Subtle Reminders
October 18, 2012, 7:03 pm
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Today, as I passed the mailbox on the way home from class, I questioned why I always want it to contain something for me.  I thought for a while about how satisfying it feels to have something in the mail or in the process of being shipped to me.  I thought further into how consumerist I am and how easy it is to spend money on toys just to make myself feel special. Then I realized how odd these feelings really are. I gain a minute sense of satisfaction from that stuff. They may be odd feelings but are they uncommon?

My conclusion is that my consumerist ways are a result of a yearning for significance. I feel satisfied today if some cool new gadget is on the way.  But what is the use of that gadget really? Is it to distract me from the real issue that I am desperate for significance? 

I’m not the only one that does this.  The common theme of our American society is not freedom, it is slavery.  Our silly little society is so entrapped by this desire to [feel] significant that we need more stuff.  This tendency mirrors a serious addiction or even mental illness.  Mentally ill people try to fix problem X with solution Y. That is insanity.  Sane people know that only solution X can fix problem X.  Get it?  Addicted people get their “fix” from their very problem. That is insanity too, folks. 

I think the bottom line is that this society and not just ours, is yearning desperately for something or someone to tell us that we are significant. People want attention!  When we don’t feel significant we look desperately for something to please us, something fun, something that feels good or makes us look like we’ve got it all together when in all honesty, we’ve lost it all.

This raises some very fundamental questions.  Where are we meant to get our sense of significance from? Were we meant to get all the attention? We were not made to gain significance from stuff.  Material junk will never make you full. That is fact.  Secondly, to what degree should we receive our significance from other people? This may rock the boat a bit but as soon as you base your significance on another person’s thoughts of you, you are in the wrong. Although we all do this, we were not built that way.  Could this be a major root to depression? What about suicide? If we gain our personal value from others we will never see ourselves as what we really are. 

Like I said earlier our tendency to feed these lies has enslaved us but [what is freedom]?  I think the answer to that question is the answer to all of the above.  The truth is that we are meant to receive our self worth, our significance from our Creator.  What is freedom?  Our creator paid the price of His sons’ life to free us from all of this nonsense. That’s the answer, the stars and sunset and rainbows are the subtle or not so subtle, reminders that you need not yearn for significance. That was given to you before you ever lived. 

I think our purpose has been abandoned. If we spent our time reflecting on the truth of our existence we could be free from the lies that drive us to a desperate yearning for empty significance.  You could be alive!


October 2, 2012, 4:42 am
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It is fall here in the Adirondacks. Each passing year the autumn colors seem to be more vibrant than the last. I forget about fall. It’s that season that sneaks in and knocks me off my feet.  You will not pass through my hometown in the fall without being completely captivated by the beauty of these mountains.  Try it.  The intense colors complemented by moist air and cooled to perfection stop me in my tracks to calibrate my focus to what really matters. Fall is always a season of reflection for me. Summer is over and all my friends leave for school or some other adventure and I spend allot of time to myself. I ponder what the future might bring and take time to appreciate that my God is so creative. I find it easier to relate to a creative God , a God that makes breathtaking beauty from nothing.  My God knows how to gently bring me to my knees. It is as if he paints each leaf to communicate His image and intentions to a completely distracted world.  The canvas of my God speaks rest to my busy mind for a moment while I attempt to grasp His craftsmanship. Go check it out.

Simply human
September 21, 2012, 4:59 am
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I had a professors (Dr. Marshall Wicks) at Word of Life that would read a Calvin and Hobbes Comic strip before every one of his lectures. As the year unfolded I found that I could always relate to Calvin.  Here is a comic representation of one of my nights under the stars…


What a life.
June 29, 2012, 2:00 am
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After talking to my dad a bit last night about why I love camping, I got the bug. I had to get out. The night was clear, almost windless, with a forecast low of 52 degrees.  A perfect night to be spent with the stars.   I decided to spend the night on the summit of a small mountain outside of town. Prime stargazing.

I didn’t get to the trailhead until 10:30 or so and got right to hiking. The hike in takes about an hour and after 20 minutes I realized that I had forgotten to bring a sleeping pad. I thought long and hard about whether I needed it… I had to go back for the sleeping pad.

OK, take two.  Its 10:57, windless, not a cloud in the sky and I’m setting off from the car, with my sleeping pad.  The hike isnt long but it feels long at night. Every little creature rustling through last fall leaves gives a me a little scare. Each step feeds the anticipation to summit, set up camp, kill my head lamp and enjoy the show. A different kind of night life.

