More by less.

Every time we add something new to our schedule, we must take something out. Alongside your ‘to do’ list think about keeping a ‘don’t do’ list as well.

“Many times, developing the ability to spend time in the Bible and to hear what it’s saying is less about our aptitude for scripture and more about all the noise that exists around us. We all know we could use more Bible, but we often forget we could use less of everything else.”
—Jared Wilson, Abide

 

Our hearts are longing for the more-ness of our Creator.

One of the greatest challenges we have as parents is to keep our children from settling for less.

The world offers less.

The great lie is that our heart’s longing can be satisfied with the lesser things of this world. We attempt to make a god of created things instead of worshiping the creator. This is why we never find a sustained sense of satisfaction or contentment. Our hearts are longing for the more-ness of our Creator. 1

The beauty of the Creation story is that it paints a picture of the one we worship. The all-powerful, all-sovereign, all-loving, all-just completeness of our God. Here’s the opportunity:

Our struggle as parents will always be to keep the bigness of God in our homes. As parents, we get the enormous opportunity to help our children connect the dots of their deepest desires to the source: their magnificent God.

So let’s help them DREAM and let’s help them to SEE the realities beyond this world. Through it all, they just might develop a taste for the kingdom of God. God is and will always be the best conversation that you can have with your children.

Rooted in Scripture, this prayer of the Apostle Paul for us and with us:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being…
—Ephesians 3:14-16

SC-prayer-day-01

Story Catechism Prayer Challenge

  1. Day 01, Story Catechism Back 2 School Prayer Challenge
 

Until His love we tasted …

Our time in sin we wasted,
And fed upon the wind;
Until His love we tasted,
No comfort could we find:

But now we stand to witness
His pow’r and grace to you;
May you perceive its fitness,
And call upon him too!

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:

It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.

—hymn by John Newton, “We Were Once As You Are”

On Sunday July 3rd we (Renew Church) considered the themes of Duty and Dependence, whereby the beauty of God overwhelms our hearts and what used to be a mere duty receives a whole new energy to be joyfully performed, even with pleasure!

The following Sunday we sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (original lyrics by Sir Robert Robinson) with added closing verses borrowed from one John Newton’s hymns, “We Were Once As You Are,” with the chosen verses from above emphasized (added at 3:21 in song). Listen …

 

Let’s get uncomfortable!

“Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.”1

That’s a keen insight from long-distance runner Dean Karnazes. His words apply to all “adventure,” really all of life, as running and training can be a good metaphor for the real “endurance” events we call daily life. The ordinary, common, everyday activities are where we need the will to persevere and willingness to get uncomfortable.

In short: We can either be comfortable and stagnate or stretch ourselves—become uncomfortable—and grow.

We tend to think that comfort leads to happiness. It doesn’t. “Happiness” comes from growth, a deeper joy than temporal circumstances. In comes in part from making commitments and keeping them. We find a measure of joy in making progress, and especially joining others in their development. When we persevere, we grow.

Let's run up those hillsFor me that means hitting the pavement in search of some hills almost every morning. In reality, running is the easy part. It’s the other “endurance” events of life where we must embrace the uncomfortable: relationship tensions, hard decisions, confrontation, adversity, setbacks, each new challenge an opportunity. This is essential if we are to reject apathy.

I wonder if one reason 80%+ of people fail on their New Year’s resolutions is they remain committed to their own comfort. The love of comfort keeps them from a better adventure. People embrace apathy, which is a slow death. And a love of self-comfort keeps them for pursuing health and wholeness for the sake of others. If we are to benefit—and better yet: if others are to develop under our care and leadership—we must get uncomfortable. Seek out a measure of adversity, and train for the real adversity than will inevitably come your way.

“Nothing is more important than to learn how to maintain a life of purpose in the midst of painful adversity.”2

  1. Dean Karnazes in an interview with Outdoor Magazine, published online December 2006.
  2. Timothy Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering.
 

Courage: hearing and responding eagerly to the particular way God is calling us at this time and in this place.

