That’s Why It’s Good…

On vacation last week one of us (I won’t say who…you can email/tweet/facebook/bribe/physically harm me and I won’t say who) said the following phrase:

“Sometimes, I wish I was still single because it’s so much easier than being married” He or she (still not telling) was right too, it probably is easier.

One of my favorite Matt Chandler quotes ever is “yeah, my wife and I fight, that’s what happens when you put two sinners in the same house.” That’s the redeeming part of it though. Well, I think it is anyway, often I’m just caught up in winning the “it was you, not me, who left the yogurt out all night and ruined it!!” arguments. And most of the rest of the time I’m trying not to (as my brother puts it) “screw up what you got goin’ with the best girl you’ve ever had.” So I’ve got my hands full with those two things.

We don’t generally assign physical attributes to the “iron sharpens iron” verse from Proverbs, and yet God is comparing two people sharpening each other to a metal rod rubbing up against another metal rod. There’s some part of that verse that has to say, “yeah, this is going to hurt a little bit, but it’s what you need, it’s good for you.”

It’s better than easy.

Check out some of our new faves on the sidebar, and happy hump day!

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Quick Review On a Divine Book

I’ve been reading this book written by this interesting woman and, even though it’s not really the best book I’ve ever read, the message, the concept really, is brilliant. The woman who writes this book takes four separate trips to four distinct places to discover what the Lord meant when he breathed life into specific Biblical stories. She visits a shepherdess in Oregon, a farmer in Nebraska, a beekeeper in Colorado, and a wine-maker in California. In each instance she gathers a bushel of Biblical references specific to each of those occupations (or sometimes the end product of those occupations) and seeks for context from the people who would understand them best.

For example, did you know God’s commandment to rest on the Sabbath was extraordinarily difficult for farmers because, if the weather outside was nice, taking a day off could mean the difference between a good and bad crop? And did you know God’s commandment for the best livestock to be sacrificed was a source of tension for shepherds because it can take generations (decades) to breed an ideal sheep? Or did you realize that when God talks about leading the Israelites into “a land flowing with milk and honey” that meant a land that, essentially, had perfect conditions and a perfect landscape? Or that the shortest amount of time it takes to make a decent bottle of wine is 8 years, underscoring the phenomenon (as if it needed it) of Jesus’ water to wine miracle.

I guess I’ve never really considered the historical context God gave to the Bible. To borrow some research from the book, we’ve almost always been an agrarian society so for God to provide metaphors that related to agriculture and the land was a way of Him saying “here’s something you can understand, know this, feel this, let me be your God.” The book really captured me because it’s so hard for Americans in 2010, in our computer-centered and automobile-dependent culture, to fully understand the agricultural metaphors of the Bible. In fact, they weren’t even really metaphors, they were just stories about life, as if Jesus came to earth in 2010 and talked to us in terms we understand like “Macbook” or “suburban” or “cnn.com”

I suppose all of this begs the question, do our scientific and technological advances help or hurt our ability to understand God the way He wants us to understand Him? I’m not saying they hurt because for us to have the ability to Skype with missionaries anywhere on earth or microlend to foreign entrepreneurs via Kiva or read the Bible literally anywhere we can take our phones is for us to worship God. I just think the question needs to be asked…

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Leadership and Lists

Found this awesome list in a new magazine we started getting yesterday called Whole Living. Highly recommended so far. Of course we’re only 24 hours in and our emotions are about as stable as the fault lines in San Francisco so that could change. But for now, we’re good.

Anyway, we can’t let a great list like this pass without a little commentary (our numbers match up with theirs):

1. Very true, if you’ve ever fasted for longer than a day you can actually feel this happening.

3. Does anybody actually have good posture? I can feel the scoliosis ravaging my body with each passing day in the office…

5. Probably the hardest one on here for us to abide by. Either that or we just keep too much stuff. Also, I promise we’re not sitting here and talking about how Kyle’s going to do the odds and Jen’s going to do the evens and it’s going to be soo cute. Promise.

6. I’ve found there to be far more to learn out of school than in. Some of Seth Godin’s followers agree.

7. Profound (and Biblical) but easily the most difficult.

10. This sounds fairly intuitive and yet so many people (myself included) rely on their knowledge and experience. And why shouldn’t they? Those are the weapons of leadership that got them to where they are. It’s funny though, how easily personal proficiency in a specific art can lead to hubris faster than you can Google “hubris” to make sure I spelled it correctly (I did). Instead, let the Lord reign in your heart and be led by that. Nothing else.

A World-Class Oatmeal Chef

I’ve been bouncing this concept around in my head lately. I don’t know if it’s a real thing or just some convoluted blabber that I write and erase and write and erase in my mind. Probably a little bit of both.

It seems to me if I want to become a world-class oatmeal chef then the most efficient, productive way to do that is to commit to something easier (or more enjoyable) than cooking oatmeal every day…like, say, eating oatmeal every day. If I commit to eating oatmeal every day I am forced to cook it and unless I want to eat oatmeal that tastes like poo then I will become good at cooking oatmeal.

