another good thing about marriage...

January 22 2006

so... there are obviously lots of good things about marriage.  and i'm sure you are very well aware of that.  so i won't bother to elaborate concerning all the positives of entering into this holy matrimony thing.  but i do want to tell you what might very well be my favorite--and yet at times my very least favorite--byproduct of being wed:

i spend a lot of time helping other people.  if you know me, you might suggest to others that i am very giving of my time.  i strive to invest in other people.  i believe that, as God has cared for me, i ought to in turn care for others.  and so, i often find myself agreeing to spend time that i might not really even have with other people.  and i believe that i benefit just as the other person might.  i am serving God in this way, and am very happy to do so.  my wife and i plan our lives and how we spend our time with this one thought probably more in mind than any other: "this life is not about us."

if you've made it this far in your reading, you might have the feeling that i'm patting myself on the back.  you also might be wondering what in the world this post actually has to do with marriage....

i think of myself--or thought of myself, rather--as a very giving person.  until marriage.  now all of a sudden, what used to be my own personal time to rest after spending a day or a week "giving" to others, is no longer my own personal time.  at least not always.  to actually share my life with someone, to actually become (in some way or another) one with that person, takes tremendous selflessness.  more than i often have.  as a single guy, i thought that i was so much like Jesus, giving my life for others.  i now realize how unlike Jesus i am indeed.  i am an incredibly selfish person.  being married has thrust this realization upon me.  i've said many times that this life is not about me, but deep down, i still want for it to be.  i want to serve God by giving of all of this "sectioned off and convenient portion of time."  and then i want to go home and rest, and think of myself.  marriage has taught me--christie has taught me what selflessness is.  she puts me ahead of herself over and over and over again.  she is truly like Christ in this way. 

marriage has taught me all over again that this life is not about me.  and now i pray that the Holy Spirit continue to transform me, to make me the same unselfish and giving person that Jesus was when he lived on this earth.

disney world, dark nights, and discipline

November 09 2005

two weeks ago i was on fall break, though it wasn't much of a break.  i studied hebrew for most of the week, getting ready for the midterm.  for the sake of soccer season, i'd only been to class three times at the semester's midpoint --and i had a lot of catching up to do.  still do.

after fall break i had the good fortune to chaperone our school's tenth grade trip... to orlando, florida, and... disney world.  i'd never been before.  i really enjoyed spending time with my students outside of school.  and i liked lots of the rides; watching 3-D movies has become a new favorite pasttime of mine.  we went to epcot, animal kingdom, mgm, universal's islands of adventure, and both last and least of all... magic kingdom.  most of the parks were quite fun and exciting; magic kingdom was one of the most boring places i've even been in my life.  i'd rather drink turpentine and pee on a brushfire than go back to that stroller-ridden mistake for a theme park.

but amidst all the fun, i felt sick to my stomach at times.  i remember being at downtown disney, looking up and down the street lined with extravagant shops marked by gaudy signs and lights.  so much money spent on so much nothing.  entertainment.  places to eat.  shops in which i can spend way too much money on way too pointless of items.  and people starve.

i came back from disney world to an extra long night's sleep here in murfreesboro.  i moved from the eastern time zone to the central one, and it was our weekend to turn back the clocks.  i believe i slept ten hours saturday -- one for each grade completed by my disney world compatriots, or one for each seemingly unending hour spent in the magic kingdom.  i'm quite thankful for the extra sleep i got that night, but... man, it gets dark awfully early these days.

nearly one year from now i will be completing my first ironman race.  i started training again today... lifted weights, cycled, ran.  i'm exhausted.  this is going to take some discipline.  i want so badly to be an extremely disciplined individual, but it never happens that way.  all that i accomplish is usually in spite of my lack of discipline, rather than on account of my having it.  i intend to do a better job in the next twelve months.  if intentions were horses, though, i'd be cleaning up a lot of crap. 

to tattoo or not to tattoo?

