What happened to the disciplines, pt. 3

Last month we closed out by saying, Jesus best exemplafied THE human life, a life that flows out of the heart of God’s love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, and justice.  We referenced, Philippians 2:5-8 as a way to show what this life looked like.  We saw, through this text, that God’s idea of a humanity that images him to the world around us, through the life of Jesus, was a humanity lived out in:

Allow me to dive into each of these functions personified in the work and person of Jesus, if for nothing else, for the sake of definition, and then we will return to the original purpose of this blog series:

  • Service by means of emptying – The idea of emptying found in Philippians 2:5-8 is not so much the idea of “emptying of” only, but rather the idea of being “emptied of in order to be emptied into” – or emptying of and out of and from one set of properties into another.  It’s the same idea found in 2 Corinthians 2:8-9, where Paul tells us that Jesus emptied himself of his richness and into poverty for the good of the other.  Hebrews 2:17 takes this so far as to insinuate that the mercy and empathy of God was brought to its depth and fullness because of Christ’s emptying into the other.  Then in Matthew 20:28, the evangelists will go as far as saying that this is not just one of the reasons Jesus came, but the reason.  We all want to be full of gratitude for the very fact that Jesus did this for us, but if we jump back up to our Philippians text, we see that the proof of our gratitude is shown as we “have this mind among” us… meaning, our gratitude for Christ’s service by means of emptying, should be shown in lives of service by means of emptying.   Here’s the deal, this sort of life seems daunting if not impossible, which is why I believe we can’t jump from being selfish demons to self-emptying saints in a moments notice, but rather we need practices in our lives that help shape us into this sort of person.
  • Incarnation, guided and informed by grace and truth…- Christ’s ontology among us was balanced, it did not weigh more to one side or the other, in fact it was informed and guided by two elements which seem to be in opposition to each other in our world. In the life of Christ, they not only complimented each other, they were weaved together so tightly that one could not exist without the other in his being and thus in his function as a human.  Three words that drive the depth of this home:
    • Full – which means to be permeated with, covered in every part, as if there was no room for anything else.  I think of my ruck sack that I recently packed for Haiti. I packed it so tight with clothes and books, there was no room for other substances within the bag, it was bursting at the seems with these two items there was no room for anything else – the person of Jesus, the servant Jesus (to use our Philippians text) was packed full of grace and truth – there was no room for selfish ambition, bigotry, lust, or any other disposition – and it was this grace and truth that caused him to weep over Jerusalem in compassion, caused him to drive out the money changers in the temple fueled by justice, drove him into times of solitude with his Father, and made him obedient to the point of death…he was full of it, and his person had no room for anything else that would shape his humanity into any sort of distortion of being the true human.
    • Truth – often times in our minds truth is a set of propositional facts, something that is one-dimensional, and can be memorized and regurgitated by almost anyone without much cost to us.  But Jesus’ truth cost him, it cost him his life, a truth that shaped his personhood, a truth that was the product, not of memorized facts, but a relationship with his Father, a dialogical truth, shaped in the fire of a love relationship between him, the Father, and the Spirit – truth as person, truth with texture, truth with depth, truth at a cost.  This is why Jesus will later tell us that truth is not a system of facts we must memorize, but truth is a person that we must engage, and this engagement will ultimately shape the truth we know, because of the truth that knows us at a soul level.
    • Grace – that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, good-will, loving-kindness, favour – I’m not going to expound on this one, but at the end of the day, I don’t know about you, but I can tell you my existence toward others cannot be defined by this idea of grace – but it should be.  Again, this sort of life “packed-full” of grace and truth is not something we can just “do” we must be formed into it, we need disciplines that help us identify the other junk in our suit case that is taking up space that should only be reserved for grace and truth.
  • Obedience shaped by submission and suffering – suffering – it seems almost selfish that I have any sort of right to this word.  I’ve traveled the world, and I’ve seen suffering, I’ve touched it, smelled, and wept over it, but suffering like that I have never experienced.  Again, not to belittle the word, but being that I am a melancholy introvert I have wrestled with a suffering soul and mind, I have had a few times, not many, where true heart ache was my reality.  But I can not claim ownership of the word suffering like many of my friends across the world can – those who have suffered far reaching loss, war, extreme poverty, and oppression.  I have not had to suffer, as some of my other friends have, sexual, physical, or mental abuse.  I’ve not suffered the loss of a parent, spouse, child, or sibling – so I am, in no way, assuming I have the corner on understanding suffering.  All that said, scripture talks about suffering at many levels – it talks about a kind of suffering that Jesus experienced, due to his willingness to embrace the suffering of others through relationship and community which lead to an empathy that very few of us know.  Scripture talks about a kind of suffering that is the result of denying and killing your sinful will, sinful dispositions, and sinful desires that we feel are part of our very personhood – to rip these out of our hearts through obedience causes the soul to suffer, but like a phoenix, our person rises anew in a new way.  Jesus experienced both of these sufferings that resulted in his obedience, and Paul calls us to willfully enter this sort of suffering, which is very opposed to our western ways of overmedicating ourselves with entertainment, consumerism, and the like, in order to avoid suffering that is due to embracing the suffering of others (true empathy) and the denial of the will.  Again, this is why we need practices and disciplines, because I simply love my own will too much, and find comfort in ignoring or being ignorant of the plight of the other.