Or if I want to become an expert at waking up early I should implement an early morning activity that makes me wake up. I should commit to running every morning at 6 AM (because I enjoy it…hypothetical obviously) and before I know it I will become good at waking up early. One activity is the catalyst for another.

The point is that the mastery of a hobby or an art is much easier when an alternative activity is the primary focus…and that activity becomes a means to an end of something else (the mastery).

Let me give you a marital example:

I want to become a good husband (if such a thing is even attainable) and to that end I am incapable. I have neither the discipline nor the knowledge to just “be a good husband.” So I have to put activities in place, things like going on really fun dates and reading books together and writing wonderful letters and putting together great gifts for no reason at all. Things I love to do. It seems that through these, unless I want to experience terrible dates and write horrible letters, I will become a good husband (or at least a better one than I was yesterday).

Maybe I’m crazy and surely this has been thought of before but my own personal revelations are sometimes few and far between. Translation: LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT!!

Let me know what you think too. I’m curious, what activities do you participate in that unintentionally lead you to an in-depth knowledge or mastery of something else?

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P.S. Obviously there are times when we, as humans, aren’t always going to be able to become better through enjoyable activities and will have to make decisions and do things we don’t like. I realize that but for this post am simply speaking to being able to put in place the things we can enjoy.

Monday, Monday

Here are a few things that I can’t stop thinking about this week. Thought they might be worthy of sharing. Happy one week from Labor Day!

1. The Word

I know it shouldn’t be an unusual occurrence for me to be smitten with the gospel, but I’m human, and it is. We had a guest pastor preach the sermon at church this weekend, and while those are always risky (they never tell you in advance because attendance will be severely affected) this guy was dead on. Sure he was mildly entertaining, his story lines were good, but I somehow came away with a hunger for the gospel like I haven’t had in a long time. And to me, that’s the best thing you could ever walk away with.

2. My Impending Employment

Yes, it’s true. I might actually get a job this week. I wouldn’t be climbing any corporate ladders any time soon, but I’d be wrapped up in a place I love with interesting things and inspiring people. More to come. But probably only if I get the job.

3. This Song

I’ve hardly been able to listen to his new album because I’m still dwelling on his old ones. Go Ray.

4. This Machine

Dear Singer Featherweight. It’s true that I didn’t even know you existed until three days ago, but it was love at first sight. I’ll do whatever it takes to make you mine. Love, Jen.

What’s on your mind this week?

Photo Attribution: Bench | Bible | I’m For Hire | Ray Lamontagne | Singer Featherweight

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“Domestics”

Last week one of my old friends (not “long in the tooth” old but more like “we did stupid stuff in college and traveled Europe with nothing more than a backpack and now we talk about marriage and kids” old) asked me what Jen and I struggle with most. My first 55 thoughts ranged from “she likes weird TV shows” to “try to not kill each other” but I settled on something else….

Something we struggle with (and always have, as many of you can attest) is that we’re prone to let minuscule squabbles turn into full-blown fights (or “domestics” as some of our friends call them) rather quickly. We can go from “how come we don’t have any milk?” to “you have so many unseemly character flaws I don’t even know where to start belittling you” faster than Kate Gosselin can sign up for another reality TV show.

I guess on a scale of 0 to OJ Simpson we fall somewhere on the innocent side of things. But words are powerful and power can change the course of lives. James says the noise emitting from our mouths can be like a fire burning down acres and acres of trees. He compares it to guiding a ship through the sea, it controls everything, it blesses and curses. We’re just not always good at the blessing part right now.

So my friend laughed at me as if to say “you aren’t the only one, brother.” I know this and yet I can’t help but want to be better, to not struggle with unsightly flaws and embarrassing shortcomings. But that’s marriage, it seems to exacerbate those flaws and shortcomings to the point that you wonder why nobody ever told you about them before. That’s why it’s beautiful though, because it is refining and refurbishing, even if you have to go through the fire along the way.

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Southbound 35

Dallas and I are trying to become friends. One day at a time we’re getting to know each other a little better, but I’m leary of new friends and really attached to old ones. I love almost everything about the south, but here there seems to be a lack of open range and way too many shopping malls.  We forget there are stars for lack of seeing them, and the only dirt roads are the ones being dug up for construction. There are few things that can replace the feeling of being at home, but my old soul finds solace in some very interesting places. Ice cream, the Bible, and hippie little towns. Obviously not in that order.

Intro: Austin.

There’s something very spiritual about living a simple life, about listening to southern rock while wearing vintage clothing and laying barefoot in the grass. That’s what I picture Austin to be: miles apart from Dallas, a sort of Chris Robinson to an Emily Gilmore. And so this weekend, as we travel to this great city, I pay tribute to my new state capital. Some fun things I only wish were happening this weekend in Austin:

Renegade Craft


ACL


South by Southwest

Do something hippie this weekend. It’s very patriotic.

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