Demand

This week I came across a quote I underlined a few years ago from an amazing essay by Annie Dillard called “An Expedition to the Pole.” To say that I love the essay and think it is profound would be an understatement. In it she compares the practice of communal worship (which I speak about here) to an expedition to the North Pole. Suffice it to say that her writing is brilliant and incisive and that she takes what people might see as two very different actions and helps you understand both in a deeper way.

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Hidden

Far too often we jump to conclusion based on what we think we are seeing and miss what God is doing in a given situation.

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Song

As is often the case in my life, ideas converge in ways that remind me that God has a lot to teach me. This week while perusing through a thrift store I came across a great $1 find, a collection of poems written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

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People

When Breath Becomes Air, by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, was recommended to me by a good friend. Although I currently have way too much on the go reading wise because of upcoming classes this fall, I found myself drawn to this book so I requested it from the local library. I’m so glad I did.

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Story

The older I get the more I realize the power and importance of stories. The stories we tell shape us. They help us to understand the world. We teach our children using stories. It’s their first exposure to understanding concepts like good and evil, love and sacrifice, loss and contentment. As we get older the stories get more and more complicated, but they still give us words to express and understand the world around us.

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Matt

My best friend in all the world, other than my wife Angela, was Matt Auten. Today he would have turned 50. I say would have because Matt died in a tragic accident almost 5 years ago. I wrote about it here. His birthday always puts me in a reflective mood, a gift that he left with me.

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Expectations

We’ve all said it at some point, “That wasn’t what I was expecting.” It may happen at the movies, at the end of a novel, in a restaurant, or after meeting someone new. Sometimes we are’t even aware that we had expectations about a given situation until they go unmet.

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Illusions

Sometimes I’m late to notice things. That happened recently as I finally listened to the lyrics of a song I’ve heard hundreds of times. Both Sides Now, written by Joni Mitchell, is a song that has floated through my head off and on for years. My friend Matt Auten used to sing some Joni Mitchell stuff and that’s where I first heard it.

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Habits

One lesson that I have learned from coaching basketball is that the habits we develop in our lives during the moments of relative ease and comfort will shape how we react in moments of challenge and difficulty. Time after time I have seen the players who spend time practicing certain skills and movements outside of games naturally excel in games because they have trained themselves to do the necessary action without thinking. There are tremendous parallels with this in the spiritual journey as well.

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Haunted

t’s been a while since I’ve posted here on this blog. I find that my time for writing and creative thought tends to go in phases, and the least couple of months have been slower in that regard. But as is usually the case, something comes along that stirs up ideas in me, and the train gets back on the track. That “something” most recently was reading a book called Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.

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Plastic

The Sonnet of the Death of the Man who Invented the Plastic Rose was required reading in Dr. Bonnie Lundblad’s English Literature class my first year at Montreat-Anderson College.  There was a lot of other required reading that semester I am sure, but this is the only one that I remember.  Something about the poem connected with me.

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Plot Twist

We all like a good plot twist in a movie or book. There is something delightful about the surprise of thinking we knew where things were heading only to be blindsided with a whole new scenario. While we like this is movies and books, we tend to feel differently about life.

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Small

Feeling small and mostly powerless isn’t fun, not something I would sign up for on a regular basis, but it is important. It’s a reminder that the vastness of life is beyond my ability to understand and manipulate.

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Desire

We think we want something so we pursue it. What we think we want is often not the socially acceptable thing, so we present ourselves to the world in ways that show we want what we are supposed to want. We do some image control, trying to get what we want in ways that won’t make us look bad. But if we are willing to interact with Jesus, He begins to peel back the layers to expose what it is we really want.

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Present

God is present to me as I am right now. He loves and forgives me as I am, not as He wants me to be. That’s a powerful truth that should not only overwhelm us with gratitude, but also shape the way we live with one another.

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Mission

The question we want people to ask at our church is this: “What does my part of God’s mission look like?” Maybe even more specifically, “What has God called and gifted me to do that contributes to what He is doing in the world?”

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Awake

It’s far too easy to drift into the sleep of inattention. Life is like that. We go through it, but we miss so much along the way. We are so focused on certain things that it renders us totally oblivious to others. Ever driven to a familiar location and not remembered one thing about the drive there?

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