We all need a Charlie Taylor…

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Yesterday marked the anniversary of when Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first successful powered flight, thus changing history. In recent years, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the brothers who grew up just down the road from where I did. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Kitty Hawk, where the flight was made (it was an awe inspiring moment for me, comparable to visiting Athens, Greece). I’ve visited their original bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, as well as Hoffman Prairie where they experimented with flight. The brothers were truly geniuses who revolutionized the world. But they couldn’t have done it without Charlie Taylor (the third person in the above picture).

Now I know what many of you are thinking: “Who in the world is Charlie Taylor?”

Taylor was a friend of the brothers who they hired to manage their bicycle shop when they were running experiments. He wasn’t an aeronautical innovator like the brothers. He wasn’t a leading engineer of the day. He didn’t even have a college degree (neither did the brothers).

So why was he so instrumental in the history of flight? And why do you and I need Charlie Taylor’s in our life?  Continue reading

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Prickly Grace…

Snowy Cornfield

We had our first real snow of the winter last night. Apart from the fact that it made me realize I miss the two hour delays I used to get as a kid, the snow got me thinking about grace.

The backyard of our house goes right up against the edge of a farmer field, who alternates between soybeans and corn. When it’s soybeans, there really isn’t anything left after harvest. However, when the farmer had planted corn, there are little stalks left all over the place. Seeing as how I grew up in western Ohio, it’s fairly common to see corn and bean fields all over the place.

But there was something about the last time I saw the corn field after fresh snow got me thinking. Continue reading

Too many voices…

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I have periods in my life, stretches of time, where things feel more chaotic and disorganized than usual. Where I am right on the edge of “overwhelmed”. I think of a few specific times where it felt like I couldn’t keep up or pay enough attention to the different balls I was trying to keep in the air. After a recent stretch of that time, I finally pulled the trigger and went to a doctor to get some guidance. I had a suspicion but I wanted to leave it to the professionals.

“Anxiety issues, stemming from perfectionism”

It fit. It really did. I just didn’t buy it. I didn’t feel stressed out. I didn’t feel anxious. It simply felt like I wasn’t keeping up with stuff.

But the longer I wore it, the more I saw the truth of it.

Turns out the reason I couldn’t keep up or pay attention to everything in my life wasn’t because I had too little attention. It was because I have too many “voices” (self expectations, others’ expectations, ‘what ifs’, etc) telling me what to do. So now I’m on a journey to start “quieting” those voices.  Continue reading

The Gospel according to ‘The Shack’…

The Shack.jpgThis past weekend, the movie adaptation of the best selling book ‘The Shack’ was released. The movie (and the book) tells a story of trauma, tragedy, and loss, and explores several questions that most everybody asks at different times in their life. And because of the familiarity and popularity of the book inside of the church and Christian world, many churches, mine included, had formal and informal group outings to watch and (hopefully) discuss the themes of the movie. So I wanted to take some time and share my thoughts about the central questions and themes of the book and movie.

However, I also want to pause and acknowledge that the story also carries some controversy. There are concerns that the story lends itself, intentionally or unintentionally, toward poor theology. And while I agree that there are those elements within the story, I don’t think they’re the central themes. Questions of universalism, karma, and atonement theory are certainly raised, but not nearly given the same attention as pain, suffering, justice, and God’s place in all of those things. This story doesn’t seek to systematically rewrite theology – it’s an exploration of the existential questions; the ‘here and now’ stuff.

So with that being said, here are some thoughts on ‘The Shack’. SPOILERS Continue reading

The Humanity of God…

1200px-temptations_of_christ_san_marcoThe Gospels are full of stories and moments that challenge us, as the reader, to take a long hard look at ourselves. The woman caught in adultery (John 8), the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) all challenge the reader to reassess grace, holiness, and mercy in their own lives. One story that I don’t think gets the attention it deserves for it’s challenge to the reader is the story of Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness. It’s found in three of the four Gospels (John never really plays by anyone’s rules)

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to it for a long stretch. I think I got lost in the details of it; fasting for 40 days and a conversation with the devil can make the story feel incredibly unrelatable. I’ve done short fasts, but nothing close to a month. And while I’ve had some incredibly spiritual moments, both good and evil, I can’t say I’ve ever had a direct conversation with the devil.

But if you move past the sensational parts of the story, you can begin to see the true humanity of Christ. And that, after all, is the point of the story.

We’re too quick to dismiss this story out of hand. After all, how tempting can anything be for God? That question neglects the crucial component of Christ which is His humanity. He was one of us. (If you read nothing else, pause and let that thought bounce around in your head for a little bit – Christ was, and is, one of us). The temptations that Jesus faces are temptations that every one of us can relate too. Here’s how: Continue reading