Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photo Challenge

I've taken up the photo challenge for this week that Kristy proposed on her website. One of the first things I realized was that there is a lot more beauty in the world if I actively look for it. The second is that I couldn't take a photo of the many things I wanted because I was in the car driving. I realized that I spend way more time in the car than out and about on foot. That's a sad reality. I wish I lived and worked in the same place, but I don't. And I wish that I lived in a walkable city, but I don't. But that's what I love about working in Downtown Fullerton: Many weeks I get to stroll around the city, but not this week (so far). Anyway, here are my photos by day:

Day 7, Fullerton: Once a year in January, our church gets temporarily displaced from our usual worship space at Wilshire Ave. Looking to try something new, we decided this year to meet atop Hillcrest Park, in a rustic log cabin decorated prominently with a big American flag and game trophy throughout (hey, there's one behind Art our bass player!). Despite the rain and unfamiliar surroundings, we had an great time discussing and praying about what God is doing in our midst, and had a wonderful lunch together. Proving once again that church is not about a building, but about the heart of its people.

Day 6, Long Beach:
Every wedding is lovely in its own way. This picture was taken at Dorene's co-worker's wedding reception on Saturday. However conscious the bride and groom may or may not be of God's presence, there is no union between a man and woman which does not somehow, often miraculously and beautifully, reflect the glory and image of God.

Day 5, Fullerton: There is something to be said about a sense of place. Today, I showed a friend around town, first having lunch at Rialto Cafe down the street, then a walk over to PAS Gallery to meet Brian. It's good to be proud of the city you're a part of, good to feel the energy of it. There's been no more special place for Epic than the corner of Wilshire and Pomona. Our promised land where God has settled us.

Day 4, Diamond Bar:
I like the various meanings of this sign. The obvious one alerting motorists to children crossing. But I also like the fact that children represent hope...of what is good about the future, and the call to care and nurture these precious ones. I think about the children in our kids ministry at Epic, for instance, and smile because of all the good they will bring to the world because of their hearts, their enthusiasm, their creativity. The sign also makes me think of our JOYA Scholars too, kids who may be lacking some resources but who are nevertheless bucking all odds to get ahead, working to create a better future for themselves and their families. Maybe it's a call for all of us to heed who is ahead, to make an investment in our future by loving a child.

Day 3, Diamond Bar: The day after Obama's State of the Union address, this flag standing beside barren trees seemed an apt description of how many people feel about the state of their lives and the economy.

Day 2, Chino Hills: Rows of empty carts. It made me think of two things: 1) the hope that more people are shopping locally at farmer's markets, and 2) of all the people in countries around the world with empty stomachs.

Day 1, Diamond Bar: I took this near South Point Middle School while waiting to pick up my son. The sun was so bright shining over the canyon, a beautiful open space.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Contentment Challenge

So one of the challenges I've made for myself in the new year is NOT to buy any new clothes or shoes for 2011. I realize this might not be such a big sacrifice for some of you (say for instance, a certain P.Erin?). But if you know me, it's going to rob me of some quantifiable joy! (Sad, I know.) It's part of an attempt to live more frugally and save money where I can, but mostly part of a conviction that has grown out of something I preached recently from 1 Timothy 6:6-8

1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
A life structured around Jesus + contentment = great gain in things that matter; where "contentment" equals food and clothing.

I need to learn contentment. And the Apostle Paul says if you have food and clothing, that is enough. In my mind, that's hardly anything. But I suppose that's the point. I have so much already. Clothes and then some. So I'm up for the challenge.

One thing I can say is that I live consistently by the one-year rule: If I don't wear something within a year, I get rid of it, donate it. I had practiced the one-year rule after Christmas and cleaned out my closet prior to making this commitment, so my wardrobe is lean and mean, by my standards anyway. But even with that, the real truth is I still have plenty to wear for the year. It won't be easy, but I'll have to be content with that.

Anyone have their own contentment challenge? Anyone want to join me in a clothing fast for 2011?

Wish List

Here's an uplifting way to start the New Year. I'm not yet 50, but P.Ken of Evergreen Baptist Church posted a link of this Huffington Post article on his Facebook page: "12 Things I Wish I Knew at 25: Spiritual Learnings on My 5oth Birthday" by Rev. James Martin, a Catholic priest and author. Not sure why 12, but it's a really good dozen, and worth repeating and sharing if you haven't come across it already. Read it at any age since these lessons come hard, but especially if you're 25.

Anyone 50+ or pushing 50, what would you add to the list? Share your wisdom with us!