Day 2

Day 2The infamous saying tells us that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We typically say this when we are trying to inspire ourselves to start something new, but how do we stay inspired in the middle of the lengthy journey that we have  set out upon?

Yesterday was the first day of the year and my wife and I sat down over coffee and talked about our goals for this year. You probably did something similar. January 1 is the day that most people begin their new habits, quit some bad ones, and sign up for the program to help them accomplish the goal that they have set out to accomplish. Now it’s day 2. Yesterday was that first step, and today we begin to look down the road and realize the length of the journey we’ve just started. It’s like turning on your car’s GPS system only to realize you’re going to be in the car for a very long time. While you’re probably still excited and motivated, the weight of your task is setting in. As you look to what lies before you, I want to take a minute and warn you and encourage you.

First, the warning. Sometimes we get so excited about the first few steps of the journey, that we forget about the thousand miles to follow. The vision to change something in our lives can be very strong and it gets us pumped. So we jump in and make the change, only to realize that we will have to keep making that change everyday.

This is an unpopular opinion among some, but my favorite on screen version of Sherlock Holmes is Johnny Miller’s portrayal on the show Elementary. I do love Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal, as well, but there’s a part of the show Elementary that caused me to really engage Johnny Miller’s version on a deeper level. He’s a recovering addict. This piece of his character and his depiction adds a dose of real life to his character. Watching him work through his addiction really shows the time and effort it takes to grow and change your life. A couple of seasons into the show Sherlock grows frustrated with his situation and describes this process perfectly, “It’s the process of maintaining my sobriety. It’s repetitive. And it’s relentless. And above all, it’s tedious. When I left rehab, I accepted your influence, I committed to my recovery. And now, two years in, I find myself asking, ‘is this it?’ My sobriety is simply a grind.”

This change you’ve committed to or want to commit to, especially if it’s health related or focused on removing something from your life, is a grind. Be warned. It is relentless, repetitive, and tedious. Sherlock compares it to a leaky faucet that constantly requires maintenance. This new habit or change in your life, will require constant maintenance, so prepare yourself for the not so glorious daily grind.

Now, for the encouragement. This is how change happens. You’re on the right path. While your conversion experience, your decision to change, or the first time you gave up the habit make have been a landmark day, it’s the thousands to follow that really add up to change.

Like Jesus told his disciples, you have to die to your self daily. If you want to change, it requires daily sacrifice. Formation happens everyday over the course of a lifetime. Things like discipleship, recovery, and physical or emotional health are lifelong endeavors. While this may not sound too encouraging, please be encouraged. In a few months, you may not feel like your new spiritual practice or workout routine is getting you anywhere. Remember it’s about small improvements over the course of your thousand mile journey and not big leaps. You are changing little by little. When you get two weeks in and are unsure, remember that this takes time. As you look back 6 months, 1 year, or even 3 years into this change then you’ll begin to see that little by little, you have changed and you are growing.

Fixing Our Eyes

Fixing our Eyes

Where are you going? What is your aim? I find myself asking these questions while reading Acts 3.

This is where we find a well known story from Acts. Peter and John go to the temple to worship and meet a beggar. Instead of giving them money, they offer him Jesus. And he went walking, and leaping, and praising God.

If I would have been in the same situation, I’m not sure if I would have reacted the same way as Peter and John. I probably, like I do now, would have tried to scurry along without making eye contact. Continue reading

Walking in light of the Resurrection

Walking in light of theMuch like Christmas, Easter tends to be one of those things that we do and move on with our lives. The only difference is that you don’t find a lot of people walking around wishing that we would live every day like it’s Easter. We love the Christmas spirit, the idea of peace on earth, and exchanging gifts. We want every day to be Christmas. Easter doesn’t get the same kind of sentiments. Maybe because it is seen by many as more a specifically Christian holiday, but still Easter just isn’t as big as Christmas. I’m sure some of you do wish that every day was Easter, but the vast majority of our culture has already moved on from Easter even though it was the beginning of this week. Continue reading

Jesus washed Judas’s feet

MaundyMost of us had the same morning on Tuesday. We got up and at some point we turned on the news, checked social media, or listened to the radio. It wasn’t long before we found out about the attack in Brussels. Another bombing. Another day that we woke up to tragedy. The news progressed in the same fashion that it does when covering these kinds of stories. They interviewed experts, reviewed the actual events, speculated as to the cause, and got reactions from the various politicians and candidates. Some of the reactions condemned those who committed the act and many offered up condolences, thoughts, and prayers for victims and their families.

