A swarm of thoughts

So much of the time I shy away from writing something on here because I begin to think for people, and most of the time I think they’ll think I’m being too negative, or I think they’ll read it as “complaining”, I just want to let you know (even if you never thought those things) that my heart has never been in those places, although my mood certainly has.  I’m in a place in my life where I’m feeling good and content with where God has me, and at the same time, I’m discontent with where I spend most of my days, stuck up in an office.

The funny thing is, I really like my job, but when I start to think about the time it requires I am not too happy with it, as I would much rather be free to meet with friends, have coffee (or beer), love on people, spend time with my bride and daughter, etc.  However, I still really like the job, and I love working with the people God has placed around me.  It’s kind of a weird paradox, a love/hate kind of issue.  So, overall I am content, but there is definitely something inside me that wants more, and I’m trying very hard to hear what God has to say about that.

I know it is through discipline in Christ that I’ll find fulfillment.  Today I was reading Proverbs 12, and the first verse captured me – “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction” – I’ve always been one to accept correction, to seek his discipline….  that is at least what people could see.  Now that God has been showing me (through marriage) how much more I need to seek his discipline, I have found myself unusually closed up, unwanting to change.

Thankfully, I think God is turning a key, opening a door, and doing new and greater things in me.  I think I’ve began to let him.  It’s hard, it burns, but it feels right.  As seek his healing in these areas I know his promises will become true, and I’ll be more free.

A world without God.

A world without God is a world that I fear to imagine.  Yet many people live in a world without God, they go about day to day, without any more than a fleeting idea of God.  So why am I so fearful to imagine a world without God?  Because I know God, I live with God around me, in me, and through me.  Because even though I fail to obey, and I do things which are contrary to God’s word, I find that the God’s grace is more than just a simple “I forgive you”, it’s a reality in which I know that no matter how I live, my God will be there for me to turn to.  Humans can turn God into so much, from a letter of the law judge, to a magic fairy who grants you everything you ever wanted.  In my experience God is neither, God is mysterious, yet personal, God is loving, yet just.

If I were to imagine a world without my God, I would see a world full of hurt, evil, injustice, greed, abuse, hunger, confusion, and chaos with no way out.  As I make the choice to draw closer to God, I see that the love, justice, freedom, life, authority are not just benefits, but are the way God shows his intense affection for me, for us.  Take away those things and it’s one big world, and a huge void.  I was in that void once before, I never want to go back.  Yet everyday I make choices which are either of the world, or of God.  When I follow God’s ways, I am fulfilled, when I choose my own, worldly way, I am sick, troubled, and empty – not because I feel some “religious guilt” but because I know what the feelings of true satisfaction in God are – they are not easily explained in words, and that satisfaction is what I live for.  If had to choose one word to try and describe it – it would be peace.

Reaching this peace requires a lot of flesh burning, a lot of humility, and in the end a lot of forgiveness.  It’s well worth it, trust me.

What I’m thinking…

One of the many reasons I don’t write on here anymore is that, as self-focused as it sounds, I think far to hard about what people may think about what I’m writing.  So, I end up canceling out any thoughts with silly weird arguments about why not to post something.  The whole idea behind this blog in the first place was simply to write about what I was thinking, about life, about God, about people, etc… But with more and more of what I (we) are doing in the future, I feel I need to filter things far more than I would like.

I suppose the challenge is that I should write in a way that I still express myself honestly, and at the same time in a way that honors the God that I so claim to follow and love.  Yet, many times the things I’m thinking about are about the disappointments of life, which are all quite real, and need to be discussed.  I know there are plenty of people who appreciate the reality, but I also know (all to well) there are people who want to “make sure God is involved” – and then there’s the “You’re going to be a missionary, right?, YES!  So, don’t you think you should be positive and focused on God… well yes… but…”  I understand these comments, I really do, and at the same time I strive to not be religious and not be giving pat, common, text-book, Christian answers.  God is far bigger than that.

So here I start on a very long, overdue, rant and soap box… however I will start with the core of my God-given heart’s desire in life….  I wrote the following and realized it was a bit convoluted, but maybe it will start some conversation, and then I can clarify with posts to address the questions and/or discussion that comes – or maybe it will just sit here and I’ll create conversation in my head and post my thoughts as I go…

The strongest passion I have for others is that they be encouraged in their walk with God, and not just in the private aspect of a relationship with God but in the ministry piece.  In fact, sometimes I wonder if our walk with God is truly full unless we are actively ministering to those around us.  I often find myself frustrated, disappointed, and concerned for the “Church” do to the apparent lack of concern for caring (ministry) to others.  Then again, I find myself equally frustrated by myself because I myself do not step up when I know that God has given me many opportunities.

So, as a person who is fully aware of what God is calling me, and my family to do, I am constantly looking for ways to encourage others to trust God, and take risks.  Many times throughout biblical stories we see the characters faced with life-changing risks.  The blessings that come from following through, and having the discipline to honor God with our decisions, are more than I could ever explain in a short posting here.

The challenge every person faces come not in the big decisions, but in the everyday decisions, the choices that are presented to us when we first greet our co-workers in the morning, or how we engage in conversation with our peers.  Yet there are so many forces which drive our interactions with those around us, everything from how our parents treated us, how “popular” we were in school, to poor choices and uncontrollable life circumstances that eat at our soul and take us off track.

Most of what I write is simply me processing the events that I witness, in the Church and outside the Church, as I see people of all statuses and of all walks I am humbled to know God as I do.  I am challenged each day with the ideas of why has God given us, my family,  the joy of having such amazing family and friends…. while others are seemingly aloof, floating around in this world without any connection points.   Then I am reminded that it was because someone, at some point, obeyed God, and reached out, took a while to minister to someone, who did the same, who eventually ministered to me, and the same to Alexis.

