Are You Boring?

For much of my life I’ve tried very hard to be someone who is interesting and will stick out in a crowd. This is generally easy for me because of my outgoing and extroverted nature. In fact, most people I’ve met wouldn’t describe themselves as boring people. After I turned 25, I realized I’m not nearly as exciting as I try to make myself seem. In fact, I might even be considered boring. I get up around the same time every day, do the same things during the day, and then go to the same church every Sunday to meet with and encourage those around me. This week I read the book ‘Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life‘ after seeing it recommended on Tim Challies’ website a while ago, it had been on my list for a while.

Starting with Shane Claiborne, there has seemed to be a resurgence in living a “radical” or “sold-out” life to Christ. And generally this means that the way Americans live is bad and living on 10% of what we make should be the mark of a REAL Christian. Yet what about those who don’t make six-figure salaries, but are faithful in the jobs they’ve been giving? Those that lead their families faithfully, help serve in their church body and commune with God regularly? Is there room for a person like that in Christianity? I sure hope so, because that is essentially my life. In the introduction to the book, Michael says, “Chasing dreams isn’t the problem. Neither is maximizing what you have to make a difference in the world for the sake of Christ. The problem is in our definition of significance.” Throughout the rest of the book he does a wonderful job showing how the gospel affects our entire lives and purpose as we live out our boring lives to the praise and glory of God.

The first few chapters lay the groundwork for the specifics of following Christ in a boring life. First the story of Saul, who was called to be king when he was looking for donkeys. Is there anything more dull or boring than looking for donkeys? Yet God met him while he was looking for his families’ lost donkeys and used it as an opportunity to grab hold of Saul’s life and redirect his path. The problem is not many of us view or ordinary lives in view of God’s continual grace and guidance of our lives. We see ourselves as ordinary people, yet through Christ’s work in our lives we are anything but ordinary. Michael argues that the key to this is finding our contentment in Christ. He argues, “True contentment isn’t about settling for less. It’s about seeing the true value of what we already do have in Christ.”

This contentment and peace that comes from trusting that God is working in the ordinary means leads to a thankful and repentant heart trusting that God is using us for his glory. This includes regular times in God’s word, relationships with those around us, our spouse, our kids, our finances, our jobs, and our Sunday morning gatherings. All of these areas are things we see as ordinary parts of our lives, but because they have been infused by an extraordinary God, they are no longer ordinary. We are to continue to follow Christ in our daily monotonous lives. That is a truly extraordinary life. A life that is “radical” and “sold out” to Christ.

I would whole heartedly recommend this book to you. It removes the pressures of performance in our modern culture and allows you to rest in the grace and truth of what Christ has done for us. It views life through the lens of the gospel and demonstrates how to glorify God in the moments we consider boring and routine.

Growing “Old”

Last month was a big month for me, as I hit the quarter century mark. Yes, that’s right, I’m 25. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 25. Turning 25 was incredibly difficult for me because it meant letting go of a number of childhood dreams I’d had of doing before I was 25. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I haven’t even started seminary. I haven’t written a book. I’m not on the “speaking network” for pastors. I haven’t become a world traveler. I’m simply me. God’s taken me turning 25 to show me some things about me and I’ve had to face some things that haven’t necessarily been easy.

This hit home for me when I read the story of Jim Elliot’s brother, Bert. Yes, the Jim Elliot who was a missionary and was killed by the people he was trying to bring the Gospel to. Did you know he had a brother? I didn’t! But Bert has been a missionary with his wife in Peru for most of his life. He’s now in his 80s, has planted over 170 churches and is still serving. In his words, “My brother Jim and I took different paths. He was a great meteor, streaking through the sky.” But,

Bert was not. He did not go streaking through the sky. Nobody lined up with their telescopes to watch his life. Instead, as Alcorn puts it, he was the faint star in the distance that faithfully rises night after night, always there. Always faithful. Always doing the same, boring thing.

Will I be content to be a faint stay in the distance, faithfully rising night after night? Whose glory am I truly seeking, man or God. Do the songs I help us sing every week, the children I hug, the grandparents I talk to have an everlasting impact for God’s kingdom. I sure hope so, because the kingdom I try to build doesn’t last very long. I hope in another 25 years to look back to today and know I was a faithful star rising night after night and pointing to the Son in everything I do.

The Romance of Domesticity

The Romance of Domesticity

I often feel a certain amount of discontent as I see people I was once close to in college doing really cool things like shooting music videos, or creating incredibly detailed websites, or taking cool hiking adventures, or having babies. Often this is combined with a slight twinge of jealousy as I look at my life and ask, “What the heck am I doing?” I think often I have a huge desire to do something new and exciting just for the sake of the experience. This article reminded me that there is a certain amount of romance in the monotony of life.

School Blues

School is just around the corner, which means summer is over! How many of your summer goals did you accomplish this year? I for one am looking forward to finally starting the school year again, and despite not being able to start seminary this fall (Liberty doesn’t offer the only class I wanted to take in the fall) I’m looking forward to jumping in to youth group and finally having a good rhythm again in church. Life feels so chaotic when there’s no rhythm to dictate things.