 Now back to the original summed up question that launched this blog series, “what sort of practices shape a Godward humanity?”  If we don’t have practices that form us, not unlike a lump of clay being formed into a beautiful vessel, we end up trying to force this sort of humanity on ourselves and end up at best in a state of burnout, rather than these being the natural outflowing of one who is fully and deeply enjoying Jesus.   So, what are these disciplines or practices?  I think they can be narrowed down to the following four categories:

  • Contemplative Practices (slow and focused)…
  • Communal Practice..
  • Environmental Practices…
  • Servant Practices…​

 but this for another blog…until next month

​for those following this blog… I am moving it!  Click HERE to go to the new blog site:

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Community, pt. 4 – Be You

This will be the last blog on community before we bring them all together into one blog and this may be the shortest of the four.  I think the statement I am most envious of, that I seem to hear every week is, “vocationally, you have to figure out how to only do one thing, and do it well” or something like, “if you don’t learn to do only one thing well, you will be average at several things“, and to be honest, neither of those are the most encouraging thought to those of us who seem to wear many hats.  However, I think I am coming to a new understanding or a new idea of what it means to wear “one hat –  even if you have to wear that one hat in many settings – then again, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’m trying to simply justify doing too many things.   But for now, I think there is something to this, and this is where this has come from:

A couple months ago while in Chicago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Jacob Vanhorn.  One of the questions I asked him was, “in a world like ours, where you have many different things pulling at you, how do you successfully become a master at the one or two things as opposed to be a manager of the many things?”  His response was brilliant.  He said, “sometimes the goal is not so much ‘doing less things or taking less ventures’ but rather having the knowledge of who you are (what type of leader you are), and then knowing what role you should play in the new venture or in your current roles based on who you are…In other words, being able to answer, ‘how am I still being this person in this endeavor?’.  When you can no longer identify who you are in what you are doing, then you have either tried to control it too much, micro-manage it too much, or are drowning in the project because you are trying to be someone you are not.  If that’s the case you need to let go of it and hand it off to someone who can lead it better in the next stage which requires a different sort of leader, and let them truly lead.” Yes, that made so much sense to me, and I immediately began to look over the many different things I do that were weighing me down, and I could see, how that in those very things that used to bring me joy but now burdened me, I was no longer being me, I was being someone else.

I think this is also true with community renewal, community living, and community development as well.  We not only rob the community we are in from the gift of who we are, but we rob others from playing the role they were meant to play when refuse to only play “one part”, the part of who we are.

For the longest time I have thought, “I hate being boxed in by what I do” and I do, but I don’t so much mind being boxed in by who I am – I am who I am, and that is the role I was created to play in community.  You are who you are and that is who you were created to play in community A QWLL.  What comes to mind is Paul’s explanation of the parts of the body, or the church in both 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12.  The truth is, we actually work against the potential of a community when we try to be more than or different than who we are.  It is easy to look toward someone who may be a bit more charismatic in nature, outgoing, multi-tasker, or what have you and think, “I wish I could be them” – the end result is your frustration and the frustration of the whole community.   In fact, let me take this to another level – I think one of the best thing or most productive things leaders can do in communities, is to help people become the best them they can be, not the best reflection of us we would like them to be…when we do this, we help them find fulfillment and become a gift to the community; but when we put the weight of “us” on them, we burden them and make the community miss out on what they could have offered.

I think this may be one of the most overlooked aspects of community development, community living, and community renewal – we usually go straight to “what needs to be done” aspect and I really think we need to start with “who we are” or “who have we been created to be” – and I think we will be a lot more effective this way.

