CaveManCave

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This Spring, I decided I needed a project.

So I made a man-cave.

I took it upon myself to clean out our oversized garage, jam-packed with boxes and books and junk. Jan helped, too.

We made 5 trips to the recycling center, and 5 trips to Goodwill, and bought some new shelves, and suddenly there was room for a couple old couches for lounging, a heavy bag for punching, and some all-around “me space”.

Most evenings, I’ll pull the cars out of the garage and look out at the field and trees across the street from our house, and I’ll sit on my couch, and drink a Diet Pepsi, and I’ll grunt my approval.

It was on one of those recent evenings in my man-cave when I pondered what life would have been like for me if I had been a cave man.

Now technically, scientists would say that the actual cave men were Neanderthals, a group related to Homo Sapiens, but who went extinct as modern humans began to develop, but go with me on this:

If I was a cave man, I’d burn as many calories hunting my food as I would gain eating it.

If I was a cave man, I’d be more in touch with nature. Maybe I’d even learn to make fire!

If I was a cave man, I wouldn’t need to shave. Or brush my teeth. Or cut my hair. (Okay, I don’t cut my hair very often as it is)

If I was a cave man, I wouldn’t be worried about what was happening a mile away from me, let alone on the other side of the world.

It doesn’t sound too bad, really.

Except for the sabertooth tigers. And the disease. And the lawlessness.

And no Diet Pepsi.

Well…

I suppose modern people have some advantages over cave people, but here’s something amazing to think about:

You take away all the junk we own, all the conveniences and comforts we live with, and all the progress (and problems) that come with modern life, and jump back in time 20,000 years, and God doesn’t change.

The God that loved and cared for cave people is the same God who loves and cares for us!

Can you imagine that? Before we had language, or technology, or even a well-honed sense of morality, the earliest human beings (and close relatives) were still children of God.

I don’t know why, but the idea had never occurred to me before. But as I sit in my man-cave, writing this, it gives me some comfort, and thankfulness.

I’m thankful to be in this time and place, and to offer all I am and all I have to the God who made everything, including my great great great great (x1000) grandparents.

There’s always a place for God in my man-cave,

because anything less,

would be uncivilized.

Have a great week

Mitch (grunt)

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Weakest Link

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I’ve been getting caught up with lots of old friends this week.

Well, sort of.

A few days ago I got a notification from LinkedIn, “The World’s Largest Professional Network”. (www.linkedin.com)

I get lots of notifications from this online networking site, telling me about people who have invited me, or updated their information, or sent me a message.

Yeah, whatever.

I signed up for the site a couple years ago, but never used it much. I couldn’t even remember my password, but I had some time on my hands, so I did a password reset and thought I’d take a look.

5 minutes later,I had clicked two buttons, and inadvertently invited a bunch of folks on my contact list to “link” with me.

About 1000 of them. Oops!

And so, for the past week, my phone will light up every thirty minutes or so with a notification about yet another person who has accepted my invitation.

The realtor who helped us buy our house. The woman who was briefly in my congregation more than ten years ago. An old college professor. High school classmates. People I don’t recognize.

I suppose it would be exciting if there were much actual connecting going on.

Truthfully, I clicked a couple buttons, and most everybody else clicked a couple buttons, and that’s about it.

But I’ve marveled at the engine that powers LinkedIn. It’s the same with Facebook and lots of other social media sites. The powerful software behind these sites is designed to connect people with people.

That’s a huge part of what Christianity was designed to do, right? The Church largely exists to connect people with each other, in the name of God.

Yes, I think so, but as LinkedIn reminds me, that’s just not enough.

If all Christianity did was to put us in contact with all the people in our address books, then Christianity could be as simple as pressing a couple buttons and typing in a password.

And indeed, there are Christians who treat the Church like a social network–a take it or leave it kind of connection. A minimal effort kind of connection.

Nope. That doesn’t fly. Connection is only the beginning.

Christianity requires investment. Commitment.

The engine that runs Christianity is not as coldly efficient as the kind that populates a social media site, but it can be so much more powerful.

