I spent 10 years of my life as a volunteer & vocational youth worker… & know firsthand the very real pressure that exists in wanting, needing to be ‘cool’ in the eyes of the students that one is working with.

And yes, the video is over-the-top. But I bet while you watch it, you just MIGHT think that Ignatius starts to remind you of a someone you’ve known before… & comments on a bit of the mockery we’ve made of a relationship with God…

flesh

This is a continuation of some thoughts I started processing through HERE.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires (cravings, lusts, & longings) of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1John 2:15-17 ESV


I ponder… “the cravings, lusts, & longings “of the flesh… with the word flesh meaning me, my physical body, & my human nature – my natural propensities, bents, drives, & inclinations. It’s not a call to live in denial of my humanity – can’t change that, don’t want to. It’s also not an indictment as ‘inherently unholy’ the God-instilled drives of hunger, thirst, & sexuality…

That’s important to note because there are places, pockets of belief really, where people get lost; places that equate holiness with abstaining from anything enjoyable or nice – that the more they would deny their ‘fleshly’ (see: human) desires, the more spiritual that they would be. And the converse would be true also – those that DIDN’T deny those impulses were less spiritual & holy.


Galatians 5:16,17 tells us to walk in the Spirit, & we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh… & that the flesh & Spirit are at odds with each other… What I see is that I will get into trouble if I put my natural drives & desires in charge of me, in the drivers seat if you will – letting them & them alone guide my thoughts, choices, decisions, & what I give myself to.

The ‘walking in the Spirit” is where self-control comes in – not me trying to keep myself in check, but living life under the direction & guidance of the Holy Spirit. Acknowledging, even declaring that there’s more to life than self-indulgence, doing what I feel, following my cravings – that even though I’m 100% human, the most important thing to me is obedience to God, & living the Christ-following life…


Here’s a thought:

To go to an extreme either way is destructive & displays the rotting fruit of a flesh-driven life….

Hmmm.

It’s easier to see the results of self-indulgent excess – wanton debauchery, the life of the Prodigal in Vegas, letting one’s proverbial ‘freak-flag-fly’… I believe that there’s just as much deadly flesh evident in the extreme ascetic lifestyle, though in christianity the latter is often held up as something desirable & to be aspired to…

I’m still pondering…

eyes…

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been pondering a section of 1John that has come back to me a few times since reading it… & the next few posts are my processings through it, in no real order… First, the section:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1John 2:15-17 ESV

In reading that, what grabbed me 1st was the phrase, ‘all that is in the world…’ As though the following statements are revelatory about specific ways that we are seduced into sin… I looked up the word translated as “desires,” & found that it is also translated as

‘craving, lust, &/or longing for that which is forbidden…Strongs Concordance – G1939″


Desires of the eyes… what I want. Need. And seeing that I want, no, need what I don’t have. I sense an erosion of contentedness, knowing that my next bout of ‘happiness’ hinges on the accumulation of some thing, some material possession that will Finally put me over the edge into bliss. Until the next craving hits. This desire is never satisfied. It has a roving eye, portraying, promising an emptiness of life unless an attempt is made at fulfilling the craving. Which always returns. With a vengeance.

Makes me contemplate what I’m looking at. What catches my eyes? Maybe its the studies I’ve been doing on idols & Idolatry, but I think this is a fleshing out of a visible, tangible idol; an idol whose face changes, that takes on different shapes. An idol that is hinting at, & occasionally flaunting ‘completeness of me,’ as seen through the jaded, jealous, & judgmental eyes of a nameless, faceless, yet oh so important Other person that will either accept or reject me based upon what I have. Or don’t.

I can feel it in the pit of my stomach.


So the extremist emerges – rather than accumulate, I will divest myself of this materialism, go ‘minimalist’ & detach myself from all of my possessions, & even from the desire to possess, choosing instead to subsist on the bare minimum… & maybe just a bit less. Yep. That’ll do just fine.

But there’s a nagging sense that all I’ve done is exchange one side of the coin for the other. And that the comparisons, the cravings, the lurking enticement remains, though with a different face.


I come back to think on what it means to be “content.” To be able to be at peace, at rest, with a little. Or with a lot. To not need an external ‘security blanket’ that can rot, burn, be stolen, be misplaced… (no matter how nice a Goodall Walnut Standard would make me FEEEEEEL…)

To put my eyes where they belong. On Jesus Christ, the author & finisher of my faith… who was tempted in every way that I am, but Who didn’t give in to sin. Who saw through the empty promises of the lusts & desires, & chose instead obedience…

there & back again… Friday musings…

I spent the 1st part of this week in Los Angeles… San Dimas, if you want to get specific… It’s the home of Bill & Ted, as well as Life Pacific College. I had the good fortune to be able to travel with Brother, & to hang out with some dear friends, both of whom there is years of history. Had gut level talks… listened… laughed a lot. Discovered a great pub, on St. Patrick’s Day to boot, one that specialized in Belgians… the set up of the pub reminded me a lot of the ‘traditional’ Frankfurt/Sachsenhausen restaurant, albeit with a long, tall table instead of a standard one. Great times.


