Thursday, March 8, 2018

Being Present

  A few years back I did an internship at a hospital with the spiritual care team.  I was learning how to care for not only the patients of the hospital, but the staff also.  One of the themes of that summer for our group was the idea of being present.  How can we provide quality spiritual and emotional care if we are not fully present with the people we are with, but also with ourselves.   The themes of being present has come up for me in different podcast I have listened to and different conversations I have had.  Here are some things I am trying to put into practice. 

  The first thing about being present is not being so focused on what is next that we forget to be in the here and now.  I know growing up and working on homework, especially math, I get so focused on what the next problem was, that I forget to do the current step, or I would miss a few things because I was so focused on doing what was next.  Being fully present in the here and now means that we have the ability to look at and to know what is on the horizon, but it is getting things squared away in the here and now so that we can be fully prepared for what is next.  If one was called to be a doctor, they would not start their own practice until they have faithfully completed all of their training and passed all there test.  A lot of the time, being fully present in the hear and now will help us with future endeavors and relationships?  

  The second part of bout being fully present is that when we are not this, we are being disingenuous with the people we are with.  When we are in the same room with someone and we spend more time on our phone than building our relationship, it shows where our priorities are.  It could say that I really don't want to be here, or that Facebook drama/cat videos are way more interesting that you are.  It also means that we are a jerk when we do this because we find objects more gratifying than people.  I know there are times that we just need to check out and do something mindless, but if it is something we do constantly, there might be something wrong.  It also shows what we value.  Last night I got ice cream with a group of friends and it was so much fun that time flew by.  I made the conscience choice to not check my phone so I could be fully present with the group and we ended up sharing a lot of laughs and even a few shaking of the heads. 

  The third part about being fully present is this idea of communication.  How many times have you been accused of not listening, especially by your significant other.  Most of the time we can repeat what was said, but we are still missing the point.  Often times we are not listening because we are not getting the importance or the intensity of what is being said or not said.  I was with a patient one time and we were talking about how he was in the hospital and he couldn't make it to his sons funeral.  I could of told you the facts about our visit, but I wasn't hearing what he was truly saying.  He was truly sad that he couldn't be there even though there had been some family issues that hadn't been fully resolved. 

  The fourth part about being fully present is that our body language aides or hinders us in being fully present and engaged.  I know for me, how I am sitting and my posture plays apart of how engaged I am with the people I am with and how aware I am of my surroundings.  Body language also affects how other people see us and react to us and how they open up to us.  If you are much of a sports fan, there have been the athletes who have been tagged with not caring or not living up to their full potential because of posture, body language and facial expressions.  Two of the big names would be the quarterback Jay Cutler and current Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins.  With Cutler, he always looked to me that he was either having a bad day or that he would rather be elsewhere than where he was currently at.  The media likes to point out with Wiggins that he is extremely talented, but does he care enough to put in the work to use his talent to improve his game and to improve the Wolves.  How people perceive us may not always be accurate, but our bodily language and posture and how we present ourselves plays into how people perceive whether it is right, wrong or indifferent.

   The fifth part about being fully present is what we say non verbally.  I know this is very similar to the previous paragraph, but here me out.  We can say a lot by not saying anything.  Its really the idea of someone's silence being deafening.  We can say a lot by not saying anything at all.  Being fully present is not only knowing what to say/not say, how to say it, and when to say it/or just to keep our mouth shut.  We are always communicating through words, body language, actions and attitudes and this often affects how present we are with people.  I am sure I am not the only person to be in a room with someone and when someone else walks in, the conversation, tone and attitudes change on a dime for various reasons.  This change often forces us to make a choice on whether we want to stay engaged in the situation, check out or leave.  Just remember, being fully present and engaging the people we are with and situations we are in takes work commitment. 

   The last thing about being fully present is how much do we value other people and ourselves.  Do we really care what they are saying and going through, or are we just looking for the next big thing.  We can not worry about possibly missing out on something else that is more awesome that where we are at.  When we do this, we are missing out on the cool possibilities in the here and now.  When we are not full present, we are saying that the moment we are in, and the people we are with are not worth our times and that just makes a condescending jerk.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Wishing you were here

One of my favorite songs by Pink Floyd is Wish You Were Here and every time I hear it, I think of friends who are scattered across the country. Its more of me wishing we all could be together to at least share a meal together. As I did a digging, I found out the song was for Syd Barrett, who was one of the original members of the band, but left the band because he developed schizophrenia. The song was written because the band was wishing he was still apart of them and enjoying the success they were experience. This song has gotten me thinking and here are some very random thoughts that have transpired from this song.

