Monday, May 7, 2012


"So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do."

-Ephesians 5:15-17

"What we have now is real. It's genuine."

-Craig Groeschel

Henry David Thoreau once said "You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment." Yet, it's hard to find a moment worth staying in isn't it? I mean, we all seek something authentic, genuine, and real when it comes to our relationships, but we often find that we're not really focused on connections that last.
A real connection isn't texting people while at the dinner table with your family-whether you're at home or at a restaurant. I mean the idea that in today's world we are more interested in connecting with those who aren't even present-in the moment, than those who we surround ourselves with, begs the question...why? I mean why do we complain about our 'pretend' friends when we find out they're really not our friends? Why are we shocked when our relationships fail?
As Craig puts it: "As long as we're so busy, our minds and hearts are somewhere else: at work, at home, at the hospital, at the church, on and on. We're simply not present. Our minds are so cluttered with endless to-do lists that there's no room for us to experience the joy of being alive today."
There are consequences to busyness. It begins to destroy and errode us with overwhelming stress and anxiety. Our minds are constantly thinking about the next step. When our friends are venting and or sharing from their brokenness we're busy formulating a follow up question or advice. That's not active listening, that's passive listening. Which means that even though we're physically present, we really aren't mentally or emtionally. As a matter of fact, some of us are down right unavailable emotionally and spiritually.
The challenge in today's world is to be truly present. To be there with all your mind, spirit, and support. Now, I know that I have failed in this area more than once, but it's one that I try to be mindful of. My wife has been very helpful in this area...which is a good thing. We need people who we can trust to keep us on the straight and narrow-not the one that is wide and easily followed.
One of my favorite quotes from this book is: "Normal people live distracted, rarely fully present. Weird people silence the distractions and remain fully in the moment." Again, the issue isn't that we need more time, but it's about better management of the time we've been given. I mean if God gave you another hour in the day and another day of the week...would you actually slow down or try to cram more in? I think if we were honest, a 25/8 type of life wouldn't improve much.
The interesting thing is that God gave us the template...he rested on the 7th day. And he created both day and night...a hint that it's time to sleep, to rest up for another day-not to worry about today, yesterday, and what may come...but to engage it! Craig says "the answer isn't more time but a greater awareness of the time we have."
So let me ask you? When was the last time you took a day of rest? When was the last time you took some time for a nice long walk, bike ride, or took a retreat? When do you take the time to sit, rest, and reflect? You can do all this without a phone, computer, or chores to do. What we all need is some quality time with those who are most important and make sure we set aside some quality time with our creator too.
Craig gives a warning and some advice when he says: "Be careful how you live, how you plan: what you say yes to and what you say no to." He goes on further to say that there's a different between the choices we make-wise or fooolish. As the scripture points out, it's true that our choices set up our future. And I think it's time that we did a better job of examining our responses. Our situation can sometimes makes us desparate and what seems to be the easiest decision/choice may lead to more hard times and more difficult decisions. You and I have opportunities and choices each day. We can either choose to embrace it or ignore it.
So be careful how you mindful of your answers. Sometimes God asks us to make the tough choice, the right choice. It's also important that we understand that we need to take more time in our days and in our weeks for reflection and honest communication with family and friends.
As Mike Yaconelli once said: "Those who pretend have pretend relationships". I think we've done enough pretending...

Friday, May 4, 2012




As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

-Luke 10:38-42

I want you to imagine that Jesus was coming to your house. How upset would you be if you were preparing the meal, setting up the table, and noticing your brother or sister, just chatting away with Jesus? I mean, this is Jesus we're talking about! Who wouldn't want to prepare the best meal on the planet? Who wouldn't break out the best China moeny could buy? The problem Martha, we would be missing the whole point. If Jesus came to visit, he wouldn't be interested in what meal you had prepared for him, or how expensive the plates or silverware was, he would be interested in you.
As Craig Groeschel, the author of Weird, points out, "most of us are living at a pace that is not only unsustainable; it's unbiblical." For many of us, the schedules we impose on ourselves-the things that we commit to or add on a whim are consuming us...sapping the very energy we need. And it begs the question...are we really enjoying life?
You see, the issue isn't that we need more time, the issue is that we need to utilize the time we already have. Craig points out that we need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to our time because obviously we have enough time for what we choose to invest our time in. The idea that we don't have enough time to work out, read the Bible, go to church or youth group is because we consider these as mere things added to our list and it just isn't a priority. In fact he says: "Tell yourself the truth: either it's not a priority and you're guarding your time for good reason, or you simply aren't willing to choose to spend your time on it."
You see the issue becomes what we consider important-our true priorities. Just like Mary and Martha, we are presented with opportunities each day, but each opportunity can be read differently. I mean when was the last time you stopped what you were doing and embraced the moment-were truly present? Mary embraced the moment, but Martha like so many of us was distracted, preoccupied, and busy.
Now, that's not to say that our 'distractions' are all bad things, Martha meant well, but we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that being busy helps us get further in life. It's not true, it can lead to burn out. "If the devil can't make us really bad, then he'll try to make us really busy". The truth is that sometimes what is most important isn't always what seems most urgent.
This book, which I can't seem to put down, is written in a way that we can all relate. We know what we think is 'normal' by our standards but sometimes 'normal' isn't right. As Craig puts it: "too often our desire to fit in, to belong, to conform and be considered normal eclipes our desire to follow God and do what's best. We choose popular standards instead of habits that lead to holiness."
If we call ourselves Christians we're not supposed to be like everyone else. As it says in Romans 12:2, we are to "let God transform us into a new person by changing the way that we think". We usually think that being busy is a sign of importance, but we have to realize that just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. Or, how Craig puts it: "Instead of soccer practice and guitar lessons, you can pick soccer OR guitar."
In truth, what do you have to show for all your busyness, competitions, trophies, ribbons, pictures, and lack of attendance at school or church? I mean why complain about being so busy and do nothing about it? If we are so tired and burdened by our commitments, obligations, tasks, homework, and responsibilities then it's time that we make a change. Because if we're honest, we would admit that we're doing this to ourselves. That we have decided that other things take priority over God and my spiritual development.
My challenge is that you would evaluate your schedule-what is it that you do each day that is important? You may be a student-whether it's in college or high school, you may even have a job or a family to provide for. Whatever it is...honestly ask yourself if you're distracted by doing too many 'good things' vs. what is best and most important.
My next blog will be about being present...not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.