Y-Axis Reality and The With-God Life!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why am I here?
  2. Do I serve a purpose in this world? If so, do I know what that purpose is?
  3. What’s the meaning to life?
  4. Who am I?
  5. What are my dreams, hopes, and aspirations?
  6. When do I last remember feeling happy or experiencing a deep sense of contentment?

Did you have trouble coming up with satisfying answers to some of these questions?

If so, you’re like most of us who struggle with coming to grips with answers to life’s most important questions about meaning, purpose, identity, etc.

The loss of meaning and identity is rampant in our culture.

We Barely Notice What We’ve Become

My hunch is that this loss of meaning and purpose is related to our immersion into an x-axis only reality.

The x-axis is, of course, the horizontal (time-bound/natural) plane.

The x-axis represents life on a horizontal playing field. On this flat playing field, all that you see is all that there is.  It’s impossible to find meaning and identity when we are satisfied with life within the horizontal plane.

Immersion into an x-axis only reality has occurred over decades or longer.  As such it’s been invisible to most of us.

Comparing this immersion into an x-axis only reality to our experience with modern-day skydomes, James K.S. Smith observes,

“Like the roof on Toronto’s SkyDome, the heavens are beginning to close. But we barely notice, because our new focus on this plane had already moved the transcendent to our peripheral vision at best. We’re so taken with the play on this field, we don’t lament the loss of the stars overhead.”

The heavens closed.

We barely noticed.

But it’s starting to feel a tad stuffy around here, and a few of us are beginning to look up again.

That’s a good thing.

Why?

Because you cannot answer life’s most perplexing questions without a rich experience of both the x and y axes!

An X-Axis Truth: Always Searching, Never Finding

In mathematics, for example, the x/y axes serve the fundamental role of identification or naming.   And you need both planes for that!

If you depend on the x-axis for things like identity discovery, you never leave that plane.  You are always confined to a one-dimensional reality.  Such a reality would eventually lead to discouragement and despair because you will never be content inside of that one dimension.

You will always suspect, deep within, that there’s more to life and that there is more to you!  But, when you set out on your search again – through the valleys of money, fame, reputation, experiences, possessions, etc. – you will simply be covering ground you have already explored.

Initially, it may look different because it’s the latest fad from the hippest teacher.  But you will discover it’s the same terrain with the same ending.

Eventually, you give up.

When I say give up I don’t mean that you stop living, but you stop looking for something to live for.  You lose your why and settle, too quickly, for the what and how.

You stop dreaming.  You stop hoping.  You begin to believe that this is all there is.

Yes, But What of the “Lucky Ones?”

A few of us – the “lucky” ones – will manage to have enough success to keep moving from one thing to the next.  Finally, with enough status under our belt, we begin to trade on our image and find some meaning within this phony exterior we present to the world.

And, the world applauds.

They “like” every photo and post.

They ooh-and-ah over every glittering moment we provide.

Even fame like this takes its toll.  Usually, it’s during the quiet moments of our life when the numbing effect of that sixth drink begins to wear off just before we drift off to a fitful night’s sleep.

At that moment, darkness creeps in.  Deep, fearful darkness that we will one day be exposed, ignored, or passed over for the new flavor of the month.

We find that the x-axis is insufficient and has exacted a high cost.  We discover a lament that feels like desire.  The lament is calling us to once again look up at the stars.

The question then becomes, “do we even know how to look up or what to look for if we do?”

Remember: the y-axis is the vertical plane.  It’s the “let’s look up and imagine a world shaped by the sacred, saturated with wonder, and soaked in awe” axis.

Humans will always long for more.  We are ever and always in search of meaning, purpose, and identity.

To Empower We First Embrace

If discovering these things requires familiarity and – more importantly – experience with a Y-Axis Frame, then reclaiming the Y-Axis will require empowering others to recognize what we have lost.

Empowerment is more caught than taught.  So, to empower others, we will need to work diligently as ones whose lives are fully framed within a Y-Axis reality.

Many of these posts will be directed toward Christians. We have, I believe, a unique opportunity and responsibility to reimagine life within a Y-Axis Frame. As I do, I will need to awaken us to how what we preach and practice (though unwittingly) has helped establish the dominance of an x-axis only world.

I will highlight how our language contributes to creating an x-axis only world.  I am also going to point out how our us against them posture and antagonistic orientation to our culture only solidifies an x-axis only world.  Both of these are related to how we view and believe the Gospel.

So, we are first going to need to reorient ourselves to an ancient Gospel. The one that’s found in the Scriptures as opposed the one often distorted in the pulpit.

It’s what I’ve come to call (though no doubt not original with me) the Good News Gospel of the With-God-Life.

Explore, Experience, Enjoy the With God-Life

Rediscovering this beautiful Gospel has propelled me into a whole new way of living!  This new way of living, really a new way of being, is one that that Pillar Community Church has and continues to explore, experience, and enjoy!

Hopefully, over time and through practice, we will discover the joy of the with-God-life that Jesus makes possible.