Over the last year, there have been a lot of news coverage people committing suicide. It seems like this has affected people in every walk of life, and it doesn't matter the amount of success, money, or friends the person has, they think that suicide is the best option at that moment. It is hard to find someone who has not been touched by suicide in some way. It seems like the last two suicides I either heard or read about, the people were well loved, outgoing personalities and they seemed to have everything together and yet they are no longer with us. Here are some take aways that came to my mind, and I maintain my right to be wrong and if I am, hopefully and can not be so stubborn and learn a few things.

The first one is, the human body is a complex place. For as much as we know about our body and our brain, there is just that much more we don't know or understand. What causes some people to struggle with mental illnesses, and other people to be free from it. In a culture that searches for the cause and effect with everything, we have a hard time sitting with not knowing or what causes something. There are things that can be explained through exploring family genes, hormone levels, or life choices, but what do we do with that ambiguity of not knowing what the cause of depression or any other disease that is out there. I think there are two options, and the first one is that we can sit down and throw our hands up in the air and not care. This tends to be very apathetic response and probably not the best response. The second one is sometimes its about putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward and learning from our mistakes. It is dealing with things that come our way and finding a community of support to help us move forward.

The second thing is that there are times where we all feel down or alone. Whether its because one hasn't seen the sun in a week, or life circumstances. With living by myself in a one bedroom apartment, I can get this way. Its the I don't want to go home and be by myself, but its also a realization that I don't want to deal with people either because well people can be stupid (yes myself included). When this happens, I usually go to my favorite coffee shop to get my usual order and I plug in my ear phones and read or watch something online. The reality of this is that I don't like being along, and I don't want to deal with other people because than it can get messy and who really wants to get messy. This is why I think most of our conversations stay on the surface level. We are willing to talk about the weather or the local sports teams, but we tend to stay away from the things that divide such as politics, religion, or feelings because it just might take time, energy, and it will cost us something that we might not want to give up. Living this way will make us cynical, self reliant and a general pain in the butt.

   The third thing is that take time to carve out a community of people that you can do life with. When I am feeling down or self absorbed, I pick up the phone and call someone. There are those people we constantly think of and wonder how they are doing. Why not shoot them a text or phone call to see how they are doing. Also when you run into someone at church or at Wal Mart and there is the conversation that goes something the affect of we should get together for coffee sometime and then it never happens. When this conversation happens, pull out the day planner and offer up a concrete time to meet. The people who are serious about meeting will work with you to find a time that will work. Lets be intentional with our relationships, because if we aren't, more often than not, they will fade away. The second part of this is when people ask you how you are doing, dropping the non committed answers of "I'm here" or "just another day in paradise" often leads to a disconnect and maybe even apathy. I am guilty of using these phrases as much as the next person is, but lets be honest with our answers when we are asked how we are doing, and when we ask others how they are doing, lets mean it instead of asking that question as we are walking away from them.

   Here is a quick but important rabbit trail. I know in my life when I feel disconnected, it usually is a reflection of what is going on in my life with God or others. When I am feeling down, discouraged, or disconnected from God or others, is it because there are issues in our life that are not being taken care of. Is it a behavior that needs to start or to stop, a relationship that needs to be developed or terminated, a conversation that is needed or something we need to hear, or something that we need to grant grace to or seek forgiveness from. Feeling down or depressed could be from one of these things, or it could very well be something that is a medical issue and that it needs to be dealt with under the direction of your health care provider.

    Finally, find a group of people that you can do life with. Recently, I spent some time in the hospital with a nasty leg infection and I called a friend to talk, but it went to voicemail. I failed to mention that I was in the hospital, and when I got out and I told him what was going on, he chewed me out for not telling him what was going on. I went with the you never called me back, but that argument didn't hold much water. I encourage everyone to be vulnerable with at least one person in your life where you can challenge each other to grow, laugh and cry together, or just to call and to check in on each other. Its more than just sharing a meal together, but it is getting comfortable enough where you can share in life's joys, tears, anger, and general disconnect with life and God or each other.  This takes risk, and it is down right scary, because we are putting ourselves out there, but the reward is way better than the risk. If push comes to shove and you feel that you have no one to talk to or for support, reach out to me through my social media accounts or there is the national suicide hotline at 1.800.273.8255, or if you are social media person the #BellLetsTalk offers support. To finish up, you are created the Creator of the Universe and you were created in His image and that is pretty amazing in itself. Lets move from just wishing we were in peoples lives to making it actually happen, because going through life alone sucks and it would suck without you.

