a return to R3blog

Category : R3

Well friends, I’ve been holding off on coming back to R3blog for a bit longer than I had intended.  It’s partly because I’ve just been exhausted.  Too much going on in not enough time.  The creative juices just aren’t flowing without some rest.

But there’s been another reason…  for a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about R3blog.  I thought at first it needed a redesign (which it did).  But that wasn’t enough.  It needed something else.  So I’ve been working on that “something else.”

I’d love to fill you in on the details, but frankly, I don’t have them yet.  I’m not even sure what that something else looks like.  And pretty much every day, I change my mind.

Don’t worry though.  R3blog is not going anywhere.  There will still be plenty of content, although I think I’m going to have to cut back on the posting schedule a bit, but I can promise a minimum of one new article a week, maybe more, depending on how life goes.

Until then, if you have anything you’d like to see R3blog have (features, content, etc…) then drop me a line and let me know.  You might just see your idea used in the next round of R3 evolution!

photo provided by flickr user pppspics

the new R3blog.net

Category : R3

To say this change has been in the works would be an understatement.   I’ve been tweaking, building, creating, cursing and developing a new look and feel for R3 for the last year.  And it’s finally ready.  Although in a nice ironic twist all that coding I never used.  Because this is a brand new theme which I came across earlier this week.

That’s right.  This theme was modified in about three days.  The other theme took months.  And I’m not even going to use it.  All that work was for nothing.

Or was it?

The truth is, I could never have modified this current theme if I hadn’t spent a year working on the old one.  My effort has paid off, just not in the way I expected it to.

Does this remind you of anyone?  Because it sure reminds me of God.  We expect him to show up at a certain time, in a certain place, in a certain way.  And when he doesn’t we “lose” our faith.  We become angry because what we wanted to happen didn’t, and we blame God.  Never mind the fact that God never actually promised us that outcome, we took that promise upon ourselves.

Nothing is beyond God’s redemption.  Not you.  Not me.  Not your mistakes.  Not mine.

Nothing.

You’d think we’d learn this at some point.

But we never do.  We keep putting our goals and our time frames in front of God.  And when they don’t happen exactly how we expect, we become bitter and angry.  I would like to say I’ve finally learned this lesson.  But I know I haven’t really.  I’ll forget this lesson, and God will once again have to teach it to me.  Thankfully he’s a patient teacher.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy the new look and feel of R3blog.net.  And hopefully you’ll find R3blog.net to be a resource in your own life, as you learn to live out a life of faith.

admin note: health update

Category : R3

……….

So what started out as “feeling a little under the weather” turned into a full blown case of strep throat.  And I am only now just recovering from that.  In fact I’m still not anywhere close to being 100%.  So while I hate being away from R3 I’m hoping to return a normal writing schedule next week.  And maybe, if I’m lucky, will have something up and ready for Friday.

welcome to the revolution

Category : God, R3, barbarian, faith, living a life of faith, revolutionary, taking action

……….

Revolution.  That’s a big theme around R3.  In fact, that concept is a core part of what drives R3 (hence the line: radical, revolutionary, different).  Being a revolutionary is part of what it means to live out a life of faith.  Why am I talking about all of this?  Because I am preparing to teach a new community group called Welcome to the Revolution.  The class is based on the book written by Brian Tome.  The book version of Welcome to the Revolution focuses on what it means to live out a life of faith as a new believer.  The class I am teaching condenses these ideas into a six week period.

Because this is such an important topic to me, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach.

As I was preparing for the class I began to think about how you define a Revolution.  What makes something revolutionary?  What are the key components of a revolution?  At the very core, what does a revolution look like?  What does it mean?

As I thought about it, three concepts came to mind.

  1. Revolutions are all about doing things differently.
  2. Revolutions are about action.
  3. Revolutions are hard.

While there are many different ways to describe a revolution, it’s these three things that define a revolution.  Especially the Kingdom revolution.

Revolution = different.  If things are working perfectly in your life you don’t need a revolution.  If your government is doing the will of the people, you don’t need a political revolution.  If you’re ok making your clothes by hand you don’t need an industrial revolution.  If you’re content writing using only pen and paper you don’t need a technological revolution.  But if everything isn’t perfect, then maybe it’s time to do things differently.  Maybe what’s needed is a revolution.

