Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Hype

I personally found all of the Royal Wedding hype quite interesting and almost silly. Women--young and old, gathered around their television sets, many of them up in the wee hours of the morning, to watch this wedding. Women joining together to eat biscuits, scones, and fruit, with their hot tea, not forgetting to use milk and sugar; the meal made complete by using English china.

I personally enjoy things that are simple and elegant. I eat off of china everyday. I enjoy setting my table, and sitting down for a proper meal. In case you were wondering, my pattern is Royal Albert: Old Country Roses.

Watching a short recap of the wedding, was wonderful! The dress was elegant, yet simple; modest and beautiful. The bride wore her long hair down. The kiss was short and sweet. In many ways, this is how I dream of my wedding--simple, elegant, beautiful. I hope to have long hair that I can wear down and natural. I want my dress to be modest, yet delightful. I want my wedding to be known and remembered as one where Christ was celebrated and glorified.

For those of you that are married, how do you remember your wedding? What made your wedding special and unique?
For those of you that are single, how do you want your wedding to be remembered? What special and unique ideas do you want to incorporate into your wedding?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hiding the things that Hurt

On the 5 December 2010, I wrote about, "Broken Expectations." In the posting I stated the following, "The only thing I can do is cling to the fact that God is not done. He has just begun to reveal my life to me. I know God provides, and I know He has given me dreams, hopes, and goals for a reason. I must remember He is the God who satisfies my desires with good things."

The following blog post piggy backs "Broken Expectations" as it discusses the emotional and spiritual wrestling that occurs when we do not receive the things we desire.

#990. Hiding the things that hurt.

April 6, 2011

I do not remember the day that I got my rejection letter from the University of North Carolina. That moment did not crystallize, me standing at a cold Massachusetts mailbox with a much too thin envelope clutched in my teenage fist as I cursed the clouds above. That would have been dramatic, but I am not sure that’s how it happened.

My father went to UNC. My mother went to UNC. My uncle went to UNC. My younger brother went to UNC. My little sister went to UNC. I was supposed to go to UNC. I grew up loving the UNC basketball team, throwing frisbee on the Carolina campus and dreaming about wearing that shade of blue for four perfect years. But then I got rejected.

Situations like that force me to deal with a harsh reality—there are some things I want that I will simply never have. Experiences or possessions or friendships that will for a host of reasons never really be mine. And I have a hard time rectifying that limited reality with my limitless God.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever realized that a dream you have is sunsetting instead of sunrising? Ending instead of beginning? Maybe it’s a job promotion you killed yourself for that slipped through your fingers. It was yours. It was meant to be. You had sacrificed so much and then it just disappeared.

More than likely though, it was a moment of love unreturned. Have you ever loved someone that would not love you back? Maybe it was that guy you were supposed to be with. When you were around him you felt this strange mixture of being stirred up inside but at the same time feeling as if you were home.

He was the one in a world full of not the ones. But it didn’t happen.

He fell in love with someone else. Someone not named you. And despite your best hopes that particular dream ended.

What then? Where does that leave God? What if that desire wasn’t something you hid from Him? What if it were something you prayed about fervently and patiently? What then?

I wrestle with this sometimes but what I am starting to think is that disappointment, sunset moments, only point to how bright my sunrise really is. Throughout the Bible, we are told that God knows our true desires, those things we really need above all else. And in His midst alone, do we find our satisfaction. So when I experience something that hurts, an expectation that was unmet, maybe what I should think is, “If that felt good at first and that’s not the thing that God has planned for me, how amazing is that thing going to be?”

There’s a verse in Psalm 103 that kind of makes me think about that. It describes God as he “who satisfies your desires with good things.” So when I got rejected from UNC, a place I thought was a good thing, I can’t help but think, “If that wasn’t the good thing, just imagine what is?” And I ask that question confidently because we know, that God is in the business of good. In Romans 8:28 we’re told “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It’s not “in some things” or “in the things we understand” or “the things we dictate to God.” The verse says, “all things” according to “his purpose.” If it were my things and my purpose, I would have told God “We’re going to UNC,” and then missed Samford University. And my wife Jenny. And ultimately, my children L.E. and McRae.

