The white post became black

“If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution.”

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


My personal email account has more than 300 unread emails in it.

Most of them aren’t important. 

There was a time when I never had more than a handful of unread emails.

What changed?

I stopped tending to my inbox. Stopped reading. Stopped deleting. Kept subscribing. In Chesterton’s terms, I left the white post of my email alone. It quickly became black.

It’s a rule of life that things that are untended will degrade.

Stop exercising and you will gain weight.

Stop mowing the yard and you’ll soon have a meadow.

Stop keeping a calendar and you’ll be repeatedly late.

The key thing is to ensure that you’re tending to the right things. 

 

 

What is it about snow?

It snowed yesterday.

And last night.

And as I left for work this morning.

What is it about snow?

How does snow make an ordinary neighborhood extraordinary?

How does snow make the world stop its manic strife?

Is there any silence like unto the silence of a snow-covered landscape?

 

Snow takes the mundane and make it magical.

It takes the frenetic and bids it stop.

 

Snow allows our deepest values to bubble to the surface because it–ironically–limits our freedom.

Snow is our modern day sabbath.

It invites us into a reality we should be experiencing each week.

It stands our modern life on its head and we’re surprised to find that we like it–just like the sabbath.

 

when life is like the Metro ride from hell

I once got thoroughly lost on the Paris Metro. It’s true.

The London Tube I know almost by heart–at least zone one. But take me away from that familiar vodka-bottle-shaped map and I’m hopeless.

I spent a day riding forlornly from one hopelessly Gallic-sounding station to another. It’s just one more reason to dislike the French.

Sometimes life is like the Metro ride from hell.

You feel lost–like you’re a piece of ice in a vodka martin shaken–not stirred–to the point that you don’t know which way is up.

The map doesn’t make sense.

The familiar landmarks and waypoints have been eclipsed.

Hope is hard to come by.

Despair seems reasonable.

The world around you is full of Parisians who think you’re a bloody idiot for getting lost.

 

Exile.

That’s the kingdom word for the experience of lostness. 

 

When we’re lost the part of us that looks for God becomes sensitive–a finely tuned antenna searching for a signal of the Divine.

When all is well we take our bearings from other places.

We look to familiar people, places, themes, pleasures in order to make our way through life.

But in the fog of exile these are diminished.

And so we creep forward, slowly, seeking just a little light to guide our feet–slipping through the haze like a ship making for an obscured harbor.

We often find that God is in the mist and our faltering steps in those moments are more faithful than other times when we confidently strode into our self-actualized future.

Exile is hard.

But it is necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

the irrelevant church

“Jeff,” heralds the nurse. I stand up and move toward her, coat in hand, stuffing my phone into a pocket.

There follows a series of uncomfortable moments.

I step onto the scale. The weights clink as she shifts them, moving and awkward number of them to the right in order to offset my bulk on the metal plate.

“Thank you.” No, thank you.

We step into an exam room. Mouth open, tongue lifted in order to receive the almost sacramental placing of the thermometer.

Sleeve rolled up. The buzz of an electric motor as the band expands constricting my arm. I feel a heartbeat in my arm.

“Thank you. What seems to be the matter?”

There follows my awkward attempts to capture what in particular ails me.

The church is an exam room. 

The word pokes and prods us, looking for behind what we think ails us. We see symptoms. The Spirit exposes the causes.

Is the doctor’s office comfortable?

Is a pleasant consumer experience?

The ambience is perfect, isn’t? The magazine collection perfectly curated.

Quite the contrary.

 

We come to church to be exposed, to be known.

We are known by Him to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and no secrets hid.

We receive gospel medicine in word and sacrament. 

And when we meet other sin-sick people, we tell them that we know a good doctor.

 

the power of the uncomfortable

Ash trays on the coffee table. 

Rotary telephones.

The card catalog.

An LP.

Things that once seemed perfectly normal can–with the passage of time–become completely foreign.

They belong to a world that has ceased to exist.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have value.

Some do. Others, not so much.

There’s pleasure in a long draw on a cigarette. There’s also cancer.