Friday, January 26, 2018

True Joy

  I recently read a collection of essays called Joy and Human Flourishing: Essays on Theology, Culture, and the Good Life.  The book is put together by Miroslov Volf and Eric Crisp.  Different theologians took a crack at writing on the subject of joy and look at from several different angles.  I am still wrestling with some of the concepts that the book presents. 

     The first premise that the book makes is that there is a difference between happiness and joy.  The biggest difference is that happiness can be very subjective and even very hedonistic.  In other words, what may make me happy can make other people sad or distraught.  The birth of my niece made me happy, but maybe for the couple who have struggled to have children or for the person who never had that opportunity, could lead to sadness and sorrow.  Happiness is an emotional response to what is being done to or for us.  Joy is different because it is often a response in spite of our circumstances.  It is a choice to be joyful, and often it is a supernatural response.  Reading through the book of Psalms, the different authors often find joy in God in spite of their world crashing down on them.  Psalm 46 is realizing when the world comes crashing down, our joy comes in the form that God is our protector, and He is our helper in our time of need.  Are we taking time to be still and to trust God, or do we want to fight our own battles and end up getting beaten up.

  Joy is also a choice that we make on a daily basis, and sometimes even a moment by moment decision.  In essence, are we taking time to be joyful, or are we content with being the Negative Nancy and not only ruing our day, but often we are ruing other peoples days also.  I have noticed when I am around people who are joyful, I tend to be joyful, and the opposite is also true.

  One of the things I realized is that since joy is a choice, we need to make good decisions to help sustain it.  Being around joyful people is only apart of it.  Looking at Psalm 42 there are some things that we can put into practice.  The first one is that our joy, whether it is genuine or fake, comes out of what we worship and what we desire the most.  True joy comes from longing and seeking after God through prayer, worship, and confession.  The second idea is that true joy does not gloss over sorrow, pain and heartache.  True joy does not minimize or make the issues into mountains, but it takes a look at those things straight in the eye and deals with them in healthy ways.  Whether it is talking it out, making life style changes, or even letting go of some non healthy relationships, true joy is finding ways to live healthy.  True joy gives us hope for tomorrow while giving us a reason to live to the fullest today.

  True joy is only something that can be given by God and it can not be manufactured.  Fake joy is a lot like fake/click bait news.  It may get us excited and stirred up for awhile, but its because it sticks us on a sugar high and we end up crashing hard with no real substance and we end up with cavities.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dearly Beloved

  The musician known as Prince has a well known song entitled Lets Go Crazy and it has caught my attention for several different reasons.  The first one is because it became the song that got played every time the Minnesota Wild scores a goal at home, and the second reason is for the opening line in the song.  It goes "dearly beloved we are gathered together to get through this thing called life."  What really is pulling at my heart strings is the phrase dearly beloved.  We just don't hear that phrase anymore unless one is at a wedding and maybe a funeral.  In two instances the Apostle Paul uses this phrase in reference to Philemon and Timothy, and it is sign of relationship and closeness.  I think there are several things we can learn about being beloved.

  We live in a time where we are encouraged to have many friends and to make connections with them.  I know with myself and if I were to take a look at my friend list on Facebook, it would not only be expansive, but with a lot of the people on the list, I can't remember the last time I talked with them, or even looked/wrote on their Facebook wall.  I know I am not the only person who has this issue.  The irony with social media is that we can communicate with people all over the world, but how often do we form and maintain meaningful relationships with anyone in our circle of friends.  Being dearly beloved means that we view people more than just a number, or what they can do for us, but it is seeing people for who they are as people for who they are and not what they can provide for us and our ego. 

  Another thing about being dearly beloved is that there is a level of intimacy with the people in the relationship.  Intimacy is about being open and honest with people.  Now I do admit that there are varying levels of intimacy.  We often don't share the same stories with acquaintances as we would with our best friend and or significant other.  When we are intiment with each other, it means that we are honest with each other and we tend to keep it real.  It is the ability to share truth with each other and not having to sugar coat it.  We should always tell the truth, but how many of our friends get the unfiltered version of it where we don't dress it up.  Being intiment with other people means that we don't hide anything, and that we are completely honest with each other and are willing to stick around for the good and the bad, because our intimacy is based on ones relationship with each other and with God.

