Saturday, October 30, 2004

cute couple

A few weeks ago Missy and I went and got some pictures taken by the unofficial Horizon photographer Kimberly Green. This one is one of my favorites. Just thought I would post it for my friends and family to enjoy! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

...the most beautiful

Tonight as the fellas were all out smoking cigars, drinking beer, eating red meat and talking about life, Greg brought up an interesting view that he has about his marriage. More specifically it is about his wife. He says that he believes that his wife is the funniest, most beautiful, most intelligent of all the wives of the guys there. He would make the claim that she is the funniest, most beautiful, most intelligent woman that he knows.

At first, this view seems very arrogant. Initially and without further explanation, it seems as though Greg is saying that his wife is "objectively" better or prettier than all the other women of the world. This isn't actually Greg's claim at all. He is not basing his view on "objectivity" since things like intelligence, beauty and humor are all "relationally subjective." Thus, what Greg was actually saying is that God has set a definition of beauty, humor and intelligence for women in Greg's life and that definition is embodied in his wife.

Most of us would have a hard time understanding what Greg is talking about. If we have a spouse to speak of, we might make the claim that "although they aren't the most beautiful or most intelligent or most humorous person of the opposite sex that we have ever met, they are who I love. And further, because they are my spouse, they are mine."

But broken down to its philosophical roots, these two views have different starting points. Greg is coming from a "nominalist" view of reality and most of us would be thinking in a "realist" or "extreme realist" perspective. Here is a working definition of what I mean:

Nominalism (Latin nominalist,"of or pertaining to names"), in medieval Scholastic philosophy, doctrine stating that abstractions, known as universals, are without essential or substantive reality, and that only individual objects have real existence. These universals, such as animal, nation, beauty, circle, were held to be mere names, hence the term nominalism. For example, the name circle is applied to things that are round and is thus a general designation; but no concrete identity with a separate essence of roundness exists corresponding to the name. The nominalistic doctrine is opposed to the philosophical theory called extreme realism (see Realism), according to which universals have a real and independent existence prior to and apart from particular objects.

In the case of Greg, the universals which he was referencing were intelligence, beauty and humor. His understanding of these universals is that God gave him his wife to be the standard of defining these ideas. He is not pulling from prior experience or even his own media culture. Most of us probably have ascribed to an "idea" of beauty that is disembodied. We may believe that it is a universal which exists on its own merit. Thus, we compare things to this universal ideal in order to decide the level of its beauty. This is a form of "Realism" in our thinking.

Taken to the level of God, a nominalist would say that something is "good" because God declares it to be so. There is no universal called "good" that exists on its own merit. The idea of "good" is really only embodied in that which God calls "good." A realist's view would say that there is an idea out there called "good." And God is good because he conforms to the idea of what "good" is.

In Greg's case, he is attempting to allow God to define for him what female humor, intelligence, and beauty are through the gift which God has given him, that is, his wife. At first this way of thinking about one's spouse and one's marriage seems far fetched. But when broken down into its philosophical roots, it is exactly how most of the Christian world views God.

We are very willing to say that God is the author of our definitions of what is "good" in the world. But we hesitate to say that God has defined for us the definitions of "beauty" or "humor" or "intelligence" through our own spouse. It is not that Greg is saying that his wife is perfect. He is simply acknowledging that the "subjective lens" through which Greg is to understand feminine beauty is his wife.

It seems to me that this would guard a marriage from the unhealthy attacks of comparison. If we have this disembodied universal of what we consider "beautiful," then we tend to judge our spouse up against that standard along with other people of the opposite sex. In a sense, our mind wonders into thoughts like, "my wife gets this close to my standard of beauty but this other girl gets even closer." or "I connect with my wife at this level, but my connectivity with this other girl is through the roof."

These thoughts and other similar thought patterns are impossible if your wife IS your standard of connectedness and beauty. In a sense, Greg's "nominalist" approach creates a situation where the extent to which another girl is not your wife, is the extent to which she becomes unattractive.

Its definitely something to think about for all of us married guys out there. Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

the church

I read this tonight before going to bed. It was so relevant and sharp that I wanted to share it.

The Church, God's People
"As Jesus was one human person among many, the Church is one organization among many. And just as there may have been people with more attractive appearances than Jesus, there may be many organizations that are a lot better run than the Church. But Jesus is the Christ appearing among us to reveal God's love, and the Church is his people called together to make his presence visible in today's world." Henri Nouwen

It seems as though there were many expectations of the coming Messiah that Jesus "apparently" didn't live up to. The people of Israel assumed he would be a certain way. They assumed he needed to be King in order to rule. They assumed he needed military power to have power in the world. They assumed he would provide material riches rather than eternal ones.

