Cell Phones Are Killing Us

Even without active use, the presence of mobile technologies has the potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby undermining the character and depth of these connections. Individuals are more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of their conversation partner’s voice, and have less eye contact.
— Virginia Tech research study

This is all just because cell phones are present. Simply in our pockets. The idea that someone else might be trying to reach you... or tweeting something amazing, or "liking" something you've posted...it robs of us genuine face-to-face experiences. 

This is not news. We know this is happening. Yet do our actions change? How are we rebelling against the temptation to look down and flick our thumbs? Look up. Jesus loved people by truly seeing them. How do we see and love people if we won't look up?

Scripture: Matthew 9:20-22 (NRSV)

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 

 from Jumio's 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits survey

from Jumio's 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits survey



What Baseball Taught Me About The Bible

 Baseball Bibles available on Etsy.com

Baseball Bibles available on Etsy.com

While Jared is away, I pondered writing a super feminine post simply for the fun of it. And instead, what do I turn to? Sports. Baseball, to be specific. I have Jared to blame for making me a baseball fan. Early in our relationship, he explained his fascination with sports and the love of the game. He was trying to prepare me for the extensive sports watching that would come in this relationship, while I mistakenly thought he was saying he just loved the “spirit” of sports.

It started out simple enough. Attending a baseball game with friends. Catching the “Top 10” on Sportscenter. Watching football on Sunday afternoons. Suddenly within a year of marriage, I found myself a year employed by the San Diego Padres and a member of a Fantasy Football league.

And this was the first thing I learned. When you love someone, you are strengthened when you learn to love what they love. It doesn’t mean I’ll memorize the roster of the San Francisco 49ers or follow the top NBA draft prospects. Yet bit by bit, I began to dive deeper into our relationship by paying attention to his interests and letting him teach me something new.

My own love of baseball developed as I personally learned the intricacies of the game. If you’re reading this thinking that baseball is slow or boring, I get that. But my study of the game has led to an appreciation that didn’t exist when all I could notice were strikeouts or home runs. There’s just something about noticing the way players shift on the field because of the player at bat, or recognizing a pitcher nearing a no-hitter. You appreciate the fundamentals, the details that make the game beautiful.

I also identify when people think the Bible is boring. For years I only knew the key verses repeated in sermons or printed on In-n-Out bags. I would read a passage, be slightly inspired, and not pick up my Bible for months. Something changed when I began to learn the intricacies of Scripture. I saw the details - the way Jesus quoted Hebrew Scriptures, and the ways Paul’s letters acknowledged his readers personally. I saw truth and beauty and poetry arise from what used to feel like an ancient and confusing language. I saw how words could actually transform my spirit and character.

The commentary in my Bible written by Renovare defines the spiritual discipline of study as “The intentional process of engaging the mind with the written and spoken Word of God and the world God has created in such a way that the mind takes on an order conforming to the order upon which it concentrates.”

What could you learn from the Bible if you studied instead of simply read? What could you learn from the world God has created if you looked deeper?

It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes
— Deuteronomy 17:19-20


 

 

P.S. I also learned in writing this post that there is an impressive amount of Christian baseball crafts on Pinterest. Click here for some entertainment in that realm.

I Don’t Hate Alarms Anymore (an invitation)

I am not a morning person. Once I am out of the house I’m alright; but the process of getting to that point can be the bain of my existence. I often dream vividly, so alarms typically interrupt whatever fantastic thing is happening in my subconscious. I hated alarms until recently.

“Praying the Hours” is not a new thing. It’s the practice of letting certain times in the day serve as markers or reminders to pray. During the Babylonian exile, there was no temple, so the Jews set specific times to sing, pray, and read the Torah. Later, in the Roman Empire, the Jews and new Christians continued the practice when the forum bells would ring at 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm - the markers of the work day. They used these regular bells as a reminder to bring themselves before God. This practice has been adapted by varying Christian traditions. 