   Being dearly beloved also means accountability.  As I have witnessed many weddings along with infant baptism/dedications, I have noticed everyone in the room has a special connection to the people in the ceremony.  I feel like when one is a dearly beloved, there is an element of trust and accountability. Whether its the accountability to come along side the parents to raise a Godly child to helping the couple remember and live our their vows.  As Paul wrote in his letter to Philemon, he encouraged Philemon to take Onesimus back, and not to treat him as a slave, but as a fellow worker in Christ.  Truly beloved not only treat each other with respect, but we make sure that wrongs are righted and that we care more about restoring relationship and growing in grace. When we take this approach to life, it often means sacrifice.  We are more concerned with glorifying God than we are having our own back scratched.

   Being dearly beloved also means that we right wrongs that have been committed.  Paul pleads with Philemon to not only take Onesimus back as a brother and fellow worker, but if Onesimus has any outstanding debt, to put on his tab.  Being dearly beloved means we do not let things fester and allow mole hills to turn into mountains, and vice versa.  Being dearly beloved means more than saying sorry or performing actions without meaning it, but it is fixing what is wrong and creating healthy boundaries within the relationship.  Being dearly beloved also means seeking out and granting grace and forgiveness.  These two things are a necessity to any growing relationship.  It is sometimes putting down our ego and seeking out people to make things right.  Now we can not always control their response or reaction, but we can control how we respond and our intentions going into the situation.  Humility goes along way, but this does not mean we need to be a push over.

  Finally, when I think of being dearly beloved, I think of communion.  It is a group of Gods people gathering around the table to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and that the tomb is now empty.  In my tradition, when we take communion, we are figuratively gathering around the table and partaking in the meal.  I know for me growing up, the kitchen table was one of the most intimate places in the house.  My parents spent many nights at the kitchen table with friends talking and playing cards with close friends as us kids played.  I went over to some friends house for Christmas Eve, and we ended up not in the living room, but around that table eating, talking and sharing a lot of laughs along the way.  I think that communion reminds us that no matter what the world tells us, we are beloved by God and that the church is more than just a place to sing a few songs and here a sermon.  Church is a place where family gathers to do life together, because  as a Christian, we are family encouraging each other to grow, along with celebrating the good times and praying with each other through the bad

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing- Vince Lombardi

  Our culture has two very distinct and polar opposites views of what being a winner is. The first one is that you are a winner for just showing up and participating. It is geared to make you feel warm and fuzzy and everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. The other view is summed up in the quote above. If you didn’t win, you came in last place. It is about doing whatever it takes to win and this mentality breeds the idea of it isn’t illegal unless you get caught, and even then it still might not be wrong. I think there is a third version of what it means to be a winner and it can be found in Deuteronomy 6. Deuteronomy is Moses farewell letter to the nation of Israel, and he is reminding them of several truths in this chapter.

The first truth is: that we need to Hear. Hearing is more than listening so one can respond to what is being said, but it is also dwelling and understanding what is being said. When we are listening to respond, we often make quick judgements, assumptions that are not always correct while sticking our foot in our mouths. Moses urges us to hear to understand because what he has to say is really important and life changing. There probably is a reason why the good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth.  Its so we can listen more and speak when needed.  Listening also means we hear and process through the tough stuff and that we don't make excuses and we own up to things that need to be owned up to. This allows us to hold on to Truth and to throw out the garbage that comes our way.

The second truth is: there is one God. No matter what our culture tries to tell us, there is only one God and that non of us are Him. God is the Creator of all things and we are apart of His creation. As hard as people try to play God and believe that they can do whatever they want, this is just simply impossible, because it will send all of creation into chaos. In all reality, God is the ultimate judge and jury, and at the end of the day, every person will be held accountable for what they said and done along with their attitudes.

The third truth is: keep it Simple. There is the KISS method of doing life, and it is keep it simple stupid. We trend to mess things up and God knows this, so He gave us a very simple rule and that is that we are to love Him with all we have. This means that God is the center of our lives and everything else will fall into place. It wont always be easy, but we do have a choice. Do we worship ourselves and watch our lives be miserable, or worship God with all we have. When we worship God in everything we do, this leads to the second greatest commandment, which is to love everyone who we come in contact with as ourselves. Our interaction with God will change us, and this means that how we see and interact with people will change to. It is seeing someone not as a pawn in some game, but as a child of the Creator of the universe.

The fourth truth is: to be Teachable. Nobody likes a know it all, and the chances of anyone knowing everything is slim to none. Being teachable requires a lot of humility, patience and putting into practice what one has learned. It also requires critical thinking, being able to discern actions and thoughts to see if they have merit our are a bunch of trash. It also is about finding someone who is worth while to learn from because we become the sum of who we spend the most time with and we let speak into our lives.

