Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day Eight

“So, today fast fixing things. Let the broken be broken for a day…” Alicia Britt Chole

Day Seven

I have written a few times about the Bible study I do at a nursing home in town. I really like my little old people, but sadly I may have to stop going. We don’t have any patients at this particular place and I spend a lot of time in Denton and Weatherford now. Downtown Fort Worth doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of efficiency any more.

I arrived early today and decided to sit in my car and do my reading and journaling. Book reading was good, still like what she has to say and it focuses me for the day. The text was great today. It is my favorite story of Jesus I think…

13:1 Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end.  13:2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. 13:3 Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 13:4 he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. 13:5 He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself.

John 13:1-5, NET Bible

I am always impressed with the idea that Jesus washed people’s feet. I barely enjoy washing my kid’s feet and I like them way more than any of you. Yet the full extent of Jesus’ love is to get on his knees and wash some gross feet. Let’s spend an election cycle talking about feet washing and see how that goes.

Day Four, Five, and Six

I woke up this morning to horrible news…my phone’s “message app” was not working and I was unable to receive or send texts or receive phone calls. Then I tried resetting my phone and it froze. That was almost 4 hours ago now.

I am now sitting at Starbucks next to the Apple Store and wondering how the world is doing without me. These people here seem to be doing just fine, but I wonder if it is just a show. Alpha Omega has probably closed the office and sent employees home for the day. I imagine they are all waiting to hear from me once this problem is fixed.

My dad bought my sister and I our first cell phones when I was junior in college…or right before my 21st birthday. I remember standing in line at the Sprint store in Highland Park like I was the coolest kid on the planet. I was going to be able to call anyone from anywhere at anytime. No more having to wait till I got back to my dorm to call someone. I didn’t have to find a phone if mom paged me. I would be able to talk on the phone from Abilene to Duncanville if I wanted (and dad was willing to pay). There was no way that life would become any better than that day in December when they handed us our first cell phones.

I hate my phone.

Today I have learned that this stupid device has ruined sunshine and great weather. It sucks the life out of conversations and relationships. It makes my head hurt from squinting too much. And will waste most of today.

What if one year someone actually fasted from his or her cell phone? I do not have the courage, but what if? Think back to how life probably was pre-cell phone…we woke up without knowing the news from twitter and what our friend from 3rd grade had for dinner last night. We went to work and learned about the day once we got there. We listened to the radio and heard commercials. We paid attention better.

Maybe we spent more time with our spouses and kids…

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Day Three

(Yup, I am one day behind. But I think that is why you don’t count Sunday’s in Lent…they’re the make-up day!)

I like to look at the statistic page of this blog. It shows me how many people have read each post and how many views I have received on certain days. Back in 2014 when Stacey was in the hospital it was fun to look and see all the people who were reading my words.

It became addicting in a lot of ways. I wanted to keep writing so that more people would keep reading and I could get more numbers. Sure, it was about the words and emotions behind the story of that time, but I really did like knowing the page received 350 hits in one day.  The problem became that I had run out of things to write about. I was trying really hard and when I didn’t get the amount of likes that I wanted, I just quit.

We count everything these days. So much of our self-esteem is tied to social media likes or hit counts on sites or pins. We crave attention. We crave being liked and noticed. I think a lot of that is good and normal. We were created to be social beings and having positive social interactions is always a plus, but why do we chase attention like we do?

I have no idea. I am sure I can research this, but I like to keep these short.

Today is about giving up seeking attention and giving more attention to God. Before I would preach many moons ago I would pray the prayer, “more you God and less of me”. Seems like a really spiritual thing to pray before you get up to speak about God to a group of people…but today I’d like to say it pray it again from my kitchen table, while my wife vacuums, and my kids play outside:

God, today I pray for more of you and less of me. Whatever that means and whatever it looks like, increase you and decrease me.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Day Two

The book I bought is called “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole.

