Turning God, and our Spouse, into the Six-Fingered man…

Inigo_Montoya

“The Princess Bride” is, unquestionably, one of the most memorable movies out there. Almost everyone who sees it enjoys it, and it’s easy to see why. It’s hilarious, charming, and touching. Part of what makes it so memorable is it’s quote-ability. We shout ‘inconceivable’, or chide someone for saying it because “You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

After learning a little backstory, one line in particular got my attention.

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

A little before the movie was filmed, Mandy Patinkin, the actor who plays Inigo Montoya, lost his father to cancer. Patinkin was a young man, in his early twenties, struggling to grieve his loss. So when the opportunity came along to portray this character, he jumped at it.

You see, for him, the ‘six-fingered man’ represented cancer. And so, Montoya’s quest to vanquish the six fingered man was really Patinkin’s quest to kill cancer (in reality, his grief). Montoya’s story is much more powerful when you hear some of his lines knowing that. (I’ve posted the two lines that stood out to me the most down below.

Patinkin’s journey reminds me of a valuable principle within marriage and our relationship with God: We often confuse our spouse or God for our enemy.  Continue reading

Growing by giving…

find-a-business-mentor

During my first year in seminary, I had a friend who I would regularly meet with for coffee. They were just beginning college, and needed a proxy big brother. So almost every Wednesday, we would meet and share about each other’s weeks. I would hear about drama from parents or friends and offer some insight. The tables would even turn from time to time, and I would be given some good advice along the way.

Turns out mentoring, even informally, is a really good thing.

Elijah was battling depression, and in the midst of his time in the cave, he was given a solution. Elijah was called to go and find a guy named Elisha (the names sound almost identical), and take him as a protegé. Elijah is going to shape and mold Elisha into the next prominent prophet in Israel.

I’ll be honest; this seems like a bad idea to me. You’re taking a guy who is just coming off of the lowest possible emotional point, and giving him the responsibility of molding Israel’s next great prophet (as a side note, that sounds like an spin off of the talent based shows liked ‘America’s Next Top Model’ or ‘America’s Got Talent’). I would be questioning whether or not Elijah was emotionally stable to handle this kind of responsibility.

It turns out that it was exactly what Elijah needed.  Continue reading

Shouting a whisper…

A few years ago, I went out for a run one evening that, ironically, stopped me dead in my tracks. I was about a mile into the route, rounding a hill, when I began to tear up. My breathing got heavier, and I had to physically stop running before the tears ran down my face. There was no injury. I didn’t sprain my ankle, twist my knee, or anything else. The issue wasn’t physical. It was emotional.

A few months prior to that run, I had one of the roughest months of my life. I had to provide counseling and grief support to around 80 soldiers and cadets, for issues ranging from cutting to sexual assault. All of that happened in the span of 3 weeks. And it was all brought on a one cadet committing suicide.

I ran myself ragged for those three weeks, doing everything I could to help people process their grief, guilt, and issues. And in that time, I never really gave myself the space I needed to process my own feelings of guilt, shame, and grief.

Until they stopped me dead in my tracks one night months later when I was running.

There’s a story in 1 Kings, where Elijah, this incredible man of God, stops dead in his tracks.  Continue reading

Insecure faith…

When I was in high school, in addition to being heavily involved in my youth group, I played trumpet in band and tennis. I wasn’t particularly good at either, but I had fun and enjoyed both groups of people. There was just one problem.

His name was Steve Seeburg.

Steve was a really good guy. Polite, well behaved, and smart. He got good grades – better than me in fact. He played tennis – better than me. He played the trumpet – better than me.

That was the problem. Almost everywhere I turned, there was Steve, being a better Brady than me. In high school, it’s incredibly easy to go from confident to insecure wreck in a heart beat. For me, it only took Steve showing up at the courts or band room, and I could feel twelve inches tall. (To be clear, Steve was never anything but nice.)

I wonder if you and I struggle with insecurity in our faith. I don’t mean doubt, where we question parts of our faith because of a lack of understanding. I mean we become insecure – anxious that we may be wrong about something in our faith, or that we’re not as good at our faith as we should be.

Fear-and-Anxiety-An-Age-by-Age-Guide-to-Fears-Why-and-What-to-Do Continue reading

Give us this day our daily need…

When I was younger, I loved to collect sports cards. I even had a couple of specific players I would collect, though those were a bit unusual. Some kids would collect Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, or Ken Griffey Jr cards. I collected John Stockton and Jose Rios cards. They were great players, but they weren’t flashy or super popular. It seemed like a safe bet. John Stockton

Gabi Mann has an unusual collection. Her’s isn’t sports cards, or beanie babies, or anything worth much. In fact, most of us would look at her collection and say that it’s just a whole lot of garbage and junk. She’s got pieces of glass, buttons, and beads. There are single earrings, random pins, and seashells. Each item in her collection is tracked with dates and descriptions.

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She started collecting these things a few years ago, after she noticed that they were being left in her backyard by crows. You see, when Gabi was young, like 2 or 3 years old, she would spill food while playing outside. The crows caught on, and began to follow her around, swiping whatever food they could from her. Eventually, they even began to bring her gifts of buttons, beads, earrings, and seashells to try and get more food from her. So she began feeding them.

One of the strangest parts of the story of Elijah to me comes right at the beginning of it. In 1 Kings 17:1-7, we’re told that Elijah is fed by ravens in the wilderness. It seemed like a random, far fetched story to me. It turns out that it’s not so random or far fetched.

Ravens and crows are among the smartest birds and animals in the world, capable of solving logical problems. They can learn cause and effect, meaning they can learn the benefits of giving.

But there’s a larger point to Elijah’s story about being fed by ravens. One that applies to those of us who don’t feed birds or want to collect pieces of glass or buttons.

Daily dependance on God.  Continue reading