Monday, January 30, 2012
But, you know what? Not every post will have pristine quality pictures. Deal with it.
Tim and I went to high school together, but the circles we ran in weren't exactly the same ones. Tim was the rock star, I was the band geek. So sadly, we never actually hung out in high school. Let me tell you though... when we actually start hanging out a couple years after, I was quite sad we never did. We would've gotten along fantastically, I think.
Tim, as I mentioned, is a rock star. He plays the bass, and has worked on several different project. He currently plays with a stellar cover band, and they often rock out in local bars in the greater Milwaukee area.
He's quite good, and has taught me a thing or two about starting out, as I feebly venture into the challenging endeavour known as the "Sunday worship team." He likes a variety of music, including a lot of that underground "hippity hop" stuff. You know, mix tapes, heavier beats, and anti-pop themes? Yeah, that's the stuff. He's actually gotten me into several different groups.
He's also an NRA nut, and proud of it. No joke. It's pretty awesome, actually. I've learned quite a lot about guns whilst hangin' with Tim, and will probably be learning even more in the years to come. Epic.
Tim, like so many of my friends, is one smart guy.He loves learning, and is always searching for new knowledge. Economics fascinates him. Yeah, for real! If you need any help studying for exams I'm sure he could help you out...for a price. He also knows a fair amount about politics and exercise among other things.
You can check out his blog here, and I'd highly recommend it!
I think that one of the main things I appreciate about Tim, is that he thinks about things. Crazy right? But I mean it! When you talk with him, you actually come out of the conversation feeling like you learned something new.
I think this is probably because he's very much self-educated. He hasn't relied upon the public school system to teach him about life but, rather, he's gone out and researched the issues himself. At a time in our nation's history when critical thinkers are beginning to become the exception rather than the norm, conversing with Tim is a breath of fresh air!
He's able to see many issues from multiple points of view, and is open to honest dialogue, but he also carries strong personal convictions with him. That fact alone could earn my respect in a heartbeat. It's much easier, in my opinion, to respect someone with conviction, someone who knows what they believe and why. Tim has no problem with doing this.
Often the venue of choice for our conversations is one of several hookah bars called Shi Chai, in Milwaukee.
If, however, we don't happen to be having super awesome conversations, one could probably find us shooting some pool, or cruising around Milwaukee's bar scene.
And that's another beauty of our friendship, we're both simple kinds of men (Lynyrd Skynyrd reference intended). We don't need to be doing crazy stuff to have a good time. Having a meal, conversation, or a few drinks is more than sufficient to keep us entertained for several hours at a time.
His appreciation for family and friends is pretty damn inspiring to me. It helps to ground me when I get caught up in the logistics of life.
When I start to sweat the details, Tim's values and priorities always bring me back to the understanding, that as long as I'm healthy, have great family and friends, then I can count myself blessed beyond words.
There are so many great things to say about this guy, as with all of my friends, and I can't hope to do him justice in a simple blog post. All I can say, is that I appreciate him. His friendship, and the constant inspiration that provides, and that I can indeed count myself a blessed man.
A question that my friend Laena pondered in a recent post titled: "Before I go." Excellent post. I'd definitely recommend it, because she uses a lens, not often used in our fast paced society to examine the concept. That's all I'll say...now go read it!
The post got me thinking myself.
Everybody has their own personal "bucket lists." Things we want, experiences we covet, and every list varies.
Now, perhaps, I'm over thinking this question. Maybe it's meant to imply that we should do as much as we can in this particular scenario, maybe not. But as I thought about what I would do, if I would find out I had but a year to live, I realized that I would simply focus on one thing...
Being more thankful.
Material things are fun, and there's a great deal of stuff that I'd personally like to own...but in the end, it's just stuff. I think experiences are great, but quantity of experience doesn't necessarily make for a better life.
I think that being thankful would be a great way to begin...and end this life.
What I mean is this...
Understanding that longevity is never promised from the day of conception. Understanding the simple fact that the sweet breath that's breathed into our lungs from our very first gasp, is a gift.
Nothing is ours to ask for.
We didn't create our first heartbeat. Nor do we determine when it will stop. We didn't create our lungs, our eyes, our hands. We didn't create our sense of touch, or smell. We were knit together by masterful hands. Thrust into a world that has much beauty as well as ugliness, and were given the opportunity to add our two cents to the greater story that's being told.