Community, pt2: Proximity

Last month I wrote about, what I believe to be the first and, dare I say, most important aspect of true community, learning to slow down.  That said, this month, I want to briefly write about what I believe to be the next element of importance in community development, that falls right after the idea of ‘slowing down’, or maybe even, shares equal space to it, proximity.

A group of us from Austin New Church, have been wrestling with the idea of what it look like to really live in, serve as, and do life as a true (not manufactured) community. The truth is, usually, no matter how hard you try, a manufactured community group is simply a group of people that do four or five events a month (a couple bible studies, a couple service projects) and then go on back to their real communities and/or lives, but the one thing that is not deeply practiced is the art of neighboring, which is a necessary characteristic to community – I know, I know, but Jesus said everyone is my neighbor.  Yes he did.  But the difference in that and what I am talking about is for another discussion.

When I say, “neighboring” I am referring to the necessity of proximity (it seems between secular and faith-based non-profits, true neighboring can only happen within a 3-4 mile radius of your front door). Neighboring is the idea and practice of local living and believing that those who live in proximity you need and depend on you as you do them.  This cannot happen with a “drive by mentality”.   This is impossible if you are not deeply living where you already are.  This cannot happen if the world “out there” is demanding you serve there instead of your own backyard.  As long as there is an “us-them” dichotomy there will never be true and lasting transformation that is supposed to be the result of neighboring.  This is the difference between “service” and “development” – a community cannot be “served” out of poverty, out of injustice, or even into transformation or renewal.  It must be developed out of or into.   And this only begins to happen once we move in, once we close the gap in the “us-them” dichotomy, until it is a “we” reality.  No matter how much we want to pretend we can, we can’t do this if our involvement in a situation is confined to driving in to “do the work” only to “drive out” and retreat.  As long as we are “driving out” at the end of the day, we are always “handing down”, it is always us being a dispenser of resources or goods or services, which makes us feel good about us, cloaks our superiority, and allows us to keep the real issues at arms length…Proximity takes it from ‘their problem’ to ‘our problem’, not by name alone, but in every other aspect.  It is pretty normal today, and has been for awhile for the church to “name-tag” something that isn’t really that something – you see this with words like, ‘missional’, ‘community’, ‘serving’, etc…naming something community, that isn’t truly community doesn’t make it community.

Over the past couple months, I have talked with both Christian and non-Christian organizations about this issue, I have listened to their speeches, and have taken notes on what they both agree to be true and necessary (non-negotiables) for true community development, renewal, and engagement. Here are a few:

    • Issue of Speed and Distance:  You have to slow down and be close enough to live where you really live.  Several organizations have said, you will never truly impact any community that is outside of your 3 mile radius
    • Living Among: You have to move from “them” to “we” – this involves more than being in verbal solidarity with those you are wanting to ‘reach’.
    • Long Haul: This is not a flash in the pan that you can or get to be popular by doing, this is a 5, 7, 8, 10 or even 20 year commitment.
    • The Common Enemy: This is impossible without proximity – the common enemy in, to, and against the community must be your enemy also, and it is not your enemy unless you are part of the community.
    • Friendship: This is absolutely a proximity issue.  Friendships put pressure on our lifestyle choices because our possessions and consumption patterns are hard to hide from friends (you can hide things from ‘friends’ who are not in close proximity to you).  That’s why it is often easier to keep people who are poor or different from you at a distance – or to arrange to enter their world only through brief visits on our terms.  Close proximity makes us more conscious of both abundance and lack.

According to Dr.Mark Labberton ,

“compassionate dispassion is a distance issue – knowing about an issue, finding it tragic and wrong, is not the same as actually being close to the situation or people.  It’s another ‘starving child,’ but not so to speak, ‘my starving child.’  evil arises from the seedbed of our heart and goes on to misname the world, letting injustice exist ‘out there’ while we go on seeing and naming the world in ways that serve our interests.  Our perceiving can be done from such safe distances that the needs of others make no claim on us.  The bottom line is, the urgency of injustice could not be greater than when it is experienced every day.  Until our hearts allow this ordinary daily reality to enter our lives with some degree of the same empathetic force it would if the injustice were against us or against those we most love, then the chances of a more just world becomes very dim.”

Two things to remember: (1) each of these community blogs are part of a whole, not independent in themselves. (2) my hope will be to piece these posts together at the end, so to wrestle past theory into praxis.  Also, next month we’ll discuss living deeply where you already are – this idea can only happen when slowing down and proximity already exist.

