Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Have you ever experienced a time of dryness in your life?  I am having one with my writing right now.  I sit down to write, but I feel like I have nothing to give.  The well is dry and I scramble to put something together.  It's bad enough I am writing about not having anything to write about.

I am not sure where these times come from.  Dryness or depression or anxiety or despair or even times blankness, the blahs.  They happen to most of us, some more than others.  I hope you are doing better than I am in your passions and in your dreams.  Mine seem to be a little dried up and dusty right now.  Still have some projects, but seems like trying to pull and oak tree out of the ground by putting a chain on your bike.  Lots of effort, but the oak tree isn't moving.  I guess we just keep peddling.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My view looking at myself

One of the things I have worked on for years is knowing and understanding myself.  I have taken a large variety of assessments and critiques and I know what is good and bad.  I know that I am pretty interdependent, which is good and bad.  I have a tendency to isolate myself, don't form a lot of close connections and struggle to maintain healthy relationships outside of my immediate family.  I don't like to depend or rely on others, not strong at working in a group.  I have developed some leadership skills and qualities, they are not my natural tendency, my natural and default mode is independent work, which is why I am drawn to cars and computers and other task oriented things. 

I am pretty abstract, I think outside the box and I am pretty imaginative.  I am a theoretical thinker, which leads me in the direction of theologian and academic.  I don't like to be wrong, I like even less to be criticized, I don't particularly look for esteem or accolades either, mostly would just like to be left alone.  I struggle to do things that I don't see the value in, if I value or believe in something I'll work myself to death to make it happen.  If I don't fully believe in it, then I will do what I have too, but I have a hard time getting all in to it.  I am not particularly confrontational, but if it needs to happen, I usually end up being the one who starts off.   I have found myself in many leadership roles by default or by accident, where I was put in that position.  I am very analytical, I look for deeper issues in almost everything.  When it comes to problems, people, organizations when there is a problem I analyze it and look for the root of the issue, I don't want to deal with surface issues. 

When I get angry or frustrated I shut down, I don't express emotions as a general rule, I bottle up everything and repress it.  I love to share ideas and concepts with people, I enjoy teaching and leading in learning activities.  My leadership abilities are best expressed in a discipleship or teaching environment.  I enjoy writing and I try to read a great deal.  When I have a close relationship, I will invest a great deal into it, like with my wife and my kids.  I don't have a need to prove myself to anyone, but I do try to encourage and support people.  I care what people think, but I don't have a drive to try to impress them or make them think I am wonderful.  If someone dislikes me, it doesn't bother me much, because I am not a person oriented individual.  In my years of ministry, I have had to really work on connecting with people and not on the tasks to do.  Large groups who I have to interact with, especially in a social and unstructured environment exhaust me.  I have some anxiety that often centers around random things, and I am hard on myself often, I will beat myself up over my failures or conceived failures.  I don't like to have weakness or need because that puts me at the dependence of other people, and I hate that.  I have to really work on being connected to the Body of Christ and expressing need and letting people help and support me.  My flesh tends to push me towards isolation. 

I am cynical and have a melancholy, sarcastic and sometimes dark sense of humor.  I'm not particularly trusting of people.  I have the ability to read people pretty well, I have a knack for seeing what is really driving a person, and it sometimes leaves me suspect of motives.  I think many people are driven by motivations they are not even aware of.  In this country, we have celebrated pride and ego to the point it drives many leaders and they are unaware, but that's another matter.  I have to force myself to trust, I am suspicious and cautious.  I have a hard time with people who seem to have all the answers, because that means they aren't really asking the questions.  I want to see what is deeper in life, find the truth and examine the depths, and the shallowness I see makes me frustrated. 