At a lunch meeting recently, I agreed to pray over Ephesians 3:20 at 3:20 pm PST every day for a year. I set a recurring alarm on my phone. It has a different ringtone than my morning alarm. Every day it goes off, I pause whatever I’m doing, and I read:

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
— Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

I pray for about 30 seconds. Then I go back to whatever I was doing at the time. When appropriate (or when I’m with other believers) I explain what we are doing, and invite them to read the Scripture and pray as well.

This verse leads me to ask, what are the ways we have limited God because we have failed to ask? to dream big? to expect more? to trust his mighty power?

Alarms can be a good thing. Want to pray with us? Set an alarm.

I Was A Bad Husband This Week

I blew it this week. Sophie got home from a really long day of work (literally serving those who were displaced from the San Diego wildfires). She was tired, had her arms full, and was so excited to be home. Background information: our television cords run across the bedroom doorway. The only accessible outlet is super loose and finicky.

When Sophie walked in, her foot hit the cords, and the tv (which I was watching) turned off. I was way more frustrated than I should be. I expressed displeasure in her actions.

She apologized. Plugged it back in. I go back to watching tv, and I felt that I overreacted.

Literally four minutes later I got a do-over. She moves to unload her bags from the day, and a pair of shorts fell off and hit the cord. **Shpewww**  The television turns off. Did I learn my lesson? No. I was perturbed. Flustered. Annoyed.

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) 

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Jewish rabbis suggested forgiving someone three times. Peter thinks he is being extra generous by offering more than double that amount. But Jesus is literally saying, “Forgive infinity times.” Seventy times seven is an unfathomable number, nothing we would practically count. We are not to be limited by a number in the law, but to live in the overflowing of grace and forgiveness.

Why can I pray every day to actively forgive people who intentionally hurt me, but when my wife (someone whom I have publicly committed to love and support for every day I have on this planet) needs forgiveness I blow it?

How can we show more grace to those we interact with daily?

Don't Microwave Your Bible

“I don’t like cooking.”

Really, well what do you cook?

“Hot Pockets.”

We would all agree this person is an idiot. They have missed out on what it truly means to cook. They have taken something beautiful and complex and turned it into a push-button solution for instant substance. The irony is, by zapping your food, you’ve taken the potential nutrients out of it entirely. Trying to receive life-giving nutrients from microwaveable prepackaged food? Idiotic...but we do the same thing with the Bible.

Watch this video, and reflect on the potential complexities in Scripture that exist, just as they do in the kitchen. Scripture, like cooking, is fun, deep, adventurous, layered, complex, and requires time, practice, mentorship, and effort. The true depth of the Bible cannot be absorbed in short attempts with no effort. Only a determined attempt at reading will yield transformation.

Open your Bible and enjoy the feast…


Further Exploration: 

How have you been trying to make Scripture into a “quick-fix”?

What excuses do you use for not diving in to the Bible?

What are some things you could fast (give up for a time) to establish some healthy new patterns?

What are other resources that could enhance your reading? How about different translations, reading a commentary, doing lectio divina, journaling and note-taking, drawing and doodling verses...

You need a break.

 Cutest photos ever of #theoandbeau found at www.MommasGoneCity.com

Cutest photos ever of #theoandbeau found at www.MommasGoneCity.com

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
— Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“In the ancient Hebrew texts Sabbath was to light candles, sing songs, pray, tell stories, worship, eat, nap, and make love.” - Wayne Mueller

Practical ways to practice Sabbath now:

Light candles in prayer

Go on walks. Experience nature

Make a good meal with others

Fast from food

Fast something different

Take 24 hours fully off

Invest in your family or roommates well (in their love language, not yours)

Pray the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office

Sleep well

Confess to a friend, mentor, and also a pastor

Make love with your spouse

Choose a common act in your day (opening doors, phone ring, washing hands, stopping at traffic lights/stop lights) and pray at those moments

Offer a blessing (put your hands on the head of someone and bless them)

Sit and listen to worship music

Thin out - Delete something from your list that is undone. Donate an unread book that is weighing on you. Remove things from your kitchen that are hiding in the back. Give away the clothes you haven’t worn in past 6 months.

