Month: September 2013

Learning from the Buffalo Bills

Week four of the NFL season is well under way. Despite the record of your team, you hope your team can pull it together to at least make the playoffs. Buffalo Bills’ fans last saw their team in the playoffs in 1999 when Doug Flutie relieved Rob Johnson of his quarterback duties.

gloryMoving to Rochester, NY meant re-acclimating myself with this fan base. Even a Jets’ fan can feel sympathy for this team. Recently, BuzzFeed posted an article on the pain of Bills’ followers since 1990- the start of the four year run of second place.

The season began with a rookie quarterback and new coach. Some expect great things from the new regime, while others remain in the wait and see mode. Nevertheless, the Bills and their fans can teach us. Here are a few things, I am learning from this Upstate New York team:

1. Live with realistic expectations about yourself.

Unlike the Jets, the Bills have not been accustomed to making Super Bowl predictions. Most of the fans would consider an 8-8 season this year a success. One radio host said, “We would just love the Bills to be competitive each game.” For the Bills and us, the expectation is not to win the Super Bowl this season. Growth steadily happens over time in faithful consistency. Realistic expectations consider the circumstances around us. Maybe this season is the ascent of growth for the Bills.

2. Disappointment happens to all of us.

Scott Norwood kicked the ball wide right. Getting to four Super Bowls with no titles. The Cowboys came back to beat the Bills on that infamous Monday night. Now some Bills’ fans always expect disappointments, well beyond cynicism. The Bills help us understand disappointment. Think of this; they still come back every season. Does that not look like life for us? We will face disappointment, but part of life is simply coming back for the next season.

3. Savor every win.

When you listen to Bills’ radio, they celebrate the win until Tuesday. By Wednesday they start focusing on the next game. There is something to be said about celebrating a win. Perhaps, we could learn not only to celebrate our wins, but the wins of others.

Congratulations Buffalo on your win this week. What have learned from being a Bills’ fan?

Framing Our Present with Contentment

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”  Jeremiah Burroughs

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If you have not read the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, then take time read this classic. His definition of Christian contentment considers an underlining question for us to ask ourselves in the middle of our restlessness.

What if the chapter we live in right now is exactly where God wants us?

A question like this sifts through our expectations, disappointments and desires. Our limited perspective narrows our frame of reference. Personal aspirations can cloud the joy of today.

Contentment beckons us to step back. Not to see the way we think things should be or predict how the future should unfold. Contentment seeks to grasp the present realities of God’s grace. Where we are right now is exactly where God has led us.

Today, what are the present realities of God’s grace in your life?

 

If I could do wedding planning over again…

Almost seven months ago, I flew out of the Rochester, NY airport en route to San Diego, CA to ask for Robyn Elliott’s hand in marriage. Approximately four weeks from now we will exchange our vows to be husband and wife. IMG_5804

Two questions emerge post engagement. How did you get engaged? What are the plans for your wedding? The in between of engagement and wedding day encapsulate a wide range of emotions. Some things smoothly fell into place, while other aspects seem like fight windmills. All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know and working with Robyn during this planning season.

As we move closer and closer to that day, I asked myself this questions, “If I could do wedding planning over again, what would I change?”

1. Create a planning list with realistic due dates a week after the engagement.

Robyn immediately started her own list and compared it to the Knot. What I should have done was posted this list to my pillow and read it every night. Men you need to see this to do list to understand how much planning a wedding involves. I wish I would have taken action sooner.

2. Take notes from your conversations.

It seemed that we talked about the wedding each time we saw each other in person. Both Robyn and I had trouble remembering certain decisions we made. Writing things down is a form of finalizing decisions. Recording decisions allows you to see progression in the planning.

3. Relieve as much stress from your bride as possible.

Robyn has been so steady and patient through this planning. I regret not taking action sooner on some of my responsibilities. Find ways to relieve stress for your relationship. Finish things early without needing reminders. It makes all the difference for your bride.

4. Do the unexpected.

Write notes. Bring her chocolates. Buy flowers. Send her special text messages. I never really understood all the stress a bride goes through until I experienced wedding planning for myself. Through this roller coaster of events, look for ways to show you cherish her. From what I hear from married couples, this is something you can plan on for a lifetime.

What would you add to this list? How would you have planned for your wedding differently?

 

A Lesson from Autumn

What are the things you define your life by? We deem certain accomplishments, ambitions, or goals as our future signature moments of our lives.  457192_61977365

I created a few definitions in my life. My mind has wandered into the possibilities of these. At the heart of the wandering is the hope for recognition, the want of acceptance, and the internal peace of success. Many of us have a dream only to find us waiting or concluding it will never happen

What if God for your own good is releasing you from those expectations? What if He has something better for us than we could ever imagine? What if He is aligning us to who He has called us to be as opposed to who we think we should be? These complicated questions remind us that God’s timing and motivations for our lives differ from our own.

Autumn started this past week in Upstate New York. This season combines the beauty of vivacious colors in the harvest and leaves with the sense of ending in regards to cooling temperatures leading to winter. Often our lives like this. The waiting or closing of an ambition invites us to step back and see the beauty of where God has us right now.

What have you discovered in this season of waiting or redirection? What are other lessons fall has taught you?

Prayers for a Privileged People

Walter_Brueggemann_Prayers_For_A_Privileged_People_smReading daily prayers were not part of my faith tradition. Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann provided a new experience within my daily routine. These brief, insightful, convicting, deep and often shocking prayers orient the reader away from a life entitlement to truly wrestle with the character of God and how He works in the midst of our mundane lives. Brueggemann’s written prayers range from contentment, Labor Day, anxiety, Ash Wednesday, and reflections passages of Scriptures.

A friend recommended this resource to me. These prayers shed light into areas of my life that had succumbed to an entitled suburban American life. I plan on calendar specific prayers for specific days. If you feel weary or restless in your spiritual journey of following Christ, this resource might reorient your perspective on the grace and compassion of God.

“Make all things new, we pray in the new-making name of Jesus.”

Walter Brueggemann pg.174

Why Blog?

There you find yourself at the local coffee shop. Your laptop opened and coffee in hand. Right in front of you a white screen. At any moment those fingers will tap the keyboard like typewriters of old. Then you wait…

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Any writing endeavor starts with a blank page. I have been at this place before. The thought of blogging has crossed my mind time after time. Somewhere in the world wide web lies the ruins of my first attempt called “Notes from a Moleskine.” A three year commitment to Bluehost gives the added incentive.

So why blog? Here are three reasons I have decided to walk this path like so many others:

1. Extroversion

It is both a gift and curse to be a verbal processor. Either people feed off the unhindered voice or wait for the dispelling of hot air. Growing extroverts want to leverage their communication to kindle conversations. In accepting my extroversion, I have found the need for both the space to be heard and even more so to hear.

2. Education

My life took an unexpected turn in 2009. A flight from Springfield, MO-Phoenixville, PA resulted in a three and half year exploration in higher education and admissions. The pursuit of using a pastoral ministry degree in the church transitioned to pastoring students through their vocation and calling. At Northeastern Seminary, I am beginning to see a profound passion to assist people in finding their place in the kingdom of God.

3. Engagement

My Facebook and Twitter only allow for approximately 140 characters of ideas. This last reason is more than matching three reasons starting with the letter “E.” There are books, articles, and dialogues worth having concerning theology, leadership, and spiritual formation. Part of engaging means attempting to grapple with these subjects in a responsible way.

So here we go. It all starts here. Do you have a blog? If so, share your link with me.

 

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