I am very aware of my own condition most of the time, I stop and think about how I am thinking, how I am feeling and what is going on.  I am aware when I am a little manic, I am aware when I am struggling with some depression, I am aware when things are clicking and when things are not.  I'm not afraid to walk away from something that isn't working (other than my marriage).  I am committed to Jesus Christ and to Elaine, my kids are my kids forever, but if a job, organization, position, ministry, title or position isn't working, then I'm out.  I'm not in this to play games, build credentials, impress constituents or make money.  I do what I do to serve Christ, and if that isn't happening, I'll find someplace it will.  If Paul left places, broke company and went where the Spirit told him too and didn't go where it told him not to go, then it's good enough for me.  I could care less what American culture says about it, the American ideals that are not biblical and the notions we buy into about being great, or even "good enough". 

I worry the culture has changed Christians more than Christians have changed the culture, and I don't want to be part of it.  I want to be Biblical and sold out to Christ.  I will mold, shape and conform however I have to in order to fit that model.  In that context, I can and will work with anyone in any place.  I will do what I have to do to help, get along, get in line and fit where I am called.  When God puts me somewhere, I am there until He tells me I can do (not that sometimes I don't request to go).  I get frusterated when I feel trapped, when I feel like I am at the mercy of someone, especially if I don't particularly trust them.  I don't like games, I don't like politics and I don't like it when people are shady.  I am sort of a lay it all on the table sort of guy.

I struggle with having a disciplined schedule.  I am not much of a schedule sort of guy.  I do what I need to do when I need to do it and tackle things as they come or in order as they come up or importance.  I often work on multiple things at the same time, and I converse and work simultaneously sometimes.  I like to stay busy and have things going and plates spinning.  When there are things undone, I like the get them check off.  I don't leave unread e-mails in my inbox, I don't leave unread text messages.  I don't put CDs in the wrong case, I want my books put back right in my book shelf.  I can't stand it when someone opens something without using the already opened item (like shampoo or ketchup).  I don't like to discuss items with people who say they are open minded, but in reality are convinced of their own opinion and just want to tell you why you are wrong.

This is not an exhaustive list, this is not all of why I am, but this is much of what makes me up and how I operate.  Much of this I struggle though, I want Christ to be expressed in me.  Much of the issues are in my flesh, which I strive and seek to crucify each day, but I am not always successful.  I am constantly striving to become less so He can become more.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Meditations of a Woven Theologian

I am hesitant to call myself a Theologian, it sounds a little arrogant, so I am going to let you judge whether or not I deserve that title.  I am not sure how one gets the qualifications.  That is not the point of my blog, so you can drop a quick comment, but let's not focus on what the qualifications of theologian are.

You probably know that I call myself a Wovenist, I have written some blogs about it and shared it in some comments.  Dave Miller's recent blog on SBC Voices got me thinking more and more about it.  The reason I call it Woven Theology is because it's the weaving of man's responsibility and actions and where they interact with God's Sovereign design and plan.  Man exists inside of time while God transcends time.  There is a point where God's eternal attributes interact with man in time.  It's those points which we argue, because we view the different aspects and think for them to be contradictions, when in essence it a merging of the temporal and the eternal in a beautiful moment.

What I have been meditating on is much of what happens after the moment of salvation.  We often think that Salvation is God's work and Sanctification is man's work.  The scripture doesn't teach that, the Bible teaches that He who began a good work in you will bring it too completion.  Philippians 1:6 say so.  So if Salvation and Sanctification is God's work what is my responsibility?  After all, if Woven Theology is the intersecting of God's power and my responsibility, I must have some right?

First, let me tell you what I don't think our job is.  I don't think it's our job to go 'discover God's will for our lives'.  We don't need to go out and find what God has for us, God will take us where He wants us to go.  We are not out to find God, to earn God's favor, to amuse or appease God.  God is taking care of that part, He has the plan and He has a plan for me.  So what do I do.

As I read through the scripture, here is what I see.  The revived spirit in man, the part that is born again out of Salvation works in and with and through the Holy Spirit to achieve Godliness, righteousness and find God's purpose for our lives.  The fruit of the spirit grows up in us and we follow God in Christ.  We follow Christ like water follows a riverbed.  We flow, we move with ease in the cause of Christ.