As we do, others will begin to see the dome retract and the heavens reappear!

Disrupting to Renew!

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Practicing the Ancient Art of Reading Well!

‘This is alphabet soup, Mom. I don’t use the alphabet in the summer.’

We are not born readers.  If we were, then focusing on how we read would be unnecessary.

The art of reading well is one that has to be developed over time.  It’s not native, or instinctive, by a longshot.

Reading is a learned art or skill.

If you doubt what I am saying, then you’ve never raised a child.

Continue reading “Practicing the Ancient Art of Reading Well!”

A New Year’s Prayer for a Soul-full, Sacred, and Satisfying Way of Life!

Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:10

Sometimes a tree can be so unhealthy that the only hope for renewal is to chop it down.  John, in the Matthew passage above, is proclaiming just such a message! For, as he envisions God’s Kingdom yet to come, he imagines the King as one who comes with an ax.  Not for the purpose of destruction, but for the hope of restoration.  John’s ministry is one of preparing God’s people for the new Kingdom era, which is to be proclaimed and embodied by Christ.

As such, he calls God’s people to get ready.

How?

By ‘axing’ the things that bring death.

Why?

Because the prophet, John, has read the prophet Isaiah and he knows that a stump can produce a root that can grow stronger and more stable than the tree which it is replacing.

To get a stump, though, one must wield an ax.

As I enter this New Year, my prayer is that I will be able to identify – by God’s grace – what needs to be ‘axed’ in my life.

The question I am asking is “What things distract me from or distort my desires for God?”

Or, in John-like fashion, “What needs to be cut down (axed) in my life so that Christ’s presence might take control of my life?”

Here are some areas I am considering:

  • Greed?
  • Pettiness?
  • Gossip?
  • Anger?
  • Bitterness?
  • Unforgiveness?
  • Impatience?
  • Social Media?
  • Television?

Well, you get the picture.  We all have areas in need of a quick, crisp, and clean axing!

From this orientation of seeking and surrender, I’ve developed a daily – even hourly – prayer that opens me to the pruning only the grace of Christ can provide.

Maybe this prayer can be yours as well.

Happy ‘Axing’ this New Year!

Praying My Way Into A Soul-full, Sacred, and Satisfying Way of Life.

Holy Father,

As I enter this day, this hour, this moment, I confess that much of my soul remains untouched by you because my heart longs for affections other than you. So, touch the untouched places, O King, and saturate the holes deep in my heart with your inexhaustible and empowering grace!

As your presence empowers, may my awareness increase.  I pray not for a general awareness, O King.  I pray, rather, for an awareness of your presence with me.  I pray that I might become attuned to the joy you take over me and the delight you have in me!  As my heart attunes this joy and delight – this sacred song of your love – may I become more discerning regarding the input I see and information I entertain.

I invite you, this day, this hour, this moment, to ‘ax’ away all that distracts and distorts my deepest desire, which is to delight in the sacred, satisfying, and soul-full presence of Christ in my midst!

Amen.

Disrupting to Renew!

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

A Well-Loved Soul is a Soul that Loves Well!

The outcome of a well-loved soul is a life well lived!

I long to be a well-loved soul. I know that when my soul is well loved, I will love others well. The book of Psalms is a river of refreshing waters, from which I drink when my soul thirsts for love.  I often find that, whether in lament or laughter, the psalmist’s words ooze blessings that both spring from and shape a well-loved soul.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” Psalm 103:1

The Hebrew term, soul ( נֶפֶשׁ [nephesh /neh·fesh/), conveys the totality of the human experience!  Its vast range of meanings include:

body, person, creature, heart, mind, self, will, appetite, desire, living being, emotion, passion, that which breathes.

In other words, when we see the term soul, the author (King David, in this case) is painting a picture designed to portray that which makes us totally, truly, and authentically human. Or, the essential part of our being and person-hood.

And what does King David, in Psalm 103, say of the well-loved soul?

He says that the well-loved soul is the soul that is passionately captivated by God and, as a result, is a soul that blesses the Lord!  From his very core, his essence, he blesses God. His blessing – repeatedly conveyed – seems beyond containment.  It’s as if he is leaping up and down and jumping for joy.  Indeed, a well-loved soul is a soul that loves well!

I long to be this type of soul.

I long to be this type of person.

I confess today, however, that I often am not.  In fact, I am quite the opposite.

Continue reading “A Well-Loved Soul is a Soul that Loves Well!”

Would Dr. Seuss ‘Google’ in a Boat?

“I would not eat them here or there

I would not eat them anywhere.

I would not eat green eggs and ham.

I do not like them Sam I Am.”

Ah, yes. Dr. Seuss. Many of us have grown up reading and hearing his stories. Green Eggs and Ham no doubt chief among them all. Did you know that his stories were designed to teach vocabulary words?

Knowing this original intention, as a boy, would have ruined the whole experience for me.

Continue reading “Would Dr. Seuss ‘Google’ in a Boat?”