Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why Masks Stunt Growth

    I was rereading a book I read quite a while back tonight, and some of the thoughts I read make much more sense now than they did when I first read them during the first few weeks of my journey toward grace. Then, they were a little too complex and a bit beyond me. Tonight, they were a great reminder, and I thought I would share them here since in a way, it went along with my last post.

    So, radical grace changes our thinking in two ways. 1.) It changes how we think of God. God is no longer "over there", separated from us by our sin. God is not dutifully loving us but not really liking us. God is, in fact, desirous of a relationship and passionately loving of us, with an affection that does not change, not when we're behaving rightly or wrongly. 2.) It changes how we think of ourselves. We're no longer sinners who get just enough mercy for God to overlook my sin and let me slink into heaven. Instead, we're beneficiaries of God's own righteousness. We lack nothing in the way of righteousness to make us blameless before God. We're perfect.

    But how does that affect us? Well, when we live in guilt and shame because of our old understanding of God and ourselves, we have to wear a mask so we measure up to the standard, right? We have to pretend to be righteous, or to have temptation beaten, or to pray more than we do, or any number of things. Our shame compels us to keep up appearances of being something we're not so that people will see us in the way we desire them to see us; more truly, in the way our guilt dictates we will be loved if they see us this way.

    It all comes back to our desire for comradeship and love. We are designed to want love, and our guilt tells us that our sin makes us impossible to love. So we fashion masks to cover our sin, to make us as lovely as possible, as desirable as possible, in a desperate effort to be good enough to earn love, whether it be God's or other people's. We wear our masks to cover up our faults, our sin, our feelings of never measuring up. We try to cover up our pasts, our current struggles, our temptations in the desperate fear that if people really knew what we were really like, no one would want us.

    That's the lie our guilt tells us. But what our guilt never tells us is that no matter how much a mask may be accepted and loved, the person underneath will never feel that love and acceptance, because the real us was never the one loved and accepted. Only the image we decided to put forward can be loved. Without the vulnerability of honesty, of both our light and dark sides, there can be no true friendship.

    Our guilt makes us wear our masks to cover up our dark side, but that guilt only controls us because we have not yet grasped the truth of who we are and who our Savior is. With that realization, we can place reckless confidence in who our Savior is and who we are in Him. We are righteous, perfect, whole, and blameless, on our worst day.

     Thus, the truth of who we are is not something we must hide. In fact, with our confidence in our new identities in Christ, we can be open with who we are, who we really our, both our victories and our struggles, our defeats and triumphs. There's no need to pretend, no need to cover up, no need to protect, no need to insulate. When the mask comes off, we're free to love and accept love. That's where real friendships begin.

    Real friendships begin when people become vulnerable, when the masks come off, when you know another person knows the darkest truths about you and loves you anyway. You kindle strong, deep friendships when someone else knows your darkest side, yet loves you, regardless. In fact, they want to know your struggles, even that side of you that's kept hidden behind the mask, so they can love you deeper and stronger. Real friends are the ones who pull off our masks, let the world see who we really are, who see exactly who we are, and love us anyway.

    The Cure poses a question I ran across again tonight. "What if there was a place so safe that the worst of me could be known, and I would discover that I would not be loved less, but more in the telling of it?" That, ladies and gentlemen, is what can never happen when we wear impenetrable masks that hide who we really who, that push a veneer of perfection or of togetherness to the forefront. Masks can't love or accept love. Only the vulnerable can love and be loved.

     Masks stunt our growth by choking us off from fellowship, from deep friendships. Yes, they protect us from hurt, from those who would judge us by our failures, but they also shield us from experiencing the love we were designed to experience and the relationships we were designed to foster. We were created to be real, and in Christ, we are free to be that way. Our guilt tells us to cover up; my confidence in Christ tells me to proclaim who I really am to the world so that the entire world can see Christ in me, as the One who loves me through it all.