The challenge in all that though is being honest about the things that burn. The good things that turned out to not be the good things after all. I think God wants to dialogue about the desires we have that didn’t get met. I don’t think he wants us to fake it and shine up our hurts as if they didn’t. I think he wants to hear you say, “God, I want to die when I see Bill and his fiancĂ©e. That should be me.” I think he wants us to be honest about those things so that in those moments he can hold us, he can comfort us and he can reveal our true good things.

There will be things you think are good, that you don’t get. God is not an ATM or a genie who grants wishes. He doesn’t take orders from us or fulfill our hopes in the shape and size and speed we demand.

Why not?

Because He’s bigger than that. He’s better than that. And above all, He loves us much, much more than that.

The same things I was struggling with in December, four months, almost five months later, I am still struggling with. I still don't understand why God has brought a woman into my brothers life (I love and care about Molly very much; she is a great woman!) and has not brought a man into my life. To me it feels absolutely vindictive. Jon Acuff reminds me that God is not an ATM, as much as I wish He were at times, and He certainly does not take orders from me, or fulfill my hopes and dreams in the ways I want...or at least think I want at the moment.

I was relaying to the head track coach at the HS, that I was bummed about my last race, as I had ran awful. My half marathon took me 1:50:02. I am trained to run a full minute per mile faster, which I failed to do on that day. The head coach looked right at me, and told me exactly what Jon is talking about here, "Disappointing races only point to how bright your moments of glory and victory are."

All this being said, disappointment does not make broken expectations, dreams, and desires, any less painful, and each one of them continue to bite, sting, and cause great pain. I am looking forward to my sunrise!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ranking the 7 Deadly Sins

(A few weeks ago, John Crist wrote a really good guest post calling out the lies guys sometimes tell about lust and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It ignited a bajillion comment conversation. I got to grab coffee with him a few days after it came out and it was awesome to hear his story and learn more about his faith. He’s a professional comedian, he’s hilarious and he’s a master at finding ways to be funny without ever mocking. I’m a huge fan of John Crist. Here’s his new guest post. Enjoy!)

Ranking the Seven Deadly Sins – By John Crist

My girlfriend broke up with me three months ago. Since then, I’ve realized something profound about love.

If you love someone, let them go, if they come back…it’s only to pick up their dvds.

Truer words have never been spoken my friends.

Since the breakup, I’ve eaten out 21 meals per week. I’m at the point in life where a judge the value of fast food based on how heavy the bag is. Taco Bell’s five-pound box is awesome, and it only costs five bucks!

I figure, “I’ve been hurt, I deserve to feel good. Plus, there’s probably worse things I could be doing to deal with the pain.” Sounds like flawed thinking right? Think again.

I told my accountability group that I was legitimately struggling with food and it had become a means to deal with the pain and you know what happened?…nothing. Seriously, no one cared. The same guys the have raked me over coals for years about lust said nothing, which got me thinking…

Wait, have gluttons been getting a free pass this whole time?!

Three months ago I thought the gluttony free pass was awesome. Now I wear jeans with an elastic waistband (and a braided belt (unrelated))…and I blame my accountability group.

Apparently there’s a rank order to the Seven Deadly Sins that I didn’t know about. Based on responses I’ve gotten in my accountability group over the years, I’d like to present to you:

The Unofficial Guys Accountability Group Seven Deadly Sins Rank Order.

1. LUST: By far the most important and most deadly. If you get caught with this one you could lose your family, your job (unless you’re the president), your marriage and your influence. For me, I tried to justify my lustful tendencies by mixing and matching the five love languages. My first love language, physical gifts. My second, quality touch.

2. GREED: A distant second. Mostly because apparently only young (poor) guys need accountability. Once you hit 30, and hopefully start making serious money, you graduate from the accountability stage of Christianity. Can’t wait. Me? I’ve got a stack of Lincolns burning a hole in my pocket right now. And by stack, I mean roll.

