Empty Passion

“I am learning not to be passionate about empty things, but to cultivate passion for justice, grace, truth, and communicate the idea that Jesus likes people and even loves them.”

-Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

In some recent staff discussions, we talked about our passions and serving God out of our passion. What are you really passionate about? What types of things get you really energized and excited? What gives you a sense of accomplishment & satisfaction? Are those the areas where you’re serving God? Could they be? Should they be?

So I’ve been re-reading Blue Like Jazz and came across this quote that’s got me thinking again about those questions and measuring my responses with the ideas of justice, grace, and truth and thinking about the ways I’m communicating to people that Jesus loves them. Does the flow of a week for me reflect God’s passion (which would be justice, grace, truth, and us)?

I love the church. I love seeing seeing people in action together as His Body, reflecting His heart. I love traveling with students in the moments when they’re just on the edge of discovering their place in His Story. Taking in the view with them as they reach the next ridge and discover the grandeur that God has set before them. I love seeing the church find new ways to love people and call attention to God.

Unfortunately, I can find myself absorbed in lesson plans and evaluations and scheduling trips and following up on issues and putting out fires and assuaging hurt feelings, and buried in new books and seeking new methods and untangling teen dramas… It’s been a good reminder that my heart needs to beat with the Heart of God. My activity needs to be directed by His passion.

December Series

Next month I’ll be going through a series of lessons with our students about God’s story and their place in it. Also going to be using this time to introduce new students to our youth ministry. (If you know any 7th – 12th Grade students who come to WestWay but haven’t ever plugged in to the youth ministry, let them know about this – and let me know about them so I can get in touch.)

Deadly Viper

“Character isn’t a destination, but a journey towards becoming a more whole, fulfilled, and healthy person.”

Recently finished reading a fun, but challenging book called Deadly Viper Character Assasins by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. Basically the book is a warning to pay attention to your character before the Assasins tear you up. An essential part of being a person of integrity that can stand up under attack is to have someone fighting with you. Mike and Jud have made a commitment to fight for each other – to help the other maintain his own honor.

That kind of relationship is something all of us need, and sadly, few of us have. We may have a lot of business associates, work buddies, or just ‘the guys’ – but how many of us have real friends who know us well enough to see when we’re slipping and love us enough to tell us so? How many of us will dare to be real enough with someone else that we allow them to see the cracks in our lives and the wounds in our souls?

The warning in Deadly Viper is that to fail to do exactly that will likely lead to catastrophic failure of your character. Don’t go there. Find someone to help you maintain your integrity. The hope of the book is grace. As much as it is a warning to watch out for life’s common pitfalls, it is also an offer of a chance to climb out of the muck you may have found yourself in. Grace. Mistakes. More grace…

I’ll probably come back to some of the topics of the book in further blogs, but for now, check out the Deadly Viper Site for more, and get a couple copies of the book for you and a good friend and start today to build the character you need to survive.

Kidney Stone

I had another kidney stone last week. About halfway through Wednesday morning, I could tell I had one and started drinking tons of water. I figured if I could drink enough, and keep it down, I could flush the stone out… but not this time.

Friday morning the pain was finally so bad I had LuAnn take me in to the ER, where they eased the pain and did some scans and found a stone they said was big enough that it may not pass on its own. So on Saturday, I had surgery to remove the stone. It’s been a painful week or so.

I’ve done some more reading on what causes kidney stones and how to prevent them and haven’t really found anything conclusive. Lots of “secret” home remedies that I can get in on for $37 or $17 or… whatever. It’s frustrating. People are in pain and don’t know what to do… let’s make some money.

You can’t sell hope. It’s discouraging to know that for the rest of my life, I’ll probably have kidney stones – and maybe the only thing I can do about it is take drugs every day that don’t really do anything to change the root of the problem. I want to know why my body has become a rock factory and what I can do to shut down production.

Maybe chugging olive oil will do the trick. Maybe I need to drink lemonade everyday. Maybe it’s coffee… no don’t drink coffee. Here’s a special kidney bean concoction to try. Cranberry juice… stay away from salt. No, it’s your thyroid… try this secret mix of three common grocery items… eat more basil… don’t eat kelp…

The frustrating thing is the ‘just hand over some money and we’ll help you out.’ attitude. Conditional assistance. I wonder if that’s what we offer in the church sometimes. “Talk like us, look like us, arrange your daily schedule like us and we’ll share with you the answer to all your problems.” As a sufferer, what I’d really like to see is help. Help me through my struggle as I am, and when I’ve come out the other side, I’m yours because I know it’s really me you care about. We need to give the love we’ve been given – without qualification – and then see real transformation take place.