Winning is more than drunken tirades on the internet while trying to find tiger blood. In life there is scoreboard and its called eternity and it is for a really long time. To paraphrase what Jesus said, what good is winning here on earth if we loose out on the ultimate walk off, which is spending eternity in the presence and in relationship with the Creator of the Universe. The only way this is possible is if we accept Christ free gift of salvation and we live for God

Monday, November 20, 2017

Meeting with God

   A number of years ago, I went to a Tenebrae Service (it is a service held on Good Friday and is very quiet, somber and reflective in nature) and during the course of the service, I came across Psalms 24.  As I reflected on the passage, there are several key elements that I took away from that passage and I have been reminded of those as of recently.

   The crux of the passage for me is in verses 3-6 where King David ask the all important question of who can actually ascend the hill of the Lord.  What David is really asking is God really approachable and personable, or is God some sort of distant Deity that rules with an iron fist.  In the time of David, the thought of the day that the Deities of the day sat on top of the highest mountain ruling the earth.  So if people wanted to meet with the deity, they would encamp around a particular mountain and I would venture to guess that a few brave souls would try and climb that mountain to meet their god.  What David is telling us, is that not only God approachable and personable, but there are requirements to being in His presence. 

   The first requirement is that our actions do matter.  What we do and how we treat people is important to God.  I think how we treat people through our actions is important, because we can easily either degrade or uplift people by what we do to them or for them.  As important as to focus on our actions, we also need to be careful what we say.  If you spend any time on social media, people are quite vicious to each other.  Some of it is that there is a lack of accountability.  I can call someone a jerk on Facebook and have no fear of being punched in the face as if I were to do it in person.  So here is my question, do our words and actions build each other up, or do they tend to be sarcastic in nature and tend to tear people down or apart. What we do and say is a reflection of the condition or heart.

  The second requirement is that as much as our words and actions matter, our intentions matter just as much.  One of the things I have wrestled with is that is doing the wrong thing for the right reason still wrong.  I have come to the conclusion that it is still wrong just as doing the right thing for the wrong reason is just as wrong.  I know I have been guilty of this, it is dong something nice so that I might gain favor with someone or that it will get me out of some future trouble.  Our are intentions God fearing or self fulfilling.  To help decipher where our intentions lie, as who will be glorified the most, ourselves, others or God along with does it build people  up or bring them down.  Our goal is so that our actions and actions match up and this only can happen through God changing our heart.  Here is a good reminder. Our thoughts/intentions often leads to words, our words often lead to actions and our actions builds our character.  So if any one thing goes unchecked for a period of time, it can lead to some serious issues.

   The third requirement is that we be pure in heart.  This harkens back to the Beatitudes found in Mathew 5.  Being pure in heart is more than just looking the part.  It is more than showing up to church/small group along with doing and saying all the churchy things are important, but are we doing these things out of show or is it because we are the real deal.  When we do things for show, it eventually will catch up with us and our true colors will shine through.  In essence, sometimes faking it till you make it is still faking it no matter how hard one tries. 

    Being pure in heart often manifest itself in how we treat other people.  Are we people of our word and keep up what we promise to the best of our ability.  Do we honor our commitments in a timely manner while doing it to the best of our ability.  How do we treat others who honor who may owe us something?  Do we treat them with respect our do we gouge them for everything they are worth.  Being pure in heart is loving God with all we have, and letting Him transform us while loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Being pure in heart does not mean we are nieve or aloof. It means we take an honest look at life and where we are at. It also is knowing what we are created for and pursuing that while setting our hearts and minds to everything that is good, right, pure and just.

  The fourth requirement is that not all who wants to ascend the hill of the Lord will make it.  Whether the cost is to great, or we are being stubborn, or good ole apathy, not everyone will make it to heaven.  Even though God is a personable and not only wants to meet with us, but provides a way, not all will do it.  We are reminded at the beginning of the chapter that God is the Creator of all and all the earth belongs to Him.  We can not reach heaven on our own terms, because God is Holy, Just and Righteous, and our sin without the atoning work of Jesus wont get us into heaven.  Getting into heaven on our own is about as easy as getting into the Oval Office without the blessing or the invitation of the President.  The rock n world has made a keen observation about this world and eternity.  If there is a stairway to heaven and a highway to hell, this should tell us about the expected traffic flow to both places. My final question is this, are we Christians in name only, or are we becoming disciples, putting into practice what it means to love God with everything we have and loving our neighbors as ourselves day in and day out?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Picking up my cross

  In a previous post, I discussed some of my observations from N.T. Wrights book The Day the Revolution Started.  There is one thought that I didn't explore in the post because in all reality, it deserves its own post and I will try and tackle it today.  The thought is that when Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16, that if they wanted to follow Him, they needed to deny themselves and pick up their crosses.  This is a scary thought, not matter the time period, and what does it mean for us to pick up our cross and to bear it daily.  There are several implications to this phrase that scare me and here is the first one.

