From Abraham Heschel’s The Prophets:

Conventional seeing, operating as it does with patterns and coherences, is a way of seeing the present in the past tense.  Insight is an attempt to think in the present.

Insight is a breakthrough, requiring much intellectual dismantling and dislocation.  It begins with a mental interim, with the cultivation of a feeling for the unfamiliar, unparalleled, incredible.  It is in being involved with a phenomenon, being intimately engaged to it, courting it, as it were, that after much perplexity and embarrassment we come upon insight—upon a way of seeing the phenomenon from within.  Insight is accompanied by a sense of surprise.” (x)

Two questions:

1. Are you seeing in the past tense or are you trying to see in the present tense?

2.  What insight have you been surprised by recently?

Forced Rest

My schedule has been a little too crazy lately.  With School stuff, easter, church events, and my wife also working, we have been a little crazy at the Casa Deumana.  This week alone is crazy.  Let me give you the run down Friday to Friday

Good Friday Gathering & Kathy had to work

Saturday Mountlake Terrace Easter Egg Hunt

Sunday Easter (A normal Sunday usually starts with me getting up at 5am to get set for the day, I am at the church by 7:45 and I don’t stop for the whole day until about 8:30)

Monday – Don graciously gave the staff the day off

Tuesday – Don was out so I was leading staff meeting and making follow-up contacts from Easter Sunday (Lots of new folks which is awesome) Kathy was also scheduled to work.

Wednesday – Work in the office – All Church Skate Night – Kathy was scheduled to work night shift

Thursday – Work at the Office – Kathy Scheduled to work night shift.

Friday – My day off but I have the kids on Friday mornings as Kathy is sleeping.  This Friday we have the YoungLife Capernaum Banquet which I am M.C. for the Silent Auction (totally looking forward to this).  Kathy worked wednesday this week so she could go to the banquet with me.

So pretty busy week.  Each of the evenings that Kathy is working I also try to spend a lot of time working on my thesis research and writing.  So our schedule is crazy busy.

I am so thankful that God loves us and gives us grace and wisdom to balance these schedules most of the time.  I am also grateful that God loves us enough to force us to rest sometimes.

Tuesday evening I became incredibly ill.  I don’t want to go into much detail but let me just say this, the food I ate during the day was on the express schedule.  Kathy also got pretty sick.  She tried to go to work on Tuesday and made it 4 hours before she had to come home.  Wednesday we were battling this stomach bug all day as well.  No energy, no desire to move, just needed to rest and recover.  I couldn’t go to the Skate Night too, but it was still a fun event from what I heard.

I stayed home and read a book called Leading On Empty.  It was fitting that that book talks about how to recover from burn out.  It’s the kind of thing that you want to read before you are actually burned out completely. I’m no where near burnout symptoms.  And God was gracious enough to give me a 24 hour stomach bug to slow me down for a day.

I try not to complain to much when I’m sick, because I’m hardly ever sick.  And when I’m ill enough to stay home I have to examine my schedule and 9/10 times I see how crazy busy my schedule has been.  I look at those illnesses as a forced Sabbath.  Because God loves me enough to make me rest.

When I was in high school.  God was gracious enough to give my Mono my senior year.  I was senior class president, I was getting ready to perform in our school’s Annual Comedy Competition Mr. LW, stressing out about how we were going to pay for Prom, Senior Class Gift, and also trying to get a bunch of Sr. Guys to be motivated to care about our Guys Spirit Club the Roo Crew.  Also I was very involved in my church’s youth group and I was the guitar player for a Band that played 2-3 concerts a month.  Did I mention that I was still in High School?  So on top of all that I still had classes and homework.  Then because I was incredibly foolish I worked 16-20 hours a week at Longs Drugs.  So . . . I was busy.  Too busy.  God gave me Mono.  It was the most painful blessing that I’ve ever received from God.

