Monday, April 22, 2013


You know that moment when you’re discreetly sitting in church, minding your own business, somewhat absent-mindedly nodding in assent at each new point in the sermon, and then the Spirit launches an all-out assault on your self-sufficiency? That’s pretty much what happened to me this past week, as I heard the spoken Word through the caring instruction of my pastor.

Prayer is one of the more difficult spiritual disciplines for me to practice. The last thing my flesh wants to do (although my spirit may crave it) is take any amount of “my” time and do absolutely nothing, except quietly sit before the Lord in prayer. Even as I read over the previous sentence, the callousness
and dismissive attitude of my complacency convicts me. But the problem wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t make myself pray. No, the real, underlying problem was the fact that I just didn’t truly believe that I needed to.

In the book “A Praying Life,” author Paul Miller says the following. “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You’ll always be a little too tired, a little too busy. But if, like Jesus, you realize you can’t do life on your own, then no matter how busy, no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray.”

Talk about hitting the nail on the head of my guilt! I’ve often attempted to assign a reason to the weakness of my prayer life. The easiest thing to do was chalk it up to laziness, purpose to try harder, and leave it at that without ever digging down to the heart of the matter. The real problem? I just
didn’t believe that it was important enough to the ins and outs of everyday life for me to spend time each day in prayer. Sure, I’d pray, but never consistently. At some point, I began to believe the lie that my resources (time, money and talents) were sufficient to get me through the day-to-day. The steward tried to become the master, and he suffered for it.

The Savior showed me that my weak attempt at a regular communion with Him was ultimately the result of a lack of faith. My actions and effort proved that I didn’t believe I needed it. Yet it is through prayer that we battle the surges of unbelief and self-sufficiency. Prayer is a direct reflector of the intimacy you share with your Savior. If you aren’t close to Christ, examine your prayer life. You’ll more than likely find it wanting.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dear Diary... (Entry Two)

Several weeks ago, I wrote the first of two posts about the discipline of journaling, where I spoke of my first journaling experiences and how my reasons for journaling later took a more deliberate and dedicated turn.  I also briefly stated that there are many benefits from regular journaling, including generational, spiritual and personal.

A large part of the change I experienced I attribute simply to growing maturity.  I took pleasure in deeper reflections.  I admired the discipline of meditation, and the expression of those meditations.  I wanted my writings to express that change, and to go beyond the day-to-day and let the messages between the lines arise from a broader-encompassing inspiration to be a voice, an influence.  I saw an opportunity to embrace.  An opportunity to show, in a unique and genuine way, my dedication and passion to leave behind a legacy.

It is this reason that is the most significant to me.  I want to leave behind a legacy of a life led by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Through journaling, I have a chance to record the faithfulness of Christ displayed through a simple, inadequate human being.  Nothing about me wants to be remembered for who I was; I want people to know who Christ is, through the story of my life.

Another highly important reason to me for keeping a journal is because I want my children some day to be able to read about me and see who I was like when I was growing up.  Some of the sweetest memories I have are the times when I hear from my grandparents what my parents were like as kids or young adults.  It's neat to learn about your parents and to hear about their experiences as they grew into adulthood.  That is something that I want to capture for my children as well (and grandchildren, and great-grandchilren!), so that they can see someday that daddy was sinner too, but that the Lord was faithful to him throughout his whole life, and that he sought to follow God's ways.

The next reason is because, well, I like to go back and read my journals!  Going back to see how God has worked through my life, how I've changed and how I've grown throughout the years brings encouragement to see how God has been steadfast.  It motivates me to continue chronicling the events and lessons of my life.  Finally, it creates great anticipation in me to see what else God has in store for me.

The last reason is because of the discipline aspect.  Consistently keeping a journal can be a difficult undertaking, especially when life is busy and other activities or events seem to take priority.  Ironically, it was in the midst of those crazy seasons when taking the time to journal, to a certain degree, helped keep me sane!  There's just something about being able to write out one's thoughts and feelings; that form of expression often brings with it an inward refreshment and a new outlook on life.  Being disciplined to journal through both busier and slower periods many times just helped keep me going, and that is a benefit and discipline that I want to continue to have in my life.

Ultimately, I want to use my journaling to bring glory to God.  Whether if it's through my children reading of God's faithfulness to me throughout my life or myself remembering what He has done, I want it all to inspire praise to His Name.  It is such an important aspect of life to me, and a practice that I want to characterize my life for many years to come.  I would strongly urge anyone to implement the discipline of journaling into their lives as a profitable habit that can become a powerful testament of the great faithfulness of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dear Diary... (Entry One)

Just to make myself clear, I have not turned into a sentimental, Jane Austen die-hard (although I admittedly enjoy the occasional chic flick inspired by the 18th & 19th century English novelist).  In addition, the fact that I'm writing a post condoning the keeping of a journal or diary does not make me a some kind of "romantic."  Isn't it interesting (and even amusing) how discussions about journaling seem like they ought to be had as you sip tea and nibble on a scone while sitting comfortably on a quilt, enjoying the picturesque countryside from a hilltop in England?  Thank you, Hollywood!

