Siolence.


6a00d8341bf67c53ef0176166f3a83970c-800wi-2

It’s 5:05am.

The room is dark, except for the tiny dot of light from the lamppost outside my window.

My wife breathes quietly beside me, and off in a distant room I hear a low hum.  Probably the refrigerator.

Other than that, everything is still.

The world is asleep, mostly.

I should be too, for another hour or two, but the calm and quiet around me has captured my attention.

Funny, how peaceful things are outside,

because meanwhile… inside?

IT’S A CIRCUS.  A CROWDED DEPARTMENT STORE.  AN AIRPORT TERMINAL.

MY OWN HEAD IS LIKE AN ALARM CLOCK WITH A BROKEN SNOOZE BUTTON!

My “things to do today” list flashes past me like the crawl on the bottom of a 24 hour news station.

Highlights (and lowlights) from yesterday rattle around my brain.

It’s not just my brain making noise.

My heart seems to have woken up early, too. Worries and fears explode like water balloons filled with angst instead of water.

And is that my own voice I hear shouting at me with ideas and strategies and lists and details?

I guess it is.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Although you wouldn’t know it if you were standing in the corner of my room, there’s a complete racket going on inside my not-so-sleepy head.

i hate when this happens.

When the world presents me with silence…

and my own mind responds with violence.

I’m not alone in this, am I?

Insomniacs, workaholics, worriers, and folks like me who just have a busy week ahead may all be able to relate to the sensation of Siolence:

Silence on the outside, violence on the inside.

You know, the world seems to so seldom give us an opportunity for peace, it’s a shame to miss even one.

Actually, God is the one who prescribed Sabbath time. It’s meant to be a regular part of our lives – an opportunity to cease from all of our busyness, inside and out.

No violence. Just silence.

. . . . .

It’s 6:52am now.

Instead of just stewing in my own personal edition of CNN, I got up and made some coffee. I prayed. I wrote this devotion.

It turns out I didn’t have to face this Siolence lying down (literally).

Just like Jesus, getting up early in the morning and going off by himself to pray, I accepted this invitation to silence and welcomed the peace of Christ into this brand-new day.

This beautiful day.

Whatever comes, I’m ready to embrace it…

(including, I hope, a half an hour nap at some point.)

Have a great week,

Mitch

Psalm62_5-2

AttenDance.

590C913E32FAB3E37B80187E135A7D8C

 

It’s the newest sensation that’s sweeping the nation.

I call it “The AttenDance”.

Here’s how you do it:

You go to church a couple Sunday’s a month,

and on the other weeks, you don’t.

On those off weeks, you dance around to 101 different activities.

Watching the kids do sports.  Or watching the NFL.

Grocery shopping.  Or sleeping in after a jam-packed Saturday.

Visiting family outside of town.  Or getting caught up on housework.

The AttenDance may look different depending on who does it, but more and more active Christians are trying it out.

The result:  Average worship attendance numbers are dropping almost everywhere.   (Giving may be down, too.)

With so many Christians — even self-professed active and committed Christians– missing so much time in worship, the change I wonder most about is to the vitality of Sunday morning.

What happens when we’re not all together in one place?

You know, like at Pentecost?

The Bible tells us that the disciples were all together in one place–filled with the Holy Spirit, dancing around.

Was Pentecost a reward for perfect attendance?

Will the Holy Spirit still come to us even if some of us are dancing off somewhere else?

Of course!  Jesus said, “Where 2 or 3 are gathered”…right?

Absolutely.

Okay.  We all have real-world and spiritual priorities to reconcile in our own ways.

We live in a busy world, and Sundays have become just as busy as other days.

Does that mean The AttenDance will stick around or is it just the latest fad?

I really don’t know.

Some will say we need to “come back to church”.

Others will say we need to “change with the times.”

I say, let us never forget

that wherever we find ourselves on a Sunday morning…

We’re together in Spirit.