Pray for God to clean your heart while you clean your house

Take extra time to bathe and deep clean yourself

Turn routine activities into prayer (Pray while you brush your teeth that your words will build up others, confess sins as you clean during shower)

Take God to your special places or places of joy

Go a day with no speaking

Go a day with no purchasing

Fast from food that requires chewing

Pray about every decision you have to make in a day

Attach “God loves you” to all your clothes for a time

Take a picture a day of something that is beautiful

Actually turn your phone off

Things I Hate: The Eternal Blinker

Very few things can push me to anger as quickly as an “eternal blinker”. This happened recently, where I was stuck in limbo on the freeway because someone in the lane to my right had their blinker on, but was not moving over. I wanted to be courteous and let them in (no one likes the person who speeds up when they can clearly see you intend to merge into their lane). However, if you are not going to get into my lane, then turn your freaking blinker off.

I was frustrated. “How irresponsible and dangerous of them?” I thought.

When I arrived at my destination an acquaintance arrived behind me and parked at the same time. “Hey Jared,” they said kindly, “You have a brake light out.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 2.14.15 PM.png
And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
— Matthew 7:3-5

What are the sins that make you mad in others because you commit them yourself?  (For me it is pride)

A Blessing and a Call

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Over the weekend in Los Angeles, a theatre full of "justice junkies" (in the words of one speaker), gathered to be inundated with wisdom, challenges, Scripture, statistics, stories, and truth related to all forms of justice. Through speakers and music, we were pointed again and again toward the God who desires justice, who invites us into the redemptive work of the Kingdom. Forgive me while I process this information into a few more blog posts. But for now, may I point you toward this prayer, which was offered this weekend at The Justice Conference. 

A Four-Fold Benedictine Blessing

by Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB (1985)

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, 
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, 
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, 
be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

AMEN

Scripture: Isaiah 58: 6-12 (NIV)

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Further Exploration:

Look up the work of the following speakers (bios and links found here)

Dr. Bernice King

Lynn Hybels

Donald Miller

Brian Stevenson

Stephen Bauman

Justin Dillon

Nicole Baker Fulgham

Gabriel & Jeannette Salguero

N.T. Wright

Marcel Serubungo

Jenny Wang

Ken Wystma

Alexia Salvatierra

Eugene Cho

Jim Wallis

Sami Awad

Bethany Hoang

Noel Castellanos

Rick McKinley

Mae Cannon

 

READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!

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The worst part about being a paperboy is that the ink dies your hands black. Well, that and waking up at 5:20am every morning, even earlier on Saturdays. Or the dog chasing you. Or when it rains...actually, being a paperboy wasn’t that great.  However, there is something cool about being the one who delivers the news. At the time, our small town paper had the scoop on whatever was happening in town, the United States, and around the globe.

Now we all have any information we want at our fingertips at all times. My homepage is set to a spreadsheet of twelve different sites that I daily refer to for information.  My news comes from the Huffington Post. My sports from Yahoo Sports. My movie trailers from Apple Trailers. The latest in animal fashion from... (jk).  Think of the places you go for information….

What if your current sins or vices were published publicly there for all to see? 

On the front page of the New York Times? or on the homepage of your online news source, your photo included? or on your Facebook feed?  If you knew it was happening in 10 days from now, would it change the way you live? What would you change? Can you think of anything to confess? repent of?

We serve a God who forgives us, already knowing everything about us that could be published. We live post-resurrection. So why wait to ask for God’s grace? The essence of grace is that we do not deserve it, so stop delaying! God is waiting to cover and erase what you try to keep hidden. Open up. Accept the loving grace of God. Be free.

Scripture: 

Luke 8:17 (NIV)

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Matthew 9:10-12 (NIV)

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Further Exploration:

Confess, repent, "go and sin no more"