Here is the problem.  Flesh.  We still have flesh and it clings to us and pulls us and moves us out of the riverbed and we cease to flow and we stagnate.  I think many Christians, many churches are in this place where they have stopped moving and started to stagnate.  We try to get flowing on our own power, and we can't.  We can't get moving, we can't find life we just sit there and become frustrated.  (I know, I am using we again, and you all hate that.  When I say "we" I am talking about me and the people with me, so if you are with me, you are part of 'we'.  If you think I am insane, then you are not 'we' you are. . . 'they' I suppose.)

We try so hard to make our lives work, not realizing we are working on our own because we are not in the banks.  We are in the works of the flesh.  You know them, they are in Galations 5:19, and Paul leaves us a door open, this is not an exhaustive list.  He says "and things like these".  My flesh struggles with strife, jealousy, anger, envy and even though it's not on the list, pride.  I think pride is our biggest work in the flesh, because we want to do it on our own.  We want to follow Christ on our own two feet, to pull ourselves up.  We say "no one ever gave me anything, I earned what I have" so we decide we are going to earn our own sanctification.

Here is where I find myself.  My own pride to follow Christ on my own is keeping me from really experiencing Christ in that powerful river of The Spirit.  My own desire to do good is keeping me from doing good.  My good deeds are filthy rags because they are my deeds and I put my faith in them.  I have my faith in my ability to follow Christ.  It's a slick and a tricky deception.  We want to please God, we are to please God, we are suppose to live for God, it's not so much if, it's how.  How do we please God?

On one hand, I can try to please God on my own.  Do it better, faster, grow in maturity, read my Bible, pray, go to church, study, go to seminary and become a pastor or a leader, and then look back at all I've done and say "God, are you pleased with me?"  If I have done all this without faith, the answer is "no".  The Pharisees, they worked hard, studied and knew the law, but they were stagnant held back from the river by the wall of flesh.

Here am I, in the year 2012, and I want to be better.  I am frail, I am fragile and I can't do it on my own.  I have tried to be better, smarter and faster.  I have gone to seminary, read all the new books, listened to sermons, gone to conferences and tried and tried and tried.  God is not pleased by all my self effort, because at the center of my effort is me.  In all of my goal to get better, what am I trying to get better at?  Loving God?  Do I really want to be closer to Him, or do I want to be better FOR him?  Sometimes I feel like I am more of a campaign manager for God, working in a city far away trying to get people to vote for Him, but never really knowing Him.

I want to get back to the river.  I want my flesh to get out of the way, I want to stop being envious of those with a great ministry, I want to stop being angry and bitter at those who hurt me.  I want to let go of the pride that thinks it needs to be done my way.  I want to let go of the hurt that springs up when I see someone doing better than I am doing.  Pride and envy, they need to die so I can live.  I have to crucify my flesh, and the only way to do so is to intersect God in a real way on this path, to become woven with Him.

So I have my responsibility, to get my flesh out of the way.  I am praying, I am fasting, I am seeking and knocking.  I am confessing, I am repenting, I am crying out and I feel movement again.  I feel like I am moving towards something greater, and my heart once again has life.  I feel like my life is being woven into a greater tapestry that I may become less and He may become more.

I find this isn't popular.  There is no way to chart it, graph it, put it on paper or show results.  I can't document it, I can't budget for it, and most importantly, I can't control it.  I have a hard time explaining it, I can't share it, I can just testify to it.  I feel like I have found a truth, but I can't make anyone else believe it.  I have discovered that I too, like Paul am a wretched man, but Jesus Christ can save me from this flesh.  Are you part of "we"?  Are you with me, in this boat of self effort that seems to be sinking faster than you can bail?  Are you feeling like your spiritual life is a breeding ground for mosquitoes?  Let's stop trying to be Godly and seek to be fleshless.  If we become fleshless, we can live in the Godliness that we already have in Christ Jesus.  It's time to live out of who God made me, and not who I am trying to make myself.  Are you with me?