Revolution = action.  There isn’t time off in a revolution.  You don’t go to commercial break.  You can’t call “time out” so you can go get a drink of water.  Revolutions are 24/7.  That doesn’t mean there will be “fighting” all the time, but it does mean you are always on duty.  You never know when the next battle will be fought, and if you aren’t ready, you’ll find yourself quickly defeated (metaphorically, spiritually, and perhaps even literally).

Revolution = hard.  If someone told you a revolution was easy…they are lying.  Changing things is never easy.  This is especially true with the Kingdom revolution.  The more headway you make the harder it gets, the bigger the challenges, and often, the more it costs.

If you aren’t willing to accept these costs then your revolution will fail.  In the physical world this means that your idea won’t catch on.  Or your political movement will die out.  It will mean that change doesn’t happen and the status quo remains.  In the spiritual world it means your faith will falter, your trust in God will fail, and you’ll find yourself in a very dark and lonely place.

That’s the trade-off with a revolution.  You can change the world, or you can fall in defeat.  Revolutions aren’t half way affairs.  You are either winning a revolution or losing a revolution.  But the pay-off for being a successful revolutionary is amazing. Despite the danger, despite the cost, the Kingdom revolution is worth it.  Which is why I encourage you to seek out revolution in your life.

Become a revolutionary!  Change the world!

an R3 update

Category : R3, choice, different, living a life of faith

……..

This is shaping up to be a very busy week for me.  Which means posting will be light.  I admit, I am tempted to find a way to get the usual 3 posts up this week.  But I’m also reminded of what I wrote a few weeks ago.  Everyone needs time off.  Including a write-a-holic like myself!

As much as I love writing, if I want to produce my best work, I need to be conscious of how I am spending my time.  And not surprisingly it takes a lot of time, creativity, and effort to come up with three interesting, and hopefully insightful, posts per week for R3.  I am convinced this is why God created a Sabbath.  Sabbath’s aren’t designed as punishment or ways to prevent us from going  shopping or eating at Chick-fil-a .  It was so we could actually rest and recover.  We all need that.

But before I go, I do have some updates for you guys.

  1. There are changes coming to R3.  I’ve been hinting at this for a few months now.  But I am in the finishing stages of updating R3’s theme.  I think the changes will bring a lot of new functionality to R3 and hopefully encourage us all to better live out lives of faith.
  2. I have a couple of job interviews in the very near future.  Being unemployed has been unbelievably trying, but I have grown more in the last 9 months than at perhaps any other point in my life.  I finally understand what it means when the Bible says, “God provides.”  That said, I’d appreciate any prayers.  I’m less concerned about “interviewing well” than I am about making the right choices that honor God and advance his kingdom.
  3. This last point is perhaps my most important one of the day.  If you’ve ever wanted to know what stormtroopers do on their day off – know you know.  See?  Even stormtroopers have a Sabbath!

will the evildoers never learn

1

Category : God, R3, failure, sin

……….

I rarely start out with such inflammatory headings.  R3 is a place for people to explore what it means to live out a life of faith.  I am fully aware that a lot of people who read R3 aren’t self-identified Christians.  That’s fine.  You don’t have to be.  So while I don’t pull any punches, I also don’t intentionally mean to offend people.  Insulting someone is never a way to show God’s love for each of us.

But there is something about the nature of sin that’s been bothering me the last few weeks.  And there is no easy way to say it.  The fact is, the damage sin causes shouldn’t be “sugar coated.”  So allow me to be as blunt as David was when he wrote Psalm 53: “Will the evildoers never learn?

I’m not the first to ask.  And I won’t be the last.  Ever since that fateful decision by Adam & Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, things have been a mess.  It seems that we simply can’t stop following in their footsteps.

Why?  Why is it “evildoers never learn.”  And by the way, those evildoers – that’s us, all of us.

Are we so blinded by our pride that we can’t even see where our actions lead?  Are we so sure that we can fix any problem we make that we simply don’t care?  Or is the devil just too good at tricking us into believing that God is holding out.  Or maybe we are just so blind we fall for his same tricks every time.  Even Tom couldn’t fool Jerry every time!

What I find disturbing in all of this is that I am no different.  And neither are you.  We are all held captive to sin.  We all fall short of where we were designed to be.  And none of us can seem to break the cycle.  That’s how powerful sin is.  That’s how much control it has.