After reaching the summit I quickly unroll my pad, unstuff my sleeping bag and unpack the pillow (creature comforts. ya know?). Now that everything is in place I can settle in for the view. I kill the light.

With the absence of my headlamp my eyes begin slowly to adjust and the night comes to life.  The stars allow for no blank space, overwhelming the canvass of black sky. The mountains; silhouetted black.  Every few minutes I catch sight of a satellite whizzing across the night sky. This is living.

The night is colder than I expected so it isn’t long before I throw on some long johns and settle into my bag for the night. As I lay there I try and try to simply grasp the size of the earth, to imagine exploring every inch of the lush masterpiece of a planet we get to inhabit.  Then I try with all my mental capacity to grasp the size of the stars, dwarfing the earth like dust, by the millions. I can’t even comprehend…but I am surely astounded.  When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of him?

I saw two shooting stars before I faded off and awoke to the rising sun.  To the west I watched  the shadows receding on the mountains before I could actually see the sun rising.  After 45 minutes or so I could wait no longer so I got up to see the show. Magnificent.  All alone I soaked it all in;  the mountains in the east still silhouetted black in contrast to the radiant glow of the rising sun.  I love silhouettes. Something about a mountain ridge boldly standing black in contrast to a blue or gold back drop is incredibly beautiful.

I was still a bit tired so I went back to bed for a couple hours until the warmth of the sun was simply too much to bare inside my bag.  I got up and spent some time taking in the beauty of the expansive views before I packed up and headed out.

After reaching the parking lot I went down to a cold mountain lake nearby, did some swimming and read while my trunks dried, reflecting on the glory of it all.  I never regret getting out in it.

I don’t want to speculate too much or labor Gods intentions into the small faculties of my mind but I think this all means something. There is no possibility the sunrise, the soft breeze and falling stars are there by accident, or random chance.  They are creative. They are there to communicate something profound.  The Bible says, straight up, Gods mercies are new every morning.  Although the words are easily skipped over, the concept is astounding.  Every new day God welcomes us to dive deeper and sail higher into the depths and heights of His love.  I think it really points to the fact that God is ever-posed to forgive and work with us to move on, to progress.  His mercy was new when I woke up on top of the mountain today and He put on a show to prove it.  I really do think that all the majesty of the stars, sunrise and silhouettes are trying desperately to communicate the simple concept that today God wants you to let go of everything behind and fall for Him anew. I don’t want to miss this.  I want to reflect the daily renewal of God’s mercy for me and recognize the signs of His grace.  I don’t want to be the same today.  I want to bask in the depths of his gracious love and never return to shore.

Product of your environment
June 26, 2012, 2:31 am
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Generally I’ve always understood the idea of bring a product of one’s surrounding environment to be a statement on how children reflect how they were raised.  After observing the actions of some kids at work recently, the term came to mind.  These kids set the bar for awful behavior. They weren’t wild kids, they were hideous. The more I watched and listened to these kids my anger towards them shifted to pity. I felt bad that they clearly hadn’t been raised with much care.

After that night I couldn’t stop thinking about how much our environments mold who we are.  I began to see the concept of being a product of your environment as much more than how one is raised.  I began to see it as all encompassing.

As I began to realize more clearly how my environment affects my demeanor, my attitude and actions it made me want to make a change. I was and am realizing the powerful impact my friends, c0workers and even mere acquaintances have on who I am.

The truth is that we all, much too easily, can become an unintentional product of the environment that we surround ourselves with.  As I thought about it, I realized that I don’t really love my current environment.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love where I live and the people around me but I don’t want to have anything to do with the general social environment I find at work/school and even outside of that.

What do you do when you realize that your current environment is something you never want to reflect? I think that there are a couple options. The first and maybe most obvious option is to run. Running is easy enough and it is immediately gratifying.  One day you are surrounded by a bunch of stale parasitic bums and the next they are merely a thing of the past. I do think there is a time and place for running but I also think that people are way too quick to claim it as the only or best option.

The other option is much more involved. It entails much more creative thinking and intentional living.  The other option is to live in such a way, within your environment, as to shine bright in a dark place. It is the act of exposing the crust by living with abundance. The act of “being the change you want to see in the world” doesn’t leave valuable people to wallow in their crustiness so you can escape it but rather it gently exposes it so everyone can improve and gain life.  It is the opposite of running; it is hunkering down, remaining unstained by the filth and living such a beautiful story that it inspires others to live more beautifully.