I thank God for those that have this discipline, this passion, for I am eternally grateful.  I wish to not be like these people because of these great things, I wish to do these things because our God has an amazing and wonderful life to give us, when we surrender to him.  This is the heart of everything I am, want to be, and will be.  I have nothing to be discouraged by, as long as I am choosing to obey and discipline myself… even then God’s grace is sufficient if I fail to meet “the mark”.

Let those that have ears hear.  May those in the Church be encouraged to take the risks, the “lost” have the choice, only if they experience it though, we also have a choice – but I’m not so sure we can easily forget (that voice is pretty consistent) when we choose to ignore it.

My Birthday Wish List

Okay so here is Travis’ official 26th birthday wish list!

1. Money – You can PayPal me 😛
2. Brian McLaren’s “Everything Must Change”
3. Brendon DuBois’ “Twilight”
4. Donations for Poland (see the side bar)
5. Update 1/25/08 as my bride pointed out I also want a digital photo frame, not a huge one, just one to go on my desk so I can enjoy my bride, family, and friends.
6. A Thousand Splendid Suns

My internal conflictions

A quick list of things that I’m struggling to grasp right now in my life and walk with Jesus.

  1. Raising funds without sounding like a broken record/beggar (see previous post, didn’t the apostles help the beggars though , but they didn’t enable them to continue in poverty, right?)
  2. Dicipling a generation and/or individual people that are not open to confrontation, either they are afraid to confront others about moral issues, or they don’t allow others to confront themselves. The big defense: DON’T JUDGE ME! Where did this reaction start? Where did loving someone into a closer relationship turn into condemnation?
  3. How to love people through differences. I’m a person that loves to disciple people, hates to offend, yet I am a disciple of Jesus, which Jesus naturally offends people. Sometimes I am so passionate about discipling on things like, the importance of living above reproach, all are called to ministry (we all have gifts for the kingdom), the blessing of living and walking in moral authority, that all I want to do is either ring people’s necks who blatantly live lives contrary to this, or I just get depressed and grieve over the state of people I love.
  4. A regular, near daily, prayer-life. A prayer life that focuses on God, and his relationship to me and others, not just a selfish, me-centered prayer life, but one that is about moving forward and listening (such as listening about these four areas).
  5. Added 10:05 – The conflict of our needs, and other’s resources. This is a completely jealous conflict ion, but one none the less that I struggle with. Alexis and I pour a lot of our resources into our calling, our time, our money, and our relationships, it’s all about our calling for discipleship. All around us though we see people spending their time and money on their own desires, cars, houses, that in our opinion (and judgmentally) are well beyond what they need. Why does a single 24 year old need a new Mercedes? Why does a single 25 year old spend over $600 a month in entertainment? Just some thoughts.

So those are the four, now five big things in my life that I feel stuck on right now. I don’t expect to just “get it” one day, I expect though to process through these things, some of them probably for the rest of my life (2 and 3). But I do expect for me to take responsibility in these areas, to do the hard things and ask, to address people on things when I feel conflict yet all in Grace and with the basis that no matter the outcome my care for them won’t change – that my friends is how Jesus lived.

Updated 10:00 am. – Each of these things I think is related to surrender, we/I need to surrender and allow God and his church to do it’s work, unhindered. We have to live as examples, so if we do something that isn’t above reproach – that is against the path that Jesus has called us to live – we must surrender it. It’s not easy, it’s a self-less act that says I will follow my Lord, even though my desire is something different. Sometimes even our God-given desires are not the right path, for the time. I know this, I’ve lived it, I’m living it right now. So instead of crying about it, I’m living my life on the path, and it’s full of blessings! A CHILD! A BABY GIRL. That wouldn’t be such a blessing if I/we had gone on our own whim on our own path.

At The Dentist

?Alexis and I are at the Dentist right now. I haven’t been for 3 years and she for 6; I have two more cavities and most likely need one of my wisdom teeth removed because it has a cavity and is coming in side ways. Overall though pretty good. I was a little nervous about going to a new dentist but I liked him. We’ll see how Alexis is in about an hour.

Reason number 80 to get another car. Sitting in a dental office without much to do when I could be working or at least doing something else.

Tension & Motivation

I get so frustrated with myself over things. On one hand I love the feeling of be productive, getting things accomplished, but on the other I just don’t want to, I’m not motivated enough, and I would rather “veg” all day. I love being out doors, and I love riding my bike, going running, etc, but most days I just “don’t feel like it”. I love building new things, learning about new things, studying how things are done, but most of the time I don’t want to do it myself. Pretty much everything I love to do, I only really like to do when other people will do it with me. So pretty much I’ve come to the conclusion that doing it on my own isn’t really fun, but I know I need to get over that. It isn’t that I don’t like myself, I’m actually quite happy and content with myself. I’m just not content being alone, when I am alone, I lose motivation.

I have to be very motivated to do something on my own. Don’t get me wrong I’ll do things at work on my own, that’s about 90% of my job. Yet, I always find myself much happier when I have someone to share it with. However, blogging is the one thing that I prefer to do alone, it would be very annoying to have someone else giving their two cents along the way. Although blogging is a bit different from other journaling, as others can comment if they wish, I ‘spose that’s one motivator behind it.

Lord Jesus, thanks for loving me for who I am, for giving me these strange idiosyncrasies, and simply making me this way. The more I become okay with it, and more importantly, being okay with doing stuff with you, the more content I know I will be.

In your name, Amen.