October 20 2005

the other day the question of tattoos came up in a group forum to which i'm subscribed.  i posted the following and thought it interesting enough (though barely so) to include on my page:

i have no problems with tattoos.  i have a crown of thorns and ichthus around my left ankle.  our bodies are indeed temples of God and our lives sacrifices to Him.  but i don't see how a tattoo in itself could possibly be "defiling" the temple that is my body--in any way making it impure or unclean.  especially after jesus taught so clearly that it's the "inside of the cup" to which we ought to pay attention.

in leviticus 19 the children of Israel were told not to cut marks in their skin for the dead (tattoos).  this is one requirement given to them by Yahweh that, when obeyed, would set them apart from the other nations of the world.  it comes just after "thou shalt not trim your beard" and "don't eat meat with blood in it."  i think it's funny that people try to bind the tattoo law but not the others.  we ought to see that what we bind has been filtered through the lens of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  instead we look to the scriptures to further prove our already existing opinions....  eh, we're humans.

refrigerator box

October 16 2005

so i was dropping my little sis off at her dorm in nashville when, out by the dumpster, i saw it.  abandaned, discarded, tossed aside as refuse... a refrigerator box.  i couldn't believe someone would get rid of something of such value.  so i took it.  you can do a lot with a cardboard box, you know.  but you can do even more with a refrigerator box--it has all the characteristics of a cardboard box, only in supersize. 

i remember my first refrigerator box.  we had grown bored of hiding in bushes, pulling stuffed animals across the road.  the refrigerator box was in jackson's garage; his parents told us we could have it.  they would never do that again.  we had my young sister (quite small at the time) lie down on the box, and we traced her body there, so that what was left was a lonely silhouette of a girl with arms stretched out to the sides.  we cut the giant paper-doll out and tied fishing line to a hole in each elbow.  using the best of my boy scout knot-tying skills, i fastened one end of the fishing line to a tree, about shoulder-height on a small girl.  the other end of the line remained in our hands as we hid in the bushes.  our cardboard cutout friend also hid, face down in the road, so as to attract no attention.  but as each car would approach, we'd pull with might on our fishing line, watching refrigerator girl spring to life in the middle of the street.  fun times.

so... what to do with this refrigerator box...?  any ideas?  my wife wants it out of the house within a few days.  i must do something with my box.


October 10 2005
i think we've really misunderstood repentance. we talk about it being a 180-degree turn or a change in thinking that results in a change of action. i myself prefer to think of repentance in terms of story -- i recognize that all the stories of this world are false, and that God's story is the only true story. i then turn my back on every story i've been living, and i participate exclusively in the story of God.

really, any of these definitions is pretty fair, but we're leaving out a crucial ingredient -- the crucial ingredient. where do we place the power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in our definitions of repentance? we hold on tight to our own stories of repentance, because this allows us to salvage a portion of our pride. "if i can't contribute at all to my salvation, then surely i can at least be the one who puts myself in the position in which i'm 'saveable.'" we like to look back on our lives and talk about how we had the intelligence to figure out the path we were heading down was a poor one; and so we finally came to our senses and turned our lives around.

in luke 15, the lost son "came to his senses." that's even how the niv renders it. and once in his senses he devised a plan to make himself right. he would go to his father and ask to be a hired worker. i understand that he recognized the poor life he was living -- but he was not truly responsible for the change in his life. when HE came to HIS senses, HE devised HIS OWN plan to make HIMSELF right. he attempted to do all this on his own. the lost son was not truly found, i believe, until his father embraced him. it was then that the change in his life truly came about; his father received him as a son.

God's power must be present in repentance. i cannot bring about the change in my life that occurs in salvation. i can no more change my life by decision and discipline than i can provide my own sacrifice for sins. i pray that the Holy Spirit continues to transform me, changing me, making me into the man he desires for me to be. and my prayer is the same for you. may he bless us both with truly changed lives.


October 04 2005
you know... if the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy.

there are so many things going on right now in my life -- and they're all good things -- but it's just so much. i feel like i'm not doing anything to the best of my ability. i've spread myself pretty thin, and i wonder if i'm really as shallow in every area as i feel like i am. i want so badly to glorify God in all that i do, and perhaps i could reach that goal if i didn't do quite all that i do.

Lord, show me your intentions and purposes. grant me the wisdom to know how much i can do, and then empower me to serve that end. above all, give me peace in my role for you on this earth.