my search to understand the bigger picture

Monday, February 28, 2011

Where To Start.....

I don't even know where to begin this morning.......

I had an awesome conversation last week with an old friend. Most of our time was spent discussing growth we'd like to see in our lives, theories, and the like. What typically annoys me most about myself is how much I say the right things, even maybe think the right things; yet my actions rarely follow suit. I can wax intellectual all day long, until I'm blue in the face, but at the end of the day, what truly matters are my actions.

thoughtless ramblings of my mouth.

I talk a good game. I do. I know what's wrong with me. I know where I struggle. I know what to say to take a weak area of my life and make it look like I'm working on it. Here's the problem with all this; notice how many times I've used "I".

My life is characterized by my obsession with me! When I'm not selfishly considering myself, I've discuised my thoughts by thinking about how I can grow, where I need to grow, etc. Rarely do my thoughts drift over to God. I'd say maybe 90% of my attention is focused on me, 10% on God. (10% on God might be generous) I'm so focused on myself that there is hardly any room for God, probably just enough for me to pay lipservice to Him.

My life is not a radical, I follow Christ kind of life. I desperately want it to be. You know how that all starts? By beginning to desire God's heart like I did when I began to date my wife years ago. Facebook should be given up in order to spend that time with God. Sleep should be sacrificed to spend that time with God! Meals should be shared with Him, walks in the woods shared with Him, drives into work shared with Him.

And yet, here I am again saying the right things, giving insightful ideas into fixing this problem. What I lack is action.........

My conversation with my friend last week helped me to see that I don't want to talk about the right thing anymore, I want to do the right thing. So..........

Thursday, February 24, 2011

They're Here!

Oh man, I've been anticipating the arrival of these bad boys for quite some time now. Lately I've been following the exploits of an ultrarunner named Antony Krupicka, and New Balance is one of his sponsors. I went out and got the New Balance MT101's for Christmas and have loved using them on the trails so far. Eventually I learned that these were going to be released so I've kept up with them ever since. A few days ago I noticed some local stores saying they had some in, even though they weren't scheduled to be released until March. So, Emily gave me the go ahead (gift for V-Day and anniversary) and we went and picked up a pair last night. These shoes are some amazingly comfortable right out of the box! I am going to wait a few weeks before running in them though. Need some time to wear them around and get a feel for them. There's just something fun and exciting about a brand new pair of running shoes. I haven't exactly put my finger on it, but most runners get excited about such things. I'm sure it's probably a little different for everyone. All I know, is that new shoes excite me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"The Beauty of Jesus"

This morning, as I was waiting for my buddy Derek to pick me up for another trail run out at Kickapoo, I read the newsletter I received from Ransomed Heart. It gave me some great thoughts to think on while running the trails this morning. Here's one video of our time today, and I'll place another one after the newsletter.

"Dearest Friends,

I wanted to share with you something from my journals, and something I recently discovered in the Gospels. Last summer we had a chance to spend some time at the coast. Here is what I wrote: 'I am sitting on the beach this evening, watching the swells roll in towards me. Each wave builds as it approaches, ascending, taking shape, deep greens below sweeping upward into aquamarine. A sculpture in motion. The sheer elegance is enough to take my breath away.'

The wave I was watching crashed, but another kept rushing to take its place, sweeping upward, forward, utterly mesmerizing beauty. Then another, then another, and another, in an undending processional. I began to wonder: 'What are the waves telling us about Jesus?'

An artist is revealed in the work they create, and in the abundance of work they create. Think of the ocean. Picture it in your mind. What does this tell us about Jesus? What words come to mind? Majestic, powerful, wild, dangerous. yes, tempestuous, like the clearing of the Temple. But also gently playful as it laps at your feet, swirling round your toes, pulling the sand away from beneath you as Jesus ever so gently pulls the rug out from under us.

I looked down. Scattered at my feet lay a thousand shells, delicate, intricate, the work of a jeweler. An artist with very small tools and exceptional eyesight. If all this is the work of an artist's hand, what does it tells us about the artist? Most of all, I am thunderstruck by the abundant generosity strewn around, constantly rolling in. Its as if someone took the family silver and ran down the beach, tossing handfulls here and there like a madman. How do you describe this extravagance? What kind of person acts like this???

Then I looked again at the story of Jesus turning water into wine: 'On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, 'They have no more wine.' 'Dear woman, why do you involve me?' Jesus replied. 'My time has not yet come.' (John 2:1-4)

His response to Mary seems rude, but that cannot be--we know he adored her. My goodness, while hanging in agony from the cross he arranges for her care. There couldn't have been anything condescending in his reply, for she simply turns to the servants and says, like a Jewish mother, "Do whatever he tells you.' Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews fo ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water'; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, 'Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.' They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside an said, 'Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.' This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. (vs 5-11)

Six water jars holding up to thirty gallons each. One hundred and eighty gallons (John makes the point of saying that the jars were filled 'to the brim'). One hundred and eighty gallons equals about 682 liters. That would be 908 bottles of wine.

I know, I know--it is almost too much to believe. It seems too extravagant. But the scripture makes a point of telling us exactly how many urns there were, how much they held, and even pushes the point that they were filled to the brim. Apparently, the quantity Jesus produced is important to the story, and I'm certainly not going to begrudge Jesus the right to be generous.

