Archives for the month of: May, 2011

So, are you becoming?  Should that be the ultimate question of life’s pursuit?  People throughout the ages have contemplated the questions and implications that deal with their “being” without much effort having been given to the question of their “becoming.” Thinking back for a moment, wasn’t it Shakespeare in his famous soliloquy that offered this thought; “To be or not to be, that is the question.”  Much discourse has been considered as well over the years on the contrast and effects of “being”, most certainly as seen in light of the “doing” perspective and performance orientation of life.  It’s interesting, in a world so captivated by finding identity in the things we do and the things we have it’s curious to wonder why there’s been any thought at all given to the notion of our “being.”  No doubt this quest of “being” is a worthy endeavor. Yet while there is a great amount of substance and meaning to be extracted from living with a posture of “being” it seems to me that there is an even greater question to consider.  That is, “Are you becoming?”  It occurs to me just now that I seem to remember there was a time in days gone by that telling a lady that she looked “becoming” was one of the keenest remarks a man could offer up as a compliment.  Perhaps this points us to consider something of beauty found in the question of “becoming.” 


For too long in my life the journey for me was more about where I had been or what I had done with virtually little to no thought given to who I could become.  It’s seemed a bit like trying to drive ahead while constantly looking in my rear view mirror.  Being defined by a past tense life seemingly didn’t offer much future tense vision for my life.  Like many I would too often get mired down in who I was not rather than looking out the front window to consider who I could become, in particular, who I could become as an unleashed child of the King.  This journey of becoming, both then and now, continues to reveal new areas of my heart and new dimensions of my thinking that I never who have guessed were inside this man who for so long just wanted to “be” somebody.  So, are you becoming?  Are you experiencing the beauty that stems from living a life that is seen through the radiance of becoming more of the person you’ve been designed to be? Are you no longer bound by who you’ve been or what you’ve done?  Let me encourage you to try this perspective of “becoming” on for size, in particular, as an unleashed child of the King.  Truth is…you’ll become a person of infinite beauty!  Peace. 

So, how do you like your coffee?  Millions of people spend millions of dollars each and every day in search of that elusive cup of coffee that seems to satisfy the senses.  Perhaps you are one of those that include the pilgrimage to your local coffee haunt part of your daily routine.  While I’m not enough of a frequenter to qualify for the “gold card” I do make the trek to a nearby Starbuck’s often enough to be captivated by the effort (and expense) that goes into making a good cup of “Joe.”  As I’ve observed this daily phenomenon I’m intrigued as well by the strategic thought that goes into creating a place intended to give the patrons that same sensation they would get from having their morning coffee at home.  Recently however I’ve had this thought that while there is much attention given to creating the right environment and no doubt great attention given to the selection of the coffee beans themselves there is one critical component of the experience that seemingly gets no attention.  In fact, it is really the unsung hero that is rendered to a silent partner status in the entire process.  It is…the coffee filter.  Let’s think about it for a minute. Without the coffee filter the coffee, regardless of the appealing environment, would no longer satisfy the senses and would be considered by most to be undrinkable.  Doesn’t it seem that in much the same way living a life without the appropriate filters in place can make life seem almost undoable?  You see it is the filters of life that help us prioritize among other things the crush of activities vying for our time.  The filters of life can help us drown out the noise that stems from the countless distractions of life.  And having the right filters in place over an extended period of time can actually lead to experiencing the fulfillment that comes from a life well lived or a job well done.  There’s no doubt that having the appropriate filters through which we can sift through the complexities of life can help us ensure we are pursuing the very things that bring satisfaction well beyond our senses.  They can help us leave room for those things that actually satisfy the soul like having time for the quietness of reflection or a meaningful conversation with a friend. 

So, what filters do you have in place for your life?  Some that work for me are the accountability of a friend, measuring all things against a clear understanding of the season of life I’m in, guarding my yes’s, maintaining the right priority of God, family and work, etc.  I’d like to encourage you to take some time to consider what “filters” you might need to put in place in your life right now.  Though you may find the process somewhat bitter at first you might just find that you’ll soon be drinking from the cup that brings life.  Peace. 

