Living Life Outside the Box (Part Three)

September 25th, 2015 by

Outside the Box HS

Seems to me, we somehow think the box, which is quite real, i.e. the one with only X number of breaths for any of us, is really real, will last forever, but another part of us, somewhere deep down, knows it won’t.

Yet we paint it, decorate it, treat it, as if it will, with our cheers or tears for ourselves, others, and the world. And well we should on the one hand, but there is the other hand.

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AN INVITATION

September 18th, 2015 by

imagesPrayer is foundational to our life with God. Talking to God about our world, our friends, families and ourselves begins the conversation. Listening to God about our world, our friends, families and ourselves moves the conversation forward.

Whether you have prayed for a lifetime or only occasionally, we hope you will join us this Fall for our church-wide study.

The only thing Jesus’ friends ever asked him to teach them was how to pray.

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Inside the Box (Part Two)

September 11th, 2015 by

boxBelieve it: There once was a day when breaths were not numbered. When there was no lid on the box, or even four walls for that matter. So where did the box come from you ask, and our X number of inhales and exhales originate? Listen and look.

It was in the good old days.

‘Ah, for the ol’ days,’ we say. And these days were really good, and they stretch ‘old’ to the end of its spectrum.

To the first breath ever.

The creator breathed his own life breath into dirt and there we were. That’s a shortened version. In those very good old days, we, man and woman, walked together with our creator and never had a thought of a last breath. The first was still more than enough. Can you imagine?

As they say, ‘let the good times roll’ and what rolls is usually going down hill. What seems to have happened, according to the story told: it was suggested, proposed in fact, that just by eating something, the one thing not to eat, we could be just like the creator we so admired.

This slippery slope, the roll downhill, had several simple steps. Perhaps these five furtive forays actually laid the foundation for the four sides and the top to the box we now find ourselves in. Inside the box. Maybe we built it. If so, here’s how.

We listened to the voice telling us, selling us, it was okay, even good to do bad. Then we looked at the prize and it was a delight and shone into the window of our eyes. And now, being sure the boss wasn’t around, we loosed our hold on him and called him ‘boss’ instead of Abba. That’s three sides.

All that was left was for our hearts to fall too, and as soon as we longed for this possession, it was nothing to lay hold of it. (Check it out — Genesis 3.1-6) And the lid was slammed shut.

So there, here we are. We built a box by listening, looking, loosing, longing for, and laying hold of – and in that instant our breaths were numbered, limited, finite. In that moment we died, but still had some inhaling and exhaling to do, for a time anyway.

What was time before that? Just the ticking off of breaths? But who was counting? Why count? But now we do.
There is a way out, and we need to get it.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (MK 8.36-37, from Sunday’s gospel)

 _______________________________

The meaning of earthly existence lies not,

as we have grown used to thinking,

in prospering but in the development of the soul.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

_______________________________

Blessings to you all,

+Carl

Why Gather?

September 11th, 2015 by

IMG_4684When life falls apart you can do one of two things. You can waste some of the little energy you have left keeping up the pretense that everything is okay, or you can save it for what really matters and stop putting on a mask. And after all, who do you think you’re kidding, anyway?

We might think we’re doing a pretty good job of looking like we have it all together, but actually it’s usually fairly obvious to everyone else that something’s off. We’re walking around in our best suit, thinking we look great, unaware that our collar is all messed up in the back and our shirt-tail is hanging out.

It was about a dozen years ago that the wheels came off in my life. The engine dropped out, too. Lots of smoke and singeing. More out of resignation than determination, I decided that I had nothing left to lose in dropping the false front and letting some people see the real me. I’d spent much of four decades trying to work out how to do this man thing on my own and that had not gone too well, so what was there to lose?

I began meeting for coffee with a couple of other guys and we tentatively let each other in, a bit at a time. We talked football, films, family, food, and then risked broaching the other f-word: feelings. Like, admitting that we had them, didn’t always understand them, and certainly did not know what to do with or about them.

Since then we have met on probably more than four hundred occasions.

Sometimes we set the world right. Sometimes we talk sports or movies. Sometimes we read the Bible together. Sometimes goof off. Sometimes we pray together. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we encourage each other. Sometimes we tick each other off. Sometimes we get in each other’s faces a bit.

Only my wife knows more about me than these guys. I carry some of their deepest secrets, too. If trust were currency, we’d be wealthy. And I am richer because of them.

We have learned a lot about each other, we have learned a lot about ourselves, and we have learned a lot about God. Mostly we have learned that none of us really know, or have on our own, what it takes to be a man as God intended.

We have not been alone in discovering this at New Covenant. Others have the same kind of friendships. Some guys meet in the sanctuary weekly on Wednesday mornings to pray for the men of the church. Some guys get together at the monthly men’s breakfast.

The ways in which they connect may be different, but there’s a shared, common core: the recognition that we need each other, and something special can happen when we acknowledge that. (Ladies, you have known this about yourselves for a long time; thanks for being patient with us).

This interdependence runs counter to much of contemporary culture, of course. The rugged, independent, self-made man, always confident, always in control, always capable.

Right.

Thing is, though, we can reject that secular version and replace it with a spiritualized one. Smile big, quote a Bible verse, and try to look holy. The result can be just as miserable.

Some of the men of New Covenant have a sense, a stirring, that God wants and has more for us. They are not exactly sure what that means or what it will look like, but they have experienced enough in community with other guys to want to find out.

That’s what the men’s gathering on Saturday, September 12, is all about. The men of New Covenant coming together to find out more—about what God may have in mind, about each other, and about ourselves.

You won’t be made to bear your soul or beat a drum—though you will probably be free to do either or both, if you want to.

You don’t have to wait until you are desperate, like I was, to start being real with other men and about yourself. You could save yourself a lot of grief, and experience a lot more joy instead, by starting now.

Outside the Box (Part One)

September 4th, 2015 by

Plastic boxes.jpegPart One: “I don’t get it.”

What I don’t get is why people–other people of course– don’t get it.

Think about it. It’s as if each of us lives inside a box. A big box for sure; some bigger, I suppose, some smaller, some taller and some shorter, but a box with a lid, and thus a limited amount of air. And so we only have so many breaths.

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