That’s why Jesus is so important.  He’s broken the chains of sin.  When we are in relationship with him, in God’s eyes we are sin free.  But sin still lingers on us.  It still hurts our relationships with others (and God).  It still causes pain and suffering.  It still destroys like a thief in the night.

Pavlov, in his famous experiment, taught dogs to salivate by hearing a bell.  If dogs can do something like that, why can’t we break free from sin?

time management, unemployment, and God

1

Category : God, R3, faith, living a life of faith, taking action

……….

The irony of unemployment is that I haven’t been this busy since I was in college.

A few months ago I wrote an article about 5 things to do while unemployed.  One of the things to do while unemployed was volunteering.  Now I’m not one to simply write about what you should do and not live out that principle.  In fact, the whole point of R3 is to learn what it means to live out a life of faith.  That’s why I find R3 to both be incredibly fulfilling and challenging all at the same time.  While I’m not perfect I find writing publicly what I believe really forces me to follow through with my actions.

And volunteering is one area I’ve thrown myself into full force.

The challenge I’m facing right now is time management.  The stuff I do involving R3 takes up quite a bit of time.  There are the three weekly updates.  I am also working on the finishing touches to R3’s first community guide.  Plus there are a ton of  side things I do with R3 like research, reading blogs, and twittering.  (Yes, yes, I know, I’m not very good at twittering.)

On top of that I am looking for a job, creating content for another website called Meaning to Work, balancing two small groups, four serving ministries, and all the different friends I have made through all of those activities!

To put it simply there is a lot going on.  And much of it is volunteer related.

But I am not alone.  Most Americans live lives with this much activity.  Little Johnny has soccer practice, Little Suzy has piano lessons.  Mom has a meeting and Dad has softball.  Sound familiar?  As a people we tend to be overwhelmed by obligations, activities, and responsibilities.  This time pressure has made us sensitive to “wasted time.”

What does this busyness do for our relationship with God?

A lot of times you’ll hear that it’s bad to be busy.  And it can be.  If you’re so focused in moving from one meeting to the next you’ll never live with enough urgency to have time to act when needed.  But I think sometimes busyness gets a bad rap.  There are good things that come with busyness.  Busy people really are more likely to accomplish things.  It’s easier to keep your momentum going forward, than it is to find momentum if you’re not doing anything.  When you are on a schedule you’re more likely to use your time productively – however you define that.

It’s not as if slowing down somehow makes us less lazy.  I can’t be the only one who when they don’t have much going on gravitates toward the TV than an interesting book.

But when I’m busy I know I have to choose between a book and TV.  There is no “I’ll get to it later” because I don’t have the time for that.  So I stay focused.

Time management is like so many things – it can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.  What matters is where we put our time in relationship to God.  Are we pursuing things that honor him?  Are we pursuing things that build into our relationship with him?  If we are, then even if we are busy that is a good thing.  But the minute we become too busy for God, then there’s a problem.

So as so many people struggle with unemployement, don’t let this be an excuse to do nothing.  Go out and volunteer.  Get engaged in your communities.  But don’t let this become an excuse to become so busy you forget about God.

Faith & Doubt – core beliefs

Category : Jesus, R3, faith, living a life of faith, taking action

…………

For many people Easter represents the one or two times we attend church in a year.  It’s where some people approach church tentatively, not sure what they think, but seeking God.  Others go because of a formality, usually a family obligation.  (Don’t worry.  I attended many church functions out of obligation before I became a Christian. )

Churches spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to connect with these Christmas and Easter visitors.  They try to understand why they don’t attend.  Or how we, as the church, could reach out to them.

Those are all well and good questions.  But that’s not what I’m interested in today.  What I want to focus on is how we, as the church, behave.  How do our actions, our lives, play out to these Easter attenders?  Can they tell we live out lives of faith?  Or are we viewed as what’s been called the “unChristian“?

In the book Faith & Doubt, John Ortberg identifies three levels of belief – Public, Private, Core.  Depending on the topic, your views may fall into any of these three categories.  It’s the difference in categories that determine your actions.

1. Public – These are beliefs that you want people to think you hold, even when you don’t.  “Oh sure I loved your ‘macaroni surprise’” is an example of a public belief.

2.  Private - Beliefs that you think are sincere, but turn out not to be.  Peter was convinced he would follow Jesus to death.  But when it came down to it, he denied even knowing Jesus.

