Think Fully, Love Fully, Live Fully (Summit Ministries Thoughts)

Think Fully

Uncertainty. Fear. Confusion.

Those seem to be the words defining this generation. We are vividly, violently passionate about our beliefs — but uncertain about what those beliefs are. We claim ideas on which to live our lives, but don’t even check to see if those pieces fit together. We are indeed a generation divided — our hearts and our minds, our logic and our beliefs, our words and our actions, our truth and our love — our questions and the truth are seemly separated by so great an ocean that we haven’t even bothered to get our feet wet.

Just look at what passes for truth all about us. Continue reading

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Embers and Ebbs

Embers and Ebbs

Embers are strangely beautiful things.

We had an impromptu bonfire the other night, enjoying the happy crackling of the blaze and the exhilarating, whooshing roar of a marshmallow turning into a torch. But although I enjoy eating s’mores, although I enjoy being loud and laughing about it, neither of those are the best parts of the fire. The most lovely part is just sitting, still in body and mind, watching the flames run and the heat ebb.

And perhaps the most beautiful flow of all its life is when it gets down to embers. The flames long-gone, the warmth and depth of wood-fire-smoke becoming a part of you, these embers still glow and dance long into the night. Ever-fluttering light, as if a thousand heartbeats were jumping inside, every now and again a single flame popping up and dashing lightly back into another hiding spot, as if a thousand tiny faeries of heat were dancing inside, and skitter across the blackened log to return to their revelries.

It’s beautiful. But the thing is, you can’t see it when the fire is bright. Continue reading

The Most Beautiful Story

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Days they force you

Back under those covers,

Lazy mornings, they multiply.

Life is mundane sometimes. It’s slow, it’s dragging, it’s the same circle round and round again. The sun rises, and the sun sets, slowly spinning round again, and everything seems much the same. We work. We eat. We sleep. We get up the next morning and do it all over again. Life is reduced to dry facts on a page: breakfast, shoes, car, computer, water.

And facts, well, facts don’t do much of anything. Contrary to what we often think, they don’t command you, they don’t encourage you, they don’t comfort you. They only tell you what has happened in the past, and what is happening in the now. You are here, this is going on, this is all there is, and this is all there’ll ever be. Basic, textbook definitions.

So everything becomes a grey list of steady, unending, unrelenting march of facts. Dry monotones that dull your sense and close your eyes in slumber. Basic, textbook life.

But we were never meant to be a textbook. Continue reading

What Christmas Was Meant to Do

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A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

You can recognize all these. Perhaps you barely even had to read them, they’re so familiar. They make us grin, they call forth memories, and they evoke emotions. Your heart is instantly swept away into another land, full of adventure, danger, and wonder. But very little of that is because of them. Just those sentences themselves aren’t much. There’s no elegant structure here. There’s no eloquent prose. In fact, they all consist almost entirely of single-syllable words! They’re not stories, they’re not chapters, and they’re barely even full sentences. Taken simply as words by themselves, they have little power.

No, we love them because they are beginnings. We love them because they herald what is coming next.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1)

And I think this is how we should love Christmas as well. Of course, most people do enjoy Christmas. Ask most people on the street, and — unless they are the living incarnation of Scrooge or the Grinch himself — they’ll smile and agree that it’s one of the most wonderful times of the year.

His soft little hands stretched open, reaching for the warmth of His mother. Red and wrinkled, His small body was wrapped snugly, safe from the bitter winter air. Continue reading

Candles Are Lights Too

Making our mark. We all want to do it. We want to do something big, something important; to change to world, to change lives. To be a brightly burning star, dashing across the sky, spraying light and sparks in a trail of glory behind us! — that is our dream.

And as Christians we still have this desire. Maybe it doesn’t manifest itself in the same ways: wanting to be a famous singer, becoming a billionaire, running for president; but we still feel it. There is still that title of important, world-changing Christian: the pastors, the missionaries, the rebelutionaries. Sometimes, in the words of my friend, we just “want to do something crazy, like drop everything, sell it all, and go be a missionary in a foreign country!”

And Amen and Hallelujah! If that is what God is calling you to do, go! Don’t let any complacency, concerns, or cultural standards stop you. We need more radical Christians, on fire for the Lord, following His call into the ‘craziest’ of situations.

But also don’t become caught in the lie that if you aren’t out on the mission field, you aren’t faithfully following Him. Continue reading

Don’t Win the Gold, Walk on It

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a bit of a sporting event that’s been on lately. A big sporting event. A great, big, wonderful, crazy, exciting event of hundreds of different sports all at the same time showcasing a million different skills and the site of a thousand different stories. In short, the Olympics.

Our family always enjoys watching the whole thing (although our DVR might not be quite as appreciative) always cheering and shouting loudly to the athletes. (Yes, I know they can’t actually hear me. But obviously my moral support helps them somehow!) Continue reading

Better Than a Fairy-tale

Life is an adventure, but oftentimes we don’t see it.

Everyone loves a good fairy-tale. The valiant knight rides off on his quest with his trusty white steed, braves many dangers, trials, and traps, and at last faces the dreadful dragon. Yet our brave hero does not despair, but fights off this fearful foe, finishing him off with one mighty blow. In the process, he rescues the lovely princess. She blushingly puts forth her hand, which our knight raises to his lips to kiss, whispering “as you wish”. The pair ride off together into the sunset, to live happily ever after. The little children cheer, and we smile good-naturedly as we close the book and put it back on the shelf.

Regardless of age, I think there is always a little part of us that enjoys fairy-tales. I used to think this was because fairy-tales showed normal life as more exciting, more beautiful, more adventurous than it really is. And perhaps there is truth in that.

But perhaps, just perhaps, there is truth in the opposite. Continue reading