WHAT ABOUT FAITH? (Part 2)

Greetings all. Thanks for finding this blog and hopefully reading the contents of this post as well as the posts which found their way in earlier this year and back to our initial posting on August 2, 2019. Wow, we’re almost a year old! 

In our initial post on What About Faith? I wrote this statement; I believe everyone has faith…We practice faith in our own way. Faith is needed to navigate our way through life and life will give us many opportunities to prove our faith to be; right or wrong, good or bad, helpful or harmful, etc., etc. All of us, without exception, know this to be true simply because all of us have experienced the dual outcomes which are in play whenever we choose to exercise faith. It is one thing to speak of faith as a noun. It is much different to speak of faith as a verb when we define itas being the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Complete, is a scary word to most of us and that alone can become a stumbling block for us attempting to move from faith as a noun to faith as a verb. 

Now, I need to be up front here. I realize there are people and there are causes. There are ideas and there are institutions. And there are churches and there are companies whom we have placed our faith in; you know like Pepsi or Coke, Hellmans or Dukes where it is not just about faith, it’s also about taste. Stay with me here.

Taste, as it turns out, can be applied in a broad sense within the English language. It is about more than just flavor. We use this word to speak of our discernment, our inclinations, our judgements and predilections. Ain’t the English language awesome! 

It’s interesting to note that the word taste was used in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. David, the young shepherd who bravely walked into a fight with a giant of a man named Goliath, won that battle and ultimately became the King of Israel. No doubt that earlier event in his young life was on his resume’ that led to being crowned a King. I bring in David because he wasn’t only a warrior and a king, he was also a poet who wrote a number of chapters in the Book of Psalms. 

In the 34th Psalm David writes: Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is he who takes refuge in him! David is by this time speaking out of his heart not just his mind. He is using poetry which we see throughout the Psalms. By the way, do you ever read the Psalms? Scroll through that Old Testament book and here are ten I recommend in just the first third of that book. 

(Psalm 8,9,16,18,23,27,30,34,46,47)

What’s the point here in this second post on What About Faith? When it comes to faith, to taste is to act. A lot of people will say that they believe in God. Belief has become a word for many people which equals faith. Belief is good, it’s a start, it gets us in the door. But faith, or more specifically a faith that has tasted (think tested) now that’s a faith that is headed somewhere, that’s a faith that is moving, influencing, and beginning to transition one’s life onto a larger platform for living. 

I’ll be back on Monday with a new post, but for now I am curious as to what you are reading in these posts that you may have a question or comment about. As always, would love to hear from you so send me your thoughts and let’s begin a conversation on FAITH!

MC

What Is 46 Years Worth ?

Greetings to all of you who will read this post. 

May 18, 2020 began around 19 hours ago. I was actually wide awake when 5/18/20 overtook 5/17/20. While I had hoped to be fast asleep, I was pleasantly running back in the recesses of my mind what this day 46 years ago meant to me. I will be the first to say I do not typically spend my evenings reminiscing about every 24 hour turn of the clock over the 66 years of my life. But this year, this day, this sleeplessness conspired to hold me back, to capture me, to remind me, of why all the tomorrows may well be the best days of life I have ever experienced.

Some of you my friends may be thinking; “Do tell?” And I long to accommodate your request. But first, allow me to establish the context of both when and what and why. Forty six years ago today was precisely May 18, 1974. But of more importance it was the day that Lynda and I said “YES” to a series of wedding vows which had somehow remained of value to a couple, a community, and a celebration of life itself.

Yesterday, at Life Community, we opened a new four week series on the concept of – Sustainable Relationships. While concepts run ahead of considerations, I do hope you will stay with this throughout this week as I build a case for why Sustainable Relationships are, without a doubt, our only hope to find the fullness of life we are searching for.

That Saturday evening of May 18, 1974, Lynda and I joined ourselves together for a life we could not have imagined. We, like many of you, set out on a journey without knowing what our lives together would be like.

