resolution or inspiration?

This is the time of year when people are into making resolutions…resolving to change this or that in the new year, typically along the lines of losing weight, getting in shape, eating better, or something like that. Unfortunately, for most, these resolutions will be little more than speed bumps along the status quo. In a few weeks, things will be right back to the way they were before.

I don’t make resolutions.

Resolutions look the wrong way–backward, to what might have been.

Inspiration, on the other hand, looks the right way–forward, to what might be.

Instead of beginning the year dwelling on what might have been, if only you had some something different last year, seek inspiration and focus on what you might achieve this year. Pursue a dream you’ve been putting off because of it’s supposed impossibility. Take up a new hobby or skill you’ve wanted to do but haven’t.

Start making a difference in the world right where you are.

Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets and “The Road Not Taken” one of my favorite poems. It is all about what happened when the author found inspiration and courage to do something new…

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In 2012, instead of resolving to ‘fix’ the problems of last year, focus on finding inspiration, take the road ‘less traveled by,’ and start changing the world.

It will make all the difference.

(Pssst…If you enjoyed this post, I’d be grateful if you shared it…thanks!)

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‘us’ and ‘them’

We recently returned from a life-changing week in Ethiopia preparing for our next adoption.  Between hours of lucidity and sleepiness as my mind reels from culture shock and jet lag, I’ve put together some ideas on the differences between “us” and “them”:

We worry about which of our designer clothes to wear today;
They worry about whether their patched rags will last another day.

We worry about what brand of bottled water we should buy;
They worry about how sick the water they’ve gathered will make them.

We worry about whether our children will get on the “right” Little League team;
They worry about whether their children will one day have shoes.

We worry about what restaurant we should take our kids to tonight;
They worry about if they’ll be able to feed their children today.

We worry about getting our children into the “right” college;
They worry about their children living into adulthood.

We worry about what others will think when they look at us;
They worry about if anyone will look at them and care.

We pray that Jesus would remove the burdens we carry from our backs;
They pray that Jesus would give them stronger backs to bear their burdens.

making changes…

After my last post I deliberately took some time off from writing to figure out how to implement these ideas here at simply, Christian.  I considered many things, including:

  • not blogging anymore at all…let’s be honest, it takes a lot of time and effort
  • switching to a Tumblr blog to force me to focus on more concise posts
  • changing exclusively to a photoblog…as a visual person a picture is worth many, many words

None of those ideas really sat well with me. I like to write. I like to interact. I like to share my ideas with others. At the same time, part of simple Christian living means making good on my desire to cut back on the time I spend online–both reading and writing–in order to spend more time with family, more time focusing on others, more time changing the world, etc.

With these ideas in mind, here is how I plan to implement those ideas…here is what you can expect as we journey together toward simplicity, simple living, and simple Christian living:

  • more links to others’ blogs…there are a lot of GREAT writers out there, no sense reinventing the wheel here
  • more links to causes…I’ve been remiss lately in pointing us to how/where we can make a real difference
  • more ‘simple thoughts’…well-worded, concise quotes that speak volumes beyond their word counts
  • more photos…as they speak for themselves

I hope you’ll like my new focus.  Of course, if you don’t, you’re free to move along.

image courtesy of stock.xchng

Christ’s Death and Our Own

“Death is grim, of course, my dear daughter; but the life beyond, which God in His mercy will give us, is most desirable. Truly, in no way must we lose heart because, even though we are weak, our weakness is not nearly as great as God’s mercy toward those who want to love Him and place all their hope in Him. When blessed Cardinal Borromeo was dying, he had someone bring him an image of our Lord after His death; this was in order to soften the dread of his own death by uniting it to that of his Savior. Such contemplation of Him who is our life is the best remedy against the fear we have of our own death; we should never think about one without also thinking of the other.”

Francis de Sales, quoted in Holy Bible: Mosaic

Why I’m Not a Fan of the National Day of Prayer

Today is the annual National Day of Prayer, celebrated by many (primarily Evangelicals) around our great nation including many in our military. At the risk of really agitating a number of my friends who are staunch advocates of the NDoP, I feel compelled to note that I’m not really that much of a fan.

"What! You don’t support the National Day of Prayer?!" I can almost hear them cry out in anguish and gnashing of teeth. After all, on many military bases the NDoP is almost the biggest Holy Day of the year–with prayer breakfasts, flag waving, pomp, circumstance, big name speakers, and eventually even some prayer. I say that with my tongue only loosely planted in my cheek.

Well, quite honestly, I dislike the NDoP as much as I dislike having a U.S. flag prominently placed in the church sanctuary.

(Oh, bother, now I’ve really crossed the line.)

"What! Are you some kind of socialist, pinko, commie, liberal, fascist, heretic or something?!"

Nope. Not at all. I’m about as big a flag-waving, patriotic, proud American as you’re going to find, in Texas or anywhere. Added to this, I’m a chaplain in the Air Force and a devout, confessional, theologically-conservative Christian.

I am an American AND a Christian but not an American-Christian or a Christian-American, and it has nothing at all to do with Mr. Jefferson and his separation of church and state.

I am, in the words of the Apostle Paul, a citizen of heaven, and I am eagerly waiting for Christ’s return (Phil 3.20). The faith once for all delivered to the saints is neither an American treasure nor an American birthright. It is not as if we shall be gathered around the throne praising God in eternity in English. Any good Lutheran will tell you that the language of heaven is clearly German. Seriously, though…the vast crowd, too great to count, standing before the Lamb is from "every nation and tribe and people and language" (Rev 7.9). We Americans must not let our Christianity become exclusively American or even America-centered (in theology or praxis), for the promise of the Gospel and God’s gracious redemption in Christ are universal in scope.

Placing American flags in our sanctuaries and having national days of prayer aren’t necessarily sinful or wrong. But they are, at best, short-sighted. Let us indeed pray for our civic leaders…we are commanded to do exactly that (1 Tim 2.2). Let us, if we are Americans, thank God for the many blessings we enjoy here. Let us, however, not only pray for American leaders and American blessings but truly for all in authority, regardless of their nationality, and for all God’s many blessings to the nations–most notably, Jesus Christ.