After reading this passage from Henri Nouwen's book "Bread for the Journey," it dawned on me that the Church has similar expectations place on it. As the Body of Christ in the world, we do not escape the shadow of these false expectations. And we also do not escape the call to be as Jesus was in the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

discipline wanted

I am finding the need for more and more discipline in my life these days. In the post below this one I mentioned the need for financial discipline. But I am craving discipline in every area of my life. It is more evident than ever now as a "real" person who is "working" full time that I need discipline. In school, a lack of discipline could be managed. And generally, I am a fairly disciplined person. I don't think anyone would consider me lazy or terribly disorganized. But I am longing for more and more consistency in my weeks.

Besides the money issues, I desire greater discipline in my morning routine. I wish I was a morning person who could just bounce out of bed. I am not. But I want to at least get better and rising early to start my day. I am sure with a wife and kids, early rising will be inevitable. I don't want to wait until then. I feel the need for it now. I want to be one of those guys who gets up early, spends a good chunk of time with God, and gets a strong workout in before the rest of my day invades my time.

Getting up takes discipline. Going to bed on time takes discipline. Staying consistent with my running and lifting takes discipline. Spending hours with God takes discipline. And I want it all. I long for that kind of unshakable consistency. When God looks down on the earth and searches for servants and children He can depend on, I want to be on that team. I want to be first string. Regardless of my mood, the stress in my life, or my motivation level, I want to be consistently dependable.

I think that kind of discipline and consistency creates a steadfastness in our character that is unbreakable. It seems that these kind of people regularly hear the voice of God. They are regularly in the right place at the right time so that God can use them to impact lives for His Kingdom. The quality of their character is obvious. The quiet power that resides within them is evident. Their ability to love the "unlovable" is astonishing. This is the kind of person I wish God would mold me into. This is the kind of person I hope to be someday.

Monday, October 18, 2004


Raise your hand if you are in debt and wondering if you will get out from under it. Yeah, me too. I did some bill calculations last night and I either need to re-think my budget or get a raise. Since the latter is about as likely as a hippo squeezing out of my buttocks, I need to figure out a disciplined budget of some kind.

It is hard to have a girlfriend and not buy her stuff. Not big fancy stuff. Just little things here and there. But those things add up. Missy and I have begun to try to shave down our expenditures when we are hanging out because we are already busy buying plane tickets to see each other.

The bottom line, if I can be so open, is that I have just over $2000 in credit card debt. My school loans, which are just under $25,000, have to be paid back starting in December. Of course the regular bills of rent, insurance, gas, utilities, and doing meals out with Horizon folks still roll in every month.

Now, I am not about pissing and moaning when I know that I am blessed well beyond so many people that I pass-by every day. I just want to be honest. And this is the middle class plight. Debt seems to be haunting all of our lives. I am in need of a good budgeting system that will help me leave all this debt in the dust.

I remember Dave Cowan saying that Satan operates much like credit cards. The Enemy gives us something up front that seems great but the debt that accrues on our lives creates a terrible payback in the end. I may not be going too far by suggesting that credit cards operate much like Satan. They tend to bind us to our past purchases and past splurges. And they weigh on us and hang over our heads so that we are no longer free to use our resources the way they should be used.

In the end, credit is not the enemy... our own undisciplined spending is. Credit just likes to trade in grace and forgiveness and instead operate on interest. Maybe that is why it is so hard for us to forgive others. We live in an APR world of cash advances and credit limits.

Monday, October 11, 2004

I'm back

After some protesting from some friends and a few conversations about blogging, I decided to get back on the horse. This is the longest I have gone without blogging since I began my blog. It is easy to have blogging slip from the brain when so many other things are going on...launching a church, starting a small group, building new relationships, enjoying my girlfriend and the like. But I have missed it and want to work my way back into writing consistently.

The biggest thing on my mind these days is where the "guys" are at Horizon. I have had numerous discussions with various groups of guys about the "discontent" that they are experiencing in their lives and in their relationship with God. Much of it seems to be due to two things. 1) A lack of time spent reading scripture and praying (ie. disciplined time connecting with God) and 2) struggles with lust (mainly in the form of pornography).

As a guy I understand these struggles. I understand how they can take one's focus off of the movement of God. The undisciplined life seems to fog the eyes and sin in our lives seems to deafen our ears. Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear. The interesting thing is that this is occurring in many of the lives of the guys at Horizon at the same time.

So as a leader at Horizon in the midst of all of these conversations what do I do? What do we do? Accountability seems to be the first thing that comes to mind. Some sort of brotherly bonding time might also be needed. The purity of our lives is at stake. The integrity of our marriages is on the line. Our own ability to be open to the Spirit is jeopardized. So what do we do, fellas? What do we do?