3.  Core - These are beliefs that are shown through our daily actions.  When we say we care about the homeless, that’s all well and good.  People with core beliefs do something about it.

Think about any belief you have.

They fall into one of these categories.  We tell our kids “that was a wonderful recital”, but we know it wasn’t (public belief).  We say it because the truth isn’t the loving action, building into them is.  Public beliefs can be good.  They help us maintain relationships when the brutal, cold, “truth” couldn’t.  Yet we can get caught in a dangerous trap of always wanting to fit in.  We can get caught in the world of  “making other people happy.”  (How many of us have complained that politicians don’t follow through with their promises?   Those politicians often get caught in the public belief)

When I look at Christianity in the general, anecdotal sense, I fear that too many people only hold Christianity as a public belief.  It is only something to do for a few hours on Sunday.  It isn’t life changing.  It isn’t radical, it isn’t revolutionary, and it certainly isn’t different.

When we take that flat, boring, public belief and interact with non-believers, how should we expect them to respond?

Easter is about God stepping into history and taking a hit that you and I deserve.  Jesus was characterized by living in the core beliefs he espoused.  When Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” he wasn’t just giving a talking point.  He was telling the disciples what God was about.  Who God was at his core.

I want to move my beliefs from the public to the core.  I don’t want my life filled with things I say I believe, when I really don’t.  I started out this post saying that I used to go to church out of obligation.  But you know what?  There are times I still go to church out of obligation.  Simply because it’s Saturday.  That’s okay sometimes.  It’s okay to want to be watching football some days.  But pretending you want to be at church when you don’t – that leads you down the road of hypocrisy.

I want people to look at me and see no difference between how I live my life, and what I write on R3.  I want people to see me living out a life of faith.  How about you?  What do you want?

taking the weekend off

Category : R3, choice, sharing faith

 

About every 8 months I get together with a group of friends from college and we hang out for the weekend.  We spend significant portions of our time, well, wasting time.  And that’s the whole point! 

After much anticipation, the weekend of the event has officially arrived.  (I head out of town tomorrow). 

Usually when I go out of town I pre-write a few posts and then have them update onto R3.  But this time I decided to not do that.  Part of why I like to pre-write posts is so that content is going up for R3 readers.  But if I’m honest, I also post regularly because I am afraid of giving up control.  I’m afraid that while I’m not posting people will get bored and wander away.  That somehow God is dependent on my ability to update the website on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

As silly as this may sound, walking away for the next 4 days (starting Friday) is an act of faith.  I am trusting God with this site, and putting my faith into him instead of my own abilities.  This all comes about because I’ve been thinking about “the Sabbath” and “taking a day of rest.”  This is something I rarely do.  Oh sure I have lots of reasons why, but when you disagree with God, God should probably win!

So until I get back everyone have an awesome time and consider checking out these sites (and yes, none of them have anything to do with God, although I’m pretty sure he loves video games):

Dubious Quality – my favorite gaming website

Predator X – the most vicious sea monster ever

Seattle Time Lapse – I know I shouldn’t find this so amusing, but I do

the “best of” R3

Category : God, R3, different, faith, reader comments, sharing faith

  

It’s hard to believe we’re into our first day of 2009.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago everyone was sure the world was going to end because of Y2K.  And now we approach the close of the next decade.  So before we close the 2008 R3 season, let’s take a look at some of the more popular posts:

Top 5 Reader Posts

  1. My “about” page – this is by far and away the most popular page on R3
  2. what I’m reading: unChristian – a book that shapes how I approach R3
  3. prayer thursday: courage – the most popular R3 page in Google
  4. what I’m reading: Chasing Daylight – Erwin McManus has a profound impact over my life and this blog
  5. prayer thursday: God’s strength, our weakness – this seems very appropriate considering 2008

My Favorite 5 posts

  1. i’m a Christian because of the money – No.  Seriously.  I am. 
  2. redemption: finding the way home – any time you can tie Darth Vader and the Bible together, you have a winning combination!
  3. what I’m watching: RockTV – if Christians used humor like RockTV more than Bible Thumping, more people would be willing to talk to us when we showed up at their door
  4. love your enemy (and fellow drivers) – I haven’t stopped thinking about this post since the day I wrote it, talk about living out a life of faith…
  5. what’s the point? – always a good question to ask yourself