     Real relationships are free to happen when we are free from guilt and recklessly confident in our identity in Christ, enough so that we feel free to let our guard down, first with a person, then two, then three, then a circle of people. We drops the masks and embrace the loving and being loved that comes with genuineness. I ran across another little tidbit of truth that just about knocked me down tonight while rereading The Cure.

     Speaking of a life that radically embraces our new identities in Christ and dares to live without a mask, "Once you imagine it, you can start to consider the risk and reward of it. Once you can consider it, you can begin to believe it. Once you can believe it, you can begin to risk trying it out. Once you try it out, you can begin to enjoy it. Once you can enjoy it, you will find others to join you. Once someone joins you, others will follow. And once others follow... well, you get where this is going.

     "So, here we are, daring to risk believing that His arm is around us, and He is not embarrassed or disgusted. Maybe I'm beginning to grasp the concept, for moments at a time, that I have, at this exact moment, all of God I'm ever going to get here on earth. And to enjoy it and avail it, all I have to do is trust! We feel seditious and frightened to even imagine thinking such a thing. But there it is. And now the fun begins."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Look at Christ

    One of the most impactful books I've ever read is The Cure by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall. Here's a quote from it that I found especially meaningful to me. It did much to dispel many of the ideas I had in my head about God as my Judge and as my Ruler rather than God as my Father and as my Lover. A large piece of the book is allegory, a character choosing between the Room of Good Intentions and the Room of Grace. Here is the character's first night in the Room of Grace.

     "I take off my shoes and rub my sore feet, overwhelmed by it all. I'm tired, but in the good kind of tired, like when you know you've put in a full day's work. I think back on the banner I read (the banner read, "Standing with God, my sin in front of us, working on it together."), and suddenly I know what it means. Before, God was always 'over there', on the other side of my sin, obscured by the mound of trash between us. But now I realize He's here, with me. I can picture it as clearly as if it's happening.

     "He puts His hands on my shoulders, staring into my eyes. No disappointment. No condemnation. Only delight. Only love. He pulls me into a bear huge, so tight it knocks the breath out of me for a moment. At first, I feel unworthy. I want to push away and cry out, 'I don't deserve this. Please stop. I'm not who you think I am!' But He does know. And soon, I give in to His embrace. I hear Him say, 'I know. I know. I've known from before time began. I've seen it all. I'm right here. I've got you.'

     "And now I'm holding on with all my might. He stays right there in the moment, until He's certain His love has been completely communicated and received. Only then does He release His grip, so that He can turn to put an arm around my shoulder. He then directs my sigh to that mound of filth now out in front of us.

     "After several moments, with a straight face He says, 'That is a lot of sin. A whole lot of sin. Don't you ever sleep?' He starts laughing. I start laughing.

     "Gazing at that mound of pain, I consider that I never thought I'd experience this kind of moment. All the pain, regret, and damage of my life is laid out in front of me. All that has caused shame and condemnation. All that has caused me to pretend and impress and yearn for control. All that has broken my heart and His. But now I'm viewing it with Jesus' arms around me! He's been holding me with utter delight, with all my sin right here in our midst, never allowing it between us. He wants to know me in the midst of this, not when I get it cleaned up. I know now if this mound is to ever shrink, it'll be by trusting this moment for the rest of my life."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Emotion of our Lord

    It's a common idea in our culture that to show emotion is to show weakness. Part of that is self fostered, I admit, since I would be the first to admit that I do my utmost to keep tears from ever being seen in my eyes. Part of it is pressure our culture puts on us, particularly on men, but also on women, to come across strong. Part of it also comes, I know, from the cultural push to look cool, to seem distant and uncaring, to avoid all feelings of vulnerability. I'm not sure why emotionless is interpreted as coolness, but for some reason it is.

    But a couple months ago, I started thinking about how Jesus describes His relationship with us. That led me to have a conversation with my brother along the same lines and to do some more reading and thinking. Honestly, I came to an inescapable conclusion: Our Lord Jesus was a very emotional person. I don't mean that in the sense that He wore His tears on His sleeve, and at the slightest pointed jab from a friend or stubbed toe, He would throw Himself down on the road and cry or stomp His feet. I mean that the Jesus in the gospels seems very free to show emotions.

