Thirty At Thirty

Thirty Things I Have Learned As I Turn Thirty

 

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At first turning thirty was kind of depressing, but as I have thought and reflected on it, the whole idea really does not seem so bad. Age is just a number right?

Douglas Adams always has a swell way of describing things, he said “you live and you learn, at any rate you live.” This marks my thirtieth birthday, and while I have done a lot of living, there are a few things I have learned along the way also. Today, I want to share with your thirty of those things.

  1. Grace really is an amazing thing, I guess that is why John Newton wrote the song, and we would be hard pressed to find a better word to describe it. As amazing as grace is, experiencing it is that much more so, and giving it more than that. A lot of grace has been sent my way, and I have realized that if we want to convince other people of God’s grace, it is vital that we recognize and embrace that grace for ourselves. At the same time you can never have too much grace. As humans I think our natural leaning is judgment and punishment, so to have too much grace, in my mind, it just does not seem possible. God has had a lot of grace with me, A LOT, so why should I not have the same when it comes to other people?
  2. Throwing vinyl albums out a window in the midst of a storm is a very bad idea.
  3. Bad days often seem to outnumber the good days, but that just makes the good days even more valuable. The world did not end yesterday, and chances are it will not today either. Life could always been worse. I live in a first world country, my needs are constantly met, God has given me ministry, provided awesome friends, I have a college degree, am reasonable healthy and most importantly my soul is saved, life is not that awful in terms of everything! At the very least I did not wake up in Hell this morning that is enough of a reason to give thanks!
  4. The biological family I lack sure as heck is made up for by the spiritual family I have. My friends are my family, and one of the best parts of being me. Each one of them God has used in my life, and what we all have in common is Christ. There have been many laughs, tears, and moments of growth with my friends, I am so thankful for each and every one of them.
  5. Dogs are not all bad after all, sometimes all it takes is to meet the right Golden Retriever in the right context to change your mind on the species. Once upon a time I was taking a stroll on a lovely winter’s evening when a hell hound straight out of Baskerville attacked me viciously. Needless to say I fought him away, but I had lost my dignity, or what little that still remained. Since, I had seen dogs as the enemy, but that very nice Golden Retriever redeemed them for me.
  6. Ministry does not fulfill you. Back when in moments when I was homeless, or not really doing much in life, I believed that once I had ministry, opportunities to speak, to teach, to disciple, life would be good, and I would be serving God the way He wanted me. That is a lie. Spending the past couple years preaching, teaching and discipling, has been a very draining business, and if you are doing it for the right reasons, there is not a lot of glory to come from doing so. Even the past seven months I have been speaking somewhere every week, and while I love serving God in this capacity, I would not have stuck with it if I were doing so for the wrong reasons.
  7. Nothing apart from Christ fulfills you. Blah, blah, blah, stupid Christian buzz words, common believer’s clichés, and why I hate to say it, I know the statement is all to true. Relationships, they will not fulfill you. Listen, I have dated, I have been in relationships with the opposite sex, and you feel just as empty with them as you do without them, if Christ is not the source of fulfillment. You are probably saying “yeah right” or “Christ will be my focus”, but often it is being put to the test that shows hard bad we can fail. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was from dating somebody where the relationship did not stay focused on Christ. She was cute, and really dug me, so I figured why not? None of those are never good reasons when considering someone to date, they are reasons, but I would not say good ones. Anyway, the lesson, I learned by the end of it that it was better to be alone with Christ than with somebody without Him. It was there that I ended it, unfortunately I came to this conclusion the night of my school’s Christmas banquet, so maybe choose better time, but since then what I learned has been true, and even though at times I get lonely, in the end it is something I hold onto.
  8. Never give a girl you are dating nicknames such as jumbo tron, bulldog, scofflaw, Trunchbowl, captain fussy trousers from the ninth quadrant of the annoying galaxy, clay face, just plain woman, or place Darth before their first name. You think this would be an easy one, but I learn the hard way.
  9. Making a red head angry, especially one from the south, is not wise. The kick, punch, bruise, and inflict pretty much ever force of darkness the can possibly muster up upon you. Upsetting the children of a red head, especially one from the south, is doubly unadvised.
  10. We can know something and not feel it. C.S. Lewis said “Faith is the are of holding onto what your reason once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” Emotion is not the cause of our faith, but it can be manifestation of it. I do not always feel truth, but I know it, and that realization makes all the difference.
  11. God’s provision is never going to cease, He has provided a billion times before, and He will provide a million times again, this is something I all too easily forget. It has been a privilege to see the Lord meet my needs in so many ways, from pants, to toothbrushes, to cars, and financially. He has never and will never stop.
  12. A lifetime of pain is worth it when you have to hope of an eternity without it, and I definitely have the hope of a pain free eternity. Not a day goes by that I do not read Revelation 21 to remind me of this. Whatever happens to us now is made a little better knowing that in eternity it will all be okay.
  13. Writers of comic strips say more in four panels than what many do in four books. Comics, like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes authentically illustrate life, the experiences, and the emotions that anybody who is a human can relate to, as those who are writing them use the medium to express their worldview
  14. You can go a longer way making friends with children than you can enemies. While it is funny to annoy little kids, it is a great deal more fun when you have their affection.
  15. It takes around thirty five minutes to learn how to take a screen shot. For those of you who do not know, just how the power and volume up button on your phone at the same time. This will do it.