   The first implication is that the phrase "to pick up ones cross" has a totally different meaning in the first century then it does today.  The Romans were really good at finding gruesome ways getting rid of infidels and criminals.  The most gruesome way was the death by cross, because people died by suffocation when they were executed this way.  This means someone was going to die a long and painful death.  What made this phrase so revolting is that in the first century, you could find crosses up and down road with people being executed this way.    The imagery would of provoked great fear in to those who would of heard Jesus say those words and it is a realization that picking up ones cross would lead to humiliation, great pain, and eventually death.  What Jesus is really saying, is that following Him is not easy, pretty and it involves us dying to ourselves on a daily basis so that He may fully reign in us.  Essentially Jesus is drawing the line in the sand.  It is either our way or His way, and there is no middle ground.  Its an all or nothing type of deal and there are consequences for what we chose.

  The second implication that I realized is that as Americans, we don't handle death well.  Whether it is not talking about/to trying to put a positive spin on it or searching for the best medical attention we can afford or find.  In a book I am reading by Caleb Wilde, The Confessions of a Funeral Director, he makes the observation that when he is picking up a body from an institution for embalming, he is usually directed to the back door for pick up of the deceased body.  The  implication is that we like to hid death and if we hide it, that means it either didn't happen, or its not real or that we do not have to deal with it right now.  People deal with death in their own way, and I find some of them rather weird, especially in the planning of the service or at the funeral service itself.  In all reality, there are only two ways we leave this planet and the first and most popular one right now is by death. 

   The other part of this implication is that when we die to ourselves, it leads to a life better than we could have planned for ourselves.  In the spring time, if we want to see new leaves, the old ones need to die and to fall off either during the previous fall or during the winter.  But there always seems to be the pesky leaf or two that still holds on, and the only way it will fall off is if there is new life being coming in behind it.  In essence, if we want new leaves, the old ones have to die and fall off first.  This is the same way in life, we all want new habits, or a different outlook on life.  The only way this will happen is if we put to death the old, so we can have not only new life, but so we can have it abundantly.  To look at it this way, to die just to die is kind of pointless and maybe even a little vain, but are we allowing death to ourselves so that can shape us into the people He wants us to be. 

   The third implication is that picking up ones cross shows ones commitment level.  When Jesus tells His disciples and us for that matter, following Him is an all or nothing commitment.  We can not pick and choose what we want to follow or make some half ass commitment in following Him.  Jesus keeps it really real, and really simple.  To quote the movie Happy Gilmore, "Do you want a piece of me Bob" and Bob Barkers response is  "I don't want a piece of you, I want the whole thing." By the way, God is the same way, He doesn't want just a piece of us, but He wants all of us.  I know in my life, when I am not fully committed, I don't give it my all, and not only do I miss out on some really cool stuff, we are cheating God and others.  When we half ass it with God, we are really saying that we are either lazy, apathetic, or we are willing to only follow God on the parts we want to or until it gets rough.  In all honesty, we demand all of God, we demand all of other people, and yet we only require minimal effort from ourselves.  This does not seem right and it isn't

   The last implication is that in order for us not only to have eternal life, but a life worth living on this side of heaven is that we need to die to ourselves.  Are we willing to live our lives comfortably, or at be the king of our castle on this side of eternity and totally miss an eternity with God.  I get it, we all want to be like Sinatra and do things our way, but how often does doing things our way actually work out.  In my experience when we do this, our lives turns into a Michael Bay move with a lot of explosions, action, but the story line is lacking at best.  We have to be honest with ourselves and realize that most if not all of our ideas and motives are questionable at best.  Its really asking what is the point of having everything I want and or desire if it leads me to missing out on eternal life.  The last I checked, what God values is not only way better, but it is also better than anything this world has to offer.  So, how often are we picking up our cross and dying to ourselves so that we can seek Gods Kingdom and Righteousness first.  The last time I checked this needs to be at leas a daily thing if not a moment by moment decision,