Life Posts

Staying in Love with the Rain

Staying in Love with the Rain

I’ve lived in Portland for more than a month now, and as I write this we are experiencing our first real rain since I’ve been here. For those that know me well, I love the rain. It was actually a contributing factor to my original interest in moving to the Pacific Northwest. We were at a friends’ house this evening and they laughed as my kids literally kept stopping what they were doing to point out the rain and enjoy it.

Now type these words on my front porch and I’m in awe of the sound of the rain falling into the trees around my house and the intoxicating smell of the crisp air filling my lungs. It makes me feel both sleepy and yet somehow alive at the same time. But the irony is that almost everyone I’ve talked to around here is dreading the fact the rain is back. This summer has been one of the driest in recent memory and yet many Oregonians have been soaking up every ounce of sunshine.

It’s the difference of perspective. I spent the summer in the intense Arizona heat only to come to Oregon at the end of a very warm summer and into a house with no air conditioning (yes my AZ friends, you read that right). I could not wait for the cooler air to come. Yet everyone keeps telling me how tired I’ll get of the rain once it begins in earnest. I have no idea whether I will get sick of the rain and when that might happen if it does, but I also know that I’ve spent my entire life in sunshine. I’ve never really had seasons with leaves that change and snow that signals the arrival of Christmas. My new friends around me have a very different experience than that.

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Not All Solutions are Equal

Not All Solutions are Equal

This past weekend I spoke at my friend Trevor’s church in Mason, Ohio. They’ve been doing a series this month on my book Redeeming Pleasure, and I had the chance to preach the last weekend. I brought books with me to sell but needed to stop by my bank to get cash for it. Specifically, I needed $5s and $10s to make change for people. When I Googled to find the nearest Wells Fargo branch, I was disappointed to learn they had all permanently closed within a few hours drive. My friend Caleb was with me so I asked if we could use his bank. The only problem was that all of his bank’s branches were about to close early for the day since it was Saturday.

That left us with a more creative option, to go to Walmart and get cash back from a purchase. I walked up to an employee and explained what I was trying to do and asked if she’d be able to give me cash back in certain denominations. She looked confused and told me she couldn’t open a drawer to see what was in it till I made a purchase. I asked her which drawer she’d been using and what she thought might be in it. I told her I was from out of town and couldn’t get cash from my bank. She then asked me what bank I use. When I told her it was Wells Fargo, she said they didn’t have any nearby. Yes, I’m aware of that. Hence why we are having this discussion.

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The Power of Ideas

The Power of Ideas

Our ideas matter, especially our ideas of God.

Let’s break it down logically for a moment. If I assume that those hot and fresh-off-the-conveyor-belt doughnuts from Krispy Kreme have ingredients that will allow me to live a healthy lifestyle and feel great, I’m going to have an issue. This is especially true for the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger, affectionately known as “baseball’s best burger.”

If I relegate seat belts as a waste of time, I’m going to put my life and the lives of my family at unnecessary risk. At a minimum, I’m inviting an easily avoidable ticket.

If I assume that country music is actually good music, I’m going to experience a lot of depression and confusion. (This is a running joke with many of my Arizona friends. It’s tough growing up in Arizona when you don’t happen to be a fan of country music.)

If I assume that cows are holy and could be a person reincarnated (as Hindus believe), I will drive around a cow instead of moving it from the middle of the street. As an entire community, we will stop traffic for a cow until it moves. I’ve seen this happen in Nepal firsthand.

The list goes on and on. Ideas shape actions.

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Is Following God a Covenant or a Contract?

Is Following God a Covenant or a Contract?

We live in a world today of contracts. It’s difficult to even buy a new phone without navigating pages and pages of contractual agreements first. Or think of how many pages of contractual terms you get every time you sign up for anything (and of course we read every paragraph). Contracts fuel our business interactions with those around us. Here’s what you agree to, here’s what I agree to, and here’s what happens when one of us breaks it.

Contracts are designed to help us navigate situations where no trust exists. This is extremely helpful in these contexts. If I don’t know you, I’m less likely to vulnerably trust you with something important. The danger is when we start applying contracts into areas that cannot function this way.

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The Spirituality of Wine

The Spirituality of Wine

Recently I read through Gisela H. Kreglinger’s book, The Spirituality of Wine. I was already familiar with most of what the Bible says about alcohol (I include a discussion of alcohol in chapter five of my book Redeeming Pleasure). Yet this book explored more nuanced aspects of it that I enjoyed (such as the quote below about Noah). She does a great job connecting wine with aspects of the Christian faith as well as offering ways to enjoy it from a healthy, balanced perspective. In Christian circles alcohol quickly becomes a divisive subject, yet this book approaches it from an objective and cautious perspective.

Here are some of my favorite quotes about how wine connects us to Jesus:

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Father Forgive