Over the course of these 46 years we have discovered, as many of you have, that life isn’t what we thought it would be. There have been victories and defeats. There has been loss beyond compare and grace to lead us through those times. There has been YOU. You who have encouraged us and underwritten into our lives the way forward in spite of the circumstances we faced. I could go on but please, know that because of our investment in your lives and your investment in our lives (wherever you may be right now), God has used that interdependence to continue a life well lived.

Sustainable Relationships are about intention. When we have intention, we find that there is really nothing between us that cannot be settled. When we have intention we find that there is nothing that can separate us. When we have intention we find that we are secure.

What would you be willing to sacrifice in your life to find a life with another in which you both would know that your TOGETHERNESS could never be stolen from you?

For Lynda and me, admittedly TWO who somehow became ONE, there is that way forward regardless of what you may be facing. There is more to life than any of us have ever imagined. Don’t give in or give up. 

Tomorrow, Lynda and I will step into day 16,791 as husband and wife, as partners in life (Wow, that rhymed!) Tomorrow is the day that counts because tomorrow is the next step of life for us. How we do depends on how deep the root of our relationship has grown. We are both conscious that tomorrow is unknown until we awake and engage  what life has for us, what God has for us. 

I plan to post another blog by Wednesday. I hope you’ll come back to see where this is headed. In the meantime, please share this site with someone you know is searching for Sustainable Relationships.

Blessings,

MC. 

THE POWER OF LESS – PART II

Greetings. It was several days ago that we left the opening post on The Power of Less. I appreciate your interest and contacts and have been pouring through the article from Real Simple to draw forth several angles which seem to fit into the culture I live in here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. 

You may recall that I had taken a swipe at suggesting we are all given to the practice of distraction. There are a lot of reasons to blame for our pursuing distractions, especially those which call us away from the pursuit of simplicity. Distraction is antithetical to Simplicity or anything else we pursue that is helpful when living life. Stop for a moment here to identify two or three juicy distractions in your own life. Got um? Okay, here’s the thing.

Distractions consume most Americans and while many may not admit to that statement, take a listen to Dr. Randy Paterson from his book; 

How To Be Miserable. “We are fueled by this impulse to overcommit so much that we get together and talk about how busy we are!” That statement, set by itself, is hilarious even though it is also pathetic. I know this first hand, or, maybe I should say; second hand as my wife Lynda, at some point not long ago began protesting against my busy schedule by saying, “I don’t need to see your schedule to know you’re busy.” I’ll get back to where that ended up in another blog post

Distraction of course, draws us toward the insignificant at the expense of the significant. And the insignificance, once given enough of one’s time, will run us head on into Indifference. 

There are about seven definitions for indifference. They run from apathetic to neutral. I mean, I can be neutral about two shirts I’m thinking about purchasing because that is insignificant. However, if I am all in on the Power of Less, I can’t appeal to neutrality. I’m either in or I’m not. And by the way, deconstructing pieces and parts of your current life, will in fact, always be challenged by someone or something else clamoring for your time. Psychologist Beth Kurland; “It’s as if each of us has a container within us that can only hold so much…..How full is my container?” Well that’sthe question isn’t it?

Toward the conclusion of Part I of this post on The Power Of Less, I noted that the title itself; “Almost sounds Biblical doesn’t it?” For me it does and I locate that feeling from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew chapters five through seven. You should take a couple of minutes now to read chapter 6:19-33. Jesus goes on a riff about a number of things you and I seem to be worried about. Things like: food, and fashion, and fitness, and finances, and the future. What would an itinerant sojourner from two thousand years ago know about those things then? Take a couple of minutes now and read his thoughts in Matthew 6:19-33 on the matter of simplicity.

The Power Of Less isn’t merely about cleaning out a bedroom closet or a kitchen pantry on the road to simplicity. You and I are far more complex than that. You and I are Mind, Body, Soul, and Spirit. The Power Of Less may begin with some changes in our current environment but as we contemplate that simple act, the heart of the matter works to pull us deeper into something more significant, more meaning filled, nothing less than The Power Of Life itself. 

Hey, next time, let’s continue to have a conversation that has the depth to change each of us. Talk Ain’t Cheap! 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Leave a comment and let’s start a connection with one another. 