On that note, Brother & I stayed in the dorms – Floor 3 of Bldg D, #315. Through a series of negotiations that I shall not get into here I ended up with the top bunk, which was a great gig once I found a way to actually GET to the top bunk. Ended up having to climb up the desk/bookshelf & then launch myself up & over the rail. It was quite the experience. Not as comfy as sleeping in my very own bed with my very own theBean, but it was cool – esp. with the novelty of sharing a room with buddies.


One of the highlights for me was sitting in on classes – Pentateuch/Torah, where the class was in the beginnings of working through Leviticus – talked about the theme being “Becoming who we are” – never heard it described that way. In light of that, the rituals (ceremonies, practices, daily reminders) lose their strange-ness, & take on a special quality… seeing a people be-becoming… learning to step into their calling & identity. Nice job David.

The other classes we went to were Biblical Preaching & a Youth Ministry seminar class, with 7 students who are already out & about involved in youth stuff. The professor had to go to a “meet & greet” for about 40 minutes, leaving Brother & I to talk to & with the students. It was a highlight, & really sparked me to remember how much I enjoy ‘school with a purpose’; learning, growing, being challenged in my thought processes, having to formulate new ideas & new conclusions. Good stuff.


One of the other reasons Brother & I were there was to explore some distance learning ops – not a whole lot has surfaced, but in some way we’ll be back at school, if only from afar.

It also spurred on & reignited some old ideas for a local institute within our church family – we’ll see.


At youth group right now we’re talking about “Image & Identity” – reflecting on the fact that we’ve been made in God’s image. We aren’t mistakes. Individually, we’ve been marked as God’s masterpieces, unique, special, & well-made, really coming to life in all of its fullness as we embrace who God made us to be.

And the enemy of that are the forces that exist to conform – reshape us, using a ‘1 size fits all’ approach. Its easy to look outward, to the country & culture that we’re living within… with its ideas about beauty, acceptable body shape, what to eat/drink, how to live… with the pressure to conform & take on behaviors & an ‘acceptable’ outward appearance to really fit in with those around us, even though it means living inauthentically based on someone else’s version of what I’m supposed to be & do.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about this, & what came up was the sneaky & insidious way this same type of thing exists within the Church… where the pressure to become a ‘good christian’ with approved & authorized ‘good christian behaviors, thoughts, characteristics, & preferences’ can seemingly force us into a mold where we’re just as focused on the outward appearance, going through the motions of living this ‘good christian life’ in order to gain the approval of others within the Machine. All in the name of becoming a disciple. But WHOSE disciple? Faking the funk, putting on a show that we’re outwardly ok, while dying on the inside – living in a virtual prison of not wanting to do the WRONG thing, leaves us undeveloped, immature, & fearful. Is this the ‘life in all of its fullness’ Jesus came to bring? Don’t think so.

Worse, the longer we go, the more difficult it can be to break out – because the longer we live the lie, the more fear & shame piles up, trapping us in a cycle of inaction.

Makes me think… The enemy isn’t always out THERE.


I’m stoked. Tonight, we get to go to Carson to hang with the Locke clan: brothers & fams. My dad’s birthday is tomorrow, & to celebrate, we’re gathering tonight for a Giant Apple Pancake (GAP.) Let me ‘splain.

Back in the day, momentous occasions in our household meant going to Johnny Ascuaga’s for a GAP – its a monstrous, dense, battered concoction, smothered with apples, cinnamon, butter, & powduhed sug-ah, then topped with syrup. The batter itself has to sit out for a day, & it takes at least 20 minutes to cook, & involves a ‘flipping of the Pancake” that can (& sometimes did) result in disaster. Going to Johnny A’s meant an adventure, not knowing if our delicacy would actually make it to the table intact, but that if it did, we were going to eat & eat well, at least until the sugar coma came on.

At some point, Johnny A realized that the GAP was more trouble than it was worth – to him at least – & stopped serving it. He did, however, put the recipe out for the adventurous soul that would try to recreate the greatness of the GAP.

My dad, being the brave soul that he is, took up that challenge, & over the years has become quite the GAP maker. Chef-like even, producing GAPs that rival the best I ever had at Johnny A’s, marking great days, holidays, & just becauses with sweetness.

But up until now, he’s the only one that knows what it takes to pull this off… I say until now, because we (me, brother Ben, & brother Moe & fams) have been invited to not only partake in the eating tonight, but also in the making, so that we too can carry on this great tradition of decadence. Ahh.

