Monday, July 25, 2011

Let's Have Lots of Hats

            I have a younger brother.  I have five younger brothers, actually, but I’m thinking about one in particular at the moment. 
            Lately, I’ve started two new careers because of him, and it just got me thinking about how God may have intended for us to work as families, and as individuals with those around us.
            My brother is short and small:  He is eleven years old, under five feet tall, and weighs less than sixty five pounds.  As you can imagine, whether it should or not, this has an effect on his self esteem.  Career #1: Personal Trainer.  I love fitness and health (don’t laugh, it’s true), so I took it upon myself to teach him how to discipline himself and build a strong body.  I want him to value a strong and healthy body for the right reasons, so that he can live his life ready for anything that God might bring his way (I know that I would not be cut out for reaching the lost in the Appalachian Mountains without divine intervention).  However, not losing sight of what is truly valuable in life, I’ve made our “workout verse” 1 Timothy 4:6~10.  I’ll let you read it.

            My brother also has a problem with walking on his toes, for reasons not totally understood.  I also had this problem, and it has greater affects on one’s health than you might think.  Career #2: Physical Therapist.  It seems that no matter how much we nag him to stay off of his toes, he just cant do it unless he is intently focused on it. 
            I love running (actually, I hate running, but I love the exercise of it), but because of some health issues that I’ve been having lately (how ironic), I have not been able to run.  That being said, I have also dropped out of the habit of stretching.  You guessed it: now that I have not been stretching, I find that I naturally revert to walking with minimal contact from my heels.  So today, I went and had Daniel do some stretches, and I can tell that all his leg muscles are very tight.  So now I can help him with that problem as well.

            The above text was not the point of this post.  I don’t think any of you really care a whole lot about my mini careers.  The point of this post is the following:

            We all have something that we can give to one another in a blessing.  All this time, my brother was struggling with these things that were well within my ability to help, yet I only just now thought to do anything about it.  Why?  Probably because I’m a fallen sinner who, when not openly warring against my flesh, I seek to only satisfy myself.  Familiar story. 
            What are you holding back from sharing with someone?  Do you know how to knit? (I don’t…)  Teach your little sister how to knit, or someone else you know.  Do you know a musical instrument?  Get someone else interested and show them some stuff.  Do you know how to manage time?  (God knows I don’t!)  Then plan out at least a few minutes of special time with everyone in your family every day (I know that most of you reading this have a lot more than that).  Can you speak?  Then if nothing else, speak words of kindness to those around you.

            I’m mostly talking about family here.  Are you satisfied (aka, complacent) just being a “sibling”, or do you think that God might have given you the advantage of your age and experience for a reason, to bless and help your family grow?  Don’t just say “yeah… you’re probably right…”  Think about it.

            How many careers can you start within your own family?

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Video Contest: Our Entry

            My friend and I made a video trailer to enter into a contest for a zipline company.  Hours and hours and hours of pre-production and post production (Luke lives in Portland, so he got to do most of the editing, being the one with all the footage and software).  
            I hope we win!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just Smile and Nod...

             I have a best friend here on earth.  For sure, I would be a very different person if not for his influence in my life these last five years.  We’ve spent countless hours in each other’s company and maybe even more over the phone since I moved away.  Like every friendship, ours could not have started without first meeting the person in one way or another (while I don’t really advocate making close friendships over the internet, I suppose that it is legitimate in some respects.).
            What I want to ask you is this:  How far do you think our friendship would have progressed if all I was willing to do was smile and nod when we met?  I almost never spoke, I never offered to have him over, never did anything but nod in acknowledgement of his presence in the room.  I guarantee you, he probably would have moved on rather quickly (after awkwardly nodding back).

            How often do we treat our relationship with God the same way?  We enthusiastically acknowledge His presence, and label the things we do with trying to stay in “His will.”

                        So you believe in one God?  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.  But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:19~20)

I remember the first time that this verse stood out to me: I was floored.  By our simple, pious acknowledgement that there is one God, and we believe it, we do nothing more than the worst of all creation.  In fact, we do less, because most of us have no concept of what it means to fear God, let alone serve Him.  And yet, we put ourselves on some sort of pedestal because we believe in the one true God when a large percentage of humanity does not.  I cannot criticize your belief, James is not sarcastic when he says “Good!”  But I must condemn the hypocrisy that you and I share in not making our faith legitimate by our refusal to work on God’s behalf.
I am a photographer.  I recently purchased some really great software (Adobe Lightroom 3, I highly recommend it).  I love that program: it makes work so much easier and more enjoyable.  However, to save a couple hundred dollars on it, I bought the student/teacher edition.  It’s the full package once you provide proof of enrollment.  I have had that program for a month and a half, and have not gotten it unlocked yet.  So here I am with this $320 software disk sitting on my shelf because I have not taken the time to make the few simple steps to unlocking it.  It’s foolishness.

So how long is our faith going to remain all about us?  Shoot, I’m saved and I’m going to heaven, what else is there?  But how can we possibly claim that we have “faith” when we never take an opportunity to put it to the test? 
I also like cutlery, specifically smaller knives.  I greatly enjoy keeping a very finely honed edge on my knives.  But how impressed would you be if when asked how sharp my knife is, I puffed my chest and said “I sliced the tape on the package that I got yesterday!  And I mean sliced: like butter.  And it was even the kind with the string woven through it!  And my knife, the one that I sharpened went right through it!”  You would be thinking “give me a break!”  If someone tells me that their knife is sharp, I want to see them whacking through 1.5inch nylon cord, or making paper-thin shavings off of rawhide leather, at least. 
So how about your faith?  Tell me all about how strong your faith is.

I fail at letting God strengthen my faith.  God points to someone on the street and says “go talk to that guy, he needs someone to be kind to him”, and I run away like a chicken.  But that doesn’t nullify the consistent words of scripture:  Faith. Without. Works. Is. DEAD.  Dead means not alive, nonexistent, unresponsive.  That’s where we get the power of being “dead to sin” (Romans 6).  When we are dead to something, it’s a bit hard to respond to it’s call isn’t it?  So do we want our faith to be dead?

Let’s take a challenge together:  Pray with me “God, please strengthen my faith today.  Whatever it takes, I want to be closer to You by the end of the day.” 
That’s a scary prayer, my friends.  I haven’t even prayed it yet, I just typed it.  I guess I need faith to ask God for faith.

Let’s stop merely acknowledging God’s reality and start having real faith:  Faith that isn’t free, isn’t easy, isn’t comfortable, isn’t always fun, but is always worth it.