Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One word. No explanations.

1. Yourself: trying
2. Your spouse: home
3. Your hair: short
4. Your mother: solid
5. Your father: heaven
6. Your favorite item: pen
7. Your dream last night: weird
8. Your favorite drink: water
9. Your dream car: mine
10. The room you are in: office
11. Your ex: friends
12. Your fear: underperforming
13. What you want to be in 10 years: better
14. Who you hung out with last night: family
15. What you're not: worried
16. Muffins: tops
17: One of your wish list items: Paris
18: Time: fleeting
19. The last thing you did: solved
20. What you are wearing: shorts
21. Your favorite weather: rainless
22. Your favorite book: hmmm
23. The last thing you ate: taco
24. Your life: starting
25. Your mood: satisfied
26. Your best friend: there
27. What you're thinking about right now: everything
28. Your car: convertible
29. What you are doing at the moment: pondering
30. Your summer: over
31. Your relationship status: happy
32. What is on your TV: everything
33. What is the weather like: sunny
34. When was the last time you laughed: today

Thank you to Erin for encouraging me to play... now it's your turn!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Still intuitive, now more introverted

Click to view my Personality Profile page

A few weeks ago, TK asked if I had any personality. I don't think he was trying to insult me, because he included a link to this myers-briggs type test.

I took a similar test while working at Citibank (some 15-20 years ago) and the results then were different, but the same. (ENTP then, now INTJ).

Turns out that an individual is primarily classified by two letters. Mine were (and still are) NT -- an intuitive thinker. So perhaps your "core" remains constant over time. But the fringes (an EP now an IJ) can change over time. I definitely think I've become more introverted over the years... I hold my cards closer to my chest and take fewer chances when it comes to relationships. And I've definitely come to appreciate order (J) and I'm less spontaneous (S).

But most of all... Intuitive people focus on the future and the possibilities. Thinkers are ruled by their head instead of their heart. And that pretty well describes me. These results are echoed in the "Multiple Intelligence" test. The only new learnings: with "musical intelligence" ranking at the bottom, maybe its time to stop singing in the shower.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Acting Childish

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. MK 10:15
Receive the kingdom of God like a little child. Now what does that mean? How would a child receive the kingdom of God?

For the past few days, I’ve reflected on this verse by thinking about my own three children. While perhaps not little anymore (14, 12, 10), they were recently. So what could I learn from them about receiving the kingdom of God?

My son Brian would simply accept this gift. A gift, after all, is not something that one must work for -- that would be a job. School, for example, is his job, complete with goals, and effort and grades. And while there are things Brian will work for – there are other things that he realizes are well out of the grasp of anything he could attain for himself. Like a new video system. And he accepts these gifts, as a son should, with no apologies. A simply thank you is enough.

In a way, he “earns” his new gifts simply by appreciating the gifts he has been given in the past – not by listing out his most recent accomplishments.

Often, I look at attaining the kingdom as a job. I think “being a Christian is hard work.” But we all know the kingdom of God is well out of the grasp of anything I could achieve on my own. Perhaps I should receive the kingdom for what it is – a gift from Christ – where a simple “thank you” will suffice. Thank you Lord! (And thank you, Brian).

My middle child, Meaghan, would be relentless. To the point of annoyance. When Meaghan has her heart set on something, nothing can turn her away. You can’t distract her. You can’t bribe her. You can’t offer her a substitute.

She stays focused – and whether her goal is acing a school paper, completing a jigsaw puzzle or going to that party she was already told she was not going to – she persists. If I am the one in between Meaghan and her goal, she knows she can outlast me.

Personally, I have my heart set on the kingdom, but I am often distracted. I am easily bribed. I readily accept substitutes. If I were to receive the kingdom like a little child, I would be relentless. I would run in such as way as to get the prize. Like my daughter. (Thank you Meggie.)

My youngest, Erin, would give it away. She would treasure the kingdom—and receive it with joy--even though the price paid was far too much. But soon, she would come across someone, whether friend or stranger, and she would feel for this person. And she would give what she treasured away, like a seat on a crowded bus.

Erin is blessed with two gifts – and eye for those in need, and a heart that wants to act. This fall, she will become the first of my children to walk into the waters on her own accord to be baptized.

Often, I think in terms of the kingdom in me-centric ways. I see a need for me to serve, when I should just see people who need God’s love. I see a need to correct my sins, instead of unleashing the power of God. I think about what I need to do to receive the kingdom – when I should, like Erin, simply find someone and give it away. (Thank you Erin.)

So go. Receive the kingdom of God like a child. And if you have a second, let me know what else we can learn from a child you know.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dual Standards

There was a Christian man who after twelve years of marriage, realized he was gay. He and his wife divorced, and some time later this gay man fell in love and married his new life-mate. Years later, when he died, this man approached the Pearly Gates where he met Saint Peter. “You know you can’t come in,” Peter said with a smile.