It is likely that I won’t spend much more than another year around my home.  That reality is beginning to ring true as I make plans and look beyond my current situation.  Honestly, I’ve looked at is an escape many times. I would finally be able to leave all these people and their issues here while I go move on (just to find more crazy people, I’m sure). I will finally be free from their issues..But I don’t want to leave like that anymore.  What use is living in a community if you just move on as soon as you get sick of it?  There is no use.  I would rather fall in love with my community of real people with real issues and leave each of those crazy people greater than when I met them.  It’s downright selfish to run from people’s issues and it just causes more. What if I decide to tackle the issues within my small community, to love people? What a concept, right? I suppose this isn’t a new Idea, just one we have all too often lost touch with.

I’ve always hated leaving a project before it was finished and that is what leaving a community feels like. There is always a wealth of opportunities to lift someone up, to inspire and enjoy the company of another.  I suppose, ideally, relationships are never finished. You can never sit down day and night until this relationship is complete because as long as we have relationships there will be progression and regression.


Nice Ideas.
June 6, 2012, 5:20 pm
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Something I’ve found from the little bit of writing I have done is the need to turn concepts and Ideas into action. It isn’t too difficult to cultivate a few lofty Ideas and paint them onto paper with a few cool words. It isn’t even that hard to inspire people for a few minutes while they read but it would be a paramount shame to cultivate a bunch of beautifully inspiring ideas and never take action on what you’ve learned from them. Inspiration can’t be left silent on a page it has to become action and only then does it find its true worth. The ability conjugate concepts with reflective action is to disarm the critics and accomplish something new. It is creative progress. I don’t want to compose “nice ideas” and otherwise simply blend into the crowd but I want to try on the ideas and stir things up a little. I want my observation to lead into action. I don’t want to be a critic I want to create.

Lose the agenda.
June 6, 2012, 4:56 pm
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I’d like to set out on a journey to redefine, by action, the concept of being “open minded”. Open mindedness is one of those concepts that has always sort of boggled my mind (open or not). How can one be open to everything that they agree with but nothing they disagree with and remain “open minded”? I’m a bit tired of being told that you can only be open-minded if you accept everyone but you have to hate Goerge W. Bush, think everyone goes to heaven and listen to political blue grass.  Nothing against bluegrass! As something that cannot so easily be literally defined, I’ve seen people justify some pretty close-minded actions and ideas under the banner of being open minded. This is another one of those taboos  in Christianity, perhaps because it takes its greatest blows on those that stand for absolutes or perhaps because we are sometimes prone to using those absolutes as a license for judgment on others before we hear them out.

Just hear me out.

According to Webster dictionary to be open minded is to be” receptive to arguments or ideas”. Pretty simple right? I think ‘receptive’ is the perfect word to delineate open minds from close minds.  The literal definition suggests that one who is “open minded” is one who is willing and perhaps eager to listen.  This is a person without an agenda in listening, someone simply seeking to understand you. To receive you as you are.  Refreshing, right?  So I believe it is safe to say that a person that sees people, their actions and their beliefs as they are with no agenda of judgment and acts from that position of understanding, is open minded. Harsh judgment isn’t really welcome in an open mind because an open mind is positioned to understand why someone is who they are.  You can’t do that with an agenda to change them.

Clearly open mindedness is all the hype right now.  If you are open to everything than you can’t be wrong, right?  The problem is if no one is wrong you can’t stand for anything because someone will disagree. What ends up happening is, if you accept me I will accept you but if you judge me I will dub thee close minded, a lost cause. I will judge you.  The term has been completely hijacked and has become the anti-type of its most literal translation.  In a way it has become a weapon against anyone that might be prone to judging you but if it is used as a weapon how does it equate to having an open mind. If you, under the banner of being open minded, write someone off and don’t hear them out for who they are you are a hypocrite. Close minded.

We live in a culture that is closed to absolutes under the banner of open-mindedness.  Strange. How do you stand for truth and remain open to people that are nothing like you and maybe  even wrong?  I think the key is simply as stated above, lose the agenda.  I think Jesus was truly open minded.  He asked questions and listened with every ounce of his being.   He wanted to strip away everything to get to the truth, where he could make informed decisions and really love people. He said we should love our enemy. That is open minded.  I want to be like that.  I want to understand why people act the way they do and why they believe what they believe so that I can really love them for who they are. That takes an open mind. That takes grace.

Truth be told, you probably won’t hear me using the term very often because It has been so abused by people with agendas, almost to the point of uselessness. But I will try to be a true manifestation of the literal meaning of those words, to hear people out that are nothing like me, so I can love them all the more freely.