3. ANGER: I get really ticked off when people suggest I have an anger problem. *#%$ and ^&#@!, I’m taking my Bible and I’m going home!!

4. SLOTH: Sloth came in fourth, wanted to be first but missed his alarm clock and slept in. Sloth is pretty easy to spot. If anyone in your group ever says they’re a freelance photographer or a real estate agent, that’s code for unemployed. And did you know video games are more popular than ever with men in their 30s? Their favorite game? Call of Duty: Black Ops, followed by Call of Duty: Command and Conquer. The new version that no one’s been able to beat? Call of Duty…To Your Family.

5. ENVY: The only thing I know about envy is that, in college, I may or may not have gone to local hotspot called Club Envy. The soap dispensers in the bathroom looked awesome. They may or may not now be in my bathroom…but I don’t struggle with Envy.

6. PRIDE: Comes in sixth. Struggles-with-pride guy always checks in last and says something like, “I’m just happy that I don’t struggle with lust, greed, anger, sloth or envy anymore. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I sinned.” Amen Pride Guy, always do love hearing from you.

7. GLUTTONY: A distant dead last. No one cares about this one. When someone says they struggle with lust, we say, “You’re a FREAK man! Join a 12-step group, throw away your tv, computer and cell phone and don’t come back to group until you get your life in order!” If someone in my group ever said they struggled with gluttony I’d say, “you want to go to lunch and talk about it?”

How would you rank order the Seven Deadly Sins?

And I’m in a guys only group, is the order different for women?

(John Crist loves Jesus and is a standup comic from Denver, Colorado. See his standup and church sketches at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Similarities between Athletes and Christians Part Deux

I received a comment from my last blog posting (Similarities between Athletes and Christians) that I wanted to share with you guys, as I felt the comment was quite appropriate. I also received a devotional a few days later that followed suite.

I know we have all learned a lot through pain. Some of you crazy athletes seem to even seek it out. Maybe that's not a bad idea, maybe it's not seeking it out but just welcoming it as an indicator. Whenever I think of pain and suffering I remember, "A Man for All Seasons and GK Chesterton."

When Richard Rich is trying to convince Thomas More that all men can be bought, obviously they have different ideas-
Thomas More: Buy a man with suffering?
Richard Rich: Impose suffering, and offer him escape
Thomas More: Oh… for a moment I thought you were being profound.

Seems odd to try and purchase a man with suffering. I'm not sure I would sign up for that. Profound that someone did just that. If we are true Christians and co-heirs we should welcome and share not only His glory but also His suffering. Of course, ours will be less then redemptive but that has already been taken care of. If we offer up and give all the glory to God then why not offer up the suffering to Him. I believe we are becoming better for it.

Life is a battle in which the best put their bodies in front, in which God sends only His holiest into the hall of the arrows of hell. In the book of Job is foreshadowed that better doctrine full of dark chivalry that he that bore the worst that men can suffer was the best that bore the form of man.
-GK Chesterton

Purpose-Driven Suffering, by Dwight Edwards

"But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

But He knows...when He has tried me…” There is nothing random about our lives. Every trial, every heartache, every teardrop has to pass inspection by the Sovereign of the universe. A Sovereign Who holds His scepter with nail-pierced hands. As Jeremiah puts, “For He does not afflict willingly (lit. “from His heart”) nor grieve the children of men” (Lam. 3:33). Though He does not afflict “willingly”, He does afflict certainly. And painfully. But it is purpose-driven suffering; with a perfect goal that is beyond what we are able to see many times. No - probably most of the time. C.S. Lewis puts it so well:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Elsewhere he writes, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

How true! Left to myself I would settle for a cottage. Maybe you would to. Fortunately God does not leave any of us to our own insipid, pale, milk toast aspirations for spiritual growth. He takes us far beyond where we would ever choose to go on our own. And even though this taking is “that most brutal of teachers” and “hurts abominably” at times; it never hurts randomly. In some way, in some fashion, at some point; it always leads us to a spiritually wealthier place. And in my book, that is no small matter.

Flashpoint: Every trial in our life must pass inspection. And it cannot last a second longer than absolutely necessary.