Think about some of your favorite books, movies or stories.  There's a good chance that at least one that came to mind is either a true story, or at least inspired by one. There's also a good chance that the story came directly from some kind of personal record of the account by the main character, whether documented in a book, or narrated by means of a personal diary or journal.  Either way, I have come to greatly appreciate, and even treasure those personal accounts from people of the past.  It's not just because I'm always up for a good story.  But, it's also in a large part due to the admirable lessons to be learned from the investment, the true discipline of regularly recording the happenings in one's life.

Journaling is a discipline that, for the most part, has been a constant in my life for upward of seven years now, and in those years my journals have taken different twists and turns.  When I first started journaling, I was primarily extrinsically motivated.  I wanted an award through a father/son program my dad and I had joined, and the requirement was to journal for a full year, all 365 consecutive days without skipping a day.  Well, it's quite difficult to do something every day for a year and it not become a habit!  After that first year went by and I had reached my goal, I found that apart from the tangible reward of a ribbon, I actually came to enjoy journaling.  I looked forward to each evening when I would plop down on my bed or sit at my desk and write about the important adventures of the day.

Early years of journaling were generally characterized by the simple activities in life (A church family came over for dinner tonight...  Dad and I played ping pong for an hour...  A tree fell on the fence, the chainsaw is broken, and the goats escaped...).  Short spiritual lessons and verses were usually mentioned, but I was largely what I'd like to call a "skittle scribe," taking the little morsels of fun from the day and boiling them down to happy one-liners.  Depth would not describe those novice entries.

However, about two or three years later, what I ate for lunch and who I played with at church just didn't seem to be that big of a deal any more.  My daily accounts took a more pensive turn, which led to a chronicling of memories, lessons, mistakes, insights, fears, thoughts, feelings, and dreams.  I began to see value and potential in this journal-keeping thing.  My perspective changed.  My motivation changed.

In my next entry, I'm going to delve deeper into my amended motivation and why my frame of reference steered my pen from rote repetition to a more fluid, creative recording of introspections.  I'll talk about reasons for journaling, practical and spiritual.  And, I'll also discuss the potential impact that journaling has, both personally and generationally.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Something Along That Line

Eleven months is entirely too long to leave one's blog absent, I think.  It's not that I haven't thought about my blog at all during that time.  Believe me, I've often kicked myself for letting an enlivening, fulfilling, stimulating and (hopefully) productive habit slip away.  But, I have not completely forgotten it.  Really, I don't have alzheimer's - just "sometimers!"

Nonetheless, I have a renewed desire to once again put the metaphorical pencil to paper, to put script to screen.  And to what can I credit this rededication?  A board game, actually.  Scrabble.  Well, perhaps the credit can't go entirely to that entertaining culmination of chance, skill, anagrams and crosswords, but the mystery of strategically arranging letters and fusing words kindled an old flame.  Letters led to words, which led to thoughts, which led to ideas and... yes, well, you get the point.  Contemplating the chemistry of thought construction and articulation evolved into one powerful mental teaser to propose a challenge to the wishful wordsmith within me.

This is a new season of life for me.  I'm eight months into my first professional job, 14 months into a courtship with a beautiful young woman named Anna, and many, many more months into an ever-changing, always growing, increasingly challenging obstacle course that starts from the womb and ends in the grave: Life.  Every day I realize just a little bit more that this course requires training.  Constantly.  There's a race to be won, a battle to be fought, and each day's run and each day's battle reveals yet another area that requires conditioning.

I recently began training in Krav Maga, the Israeli-based combat and defense system.  As I've been forcing my body through strenuous exercises and drills to hone my physical ablities, it has forced me to examine my attitude concerning spiritual, intellectual and emotional discipline.  Do I get as excited to challenge my intellectual abilities as I do to test my stamina?  Am I as thrilled to particpate in a spiritual discipline as I am to box with a fellow trainee?

A large part of the purpose of this blog is to provide a means of motivation to articulate my contemplations; to construct a venue to voice the results of my inward conditioning.  New seasons bring new challenges to face, of which I'm finding to require greater and greater spiritual strength.  I want to be able to say that I'm a stronger person in my heart, soul and mind from my study of Scripture, worldview, the church, history, science and philosophy, which I pray will be evident in my words to come.  I'm a workman, studying to show myself approved.

In the technological age, full of information and media, my blog will be insignificant compared to the volume of lines devoted to the questions, answers, challenges, discipline, joys and goals of life, but it's an attracting thought to contribute to a larger composition.  Will my line matter in the universal book of opinion and dialogue?  Maybe not.  But, if it stimulates conversation, provokes feeling, stirs emotion, challenges assumptions and confirms values, for me or others, in my mind it will be worth it.  So, here's to a little line on the world's page.  My line.  Or, something along that line.