Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Gain the Whole World and Yet....

First off, thanks to archar for following! It's always high to log on and see that someone else is interested in what I've got to say.

The following is something I wrote on vacation; here is a revised and updated version which still encapsulates what what I was trying covey.


I think the prosperity doctrine, which permeates much of the American church, has effected the way I view God and the world around me.
The rose colored glasses in this case, happen to be ray-bans (the latest model of course). Because for Americans, materialism is one of our strongest demons. Satan has pointed us toward the end of the rainbow, and sent us packing. We spend our entire lives turning over rocks, and looking for that elusive pot of gold at the end. Somewhere along the way, most people realize we can no more find the pot of gold than we can climb the rainbow.

For as long as I can remember (at least as long as I've been a teenager), I've felt this deep need to get “there.” Where is there you ask? Why, just this side of perfection of course.
“There,” is vague point in the future when I've got enough wisdom, muscle, charm and intellect to make Chuck Norris jealous. Oh, and of course, I'll have a great relationship with Christ. And because I thought it was a good idea set perfection as my standard and slowly trudged toward it.

I thought I would naturally become that person as I grew older. While, the ideal me has changed a bit over the past couple years, the basic selfish idea remains the same. I believed my future happiness depended upon how closely I resembled that ideal. When I saw others who were better me in some way, I envied them.

Over recent months my own ignorance has been slowly revealed to me. I've come to see how my death grip on perfection, has only caused it to slip through my fingers like sand. It has prevented me from living life to the fullest because I constantly wish the situation were improved in some way. If I'm on a trip then I don't have all the friends I want, if I'm eating the food isn't good enough, if I'm play football I'm not athletic enough. “If only, if only,” I lament idiotically. All the while life passes me by.
Slowly, I'm learning to find contentment where God has placed me.

Yet, something still troubled me. I found myself in a place where I squirmed at the prospect of reading my Bible for no conceivable reason. Clean conscience or no, good mood or bad, I didn't enjoy the prospect of getting in the word. It was frustrating and confusing.

Over vacation, I was pondering the matter when a revelation hit me. In my perfect future, I would have a perfect relationship with Jesus, but in my fantasies, the relationship wasn't about Jesus; it was about my own righteousness. The whole fantasy was based upon my my selfish, egotist (and insecure) bid for the admiration of others.

There is an interesting passage in the book of Job, chapter 29 to be exact. In my Bible, I have highlighted all the personal pronouns in one color and every direct reference to God in another. It was an exercise a Bible teacher gave me to point out Job's pride. He is complaining to God, telling him that he was nearly perfect, that he doesn't deserve all the calamity God allowed to occur. Job uses God's name 5 times, while referencing himself 42 times (NIV)!

Perspective problems perhaps (notice my triple alliteration)? Heck yes! I've got same problem Job does, pride. My perfectionism only exacerbates the dilemma.

Now, I'm slowly learning to apply what I've been taught, evaluating goals and decisions based what pleases God. I'm even learning to base decisions on what I want, without attempting to show off for anyone. It's difficult, but liberating, and I've got the best coach in the universe to keep me on track.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, August 9, 2010


This summer, marked the first time my family has taken a vacation together in several years. Because my father is self-employed, taking time off isn't built into the schedule. His heavy workload, translates into fewer summer vacations as a family.
In fact, the original trip we had planned this summer fell through for financial reasons.

When they discovered that we were going to forgo a family vacation again, my paternal grandparents generously offered us week away via their time share. This permitted us to pick from several different locations. My parents decided upon Pigeon Forge Tennessee. It was a good choice.
With an abundance of shops, activities, tourist traps and the Smoky mountains just a few minutes south, it makes for a very enjoyable vacation spot (I should write travel brochures).

I love the mountains more than any other place on earth. The beach is nice I suppose, but too sandy. Nothing compares with the splendor of a mountain range. So my favorite parts of the trip all involved interacting with nature.

The tourist district of Pigeon Forge reminds me of the beaches I've been to. Virtually every tourist trap is concentrated into one sweltering, lively stretch of road; teeming with middle class white people who are taking their one vacation of the year. All the restaurants, rides, shops and shows you could ever hope to loose money in are there for the pleasure of the masses.

Of course being the sort of person that I am, the only place I was interested in going to was the Discount 'Book Warehouse" I saw when we took a run for groceries.

The idea of losing money to a bunch of overpriced thrill rides and consuming food with copious amounts of sugar and fat doesn't appeal to me very much (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a boring prude).
In any event I bought a couple of books. One by Don Miller called: 'Through Painted Deserts,' about a road trip from Texas to Oregon. Along with another book titled: 'Not For Sale,' which talks about modern slavery.
I'd read the Don Miller book by the end of the week.

The first big adventure my family and I embarked on was to a place called Cades Cove, a small valley tucked away in the heat of the Appalachian mountain range. It was gorgeous. The road takes an eleven mile loop around the outside of the valley, passing through historical sites. Because my parents are great people they dropped me off at the front gate and let me take a trail by myself. So I took of my shirt, shoved it in my belt and started jogging through the woods on my own little exploration.

There is no sensation quite like running through the woods without a care in the world. I feel my lungs expanding and contracting, my heart sending blood pounding through my head and the ground passing underneath me, as my feet glide over the earth. I inhale and smile as I push myself to the limit ascending a hill then suck in the clean mountain air as I recover on the descent.
There is no charge for this thrill ride. As the great missionary Eric Liddell put it: "When I run, I feel God's joy."

My exploration came to an abrupt halt when I encountered a black bear. What I didn't realize at the time, was that the black bears in the area are quite accustomed to tourists. My first thought was, 'Well, this could be bad.' I stood there wondering what the preferred method for dealing with a irritated black bear was and thinking about what a great story it would make if I survived.
Completely disinterested in my desire to become a hero, the bear lumbered off. And because I'm an intelligent human being, I wasted no time in moving quickly in the opposite direction (although I didn't turn my back on the creature until I was a ways down the path).

This seems like a reasonable place to leave off writing, so I'll conclude there for now.
I don't have any pictures from Cades Cove, we forgot the camera, sorry. I'v posted a few others however. Captions are along the bottom.

Inside our rather humble Condo.

A shot from outside the condo.

My vibram Five Fingers. Absolute best shoes on the planet.

My family (Minus mom, who is taking the shot). From left to Right. Me, Ian, Dad and Noah. For some reason Noah insists on scowling in every photo he's asked to take unless the idea was his. I think it has something to do with the fact that he's a fourteen year old boy who wants to do everything his own way.

Can you tell this picture was Noah's idea = )?

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

And We're Off!

Normally, I tend to shy away from stories about myself but I thought I'd give it a shot now. Why? You may inquire. Well, I had a number of very enjoyable experiences this summer, I think this blog provides the perfect outlet to write down my thoughts and feelings, while still relatively fresh in my mind. It also gives me a place to come back in future and indulge in a little nostalgia. So, over the next 4-5 posts I'll work my way backward over the summer.

These will be the first posts to incorporate photos, although probably limited in number, because of the mind boggling slowness with which my computer uploads photos. The upshot is that if a picture really is worth a thousand words I won't need to write very much writing at all.

The posts will focus on trips I've taken. One trip to Virgina, two trips to Tennessee and one to Pinnacle N.C. (I've spend a pretty fair portion of the summer in the mountains).

Hopefully you'll find my accounts to be quite enjoyable.

Thanks for reading!