MC 

THE POWER OF LESS

I picked up a magazine last month called Real Simple. I had seen RS before at one of my writing hot spots and had taken the time to read several articles. My recall was that I appreciated the writers and was impressed at how their craft drew in the reader by encouraging her or him to consider how one’s life could be made better through practicing the art of simplicity. 

On the front cover of this particular edition, in dark bold letters, was a statement we have over the last several years become accustomed to seeing; The Power of Less. I am a sucker for statements embedded with contrast. They make you think and sometimes, if what they are sharing with you seems engaging and possible, they may convince you to present a card with the magazine at the check out counter.

On the side bar just to the right of the cover page the RS folks continued to ask for my consideration about such things as; Unloading StressHaving Less Stuff, and Declutter Your Thoughts.

Now RS is obviously good at reeling potential readers in for a look but let’s be honest, while what they offer is in my opinion Real it surely ain’t Simple. Dropping stress, giving away your stuff, or reframing your thoughts absolutely needs to be attempted by all of us during specific intervals in our lives. But how many among us, in this American Age of Distraction, are up for the challenge? 

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot going on in our lives. Just inside of the area of technology, we sense, “wait that’s not what I want to say”. We love our gadgets and, wait that’s not always true. We are controlled by, we are owned by, we are enslaved by technology. Without the latest tech instrument coming down the pike we are convinced we will be left behind, relegated to the boonies, off the grid. What drives this fear into us? 

Ingela Ratledge Amundson in her article, The More of Less, cites author Greg McKeown. “Over the past 10 years we’ve moved from connectivity to hyperconnectivity. Once you put a supercomputer in every person’s pocket, you’re going to get what we have now: It’s so hard to say no to nonessential distractions and relatively harder to say yes to what are actually the most important interactions and people in our life.”

I deeply appreciate McKeown’s point here. As I continue to bring together my first book – Participation – Engaging The People In Your Life, it is most encouraging to see how many millions of Americans have become interested in just that; participating by interacting with others whom they are walking through life with. Throughout the next couple of months, in this BIog, we will be highlighting a number of items centered around what it means, why it’s critical, how it’s done; this whole wonderful opportunity to get outside of self and into life lived in the company of others. 

Now, back to The Power of Less for a couple of observations to conclude this first of a two part post.

First, to change anything requires us at the baseline to embrace new habits. We have, in these past several decades become a nation of people living lives of distraction. That is to say, distraction compels us away from change. While we may know this in the recesses of our heart and soul, we seldom seem to be able to have an open conversation about it in public with others. While pursuing the habit of deconstructing ones life of “stuff”, why not share with a friend how you have struggled with distraction to accomplish this goal. Two for the price of One! You can do it!!

Second, is simple. But not Real Simple. You and I are living our life right now mostly separated physically from one another. It seems to me, that makes this time while sheltering in place, a grand opportunity for us to fill our hours with a habit that can only bring to us newness of life. The Power of Less, is a part of living a new life as it cleanses the old away like a distant memory. Almost sounds Biblical doesn’t it? 

Join me for Part II next week. And please shoot me a comment  and let’s begin a conversation around ways to discard the distractions in our lives.

MC 

THE END IS NEAR!

In about 5 hours and 50 minutes, the clock at Times Square, in the city of New York will begin its annual countdown to midnight and herald in the New Year of 2020.

Each year when Lynda and I settle in to watch the celebration, and fireworks, and bedlam in the streets of New York. We reminisce a little about what was and hope for what can be. As the evening moves on, one of us is always yelling at the other to wake up, and whoever had nodded off always says; I wasn’t sleeping.

We usually make it through (at least one of us does). And for a lot of us who are dreamers, those of us who use our imagination, New Years Eve becomes a night of looking forward to what will be.

There’s a verse in the New Testament where Paul is writing a letter to some friends living in the city of Corinth. His letter is to encourage them by sharing this statement: If anyone is in Christ the old has gone, the new is here.

