Monthly Archives: March 2013


You Only Live Once

Go on the mission trip, You Only Live Once!  Go talk to that boy, YOLO.  Go ahead and eat that seventh cookie – YOLO.  Stay up late and watch that movie – YOLO!  Com’on, try it – YOLO!  Dance – YOLO! Come on, out run the police, after all, YOLO!  Go ahead and take it – YOLO.

I see and hear this little phrase everywhere.  Literally everywhere outside of my home.  And it intrigues me.  Actually, it reminds me a lot of a saying I learned in history class, years ago.

“Eat, sleep, and be merry, for tomorrow, we die.”

I think it was Roman; I haven’t covered the Roman bit of history recently.   But I know it’s how they lived their lives.

Which brings up the thought – will history say that we, twenty-first century America – lived by the mantra YOLO?  Will it be the correct answer to a multiple choice question on some kid’s history test a thousand years from now?  Will it be painted as a good thing or a bad?

Sorry, back to the point.

YOLO has two sides.  The common one is selfish.  It thinks along the lines of, Well, I’m only going to live once, I only have so much time on this earth – so, WHY NOT!?!  Good question.  Why not jump out of a plane?  Why not talk to that cute boy?  Why not just take the cute skirt you don’t have money for?  Why not stay out past your curfew?  After all, YOLO!  Live it up!  Make sure your life is full of excitement and stuff YOU like to do!

The other side of YOLO is rarely looked at.  And, of course, it’s the side that God invites us to.  It’s a much less selfish side, and yet much more thrilling, satisfying side.  It’s the side that remembers the One who gave us this life to begin with.  It’s the side that is willing to listen to His voice, and His encouragement.  It’s the side that is willing to instantly obey – whether or not what He’s inviting you to do makes sense.  And that’s the fun part.  Because we lowly humans DON’T see the whole picture, often what God asks us to be faithful in, doesn’t make sense.   But if we’re willing to live our lives in ways that glorify Him, in ways that are more about Him and less about us…crazy things happen.  Like Him asking you to go on a year-long missions trip INSTEAD of doing your junior year of high school.  Like Him givng you the chance to take a trip to Ecuador, pretty spur-of-the-moment.  Like talking to the guy on the corner and being a bit late to your appointment.  And while it all might not make sense, that’s okay.  Who wants a life that is completely safe and predictable anyway?

You don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be using the phrase YOLO!  (Woh, your mind just got blown, I know!).

So – go and live YOLO.  Go live like there’s no tomorrow.  Be a big tipper.  Be extra understanding.  Take a chance and talk to the cutter, or the boy who acts as if he’s better than everyone else, or the girl who just blends in.  Challenge the people around you to live as if they were a reflection of Christ, because they actually ARE.  Go do whatever it is He is asking you to do right now – whether it’s being faithful in your current place (job, student, a friendship, a relationship, or something else all together), or talking to a group of people, or jumping out of a plane.

But whatever you do – remember that YOLO only works if it’s done for God and His glory.

[If I were a teenager, I’d probably come up with some fun, short way of saying that – like,  YOLO – FoGG!  (You Only Live Once – For God’s Glory!).  But that might be a bit too Christian-y.  I suddenly see it on t-shirts and on those rubber bracelets that were so big five years or so ago.  No thank you.  We get too comfortable with words on t-shirts and bracelets, and then we forget them.    Sorry, not the point.]

Go and live your life in a YOLO sort of way, with God at the dead-center of that life.

   Just around the Bend


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March 22, 2013 · 2:49 pm

Tips of Green

I drive the interstate a lot.  It drives right through Denver, and so when I want to get somewhere across town, or in the mountains, it’s usually the fastest route to take.  Sometime this winter I noticed a couple burnt patches by the road.  My guess is there was a small fire of some sort, probably from a wreck.  Those patches stand out against the rest of the brown, dead weed covered side of the road.  Black, barren, a blank slate, nothing there.

It snowed this last weekend.  It was a pretty big storm – the type that if you just moved here from California you might call a blizzard.  If you’ve lived here for a couple years, it was simply one of the biggest storms of the year, not a blizzard.  The snow was wonderful – big, feathery, wet flakes that gave relief to our very dry, cracked ground.  We needed the moisture desperately.

And, in true Colorado fashion, the only thing that remained three days later was a dirty clump of snow here and a forgotten pile there.  It’s pretty much all gone, melted away, soaked into our ground or re-evaporated back into the atmosphere and now floating over Nebraska or Kansas.

So our roads are clear of slush and easy to drive again, which was nice for my drive last night.  I was headed west, up the interstate and into our mountains.  Since it’s Lent, and I’m not listening to music in my car, I was doing what I should do more often – praying.

And I noticed the bare patches were no longer bare.  There was a very light covering of green over them.  I realized that Spring was coming (YAY), but more importantly I realized that the green was probably under the still brown, brittle, dead weeds too.  But I couldn’t see it because of the weeds.

Which, of course, got me thinking.  I think sometimes God allows us to go through the fires so that we can see the growth He’s been nourishing in us.  I think sometimes He allows the old stuff to stick around and cover up what He’s doing so we don’t get in the way.