Questions from Ideation ’12

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Ideation Conference put on by Charles Lee.  It was  a great time of connecting, networking, and learning.  In fact, in the first session, the intro speaker said something about taking notes, not so much on what is actually said, but on what is inspired in you when ideas are spoken about.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve been wrestling with who I am as a leader and how to surround myself with the right people, along with knowing what role I play in new ideas and vision.  I was talking about this with a friend of mine who was also at the conference, Jacob Vanhorn.  One of the questions I asked him was, “in a world like ours, where you have many different things pulling at you, how do you successfully become a master at the one or two things as opposed to be a manager of the many things?”  His response was brilliant.  He said, “sometimes the goal is not so much ‘doing less things or taking less ventures’ but rather having the knowledge of who you are (what type of leader you are), and then knowing what role you should play in the new venture or in your current roles based on who you are…In other words, being able to answer, ‘how am I still being this person in this endeavor?’.  When you can no longer identify who you are in what you are doing, then you have either tried to control it too much, micro-manage it too much, or are drowning in the project because you are trying to be someone you are not.  If that’s the case you need to let go of it and hand it off to someone who can lead it better in the next stage which requires a different sort of leader, and let them truly lead.”

All that to say, I am using that as a filter for myself as I read through the questions below, that were inspired by the Ideation conference.  Below is a set of questions, that were inspired in me as I was listening to the different speakers at Ideation.  I will use Jacob’s question as a lens to begin to think through the questions below.  If you are a leader or someone who is starting or thinking about starting a new endeavor, I recommend that you wrestle through the following questions:

  • Discovery Questions:
    • Where do I (we) need to have courage to move forward?
      • To answer this question you must be able to imagine what could be!
      • To answer this question you must be willing to admit where you have grown stagnant, and complacency has set in.
      • To answer this question you have to be willing to step off the wave of fame, and get dirty.
    • What am I will to go all-in for?  In other words, what am I willing to fail big and publicly at?
    • Do I want to lead others into my vision; or do I want to lead with others into a vision bigger than I can imagine?
      • To answer this question you must be willing to admit you want to keep all the fame and attention; or be willing to give it away and share it.
  • Awareness Questions:
    • What is already happeningin my neighborhood, city, or field of interest that needs to be focused on or harnessed for deeper impact?
      • To answer this question properly, you have to be willing to allow the local situation or need to inform the vision, rather than create your own detached agenda.
      • To answer this question, you have to be willing to let go of other elements that demand your time in order to slow down so you can deeply know your surroundings.
      • To answer this question, you cannot lead from a distance, you have to lead from within.  You have to be willing to be present enough to know the local environment and the holes within it that continually perpetuate the dysfunction or needs
      • To answer this question you must be willing to take your eyes off of you, and find who else in the area is also attempting to address the issues and figure out how to collaborate.
    • What is the common enemy? This question is two-dimensional: (1) What is the common enemy causing the local problem (2) What is the common enemy causing people to be paralyzed from actively fighting the enemy?
      • To answer this question you must be among and within; you must be willing to no longer allow there to be an us-and-them mentality, but a “we mentality” – the enemy must be your enemy as well, or you will never truly engage it at the cost it demands.
      • To answer this question, you must move beyond “drive-by-projects” and move in!
      • To answer this question, you must be able to clearly articulate what the absence of the vision means and how it will affect the context you are hoping to work in.
  • Execution Questions:
    • How do you involve people in the vision without adding one more thing to their already busy life?  Another way to ask this is, “how do you help the vision to intersect the life they are already living?
      • To answer this question demands you slow down to be an intuitive leader.
      • To answer this question you must be able to size the vision downward. In other words, you must help people see beyond the normality of a compartmentalized task, and into a vision that threads itself through all aspects of life.  In other words, you have to be able to explain how the vision looks on a corporate level; on a community level; on a family level; and on an individual level.
      • To answer this question, you must be able to teach people how to be purposeful with the way they already live by showing them how what they are already doing allows them to take part in the vision; while at the same time you must be able to help people subtract “meaningless-time-sucks” from their lives.
      • To answer this question you must be able to make the journey as deep and rich as the completed vision itself – this will help prevent burnout.
    • How do you plan on defining success?
      • To answer this question, you have to paint an intriguing picture of what the finish line looks like.
      • To answer this question, you have to paint a provocative picture of what the journey looks like, which means clearly defining measurables along the way.
      • To answer this, you must be willing to be people focused, or else people will turn into a commodity that you use to accomplish your vision.

