplined in my running. in fact, i don't even like running until i can run 3-5 miles and feel fine.

and so i think its the same with the actions of Jesus. in mark it says, "as was his custom, jesus taught them..." it may not be our custom to teach others about life, but maybe we should discipline ourselves so that it is. the same goes for feeding the hungry. my best friend helps out with loaves and fishes feeding hungry people in austin, but its taken time for him to feel comfortable doing so. we aren't born with a desire to give or to visit hospitals or to practice hospitality... those things have to be learned. we have to do them over and over so that we enjoy them more and more until they become a part of our natural life.

thats why we are calling these acts of Jesus "disciplines." thats why here in guam we are going to take a long hard look at the way Jesus lives, the acts that surround his self, and the things that seem to make him the most happy. it seems throughout scripture that feeding the hungry is just as important as fasting, if not more. and caring for the orphan or widow just as important as corporate worship. its not natural for us "to lose our lives in order to find it..." so maybe thats where we start, we pray God helps us find the discipline to lose our lives...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

reprise, again

This semester we’re going to start a series called “reprise again.” We’re going to try to take a good look at the life of Jesus focusing on the disciplines of the kingdom. But we aren’t going to focus on the one’s I’ve been taught for so long as the pillars and foundations of my faith like bible reading, prayer, fasting… although I believe strongly in these and try with all myself to practice them. We’re instead going to look intently at the actions Jesus disciplined himself to enjoy with those around him. Giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, enjoying a party, redeeming the prisoner, and healing the sick are a few. We want to see his life come alive to us again. We want to be made alive with him.

I’m going to try and blog twice a week as I study and find people who I believe really believe and practice these disciplines. One entry a week will be my thoughts while studying scripture and the other will be a look at a friend’s story. I want this series to change my life. I want our students to enjoy the Kingdom of God as much as we dream we can.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

on the way back...

the day at the airport felt like 5, but i think all in all i handled moving back better than i thought. i know i'm not really cool enough to describe my day at the airport, but i'm going to do it anyway... it started pretty early in the morning.

5:05 a.m. i arrive at the DFW airport. i'm tired.

5:11 a.m. i hug my family who drove over 3 hours to see me off. my sister looked pretty tired due to some 3-a-days for softball. i get in line behind 8 people who had no idea they would have to pay for their extra luggage.

5:19 im still in line.

5:23 i check my bags and small talk with the family, which is almost awkward because its hard to talk normally when i know i'm not going to see them for at least 5-6 months maybe more. my stomach's starting to hurt a bit...

5:40 i hug everyone's neck at least 3 times telling them all bye and i love them. my dad prays for me while i'm hugging him. i hate saying the good byes but i hold it together. i hate it a lot.

5:43 i buy a starbucks coffee and my favorite magazine, "outside" to soothe some serious discontent. this is easily the hardest 2 minutes in the past month or two.

5:48 i notice i've been upgraded to first class to houston because i'm now an "elite status flyer." i'm proud of myself for a moment and then realize its because i've spent thousands of dollars and countless hours in the sitting position with my knees touching the seat in front of me. now i don't feel so proud of this title.

5:51 being an elite customer feels like being called "assistant to the regional manager."

6:00 a.m. i board and read "outside."

7:38 a.m. we land in houston.

7:42 i notice the couple behind me flew with three girls. all cute. all under 4 years old. anyone who flies with children is my hero. they were so patient and so fun the entire flight.

7:42:30 one girl begins to pout and im immediately glad i have no kids.

8:00 a.m. the people watching begins with the t-shirt tucked in very tightly to his jeans guy. i almost laugh out loud.

8:12 i debate whether of not to buy "the economist" magazine to catch up on global issues.

8:31 after a breakfast of chocolate milk and eggs i realize though i'm tired of flying, i never grow tired of airports. they are so alive and moving and intresting. they are like strange waiting rooms or something where everyone is there but hardly anyone is present. so strange...

8:45 i decide to try to lose 12 pounds.

8:46 i see cinnibon and forget what i was just thinking about.

8:50 i buy the economist and then board the airplane.

Monday, January 12, 2009

all things new...

there's much to be said about god making all things new. much to be said.

this month has been a month of newness for me, but not because i've done loads of never-before-done things, although i did a few. its been a month of newness because the kingdom of god we live in makes old things new and alive again. how can i explain seeing tall pine trees and letting my mouth hang open looking up at east texas winter stars? i've heard my papaw talk about Jesus hundreds of times, but this christmas sitting around his chair with the family who knows best his struggle with cancer the tears came. conversations with cara and kirk and kerra have always meant much to me, but this week they were more and new and different.

God's kingdom is a kingdom of new beginnings and of retrying when we fail. its a life of restarting and getting back on track. and we receive these second and third chances every moment. we are made new with every exhale. its like he's constantly creating the kingdom with new possibilities around us as we live in it and try to grasp it with our lives. no wonder paul writes, "i'm not already perfect, but i press on to make it [jesus] my own, because jesus has made me his own."

and so our stories move forward starting over and over and over and over.