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As this blog showed some time ago, moleskine notebooks are my method of choice when it comes to keeping a log of my thoughts. In using those wonderful little black journals I have no pressure of keeping such thoughts organized or even coherent. There is a slight problem with such a system, the more I write and study the more my notebook struggles to keep up with all the differing thoughts at once. It’s not your fault oh trusty moleskine, it’s mine.

With that in mind, I will strive yet again to keep a public log of my thoughts and studies right here, at my old friend The New Gray. Posts will come more frequently and comments would be greatly appreciated. Just know that whether there are comments or not, I’m gonna keep posting. I need to. My life needs a bit more order and this might be one way to assist in that endeavor. Or, I may fail. Time will tell.

At least if I keep posting, my all time favorite college VP will quit bugging me to post more often!

Church life is organic. Constantly changing via moods, attendance, leadership styles, and hopefully, the leading of the Holy Spirit above all.  Churches are also an organization stocked full of programs,  ideas, people, and challenges.  

Our church is no different.  I love serving here and have learned more than I sometimes feel I’ve been able to contribute.  Lately, some words have been floating around that evoke ideas of change (in a good way) and asking harder and harder questions that we may be the organism God meant when He created the idea of church.  

In this process, it’s become more evident than ever that things that I would normally expect to be going well are in fact  struggling.  They aren’t terrible, but they aren’t all they could be.  So, as that criticism has come, how do I take that well, as a motive for improvement rather than getting beaten down by more bad news? I am confident that I have been equipped for service such as this.  I’m also aware that I haven’t been excellent but am willing to learn.  

The idea I’m wrestling with right now is motives for excellence.  In my heart, I wholly and truly want to Glorify God in all I do by loving Him and loving others.  But I’m afraid that my motives too easily can get lost in trying to keep everyone happy, to please all those around me, and in the process keep them happy.  Not always a bad pursuit, but not tenable nor biblical.  

Having a spine to make the jump, do the hard things and take risks is imperative.  Even more imperative, as I have learned over the years, is to do these things with wisdom, caution, prayer and love.  

Given the position of ministry and holy discontent running through our church it’s apparent that change is in the air.  Now, as a leader that’s greatest strength is serving, how do I demonstrate that programs must not get in the way of how we show Christ’s love to our world.  

I think I need to write more about this.  Gotta flush this out further.

A couple of years ago as one of my intern’s time in Hong Kong was coming to its end, we got to talking about what we need in life.  The answer we came up with was pretty simplistic:  the Sufficiency of Christ.  He’s enough.  When we deal with the situations of life that are overwhelming, He is not overwhelmed.  He can deal with us, with our darkness, our pain, and our raw emotions.

It was great to say all that, and no doubt it’s good advice but it wasn’t the issue for me at that time.  My how the times have changed.  It seems lately I’m having to deal with people disappointing me around every turn.  Now, what was that word again?  Oh yeah, Sufficiency.  Is He really enough for me when friends aren’t.  

I think I’m worn out or stretched pretty thin so things are bothering me more than they should.  And I’m sad to say, I’m a little hurt.  And it’s okay.  It’s good to be reminded that my heart and my flesh may fail, but He won’t.  

Life gets more complicated and yet it gets simpler.  As hard as things become, my only priority must be Him.  He is my all, and everything else flows through Him.  Then when people look right past me, I can press on, knowing that my life is not my own.  That is enough.  That’s all I need.

I’m a HUGE supporter of all things moleskine.  I currently use the basic journalist’s notebook plus their handy dandy calendar.  Joe Thorn has some very helpful suggestions on setting up your brand new moleskine.  Breaking in a new one just never gets old!

Keswick continues today.  This morning, Jill Briscoe spoke out of Philippians 2:1-11 (gotta be one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible!), painting a picture of what living humbly could look like.  Three questions were posed that summed up her message well:

1.  When we go into peoples lives, do we strengthen and encourage them, giving them life or do we drain them?

2.  Are we always looking for people to invest in or always looking for people to invest in us?

3.  Do we always have to be right?  Has it ever occurred to us that we might actually be wrong?  In reality, that’s a simple question, but come on, how often am I actually willing to be wrong?  I have some serious work to do.

If you want to keep yourself humble, let God stretch you into things that make you uncomfortable and therefore totally dependent on Him.  Don’t just stick to what you’re good at.  She told the story of learning how to do a lot badly when they first started at Elmbrook because that’s what was needed.  It’s not that she was out of balance, she was just willing to meet the needs of the people based on where they were not where she wanted them to be.

Good stuff!

She finished with this:  Wanna be big, and great?  Learn to be small.

Jill Briscoe is speaking this week at the Hong Kong Keswick Convention.  Tonight she posed a great question about how we deal with opportunities?  Do we view difficult or discouraging situations as opportunities to know and show Christ better or simply as another difficulty we have to endure?  The point was that if we truly believe Christ is all, we would view everything in life as an opportunity to go deeper with Him, even if it hurts.  

I wrote yesterday about balance.  Obviously it’s something that’s an ongoing challenge for me and I suspect most humans.  There are times when we  just need something to throw us off our rocker a bit. I gave myself that something this morning.  A friend has been letting me borrow one of his cars and as I was preparing for another long day, I put my stuff in the boot, closed it and went to get in and drive off.  One problem, as I was closing the window door to the boot, it bumped my hand, knocking the key into the locked car.  Hmm, that’s a problem. My friend is currently out of the country so who knows when I’ll be able to get back into it.  I can survive without the car and will make do without my office computer ( I have a personal one that I can use in the mean time) but it’s a frustration.   I’m sure significant mocking will ensue once it gets out that I’ve done this and that is to be deserved.  My schedule has now been thrown off as well, but due to my own lack of attention to detail so I can’t really be mad.   The bottom line is yet again, this is a great chance for me to learn how to be flexible!   

I can’t tell you how excited I am about THIS!

Spring seems to bring about chaotic schedules.  I don’t have any grand answers on how to manage all that comes at us.  I do however love the little moments that brings back some perspective.  A walk with my family as we explored the area was just perfect.  Togetherness trumps schedules.   Sometimes, it is that simple.  

I’ve been participating in the Gospel Camp associated with our International School this week.  While always tiring, I wouldn’t trade the experience as those little defining moments are worth so much.   Today, our small group time focused around the things we seek to make us happy and quickly turned to the difference between joy and happiness.  Our group really made some good points.  I love hearing how they process such key themes! With that on my mind all day, one of our students walks up to me tonight during the bbq with a handful of marshmellows and said “it’s time”.  For 3 years now, at each camp we’ve been to, we’ve made a point to see how far we can throw marshmellows into each other’s mouths.  Tonight, we got 98 feet!   I know it’s a dumb little thing and would probably be looked at with some level of scorn by grown ups but that moment brought great joy to my heart.  Brett will leave for university soon but for now, we had this moment.  A chance to one more time share the experience of just spending time together.  And of course, we finished with the traditional chest bump. Joy is found in those little moments!