  16. Wes Anderson’s films are more than just movies, they are art. Before being introduced to Wes Anderson my idea of a good film was Space Jam and then I saw The Royal Tenenbaums, with this the game changed. His movies are as heartfelt as they are unique. Wes writes, directs, does music design, and even picks out the color schemes. My personal favorite is Rushmore, but they are all good in their own ways, give his films a go, you might thing the same! In a world full of superhero films, remakes, movies based on books or television shows, prequels, sequels, or whatever else, Wes Anderson is a breath of fresh air.
  17. Singleness does not have to be a curse and in many ways is a blessing. Sure, I would love to get married, but that cannot be what my life is about. I always say if I get married, not when. Being a Christian does not automatically guarantee you a spouse, and it is hard to be content with that, I struggle with on a regular basis in fact. Christianity fiercely pushes the idea of relationships, making it seem as if you are of less value when single. Every Bible college or camp I have ever gone to there is always that moronic joke where “Bible” is changed to “Bridal”. The fact is, we are just as important and valuable single as we are married. Both Paul and Jesus were single and look at their ministries! Sure, they were killed in the end, but that is just a minor detail. Paul wrote a while freaking passage on how those who are single can serve just as well as those who are married! This is not to say God will not provide us with spouses, but He very well might, for me though there is still a lot of contentment to be learned, and whether I do or not have one should not be how my walked with God is determined.
  18. God may not always give us what we want, but He always provides us with what we need. Sure, I am not where I want to be, doing all the things I want to be doing, but God is providing, and each day His provision becomes more evident in a multitude of ways.
  19. Stephen King said “if you love something, it should not be a burden to do it” and I am becoming more convinced of this every day. Whether it is writing, speaking, studying the Bible, or even just being a Christian in general, if I say that I love doing something, there really should be no trouble to do it.
  20. We do have have to fight for freedom, Christ made us  free, we just have to live in our freedom.
  21. That one of the best life goals is to just get through today, if I can just get through today that is good enough for me. We are not promised tomorrow, even the next minute, so when it comes to life worrying about what is next, being consumed by what is to come, is a good way to ruin it.
  22. Long term plans change a lot, more often than not. When I was nineteen my plan was to finish New Tribes in two years, be married in three, be at MTC in four, have a child and have a place full time on the mission field in five. So far none of that has happened, and my life is better for it, because His plans are better than mine. I have found a lot of security in know that what He has planned for me is far greater than anything I could have planned for myself.
  23. While people can be very predictable, they are still capable of many surprises.
  24. Clothes and outward appearances are not important, but it is nice when they feel right, to develop your own sense of style. As I have matured my wardrobe has as well. At one point all I would wear was sport coats with track jackets and Converse All Stars, whereas now I adorn myself in Oxford shirts, bowties, and leather shoes. Clothing should not define us, but it many ways it describes us, so I see them as an opportunity to provide further definition of the person within.
  25. The transforming power of Christ is real, and just as I have been transformed in many ways, and innumerable amount of people have experienced the same. Change as people is good. God has brought me a long way from where I began, it all started in Tennessee, now of all places Iowa is where my life has taken me. Along the way it has been hard and the challenges have been many, but it has all served in my process of sanctification, salvation was only the beginning and glorification is the end, I am glad Christ has changed me from who I used to be. The Hobbit is a story of transformation. Over course of the plot Bilbo goes from being a hobbit to lives for comfort to one who sees life is about something far great. He was transformed, he valued what mattered, and became disillusioned by what did not. At the end of the journey Gandalf says “you are not the hobbit you once were”, will the same be said of me and you? Not that we are not the hobbit, but that we are not the people we used to be. At the end of our life we will have allowed Christ to drastically change us from who we used to be, or will our lives look no different?
  26. Each year it becomes more apparent that the more I learn it seems the less I know. Which is good the day I become deluded and believe I know everything, that is probably the time to call it quits. Usually, it is the people who believe they have it all figured out that are usually the furthest from it. There is so much more to learn on this short journey called life, and even more to realize I do not and will likely never know as well.
  27. Some battles are just not worth fighting any longer. I remember at one time in my life I believe it was impossible to co-exist anyone who theologically disagreed with me. Oh, how dumb I was, I mean I still am dumb, but my younger self was a little more so. The only requirement for being a believer is belief in fundamental truths of the Gospel, not agreeance with issues of theology and philosophy. Obviously, I am not talking about heresy or false teaching, but in the context of relationships with other Christians. Looking in my life now, I have several friends and people I have partnered in ministry in whom I disagree with on some issues, and them me, but being in Christ, He makes it possible for peace, for us to serve together even if on some things we do not agree. The war has gone on for too long, and I am tired of fighting battles that are not worth fighting. If Paul told the people at Corinth to get along because of theological differences, I can do the same regarding people in which I have disagreements.
  28. I hate lists, they are slightly tedious to make.
  29. Read good literature, watch important films, and listen to well-made music, because when it comes down to it there are not a lot in these categories, most of them are old, a lot of what is truly great has already been done, but there are a few new to be discovered if you want to.
  30. Each day is a new page in the story of my life, I can choose what to write. I have no idea what is next, what things may be in store, all I know is that walking with God, right here, right now, is all that I am accountable for.

