Monday, August 30, 2010

I've Moved my Blog



Thursday, August 19, 2010

3 Things I'm looking forward to

1. Church - I'm excited to get into the rhythm of worshiping with friends and being challenged by the body of Christ at Vestavia.

2. Challenge - I don't miss the homework one bit, but I miss wrestling with ideas and being forced to think through Biblical, theological, and spiritual things with my good friends at seminary.

3. Community - it's best when you're learning and living with people who love you and push you, and i'm excited to enter back into my birmingham community.

Friday, August 6, 2010

thoughts on "living a better story" PART 2

Of course the best thing about the desire to want to live a better story is that it reveals a deep hunger in our lives for making an impact, for joining a cause bigger than ourselves. It can be just the right message for someone who’s listless and wandering through life without any kind of anchor. It can also be a good wake-up call when you’ve sort of dozed off at the wheel and gotten too complacent and comfortable with life.

So for all those reasons I think the “living a better story” philosophy has some great things going for it. But I think in the end it’s really just a distraction from a deeper commitment, a commitment that is harder and less glamorous than we might like. One of the great attractions of “living a better story” is that it makes you think of all those stories you love the most. Whether they are tales of adventure, love, war, or whatever, you immediately identify with your favorite characters and think about how awesome it would be to start living a little bit more like them.

But the problem is that most stories highlight the 10% of life and completely gloss over the 90%. The most dramatic scenes are often what we remember the most, but we forget that the decisions made in the most dramatic scenes are cultivated over years and years of making everyday decisions.

N.T. Wright recently penned a book entilted After You Believe which deals with the exact thing I’m referencing. He argues that character isn’t something you make a decision about one day and then immediately become a person of good character. He reminds us that character is forged over time, through days, months, and years of making small, seemingly insignificant decisions.

I’m realizing that when I pay too much attention to the big moments in life (the “most dramatic” ones) I miss so many little things. The decisions I make every day are often so much more significant than how I make them out to be. How I treat people, how I attend to the responsibilities that God has given to me, how I speak and use my time all make up the 90% of life that isn’t so glamorous. I don’t know about you, but most of my days aren’t filled with uber-dramatic moments where I’m deciding on some heroic course of action. But then again maybe they are, but maybe they are hidden in the guise of the plain and simple and everyday.

It’s not that I’m against living a better story. It’s just that I think it’s too weak a philosophy to build your life upon. In the end, as a follower of Christ I am to make him my foundation. My life already has significance and meaning. I don’t have to go around searching for it. Jesus Christ, the Word, the Creator, lives and dwells inside me and has redeemed me from myself (read: sin). He is renewing me everyday, transforming me from the inside out. Even when I can’t see or feel him at work.

And that is where it is sometimes hardest to have faith. That is where my faith has to be placed in Jesus Christ, not myself. So I guess what I’ve been trying to say is that living a better story isn’t a bad thing, it’s just an incomplete thing if it’s not anchored in Jesus Christ.

New Andrew Peterson music

Thursday, August 5, 2010

thoughts on "living a better story" PART 1

Life seems such an adventure when you're traveling about. You feel excited about exploring new places, seeing new things, and even the little moments have a tinge more mystery to them than usual. It's pretty much the way I felt for an entire semester back a few years ago when I studied in London. Around every bend seemed to be something fun and new to do, and that season of life was filled with exploration. The hard part, though, is finding the adventure when you're not traveling about. Which is exactly where I am.

Summer is always the time when everyone is moving around. Vacations, mission trips, weekend trips, moving to a new city. Summer seems to be a great time to do all those things. And usually I'm right there with all the other travelers. But not so this year.

I don't think I would have appreciated Wendell Berry's writing while I spent my semester in London. His is a writing style that embraces a two-feet on the ground kind of approach to life, that rooted "I am here", "I know every inch of this property" philosophy of life that seems kind of old-fashioned. Until you are in the thick of it yourself.

There are times for moving, times for exploring, and times for growing in the shoes you are already in. Ecclesiastes says there's a time for everything, and maybe this is what it's hinting at. It's much easier to look back fondly at the adventurous times in life and gloss over the more ordinary bits. I can spend hours remembering London but I have a hard time doing the same with other parts.

I've noticed a trend in people my age, and maybe I guess just "my generation" in general. A trend of wanting to "live a better story". I don't know where it started, and I'm pretty sure it's not just something that's sprung up in the last few years or so. But it's been gaining a head of steam, and it's cropping up in books and blogs and all sorts of other media. I've sort of latched on to it myself because I really like a lot of things about it. But I've become equally wary of it as well over the course of the summer.

If all I do is think about how to live a better story and then go and pat myself on the back when I go and do adventurous or bold things, I don't think I'm doing anything other than seeking to fill an empty void. A carpenter doesn't spend all his time transfixed by the beauty of his hammer, unable to work, and then when he actually does use the hammer, stop and marvel at its power. No, he rather gets on with it. He makes things.

Maybe this whole thing about wanting to live a better story is really just a lack of faith that God can work in the mundane and ordinary parts of life. I certainly do want my life to count for something greater than what I can do on my own, and I want people to see Christ in my actions. But sometimes it's not about helping another person. Sometimes it's about confronting the great fear and doubt and uncertainty raging inside my own heart, the fear that maybe God isn't actually working in my life. Sometimes it's about slowing down enough to be in communion with him, to be still with him. To find him in the everyday, the ordinary, the plain.