Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How does a journey begin?

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Well, Christmas morning my first step ended up with both hands in a cactus! Needing to get a little jump on my 06 resolution to lose 50 pounds, I was up early that morning jogging near my suegro's home in El Paso. Deciding to cut across an empty desert lot was the wrong idea. I crossed an arroyo, and as I climbed up the other side, tripped and fell right into several prickly pear cacti. Still pulling thorns from my hands...

Journeys are tough and painful, and anyone who says otherwise (to paraphrase Wesley--no not John or Charles, Wesley in "A Princess Bride") is selling something. 21st century Jesus-followers need to give up trying to explain life as some simple, easy jaunt. While always being worth the effort, it is often tough. Unexplained detours (or even ones explained by our own choices), trips and falls, spikes in the hand--these don't always make sense. At least not from our point of view. And they certainly aren't fair.

The world needs us to stop selling success and start living life. Life with all its bumps and bruises, joys and celebrations. Life is a journey. Take that first step...


DM said...

so i dont get it. what's the first step?

Arnie Adkison said...

To quote another movie from my top 6 list, the first step is "to get busy living, or get busy dying." Die to self, live for Christ. Or is that too Christian cliche? Or, maybe a better question, is that two steps?

Johndrhea said...

I think that most churches are more like Country Clubs with initiation rites, archaic rules, goofy dress codes, secret hand shakes, and plenty of code words. We use vocabulary like "sin", "redemption" and "hymns of commitment" that don't make any sense to people that aren't already members of the club. It is also amazing how much power a few influential members can wield.

I truly believe that we are to do the things that Jesus did by growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. In order to do that, we need to be out in the world learning how to relate to people outside our club by spending time with people that don't share our views. We can do that through sports, dinners, movies, work, music, and other things that allow us to really get to know people. If people don't believe you care about them for who they are, then the words you say will probably be ignored. We need to spend time understanding what is important to others before we try to get them to understand what is important to us.

I was in a philosophy class at Oklahoma Baptist University when a student said that anyone who believed in Hinduism was stupid. Hindus hold beliefs that I believe are incorrect and I am sure some of them are stupid, but this student showed that Southern Baptists can be stupid too. Being stupid had nothing to do with a person’s religious beliefs. I left OBU to study religion at the University of Oklahoma and I believe I got a better education as a result of it. I know I have a stronger belief system having spent time analyzing why I believe what I believe.

I also don't subscribe the Oprah theory that has become prevalent in our society. The belief that everyone's beliefs are correct. There must be a right and wrong. One day I'll find out or I won't. That doesn't change my belief. It also doesn't make me a bad person for believing that there is only one way to get to heaven.
In the bible it says that for now we see in a mirror dimly. That means we see everything backwards and fuzzy. We should spend less time worrying about what will happen when Jesus comes again and more time living like Jesus did.

We shouldn't be fighting to have our religious beliefs taught in school, but we should seek to have all religious beliefs, including secular humanism or whatever they are calling that stuff today, removed from the public schools. This country was founded on the right for everyone to have the opportunity to worship as they believe and not have a belief system (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist) shoved down their throats.

Okay that was quite a rant. I hope that some it made sense. Arnie, you may want to reconsider allowing others to post on your blog.

Rev14 said...

You are such and intelligent writer, but I like the way you mix in the movie selection from your kids video's. I agree with you Arn (That is how we say Arnie in Alaaabamaaa). As a youth minister I struggle with students taking serious how fortunate they are, from a carnal perspective of course, to live in the US. It's hard to teach thorns and rough times to a generation that hasn't taken that road yet. Thanks Arn. Great work!


Linne said...

A couple of years ago a friend and I went mountain biking to kick off our new years resolution to get in shape. When riding in the NM mountains he fell over into a very large cactus. He had literally thousands of needles in his leg, butt, and back. We pulled needles for a long time but could not get them from his rear end. He had two pairs of shorts on and the clothes were attaching to the needles. So, we decided to give him one of my outer pairs of riding shorts. He took off his pants (down to tidy whiteys) and we realized we still had a lot of needles to remove. I got on my knees and started pulling out needles. He was bent over with no pants on (did I mention my custom mountain biking shirt had a lot of pink in it?) and remember I am on my knees behind him. All of the sudden a woman comes around the corner jogging. She screamed!!! It was everything I could do to convince her that he had fallen in the cactus and nothing inappropriate was going on.

I tell you this because not only is the "first step" important as believers, I believe "balance" is critical as well. My friend is convinced of this. I believe balance comes in a Chistian's life when they allow Christ to "stand" in every area of their life. When we make Him the center of everything we do and are, we can keep vertical (Rubber side down is my motto on the bike). So often we take a first step and then go at it ourselves. Keeping Christ centered in EVERYTHING we do (Colossians 3:23) allows us to keep vertical through the challenges of life.

The other reason I tell you this is because your cactus story reminded me of mine and I like to tell a good story!

Thanks for triggering my blog response. You have been a long time inspiration to my spiritualality. Also, I like the comments from the Sarcastic Sooner. What a concept... investigating and really understanding what you believe!

Arnie Adkison said...

Wow! Sooner should have started writing sooner! You've got so much good stuff there I'm not sure where to begin.

No doubts about the country club mentality that is in most churches (although I prefer the "ghetto" vocabulary). I did have a good friend who recently challenged my thoughts about Christianese, though. I've long thought that it is a language that we need to abandon. But Brad suggested that the language of Zion is a beautiful language, and has it's place, and he's right. Sin and redemption may be outdated words, and we do need to translate them to the world at large, but they are deep words, not easily replaced. Hymns of commitment I could do without.

As someone working for an institution of higher education in a Christian and Baptist context, I still have to agree with your assessment of the education you received at OU being better than at OBU. And this is a shame! All of the humanities--art, language, theology, etc--these should be the realm of those who worship the Creator. Unfortunately we've too often been engrossed with indoctrinating people in religious dogma instead of teaching them how to think and believe in their own relationship with God. Plus we want to protect our "clout" in USAmerican culture, returning to some mythical time when church and state were on the same page and the country was full of holy people. I agree--I believe it is time to abandon the fight to return a powerless god of all things American to cultural king, and instead time to abandon ourselves into the hands the God of all the world, of all creation, of all time, the One who judges all things and loves all people.

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