Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! The Long View & C.S. Lewis

In lieu of a December update on Crossroads Church Kansas City, we’re praying that all our friends will enjoy the haunting beauty, stark reality, and startling joy of Christmas.

C.S. Lewis called the life of Jesus, “true myth,” meaning that the birth, life death, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus has the power to shape and transform all our lives at a depth that we, at the height of our materialism, merrymaking, medicating, and good intentions, will never scrape.

When God became man, Heaven came to earth.
When Jesus lived here, his kingdom took root.
When he was murdered, our sin and darkness died with him.
When he resurrected, he killed death and crushed sin’s power.
When he returns, all earth will be transformed.

So wherever we find ourselves in late December 2009, we are freed to celebrate the stable, shepherds, and infant Savior in light of Jesus’ full life, which includes a chapter still coming. That’s the day when “baby Jesus” returns to earth as a resplendent, triumphant, divine hero and all his people join the party.

In C.S. Lewis’ words, that will be when, “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is morning.”

Merry Christmas!



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Monday, December 21, 2009

3 Rhythms for a Better Life

Today is a good day for this blog. A good day for this blog to be alive. A good day for this blog to be in existence, even though it is still hosted on blogspot.com and is therefore limited in its upward mobility.

Today is the day I sit down and write a post.

The last year of my life has been spent fund raising, team building, strategizing, praying, honing vision, buying a house, demolishing & remodeling said house, developing connections in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, chasing our three boys, ranting at pigheadedness wherever I find it, leaving my coffee addiction for an espresso addiction, laying awake at night, and, in short, working to get an urban church plant off the ground in Kansas City.

Things are going well. I can't complain.

However, this blog is one thing that has definitely been lost in the shuffle. Other things are my polished mid-range hoops game, my reading list, and, strangely enough, a favorite hat.

But as my family transitions into the holiday season, we're deliberately scaling back our Frenetic Activity Level to something closer to a 7/10. Doing some blogging is going to be part of my job description for the next several weeks, and, if things go well, who knows what could happen in 2010.

Lately I've been thinking about the short list of important things that act as health indicators in my life and how several of them are MIA. Here's what I've come up with as I tried to answer the question, What regular rhythms lead to health and wellness (spiritual, emotional, physical) in my life? In some ways I'm jumping the gun on New Year's Resolutions, but who has time to write a blog post on New Year's?

I used to know, the way you know in your frostbitten fingers and achy knees that Spring will come, that there was a place for a short-but-very-tough, sharp-shooting, almost-dunking white guy in the NBA.

For all five of you who have continued to track this blog even though I haven shamefully abandoned it, what are rhythms that act as health indicators in your life? Let me just preemptively say that these should be rhythms other than eating, sleeping, breathing, etc., so save it for comedy hour, smart a**. Since small children have been known to read this blog, I'm also taking rhythms of another, specific type out of play. Today we will faithfully maintain our PG rating. Ok, then.

Here are my top three:

1. Reading without an agenda. I like to read and I've spent a lot of my time reading, more time than I've spent watching TV (yes it's true). Therefore, if I can so say modestly, I'm very good at it. When I sit down to READ I can, you know, plow through a lot of reading. I can read an entire historical fiction novel in about five minutes. A book on philosophy or advanced physics takes me about ten. (Anything off Oprah's book list hits the mat in three min or less.)

Not really, but I frequently find myself reading merely for information these days. Reading with an agenda. As a guy who is convinced that the best books capture and stir our imaginations, it becomes painfully obvious that reading this way short-circuits the main point. I need to read slowly and reflectively. And not only commentaries and strategy books, but fiction, poetry, and the Bible.

2. Playing basketball and reawakening my lifetime dream to play in the NBA. I used to know, the way you know in your frostbitten fingers and achy knees that Spring will come, that there was a place for a short-but-very-tough, sharp-shooting, almost-dunking white guy in the NBA. Maybe starting as a back-up for the Clippers, then getting traded to the Mavs, and eventually playing a lot of minutes for the Celtics.

How did I know this? It simply became obvious as I played a lot of pick-up ball, taught defenses to fear the second coming of White Chocolate, and developed a hoops motor that could run for hours and defend taller players. I need to play more ball. I need to almost-dunk again. I need to recapture the dream. Pickup basketball was welded into my DNA and I'm blaming God for that. When I get to play ball every so often, I wear my other hats with a cavalier joy (except for the missing one).

3. Writing because I want to and can. This one is similar to my first rhythm. Sending off barrages of emails to not count. Updating my Twitter does not count. Texting a friend does not count. What I have in mind is writing in a purer form, a form that will not become obsolete even when Twitter becomes obsolete because, hey, 140 characters is almost an entire novel.

I enjoy making off-the-cuff decisions and crafting quick strategies as much as any other guy who grew up with a lot of siblings playing Risk and aiming for World Domination. But that kind of thinking doesn't replenish me. For me, the best kind of thinking happens when I slow down, stop hurrying, and put pragmatism in my back pocket. Writing my thoughts down, journaling, has been invaluable for me in the past and I need to return to it.

There's a kind of agile, strategic thinking that gets you through the day and, in the bigger picture, ensures the gears of commerce and finance keep on grinding. But behind this buck-stopping and call-making is the vision and steady spiritual intent that guides every last-second decision and, in fact, makes the daily triumphs and gaffes worthwhile. For me, writing, while simultaneously listening for God's voice, is how this deeper, wiser, vital thought takes place.

There you have it. Three rhythms that have been missing in my life for awhile. Three rhythms that I would like to see return. We'll see what 2010 holds. Any rhythms of your own?

X-posted on arieljvan.com.



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