I think, that the understanding that nothing is mine, and that I'm not owed anything by life has given me a deep sense of peace. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm not driven by the need to prolong my life. Everyone has their day, and until mine comes I'm going to live the life that I hope I'd find satisfying if I actually was given a gloomy progenosis.
I want to appreciate my family, my friends every day.
I want to help someone in need. I want to spread love, not hate.
I want to be inspired by someone.
I want to be a better man than I was yesterday.
I want to give more than I take.
I want to leave my friends with happy memories of our time together...
These, in the end, are the things that I feel matter the most. They can happen at anytime. They can happen today. They can happen everyday.
But it all begins with peace.
A peace that is rooted in thankfulness.
Thankfulness that grows from understanding.
Understanding that causes us to realize that we've been given a tremendous, beautiful opportunity.
So maybe the true question isn't, "If you had a year left in your life, what would you do with it?"
Maybe the true question is: "How are you living today?"
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I hadn't really forgiven her. Not fully, anyway.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
This was the beginning of me and Theresa's relationship, where I was known as "creepy dude from the band concert."
It wasn't till freshman year, in Honors English class, when we happened to be seated alphabetically next to each other that we actually bonded. Thus, an era began.
We quickly discovered that we were both reading nerds, and were both thoroughly bored in the class, as the teacher wasn't that great. So, we made our own fun out of the period.
One of the ways we made English interesting is that we'd take this heavy-duty giant dictionary that we found (I swear it was from 1800 or something), and we'd look up a word each day. We justified this by maintaining that we were merely "expanding our vocabulary." Some pretty darn interesting words in that book, let me tell you.
T comes from a family similar to my own. Lots of siblings with lots of emphasis on family time. We were both part of families that put numerous children through our high school band programs, so T and I were on the tail end of a long standing, band-family, legacy.
T is one of the smartest women I know. No joke. If she's ever found school difficult, it's damn near impossible to tell, unless you know her really well. She diligently strives to excel in her studies, a character trait that applies to her life, not just her schooling. Honestly, I don't know how she does half the stuff she does. Not only is she involved in school, but she works several jobs to pay the bills, and still manages time to spend with her friends.
When you finish hanging out with Theresa you actually feel smarter, like you've learned five new things just by chatting. I'm not kidding. It's quite fantastic.
T also doesn't whine. She has just as much, if not more, on her plate as the above average American student, but I don't hear her constantly harping on that fact. She rolls up her sleeves, and just gets it done! You don't see that as much anymore in this country, sadly.
Theresa's a life saver to me in so many ways...
Theresa was my life saver in school. In fact, she's quite a giving, altruistic person. She is generous with her time, and never expects anything in return. I can't even begin to describe the amount of times that she bailed me out in classes, and helped me cram last minute test prep in. Labs in Physics were a bitch, but she somehow found the ability to always have her work finished, and then to attempt to teach me the lessons I'd failed to learn in the previous class period.
She has also been a life saver in my own personal life. I've had quite a lot of ups and downs in life. In high school, I always seemed to be creating some sort of drama, and it was always T who was there with encouraging words, or to just listen to me. I never felt judged around her, but I always knew she would tell me the truth, as she saw it.
It's such a rarity, but it seems I've been blessed with quite a few honest friends. I can always count on T to give it too me straight, and I often don't question her opinions because she has an uncanny way of being able to see multiple sides of an issue, and evaluate it fairly.
I really value that quality most in her. She is one of the most judicious friends I have. Aloof from drama, but always ready to lend help to those who need it.
T also helped me when I was at my lowest point. My freshman year of college. Before all this God stuff happened. I think it was in those couple days, that I realized just how much crap this woman has put up with from me. I won't list it all here, but it's quite a list...
I write about God a lot, and how he works through people. I firmly believe that God is always present, and shows his care through the people around us. T was that person, and not just in that moment, but for as long as I've known her.
I think it was that realization that really brought a lot of truth into my life. Realizations about self, about God, and about friends. The knowledge that, as rotten as I'd been, my friend was still there for me. Still cared, and wanted to see me find better...that made all the difference.
I did find better, and it feels pretty damn good, I must say.
In life, we all have our battles to fight; but it's times like those that, I believe, God places friends like T in our lives. They're people who inspire, motivate and encourage you. They're people who help you to see that tomorrow's going to be a little brighter than today was. Sometimes, you need a dear friend to save your life. I have a friend like that, and I'm truly blessed and honored to be a part of her story...