Mono forced me to take two weeks off from everything.  I ate yogurt and Slurpees.  Slept all day and watched TV.  It was incredibly painful but I needed to slow down.  It was a pretty great lesson that I learned.  And I try to make sure that I don’t put myself in that kind of situation again.

God is faithful, and when I start to let my calendar get a little too full for Him, he likes to force me to rest.  So, sorry for the people that I may have disappointed yesterday.  But God had a different plan for me.

So the challenge for me is to keep my calendar under control.  But that’s not just something I need to do.  We all have a tendency to commit to too much stuff.  So look at your calendar.  What can you cut?  What can you say no to?  You’ve got a lot on your plate too.  Don’t let it get to the place where you are forced to take a Sabbath.  Build it into your schedule.  And I really don’t ever apologize for my regularly scheduled Sabbaths.  But If I don’t guard them God never apologizes for forcing me to take one.

p.s.On the plus side, I lost 16 lbs from my mono experience.  And yesterday I lost 2 lbs.  So that helped.  :o)

Writing and Fear

I’ve been researching like a maniac the origins and purpose of Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible. I need to start writing about what I have learned.

The challenge for me with this writing project is that when I commit my words to paper I feel like I’m revealing my mind and my heart to the page and any future reader.

Writing is risky. But if I am going to grow as a writer I need to get over my fear and just start writing.

I’ve never thought that I would be afraid to write. The only way to get over this kind of fear us to write. So let’s do this. Let’s write.

What fear do you need to face? What have you been putting off? What is the first step that you need to take to overcome your fear?

Let’s do this.

I Have An Idea

I have a lot of ideas actually.  But I need to finish the ideas that are right in front of me (a talk on Work for a Men’s Conference, Two Sermons For May, My Thesis) that have deadlines.  But after all these ideas processed and shipped out, I have another idea that I’d like to investigate.

I recently read Poke the Box by Seth Godin.  The book is great. The distribution model is better.  Godin started The Domino Project in cooperation with Amazon.  They publish books quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.

I would love to write books.  I have several ideas in my head, and on various documents both digital and print.  I’d love to write fiction, and nonfiction.  I don’t know if I would make a ton of money on these books, but I do know that I need to get these ideas out there.

What would it take to start a publishing company these days?

I’d love to create a place for Creative Christians to distribute their ideas, via e-books, on-demand hardcopies, Music, Video, all of that.  But I don’t want to create a Christian Publishing company.  I want to help people get their work, their art, their ideas to the world.  I want to help an Author who has the next inspiring Young Adult Fiction book to get their work to an audience.

There has to be a way to make this happen.

Who wants to help?

Bringing enemies together = the gospel

Isaiah 19:24-25 says:

24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”

In this chapter the prophet is talking about the judgement and transformation of Egypt, the nation that held the Israelites captive. God’s promise is that they will be transformed from a nation that hates God to a nation that has the altars of The LORD. This is an incredible promise because it shows that God desires the people who enslaved his people to be a part of his redeemed creation. There is judgement but judgement in this case is meant to bring transformation.

The second nation mentioned here is Assyria. At the time Assyria was the worlds most dangerous nation. They were expanding their empire through force. Assyria would eventually destroy the northern Kingdom of Israel, leading the people into captivity. Assyria was a big, scary deal to the Israelites.

In this passage, The LORD says that he is going to bring the enemies of the past,and the enemies of the future together with his chosen nation, and they will all be his people.

Now as a Christian I read this passage and thing, the only way that this is going to happen is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel brings enemies together. The Gospel brings people into the Kingdom of God where all national boundaries are secondary and we all submit and worship The LORD as king.

The Gospel should not be used to divide people, it should be shared to unite people. The divisions are not a result of the Good News of the gospel. Rather, these divisions are evidence of our own sinfulness, our own brokenness.

The promise of the Gospel is that the LORD is willing to give everything to bring as many people as possible into his forgiving love and mercy and the reconciliation of kingdoms into His Kingdom.

