The things I love in life… I love my hammock.  I love to lay suspended and yet held.  I love my ipod holder in my truck.  Such a wonderful organizational device.  

But I love all of these things for what they do for me.  They are the objects of my utility and that is why I love them.  I use them therefore I love them. (likely a poor definition of love and really not love at all)

I came to the realization that I may think God thinks the same way about me.  Why do I think this?  Is it because the Big Wigs who hear God tell me that God needs me as the blare horn of the impending dangers of hell or that I need to be a student of God’s word in order to give ‘right’ answers to the unsuspecting Jehovah Witnesses that come across my door.

Utility, use, work.  Soon the Bible becomes the Sears Roebuck tool catalog of the 100 uses a Christian can be to God and I becomes God’s Leatherman of multi-use tools that he can utilize in any situation.

But what if,  what if my conceptions of who God is are wrong.  What if the theology buffs who graduated from their theology schools are wrong.  

What if I am not the object of God’s utility.

But rather the subject of God’s Love.

No longer a third party tool that God uses to uses to accomplish His purposes and then puts back in the tool shed, until the day another ‘non-Christian’ steps onto the scene.  

Rather I am the subject of God’s love.  

Here is a great question to ask God.  God what are you into?  God in your spare time, what do you think of? God what do you dream of when you are inbetween helping my favorite team win the Superbowl and helping me find a heavenly sent parking spot at Walmart?

This is what I think his answer would be.  

You.  You are the subject of my love.  

You are the one I spent eternity dreaming about.  

Not for what you could do for me, but what you would be to me

And that baffles me.  That confounds every sensible and religious bone in my body.  My meritocraty, my earning God’s favor and blessing, all an unbearable chainsaw noise to the God who is screaming with the feriocity of His love.  “STOP, stop living a life in relation to me as one out of utility and become the subject of my love.”

And so the question begs, will I take my ear plugs out, turn off the buzz saw of my workings, doings and yearnings and listen? 

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“People of faith don’t have to control everything, nor do they have to change people.”

This comes from Richard Rohr’s book Jesus’ Plan for a new world.  A greater context is below.  Anxiety, worry these are things that plague the human condition.  To know that anxiety and worry are ways of trying to maintain a level of control.  That this control is the opposite of faith.

Lord, create in me that faith.  The faith that does have to control.

“Faith for Jesus is the opposite of anxiety. If you are anxious, if you are trying to control everything, if you are worried about many things, you don’t have faith, according to Jesus. You do not trust that God is good and on your side. You’re trying to do it all yourself, lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.

The giveaway is control. That’s a good litmus test of the quality of your faith. People of faith don’t have to control everything, nor do they have to change people.” Richard Rohr, Jesus’ Plan for a New World

I have decided that I need some structure to this wet noodle of a blog.  So today is officially coined Mantra Monday.  Radio stations have the quippy Free Song Friday’s, Drive at 5, so now I will have Mantra Monday.

Now mantra may scare some.  Let’s go to the good ole Websters to see what mantra means.

1.A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.

2. A commonly repeated word or phrase:

Well, the first definition sounds like it comes straight out of a Harry Potter novel or Lord of the Rings.  I can see Saurmon with eyes rolled in the back of his head, his slender tenderals of fingers gliding over the Palantir (crystal ball for those non-LOTR fans) and repeating some mantra of sorts to bring all sorts of evil and vice into the world of the Fellowship of the Ring.  I think this magical view of mantra is what may cause some to take pause.  Thus I would like to move to the 2nd definition to help to provide a better working definition of mantra.

My view of mantra is likely more of the 2nd definition.  A commonly repeated word or phrase.  Something repeated until it is stamped into my pysche.  Repeat it until you get it.  Not get it in my mind, but get it deep within me.  So deep that it becomes part of me.  Part of who I am, part of why I act.

So with that…

Here is today’s.  It comes from John Dominic Crossan’s book The Essential Jesus.

“Enter the Kingdom

Become a Child


Become a Child

Enter the Kingdom”

So I always have on my bookshelf a number of books that I am reading, halfway read, or want to read. Unfortuantely life and making bread for my family gets in the way of my reading and so my bookshelf of unreads and half-reads continues to grow. But lately there are a few books that I have not gotten that have tickled my curiosity. This has led me to several late night purusals of amazon.com hoping beyond hope that there may be some crazy good deals out there.

Again, I have not read any of these books, but I will share why they stir me.

1. The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty by Albert Hsu

With more and more Christians flooding into the suburbans I am really intrigued at the culture of the suburbs. We often think of ‘downtown culture’ and ‘farm way of life’ but I think it is entirely honest to think that there is a suburban culture. One that keeps us seperate, individualistic and apart.