“I know,” the man replied, “it’s because I’m gay, right?”

“Heavens no,” Peter retorted. “It’s because you divorced and remarried. Don’t you read your bible? You’re an adulterer!”
My friend TK recently linked me to a YouTube clip that featured Brian McLaren at Willow Creek, speaking on the topic of the church and homosexuality. McLaren, who according to wikipedia is a “controversial voice in the church”, noted that the approach taken by many churches today – welcoming but not affirming – does little to bring gay people to Christ.

So what does Christ say about homosexuality? I’ve discovered that many of the bible passages on this topic are from the Old Testament, plus a frequently-quoted verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Compare this verse with the direct quote from Jesus found in Mark 10:

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.

One is a direct quote from Jesus – no symbolism here, it’s meaning so clear, beyond debate. But for some reason, McLaren didn’t feel a need to talk to Christians about their need to be “welcoming, but not affirming” to divorcees. And why is that?

At my church, it’s possible that the “welcoming, but not affirming” stance means that individuals who are gay cannot serve in leadership positions. But divorced and remarried people can. And why is that? And why is it also likely that across the country we have church leaders who cheat on their taxes, pass along gossip and fantasize about women?

Early, I wrote about seeing Jesus through your own experiscope – and I am sure that impacts our acceptance of divorce – and our feelings towards gays. After all, I have good friends who are divorced, and they seem like OK people to me.

Now I don’t mean to pick on divorced people (just a convenient example) nor do I mean to promote homosexuality (see earlier post). But it seems to me that we as Christians pick and choose our battles based not on WWJD – but rather on “what I or one of my friends may someday do”.

29% Gay

Before I post my response to a question on church and homosexuality, I though it only fair to share my personal thoughts on the morality of being gay.

A few years ago at work, one of my colleagues sent around a link to an on-line quiz titled “How Gay Are You?” I don’t remember the site (there are thousands) but I do remember my score: I am 29% gay.

Of course, some of my associates scored higher than 60%, which earned them some ribbing – and one such friend retook the test a dozen times to see if he could figure out what was driving the score. (He does have good grooming habits… maybe that was it.)

In any case, the fact that everyone who took the test had “some percent” gay in them made sense to me back then – and now, as a Christian, it still makes sense. We like to think in terms of absolutes, but we are creatures of degree.

This may sound like an utter contradiction, but in my heart I believe that God intends for all sexual relationships to be between a man and a woman, but I also believe that some people are born with a natural attraction to same-sex relationships.

Think about it: God intends for us to live one way. But some are wired to live differently. Why does God design us that way? I don’t know. But you don’t have to look far to know it’s true.

Just spend a moment in the quiet of your heart. God intends for me to ______, but I am naturally inclined to _______.

I have a few answers that fill those blanks – and some score higher than 29%.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

JC through an experiscope

When the sun rose up this morning, I did not dance. When my children awoke, healthy and laughing, I did not celebrate. When my tummy was filled with bacon and eggs, I did not take a moment to thank God. After all… it was just another typical Sunday morning.

Amazing things happen around me all of the time… most of which I do not notice… or for that matter, find so amazing. And while I take for granted the glory that is God around me… I also find myself putting limits on what God is capable of doing. The word ‘impossible’ is still very much in my vocabulary.

Here’s a question for you: Which of the following is amazing… which is ordinary?

- Seeing someone travel across the surface of water

- Getting cured of cancer just by touching some guys robe

Everyone, I think, views life through the eyes of their own experiences. I view God through that same “experiscope’. Things I’ve seen the Lord do I take for granted. Things I have not seen I consider impossible.

The apostle Thomas is most know for this “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude, but all of the apostles saw Christ through an experiscope. In the Gospel of Mark, you can see this shift from “amazement” to “expected” within a few lines of text.

In one moment, Jesus walks out across the lake and they disbelieve it – they cry out – they are terrified. The next moment, they are back on shore, and anyone who touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak is healed – ho hum – been there, done that.

OK, maybe it was really cool the first time they saw Jesus heal the sick, but by Mark 6:56 that was already old news. “Oh yeah,” I can hear them saying, “I’ve seen this trick before. Still not quite sure how he does it, but nothing new here.”

Even with Christ in their midst, it was difficult for the apostles to see him objectively. Every word, every action, every miracle was processed through their own experiences and expectations. Their experiscope.

Experiscope is a better word than experiences, I believe. Because while experiences are fixed, I believe we can adjust our experiscope—the same way you can turn knobs on a telescope or periscope. See the marvel in the ordinary. Expect the impossible.

Today is a good day to turn the dial a bit. Let me see God in the blue sky, let me feel him in a cool breeze, let me sense him in the smile of a stranger. Likewise, let me see redemption in the selfish, forgiveness in the wrongdoers, life in death. Help me Lord, to see through your experiscope.