I realize the length of this blog steps over the lines of the “blog rules”.  I also realize that these aren’t the only questions to be asked when embarking on a new journey, but as begin to think about my roles, my ideas, and my ventures.  I am going to ask myself the above questions, through the lens of the first question Jacob asked me.  Maybe you should do the same!

what I learned from the Tough Mudder…

I love COMMUNITY, I long for COMMUNITY, I dream of real COMMUNITY, and I have very deep convictions about COMMUNITY (click HERE to read one post).  I also love pushing myself. I love challenges.  I love fitness.  But what I love, is when challenges and community come together.  I did a post a while back called, RUNNING in which I explain some of this.

Anyway, myself and nine other people, teamed up to do the 2011 Central Texas Tough Mudder.  I honestly believe events like this, attract people the way they do, because of an internal longing to push yourself, but even more than that, our longing to be part of something that is beyond self, something that forges a community together through the trials of the course.  I believe, that while it rarely happens, these events show what community should be, and what it should be is much more than an in vogue word we use.  So, I wanted to do a post on what I learned from the tough mudder: Continue reading

Haiti, day 7 (late)

Well, I missed blogging on the last day of Haiti, and the reason was rain…it rained really hard the last night, so much so that the internet didn’t work.  However, I will say this, the last day was the exclamation mark on the end of the week… to save a lot of detail, it kind of went like this…
  • Went to Pastor Jean Alix’s church service, at the end of the service he called us guys down to
    Jeremiah presenting the key of the new house to the new owners

    Jeremiah presenting the key of the new house to the new owners

    the front to pray for his people… and they flooded end…it was so moving and yes, I shed plenty of tears, plenty of them.  As a friend, brother, and pastor, watching Lamar, Nathan, and Jeremiah pray over old and young alike once again, filled my heart with joy…conclusion, we don’t pray for people enough, in and out of church

  • From there we went to one of our interpreters house, Sylvester, we wanted to show the team the way the average Haitian lives.  It’s one thing when you are disconnected from the person, it’s another after spending the entire week with that person, then to see the complete poverty they live in, it is heart wrenching… the house was smaller than my living room, the walls were extremely cracked concrete, the roof was patch work tin, and the
    Lamar blessing and praying over the family and their new home

    Lamar blessing and praying over the family and their new home

    heat was probably around 120 degrees… this is how my friend, my well spoken, well dressed, friend lives… on the way out of the house, I had sweat running down my head like someone had just dumped water on me…Sylvester’s mom, walked up behind me, and with her hands wiped the sweat off of my head, I was done…these impoverished people who are so other than us, who we are often scared to touch, just in case we ‘catch something’ reach up with no hesitation and compassion, and wiped my head dry with her bare hands…DONE!

  • Then we went and talked with a man named Junior Bataille – this man has an amazing thought…his vision and passion for  Haiti, is my favorite – he is all about holistic development – aid, infrastructure, agriculture, reforestation, church, abolition work, healing, developing the next generation
    Sylvester and his family in front of their house

    Sylvester and his family in front of their house

    of men, and healing this generation of women…walked out of there with our heads spinning…

  • We finished the day with our last Haitian meal (which of course was amazing) a short devotional to remind us that where we are in the states is NOT 2nd place to Haiti nor is the work we are doing in our country less than the work we are doing in Haiti, but it is, FOR NOW, where God has each of us, and Haiti should not make us feel guilt of where we are, but it should in fact, help inform how we live where we live now…
  • Chris did an amazing job casting vision again for the poor, enslaved, and orphan, and most of us agreed that we’d be back… We then all went and packed, and went to bed about midnight, only to get up at 3:30am, head down the mountain to the airport, and head out for the longest traveling day of my life…

We are home, and it felt great to hug and hold my wife.  My kids felt more precious than ever, but Haiti still calls, so we will see her again soon…very soon…

I have one more blog I am going to write on Haiti to hopefully sum up the, “journey forward”…