 

Have a great week,

 

Mitch

Ashi_gallery8-610x800

Maybe Cold People

 

StVincentPromo

Why are some people so cold?

You know?  That person you wave to every morning on your way to your desk…

who never waves back.

The teenager who will never say more than “I’m fine” when you ask about their day.

The person in your Sunday School class who never shares about their own life, and hardly seems to care about yours.

What’s up with them?  Why do they act like the Walking Dead?

Is there life inside those distant eyes?

Here are some thoughts I’ve had on the subject:

Maybe Cold People…

are insulating themselves from being burned again.

Maybe Cold People…

are playing dead and hoping no one notices them.

Maybe Cold People…

are frozen stuck from terror, disuse, or some other form of paralysis.

Maybe Cold People…

have a head cold and thoughts aren’t connecting with their heart or mouth.

Maybe Cold People…

aren’t warmed up because they haven’t had enough practice socializing.

Maybe Cold People…

Aren’t really cold.  Maybe they’re just very introverted, or not very emotional, and that’s okay.

And yes, maybe sometimes Cold People…

are icy because they have an (ice) chip on their shoulder.

– – – – –

When I find myself in the presence of a cold person, my first instinct is to think that I’m the reason they’re acting that way.

That’s probably not the case.

And my second, kneejerk reaction is to become defensive over their perceived defensiveness.

That’s probably not helpful.

The truth is, God made people of all shapes, sizes, and temperatures.

So, if folks aren’t as outgoing as you, it’s certainly not a crime.

And honestly, you can’t change someone’s temperature anyway.

Maybe Cold People will change, and maybe they won’t.

They have to make that change themselves.

All you can do is lift high the Light of Christ

and invite others…

to be warmed by it.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

515492b9-01c4-42db-b01f-f5700f6fc3a2HiRes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terms and Conditions

tacma

This evening, I thought I’d sit down for a couple hours…

and review all my Terms and Conditions.

Are you caught up on yours?

Let’s see.  Where to start.

I think I’ll start with OS 8, the latest update for my Iphone.  When I installed the software it brought up pages of tiny text that I clicked past without even looking at it.   I wonder what I agreed to?

Then there’s Facebook.  People are always concerned about Facebook stealing their privacy.  I guess I’ll have to review all the fine print to find out.

Of course, this isn’t just a matter of computer stuff.  I’m pretty sure there were terms and conditions when I bought my last car.  I should probably read them.

And don’t forget that super-fast voice at the end of just about every commercial on TV!  Terms like “Void where Prohibited”, “Use only as directed”, and “Do not attempt” all come to us from this netherworld of tiny print.

Mostly I think of all of it as lawyer-speak, and easy enough to ignore.   And that’s probably what I’ll continue to do.

But should I?

Some folks will point out this is how we give our rights and our privacy away.  One update at a time.

Others will say we’ve learned to ignore how litigious and bureaucratic our society has become.

I hear all that.  But truthfully, I know me.  I probably won’t change how I treat all that fine print stuff.

I wonder, though, if I need to pay attention to how I treat the Bible.

Sometimes I forget that Christianity comes with its own Terms and Conditions, too.

Virtually every page instructs us, sets boundaries and asks for accountability.  I’ll admit there are times when I flip past all that legalistic or jargony sounding stuff without a second look.

Is that okay?

Nope.  I don’t think so.

You and I can wrestle and argue with scripture, and seek to interpret it and apply it, but we’re not supposed to ignore it.

Even the tough spots!

So, when you come upon a text that seems dense or challenging or makes you uncomfortable,

picture the following disclaimer written along the bottom of the page:

By all means, Do Attempt!  DO ATTEMPT!

Maybe this evening, I’ll pick up my Bible and read a little.

Even though my Study Bible has a ridiculously small font,

I’m reminded that there’s not one chapter in the Good Book

that should be relegated to the category of

Fine Print.

Have a great week,

Mitch

fine_print