One big thing I learned this summer is that often, vacation is more work than work! It’s really hard to jump off the treadmill of life, even for a day, but it’s oh so necessary the maintain the pace that I need in my life and ministry. If I don’t have those times of break I know I will burn out much quicker. I had some great times away with friends and family this summer, and even got to try biking the Mikkleson trail (I didn’t make it the whole way, I guess I should have trained beforehand?). Overall, it was a very different summer than I anticipated, but a joyous one nonetheless. So what am I going to be doing this fall now?

Besides the normal routines of my ministry (music, small group, youth group) I’m going to try to get licensed by the E Free denomination, continue to help guide the youth group (got a new blog for it! Check it out here), and continue to lead music every week. I’m excited to see how God will lead, guide and grow me this school year.

Making the Best Use of Time

I’ve been reading ‘Spurgeon: A New Biography” by Arnold Dallimore the past few weeks and have been amazed by Spurgeon’s life and service. He was reading and understanding the Puritan’s by the age of 10, and took his first church at the age of 17, taking over a large church in London by the time he was 19. It’s difficult to not compare yourself to him as you’re reading it, but he was a uniquely gifted individual. One of the things that’s most amazed me about him is just how much he got done. He preached 10 times a week, edited 1 sermon a week, visited numerous people throughout the week, wrote 500 letters a week, taught Bible classes at a college he started, wrote and edited a magazine and somehow still had time to care for his wife. From reading what I have so far, I’m guessing he didn’t stick to a 4o hour work week. During this reading, a passage from Ephesians 5 was brought to mind that says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Here we are told to make the best use of the time. How does one go about doing that?

In college, during one of my many periods of self-discovery, I called my dad and asked him if I had wasted my time pouring so much of my time into basketball growing up, instead of reading the Bible and growing in my understanding of God. In a nutshell, he said no, and as I’ve been reading through the life of Spurgeon, I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I waste my time on still today, and if I need to focus more time reading the Bible and theology. Then I came across a little sentence in Spurgeon’s biography that said, “A smooth area had been prepare for lawn bowling-a game Spurgeon greatly enjoyed, especially since it had been the favorite pastime of the Puritans” (137). I decided that if Spurgeon can have his activities outside of theology that he enjoys, so can I! Yes, Christians should focus on learning more about God and growing into the image of His son, but God has also blessed us with so many things that we enjoy doing, and let’s continue to enjoy those things and finding enjoyment in the gifts God has given! So do I need to feel bad if I play some Wii for a bit, or play a game of basketball, or go to a movie with friends? Unless it’s consuming my life and superseding my time with God, I don’t think so! So yes, I am a Christian Hedonist, looking to enjoy God and the creation He has given me to enjoy.

What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Putting Your Spouse First

I’m the kind of guy who likes to do research. Whenever I’m about to buy something, I read as many reviews as I can find, painstakingly pick one out, then read the manual from cover to cover before the item even gets to my door. This thinking permeates all areas of my life too so in preparation for marriage, I’ve read When Sinners Say I DoThe Meaning of Marriage, What Did You Expect, and various blogs as well as talking to everyone in the church I’ve seen to have a good marriage. I’ve been doing my research! Yet one thing I’ve already learned in my 24 years of life is that until this intellectual knowledge becomes practical knowledge that I’m living out, I know nothing! One of my best friends from high school got married in May of last year and as we have been talking through the course of his first year of marriage of just how difficult marriage is. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, quite the opposite in fact! The difficulties come from two sinful people coming together in an attempt to mirror the perfect relationship God has with us.

So in my studying and research on this matter I came across this blog today. What an accurate picture of what marriages today need!

My parents were intentional that having kids wasn’t going to stop them from doing the things they did before they had kids. Their object was to bring the kids into their marriage, not allow the kids to drown their marriage in a sea of tasks for the children. For this reason, our kid activities were pretty limited.

Whoa! How many parents actually do that today? And would doing this decrease the incredibly high divorce rate in America today? I think it would! As I’ve been talking to people who have been married for 20-30-40 years they have had this mindset, or else they wake up to it sometime in their marriage. Lewis B. Smeades in an article on Christianity Today way back in 1983 said:

My wife has lived with at least five different men since we were wed—and each of the five has been me. The connecting link with my old self has always been the memory of the name I took on back there: “I am he who will be there with you.” When we slough off that name, lose thatidentity, we can hardly find ourselves again. And the bonds that connect us to others will be frayed to breaking.

As we go through life our main focus should be, in this order: God, our spouse, our children and then anything else. I know it’s one thing for my to write about this on this side of marriage, but it’s a reminder I need to begin telling myself before I get married to carry in to my marriage. Through God’s grace, I will keep Him first, and then make my spouse my priority as we do our best to live out the Gospel in our lives.