    For example, we all remember the story of His chasing the money changers from the temple. Now, I find it very hard to picture Jesus stoicly fashioned a whip and whipping people from the temple with a somber step and downcast eyes. I picture this scene as a passionate anger, a holy wrath that God is expressing. When I read this scene in the Bible, I see a side to Jesus I don't see anywhere else, but for possibly the first time in the gospels, I'm glad I wasn't there. This is an example of the Son of God expressing extreme anger (I mean, really, how many of us have reached the point of whipping people when we got passionate?).

     Here's another. Shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35. The background here is that Jesus' friends Mary and Martha had a brother, probably another friend of Jesus' since He had spent quite some time in Mary and Martha's house. In any case, friend or acquaintance, Lazerus died and Jesus comes to Mary and Martha's house three days late. Now, we know the story; most likely, we've all read it. Jesus winds up healing Lazerus.

    Usually, we skip over the little two word verse there. "Jesus wept." I mean, seriously, what's the point of that? I want to put this out there as another example of Jesus expressing another emotion, one that really doesn't seem to go with a sovereign God. I mean, okay, anger, that's understandable. He's zealous for the holiness of His Father.

    But sorrow? Tears? Especially when we think about the fact that He was going to heal Lazerus in just a moment, tears really don't make sense. There are a couple of theories about why He was crying. One, He may have been crying over the disbelief of the people. Another idea is that He was mourning simply out of sympathy for Mary and Martha's hurt and pain in their brother's death.

     Whatever the reason, the point is there. We see our sovereign, all powerful God standing before a tomb, wetting the ground with His tears. Picture this for a moment. Jesus, crying. God, crying. Whatever the reason, this is God letting loose His sorrow, whether it be for Lazerus himself, his friend's deep sorrow, or the disbelief of the crowds.

     Last example is a little phrase we see quite a bit in the gospels: "moved with compassion." He sees the crowds, He's moved with compassion. He sees the lepers, He's moved with compassion. He sees a blind man, He's moved with compassion. It's a common phrase that again, I think we just read over when we shouldn't.

     We're talking about God, mind you. He's looking at the lost, or He's looking at the sick, and He's moved. He's visibly (to the point that His disciples are looking back and recalling this) shaken, stirred, moved. That's what this means. The hurt in the world, the physical hurt, the spiritual hurt, it shook Him emotionally.

     Now, I gave those three examples to make one point. Our Jesus Christ was not a silent, strong man. He was a man who at times showed tears, showed stirring emotion, showed anger. Stoicism was not something our Lord aspired after.

     I ran across a teaching in reading some conservative homeschool writings several years ago that I never really gave much thought to until I started talking with several friends who had struggled some with depression. One of them talked about the pressure they felt to always look happy, to have "shining eyes", to always glow with the joy of the Lord, to the extent that they felt required to be fake, like a mask, all the time.

     I've had other people describe similar feelings before, and honestly, it sort of disturbed me. I wanted to spend some time thinking it over and deciding what I thought before I wrote about it here, but this is the second or third time I've tried to write about this. I do feel that this needs to be addressed though.

     To be a joyful Christian does not mean you have to walk around all the time smiling, say "fine" when people ask how you're doing, or pretend that nothing's going on when your heart feels like it will break. That's not joy. That's a mask. Our Lord (who obviously filled the bill for whatever it means to be a joyful Christian) cried. He was angry. He felt compassion to the point of showing it on His face.

     Being joyful in Christ has nothing to do with remaining stoic or pretending to be happy when you're hurt. Fake joy healed no one. Masks only hide the real person behind them, not change the person behind them to resemble the mask. I fear we wear masks hoping they will conform our faces to match, that by wearing a happy mask, by pretending we're joyful when we're torn, we'll somehow make ourselves be joyful.