So, what are the fence posts of your life?  When I hear this question it conjures up in my mind what it must be like to be a hired hand on one of those sprawling cattle ranches in Wyoming.  Maybe I watched too many Western movies as a kid but I can just see one of those Marlboro-man type cowboys sitting tall in the saddle riding out on the range to tend to one of the perimeter fences on the ranch.  Maintaining the fences in tip top shape was paramount to keeping the cattle from wandering off while attempting to keep those whose intent it was to poach or kill the cattle out.  As I reminisce on some of these fonder memories of growing up I’m reminded anew that in order for the fence to fulfill its intended purpose there had to be a series of fence posts that were systematically positioned to hold the fence firmly in place.  

Recently, I’ve been reminded of the parallel of this illustration to my life.  Just how intentional have I been to see to it that the “fence posts” of my life can stand up to the pressures brought about by those forces that would want to replay those all too common negative voices of doubt over and over in my mind.  You know those forces that would seemingly want to poach the blessings right out of our life.  Just how thoughtfully have I gone about insuring that I have firmly set the proper “fence posts” in place to remind me of all that is good and right in my life.  Those “fence posts” that help me see the ever present grace that is bestowed upon me each and every day.  How about this question; do I have the perimeter of my life appropriately guarded with the necessary “fence posts” of frequent examination and accountability needed to keep me from wandering astray?  It seems the questions for me could go on and on.  How is it though with you?  Have you considered recently the “fence posts” you have in place that are foundational to your life?  Are they firmly established and maintained with fervent intentionality? Perhaps it’s time for each of us to saddle up and tend to our fences.  Come to think of it the best place to start may be by simply mending some of the fences in our life.  Peace.                               

So, what kind of refrigerator do you have?  You’re probably thinking what on earth does this question have to do with anything?  After all there seems to be only a handful of options that would qualify as the answer to this question.  Can you think of them; top freezer, bottom freezer, built-in and then the best one of all…the side-by-side.  While this style name does in fact give us a good description of one of the most common refrigerators on the market that’s not what I would like for us to focus on today.  I’d like to spend a few minutes and tell you about another type of side by side refrigerator of sorts…a refrigerator friend.  You know that person that comes to your door, let’s themselves in (without knocking), heads straight to the refrigerator to get something to eat (without asking), then proceeds to sit down on your couch as if they belong there.  You look at them, they look at you and you enter into a seamless conversation without the slightest hint of being bothered by what just occurred in the privacy of your home.  It’s one of those special friendships that was just meant to be. I wonder if you’ve ever had a friend like that.  Well, my life was blessed by the opportunity to have such a friend for over nineteen years until his untimely passing a few years ago.  His name was Scott.

By my calculations God gave us over seven thousand hours together in some form or fashion. Together we knew each other at the soul level.  Over the years we shared and forged much of our life’s fabric together.  Together, we sharpened each other.   Scott loved me well as a friend and I loved (and trusted him) completely. We left nothing on the table even as our relationship here on earth was ending!  Scott was my go to guy.  We had a deep and abiding friendship that was seasoned and matured by countless hours together, the effects of brokenness and the triumphs of restoration.  Our friendship stood the test of time. My friendship with Scott blessed my life with:

  • A place to satisfy my longings for simplicity and contentment
  • A place to plumb the depths of transparency
  • A place to find comfort and safety amongst the very real fears and anxieties of my life
  • A place to be held accountable to the temptations of my sinful nature
  • A place where I could understand and embrace my true worth as a child of God
  • A place to be free to be myself
  • A place to simply find rest

Who do you have in your life that is standing with you as you navigate the journey of life? While it is indeed one of life’s most uncommon treasures my sincerest hope is that you would be blessed beyond your deepest longing for such a friend.  It’s a rare find but in the end it’s the only way to do this thing we call life…side-by-side.  Peace.

