Monday, December 24, 2007

No Christmas for Me

Well, it looks like there will not be a Christmas for me this year. At least not in the manner that most people celebrate. I will be without my family or my friends tonight and tomorrow morning. Santa will not come to my household.

This week I was on-call for work, which is not such a big deal...except that it meant that I was available for an upgrade on Saturday. It should have only taken 3 hours. But an unforeseen issue caused a problem. So, I was up for 42 hours straight...31 of which were spent on this one upgrade and the subsequent issues. And even today again since 7:30am...and continuing now. Lots of other personnel were brought in from the company I work for as well...so it isn't like it was a mistake on the agency's or my part. We all worked until there was at least a good plan in place.

But the result is that I've been busy for a full 2 days...and my family traveled north to Kansas City for Christmas with my parents without me. I think they should have fun there, but I can't help but wish that I was there too.

I could of course try to rush up there after I finish the last tasks I have today for work. But that would put me there after the kids where in bed, and I'd just be there for a couple hours before we'd have to take off again...but this time in two cars. And 1/2 my relatives have left back for Iowa this morning. So, really there is not much point, while I'm still exhausted and a little sick now, to travel.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself though...and don't expect that of any of you who read this either. The birth of Christ is still the point of this holiday, and I will praise Him. So, Happy Christmas to you all, good will to people, and blessings! Appreciate the truly good and pure things you have in your life, because life here is short...and meant to be lived as Christ.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Guess it doesn't matter

I guess my sacrifice, advice, and willingness to stand with people who I thought needed me didn't really matter. Instead I am essentially called a hypocrite, and while they claim to appreciate my friendship...they would rather everyone (including me, I have to assume) to leave them alone, because they are not here to please anyone...they don't fear man...they just fear God, but of course without the litmus of anyone else. Even if I did have sins in my life (as if any of us don't), it doesn't invalidate my observations or understandings...but apparently it does to them. That is a great way to invalidate everyone else's experience, wisdom, or opinions. They probably don't think they are doing that. So, I put my heart out on a limb, and it was handed back to me with a note saying that they don't want to hear any more. Can you appreciate a friendship and tell them to bugger off at the same time? I don't know...as those notions seem opposed to each other. I'm not sure also how exhortation to follow God's ways is actually narcissism either. I guess it doesn't matter...whatever I say that is counter to their decisions is unacceptable to hear now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Friendship

I haven't written for a while about friendship, so I thought I would do so again. Usually I write about friendships when something sparks an issue, but this time there is nothing really acting as a catalyst for my writing...just some thoughts.

Up front, I realize that my outlook on friendship differs from most people's in this country, so far as I can tell. Usually what people in general seem to consider friendship, I would instead consider to be merely an acquaintance with a person. And surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) people in general consider what I call friendship as something reserved only for the person they are married to or dating.

I think this blurs a lot of truths about relationships, feeds a lot of negative stereotypes, and robs people of the possibility of having authentic and reciprocal friendships at all (and perhaps a decent marriage too). And frankly it amounts to people using each other, only being friendly when they need something, and other issues with being taken for granted.

Part of the paradigm could be identified as the the difference between being a 'friend' that catches up with people, or being a present friend that keeps up with another friend. If you are always catching up with people...then I truly doubt that you are actually friends. Perhaps you like each other, and appreciate each other's company at times, when it is convenient. But that isn't friendship.

Real relationships keep up. They make time for each other so that they can share in each other's lives. Sure...there are time when we have busyness catch up with us. Being busy and taking care of life when it comes up is not a bad thing. But if you are ALWAYS busy and simply don't have time for people...having to 'catch up' all the time...then consider that you are not really friends with those people, or at least presently you are not being a friend to them. You are robbing yourself of a friendship, and robbing them of a friendship.

We honestly have very few chances in life to make real, close friends. People are myopic about their life, job, spouse, hobby, or some other commitment of time for the most part. So, I feel like there is always ample opportunity to make acquaintances, and easy to keep those acquaintances for the most part.

So, I hope that you all take from this that there is more to friendships than is generally thought about. Take time for each other...be vulnerable with your feelings...support and depend on each other...encourage each other...be part of each other's lives. None of those things should be exclusive to a marriage. Real friendships keep up with each other and are reciprocal.

You generally have a very limited time on this Earth, and you don't always know how much time you actually get. Don't waste your relationships.

Friday, December 07, 2007

'Tis the season for being busy

Tis the season for being busy. Work, family, holidays, Christmas shopping, obligation, expectations, travel, workaholism, etc. My own busy week is a reminder of this 'acceptable addiction' to work and busy-ness. In a number of C.S. Lewis' writings he mentions that distractions in life, keeping a person busy, and rationalizing your actions are seemingly innocent, but in reality are some of the enemy's best tools against our relationship with Christ. And in the midst of being distracted we justify everything from idolatry, to many other sins.

To borrow from a sermon that I'll list a link to at the end of this e-mail....this is a question of which kind of person we are from the examples of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

In this story, you have to take into account that a woman's place in Jewish culture was to take care of the home, the meal arrangements, cooking, etc. Women didn't get to sit with the teacher or rabbi and learn from them. So, Mary breaks from being busy with preparations for a meal, taking care of the house, taking care of the family...to do something that is forbidden in their culture...sit at the feet of Jesus and spend time with him. Martha gets upset at this, and goes to Jesus directly to get him to tell Mary to take her place helping her with all the work. But Jesus says that Mary has chosen what is better, and that will not be taken from her.

Which person are we? Are we Mary or Martha? Do we reject the conventions of the world we live, revolt against the busyness of all the things that always need to be done, and take time to have what really makes a difference in our lives (like Mary)? Or do we become myopic and consumed with the 'preparations' of life...all its tasks to complete...and put that obstacle in front of faith and relationship with Jesus (like Martha)?

Once we have those obstacles in front of our relationship with Jesus...how much do we become willing to justify? How must sin? How many unwise choices that seem fine in the world's eyes? We we rationalize more and more poor choices and sin, we prevent ourselves from receiving the life that Jesus freely gives...and then sit in wonderment about why things seem so unfair in life, or so complicated.

After all...the devil waits like a predator looking for whom he may devour. But we are supposed to have our eyes fixed on the Lord, and let go of the anxieties of this world, let go of the distractions, let go of the appetite for 'stuff' the world has to offer.

Our value, our identity, our source of love, and our source of energy is Christ. And out of that comes the outpouring of life and goodness into the rest of the areas of our lives. So, my friends, this season remember what is truly important. If you are 'busy', remember that life is not about busyness. If you are distracted by 'stuff' or sin, remember that Christ wants to forgive you and replace that with life and love. If you are apart from your relationship with God...that he is the only place that love is derived from. And if you are apart from the relationships God has given you in your life, remember that our time on the earth is short and easily squandered.

Remain in Christ, and He will remain in you. And from there (and only there) will your life spill over positively to those around you.

Blessings,

Evan

BTW....here is that link:

11/18/2007 – A Better Way, Greg Boyd – sermon length is 51:20 minutes
Luke's story of Mary and Martha is very relevant for our culture: like Martha, we are obsessed with working and producing, even in the church! It's clear that Mary's "better way" revolts against simply "doing" and prioritizes a relationship with Christ. When that's in place, the kingdom will naturally flow from us. But the opposite is not true. We'll never get a relationship with Jesus by focusing on what we do. Greg also ties this important lesson to marriages.
http://media.whchurch.org/2007/2007-11-18_Boyd_A-Better-Way_64kbps.mp3