Shonna and a Haitian Lemon

Shonna and a Haitian Lemon

A Caged Rhino…

Last night, I went weak in the knees for the first time in a very long time… let me back track, so yesterday, Sarah and I went to a small award ceremony put on by a local independent school district, for organizations that volunteer or adopt schools – I’m not sure how I get talked into going to these to represent ANC, especially considering I’m the only introverted pastor on staff.  Either way, it was good, as out of all the organizations, there was only ONE church invested in this school district…so it was good we went.  Anyway, as we were driving through gates of the ‘ranch’ where the dinner was being held (10 minute drive from my house – had no idea it existed), we began to see a lot of different animals…and I’m not talking horses, cows, the normal ranch animals you see here in Texas, but camels, zebras, addaxs, gazelles, beisa oryxs, giraffes, and many others… all of them were running in the open.  We were a bit taken back.   After all the driving we finally came to the event center on the ranch and as we are parking, I looked to my left and noticed a ‘caged-in’ area, and the road leading up to it, was blocked off by cones.  So, as we are parking, I’m cranking my neck back to see what it was, and there it was, a large, powerful, white rhino.  If you know me at all, you know I love the white rhino, in fact, I have an armored one tattooed on my arm (story for another time).  This award cerimony now took the position of back burner in my mind. In fact, during the ceremony the only thing I could think of, was passing those orange cones to get close to the rhino.

I couldn’t take it any longer, after I received the award for ANC, I snuck out the back to scope out Mr. Powerful.  I approached the rhino hoping I had Harry Potter like skills, and could just connect with the rhino, but on the first attempt, the connection was not made, in fact, he walked quickly to the other side of his barn, as to be hidden from me.  So, I was sure the connection was there, he just didn’t know it yet, so, I walked to the other side, and he approached the fence in an aggressive fast walk, it made me walk backwards slowly, and say to Sarah, “let’s leave.”  So, as we were walking away, he followed us, and followed us quickly – I was wrong, he wasn’t being aggressive, rather the connection had been made, so I took his invitation and approached him quickly and as I got closer, I quickly learned I had mistaken his following of us – he was not inviting me closer, rather making sure we were leaving – he snorted, raised up on his back legs with power and aggression and with that same power waived his horn in the air…there, that’s when my knees went weak … though he was behind a gate, I knew that he possessed the power in him to break through it and turn me into a one-dimensional  character with more holes than swiss cheese…so a connection was made, but not the one I was hoping for.

So, after the slight adrenaline rush went down and my knees became solid again, I began to think, “how in the world did this 2-3 tone embodiment of power feel threatened by this little 190 pound human? How could this rhino, that had the power to throw a massive safari truck 20 feet into the air be held captive by this gate?  How did this rhino become so deceived that he felt like he needed to defend the very thing that held him captive (he had allowed the very cage that imprisoned him and held him back to become the home he now defended from weaklings like me?) – better yet, did this current reality of the rhino represent the reality of many people?

While, I would like you to think that this evolution of thought was propagated simply by the rhino, a friend of mine had already seeded this thought in his most recent blog, What of your Dream.

I like Lewis’ spin on this idea:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea…”

What happens to us…?  When we’re young, we have a dream, ambition, we are ready to conquer the world, to do the impossible and not be like our parents who lost theirs, raised us, and settled for an average american like based on “have-to’s” or “should-do’s” all to keep up with the status-quo.  We get married, the kids come along, the responsibilities of marriage, bills, soccer games, and the 9-5’er become so necessary, that we are now afraid to go afterthat dream, after all it would be, “irresponsible”, and we may risk the well-being (average/status-quo life) of our kids and wife – our dreams are now separated from us by a fence of fear.  Then we live inside that fence for long enough, it’s no longer fear holding us back, but now we don’t even remember the dream, and the very fence that once held us back is now the domain we defend from anything that tries to interrupt our status quo – and those still with a dream, are, well, silly.  Why is this?  We become like the all powerful rhino who has been fenced in by the equivalent of a straw, for so long it becomes the home we defend.  We are humans made in the image of God to display his glory to all the earth, or as C.S. Lewis says in the Weight of Glory, “immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

I wonder how many of us have passed the point of fear, and it’s not the fear of breaking out of the fence  to follow the voice calling us, rather, we’ve lived so long in the fence, we can no longer hear the echo of the dream, our cage is now the domain we defend.

Maybe we need to step back, and ask ourselves, “are our lives really concerned with the things that matter in this world…are we more concerned with ‘fitting-in’ because a life that may confront the status-quo lives of those around us would be too uncomfortable; are we more concerned with big suburban problems like yard-of-the-month; making sure our kids are the best athletes at their school; or gossip of who shouldn’t be in the neighborhood, when we live in a world with orphans, slaves, and the impoverished, because yards and surface relationships are easier to deal with than injustices in our world…or to use the Rhino analogy, are we these powerful creatures made for so much more scared of the 190 pound man, when we have a great expanse waiting for us to charge into, if we would only listen to the echo…”

Let me finish this off with my third C.S. Lewis Quote:

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”