It’s Monday June 30

More Everything Plan.  Last week, a commercial from Verizon Wireless nabbed my attention.  Their latest plan, to offer me the best service I can imagine and secure my loyalty as a Verizon customer, is called the More Everything Plan.  

What could be better?  More data. More talk. More texting. More storage.  More international messaging. More options for family members.  More, more, more.  What could be better?

Here’s what makes me crazy.  Rationally, I see through the gimmick.  It’s one more way to get me to spend more money over more time. Can they be more obvious? Who do they think I am?  

Yet, some part of me was sucked in by their subtle seduction.  I started to wonder what it would be like to have more. I started to imagine who I could message internationally—never mind that I don’t message anyone internationally now.  I could always start.   I started to ponder what it would be like to not worry about overages on texting or data, though I rarely go over my allotment anyway.   In other words, they had me.  I was like Pavlov’s dog, salivating at the mere suggestion of MORE!

More is better!  Though we say we don’t believe it, we live it.  The great paradox of a more obsessed culture is that we do end up with more; more anxiety, more depression, more loneliness, more stress related maladies for adults and more stress induced manifestations in our kids.  More, more, more. 

That’s the bad news.  The goods news is this— we can choose not to buy in.  Instead of a More Everything Plan we can choose a More Essential Things Plan.   

With a More Essential Things Plan, the driving motivation of life is not to do more things, but to do essential things more often.  What are those essential things for you?  I don’t know, specifically.  But, in general, as a follower of Jesus, anything that connects us more fully with the life-force of God reflected through the character of Jesus, is essential and life-giving. 

Jurgen Moltmann describes this life as a “vital life”— a life connected with the creative energy of God.  You will know you are experiencing this life when you can rest securely in the grace of God and not be bound by the expectations of others; when you can reach for new possibility though mired in recurring struggles of life; when you embrace the paradoxes of life rather than  default to black and white thinking; when you experience the wonder of the natural world and the relationships you engage each day; when you know your life matters wherever that life is lived; when you stop long enough to refresh, renew, revitalize. 

I’ll be reflecting and writing more about this “vital life” later this summer and into the fall. This spring, the Vision Board granted me a three month sabbatical to complete the writing of a book contracted through InterVarsity Press.  Every seven years, the pastoral staff is eligible for a three month sabbatical.  Sabbaticals are intentional times set aside for renewal, for study, for re-engagement with the “essential” things that feed life into our bodies and minds and spirits. 

My sabbatical time (July 20-October 20) will primarily be spent writing about the characteristics of a vital life—a life open to the creative energy and power of God.  For me, writing is life-giving and scary and risky.  It’s a discipline that pushes me beyond my natural limits.  In other words, it’s a pathway for growth.  

It’s Monday.  What would an essential things plan look like for you?  Peace. Kai

 

 

It’s Monday June 16

Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 2 was the focus of our worship this past weekend. Her prayer envisioned a world where God’s kingdom or, in other words, God’s intention for us and for all humanity would be realized from generation to generation. 

As I lived in these words this past week, my imagination was piqued.  I wondered what I would imagine or hope for my kids as they engaged this sometimes terrifying, often exhilarating world.  Here is what I hope my kids know:  

  • God created the whole universe in love and for love.  That includes you.  God delights in you.  You were created in love, for love. 
  • More doesn’t necessarily mean better.  The world rewards numbers with numbers, the more the better.  Find your reward in people and relationships, the deeper the better.
  • Violence breeds violence.  The only way to peace is to be armed with love. 
  • Don’t worry so much about finding a better community to live in and work, make the community you live in and work better.  
  • Comparison kills your spirit.  Compassion breathes life into the world.
  • There will always be people left out, on the edge.  Invite them in.  Better yet, go to where they are and see what life is like for them.
  • Books are better than tweets.  Personal conversations bring more life than posts.  
  • To fail just means you failed, not that you are a failure.  
  • Don’t miss the ordinary moments of this life as you plan how to live your best life.  
  • Boredom is the birthplace of creativity.  Let the world slow down a bit and see what you discover. 
  • Suffering stinks.  Some of it needs to be railed against and changed.  Some of it will be the only thing that changes you. 
  • Let me say this again: God created the whole universe in love and for love.  That includes you.  God delights in you.  You were created in love, for love. 

It’s Monday.  What would you add from your own imaginings? Peace. Kai