Enjoying Life

2013 is, for me, the year of Whole Hearted Living. It is the year where I am trying to intentionally cultivate attitudes of joy, thanksgiving/gratitude, hope, courage and compassion. I am trying to be mindful of those things every day, taking a few moments throughout the day to check in and see how my heart is doing.

I am a pretty driven, goal-oriented individual and prone to sacrificing enjoyment of life to work. For instance, I generally don’t stay out late to hang out with friends because I need to go to bed so I can be rested to get up at 6, go through my devotional routine and be to work. I love that side of my character – I like being consistent, dependable, productive and on top of things. I believe that God is pleased with those things as well, but He also wants to add in the things I mentioned above – joy, gratitude, hope, courage, compassion.

Work is a good and Godly thing, but so are full-living, loving relationships, rest and play. What I marvel at is how much pleasure God has created us for – and I’ve been missing out on it! God didn’t create humans to be work machines needing fuel, He created us to be joy bombs, ready to be triggered by a multitude of pleasures.

Think of this: food didn’t have to taste good, but it does! Eating is one of the most pleasurable things and we get to, have to, do it frequently. Similarly, it didn’t have to feel good to take a nap, but snuggling on the couch and dozing with a lover is brilliant. Our lives are running over with enjoyable gifts from our Heavenly Father: showers, coffee, rain, wool socks, snow, hot chocolate, Spring, etc.

So, this year, I am doing my best to embrace my vocation as a joy-bomb. I trying to be in tune with all the different types of pleasure God in throwing my way. Living in joy and gratitude has been good for my soul. I pray differently, more frequently. I’m beginning to see new facets of God’s heart that I had looked over before.

What about you? Do you think it is good for a Christian to enjoy such “base” pleasures? How and what do you enjoy if you do? What is God doing in your life this year? Looking forward to hearing from you, until then!

Restoration of the Manly Arts

I’ve been interceding today for the restoration of the Manly Arts to the Church in America. I realize that seems out of the blue and, perhaps, a little trivial, but I hope you will bear with me in reading this post.

When I refer to the “Manly Arts” I am referencing the creative expressions men have used throughout history to communicate their feelings and bear their souls. The Manly Arts could be a great number of things, but I am specifically thinking of poetry, painting, dance, drama, singing and music. As I mentioned,a number of other things could be added, but I feel that the above list is a well-rounded one and a good list to start working on.

Dualistic thinking can be amazingly helpful, but only if the correct terms are juxtaposed. We think of left-right, black-white and wrong-right. Unfortunately, we also include man-woman in our list of dualistic opposites. The problem is, man isn’t the opposite of woman, man is the opposite of child.

When we think that men and women are opposites we begin ascribing traits to one side and the opposing trait to another. For instance, men are level-headed and women emotional. Women are relational and expressive, men are stoic and reserved, girls take dance class and boys play sports, etc. etc. But that isn’t how its supposed to be. Paul gives us a glimpse of this when he says, “When I was a child, I thought and reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put behind me childish ways of thinking.” Thus, manhood is the opposite of childhood, not womanhood.

Why is this important? It is important because men, especially men in the Church, need more varied and nuanced ways of expressing their feelings than facts, figures or fists. If we believe that men are unemotional or inexpressive it is only because we have robbed them of proper creative outlets and ways of expressions.

The men I am acquainted with are deep thinkers and feelers. They love God and love people, but are sometimes unsure of how to express it. They feel embarrassed or isolated whenever they try to express themselves in a new way and so they back away from free and true expression, building walls of sarcasm, indifference and detachment. If we as the Church are going to reverse the trend of fatherless children and sports widows we are going to have to help our men get in touch with the things that have long laid dormant inside of them.

Men made in the image of God are creative wonders – drawing upon deep pools of emotion, intelligence, wisdom, compassion and strength. Men are natural nurturers, builders, dreamers and artists. They are terrific with children and have a unique ability to call forth identity, individuality and destiny.

It is my hope as a pastor to create an environment where men are able to express themselves and be who God created them to be. The church can no longer support or embrace one-dimensional manhood. We need a creative wave of refreshing in the Spirit so that men can put away childish ways and step into a rich, vibrant, creative and expressive manhood.

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear any comments and opinions you may have. Have a great day!