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As we approach the last Sunday of Advent we approach the theme of Love! I bet some of you reading this are thinking, “I know about God’s love”, While others have never heard this story before. For all of you this is a story about how much you truly are loved and what it looks like to include true love in our lives in this season of the year!
It’s easy to associate joy with the Christmas season. The uplifting music, sparkling decorations, and remembrance of Christ coming to earth to make “tidings of great joy.” Yet, during this Advent season, I have reflected on this year and am reminded of the many times the weight of life has been too much, and how often this year that I have felt empty and alone with feelings of joy far from me.
The Christmas story is the story of how God sees us, immerses into our world as a helpless child, contends for us and not against us, and restores us unto himself. This is exactly the story that we celebrate this season but it is also the story that we are called to inherit as our own and live into everyday.
God makes no mistakes. The physical image He so meticulously crafted was no mistake. He knew that creating me this way and allowing me to struggle with this identity crisis would make me appreciate the craftsmanship of God. I praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Although my perspective of God has improved since becoming a dad and I have a slightly better understanding of a small degree of the intensity of love He has for his children based on my love for mine, I know I am nowhere close to scratching that surface of His depths.
Jeff Tanner, the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of FLDWRK wrote a three part series exploring what he calls “Building Creation Economies.” In this series Jeff takes a look at how we got to our current understanding of work and leisure. Then he takes it back to Genesis to redeem (or rather, rediscover) what work is and what it means to be a creator.
I find that being present to God is one of the most life-altering things I can do, because God is always working, always moving, always breathing. The life changing power of His presence in my life is not dependent upon whether or not He shows up. It’s about whether or not I do.
There are pieces of art that feel just so outside my understanding or even enjoyment. Nevertheless, artists are the prophets of their time, drawing our attention to aspects of life we might not see otherwise.
I don’t think you ever get past the need for simple prayer. It’s the foundation of every other form. Praying is all about opening up a space for communication between you and God. Whether you’re meditating, interceding, or worshipping God through music, you are essentially communicating with God and building your relationship with Him. The potential problem with these other forms of prayer, though, is that, just like our other relationships, we can put on a face with God.
If there is one thing I have learned it is that there is not enough "safety or profit" in the world that is worth the compromise of your purpose. I would rather make less money, be less known, and be unliked than watch my life pass me by and allow my purpose to shrivel and die.
Chances are, if you’re reading this you either already have plans for Valentine’s day, you are frantically googling keywords like “free” “cheap” “quick” “romantic” “ideas” “help”, or you have decided to boycott the whole day entirely. Whichever it is for you, I think we can all agree that Valentine’s day needs some help. Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure that today is not lame, but could actually be a sweet memory.
So, if you are experiencing an unwanted singleness on this “Singles Awareness Day,” I hope this does not come across as a call to ignore your pain and just put on a happy face. You have every right to feel what you feel.
Thanksgiving was intended to be a celebration of unlikely friendships, people coming together across all boundaries, and acknowledging our dependance on God and our neighbors. We don't have to relegate these truths to an afterthought. Instead, we can begin new traditions and practices with our friends and family to help us all cultivate a heart of gratitude.
But this is the journey of a recovering comparison addict: Always keeping check on my internal dialogue. I must constantly make sure that the thoughts I have of myself are aligned with God’s thoughts of me. And the more I walk with Jesus, the more I realize that God’s thoughts of me are higher than I give Him credit for.
This exercise is all about finding God’s grace in your life and is not about regret or over-idealizing. It can be a helpful way to look back, so that you can discern a way forward. Remember to thank God and pray afterward.
As followers of Jesus, we can rest in the fact that we are beloved children of God. The fruit of standing firm in this identity is joy. But when we allow our identity to be attacked by comparison, our joy therefore is also robbed. When you feel less than you who are, joy goes out the window.
There needs to be a move from “the talk” to “the talks.” There needs to be a shift from awkward and novel - to plural, honest and ongoing. And I’m not talking about making graphic jokes in the locker room. I’m talking about real, open, and honest conversations.
Therefore, let us recognize the role our culture has played in our addiction to comparison, yet take ownership for our part as well. If we don’t take ownership for our role in becoming comparison addicts, we will relinquish the hope for life post-comparison.
Expressing your emotions isn't bad. Far from it. I'm learning that, and again, I say I'm learning that. You can't trick yourself into feeling a certain way. I actually learned that lesson from a dear friend who told me that it is important to feel what you're feeling.
The problem with many relationships is people stop being intrigued by who the other is. We become complacent in our relationships and stop our curiosity towards who they are and who they are becoming. It is only possible to inquire of someone else, what you have learned to inquire about yourself. Thus, the deeper you go on your interior journey, the deeper you will be allowed to search and seek for another. Do the hard, humbling, and honest work of self-reflection.
I do think there are instances when it is appropriate in a conversation with a complete stranger to share with them the beauty we find in following Jesus. But, that being said, I have come to the conclusion that we get so much wrong about the way we share Jesus with others, and I think this is mostly because we don’t have a good understanding of how our relationship with Jesus affects our own lives.
Over the years we have been blessed with the opportunity to visit Toronto, the US Virgin Islands, Maui, and Puerto Vallarta, and cities all over the USA. In our time together, we have discovered some of the best apps that have helped make our trip memorable. Not only that, but let’s be real, traveling is costly, these apps will hopefully all help with that.
As a young man, I was often posed these kinds of hypothetical types of scenarios surrounding a lot of things, superpowers, women and marriage… and sex. As young man, especially because I was raised in the church, I was often led to believe that marriage becomes a no limits, free-for-all of sexual enjoyment and pleasure.
When I first moved to Portland I lived in a tiny studio apartment above the busiest street ten blocks from the busiest part of downtown. And since it rains so much during the year, I have had to get creative in the way I structured my retreats.
I’m sure you have experienced this at some point. You’re having coffee with a friend and you are talking about something that is very important to you. But then you notice something: your friend’s eyes are wondering somewhere else, taking note of every distraction in the coffeehouse, seemingly disinterested or detached from you and the conversation.
I’ve been leading worship since I was fourteen, so just over ten years now. There are probably a lot of older, wiser, more experienced people that could be writing this blog, in fact there probably a lot of other people who could write a book on the subject. So I’m not going to tell you that I’ve unlocked the secret to putting together the perfect worship set. This beautifully creative ministry is unique, and there are so many ways to go about doing it.