Living My Future Self Now


There are many self-help and self-improvement advocates out there lauding the ways we can live our best life now. I don’t know about any of that, but what I do know is that we can live our future selves right now. At least in one way - forgiveness.

Think back to when you were a child and made a mistake that you have some amount of shame or embarrassment about. Many times we look at that act and forgive ourselves because we were just “dumb kids” doing things we did not think through very well. We can be quick to forgive children because children often do not know any better.

As you think of that memory and extend kindness and forgiveness to your past self, take note. Because your future self will be as forgiving to your present self, in the same way that your present self is forgiving my past self.

When you were younger you might have even thought that your future self would forgive your actions/behavior. And so, forgiving your past self in the present means you are living you (previous) future self now.

All of this to say that your future self will be as forgiving to your present self as you are presently forgiving your past self. And so give yourself a break and know you can live your future self right now by forgiving present self.

Sermons, Sermons everywhere and all the Churches did shrink

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is a wonderful poem about the experiences of the "ancient mariner." Of the memorable lines there is this one:

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

Here the crew of the ship is stranded and without fresh water. They find themselves in the ironic position that they are dying of thirst while being surrounded by water. 

This poem came into my head when I came across preacher Skye Jethani's post entitled "Is it time for another reformation?" in which he examines preaching through a economic supply/demand lens. It was an interesting little read and I hope you can take the time to read it in full here.

Jethani opens by reminding that massive changes in the church were preceded by a massive change in communication technology. For instance, Luther's ideas would not have taken off as he did if not for the printing press. Likewise, the church is seeing a massive change on the heels of the advent of the internet. Specifically Jethani points out, prior to the internet, most Bible teaching required you to go to a worshiping community. Thus the Church had the "supply" of Biblical teaching and there was a demand that was met when people attend a worshiping community. 

Even if we assume that the demand for Biblical teaching has remanded constant, there is a glut of supply. Each week I listen to four different preachers through my smart phone, I read two daily email devotionals and am notified every three hours to prayer via my watch alarm. This does not count the physical books, in person interactions and other "analog" access to my spiritual practices. Jethani puts it this way:

This low demand and high supply means the market for Bible instruction has reduced the cost to virtually zero. That’s a good thing, right? Yes, unless you are a church that still expects people to pay the high cost demanded by the old model. Most institutional churches continue to make the preaching act the centerpiece of Sunday worship, and Sunday worship is the centerpiece of most church structures. An audit of virtually any Protestant church will reveal a massive percentage of the institution’s resources (space, funds, leadership) is devoted to the Sunday preaching event and its related activities and facilities. In other words, most churches have inherited a sixteenth century model that is increasingly out of step with twenty-first century realities. 

Prior to asking very poignant questions, Jethani states:

Pastors carry a Reformation mindset that sees Bible teaching as a scarcity which makes their sermons valuable, while Millennials with a digital mindset recognize the abundance of Bible teaching making most pastor's sermons, and therefore Sunday attendance, unnecessary.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem concludes with the hearer waking up "sadder and wiser" for hearing the tale of the Ancient Mariner. It is possible for us to become sadder, but may we also be wiser. 

Source: http://mailchi.mp/skyejethani/q-talk-2017-...

Uniting Methodists


Not long ago, a group of United Methodist leaders announced a movement called "Uniting Methodists." For those of you keeping score, yes, there are a number of caucuses, associations, networks, and movements within the UMC.

The Uniting Methodists have planned a gathering in November in Atlanta, Georgia. I plan to attend. 

You may think to yourself, "Why are you writing this on your blog? Why do I care if you go to some conference in November?" All good questions, but the only reason I share about the Uniting Methodists is that I have spoken with a number of people in my own ministry area who have not even heard of this new movement. So I share so that others may hear about it. 

I also share that I will be present in November so that if any readers of this blog are present, I would love to meet you and thank you for supporting this little blog and I want to hear what God is doing in and through your life. 

Bad for Your Diet, Great for Spiritual Formation?

For a myriad of reasons, humans are not very good at imagining their future selves. For many aspects of life this creates a problem. For instance, if we indulge in the delicious double chocolate cookies everyday then we may pay the price in the future when we are diabetic. Like water dripping on a rock, we are shaping our future selves with the actions of our present selves. 

While our inability to imagine our future selves can be a burden in some aspects of our lives, it can be a benefit when it comes to spiritual formation. 

Spiritual formation is often about encouraging us to trust the future so that we can live in the present. When we are fully present then we begin to do things that affect our future selves in ways that are helpful. For instance, when we are fully present to our neighbor when they are going through difficult times, we learn how to be still and listen. When we are fully present to our own hearts, we grow more at ease with silence. When we are fully present to the economic decision we make, we will begin to get a handle on instant gratification. When we are fully present, we will appreciate the amount of work it took to get those cookies to us and we might share the cookies with others. 

While it may be frustrating for financial planning, being unable to envision our future selves can be a great gift from God if we live in the full present.