Archives For Afterthoughts

Check-In will not meet this Saturday.  I’ve got soccer pictures for the team I coach at 8:00, and I couldn’t find a last-minute replacement to lead.

We had a really great conversation last weekend discussing who God is.  Taking a cue from the recent conference, we started by discussing our earliest thoughts on who God is.  Most of the guys used words like punishment, fear, judgement, and “Hellfire and brimstone” as words they previously associated with God.  It takes a lot to overcome those early narratives about God, and it’s interesting how similar many of the concepts were.  A couple of us were thankful that we actually grew up without a narrative of God as a child.  Better, perhaps, to start with a clean slate, than to have to erase a negative image.

Collectively, the image of God for the guys present on Saturday has changed significantly.  The description now includes words like love, kindness, sacrificial, gracious, joyful, honest and patient.  Altogether, a very different image.  So, the obvious question arose, “How do we raise our kids to know the God we see now, rather than the one of our youth?”  Short answer, we don’t know, but focusing on the God the Jesus describes (as discussed in The Good and Beautiful God) is a good start.

As we continue to work towards the ultimate question, “Who am I?” it helps to get a good, personal understanding of who God is.  I’d love to hear any thoughts the rest of you may have on this.  Perhaps the easiest way to keep this conversation going is through a newly created private group on Facebook.  This is different than the previous public Check-In page, so you’ll need to be re-added.  If you’re on Facebook and you’d like to become a member, send me a message, and I’ll get you added.  If you’re not on Facebook, why not?  All of the cool kids are doing it.  Actually, none of the cool kids are on Facebook, mostly just old guys like us.

So, no Check-In this Saturday, but we’ll get back together next Saturday to tackle the question “Who is Jesus?”  Should be good, and I hope to see you there.

I’m In,

Darin Charles

Thanks to all of you who made it out Saturday morning.  We had intended to spend the time talking about peace.  And, in a way, we did.  We actually focused most of our attention on the controversial topic that was blowing up the internet last week – same-sex marriage.

I will not try to re-cap the opinions of the entire group, because they are variable and unique.  But, I will share my own thoughts on this topic, and our response to it.  My first thought is that it is not the Supreme Court’s job to interpret the Bible (that is our own responsibility), but rather to interpret the Constitution.  This legal decision should have no bearing on our beliefs.  Secondly, as I stated a couple of weeks ago, I believe the primary message of Jesus is love – not fear or hate or judgement.  Therefore, I choose to let the concept of love lead me through these difficulty and complicated kinds of issues.  Finally, If I can find peace in Philippians 4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

then, I must not be afraid to speak that peace to others.  Notice I didn’t say that I needed to be silent and avoid conflict, but rather actively speak peace.  I don’t believe that God is passively letting peace seep into my life, but rather actively speaking it to me.  And, I feel that I should be doing the same to others.  Maybe not through the bullhorn of Facebook, but preferably through individual conversations, small group discussions, and, perhaps most importantly, through my actions.

I’d love to hear your feedback to this discussion, so Leave a Comment.  Perhaps this is a good, less public place to carry out some of these conversations.

I’m In,

Darin

Special Announcement:  NO Check-In this Saturday, 4th of July.  See you next week, July 11.

Brothers,

We had a good gathering and discussion on Monday night despite the fact that I scheduled our January gathering at the same time at the National Championship game. I apologize for that oversight. We’ll try to avoid those kinds of conflict in the future.

Todd Dawson tweeted a quote this week from Bob Goff which summarizes well our conversation from Monday night.

Bob writes,

“I used to be afraid that I wouldn’t make enough money; Now I’m afraid I won’t make enough difference.”

It’s a new year.
We’re thinking about getting better,
but we have a particular direction in mind.

Success isn’t the goal.
The goal is to make a difference with our lives.

Regardless of whether or not you were able to be present for our conversation on Monday, I hope you will take time to share our January topic and discuss the question, “when things are going really well in our family, what does it look like?”

If you’d like to participate in a lunch 1on1 this month, just shoot me an email and I will get you set up.

The lunch question for this month is…
What’s one thing you are really looking forward to experiencing or achieving this year? 

Grace & Peace,

David

Last Saturday we had a great discussion on the topic of authority.  Thanks to all of the guys who came, including four new guys who had great thoughts to add to the discussion.  The question was posed “who has authority in your life?”  Several of us had similar lists.  Our wives tend to have authority over us, although for many it is not in the way you might first expect.  Rather than just having ultimate veto power over our actions and decision, many felt that the authority was based on a mutual respect present in our relationships with our wives.  Similarly, many of us concluded that our children had authority in our lives, specifically the responsibility we feel for our children tended to motivate behaviors and actions. 

Maturity requires an openness to being influenced and directed by a higher authority.

This thought led to a discussion about the difference between leaders and followers.  Sometimes, in fact, often times, great leaders are excellent at following others lead.  If following is viewed as service, then a willingness to serve may be the most Biblical component of leadership.  Jesus epitomized servant leadership.

