Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
This question at the end of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day is really good. It is a question that should remind us of the value of our lives, as well as the brevity of our lives. It speaks to the uniqueness of our individual lives. And to the value of life made up of days that quickly pass and cannot be lived again.
As I reflect on this sentence I can’t help but think of my life as a Christian. I take this to mean much more than just trying to do my best to obey the “rules” of being a Christian man – as good, or as helpful, as those rules may be. It makes me think more broadly. Is my life really about something that matters to God and his people? Do I really live in a way that brings glory to God? Does my life call attention to Him? I don’t need to be doing great things, just simple things in a biblically true manner. Ultimately that means we live for God’s glory. John Piper writes,
“God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.”
That means that whenever we live for any reason other than the glory of God we will be wasting our days. Piper’s book is worth purchasing and reading. It is not a book about having a safe or secure life, but a life that really matters. He and Mary Oliver both call us to think and live more deeply than our own little worlds. I’ve been thinking about these things. How about you? The thinking has been somewhat easy. The doing seems to be harder.
It has taken a while, but my single rose bush has finally delivered its first flower – probably the only flower – of the year. I really like roses, but the local deer like them even more. Living in the forest is not really conducive to prolific roses anyway. A nice gift on the first day of Summer.
Tim Keller has a two part series on church size. Unfortunately only part one is online so far. He builds on Lyle Schaller’s understanding that a large church is not just a bigger edition of a small church, but rather something completely different. Most of his thoughts ring true – and should prove helpful to those considering what is going on when their church begins to grow. The church where I serve has been wrestling with some of these issues over the past 3-4 years. Sometimes it just takes time to figure things out.
I also liked Ministry Can Be Dangerous to Your Spiritual Health by Keller in the March 2007 newsletter from his church. Please note that he wrote this for everyone in his church, not just the leaders – good stuff. In fact, you might want to check out other stuff he’s done here.
25 wise and good things to know. I think I could have written at least 20 of these myself … if I could write half as well as Dan Phillips (a “51-going-on-975-year-old Christian, a pastor, a husband, and a father”) who regularly posts on the Team Pyro blog. I know I’ve had to learn most of these lessons the hard way. I’m thinking that these would be some good talking points for a small group or Christians committed to being real with one another.
Does it break your heart that Paris Hilton had to go to jail. I don’t think it bothered me all that much … you know she got what was deserved. I don’t know her and I can mock the choices of this (and other) young celebrity with the best of the cynics … maybe the same way the Pharisees talked about the sinners who Jesus loved. However, this post encouraged me to repent of a judgemental and arrogant attitude. I have to agree with Lydia’s final sentence: A bit of skepticism is understandable; cynicism is not.
When it seems like things are out of control, THAT is when God is most in control!
Actually, that is when we will discover this truth, since God never really loses control of anything in the ultimate sense. I think that God loves to remind us of the truth of our dependence on a regular basis so that we don’t get too full of ourselves. Most of us really seem to fight the idea of being dependent – even if it is God on whom we depend. Maybe that’s why the once headstrong and independent Peter writes,
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV)
Rather than exerting our independence and often self-centered efforts towards getting things to work our way, we need to be humble. We don’t need to worry about how we might appear to others, or whether things will come out our way. We don’t need to worry about how smart, or competent, or spiritual we may look as we try to bring things back into control – rather we humble ourselves under the hand of God … the mighty hand of God.
We also give up our fears and our anxieties in the midst of those things around us that seem to spiral out of our hands – turning them over to Him. We may not know how everything will turn out but we can be confident that he cares for us. Even in the midst of a whirlwind of events that are completely out of our ability to control.
The power of the Church is not in its super-preachers, or its mega-structures, or its large institutions. The power of the Church is in its individual people whose sacrifices throughout everyday life have an authority no expert can match – Mike Yaconelli
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, ESV)
God really loves ordinary, everyday, people. Real people. Not just perfect people who have it all together. I wonder if we, as Christian men living in a culture of “appearances”, really believe that? Isn’t it interesting that we don’t know much about Jesus’ looks. I know the pictures all make him into the cultural hunk, but I’m guessing that he was pretty much ordinary in appearance.
Not only do we not know what Jesus looked like – except in a few implied situations, we don’t even know what anyone he interacted with looked like. They could have been …
- Scary, or just
But it really doesn’t matter. Why? Because Jesus had time for them all! Ordinary as they may have been.
We tend to place far too much importance on people being important or significant. Sometimes we think God does the same thing and regret that we may not be important enough for him. Or good enough. As men it is so easy for us to think we have to be the best in order to be useful to God, or to the church. Wrong. Jesus had time for all. He was willing to use even the weak and the “inept” – while still encouraging them to grow. But His workers did not have to become extraordinary, just willing to be ordinary … and dependent on Him.
Applying the concept to us as men of Crossroads, we need to remember that we may be most powerful when we embrace our ordinariness.