Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
|Photo by beasty . on Unsplash
In the course of meeting with clients, whether in homes or on commercial construction sites, I often witness the very real, the very often frustrating (though not always calamitous) clash that happens when an architect's design meets with the constraints of gravity, angles and deductions. It is a tension I often find myself holding both ends of.
In my world of selling window coverings, I almost always start with function. Do you want sun control? Insulation? Privacy? Room darkening? Knowing those answers allow me to better recommend different treatments or products. Once we look at the options, clients can settle on a form: a roman shade, plantation shutters, or a drapery.
This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a friend about tensions we feel in church, about the natural tendency to go from small, natural and organic to large, structured and programmed. Or the pull to make something as relational as spiritual development into a curriculum or a one-size-fits-all program.
Tim Woodroof wrote about this in A Church That Flies. In it he describes the tension between form and function. In very simple terms, form is the shape a thing takes or the way it appears in the world. Function is the purpose for which a thing is in the world.
The author uses the situation that we read about in Acts 15 where the church in Antioch was beginning to take on legs of its own and the baby was not looking as much like the parents as the parents wished. The leaders in Jerusalem were concerned because what they thought was important or essential was not being taught or lived out like they thought it should. The church in very Gentile Antioch was experiencing things that the church in very Jewish Jerusalem was not.
What to do? What began as rigid demands that someone adhere to old ways or comply with legal standards ended in grace, wisdom and freedom. What had the potential to snuff out a growing movement of men and women being transformed by the Gospel was challenged and changed. What we see is the incredible trust the Father has given his people to take the function he desires and to let it take on the forms necessary to take root in the nations of the world.
Where do you see form and function at play in your world? In your church context? What forms are taken for granted? How and when do we stop and examine the function behind the form? And what could the church look like in your context if you had the courage to let it?
Thursday, October 29, 2020
And yet I catch myself expecting, looking, wanting to see tangible results. I'm an action oriented, results driven kind of guy. This slow, tedious plodding grates at my body.
So I find myself in a season where I'm diving back in. Fiddling with fasting. Playing at prayer. Dabbling in reflective journaling. Walking along in the dark under a canopy of stars, breath visible in the cold, my prayers go out and seem unheard, aimless. I listen and hear nothing.
Confiding this recently with some close friends, one of them shared an image that really landed and stuck in my soul.
He said, "The spiritual disciplines are like a trellis for the soul."
I know what a trellis is. You don't wander the streets of seaside Italian towns like we have and not know what they are. I've got a backyard garden with several that hold up zucchinis and peppers and beans. The concept is simple: a solid, vertical guide to which a living organism can attach itself in order to rise off the ground and approach the sun.
I smile as I type.
I am a living organism who desperately wants to rise above the ground I was buried in. I need something solid and vertical that I can attach myself to, that will take me higher and help me approach the source of life.
Suddenly, the frustration I feel about not sensing God's presence, about not hearing his voice. About not seeing results. Suddenly, the frustration is muted. The impatience diminished. It's replaced with a gentle reminder that as I practice these age old disciplines, I am allowing the tendrils of my soul to grab hold of solid, trusted guides that bring me ever higher.
Can you relate to feeling stuck? Find yourself giving up? Struggle to muster up the energy to try again? Can I encourage you to let this image give you strength to give it another shot?
(Here is a handy list of some of the basic disciplines.)
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Monday, October 7, 2019
- mask wearing
- a performance mentality
- a focus on the external
- an unhealthy focus on pleasing an audience
- detachment from reality
Friday, September 6, 2019
Monday, May 27, 2019
Danny and Chrissy Tovar have become some of our closest friends over the past couple of years and they talked us into it. I fought and resisted, made excuses and procrastinated, but they were persuasive and in the end, I caved. We put dates on the calendar and set money aside, we were going. Destination: Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
We took our youngest two and they were excited. It wasn't until the first morning on the slopes that they realized what all is involved in skiing. If you've never been, it's quite an experience. It was snowing and blowing hard that day, which made all of this more difficult. After buying our tickets we waited to be fitted with boots and skis and shown how the equipment works. Then we trudged through the snow carrying everything to the bunny slope where our instructor (who turned out to be really lousy) began our four hour lesson.
Throughout the lesson, Danny and Chrissy would come and check on us before heading off to enjoy the blue and black runs. At the end of that first day, the instructor convinced me I was ready for the easiest of the blues. I was scared and felt pressured, but went along. Danny came with us. Heather and the kids had had enough and headed to the lodge.
We rode the lift to the top of the peak and started our way down. I fell. A lot. Over and over, I would get up, adjust my equipment, run through all the lessons in my head and then wipe out. Hard. Each time I was afraid I would twist a knee or hurt my back. I was nauseous and the storm made it hard to see very far ahead. We came upon a narrow section where the left side of the slope was a steep drop into deep powder and I clung to the right bank, slowly waddling down as little kids zipped by me.
By the time I got to the bottom, I was done. We packed it up and headed back to our condo. My whole family had had enough. No interest in going back. Everyone had counseled us to get back up and try a second day, but we had no desire. I felt like a failure again, embarrassed all over gain.
The next day we stayed at the condo. We played an eight hour game of Rail Baron and nursed our sore bodies. We ate good food and processed our first day with the Tovars. That afternoon, the question of whether or not we would try a second day again came up. I did not want to, but felt that competitive spirit rising in me. Danny and Chrissy, both, gently encouraged us to try it again, to give it a fresh start. So we did.
The second day was much better. It was sunny and clear. Heather did better, but was ready to call it a day. Harrison was feeling better and by lunchtime was off with Danny to ski down the blues. Jenova overcame her fear when she found a new and better instructor. She had mastered the bunny slope and I finally convinced her to try the intermediate one.
Three hours later, she was jumping off the lift and soaring down the slope in front of me. I was able to make it down consecutive times without falling. The truth is, though, I still wiped out from time to time. Hard. My kids did better than I did. I was a 43 year-old beginner. Toward the end of that second day, I lay on my back in deep powder after wiping out. High above me, people passed overhead on a lift and shouted down encouragement, "Get back up! You got this!"
That evening we sat, exhausted, around a table at a pizza pub and ate delicious food and drank cold brews and I found myself getting choked up. Why? We had experienced grace on the slopes of Pagosa Springs. Danny and Chrissy had pushed us gently, provided everything we needed and walked with us when they could have easily run on ahead or judged us or mocked us, or even just put up with us.
We will go again. We all want to, even though Heather may stay in the lodge. Grace has left a good taste in our mouths. My shame, my failing have been redeemed because someone was willing to extend me undeserved favor.
Photo by Veronica Kei on Unsplash