After thinking on this topic for a couple more days, I realized my basic flaw with this discussion.  I was using leading and following as antonyms.  But, these words are not opposites.  In fact, finding a word to pose as the opposite of leadership has proven a difficult task.  Leadership involves living in a way that people are drawn to.  A way that people want to follow.  Choosing to follow a given leader is a volitional act.  It involves a trust in the vision of the leader, and a decision to submit to his lead.

In that context, the most accurate antonyms for leader that I could come up with were “victim” and “slave.”  They take the choice out of the picture.  I know those are strong words, but that’s the best I could do.  Any thoughts on authority, leadership or better ideas on the opposite of leader?  Reply here and let us hear your thoughts.

Darin

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:6-11

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

As I read through these passages and corresponding reflection questions on the GPS blog (http://growpraystudy.org/2012/10/10-22-12-jesus-and-power/) I could not help but be struck by the clash of agendas between Jesus and the disciples.  One would assume that after being around Jesus and hearing him preach they would grasp the meaning of his mission.  Yet, when they encounter him after the resurrection, their concern has little to do with their own responsibilities but all to do with the idea of restoration of the kingdom to Israel.  I can only surmise the meaning of the words – “restore the kingdom to Israel.”  To me it speaks about restoration of Israel’s power and dominance in the region, order, removal of the Roman yoke of occupation, improvement in economic conditions for the people, and the fulfillment of the promise from the Old Testament.  It’s not that big of a stretch from what many Americans are wishing for right now in the run-up to the elections.  You could almost see someone asking this question during the Presidential debates. What is lacking in their question, is the connection to their individual “I’s” and effect of Jesus’s resurrection on the meaning of their life.  They speak as followers.  They speak as if they want to remain such.

Jesus’s answer, aside from being in line with his usual pattern of not answering the question directly, attempts to break through the comfort of their current self-perception of being a follower.  First, by disregarding their question, he devalues the importance of what they are “seeking.” Which he follows up by the words of instruction of what his vision for them is, as witnesses, and ultimately leaders of the movement.  Jesus encourages them by saying that they will not have to do it alone, for the Holy Spirit will come upon them.  Is this a command that cannot be disobeyed? Or the proclamation of what Jesus knows will come true? I believe that one of the greatest gifts we have is our free will, and Jesus simply knows that even one witness will be enough to carry forward the message.

The takeaway for me is that we often live as followers, when we have opportunity to be leaders.  And one of the hardest decisions we face is whether to act upon the truth and WILLfully carry it out or sit one out.  We often live in passive reflection upon what a good world it could be IF certain things ceased to exist.  Whether God or the government, or the Church, or good folks in the community – anyone with the MEANS to do it – would just take care of the problems – our kingdom would be restored.  The meaning in our lives does not come from wishful dreaming, it comes from willful acting.

To paraphrase from American history one more time, ask not what the Lord can do for your kingdom, ask what you can do for your Lord.

-Misha Orlov

After several months off, I’ve decided to start posting Afterthoughts following Check-In on an “almost weekly” basis.  To join in on the conversation, simply open the link to this post

http://www.menscheckin.org/2012/09/09/afterthoughts-holyroutine/

and add a comment.  If you want to get e-mailed when others comment, you can choose to subscribe to comments.

Thanks to everyone who was able to make it out to the Family Event Friday night.  We had a great time, and we look forward to having more events where we can get our families together.

As for Check-In this Saturday, I have to admit that I was forced to bail out only a few minutes in.  I got a call from my wife that Cameron, my 4 year old, was crying out with hip pain and wouldn’t walk.  Turns out he just had toxic synovitis, which is fairly short-lived.  He had to miss his first soccer game, but he’s back to full strength today.

The discussion was on “Holy Routine” as presented by Mikhail.  He had highlighted the origin of the word routine – travelled way – in his note.  I would add to that the origin of the word holy – set apart.  So here is the challenge:  Can you create a routine, your well-travelled way, in such a way as to set you apart? 

I have plenty of routines.  In fact, my wife makes fun of how often I seem to be on auto-pilot.  I’m often moving through much of my life in a way that requires little, if any, significant thought.  This becomes most apparent when I take off driving, and almost inevitably turn out of our neighborhood towards work, no matter which way I should be going.

The real question is “do any of my routines set my life apart from those of non-believers?”  I think that certainly some of them do:  I come to SMCI on a regular basis, I serve communion once a month, I’ve helped with G-Force monthly for awhile.  But what I feel that I’m lacking is a daily routine that sets me apart.  The things I do as part of my daily routine are centered on worldly things – exercise, work, finances, home maintenance, getting my kids from point A to point B.

I’ve made several attempts to make Bible study, reflection or journaling part of my daily routine, but have never been successful in finding a routine that sticks.  So, I can safely say that creating a daily “travelled way” that leaves me “set apart” is still a work in progress.  I’d love to hear ways that you’ve been successful, or unsuccessful for that matter, of creating a holy routine.