I would venture to say that these 13 words, over the last two millennia, have become a truth for countless people regardless of their situation in life. For us today there is no better time to hear and embrace words filled with hope for tomorrow, next week, next year. We get to make something with what we’ve been given. What will we do with that when tomorrow draws us into 2020?

Lynda and I have been talking a lot about what’s ahead for us. And, by extension, for Life Community. This week I ran across this quote from the news journalist on CBS, Scott Pelley in his new book; Truth Worth Telling:

Don’t ask the meaning of life. Life is asking the meaning of you.

That line, at first glance, seems to be personal, but the more you read it, with eyes wide open, it may begin to give you the sense that life is awaiting an answer, that life is pulling you into herself to become what only you can give her.

I’m looking forward to this evening as I hope for a New Year to embrace. I bet you are as well. Together let’s move forward tomorrow by living the rest of our life like no one else on this planet can. Let’s be who we were made to be.

The End Is Near, in just hours we’ll say goodby to 2019. Enjoy the evening, don’t get too crazy, and shoot me a comment on the content of this post.

DON’T ASK HOW, ASK WHY, AND HERE’S WHY

Recently I read this powerfully compelling quote in the book The Divine Dance by Rohr and Morrell;

The greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection.

I appreciate these two authors stepping up to make such a bold statement. I get this sense that most people might push back against R&M’s thought here. But, what we are seeing today is that R&M are not alone in their point, many others, in fact a host of others are writing, podcasting, and speaking about the disconnect and divisiveness in this country between you and me, us and them. 

I’ve read a number of articles which blame technology. No doubt, technology has thankfully, in many ways, had a positive impact on our lives. The time it has saved us however, seems to have been reinvested back into technology. In the article out of the University of Wisconsin; The Growing Obsession with Technology, Professor Michael Bugeja argues for creating a daily balance between our technological use and our face to face time with human beings like friends, family, co-workers, and class mates. There may be nothing like it in our day that draws us away into distraction and therefore disconnection from people. That can change, time can be redeemed, the addiction can be overcome, yet we should be careful not to begin with pursuing HOW to do this ahead of understanding WHY we have done this.

WHY questions tend to be more personal and therefore many will do what they can to not “go there”. When we ask ourselves why, we seek an answer which can only be answered by WHO we are, or more to the point, WHO we have become. WHO questions, more often than not, drive us deeper into reflection. WHO are we becoming? Is it possible that many in the Global West have become addicted to their technologies?

Justin Whitmel Earley has written a new book entitled The Common Rule. Its focus point is about developing habits of purpose for an age of distraction. He notes that the modern world we live in is itself a powerful habit forming machine. I don’t think any of us would deny that, and thus we need people like JWE to help us renew and restore what may have been lost to us. 

We’ll come back in a couple of days to explore more deeply where this series of posts are headed and why that’s a good thing for all of us. But for now, I’d like to challenge you to answer this meaning filled question; What stories and Whose stories are influencing your life? 

When we locate our answers, perhaps we should ask as well; Whose story is my life influencing?

Time to close for now but I ran across this awhile back;  Learn first about you or you will bore others!

WHO YOU ARE IS – Unique, Unlimited, Unparalleled, and Unfinished.

Have a great weekend and send me a comment. I welcome your thoughts

MC

The Pace and Space of our Lives (Part 2)

It seems as if there are spaces in all of our lives that we are for one reason or another unwilling to consider for upgrades. The writer Parker Palmer challenges us to ask this question; “Is the life I am living the same life that wants to live in me?” Never heard it quite put in that cadence but it certainly captured my attention.  

I used to think that the older you get the more settled or set in your ways you became. However, the last two generations have disabused me of this idea. While they are not old enough yet to be stuck in their ways they nevertheless seem to be more fluid and less static in how they live their lives. I realize they have their faults just as each growing generation has. But one of them, for now, doesn’t seem to be…………….

The older I become the more I choose to connect with 20’s, 30’s, and 40 year olds to see and hear how and why they have become WHO they have become. What are they embracing, what are they (at least for now) rejecting? Anyway, curious minds want to know so…………………….

