Living Privileged

What a privilege it is to age.
Fullness awaits us at each stage; hope on every page.
The key is to live, truly live and remain with heart and voice engaged.

Old age does not come to everyone.  Some die young, before their time.  These young ones live as if they have all the time in the world.  And yet, death, the unexpected and uninvited intruder, robs them of experiences and cancels their plans.  The more conscious ones among us will do everything we can to increase our chances against death – eat healthy, exercise daily, drive safely, lather sunscreen abundantly – and still we cannot beat the odds.  Sooner or later, death comes.  So, whether you and I live beyond our teens, into our 30s, or up to 80, it is as privilege, as pure grace that we grow older.  It is truly a privilege to age.

So, how dare I hold back or postpone living for another time?  It is exactly because life is a privilege that I am obliged to live fully in each stage and into every turn.  Others may not or cannot, but privilege tells me I must live with full heart and voice into life.  For certain, life is full of hard stuff that provides ample reason to pull back or disengage.  And yet, experience tells me that the key to navigating the good and the bad is to live in the awe of privilege.

As I live into my 60s and as my mind and body brace for the challenges of decay and feebleness, to live privileged means I stay engaged with people, take on new challenges, and give myself to big and worthwhile causes.  And while living privileged does not make me the exception to the rule or give me license to live a wasteful or foolish existence, it certainly gives me permission to live strong and deep into everything and everyone around me.

If you and I shrink from living privileged, age will surely curse us and ultimately consume our hope.  So, with gusto say with me – ‘What a privilege it is to age!’

Words

Words, words, words – printed, written, typed, spoken, broadcasted – fill every crack and crease of life.  Like water that engulfs, words soak the fabric of our existence.  On the back of the cereal box, the morning paper, the radio, billboards, signs, books, smartphones, and screens – words fill our lives.  And into this sea of words, we add our own, compounding the din of commentary, opinions, descriptions, invitations, etc.  Rather than creating clarity, many times we just add to the noise.  Though we are free to speak and write, our free communication does not always promote understanding, nor does it produce solutions.  In our freedom to say, print, and text whatever we wish, we speak, write, and text too many words.  Quite possibly we need fewer words and more silence. Continue reading

Stories and Storytellers

Our past is sedimented in our present, and we are doomed to misidentify ourselves, as long as we can’t do justice to where we come from. -Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, p. 29.

We want to live now – with reference to little else but the now and with reason based solely in the now.  We ask – “Why spend time studying thinkers, movements, or events of the past?  That’s just dead, dry history.  Isn’t life about me, my life and what is in front of me?”

And yet, can we really escape the past?  Everything we see, touch, and experience is full of the past.  No matter how we might wish to dismiss or ignore it, the past is with us, defining our present.  Charles Taylor is right – if we fail to “do justice to where we come from,” we will misread our present and thus “misidentify ourselves.” Continue reading

Which Mission? Whose Mission?

The world as we know it is rapidly changing.  Current economic, demographic, technological, and political changes can cause our heads to spin.  Yet, one change that may not be as obvious is that the American context is becoming less and less Christian, especially in the way Christianity has been traditionally understood and followed.  People are asking such questions as “Why bother with church?”  “What has the Christian faith to do with the real problems of life?”  In some quarters, the questions are not as benign.  These people aggressively ask, “Why are Christians so bigoted, narrow-minded, and anti-everything?”  Studies show that while there is a growing interest in matters spiritual, Christianity and the church are increasingly viewed as irrelevant or passé, especially when it comes to our collective lives as Americans.

So, how are Christians to respond to this new reality?  Continue reading

Thoughtful Speech

A friend recently remarked that much of what is spoken these days falls into one of two categories; it is either combative and uncivil, or it is inane and trivial.  His observation is that people either state matters as incontestable fact when what they are saying cannot be proved or verified, or they understate in a rather casual, urbane manner that which should be said with conviction and fervor.  Since what is spoken in both cases seems to be without serious or careful consideration, my friend feels we must redouble our efforts to ensure that we measure our words, so that we speak to each other in a thoughtful manner.

My friend is absolutely correct for a number of reasons. Continue reading

What’s Next for American Christians?

What are Christians living in pluralistic, postmodern, and post-Christian America to do in order to overcome the negative reactions they now engender?  This is the central question Gabe Lyons seeks to address in The Next Christians: The Good News about the End of Christian America (Doubleday, 2010, 224 pages).

Lyons addresses this question with inspiring stories of those he dubs as “Next Christians,” and with the promise of what could happen through their words and deeds.  His faith in these Next Christians is boldly asserted in the subtitle on the book’s jacket, “How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith.” Continue reading

Clinging with Both Hands

Life can turn dark and ugly because of things that I do, or things people do to me, or just because life becomes undone. These shake the foundation and stability of the world as I know it and my dream of what I want it to be. No matter that it is my own neglect, ignorance or sin, or that people of ill intent accuse or lay in wait for me, or that life-threatening disease or natural calamity invade my world, the result is the same – a nightmarish existence that creates darkness and anguish. What control and power I think I have evaporate and life makes little sense. Continue reading

New Look

Two years ago, while visiting with a friend about producing a newsletter to share thoughts and convictions with friends past and present, he exclaimed – Why a newsletter!  Why not a blog?  The result of his coaxing and coaching has been mereHope.  Two years and many posts later, I am thinking “Why would I ever do a newsletter?” I enjoy blogging, and I hope people actually enjoy reading what I post!

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Buffered Self

Everyday, in large and small ways, each of us are making decisions – real decisions with real consequences. No matter how hard we might try to rationalize choices, blame others, see ourselves as victim, or fain ignorance, we make these decisions ourselves and our choices impact the lives of people around us in either cruel or kind ways.

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Viva la Revolucion!

A revolution is taking place right before our eyes – a mission revolution. Some might mistake it to be a rebellion against power and authority, but such a characterization would be wrong. A rebellion is an attempt to overthrow and unseat, while a revolution is the act of re-creating or re-forming from the bottom up. Rebellion takes place in the halls of power, revolution takes to the streets. Over coffee at Starbuck, on airplanes returning from Niger, in church offices, and at small gatherings, ‘like-hearted’ pastors and church folk are joining passions and resources into mission collectives.

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