Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Big Story

Over the last few weeks as a faith community at h2o, we have been looking at the Bible as God's great story, and the story in which all of our stories find meaning. Along with each week's message, dealing with the themes of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, my friend Ryan Huffman has been painting original pieces designed to reflect the theme of the week.

Right now I am looking at the painting done for the theme of consummation. I am talking about that theme this week. This theme carries with it the ideas expressed in Revelation 21:1-8. Check it out if you get a chance. It talks about no more pain or tears being around.

On the painting is the phrase " . . .And they all Lived Happily Ever After". This is how our story resolves. As we become heroes in God's story (He gives us an opportunity to become a hero or a villain), we look forward to a time when we will all live happily ever after. The story reaches its consummation--it is complete, and we are able to experience true Shalom.

I can't even begin to get an idea of what that will be like. I keep looking at this painting, and I am taken away by it. There is a tree, and some hills, and a beautiful skyline. Even Ryan, talented artist that he is, perhaps could only glimpse a shadow of what this time will be like. The painting does a great job of creating longing. Like the fragrance of a flower we have never seen, that is our longing for eternity.

What are some of the great stories that you have read that remind you of aspects of God's story?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

abs and prayer

This morning I went to the Rec Center with my roommate. We've been going 3 times a week for about 6 weeks now--it's nearly a habit. We get up at 5:45AM, get dressed, and go work out for about an hour. Then we grab some breakfast, read, pray, and get our day started. (He is doing rotations to finish his pharmacy degree.)

Each day, we finish up with 3 sets of 5 different ab exercises. He looks over at me today during one of the exercises (called the Bridge), and says, "either you are counting really slowly or I am counting really quickly." I told him that I had given up on counting (you are supposed to hold yourself in a certain position for this exercise--a bridge position--for 20-30 seconds twice per set). A couple of weeks ago I started watching the second hand on a clock in the weight room.

Then I said that I have the external clock, and an internal clock. I try to hold each bridge for thirty seconds, and at the same time, I try to recite the Lord's prayer--with pauses between statements. Both come out to about 30 seconds.

We also do an exercise called a Superman. When I do these, I hold them for 20 seconds and recite Psalm 126.

It is so cool to take time to reflect on the sacred text as we go through our day. I can't say that this is a completely original idea--I am sure many people do this, but I learned it from my brother.

I was thinking about the art of reflection and meditation a couple of summers ago when I was visiting him. He had just climbed Mount Whitney. I asked him what he thought about as he hiked. He told me that he tried to be mindful of his steps (so he didn't die), and be watchful for the other people in his party (so they didn't die), and then he tried to meditate on the Lord's prayer, and Amazing Grace as he walked. He told me Amazing Grace wasn't as cool as he would have hoped because he only really knew the first verse, but he said it was probably plenty to reflect upon.

When I heard this, I thought, "Man, my brother is a spiritual giant, and I am a total slug." But then I thought, "How cool to integrate the eternal into the everyday."

I've been thinking that maybe this is what intimacy really is. It isn't some lofty feeling, but it is including someone like God or another person, into the everyday, not just the emotional portions of the day, but into putting on socks, and doing ab workouts, and riding bikes.

Take some time to include God in your phone calls, your writing, your emails, or maybe your commute to and from work today! (and say a prayer for me while you are at it!)

Friday, September 23, 2005

My New Class

This semester has been great with school. My class this semester has been looking at pre-civil war African-American protest literature. The interesting thing is that this literature is largely unread by anyone--unless one's field is Black Studies. Even more astounding is that this literature is largely Christian in nature. For instance, in two weeks I will be doing a presentation for my class on a book called Sisters of the Spirit. This book features three gospel testimonies of former african american slaves. I am really excited about this class, and just the expansion of knowledge it has been.

So many people advocated slavery in the name of Christianity, but these educated african-american writers and theologians easily saw how evidently contrary these actions were to the gospel. It's a shame that many more didn't have eyes to see in that day--they were blinded by greed, among other things. It makes me wonder though...what are the issues that our churches are blinded to today?

Here is a quote from Henry Highland Garnet that I just read this morning.

Humanity supplicated with tears for the deliverance of the children of Africa. . . Slavery had spread its dark wings of death over the land, the Church stood silently by--the priest prophesied falsely, and the people loved to have it so.

What issues are we standing silently by today?

Climbing and Cycling

Yesterday was just a great day. I am already experiencing many of the joys that come with better physical conditioning and alternative travel. With the new bike, I can zip through areas near campus that would often leave me stuck in traffic during busy times of day.

