This Sunday is Mother’s Day.images

The day when we all think of the women who gave us life, who nurtured us and raised us.

And plenty of you ladies who are still raising children will be celebrated. Maybe your kids will make you breakfast in bed. Maybe the word “breakfast” will stretch the definition a bit. But it will be served to you in bed.

Maybe your husbands will bring you flowers.

Maybe your gift will be that the family just leaves you alone for the day.

And all of you who go to church on Sunday are sure to be honored. Maybe your pastors will have you stand up and be recognized. Maybe someone will give you a carnation, which is a nice old-fashioned Mother’s Day thing to do.

If you would, please take a moment on Mother’s Day to do just one thing. It’s not very big, and you can get right back to your special day.

Please remember your childless friends. Continue Reading…

Every day, we humans test ourselves.

We do so to find out true potential, to push ourselves to our very limits, to understand just what we are actually capable of.

A few people get to test themselves on the world stage. They are Olympians with world records. Or they are hot dog eating champions. Or they are people who just have some kind of unusual or novel skill. Sometimes, we see what a human can do even when great limitations are placed on their bodies or minds. And we find inspiration in these things because they speak to the human spirit, wanting to climb ever higher.

But all of those things, whether winning a gold Olympic medal, or eating fifty hot dogs, are difficult.

There are plenty of things we humans have vast potential for that are not difficult. They do not require skill or practice. They come to us naturally, as if by instinct from the womb.

The problem is that a good deal of these instinctual talents are not all that great. They represent the bottom of human life. If we are to live good, virtuous, creative, worthy lives, then we will spend a lifetime learning to suppress these instincts for greatness.

Take this observation from Aldous Huxley:

granted

It is true. My capacity to be unthankful, unobservant and unthoughtful of the miraculous circumstances of my life is a soaring testimony of that fact.

But creative people are people who see first. We cannot be truly creative if we cannot see and appreciate the world around us, the people around us, and understand the sheer wonderment of it all. We cannot be people who ignore, who shut out, who do not look or listen until it is taken from us.

Today, creativity starts by suppressing our natural instincts.

It’s been a wet cold, Spring week.

A little bit tough to swallow when everyone just wants to escape school, and we have to have indoor recess practically every day. Though, inside, I’ve been very busy, preparing to take a group of high school freshmen on a mission trip, making sure that we cram every piece of art work into the year that we can. I’ll be spending tonight curating a collection of student artwork that is being shown downtown.

This week was an interesting mix of reads and watches.  Here’s what fueled me this week.

In My Netflix QueueMV5BMTI2NzYyMzc5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU1MDAzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_

You may have noticed it too, but Netflix streaming has become very heavy on recommendations based on what you’ve already seen, and less heavy on genre picks. I don’t know what I watched, but it triggered a flood of new documentaries in my queue. And although it’s already a decade old, The Secret Life of Mammals is pretty delightful, as is David Attenborough. Who doesn’t like cute little furry creatures? (There’s also The Secret Life of Birds.) It’s a show that shows the utterly astonishing variety and adaptability of life on Earth.

In My Blog Reader

Do we really love and desire God, or do we just want his stuff, like an old rich uncle? Sammy Adebiyi asks this always relevant question (because the answer doesn’t usually change): I Don’t Want Jesus…I Want His Stuff

I have to admit, one of the parts of parenting that my wife and I are dreading (if we ever get there), is the absurd level of competitiveness that people feel in their parenting. If there are little league dads throwing chairs at the referee, there are moms who post on social media about all the ways they are “winning” at being moms. Courtney Reissig sheds light on the question of motherhood being a job, while exposing the voracity with which parents attack other parents: Is Motherhood a Job?

Stepheanie Spencer has a great way of asking simple questions with her blog that I always appreciate. Today’s question is just about two little words, but which two little words we use makes all the difference: God is Great…And Yet.

And finally, if we Christians got off our high horses, we might admit that we are all addicted to something. It’s just that some of us are unfortunate enough to have an addiction that is more visible and less socially acceptable than others. Ben Moberg at Deeper Story writes about his addiction in Grace For the Addict.

That’s what fueled me this week. What about you?

What qualifies someone to “preach?” You know, stand up in front of everyone and tell them about Jesus?bible-at-pulpit

I suppose the debate will go on, maybe indefinitely, about who gets to speak in front of the church, whether it’s behind a pulpit, on a stool, or with an iPad.

A lot of people think that one of the primary qualifications of a preacher is gender. There are a lot of people, male and female, who are uncomfortable with the idea of women preaching at church. Opinions range from the mild preference for listening to men, to the “biblical” mandate of men in the pulpit.

I don’t know if that’s a reality that we will see changed in our lifetimes. (And plenty of people would argue that it should not change.)

But here is what I do know.

No one needs permission from anyone else to preach. Not men. Not women. No one.

Continue Reading…

Some people are really gifted at math.

We need people like that, because I’m not one of them.

Some people are gifted when it comes to sports while others are gifted at art, music, drama. A few of us are gifted at knowing lots of people. Maybe some of us are gifted at being parents. If we are lucky, we get to do a job which we are gifted at.

But there is one job, a job we all have, which I am afraid very few of us are actually gifted at.

The job is living.

Every once in a great while, I meet someone who, for lack of any other adequate description, is gifted at living. Sometimes they write books. Sometimes they live next door. It’s not that they are daredevils or do anything extreme in order to “live life to the fullest.” They still have to go to the grocery store and take out the garbage too.  But there is something practically intangible about them, something that saturates their lives that is more than survival.

I don’t know how to be gifted at something. But I do know that I have spent plenty of days wastefully. I have wished for many days to just be over. And I suspect being gifted at living starts with not doing that. Sometimes, living well means getting in trouble…the right kind of trouble. Sometimes living well means not taking it so seriously. I think living well always starts with the decision to stop being jealous of those people who have the lives we envy. Envy is a great way to waste a lifetime while doing nothing.

life

Today, I will do many things that I did last week. So what am I going to do today to make my life worth living?

It’s been a great week, as I hope it has been for you.

The clock is ticking down on this school year. I’ve got good things I’m working on (behind closed doors for now). And there is a lot to be optimistic about. My week was full of good inspirational gems, but here are the highlights, the things that most fueled me this week.

In My Netflix Queue

Netflix surprises me every once in a while. Over the last couple of weeks, there appears to be a sudden surge of documentaries that strike mortifiedmy tastes. But by far the most unexpected and entertaining has been Mortified Nationa stage show where ordinary adults read excerpts from the diaries they wrote as teenagers. It is a hilarious look at the absurd melodrama of the teenage mind. Warning: adult language and (sort of) adult situations are discussed in horrifying detail.

In My Blog Reader

Authors and artists have long bemoaned the dehumanizing effects of modern life, whether “modern” means today, or a century ago. Paul Angone nails this one with why in our modern world, crammed with more people than ever before, we are experiencing a shortage of real life humans.

When we talk about sex and pornography, how do we keep getting it so darn wrong? Anne Jackson has had the opportunities to speak all over the place about these issues, and offers some clarification on why these things are not our enemy.

There are a lot of topics that divide Christians. But that’s not because of our piety or how clear we are on scripture. Emily Wierenga shows why we are left so divided, when we are supposed to be of one Body.

Finally, I just found this incredibly interesting. Caleb Wilde, our friendly neighborhood funeral director, posted this infographic on causes of death, which modes of travel and which occupations kill the most people. Plus, there is a neat little comparison to the leading causes of death from a century ago. If only dying today were as simple as having “senility.” Those were the good old days.