Either way, He’s God, and growth is occurring.  Growth (like spring) is a wonderful, dance-inciting thing.    So if you feel like you’re going through a fire, rejoice.  You’ll soon see growth.  If you feel like nothing’s going on in your life and you have a lot of extra stuff hanging about – dig a bit.  I bet down, buried under all the leftover junk, are little tips of green, growing up ever so steadily.


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Warts an’ ALL

Growing up, I wasn’t the most athletic of children.  I played a little intramural volleyball and basketball in elementary, but that was mainly for something to do.  I took ballet class for six years and always was in the back line during performances.  I took swim lessons for two years.  But my lack of athleticism was NOT due to any physical ailment (other than being extra chunky, which DOES make moving quickly hard).

So when I started walking with a limp in fifth grade, it was a bit surprising. Truth is there was a lump on the bottom of my foot.  And every step I took hurt – hurt like little ember of fire had embedded itself in the ball of my foot.  So I picked at the lump, trying to get it out.  But it only got larger, and hurt more.

Eventually I convinced my mother to take me to the doctor.  The doctor took one look at my foot and said Plantar Something-or-the-other.  Basically it meant warts.  And they were the kind that if you pick at them, they get deeper, bigger, spread …well, they get worse.   A lot worse.  So the doctor put a bunch of painful chemicals on my foot, mummy-wrapped it in tape, and told me not to get it wet for a while.  And then to come back in a few weeks to do it all again.

I really kinda hoped after the first time that I wouldn’t have to go back. The chemicals hanging out on the bottom of my foot turned the burning ember of fire that had permanently embedded itself into the ball of my foot into a raging inferno.   Walking became hard work.

The second time around didn’t hurt any less, but it also didn’t hurt anymore either.   This time, however, the chemicals worked.  After a couple weeks, the wart that was the size of a nickel by that point, literally popped out of my foot.  It was so gross and cool all at the same time.

But I’ve been thinking recently…my wart experience was a lot like sin.  It starts small – so small you might not even notice it. And then it grows.  And then you notice it, because it’s become painful (thank God).  And then you try to get rid of it on your own, and then it continues to grow.  So, then you go to the doctor (aka God) and He puts chemicals on it, and it hurts SO MUCH WORSE…or you notice how much it has permeated your life…or it feels like all of a sudden it’s such a bigger deal in your life than it was before, and you wonder why.  But eventually, when you allow God to do what He needs to do, it “pops out”.

Now, really, sin rarely just “pops out” of your life, but it DOES become manageable, and eventually, with God as your focus (NOT the sin), it will be conquered.


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I’ve had this thought before, so maybe I’ve mentioned it before.  But it’s been on my mind again, so I’m mentioning it again.  And, actually, it’s not even an original thought I had – totally read it in one of C.S.Lewis’ books.  Not sure which one.

But it’s the idea that we’re immortal.  All of us.  Each and every one.  Which, okay, if you’ve been around the Christian world at all, this doesn’t surprise you.  You might not have thought about it that way – parents are all the time telling us we’re mortal, not to do something stupid and kill ourselves.

But, the fact is, the important part of you – the spiritual part – is immortal.  That part of you WILL go on forever.   And that part of everyone else will do so as well. Of EVERYONE else.  Sure, your Mom.  Sure, your best friend.  Sure that cute boy.  But also that girl who glares at you in math class.  The annoying little brother who got peanut butter on your favorite shirt.  The girl who just rubs you the wrong way.  The girl you think is as fake as they get.  The girl who wants your boyfriend.  The girl who hurt you so bad you make sure that every day she knows the pain of what she did.  The ex-boyfriend that you broke up with over text.

They’re immortal too.

Which means that sure, at the end of the school year, when they leave the office, when you move away, you might never see them again, and then you don’t have to deal with them…IN THIS LIFETIME.

But guess what?

Guess who else ALSO has the option of going to heaven?  Yep.  Your mom, your best friend, that cute boy, the girl who glares at you in math class, the annoying little brother who got peanut butter on your favorite shirt, the girl who hurt you so bad you make sure that every day she knows the pain of what she did.  All of them.

So you get to ‘deal’ with them in heaven, in ‘paradise’…FOREVER!!!  No escaping.  No avoiding personality quirks.  You get to deal, head-on, face-to-face.  You’ll have time to tell them every little thing they did that hurt you.  And they’ll get to do the same back.

Kinda scary, if you ask me.

Now I realize the easy thing is to think that they’ll end up in hell while everyone whom you enjoyed will end up in your corner of heaven…but that’s not necessarily the case.  The Bible says we’ll be surprised who’s in heaven and who’s not.  So never assume you won’t have to deal with someone for eternity.

Think back over your last encounter with the little brother, with the girl who is fake, the girl who is so full of herself.  How did you treat them last?  (Notice I didn’t ask how they treated you?  That’s not up to you; you’re not responsible for that.)  Did you show them the love of God as we’ve been commanded?  God sees their value along with yours.  You don’t get to treat them any less loving than God does.   What happens if the next time you see them IS in heaven…when you have all the time of eternity just to sit and chat about life, about how you treated each other, about all the stuff you’re avoiding right now.

So treat each other with the dignity, respect, and love God calls us to.  Talk about the things that are coming between the two of you NOW.  Ask God to give you HIS eyes for the person you can hardly stand to be in the same room with.  Who knows, but they might be the first one you see in heaven.

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