     But it doesn't work. God gave emotions for a reason. They're not intended to be stifled, but controlled. I didn't say they should be repressed, I didn't say they should be unleashed. I said they need to be controlled. Now, only you can determine what that means in your own life, but the point of my post is that God never requires us as believers to repress our emotions, particularly if you're naturally an emotional person. God gave you that personality, and it's okay to be emotional!

     It's okay to be human. It's okay to drop the mask, to let those you trust see you for who you really are. It's okay to not walk through your whole life singing and whistling. It's okay to feel anger, to feel compassion, to feel sorrow, to be moved to the point of tears, to feel loneliness, to feel these things. In the perfect world of the garden, Adam experienced loneliness. Our perfect Savior shed tears. It's human, and that's okay.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This is for you, my friend

    This is for you, my friend. This is for you, you who struggle with how the Father sees you. This is for you, who thinks your failure. This is for you, who thinks you'll never be enough, successful enough, pretty enough, smart enough. This is for you. You know who you are.

    This is for you, you who believes God is disappointed in you. This is for you, you who believes that God is waiting for you to get your act together before He will truly love you. This is for you, my friend who believes, but doubts. This is for you.

    I'm going to tell you a story tonight, a story I preach to myself during the day. You're a character in the story, friend, but you're not the hero, I'm afraid.You know the story. You've been told before. Maybe you heard it as a child, maybe you heard it as a teen, maybe you heard it as an adult. But don't roll your eyes and walk away yet.

    Because I'm not going to start where most people start. I'm not going to start at the cross. I'm not going to start with Abraham. I'm not even going to start with Eden. My starting point is a millennia ago, before time, before the world was. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." 

     Don't bother with a moment for your Calvinist/Arminian/Calminian viewpoints for a minute. Just read the text. This is what God talks about His role in salvation before time began. This is where the gospel begins. It was not the knee jerk response of God's to His creation's actions. It was God's sovereign plan from before He even began the actual physical beginnings of bringing His plan about.

     Before the world had shape, before time existed, the Father knew you. This is not a word that communicates a far out, mere knowledge of you. He knew you, intimately. He saw your face. He knew your name. He even loved you before you even existed. Ponder that for a moment. God, the sovereign Creator, the perfectly holy, immensely powerful God of the universe, the One that breathes out stars and calls Leviathan His play toy and nations His foot stool, He saw you before time, and He chose you. He placed His love on you; He desired you.

    Are you special, my friend? Your face, your name, every detail of your life, was intimately known by our Creator 1000 years, 10,000 years, 1,000,000 years before you existed. And with that knowledge, full knowledge of who you were, every action, good or bad, your light side and your dark side, with knowledge of your deepest, darkest secret, He chose you. He chose you. He made you His. He purposed to cut down every barrier, every obstacle, and to bear every toil and every torment it took in order to make you His own.

    But you, my friend, would have none of it. See, we're rebels. We're defiant. We hated Him. We took His love, His blessings, His heart, and we crushed it. We turned our back on Him, we spit in His face, and we waved our fists in the face of His blessings. You, my dear friend, became an enemy of God's.

    That's where the story should have ended. By all the rules of human justice and fairness, God had given us a chance, we rejected it, and holy justice demanded that His wrath fall on us. His wrath, His just nature would not be denied. Defiance would be punished, no exceptions, no free runs. If we had been god, the story would have ended there.

    But thank God, we don't serve a civilized God. We don't serve a God who follows human rules and human understanding. He is a wild man, wild enough to break the rules of our understanding and forever destroy the box of our understanding we would try to fit Him into.

    Our enemy gloats. He stands over us, fully knowledgeable that God's righteous nature demands satisfaction for sin and that with our rejection of Him, our enemy gains legal right to us. We are his to enjoy, to destroy, and he will relish every moment of his triumph over these rebels. He stands, ready to strike the blow.

    When in walks, the Intercessor. He stands between us, and He takes the blow. Our blow. He takes death, He takes hell, He takes on Himself everything that is or every will be necessary to make me perfectly right with God, to make me His own child. He bears hell, He walks the flames of hell and stands beneath the Father's wrath and genuine fury against sin, for us.