If you’re not connected, I guarantee it will be worth your time.

As for me, this week was a reminder of what a real connection looks like,

and I don’t want to be…

the weakest link.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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4 Peacemaking Techniques THAT DON’T WORK.

peacemaker

There are those rare magical people out there…

They seem to radiate calm, and generate hope, and leave people around them generally better than they found them.

And then there’s the rest of us. ¬†ūüôā

Most of us would like to be Peacemakers .  In fact, most of us try, with various levels of success.

Problem is, we sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot by trying the wrong things.

And so, without further ado…

Here are four examples of peacemaking techniques¬†that don’t work.¬†

#1. PEACE BY FORCE

Every parent knows this: ¬†Yelling at your kids for peace and quiet¬†may¬†generate some quiet, but it doesn’t truly create peace.

You can’t make anybody do or feel something they’re not willing to do or feel.

When Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers”, he didn’t mean people who tried to force peace down other people’s throats.

INSTEAD: ¬†Don’t force it,¬†¬†create it! ¬†Being a peacemaker means creating an environment of peace that emanates from within.

#2. Peace FAKING

Some groups, especially families, learn to tip toe around each other rather than talk.  People learn to push down their emotions rather than dealing with them.

It’s a little like being co-dependent. ¬†People pretend — even alter their behavior — to keep a false sense of harmony.

It doesn’t work! When people push down or fake emotions too long, they will explode.

INSTEAD:¬†There’s a difference between faking peace and seeking it. ¬†Perfect peace may be a rare thing to achieve, but being authentic and intentional will take you far.

#3. Denying Peace

Some people grew up in chaotic environments.  Lots of conflict, maybe abuse and pain.  Others lose their way as they grow older and find themselves living in constant turmoil.

When that happens, it’s easy to think peace is an illusion, never attainable. ¬†Or you might think you don’t deserve it. ¬†And so you throw yourself to the mercy of the storms of life, trying to be at “peace” with the idea of having no peace.

If you feel this way, I need you to know something: ¬†Christ’s love and peace are meant for you as much as any other person on the planet.

INSTEAD: ¬†Believing that you (even you) are worthy of God’s love is a big step. ¬†And maybe not an easy one to take alone. ¬†You might talk to a pastor or a counselor. ¬†You can have peace in your time. ¬†It’s an important goal to work towards.

#4. Peace Through Distance

Your family is in St. Louis.  You moved to Kansas City.  Why?

To get away from the chaos!  Maybe the family you grew up with drove you crazy.  Fighting, conflict, a lack of trust, etc.

So you head to another town, another state. ¬†Somewhere far away where the craziness can’t touch you. ¬† Peace through distance.

This doesn’t work either. ¬†Oh sure, you may not have to see these people, or talk to them every day, but chances are they haunt you. ¬†You hear your dad’s voice in the back of your head telling you you’re irresponsible. ¬†You feel all the emotions of a fight with your sister even though you’re just fighting with yourself.

INSTEAD: ¬†Distance doesn’t bring peace, but you know what does? ¬†Learning to be together but separate. ¬†It’s finding that healthy balance where you retain your own soul, but are willing to engage with others. ¬†You’ll probably never resolve all those issues, but you may learn to find peace on your own terms.

The Real Deal

The apostle Paul says it so well in Romans 12:18: ¬†“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live¬†peaceably¬†with all.”

In other words, with the grace of God through Christ, you can be in charge of making your own peace.  And when the situation allows it, you can share peace with others.

When he says it like that, it seems so easy.

I don’t know about you, but I want the real deal. ¬†Not some imperfect¬†facsimile¬†of peace.

I want the kind of peace that passeth understanding…

But I’ll admit I’m still trying to understand

exactly what that looks like. ¬†ūüôā

peacebwithu

Have a good week,

Mitch

P.S. I put out spiritual art every day via http://AdventureChristianity.com.  Subscribe there to receive them in your email, or click the Facebook link and add them to your feed.