I have read the first two days and I give it a few thumbs up. Here is the thing though, I am not disciplined when it comes to reading, journaling, or praying. I start strong and then fade. Last year the church where we attend did a thing where they wanted the congregation to read a million verses in 2015. My contribution was to read exactly zero verses for the project. It wasn’t that I didn’t read my bible, I am sure I did, I just didn’t ever contribute to the church. I have a journal a friend gave me a few years ago and if you follow the dates that I journal it usually skips a month or two in between entries. I just do not have the discipline in my life to follow through with things like this.

All of that to say that I am proud that I read “Day Two” of the book and I hope to make it to “Day Three” before quitting. Day Two was about letting go of regrets and the Lord knows that I have plenty of those, but one that I will let go of today is the regret that I haven’t been a better disciplined follower and choose on this day to start over.

Here is to a new beginning on Day Two…

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day One

This week we had lunch after church at a Spring Creek BBQ in Fort Worth. Nothing amazingly special about that except that it was the same restaurant I had lunch at a few years ago with an angry couple over the current state of my youth ministry. The dad told me not too far into my lunch that I was the most cynical person that he had ever met. I remember wanting to thank him for the complement while dialing all of my buddies and letting them know the good news.

I have no idea how many years ago that was, but I want to believe that I have grown up some since then. But I am not sure I have outgrown my cynicism.

Today is Ash Wednesday.

While I am not Catholic, I still love the idea of the calendar and especially this season. When I was doing student ministry we tried to make this season before Easter special in some way. Sometimes that would be just talking about fasting, sometimes it was actually giving things up like red meat, and other times it was a full blow Ash Wednesday service at a Church of Christ. I connect with the next 40 days leading up to Easter because it helps me reflect.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do this year. The last few years have been hit and miss with the Lenten season and I really had not put a lot of time or effort into it so far. Monday I Googled “best Lent devotional” books thinking that would help me prepare. I looked over the list and read some reviews, I decided on a book by a lady with the last name Chole. I went to a Barnes and Noble by my office and searched for the book. Oh well, strike one. Tuesday I had to be in Denton and drive past another Barnes and Noble. No go, strike two. I realize I could have asked someone to help me or ordered it off Amazon, but like I said…I wasn’t trying all that hard. Just enough to fool God into thinking I cared.

Today I dropped off Jensyn and really did not have a plan for work. I get to make my own schedule and so I just planned to head back to Weatherford to a few doctor’s offices and facilities and then go to a meeting at 2pm….

This is where I believe God changed my day.

And also where my cynicism glad rages out of control.

I got a text from a dear friend wanting to have lunch today. He asked where my meeting was and then determined where he wanted to eat and the time. I was already headed west and I look at my clock and decided I really didn’t have time to go back to Weatherford, took a random exit, turned around and came back Fort Worth. What to do with the extra hour I needed to kill? Hey, there is Barnes and Noble on Hulen, I’ll go there and kill some time.

I made sure I had the authors name right just in case the third Barnes and Noble had my book. I am admittedly bad at the alphabet and have to sing the song each time I go searching for letter combinations. “Cho…” comes after “Chi…” I am standing in the aisle of the third store, singing the alphabet in my head, and preparing to be not shocked this book isn’t sold here. I am deciding what to have lunch when my eyes see the book facing out. Not like the other books on the shelf with just the binding showing, no this book is staring at me.

I looked both ways half expecting Jesus to peak around the corner and laugh at the trick he had just played on me. I grabbed the book off the shelf, went back to Google to compare pictures, and then flipped through the book to make sure it wasn’t just a cruel joke or something.

I am a cynic.

Why can I not just enjoy the movement of God? Why can this case just be a simple “hello, I am real” from God? I move so quickly to dismiss the idea that God could have a hand it because my rational brain will not allow for the irrational parts. Only wackado’s think God cares what I read for Lent.

Or I can go all Job’s friends…surely I am just looking for God because I have something in my life that I am ashamed of. I “need” God to want me to read this book because it will get me penance. 

What if it was really just a cool God moment on a Wednesday in February?

I got my book. I’ll tell you the name later. But today is day 1 of Lent and I am going to try and let my cynicism go and see God for who I tell all of you he is…