Several days ago I posted Part 1 of The Pace and Space of our Lives where I asked readers to consider (I love that word consider as It gives us an option) Stopping, Slowing down,  Rethinking, and Renewing. Each step is equally critical to the process. And by the way, I am not selling a process here, I am simply engaging in a conversation. It’s a significant conversation which suggests to you and me that there is a way to see life differently – a new way to Be Alive.

I pastor a church, Life Community, where we run along a pathway which tells us that Conversations can lead to Connections which can lead us into Community. For us and for many others, being in community is how one finds real life, how one becomes human. It’s a reality as old as time, and yet seems missing in many people’s live today.

Fredrick Beuchner notes: 

You can survive on your own

You can become strong on your own

You can prevail on your own

But, you cannot become a human on your own

Into your life and mine has crept this pervasive lifestyle of constant distraction. Matthew Kelly in his excellent book, The Rhythm of Life reminds us all that; Everything is a choice.This is life’s greatest truth and its hardest lesson.

Do you have an hour next week to Stop, Slow Down, Rethink your journey, and allow Renewal to begin it’s process inside of you. 

I bet you do and you’ll be surprised to find that others you already know are walking this path as well. 

So what do you think? Is there room for new direction, for newness in life? Love to hear some feedback. Post a comment and let’s begin the Conversation!

Check back in for the conclusion in the third part of The Pace and Space of our Lives early next week.

MC

The Pace and Space of our Lives (Part 1)

I’ve been away, AWOL for several weeks after our extended family enjoyed a week at Carolina Beach just beyond Wilmington, NC and just before school started for our three grandchildren. 

Here’s the first of a three part series focused on a parallel path on the pursuit of life.

Vacations, if done properly, interrupt life in the way it was meant to be interrupted. Getting away extends to us a real chance to “get away”! Getting away allows some much needed space that gives us permission to just be present and once we do so, we can reconnect with ourselves in ways that begin to remind us that there is a pace to life we had lost touch with.   We engage this opportunity when we stop, slow down, rethink and allow our lives to be renewed. On this vacation I finally took the time to do just that.

I know the worst thing about vacation is that it has to end. But if we look closely at how we experience a vacation, perhaps we can locate the clues to living a more meaning filled life back home. If we can relax and be present to ourselves, our family and friends, and to our God, the source and resource for living life away from home then we could surely also do so once we’re back home.

Okay, so it’s September and we’re months away from another vacay! But, today or tomorrow, this week and throughout this month nothing is keeping us from installing a new pace to our lives.

In order to change our pace we’ll need to change pieces of our space. Each week allots us 7 days and each day allots us 24 hours. Try this at least once this week; set aside one hour to rethink your space  which may look like this: 

  • STOP – meaning, be present to being, not so much to doing. To stop is to begin. You are undoubtedly a great person to be with so this should be easy, right?
  • SLOW DOWN – meaning that if you stop, you’re not in forward motion. Slowing down is the first thing that stopping does for all of us. Feels weird, but you’ll get used to it, then it feels good, then it feels awesome!
  • RETHINK – meaning that to rethink is to rethink the way you have been thinking. Now I know I just lost some of you because your thought process is impeachable. Sorry. For the rest of you try this; locate inside of you something that you have already been thinking about which you currently entertain as a possible change you need or want to try. Try it and see if it begins to bring into your life……….
  • RENEW – meaning that in less than an hour you have begun a process which may be leading you forward into renewal. All of this from a Micro Mini Vacay in your own town. 

MMV’s throughout the year set up on purpose with a purpose, to give us an opportunity to be Real with ourselves. Real about rest, Real about the source of life, and Real about discovering newness of  life.  

Love to hear your thoughts, and feedback and as always please share this with others in your life.

MC

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog site! I am thankful you are here and hopeful you will find the content engaging. 

That word life says it all. I realize it is broad but if we place the adjective real ahead of the noun life it really can change the conversation. 

So, let’s try to do just that and let’s invite others to join in the discussion with us. 

You and me, we can make a difference, real life awaits!

MC