This week is Passover and Easter. The LORD saved the nation of Israel from the oppression Egypt through the Passover. And through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, he has provided a means to save people from all nations from the oppression of sin, and to receive new resurrection empowered life!

How great is the Father’s love for us.

___________ Christian

I have a friend who identifies himself as a reformed Christian. This is a new development in his faith journey, and he is very excited about all the implications of the Gospel, the Sovereignty of God, and all that amazing stuff. There is nothing wrong with the reformed tradition in my understanding of the tradition. I find myself more inline with the Reformed Tradition in a lot of areas of theology. There are some things that I just can’t buy into though. Mainly the L in T.U.L.I.P. (if you don’t know what that means then google it).

One of my concerns with the resurgence of the reformed tradition among young Christians is the way that they are identifying themselves. This was highlighted over a silly twitter dialogue about sports and idolatry. My friend at one point identified himself as a “Reformed Christian”. This set off an alarm to me. My fear is that those who identify themselves with this term are putting their tradition first and Christianity second.

Now, you may read that statement and say that I ma over reacting. To be honest I hope that I am over reacting. The problem to me is that those in the reformed tradition are using that term to create a division between their group and all the rest of the Christian Traditions. And the formed group are not the only ones who do this, they have been the most vocal lately. They have been the ones who have been drawing lines in the sand. But every tradition in the Christian faith has a tendency to do this. Charismatic Christian, Reformed Christian, Home-Church Christian, Social-Justice Christian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Episcopal, Anglican, Arminian, etc. We have created labels, labels have created divisions between our traditions, and that has caused confusion in the world outside the church looking in.

I have long believed that Christian makes a horrible adjective, Christian Music, Christian Television Christian Dentist, Christian ________. Now I am also concerned with the labels that we are putting on our selves. ________ Christian might be helpful in creating groups that we find ourselves in agreement with. But all these divisions cause confusion to the world.

Did Jesus call us to be reformed, charismatic, Greek orthodox, etc.? Or did he call us to himself? Would Jesus identify himself with any of the labels that we put on him and his teaching? Why do you put them on ourselves. Why can’t we just be content with calling ourselves Christians? The kingdom is big enough for all of our traditions that look to Jesus the son of God, that believe in his death on the cross as the final sacrifice for all of our sins, that believe in his resurrection from the dead, that believe that Jesus is still alive, that he has called his followers to continue to build his kingdom, that heaven and hell are real (these are much more complicated than any of us can claim to understand).

They will know we are Followers of Jesus by our love for one another, not the labels that we put on ourselves.

Shipping Is Important

In my line of work it’s very easy to have projects that just kind of float in my brain.  I might tweak a project every once and awhile and feel like I’m making progress.  But I know a simple truth and I think you know this too.  If the project doesn’t have a due date, I (and so will you) will put it off as long as possible.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin talks a lot about the value of shipping.  Set a due date or a ship date, work on the project, and send it out on the ship date.  It might not be perfect, it might need to come back for revision, you might have to update the project later.  All of that doesn’t matter.  What matters is getting in the habit of shipping.

No one knows about your ideas.  No one cares about your ideas.  No one knows or cares until you ship.  Make something happen.  Don’t wait for other people to fill up your life with their projects and deadlines.  Carve out some time for your projects and ideas.  And ship them.  This could be self initiated projects for work, or it could be a hobby that you want to share with others (music, writing, photography, etc.).  Whatever it is Ship It!

I just shipped a project to some volunteers in our community.  I need them to be involved and I told them that I would have their parts to them this week.  No one told me that I had to get volunteers.  No one told me that I had to write this project. No one told me that I had to get people on board early.  But I know myself and if I didn’t give myself due dates for this stuff then I would not produce quality.

So what is your project?  What is the thing you are putting off?  What will it take for you to put a ship date on it? And then what do you have to do to ship?