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I mean, if you start a relationship lame, it's probably going to be a lame relationship.
Monday, January 9, 2012
We build our empires, and worship our own greatness, but in time a new power comes, and the magnificence of man is crushed in his arrogance. Walking through the ruins of man's greatest feats, one can hear the echoes what we've known all along, yet have ignored...'Memento Mori'!"
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Saturday, January 7, 2012
He isn't stupid, in fact he actually knows quite a lot about theology. It's actually what he's mostly known for.
But credentials alone do not a man make. I was reading a post by a blogger called "Chaplain Mike" about Driscoll which you can read here, which prompted this post...
Now, I've sampled Driscoll's stuff before. I'll tell you right now, it isn't my cup of tea. I like the graphics, and some of the concepts for how to format discussion (like smart boards, text message question sessions, using social networking and such), but I really don't like him, and how he presents himself.
In fact, after initially watching some of his clips I remember thinking; 'This guy seems like a total tool.'
But, he has a heart for Jesus, he has a heart to try to communicate the truth, as he sees it, to young men who haven't been 'churched' if you will, and he's done well, as far as numbers go.
After reading Chaplain Mike's post, I decided to revisit the world of Mark Driscoll, and remembered just why I don't like much of his stuff. Below is a clip of Driscoll talking a bit about real men, and, what he believes they've been replaced with in the church...
Now, I don't begrudge Driscoll for having an opinion on this issue, but I do completely disagree with it. If you know me, or have read any previous posts, you may know that I was raised in an artistic home. My father taught music in public schools. From a young age I learned to appreciate things like, musicals, symphonies and museums. I was never a "jock." When my dad and I would bond we would do so over Culver's concrete shakes, or listening to classic rock.
I grew up in a home where we learned to share, and talk about our feelings. My dad and I feel things deeply. We get sad when animals die or are abused, and shit like that.
I played football for a couple years, and enjoyed it, but I liked music more. I invested all four years of high school in marching band, musicals, and photography classes.
I actually resent Driscoll's disdain for "sensitive" guys. I resent the whole idea that, unless you're some kind of brawler who is obsessed with his car, and how many RPM's you can get out of your engine, that you cannot be an innovator. I resent the idea that true men are at home on Sunday watching football on the couch, rather than being active at their church.
Real men cry.
You know why?
Because real men aren't afraid of their emotions, and feelings.
Because conversation and relation are divine traits.
Because music, art and literature are just as important as sport.
See, as a guy, there's this sort of pressure to subscribe to this "macho man" mentality. To out-lift, out-shoot, out-talk the next guy.
I will not subscribe to this.
I've felt this pressure my whole life to be a "dude." It's something I can't be.
Please don't misunderstand, I love taking opportunities with my friends to learn about things outside my comfort zone (check out my "wilderness man" stories on the blog, and you'll see).
But, I'm not created to be a hunter, a fisher, a "jock", a warrior (at least in the militaristic sense).
It isn't me.
God has created me to write. To love art, film, and music. This is who I am, and I'm not ashamed of it. And if you can relate to this, then you shouldn't be ashamed of who you are either!
If you're a guy who is a "sensitive", there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with you. Just because you aren't a hunter, fisher, or mechanic does not make you less of a man. If you appreciate new clothes, smelling nice, conversing with a woman and learning about her life, you are not any less a man!
Manhood is not something that is attained through credentials.
It isn't attained by doing the "expected" or "typical guy" things.
Jesus, who is my sole inspiration, invested his time in relationships with others. Plain and simple. He wasn't chest bumping with his buddies, and burping, or making pervy jokes. He interacted with women, he loved and had compassion, he wept, he showed emotion.
Do you really think he was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying like: "Yeah, Father God, you know this cross thing? Bring it! I'm not a pussy, I can take it! Can't you think of anything better? I'm up to it!"
He felt fear. He prayed so hard he sweat blood! He wasn't trying to downplay his coming suffering!
Being a real man means feeling something other than constant testosterone.
I like some of the stuff Mark Driscoll has to say, most of it I don't.
Some of it, like his ideas about Christian manhood, are actually quite ridiculous.
Being a man is about more than being a "dude." It's about being real. It's about being true to the person that God has called you to be.