     But, if the story stopped there, as beautiful as it would be, it would fall short of the truth. The magnitude of mercy remains unknown in the story we normally say. But we don't walk into the Father's presence as just His sons, His miserable failures of children who come in forlorn and by the skin of their teeth. No, never that.

     Because not only does the Intercessor take the blow, but He takes the scars, the failures, the rebellion, the defiance, the dirty cloths that are our puny attempts at goodness, and He takes them for Himself. He lets the full cup of God's wrath pour out on Him as our substitute. But in their place, He gives us His beauty. Rags for robes. Ashes for art. Scars for saints. Brass hearts for beauty.

     With one fell blow, every rule, every idea of justice, every principle we ever thought we know comes falling, shattered, to the ground. That God would die, for me? In what world is that the way it goes? It what novel does that happen? What God, of any religion, gives Himself, tortures Himself, out of love for His enemies, because of His great love for them, His desire for them? What God calls enemies His bride? What God calls rebels His children? What God calls His murderers His friends?

     A God who loves recklessly, unconditionally, relentlessly. A God who loves the undeserving, the scarred, the failures, the ragamuffins, and makes us perfect. A God who desires us so relentlessly that He will overcome every obstacle, do whatever is necessary to make His. A God who loves us not grudgingly, but intimately. A God who willingly allows His heart to be hurt and grieved so that He can love, so that we can be His. A God who would pour Himself out for His creation. A God who would describe Himself as our lover, one who has won our love despite all odds and all obstacles.

     No one, I repeat, no one who can say this is the story of their life can say that they are not special. You are not a failure. You do not fall short. You do not lack any beauty, any successes, any goodness. In our Intercessor, is life. He is our Father; we are His children. He is our lover; we are His bride. He is our King, we are His servants. He is our commissioner; we are His ambassadors.

     Our guilt stares us in the face. It slaps us. It knocks us down. Our perception of who we are tells us we are not enough, that we fall short too much, that that last sin was the last straw that chased God away or made us no longer desirable to Him. But the truth, the truth! It stares us in the face if we'd only grasp it. It sits at our fingertips as we gasp, and cry, and pray to find our way back into God's favor.

     The truth is that where I fail, Christ succeeds in me. The truth is that where I am not pretty, God is my beauty. The truth is that where I fall short, God is my portion. The truth is that when I am defenseless, God is my fortress. The truth is that when I need help, God is my Father. The truth is that when I am alone, God is my lover.

     The truth is that God, yes, God desires you. No one whom God desires can call themselves ordinary. No one whom God calls beautiful, no one for whom Christ died can ever call themselves anything less than beautiful, justified, perfect, loved.

     This truth is for you, my friend. For the doubter, the ragamuffin, the one who cries at night alone. The truth is for you. It stares in your face, it lies at your fingertips. He desires you. He chases after you. Ted Dekker is so true when he says, "He chooses. He pursues. He woos. He protects. He lavishes." That is your Father. That, my dear friend, is the truth.


Monday, January 18, 2016

The Cost of Discipleship

    “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Lk. 14:26-35)

    When Jesus Christ becomes our everything, He precludes our family, our loves, our desires, our dreams, our everything, because He becomes our everything. He becomes our desire, our aim, our love. He becomes the single strongest longing of our hearts. 

    This is what it means to be a follower of  Christ. This is the cost of discipleship. So help me, God.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Good Quote

    I have been listening to some sermons by John Piper the last few days, and I have to admit, I have yet to find another speaker who so aptly sums up the gospel that I long to hear every day than what I'm hearing from Piper. His proclamations of the gospel are so passionate, contangiously so, that I cannot help but feel the yearning for Christ reawakened.

    “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.”
                                                             -John Piper

Friday, January 8, 2016

When life hurts...

    ...Christ is sufficient.

