Tag Archive: relationships


Expand Your World

When someone asks you about the most significant part of your faith as a Christian (if you happen to be one), what comes to mind first? I think at least the majority of us, if not all, would point to our quiet time with God. To be a Christian seems so innately tied to that time when you can be alone with God – reading the Word, listening to praise music, praying, journaling – whatever it looks like. Is that it though?

Recently, I read a blog post by a guy named Tullian Tchividjian (whew, what a name!) on the Resurgence Blog, titled “Spirituality isn’t Inward.” (It’s a great post, so go give it a read!). This post rocked my world. I totally hadn’t even thought about the idea that the truest form of spirituality isn’t what I do in my quiet time with the Lord, but how my faith impacts and interacts with others. In the post, he references James 1:27, which states:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”

Woah. So God views my actions towards others and my actions with regard to sin to be the most “pure and undefiled” expression of my religion.

Tullian raised the point that “Sin turns us inward, the Gospel turns us outward.” Isn’t that so true? As I focus more and more upon myself and the inward pursuit of conquering sin and “growing” in my faith, I actually cease to “grow” and my world shrinks around myself. Jesus came and didn’t call us to a faith that causes us to be obsessed with ourselves and our inner triumphs and failures. He called us to a faith that actually does something. A faith that interacts with others, not just between myself and God.

Matthew 5:14-17 says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Could it be said better than that? Don’t “put a bowl” over your faith, but let your world expand to include the lives of others. Don’t just focus upon yourself to the point of shrinking your world, but focus upon the lives of others as well, allowing your world to grow as you shine the light of Jesus to others.

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Great Success?

Ambition is a sneaky thing. It’s one of those words that seems to have both a positive and negative connotation. As I think about my life, one of my greatest prayers is the request that God would simply show me the calling that he has waiting for me. What is it that he wants me to do? Where do I go next? There is a whole wealth of christian literature out there that strongly promotes a mentality of working hard and achieving great things for God’s kingdom in one’s life. Immediately what comes my mind are the books Don’t Waste Your Life and Do Hard Things by John Piper and the Harris brothers, respectively. Though these influences play somewhat of a role, I think it to be interesting that the strongest thing that screams into my ear “DO SOMETHING!” is not a christian source, but the world. Within that question, “What’s your major?” lies a whole world of meaning. “What will you do with your life?” That question scares me. One of my deepest fears is being pigeonholed into a job. On the one hand, I desire to be a provider for my family and seek stability. On the other, I can’t bear the thought of reaching the end of my life and having missed out on some grandiose calling and adventure that the Lord had for me. I want to do something big.

But where is the calling? “Just show me, Lord, and I’ll do it!” I say. quietly, the Lord responds: “If I gave you a calling, you would forget the caller.”

 

Oh.

 

You see, God isn’t in the business of giving us idols. If my future could be an idol, He will teach me to say, “All my hope is in you, not my future.” Think about Matthew 7:23, where Jesus says the the evildoer, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” At the end of time, what matters isn’t what I’ve achieved but who I know. Do I believe that God has a great, awesome calling for each one of us? Absolutely. Do I believe that he has placed some call upon my life? Certainly. I do know that he wants me to get to know him and to spend time with him.This is the most important call upon our lives; to know God.

To paraphrase Os Guiness, “As we fulfill our calling, we do not tire, for we get closer and closer to the caller.”

Knowing God comes first. If we try to find significance in what we do with our lives, we will fail. Our significance must come from an inward relationship and connection with the very person who created within us the need for significance. On our deathbeds, we will only be able to say, “My life was a success” if we have realized our true, primary calling, which is to know and to love God.

 

Expression – The Reversal

In an essay in her book, Sister Outsider, poet and activist Audre Lorde pondered the question of expression and entitlement shortly after she learned she had breast cancer:

I have come to believe. . . . that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. . . .

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. . . . I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself.  My silences had not protected me.  Your silence will not protect you. . . .

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.  For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

Taken from the book Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen.

What Can Facebook Do For Me?

Last week, Tim wrote an excellent post about the problems that Facebook can cause in our lives.  If you feel that Facebook is too much a part of your daily life, his suggestion of what I call a “Facebook fast” is an excellent one.   However, as with any behavior, you need a plan for change.  If you want to cut back your Facebook usage but don’t know where to start or what responsible Facebooking looks like, the odds of being sucked right back in to the Facebook vortex are much higher.  This post, intended to be a companion to Tim’s, will describe some of the great things that Facebook can do for us and why, despite its problems, I believe it can be a tremendous gift to us.

You might ask, “How?  My news feed is filled with ‘So-and so found a pink cow in Farmville!’ and ‘Eating a sandwich.'”  If the games, quizzes, and questions annoy you, hide them (my news feed is much improved by blocking almost every one of these notifications that comes my way).  You might then be tempted to hide the person who posts about their lunch every day, or the person who is endlessly posting depressing song lyrics, or tHE pErsOn wHo TyPeS LIkE tHiS.  I wonder, though, if being able to easily hide things that disturb us, or annoy us, or frustrate us, contribute to the feelings of loneliness and isolation so common in our generation?  I had hidden several of these friends for months, but then I realized something.  Those friends, because they are so far removed from my daily experiences, keep me aware that the world does not consist of people like me – people who like the same things, feel the same way about things, respond the same way to life’s circumstances.  I unhid everyone from my news feed about six months ago; since then, those reminders have been invaluable in my consideration of how best to show love and compassion to the surrounding world.

As my friends finish college, get jobs, and get married, they are scattering all over the country.  While I keep in touch with some of them via phone or e-mail, it is Facebook for most of them.  Because many of my scattered friends are on Facebook fairly often, it is easy to keep up with what is going on in their lives.  This serves two benefits: it helps to at least maintain the friendship – in the days before Facebook, it was too easy to let a friendship slide due to difficulty of keeping in contact – and because the friend and I are up to speed on the basics, when we do talk on the phone or in person it eliminates the hours upon hours of reciting everything that has happened in our lives since we last saw each other and enables deeper, more fulfilling conversation.

After keeping in touch with distant friends, the way I use Facebook the most is simply as a social version of Google Reader.  Many of my friends have similar interests as me, so when they post an article about something, odds are it is something I will be interested in.  For instance, when Osama bin Laden died, my Facebook feed contained links to speeches, patriotic songs, famous quotes, news articles, blog posts, etc. all in one convenient location.  In addition, as an atmospheric scientist, it fascinates me to see the posts and photos about weather occurring all over the world.  During hazardous weather such as tornado outbreaks, my news feed becomes a weather news reader containing radar images, satellite images, videos, storm reports, photos, and much more.  Without Facebook, I would have to hunt down all this information, which would take much longer than scrolling through my news feed.

I realize that everyone reading this has a different experience of Facebook.  If you’re reading this and you have Facebook, you’ve probably complained about the contents of your news feed before.  I’ve given some examples of what I think are healthy, responsible ways to view and use Facebook; hopefully, these perspectives will make Facebook less of a time-sucking enemy and more of a useful relationship tool and/or knowledge base.