I am also starting to feel my legs and my grip come back from climbing. We had four guys out for a climb at Sunset Wall yesterday evening, and we are planning another big excursion monday afternoon. It's starting to remind me of the good times me and my buddy Steve used to have when he first introduced me to the sport.

If it weren't for the biker unfriendly nature of Morgantown streets (and the hills everywhere) this would be a perfect alternative to driving. As it is, it isn't too bad though. I save money on fuel, I get exercise, and I am being a good steward of God's great creation in the process.

Cycling has been providing me with an added perk of solitude as I travel through town. It's good to be able to reflect a bit as I journey to and fro through town. Maybe more people will follow suit, and Morgantown will have some more biker friendly routes develop.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cycling and Eating right

I took my new bike out for the longest ride so far yesterday. I rode out to Chestnut Ridge Church and back for a meeting. It's pretty cool, because I can really fly on this cycle, and my commute time to the church was only a few minutes slower than driving. Coming back was a different story because I am very untrusting of the cars along stewartstown road (especially near Bon Vista for anyone familiar with the area). Morgantown is not the most bike friendly area. Especially along the main roads. there is some gravel that is washing away along the edge of the roads--but that really isn't good for a bike. Plus, that's where people's broken beer bottles end up sitting.

Yesterday evening my roommate nic and I ventured up to Giant Eagle to get some healthy vegetarian fed chicken and other assorted good foods. Over the last month I have been making a conscientious effort to eat healthier and better balanced meals. As a result, I feel great, and I have been able to have more energy to put into the whole of life.

We also stopped down at the mountain people's co-op for some healthy trail mix and nuts, etc. If I do feel an urge to snack, I want to snack smartly--not with ho-ho's and twinkies (not that I have ever really been a fan of either of those vile foods).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Back in the Swing

So...It's been a while, but I am back at the blog thing. I just got finished working out with my roommate nic this morning. It's a pretty good situation. I want to not be a slack, and he wants to be cut for his honeymoon. So we get up at 5:45AM, and lift for about 45-60 minutes on M, W, F. It's also a good thing because I tend to let my physical fitness go for the sake of other things that are often more urgent but not nearly as important.

I've also been cycling. I just got a sweet deal on a Giant OCR3, and I've been using that for virtually all of my commuting. I may even start riding it to work out in the future. Since I am rarely in the car with other people, and now that I don't travel to fairmont each week, I can be a better steward of the environment (and my body) by riding when I would drive, and walking when it makes more sense.

It's been pretty sweet so far. I need to look into a headlight for my bike if I am going to do any night riding though. The battery on my old one lasts about 30 seconds and goes out.

I've also been getting out and climbing/hiking with a couple of guys here and there. It's been a really cool way to connect and encourage one another, and it is just nice to get out and enjoy the woods too!

Last Night

Last night during Veritas, we talked about John 3:22-36. It's a pretty cool passage. The Baptist's followers were concerned that more people were following Jesus than John the Baptist. John's response was brilliant, he called himself "the friend of the bridegroom, and talked about how much he celebrated the arrival of the groom.

It's kind of like being at a wedding today. It wouldn't make sense for the best-man at a wedding to try to steal the bride as the groom shows up at the wedding. The best-man, and the groomsmen (friends of the bridegroom) instead are looking out for the bride, and are thrilled when the groom comes to wed his wife. John has the same response. In fact, he realizes that at this time his role is to decrease, and Christ's must increase.

Of course it makes total sense, John isn't supposed to wed the bride--only make sure she is ready for her groom. The Bible tells us that Jesus's bride is the church, the people of God. Isn't it cool that we can also behave as friends of the bridegroom as we serve each other and care for one another until King Jesus returns for His bride to rule?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


It's been way to long since I have blogged--I believe it has been nearly a month. My life has been fairly busy, but I don't think that it has been any more so than usual. I am not sure quite what happened. Wait, now I remember. There was a period of over a week that our house was without internet, and I found most of my time online focussed on gettting emails out and responding to those that were incoming. It is a bit ironic how easily we can cease in a good habit when the opportunity presents itself.

but I am back...Over the last few days I have been thinking about blogging, but the email I received today from my buddy Steve was just what I needed to get back on the blogging trail. I give my apologies to all who have been disappointed by the lack of activity here. This is such a good way to keep up with people, and I've blown it over the past few weeks.

We'll see if we can change the flow of inertia!