2. Jesus for President: By Shane Claiborne

Well this one is obvious. With the partisan political climate that we are in today and with the avalanche of ugliness that is about to descend on the current Obama and McCain campaigns. (no matter if both have promised to play nice. Playing nice and politics is like asking a Nascar driver to race without a steering wheel.) But what if Jesus were President. What would that look like? What would be important to Him? This is one of the books that I am afraid to read.

3. Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling: By Andy Crouch

This title titliates me. Rather than be conformed by the culture around me, I am called to actually make a culture. Now I once was an avid fan of Age of Empires in which you would make an entire civilazation around a culture. You would actually make your own culture. Great for the imagination and computer, but not a real reality for life. Unless… maybe we are called to make culture instead of conform to the culture around us.

4. The Sacrament of the Present Moment: By Jean Pierre de Caussade

My wife has read this book and she found it utterly life transforming. So that is enough impetus for me to get this one. She really has been formed by this book. Especially having gone throught the cancer scare recently with her thyroid.

A good book is like a good seed. Once planted it brings forth much fruit. I look forward to reading these. Any other good book recommendations out there? Any must reads?


Yes I admit it, the Espy Awards make me cry.  No it was not Justin Timberlake that made me want to cry. (although he was hilarious and was killing it with all his jokes and antics).  It is those doggone year in sports montages.  Something about the music, the memories, the magic that gets all rolled into one.  But I recognize that when the triumphal music combines with the images of victory and anguish, pain and grit, yearning and realization, that something happens deep inside of me.  Something in me is awoken.  Something in me is stirred.  I feel like I am being turned inside out.  My inner longings are being met.  And I realized this, that those moments are about…

dreams.

dreams being fulfilled.

dreams being lived.

And that wrecks me.  It conjures up all sorts of hopes and dreams that lie in me, some dreams that are dormant, some dreams that have been crushed and some that are blossoming into new life.

These images cause me to want to dream again.  To dream farther, to dream deeper, to dream dangerously, in the hope that one day my dream will become a reality.

Cause without our dreams what are we?  Skin jobs who fulfill the duties of the lives that we are given.  Dreams say I will live beyond my means today and make life meaningful.

So the question is what is your dream?  What is my dream?

And what are we doing about it?

A modern tale of two cities…

New York and Seattle.

First let’s start with the New York Yankees.  Likely one of the prestigious sport franchises in the world.  You either love the Yankees or you hate the Yankees.  But one thing the Yankees do is evoke emotion.  Yankee stadium has come to be known by various nicknames.

The House That Ruth Built,

The Stadium,

The Big Ballpark in the Bronx,

The Cathedral of Baseball.

Now, I have never been to Yankee stadium, but if the ghost of Babe Ruth is to be believed, it is a place where magic happens.  That is why everyone is trying to get a piece of the magic.  Who wouldn’t want an actual piece of Yankee stadium.  Whether it be a bleacher, home plate, or even a plain piece of Yankee stadium concrete, it would represent something, something of history, something that can never be recreated.

Yet in the midst of all of the magic and the memories, there are plans to tear it down.  Because secular society gets something.

In spite of the memories, to create new memories, the old place must be torn down.

A new space must be recreated for new memories, for new magic.

Now we have Seattle, to be specific the Seattle Super Sonics.  Now by no means do the SuperSonics have the history, the memories or the magic of the Yankees, but if you know anything of the current events of the only basketball franchise the greater Seattle area, is that the franchise is moving Oklahoma City.  The Seattle SuperSonics will be no more, no more chances for memories or any potential magic, cause they are gone.

All because they did not want to build a new stadium.  Let’s call it the Seattle Syndrome.  But the franchise cannot succeed in the city without a new stadium, without a new structure.

The franchise will collapse if a new stadium is not created.

Call it whatever you want, formal Christianity, organized religion or just they way humans are wired.  We tend to want to hold onto the structures where our memories were formed.  If Christianity were the Yankee Stadium we do every possible renovation and recreation to the original stadium to make things work.  But we would never tear it down.

Some would argue, “If we torn down the structures and systems of our past what would hold up the life of future?”

But we forget one very important thing.  Structures and systems only exist to hold life. Life is what matters! The stadium only is the container for baseball.  No one goes to an empty stadium.  We go to a stadium to watch baseball!

And that is what corporate America gets that we as Christians tend to forget.

Structures only exist as they increase life.  There are times when those structure impede life and actually bring death.

Next season the Yankees will be playing and the Seattle Super Sonics won’t be.  Both places had things torn down; one had the shell torn down to continue life, one had the life torn down because they did not want a new shell.

Go Yankees!