The rotary phone slows us down but it also stops us from entering digits into an automated system.

The card catalog… never mind.

There are trade offs.

Wisdom consists in figuring out those things from worlds seemingly long past that retain value.

The things that are, ironically, good for us–even though they’re uncomfortable or slow.

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing is easy

It’s easy to rush.

The world around us values and validates those who quickly move through life.

The problem is, those who rush seldom leave an impact. 

They don’t leave an impact on other people. They don’t leave an impact on their company. They don’t leave an impact on their industry.

Rushing is the easy way out because rushing can only happen when we fail to do the hard work of saying ‘no.’

No to the status quo.

No to the same old, same old.

No to the good but not great.

No to the noise.

Saying no to these distractions will free you up to say yes to things that are significantly more valuable.

Yes to the bright idea that gets your attention while you ride your bike.

Yes to the conversation with a colleague that inspires you to try something new.

 

So, will you do the hard work of slowing down?

Or, are you happy producing widgets on the assembly line of life?

Struggling or thriving?

If you had to choose, would you prefer to step into leadership at a thriving company or a struggling one?

Many of us instinctively choose the former.

We sometimes think this way because we believe that success is like producing widgets. Once we know what works, we keep doing it over and over and over again.

That’s great — if success was a finite product.

It isn’t.

It’s scarier to step in and take ownership of a struggling brand or company.

It’s also easier.

When your company is struggling, there are options available to you that a successful company might not have.

Seize the day–take the risk to assume leadership on a stalled project, a struggling brand, or a declining company. 

 

 

a personal revolution

Do you know when people started wearing watches on their wrists? The answer might surprise you.

It wasn’t an innovation driven by the fashion industry.

It wasn’t because a famous member of the Royal family decided to make a change.

No.

People started wearing watches on their wrist at the Western Front during World War One. 

Until then most people kept their watch in their pocket. But a pocket’s not a good place for a time piece if you need to consult it to know when the assault takes place or the barrage begins.

You don’t want to fumble around in your pocket to get the time when lives are in your hands–or when a pistol’s in one hand and a swagger stick in the other.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

The horror of trench warfare caused an innovation that revolutionized the way we tell time.

What difficulty in your life can be the source of a personal revolution? Don’t miss the chance to make a change!

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Note the design that allows a watch strap but retains the classic look of a pocket watch

Where vision starts

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Vision starts by seeing the present clearly.

Talk of vision is often dominated by mapping the contours of a future reality.

That’s an important part of vision. However, failing to clearly perceive the now as it really is almost guarantees that you won’t get where you want to go.

The truth is that your life or your company is set up to get precisely the results you’re getting.

Changing the future begins by getting in touch with the present.

 

Why I choose to #optout

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that social media is responsible for a number of ills in our society.

  • It has allowed us to be ideologically isolated while feeling an illusory sense connection.
  • It has allowed us to shout into the ether rather than silently ponder.
  • It has enabled numerical support (hashtags) to trump the internal coherence of an argument.
  • It has pushed nuance to the margin and created conversations driven by superficial, context-less punch lines.

For these reasons and more, I’ve essentially opted out of social media.

I make the odd appearance on Facebook and occasionally tweet.

In general, however, I really don’t care to be in on the many futile and intellectually-stunted conversations that occur in these media.

 

Offer your pithy indictments of “white evangelicals,” President Trump, Roy Moore, reformed Christians, republicans, Hillary Clinton, class inequality, critical race theory, to someone else.

I’m one man and I’ve done what I can do.

Like Frodo and Sam, I am choosing to be faithful in the small things that I can control.

Since you’re obviously more of a Saruman, I’ll let you wrestle with the grand unifying theory.

Let me know how it works out.

The way forward for me is not in the big and bold. Instead it is in living a very ordinary life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in communion with Christ’s church.

I’m not going to change the world. That’s not my job.

I’m not going redeem culture. That’s not the church’s calling.

I am simply going to do my best to follow Christ as he has instructed me–growing in grace through the ordinary means of grace.