Archive for September, 2010

Potential Faith

I know another academic year has arrived when the neighborhood I live in has early morning migrations of kids walking to the local elementary school.  While avoiding the streams of children on my way work I am taken back to my own elementary years.  Riding bikes to school, recess, gym, lunch…and of course class.  Even in elementary school I was high on the social and physical side of school.  However, I do recall some of what I learned in class. The following is a synopsis of one science lesson almost every elementary kid learns in school.

Have you ever shot a rubber band from your fingertip? When the rubber band is held in the stretched position, it has potential energy. The rubber band stores potential energy due to its elasticity. Elasticity is the tendency of some objects to stretch, then snap back to their original shape.

When the rubber band is released, the potential energy changes to kinetic: it suddenly launches into motion from its formerly static position.

-Excerpt taken straight from Pitsco, a company that develops educational products and solutions for teachers and students.

As I thought about this lesson learned so many years ago I was struck by the simplicity of it as a spiritual analogy of our faith.  Specifically that last line in the lesson that explains it so concisely.  Imagine if it read…

When the human is released, the potential faith changes to kinetic faith: he/she suddenly launches into motion from their formerly static position.

Now analogies do break down so I will not pursue this in great depth.  I was simply struck by the simplicity of using an elementary science lesson as a lens for viewing the moment of Life Transformation; that moment when the human condition apart from Christ transitions into being united with Christ.  That one moment where potential faith changes into kinetic faith and they suddenly launch into motion with Christ.  Following Jesus.  Walking with Jesus.  Talking with Jesus.  Obeying Jesus.  Becoming Like Jesus.

Life Transformation:  when Potential Faith become Kinetic Faith.

Sanctus Real “Lead Me” ~ Another Reflection

This quote from Matt Hammitt, lead singer of Sanctus Real, is where I am wrestling today.  (Watch the first video from my last post “The Story Behind Lead Me” to hear it from Matt himself.)

…the challenge for me in the song, and hopefully for other men as well is…every time I hear it, every time I sing it I have to ask myself, What kind of man am I? Not yesterday, not tomorrow, what kind of man am I today? Have I invested in my family emotionally, spiritually the way that God has called me to reach out to them.

What kind of man am I today?  It is a challenging question to respond to on it’s own.  Yet, the aspect of Matt’s quote that I am most struck by is, “…the way God has called me to reach out to them.”  This  centers the preceding question on Christ and what He has called me to as a husband, a daddy, and a man.  I need this perspective daily.  The perspective that what it means to be a man, a husband, and a father is found in Christ.

My mind and the culture I live in create a disconnect between my role as a man and my relationship with Jesus Christ, my role as a husband and my role as the bride of Christ, my role as daddy and my role as a son of the Most High.  But it’s only in the latter roles that the former find their identity, their purpose, and their strength to be lived.  I want to be a man, a husband, and a daddy that lives in the strength of Christ.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
~Ephesians 6:10 NLT

Sanctus Real “Lead Me”

This past week my wife shot me an email with a link to the Sanctus Real website.  The home page of the website has the following two videos: the first is the story behind the song Lead Me; the second is the video for the song Lead Me.  As I listened to the story behind the song I was broken.  The message is strong and clear.  It’s a cry to the Lord to be led by Jesus in being a husband and a father.

…it’s the cry of a wife to be loved by her husband.  The cry of kids to be loved by their dad.  And the prayer of a daddy and a husband to be loved by God…and the most important and most difficult task of building my home on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.
~Matt Hammitt, Sanctus Real lead vocalist, guitar

Take the time to watch the story behind the song. Then watch the song and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. It is a powerful message; a powerful cry to the Lord. It is the anthem of my prayer life right now.

The Story Behind “Lead Me” – Sanctus Real from BrightBulb Entertainment on Vimeo.

I want you Jesus, to lead me as a husband and a daddy!
~Jay

Prayer: A Two Way Conversation

Prayer is about connecting with God.  Connecting with our creator.  It is where we pour out our soul to the one who created it.  The one who knows how to handle it.  The only real one who can handle it.  And more importantly, it’s where we hear Him Speak.  There are far too many followers of Christ in this world who have no idea how to hear from the Lord.  It blows my mind.  What are we doing if we are not listening to the Holy Spirit?  Listening to God?  This is what prayer is!

Yes, it is pouring out our souls, our hearts to our Creator.  But it is so much more.  It is where we are filled up as well.  It is where our Creator pours back into our soul.  To pray to the Lord all of our concerns without taking the time to listen for His response is to engage in a one way conversation.  Prayer is meant to be a two way conversation.  The problem is, many of us are not listening.  Many don’t know how to listen.  Still more don’t even know they are supposed to be listening.

Prayer is both telling and being told, unloading and being reloaded, emptying out and filling up.  When we are only engaging in a one-way conversation we miss out on a lot.  We are missing out on hearing the voice of God; hearing the Lord is vital to our relationship with Him.  I wish everyone would spend more time listening for the voice of God in their lives – starting with me.  Beginning this week, I am setting aside more time in my schedule for prayer, especially listening prayer.

Still…I Pray.