Should be fun.


Spring sports season is upon us. Pasty is in track. I-Doey is in baseball. TheWeez is a proper footballer (soccer to us ‘mericans) & I’m in softball. TheBean is breaking out her cheerleading outfit as I type… :)


Life is beautiful. Tim & David, thanks for a great week.

a little humility…


This afternoon after work, I went for a 4 mile run – nice & invigorating, especially after the sun the went down. (Read: invigorating means It was icy-cold.) Fortunately, I made sure to dress for the weather, meaning that my little ears, hands, & feet were all ably cared for & amply covered by the appropriate runners-wear.

The only thing that really suffered was my lips – the cold caused them to get pretty chapped by the time I was done. Usually, I carry a tube of “Lip Service,” (Vanilla Ice flavor if you must know,) but today, it slipped my mind, so by the last 1.5 miles, all I could think about was getting to the car, (the Ex, the car theBean usually drives) & the tube of Burt’s Bees that I’d seen in the center console. It made me fast.


I got to the car & applied the Burt’s Bees liberally. Ahh. Relief.

Had a couple of places to go. 7-11 for a Double Gulp fill up. USPS.

When I got to Sev- (which of course is the way all the Cool Guys refer to 7-11), the people in line at the soda fountain gave me a look. A double take. Enough that I noticed. I felt like the guy behind the counter was trying not to look at me. Hmmm. As I paid the $1.19 for the refill, a guy that had just come in stopped & said, “Nice!” & then kept walking. People are weird.

At the Post Office, it was more of the same. What is UP with people today?

Got home & got ready to take a shower… happened to glance in the mirror on my way to bathing (no, it wasn’t an Innerspace, “Tuck Pendleton, gazing in the mirror moment,”) & saw that I looked… shiny. Glittery. Shimmery even. My lips were rosy. And sparkly. Uh oh.

I re-clothed & went to the Ex, to the center console where the Burt’s Bees was… Turns out, I HAD applied the familiar Burt’s Bees. But it also turns out, my favorite lip balm company also makes a product known as “Champagne Shimmer.” And all the afternoon’s funny looks make sense.

And I feel pretty…

a little help?

I’d like to ask a favor of you – reader of this blog, the readers that I know, the blog-lurkers that I don’t… even the random person that stumbled across this page in a chance Google search or ‘go to next blog’ moment.

I’m doing some studying for some writing & a speech or two, & would like to utilize your vast life experience to help myself out…


When you hear/think of the words “REPENT” & “REPENTANCE”, what comes to your mind? What do you think of? It might be:

  • An image
  • thought
  • concept
  • idea
  • even a specific memory
  • Thanks in advance for your input.
    Ciao!

    The confronting of fear, lies, & other Friday fun…

    The experiences & interactions of the last few days have given me cause to… pause. Reflect. Pray. In the middle of it, what keeps running through my head is this:

    Jesus traveled through all the cities & villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues & announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever He went, He healed people of every sort of disease & illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great & they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the LORD who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send out more workers for His fields.” Matthew 9:35-38 NLT

    Luke 10:1,2 also relays this story – with the added context of Jesus’ sending out 72 disciples, with the instructions to be doing the same as Him… & to pray for God, the LORD of the harvest – to send more workers for His fields…

    And it resonates – not just because of the faceless masses, people I don’t know… but because of those within “my circle” – friends, & friends of friends – people needing the Good Shepherd, so many with such a wide range of needs that it almost drives me to distraction… I dig. Why?

    It bothers me so much because of my own felt inadequacy, & brokenness – & I wonder what I can do? I know Jesus Christ, & I’m following Him. I know that the Holy Spirit convicts, changes, & transforms, brings from darkness to light. And I ‘know’ my role is to be somebody that lives, that models, Christ in me, doing what He would do, being what He is in the context of my circle. And yet I’m afraid. If & when I engage with people, I’m afraid it won’t be enough. I articulate my fear: what if God doesn’t follow through?

    Now. It’s out. Brought into the light, the fear that has been twisting me, nagging in the shadows of my heart is exposed for what it is. A lie, sown in doubt, used to trip me to hopelessness. Inaction. Distraction. To focus solely on my own issues, short-comings, areas that need to be ‘put back together’… & not falling on the freedom, entering the adventure of faith, trust, & life. Knowing that I know that I know that God is able to heal. Restore. Transform. Forgive. Love. And that He has commissioned, empowered, & strengthened me to do just that. And to look for opportunities to do so.