 

Here is to thirty years, I am thankful for all the people I have met and  the many wonderful experiences! May the rubber of my theology always hit the road of life!

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Philippians 3:12-16

 

Three Keys For Living A Deeper Christian Life

Here is a, expository sermon I did last weekend at a church in Platteville, Wisconsin, on Philippians 3:12-16. In this message there are three things I believe Paul holds onto as a result of living his Christian life. First is his salvation, Paul took ownership of the grace that was given to him through faith. Secondly, the Apostle did not just stop his Christian life at salvation, he pursued sanctification. For Paul salvation was not the pinnacle of his Christian life, it was the beginning, as such he pursued being sanctified, to be made further life Christ. Lastly, Paul’s motivation was glorification, taking what he knew about his eternal destination, allowing that to dictate how he responded to present situations. Just as Paul used these things to grow in his Christian life, so should we to make Christ the center of our lives. I hope this message is an encouragement and that God would challenge you through it just as He has me.

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Under Construction

I am in the process of changing and updating my blog, stick with me as I attempt to do so.

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Nonfiction

kerm

In really life frogs are not princes, there is a reason why prince charming is only found in fiction. People are flawed, most men will continue to be frogs no matter how many times you kiss them.

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A Letter To My Future Wife (If I Have One)

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To my future wife (if I have one),

You may think “he does not care about me”, and you are right, (a phrase that at times will not always be said in our marriage as we are both human beings who still have sinful tendencies), because how can I care about a person that I have no idea whether they exist or not? I do not always care about the people I am close to that do exist, let alone someone who does not. At least does not in my life at this point in time. There are many believers who think that God has promised them a spouse, that they are entitled to a wife or husband, I am not one of them. You may exist, you may not, whatever the case, it should not make or break my walk with the Lord. My prayers to God consist of “if” I have a spouse, not “when”. Again, my walk with God is not determined by your existence or lack of. Sorry. When it comes to a spouse, if I ever have one, the only quality that  should matter is whether or not Christ is the center, the drive, the reason for their existence, not a long list of shallow qualities that I think should compose you. While on the surface this is not our natural tendency hence why I said “should”, it should be what all that attracts us to one another at the end of the day, but because of our flesh this will not always be so. Beyond that I have no standards, not even a set of basic ones, because God knows what I need and that is better than anything I could ever want.