I have prayed continually.
I have forgotten to pray.
I have risen in the late hours of the night and in the early hours of day to turn my heart towards heaven and to pray.
I have slumbered when the Spirit is trying to awaken me and failed to pray.
I have blocked out hour long slots every day of the week for months on end to pray.
I have gone months without a single hour long block of prayer.
I have sought the Lord in prayer and fasting for days on end with steadfast determination to hear the voice of God.
I have been unable to go an entire day without forgetting that I am fasting, altogether failing to even listen for the voice of God.
I have felt the rich, tangible presence of the Holy Spirit upon me in intercession.
I have felt completely alone with my words and thoughts, constantly wondering if I am even being heard.
I have heard the Lord’s voice almost instantaneously from the time I quite my heart.
I have found myself struggling to recall His still small voice because it has been so long since I heard it.
I have been as bold as a lion in prayer, asking in faith for the unthinkable.
I have waffled in my prayers as a beggar hoping to get some scraps.
I have seen answers to my prayers in incredible ways.
I have seen my prayers go unanswered for years.
I have longed for more time away with the Lord in prayer.
I have avoided time away with the Lord in prayer.
I have blown through an hour of prayer and felt like I barely scratched the surface of all that was on my heart.
I have blown through five minutes of prayer and been at a loss for words.
I have prayed for hours upon hours and felt energized.
I have slipped away to pray for ten minutes and fallen asleep for hours.
I have prayed with eager expectation.
I have prayed with serious doubt.
Still…I pray.

This is not a contrast between the highs and lows in my journey with Christ.  It’s just a glimpse of my journey.  It’s real.  It’s tangible.  It’s honest.  I am compelled to a life of prayer.  Jesus was a man of prayer.  The disciples and apostles were men of prayer.  I am a man of prayer.  And this is a snapshot of my prayer life over the past decade.  This is authentic.  I am on a journey and I am going to be continuing to grow in my prayer life for the rest of my life.  Some times are more exciting than others.  Some are downright challenging to get through.  Some are electrifying.  All are meaningful.  All are purposeful.  All are worth it.  That is the perspective I have in my prayer life and that is why I am still as passionate about prayer as ever – even when the picture above looks so scattered.

Collective Life

I stumbled upon the Rend Collective Experiment today.  I love this quote that describes them…

Rend Collective Experiment defies expectations even from the start of the bio. Not so much a band, more a bunch of friends collectively wondering how to make sense of the conundrum of life, God and community in and around their native Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Friends collectively making sense of the conundrum of life, God and community. That is a beautiful description of what I long to see all over Ann Arbor.   Rend Collective Experiment lives up to its name by engaging in new possibilities of expression through creative exploration.  The following video is a snippet of this exploration.

Here’s to collectively making sense of the conundrum of life, God and community in Ann Arbor!

Remembering: A Practice of Perspective

In light of my odometer induced reflections yesterday I have found myself greatly encouraged by how the Lord has been at work in my life over the past eight years.  More than this, my reflections gave me perspective.  Perspective that I am in great need of.  Not because I am struggling but because I am human and as such I forget.  My friend Tim Carpenter wrote an excellent piece titled The Art of Reflection, The Art of Remembering on this very thing that I’d like to refer you to.  Tim’s thoughts on this are priceless.  I can’t say it better myself, so I wont.  Just read what Tim had to say.  The following is an excerpt from Tim’s piece,

…failing to remember is part of what it means to live here on earth.  But I truly believe that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to whole-hearted and consistent commitment to Christ is the frantic pace of life that encourages us to forget all that God has done for us.

Read Tim’s Article

Whatever it takes…

160,000

The odometer on my dash turned 160,000 miles today.  The estimated distance around the equator is 24,902 miles.  That means I have traveled the equivalent distance of six laps around the world in my car.  That is a lot of time behind the wheel.  A lot of time on the go.  What have I done in all that distance?

…explored new places; earned a bachelors degree; gained some friends for life; married my beautiful wife; traveled the country; celebrated countless life events; endured many challenges; found a city to call home; bought a house; earned a masters degree; welcomed our first child into the world; joined a community of Christ followers; and have put my hand to the plow…

I have to be honest, I never would have imagined that watching my odometer roll over to a new number would send me on a trip down memory lane.  But here I am, taking stock of the past eight years of my life because I drive a high mileage car.  What’s most encouraging to me is to see how my relationship with God has become so much richer, deeper, and more meaningful to me as the complexities of life increase along this journey.  I continued reviewing my life throughout the day and while listening to a friends hip hop album at work, the lyrics captured my reflections in words.

It’s what life’s all about…

Knowing him.

A little more everyday.

Whatever it takes…

I trade it all in for knowing you!

Artist:  Namesake   Album:  Heart Back EP

What Difference Does it Make? – Part II: Right Question, Better Response

In Part I of this series, I believe that we are being asked the Right Question, “How does your belief in Jesus Christ make a difference in your life?”  However, I suggested that more times than not our answers to this question fall short of revealing the Glory of God because they inadvertently veil God’s handiwork by discussing spiritual disciplines and works.  We end up focusing on what we do for God rather than what God is doing in us and for us.

People desire to see how God is at work in their world.

When we focus on the doing for God those who are inquiring miss out on seeing how God is at work in and through us.  When discussed in a manner such as this it seem obvious.  Nevertheless, the vast majority of people I have encountered struggle to share their faith in a meaningful way that engages others.  So how do we respond to this right question in a better way? Read more

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What is jAy2 News

Jay: a nickname for Jason
A2: a nickname for Ann Arbor
Together my news.
 
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