Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There is a land...

There is a land shining with goodness where each man protects his brother's dignity as his own, where war and want have ceased and all races live under the same law of love and honor.

It is a land bright with truth, where a man's word is his pledge, where children sleep safe in their mother's arms and never know fear or pain. It is a land where kings extend their hands in justice rather than reach for the sword; where mercy, kindness, and compassion flow like deep water over the land, and men revere virtue, revere truth, revere beauty, above comfort, pleasure, or selfless gain. A land where peace reigns in the hearts of men, where faith blazes like a beacon from every hill, and love like a fire from every hearth, where the True God is worshiped and his ways acclaimed by all...

There is a golden realm of light, my son. And it is called the Kingdom of Summer.

For better or for worse, Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon trilogy has probably shaped my theology more than any book outside of the Bible. Lewis and Tolkien are giants, without a doubt. But Lawhead taught me to dream.

Friday, January 7, 2011


It's the character trait I most admire in others and desire for myself. I'm flaky by nature and it's entirely too easy for me to start new things and not finish them (probably due to this). Which is why these words by one of my favorite authors have kept me up nights over the past two weeks:

I’ve been thinking about what I can resolve to do differently. There’s plenty I could name, but it’s the resolve that gets you, isn’t it? There’s a scene, towards the end of The Untouchables, when Jim Malone (Sean Connery), his body riddled with bullets, wheezes at Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) through blood bubbling up from his mouth: “What are you prepared to do?”

Malone doesn’t ask Ness what he feels like doing, or what he thinks he might do. He doesn’t care about emotions, or reasoned probabilities. He’s seeking resolve. What are you prepared to do?

It’s worth asking ourselves, each of us alone, in the lonely night’s dark when bluster and delusion have left us, when the hard truths of our lives press in close as shadows. What are you prepared to do?

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani package | 29th May 2010photo © 2010 Bohari Adventures | more info (via: Wylio)

I have a lot of new resolutions this year, but per Mr. Miller I'm not going to share them. Instead, I'm going to share two new additions to my wall at work. They're the only thing hanging on my walls besides a picture of my smoking hot wife.

The first is the somewhat tongue-in-cheek-but-not-really Manifesto of the Cult of Done.

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

The other is a quote from Calvin Coolidge, 30th President.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

The character trait I resolve to build this year?


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things I Don't Ask God For

I don't ever pray that I'll meet the woman of my dreams. I never ask God to someday give us two amazing children, or to help me find a job to feed and clothe them, or for a roof to put them under.

Prayer is the languagephoto © 2009 Leland Francisco | more info (via: Wylio)

I don't ask for these things because I already have them.

This isn't meant as a boast, and it's not a statement against prayer by any means. It's just a simple observation: we don't ask for things we already have. It's not limited to God, really. You don't ask your boss for $10 an hour when you're already making $12. You don't ask your prof for another chance to take a test you aced. It just makes sense... you only ask for what you don't have.

So why did Jesus tell us to ask that God's will be done?

I have heard Christians say many times "Well, this terrible thing happened, but that must be God's will." And I always want to jump in and ask "How do you know?"

"Well, it must be God's will because it happened."

If whatever happened was automatically God's will, then what exactly is it we're supposed to be asking for?

I know from firsthand experience that God's will isn't always done. I know it because sometimes God's will is for me to be a better husband/father/friend/citizen, and I'm not. Forget tsunamis and cancer for a moment (but not for too long, we'll come back to that) and just think about yourself. Have you ever acted in a way that was contrary to God's will? If so, then isn't God's will not being done?

If they really sit down and think about it, what most people mean by "God's will is always done" is "No matter how bad something is, God can find a way to turn it for good." Absolutely true. God is the ultimate salvager who can take our nastiness and use it for something beautiful. But that's not because he enjoys nastiness.

The right response to the frequent utter brutality of our world isn't "Oh, this horrible thing must be God's will and design for your life, so start looking for the good in it or else get used to the fact that you really suck at being spiritual."

The right response is to acknowledge that awful things are awful, and to recognize how much the pain of our world hurts God himself. The right response is to recognize that there are things, good things, that can happen in the midst of horrendous pain. And the right response is for us to ask God to make things right, and for us to be available to be the ones he works through.

NOTE: The photo was found by putting the word "prayer" into You should check it out... it's a very cool website built by the best college roommate I ever had.