After some time in shock and disbelief, I got ready for my day, ate my breakfast, made my coffee, packed my things and left for work. This is probably where my day differed from yours. I turned on my car, and started of the CD that is currently living in my car’s CD player. Brother by The Brilliance began to play. Continue reading

Cease Striving

Cease Striving

Accomplishment.

This word drives our culture in many ways. In some ways, you’re only as good your best accomplishment. I know that in many parts of our world this is not the case, but when you look at the media what we see is a pretty clear testimony that our accomplishments define us.

Championship games, award shows, game shows, and even politics all point to what we have done and can do. It’s not hard to understand why, then, we strive to do. We want to succeed and to be recognized for our accomplishments. We have task managers and attend time management classes. We want to be able to do more and to do it better so that we can be the best. Your value is only in what you have done. Continue reading

Don’t Be a Tourist

Don't be a

“Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.” Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

When I started to work on the Discipleship Pathway at Westbrook, I looked for a metaphor that would do a decent job of describing our life in Christ. What does it look like to be a life long follower of Jesus Christ? After a lot of thinking and searching a landed on the idea of a pilgrim. In America, we tend to think of pilgrims as the people who started thanksgiving, but a pilgrim is a person who has set out on a journey for some sort of religious or spiritual reason. Some pilgrims travel to holy sites, other travel to discover themselves, or, like the pilgrims who came to america, they are traveling to find religious freedom.

For me, this has become one of the best metaphors for being a disciple of Jesus. There are a lot of good ways to describe what it’s like to be a Christian, but I think that this one does a fantastic job of capturing the lifelong journey of becoming more like Jesus. Continue reading

What to Expect in 2016

What to expect in

It’s been a while since I have been regularly posting on my blog. From April to September of Last year, I was posting almost weekly. After September, however, it seemed like the ideas weren’t coming as readily and October is the month where things start to get really busy for me, so I let it slide. Since then, I’ve only had three posts.

Part of me feels like that’s a failure. At the beginning of 2015 I wanted to write weekly. I wanted to be more consistent in my writing and be more intentional about sharing what was on my mind and heart. The great thing about last year is that I seemed to go through a season where I had a lot of ideas and I was able to be really consistent with my writing habits. That is, until I found myself in October with a lot to do without much to write about. What I’m beginning to realize, is that it’s not a failure when I don’t post. I’m not a professional blogger and I don’t have thousands of readers waiting for me to make another post. So this year, I’m changing my expectations for this blog. Continue reading

You don’t have to be afraid of discipleship

Photo Credit: mharrsch via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mharrsch via Compfight cc

Words can be very intimidating, especially if you don’t know what they mean. You may have experienced this when going to the doctor. A while ago, our daughter was sick and we took her to the pediatrician. When the doctor examined her, she told us that she had a virus and then gave us the name of that virus. For a split second, this this is scary, that is until she said that by the end of the week she’d be over it and she’d just have a sore throat.

Sometimes being a Christian can be the same way. People may use unfamiliar words to talk about being a Christian that if left undefined can seem intimidating or even scary. Disciple and discipleship fall under that category. They’re simply not words that we use on a regular basis outside of church and considering that the meaning of disciple in the Bible is somewhat rooted in what it meant to be a disciple of a teacher in the 1st century, it can be even harder for us to grasp. Continue reading

Why I’m worrying less about my Bible Reading Plan

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc

At the beginning of the year, I joined with a group of people from Westbrook in a Bible reading plan. We are following a plan that if done right would take us through the Bible in one year. It’s a fantastic plan and a fantastic goal. The problem, however, is that I’m not going to make it. I’m very behind in my reading and will now finish sometime in January.

Instead of panicking about being behind in my reading plan, I’m choosing not to worry about it any more. When I was only a few days behind I was able to pick up the slack over the course of a few days and catch up. Then I began doing worse and worse and now I’ve basically given up on catching up. Continue reading

Saturate the World: A Review of Jeff Vanderstelt’s new book Saturate

How do we make disciples?

This question should be at the center of everything that a church does. How do we live out the great commission that Jesus gave us? The strategy for many is to get people into the church building so that they can be taught. We want them in discipleship classes, Sunday schools, Sunday services, and sometimes Sunday night services. Before I go on, I should admit that there’s nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. I am a full time pastor, and I teach some of these kinds of classes. The problem is that by themselves, they fall short. The heart of discipleship is teaching people to be like Jesus and doing this in a classroom alone means that we don’t have the chance to show people how to live. People hear us speaking, but don’t get to see us live it. That’s why life on life discipleship is important, and to do really be able to do that we have to be like Jesus all the time. Our lives need to be saturated with Jesus and his gospel. Continue reading