When my dreams crash...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When words hurt...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I am afraid...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I cannot see through the black...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I can't take another step...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When the fight is too hard, or too long, or too costly...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I am inadequate...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When the future is uncertain...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When temptation comes...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I sin...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I am too weak...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I wish I was someone else...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I am healthy, joyful, and satisfied...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

When I am sick, broken, and lost...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

In everything...
    ...Christ is sufficient.

    He is my Adequacy. He is my Joy. He is my Prize. He is the One for whom I will lose all things that I can be found in Him. He is worth any cross, any toil, any pain, any trial. He is worth every storm. He is my Father. He is the One who purchased me. The One who redeemed me. The One who pursued me. The One who wooed me, who drew me to Himself. He is my Lover, the One who relentlessly pursued me and unconditionally loved me.

    He is sufficient.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A New Year

    I'm not going to lie, 2015 was the hardest year of my life. I have had more struggles and more burdens this year than ever before. But as another friend brought up to me, 2015 has also brought some of the most amazing circumstances into my life, circumstances that brought me through the hard times. 2015 was a year that was marked with incredible times of struggle and incredible times of joy.

    This is the time of year that everyone starts running around, working on all their New Year's resolutions. The gyms are packed and junk food sales probably go down these first couple weeks of January. Lights are going out earlier around the neighborhoods as people enact their new bedtimes.

    I have never really gotten into the whole New Year's resolution thing. I see the logic and the reasoning, but I have never jumped on board. Well, this year, I thought I would put my New Year's resolutions into a post on here. I have a very long list (hold up, my secretary is correcting me there. It's not that long...) of resolutions and changes to enact in my life this year.

    1.) I want to love more and more like Christ. If the first and second commandments, the hinge that all the law hangs on, revolve around love, it seems rather obvious that that's one area I need to focus on. First of all, I hope and pray that my love for Christ will deepen this year. I want to desire Him more, to yearn after a deeper and deeper relationship with Him, a relationship that will carry me through the times of silence and struggles I know will come this year.

    2.) I want to have fun this year. Yeah, I know that sounds incredibly shallow. Frankly, I don't mind how it sounds. This year, I want to enjoy, wildly, the world that God has given and the gifts and passions He has given me. I want to enjoy to the fullest the hobbies, the interests, and the desires that God has placed in me, and there's nothing shallow about that! I want to enjoy the world that God created for our enjoyment and His glorification!

    This last year, I spent far too long procrastinating and dragging out my work, which left me schooling half-heartedly all the time, with hardly any down time (might explain a lot of the moodiness that happened this year in case you were wondering, mom and dad). This year, I'm focusing on doing what I need to so that I can truly go out and fish, hike, camp, read, sing, play my piano, write, kayak, shoot, and whatever else I can think of that God has given me interest in. I'm going to find wild joy in the things God has provided for man's enjoyment this year!

    I encourage you all to do the same. You've probably all heard songs about buckling down and exercising discipline this next year. It's a great message, and one that needs to be taught and preached everywhere across America this year, particularly to my own generation. But I want to encourage us in that discipline to take the time to find joy in what God has given us to enjoy.

    It was never His intention to create bleary-eyed, somber robots who wandered about doing whatever He had said. He created us to find joy in Him, and in doing so, to serve Him and to live lives of joy! One of the ways we find joy in Him is through the passions and hobbies He has created us with, each of us special in our own way with our own. Go out and enjoy them this year!

    So, guys and girls, this year, don't sit at home all night and stare at a computer screen. Don't make yourself sit down every night from 6-10 and study that deep theology book. Don't make yourself school until 9:00 at night every night. Get your stuff done, read that theology book, don't get me wrong. But go outside, enjoy God's world! Read that fiction book you've been wanting to read! Pick up that new hobby you've wanted to try! Try your hand at writing a book! Use the passions and drives God has given us to enjoy the good gifts He has given us.

    It's a new year, people. Enjoy it. That's why I wrote this post after coming in from doing some archery outside and before going to a taekwondo workout tonight. I'm just using a little discipline to live up to those stringent new year's resolutions. It's going to be hard, but I think I can actually stick to them this year!