In fact, God has a way of shattering these shallow perceptions we prescribe to, and replacing them with radical realities.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
It all started when my eldest sister showed me this video...
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Whenever I have conversations with my friend Sam, we often end up discussing religion. Surprise, right? I mean, I never talk about that stuff here. Ever.
On Sunday, Sam and I discussed the concept of the "body" of Christ (simply defined as those who follow Jesus), and how it should really look...
Have you grown up in church?
If so, I want you to ask yourself a simple question...
Does this community reflect God to those who interact with it?
What I mean is this...
We, myself included, tend to be static. Humans are creatures of habit. Ever noticed how it was the first day of high school? If you were so lucky to choose your own seat at the beginning of the semester, often you would find yourself there at the end of the semester as well. Why? Because comfort is important to individuals.
We tend to take the things we like, and try to bend them to surround us in an effort to keep from moving outside our comfort zone. We do this all the time. I think I've ordered the same type of sub from Jimmy John's the last six times I've eaten there for cryin' out loud!
We like the known.
We tend to embrace it, while shunning the mysterious.
And so, life can become quite predictable, quite fast.
Church, organized religion, or whatever you'd like to call it has become a neatly wrapped package with a little bow on top.
Don't believe me?
Walk into most churches in America, and you'll find greeters (almost like Wal-Mark, only unpaid), there will be a mingling period before the main event, I mean, service durin which (if you're a Protestant evangelical who identifies as a "Non-Denominational") you can probably find a coffee bar, and get some life pumping through your veins in time for the service.
Service will often come with an itinerary (I mean, program), to let you know just how long it will be before you're free for another week. There will be all sorts of ways you can get involved in expanding the churches influence listed in the bulletin. The service will generally consist of worship (style varies), a 30-60 minute message, a little more worship, perhaps some communion, maybe a baptism (if it's a particularily adventurous sunday), and a bendiction.
If you're super spiritual, you may even stick around to talk afterward rather than running home to see the beloved (insert favorite sports team here) play at noon.
So again...is this sort of experience what Christ really had in mind for the generations following his death and resurrection?
Isn't this the kind of thing he railed against?
Now, I'm being a bit facetious about some of the things listed above. I know. Traditions and rituals are important. There are many that carry a weighty significance with them, and are quite powerful when done in a large gathering...please don't misunderstand.
But, when I think about Jesus and how he lived his life, most of the radical, powerful things that he did happened outside the church walls. They were intermingled with his interactions with those who were considered "non- churched."
See, this is, in my experience, how God really truly works. He's personal. He relates to you. He knows you down to every last character flaw, and failure, and he still loves you more than anyone ever could.
Isn't that how those who represent him should live? Isn't that what's being lost in the idea of "church." Church, as Rob says in the clip, isn't a building. It isn't a denomination. It's people. People who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. People who have taken his teachings to heart, and have committed to doing everything within their power to follow it, as best as they can.
People who believe that something is profoundly wrong in this world, and that it's the responsibility of those who call themselves "Christ-followers" to search out the widow, the orphan, the poor, the oppressed, the "not good enoughs", and show them nothing less than the love, they themselves have been beneficiaries of.
So what does a community of a living, breathing God look like?
What does a community of a God who interacted with his creation, who showed compassion to the friendless, who ate with the unpopular, who rebuked the self-righteous, what does that look like?
Does it look like your church?
Does it look like the community of people that you spend most Sunday's with?
If this isn't the case, perhaps it could be. Communities are built a relationship at a time. Perhaps your community is waiting for you to take the lead. Perhaps, just as Christ was our example, now it is time for his disciple to step up, and to begin to emulate the example we've been given.
Church goes beyond a meeting place on Sunday. Sam and I both agree on this. It happens every other day of the week. It's about knowing someone, and being known. It's about caring deeply about others, meeting their needs, and knowing they'll meet yours should the need arise. The community Jesus began with his disciples happened more than once a week. It happened every day.
This fact is very important, because the calling of a Christian goes beyond memorizing bible verses, and attending accountability groups.
The calling of a Christian is to ease the world's suffering. To bind its wounds, and to bring hope to those who've lost hope. God understands that we need other people in this. He understands that we can't do this, if we're going through life alone.
We need brothers and sisters to passionately pursue this common goal.
We need a church.
We need a community, a place to belong.
So ask yourself, is this the community you're in?
Monday, January 2, 2012
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Not just me.