There are going to be many times where I will not choose to love you, and vice versa, you will not choose to love me. To say I will not care about anything other than who you are in Christ would be a lie and ignorant idealism. I do care, my mind a heart are set on things, some good, the others not so much.  I am not sure if you know this or not, but even believers still have the flesh, and while it does not define us, there are still several occasions where it can dictate our actions. I will care about things I should not care about and you will too. There are moments where we will annoy the absolute hell out of each other and quite possibly will not be able to even stay in the same room. Love is not something we will always express, grace not a benefit we will always give. Even more so there may be points where it seems like the only solution there will be is to call it quits, to give up, to want out and give in. We will get angry, be bitter, say things that will end in regret, and treat each other like we are not even believers. That is the reality, relationships are more of a mess than they are pretty, more rough than they are kind. Then again when is anything easy worth it? While “it”will not be easy, if “it” happens, “it” will be worth it. We will almost certainly treat each other lousy at times, thank God that Christ is love not us. When 1st Corinthians 13 talks about love, that love is not us, and while it may not be us, it is in us through Christ, and that love will be affirmation when shown and consolation when not.

I cannot emphasize enough how little it matters to me what you are looking for because my life is not about living for you, it is about living for God, your view should be the same too. Relationships are about pulling one another toward Christ even if it means pushing away from each other. It does not matter who I think you should be or what I want you to do, God is the only person you answer to. While it matters if you are walking in Christ, your motivation for doing so should not be me, it should be Him. The only way for any relationship to be a success is not just to put Christ at the center, but to put Him above, below, around, and in every crack an crevice possible. If this marriage ever happens we will fail at it, but I am convinced that even in our failures we can find success as long as we are pursuing Him.

You may be real, you may not, my life is not going to depend on it. I would be foolish to make a long list of romantic promises and idealistic claims, when I do not even know your name. Marriage may not even be something God has in my future, which would make such statements seem futile and sound doubly foolish. I am not against getting married, I quite like the idea if I am being completely honest, but if that is not what God has, there is not point in losing sleep over it.

See you if I see you,

Chris

 

 

 

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Not Feeling It

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One Of Those Days

You know when somebody says they are having “one of those days” and you know exactly what they are talking about because you have had one too? I am having one of those days. Living for Christ, in Christ, is just as much of a choice when we feel it, as it is when we do not. That is was I keep telling myself anyway. To be transparent, I am not feeling it right now. At the moment I have shut down, am burnt out, and really feel like I have nothing left to give….just like so many times before. Yet, here I am, still going, keeping moving. History tells me, that I have gotten through this before, and I will more than likely do so again. You have to get through the Two Towers before the Return of the King, deal with the Empire Strikes Back before Return of the Jedi.  Either I really am a moron, an idiot, a big buffoon, or something inside of me, deep within, two doors down then take the third on the right, truly believes there is something to continue moving forward for. Right now, I just do not feel it man. I love the idea of quitting, scenes play in my head on loop of what it would be like to walk away from everything, friends, ministry, life, forsaking it all to lay in a fetal position, like a giant baby, surrounded by darkness as I fade out of existence. Then a voice inside in my head that sounds similar to mine, makes statements which question worth, and in the moment I listen to them, making matters worse. Lies that say I am not good enough, that if I were better looking, did things differently, was somebody else, then maybe I would be loved or be something. These cut to the core, and bring me down lower, almost as if I try to see how low I can go. Emotional limbo, only there is no winner, eventually I come back to truth, this is not my first rodeo, I am not a beginner.