So, do you leave room in your life for saying no?  We all know the world is replete with opportunities of all kinds to say “yes” to just about anything and everything.  It seems around every corner there’s an invitation to join something, go to something or even give to something.  In many ways “yes” has become the default answer for many of us. But why is it though we so often feel this unrelenting pressure to say “yes?”  What is it that drives us at times to even lead with “yes?”  Are we truly compelled to step up out of a pure leaning from our heart or Is it that we’re more motivated by the self-inflicted guilt that can stem from disappointing someone with a “no” or is it perhaps our own insatiable need for approval or maybe it’s as simple (and complex) as fearing rejection if we don’t continually answer in the affirmative.  Defaulting to “yes” seems to be in direct opposition to taking the time to discern what’s best for the particular time/place or age/stage in life we find ourselves in at any given moment.   Doesn’t all of this just seem to be another example of our taking ourselves hostage and becoming enslaved to yet another form of bondage?  Certainly there are times in our life when our yes’s should be yes’s but are we leaving ourselves room for saying no?  After all, in times like these life just doesn’t present us with many ways to reclaim space in our lives.  I’m almost beginning to wonder if we might even in some way actually prefer it that way.  Crazy but maybe true! I mean if we are continually captivated by the “busyness” of life caused by saying “yes” to everything in sight then it’s highly improbable we’ll have time or space to pursue those invaluable elements of life such as intimacy in our relationships.  Could it be that our “yes” really is just a masterful form of deflecting such intimacy?  Perhaps there is some plausibility to this thought just as there is great validity to saying “yes” to many things in life.  But consider with me the idea of giving yourself the freedom to say no from time to time and reclaim new territory for your life.  In the end you just might find some newly found rhythm in your life and might even find room for some net new relationships in your freshly reclaimed space.  Peace.    

So, have you ever been called for jury duty?  Well, I’m fresh off of one of my most recent summons by the local county authority to fulfill my civic duty to serve as a potential juror; just yesterday in fact. I’ve now done this four or five times over the last fifteen years or so and each time I’m captivated by the process that is followed throughout the day as well as the people that are called to serve.  For example, I’m sure if you’ve ever been summoned before (sounds regal doesn’t it) you’ve most likely witnessed the parade of people and their myriad of reasons they offer up as to why the judge should excuse them for the day.  Doesn’t it seem that the default setting for most of us when called into this situation is to figure out any way possible to wrangle our way out?   At a minimum it seems at best a dreaded endeavor with no escape route available.  I haven’t quite figured out why jury duty is so often disdained by so many but I did take notice of a phenomenon yesterday that seems to consistently occur when we are, in a sense, held captive with no apparent way out. 

Though the day begins with most folks preoccupied with the inconvenience of being there and the uncertainty of whether or not the day will linger into even more days something interesting begins to happen.  People actually begin to communicate with each other.  Certainly there are those that stay within the confines of their iPhones and laptops but for the most part once everyone accepts their fate that they are there for the day with no certainty as to when they’ll be able to leave a noticeable change begins to occur.  It’s at this very point that the tide of tension seems to shift and they then begin to relax their persona allowing the barriers to come down and their humanness to emerge.  But what is it about being held captive with no place to go that finally allows the floodgates of our innermost longings to open up and a connection in communication and relationship to take over?  Why is it that once we realize that we have no control over the outcome we step around our self protective shields and become more of the people we so long to be?  Perhaps it’s in the surrender to our captivity where we will ultimately find our freedom.  That place where we’re no longer held captive by our incessant need to control the uncontrollable but rather the place where we choose to be held captive to the real living that comes from the spontaneous audience with one another.  Peace.

So, is there anything we can learn about ourselves from the title of a magazine?  Though this is a more recent thought I’ve found myself captivated over the years by the various ways in which the outward manifestations of our lives have become more and more an indicator of our life’s inward realities.  Certainly we all are aware of how the decaying nature of our outer physical bodies slows us down as the years march on.  Just how often though do we stop to consider some of the other aspects of our lives that lead to what often appears to be myopic, degenerative inward living?  Perhaps we don’t have to look beyond the progression, or perhaps better said, the regression of magazine titles over the years to get some clues.  Just consider what’s been signaled over the years by the following titles from these magazine covers found at the corner newsstand; Life => Look => People => Us => Self. One could certainly conclude that over the course of time we have gone from the simpler days of Life only to find ourselves attempting to navigate the complexities of living as we’ve become inherently focused on Self.  I’m wondering if there is something here that begins to explain why we have become a more distant, less relational society?  I mean it we can’t pin it all on technology! Have you ever considered when we stopped to simply Look at the beauty of People choosing instead to have life be all about Us?  Are the titles of these magazines an outward manifestation of an inward reality indicating what we know to be true at the core of our being?  That we have moved from being an outward faced society to becoming one that is obsessively inwardly focused?  Does this give us any insight into why life just “isn’t what it used to be?” I know from experience that I tend to be more fully alive in those times when I am more concerned with the needs of others and less obsessed with my own shortcomings.  Perhaps in the end it’s time to return to Life as it is intended to be lived and experience the regenerative effects of simply serving the People in our midst.  Peace.            

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