Quote

Continuing from yesterday

The same could be said for churches and religious organizations. We do not genuinely fulfill what God is calling us to be and do as a community unless we develop the capacity to hear together the voice of Jesus in our midst—His voice of assurance and comfort, but also His voice of call and guidance. It is easy for churches or religious organizations to look elsewhere for models or trends to follow. Some church leaders are easily attracted to attending a conference or reading the most recent how-to book to learn how to help their church or religious organization develop in the same way as some remarkable church on the other side of the continent or the ocean. Others, in contrast, are nostalgic about a tradition, about the way things have always been done in this particular community, and speak of it as “own way.”

Yes, we need to learn from others. And surely we are right to stress the value of the heritage we have within our church communities and organizations. But both our search for new models and our love for our own way of doing things can undermine our capacity to hear the new word that Jesus has for us as a community. We urgently need to develop a corporate capacity to respond to the voice of Jesus and have the courage both to hear the voice and to respond eagerly to the particular way God is calling us at this time and in this place. 1

» This seems to me a vital need among our leaders, for me personally, and in particular for the Renew Church family in the coming year.

 

  1. Gordon T. Smith, The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit (IVP Books, 2003), 17-18. Emphasis added.
 

It’s too easy to live by duty, the expectation of others, the inertia of culture…

Quote

For us as individuals, the danger is that we might never develop an inner life. It is easy to life by duty, the expectation of others, the routines of our work and the inertia of culture and religious traditions. Surely what we long for, though, is an authentic interior life in which we know to the core of our beings that the Spirit of God is present to us and speaking life to us — a life that is personally and dynamically our own. With a well-developed interior life, we live our lives in response to the Spirit. We choose to live that which we are called to live — our life, not someone else’s life. 1

  1. Gordon T. Smith, The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit (IVP Books, 2003), 17. Emphasis added.
 

Some wonderful (& terrible) reasons why I run.

Father & son at the finish line of my first race (Shamrock Run 15K on St. Patrick's Day 2013)

Father & son at the finish line of my first race (Shamrock Run 15K on St. Patrick’s Day 2013)

I was an active kid. If you’re curious at all what I was like as a wee lad, then watch my son for a bit. Yep, I talked to myself, ran around a lot, loved being outdoors, played with bugs and spiders, and could get lost in space between the words and white space of a good book, pictures optional. I’m a brown-and-grey-haired version of #Dutchumentary. He and #Heidirooni are so active, fun and free. As much as depends upon me, I want to be there as they grow up.

It was a sad lack-of-activity-ness coupled with natural curiosity that got me back into running a few years back. This November will be four years since I took a mile jog to see if my left foot could withstand the pounding. That’s the foot I ran over with our Jeep Wrangler before the kids were born. (Yes, you read that correctly. Turns out it is possible to run over your own foot with your own car, provided it has a short wheel base.) Essentially my left heel became the emergency break, and a small metatarsal fracture latter and subsequently minus having a healthy fascia (foot arch) meant I was wincing in pain.

Father & daughter at the finish line of my first 5K race (Freedom 5K in Molalla on 7/4/13)

Father & daughter at the finish line of my first 5K race (Freedom 5K in Molalla on 7/4/13)

So, “I can” is the first reason why I run. It beats sitting all day, which is killing us (and negating the good of exercise). Plus, I’d like to make a runner out of you, since there are so many health benefits from running, even surprising ones.

Ran 7.6 miles in Nov. 2010, then 384 total in 2011, 813 in 2012, and 1,234 miles in 2013. In 2014 I've logged half of this year's goal of 1,420 miles.

Ran 7.6 miles in Nov. 2010, then 384 total in 2011, 813 in 2012, and 1,234 miles in 2013. In 2014 I’ve logged half of this year’s goal of 1,420 miles.

Borrowing the title for this post from the Oatmeal’s comic creator, here are seven-and-a-half more reasons why I run, since that’s my current average per mile training pace.

  1. running = sweating = laundrying

    running = sweating = laundrying

    Running is fun. At first it was anything but fun. I think those first miles returning to running in 2010 were a brisk eleven minutes a mile. Couldn’t tell what was worse: aching legs or burning lungs. What happened to me? Why couldn’t I just get out there and run fast and far? Being thirty-something and sedentary really stung. I vaguely remember the good ol’ days of being young and athletic, and now was neither. But you know what’s fun? Setting small goals and reaching them. And setting some more. And your wife noticing and saying you don’t seem so out-of-shape anymore. Continue reading