Present Reality

This at times is the reality, especially for those of us who are in Christ. Some days we will want to give up, desiring more than anything to quit. Being a believer does not always take away depression, emotional pain, or negative feelings, but it can provide us comfort during it. Although I feel despair right now, what I know tells me I will get through this somehow. I have been here before and I will be here again, but that is okay because I know this is part of the process and not the end. While my flesh may run a muck inside trying to slow me down, I am in Christ, so I know life is not about the rate I move, but the fact that I am moving. Here I am, feeling sad, and beaten, my only consolation is that I cannot be defeated. I will get past this, there is no questioning that, and while the pain I feel is intense,  a lifetime of pain, is worth it when you have the hope of an eternity without it. Even for Christians, life is not always pretty, and can be just as messy No amount of discouragement will take away my position in Christ, I just have to keep being reminded and encouraged by the truth that there is more to life.

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Something To Talk About

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Four Panel Philosophy

I have always said that writers of comic strips often say more in four panels than most authors do in four books. This strip is not an exception. In these panels Calvin points out a problem in the quality of people’s conversations. However bad it was then, today this social downfall has likely become a bazillion times more pervasive. We know more about pop culture and interests than we do one another, and I think that is an awful injustice.

Saying Something About Nothing

I never lack amazement over how much pop culture has infiltrated my generation. There is nothing more depressing than walking into Books A Million and coming to the realization that a lot of the nick knacks, toys, and tchotchkes are being sold to adults not children. It is hard to decide whether it is funny or sad to see grown people buying action figures, spending their money on pieces of plastic that are part of a fad. While I can handle seeing toys targeted at adults, one of things I hate seeing taken captive by media, are the conversations between people. Oh, the never ending banter about sports, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Taylor Swift, who is the best superhero, or whatever, choose the subject, topics that in light of eternity do not matter, seem to be more commonly the crux of people’s interactions. If it is among unbelievers, this sort of thing makes a bit more sense, but for believers, I just do not get it. When I was in Bible college, my peers would have knock out, drag down, fights over some of the most banal and insipid nonsense, yet when it came to anything Biblical or theological, it was mostly nonexistent. News flash, there will NEVER be a zombie apocalypse, so stop wasting your time having intense conversations as if it will one day happen, it wont!  Saying something without saying anything is easy, human beings are masters of it, that is why we have to speak intentionally, when it comes to interacting conversationally. Not only are there a lack of conversations surrounding the Bible, but rarely did I hear many that had any meaning. Pop culture is like a religion. People build their whole existence around films, shows, literature, and music. I think what happens is many buy the lie that in and out of their-selves they are not interesting, then hide behind interests! Humans are complex, just being alive and breathing automatically makes you interesting! The other part to this is I think that we are afraid, because being open, talking about things of meaning, exposes us and presents some vulnerability. Friends, we do not have to be shallow, there is far more to life and the universe than pop culture or interests!

Motivation For Conversations

So what should we do? Talk about things that matter, it is that simple! Set the tone, be the one that takes your conversations and interactions to another level. If you want depth and transparency, start by being deep and transparent, the solution is easy. People talk about how they desire for others to be authentic, yet do nothing their selves to achieve authenticity. We value people who are open and honest, yet we fail to do so in our own lives. None of this is to say stop talking about media altogether, but there is more to life, and often our relationships stay on very basic layers. Peel back the onion of people. Yes, it is messy, and sometimes involves crying, but it is worth it to see the fullness of somebody. Humans are beautiful, flaws and all, to see in one another what Christ sees in us means diving beneath the surface. When is the last time you asked about your friends lives, how they are doing, where are they seeing success, or what they struggling with? Do you know what God is doing in their lives, the ways in which He is growing them, where they are having problems being dependent? When it comes to the Word, can you recall what the last thing was your friends have learned? At the same time have you shared those elements of your life with others, transparently divulging details no matter how hard it may be? It is a two way street, if you want people to be authentic with you, be authentic with them. Set an example, talk about what is genuine. You can know what people like without knowing who they are. This is where many, if examined, would find their relationships are at. We know a lot about what people enjoy and are interested in, but when it comes to information of a personal nature, most  of us could not answer a single intimate question about a person if there were a gun held to our head.

So Then, What Next?

What more can I say? Go out of your way today to get to know something deeper about a friend or an acquaintance. Stop wading in the shallows, dive beneath the surface. Make your motivation to have genuine conversations, move beyond the superficial, get to know someone. If you want to, go for it, quit holding back, otherwise keep living life the way that you have.

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