    So instead of waiting for someone else, someone stronger, farther along, more competent, more ‘together’ to be one of the ‘workers’ in His harvest, I know that God has sent me instead. And you. And it starts with love. First me receiving it from God, then sharing what I’ve been given with others. I choose love – healthy, Godly, unconditional, love. To speak the truth in love. Invest in people, without regard for what’s in it for me? Without hope of reciprocity. And I pray along with the Apostle Paul:

    When I think of the wisdom & scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees & pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven & on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more & more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, & how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life & power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church & in Christ Jesus forever & ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

    Hope…

    It’s #2 sons 14th birthday today – tomorrow, early in the a.m. he & I are off to San Francisco for a one-day speed tour of the City. We’re going to AT &T Park for a tour; to Ghirardelli Square for some chocolate & na-nas; to Pier 39 for… Pier 39. And maybe the Hard Rock Cafe. And then we’re off to the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Why a hospital?

    #2 son has been asking a lot of questions about my brother Johnny – wanting to know him, reconstruct his likes/dislikes, experience the personality of the one uncle that he knows only through pictures, a few home videos, & the stories of those who knew him. A part of Johnny’s story involves his battle with cancer – & UCSF is where almost 5% of his life was lived – for treatment, recovery, & the like. And #2 son wants to know this place – & as difficult as it is for me to go there, with the painful memories, sorrow, & loss… we’re going.


    Makes me feel a bit pensive – leaves me wondering, examining how I see the world, or how I view it. The lens through which I see it, a lens that I believe I am responsible for putting on/taking off. Watching the news, checking in with Drudge, hearing story after story of the dismal economy, holiday season layoffs, record high home foreclosures, equally high number of bankruptcies, & a war in the Middle East that just doesn’t seem to get any closer to resolution… a lens of ‘reality’… reminds me that I want to, I need to choose something different.

    I don’t want to choose negativity, to speak words of ‘reality,’ death, nitpickiness, complaint, slander, criticism, harshness, destruction – over & about me or others. I think that I’m finding that a person will find just what it is that is looked for. And if my lens is negative, down, destructive, ‘reality based,’ I will find those things – & think on them. Talk about them. Spread the cloud of negativity like a flu-virus in the wintertime spreads.

    I’m challenged to take on a new lens, one that almost feels forced, like a new pair of glasses that have never been worn, all the while knowing that the new glasses are the right prescription, & they fit like they should – but I’m so used to ill-fitting, poorly prescribed glasses that the real deal, the good ones don’t seem right. Its upside down, & I want to be right side up.

    The new lens is to look to enjoy life’s relationships – rather than to pick them apart as inadequate, to place blame where its due -instead to be a radical extender of grace, esp. where it’s not ‘deserved’… as if I have deserved it ever? To look for joy instead of sorrow – to hope & to be filled with hope, even when the ‘track record’ tells me otherwise. To have faith, to believe against all odds that the One I serve really is able to move mountains. To perform what He says. To rescue. To deliverer. To transform.

    Maybe this makes me an optimist. A deny-er of so-called reality… So be it. And my answer to you is:

    Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia…. [W]e’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Puddleglum – The Silver Chair, from The Chronicles of Narnia

    Here’s to looking for Overland.

    Friends #4 – Randomness…

    This post, (& maybe the next couple) may be a bit random… I attribute that to the seeing an abstract concept like “friendship” as a series of sometimes related pictures…


    I suppose it would be easier to tell if someone was more Jonadab than Jonathan if they wore name tags, or if their whole life body of friendships was downloadable for review… but to my knowledge, that just doesn’t happen. And I don’t believe that the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” alternative, trust no one, is a viable option, as going through life with a mistrust, suspicion, & paranoia just don’t cut it either…


    With that said, I also think that listening to my gut has been helpful – if by gut I mean the nudge of the Holy Spirit – something that discounts the exterior, how much polish or presentability a person can bring to the table. Just about every time I’ve had one of those “something’s just not right here,” & ignored it, it turned out that the ‘unease in the gut’ was spot on. Maybe it shouldn’t be 100% of the test for whether or not I start/continue a friendship with someone, but it would be foolish to ignore it.


    Actions speak louder than words – & if someone’s actions belie their words, I tend to trust the actions… most recently, I had a situation where a guy I’d never met, a guy in the same line of work as me, wanted to get together for lunch, to talk about things, & to ‘build some relationship.’ Sounds like fun, right? Except that for the past year, the same guy had been engaging in what I would consider to be consistent, unscrupulous, & unethical behavior, directly related to me & situations/people etc. that I was responsible for. So, though it was bewildering to the other guy, I let him know that I’m not starting at “Buddies” with him, no matter what his job is, or what he says. His actions & words are incongruent – & though I’m not shut down from ever seeing something come out of that ‘relationship’ – growth, healing, etc., I’m also not going to try to be a ‘good Christian’ or a ‘nice person’ & ignore the behavior, which I believe perpetuates more unhealth, this time close to something that whacks me in the head.


    Friends don’t talk smak about you when you’re not around.