John says, 'He thus revealed his glory.' What is it, exactly, that Jesus thus revealed? Certainly his power over creation. But there is something else here, something beautiful. Jesus did not provide cheap wine--as the maitre d' expected, given the lateness of the hour. Nor did he make a statement by substituting grape juice. He didn't just give them a little wine, say, a dozen bottles to wrap up the evening with one last toast. Jesus does it lavishly. To the tune of 908 bottles. Here is the same stunning generosity we see pouring forth in creation.

O, the beauty of Jesus.

Among the many things that get assaulted in our hearts towards God is his generosity. His goodness. But recently I've been struck simply by sunshine. Think about it--what daily radiance is showered upon us, what immense golden goodness. Every single day. What does sunshine tells us about the personality of Jesus? Or water? Or air?

Then I noticed how much he gave of himself, all through the Gospels. Late into the night, early in the morning, walking down the road, in the middle of his supper, at home, abroad, Jesus offers. His time, his words, his touch, flowing like the wine at Cana. To appreciate the reality of it all, remember this is not Superman. Remember his loneliness, his weariness, his humanity. This is utterly remarkable--particularly in light of the fact that this is a man on a life-or-death mission. He is lavish with himself.

O Jesus, forgive me for doubting this. Open the floodgates between us, and give me more of yourself. That is what I want. I want more of you. Don't you?"

John Eldredge offers words here far better that I could craft, so I leave it as it is. Great thoughts for me to think on this morning during my run, and really throughout the day. Jesus is so generous.

Here's a few more videos for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

THE Greatest Commercial Ever!

So I was watching this again tonight, and just laughing hysterically. I distinctly remember seeing it during the Super Bowl, and saying to myself that was the greatest commercial I've seen in the past 10 years. Might be my favorite of all time. It brings back some great memories of my younger years. My best friend growing up, Aaron and I would spend hours and hours not only watching the original trilogy, but also reenacting them scene by scene. Of course we had all the action figures as well. He even devised a pretty sick display in his apartments in college and after of scenes depicted from the movies. Quite impressive.
I also owned a volkswagon during my college years, and to this day that car (I believe 1987 Volkswagon Scirocco) is my favorite of all that I've owned, even above my Jeep Wrangler that I let go. There was just something about that car. Another one of my best friends, Kevin had one as well. I still to this day see one every once in awhile, and it brings back such great memories. In fact, I still have a key to that car on a keychain!
Why am I writing all this? I don't know. Just wanted this video on my blog and figured I'd add a few words. Who would have ever thought to combine Das Auto and Darth Vader? Pure genius my friends, pure genius. That's reason enough right there to go out and buy a VW, or at least watch one of the Star Wars movies. Speaking of which, I'm gonna put The Empire Strikes Back in right now.
May the force be with you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More time at Kickapoo

Went back out to Kickapoo State Park Sunday after church with a friend of mine, Derek Ely. We had a great time running the snow covered trails, getting in a little over 5 miles. It was pretty tough to run in, as the top snow was pretty soft. We had a great time of enjoying the beautiful outdoors, enjoyed working hard through the snow, and shared some great conversation. Above is a video of a pretty steep hill we had to literally slide down; fun stuff!

Here's another video towards the end of our time in the park. It explains why we were found running on the road out of the park.

So yes, my truck got stuck, and we had to call Emily to come pick us up. Pretty interesting adventure to say the least. Monday I called the park office and also emailed them alerting them to the situation. Well, today I got a visit from a Conservation Officer inquiring about my truck. He did his job by stressing the importance of the situation and that I should have informed the State police or county sheriff when I didn't get a response from the park. Oops! My bad. Never thought of contacting them. Thankfully he didn't have my truck towed, so we have to head out early tomorrow morning to retrieve it. Good times.

Remember, whenever you step out the door, and decide to put one foot in front of the other, especially on the trails, you never know what will happen. While some parts of this really ticked me off, at the end of the day I just had to sit back and laugh. I wonder if God is using this to teach me to have more of a sense of humor concerning myself. That's something I know I need to work on, loosening up when thinking about myself.

We are some pretty interesting characters aren't we? I mean, some of the stuff that happens to us is just hilarious. And that makes me grateful for where I live. I mean, sometimes I get worked up about the smallest of things, and there are countless millions in the rest of the world that would love to have problems like that. You know what I'm talking about.

We all share frustrations with jobs. Shoot, isn't it great to simply have a job? Sure it's nice to enjoy your work, but there will be days when it isn't fun. So what. I mean really. I wish I was better at thanking God for my 2 jobs every time I started to get frustrated. I just need to learn to be thankful. I'm sure many would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

So, when stuff happens, all you can keep doing is put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward expecting positive things to happen. I'm really loving learning to pray God's scriptures when tough times pop up lately. Isaiah 42:16 is a constant for me these days. Check it out in The Message.

Well, I'm off for now. Looking forward to more adventures as I step out the door today.....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kickapoo St. Park-TAWG

Just a little video from this morning's trail run out at Kickapoo State Park. It includes some things that have been on my heart lately concerning relationship with God. I haven't exactly given Him my best lately, and this was sort of an attempt to get back to that. I shot another video later in my run, but the quality is awful so I won't show it. The point in all this is to spend time with God like you would a friend or spouse. Sometimes we've got to spice things up a bit. So get creative. Do something that makes your heart come alive, and invite God along with you. Tell Him your thoughts, and listen for His. Thank Him for things. Read a verse or two beforehand and meditate on that during your activity. Just spend time with God. I think that's one of the biggest things that holds us back. Give Him some time today! That's one thing you will never regret.