LIFE Nuggets

The purpose of this blog is Essentially to Chronicle our personal faith journey and that of a place that we call LIFE House West. Why Life Nuggets? Because Nuggets bring to mind a sense of fun and enjoyment, show me a child who is sad when they get to eat chicken nuggets..... Things like life, and following Jesus should be fun and we want to explore those things in a light hearted and fun way, so please, enjoy...

Location: Hagerstown, Maryland, United States

30 years old, married, Father of four children (2 boys, 2 girls) 2 cats and 3 dogs (black lab, english bulldog, and pug)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finally Having Something to Say

It has been a very long time since I have written a note or blogged. Frankly I have been going through a quiet period. I have been weighing whether it i wise simply to write about things that I think about when wiser people than I have already written them. It smacks of vanity and I want to avoid that at all costs.

That said, an experience I had the other night I wanted to share. Sunday evening my wife and I went out for a little while to celebrate Valentine's Day and as is our custom we usually end up at Borders to look for books and get some coffee. Cindy went to her sections in the store and I went to mine. Upon meandering into the Martial Arts Section I found myself checking out some books on Shaolin Kung-Fu (insert Master Po reference here).

The books I looked at were interesting and had plenty to offer but something did not feel right about reading a book to learn a discipline that requires hard work and sacrifice to succeed at it. I put the books back and bought an anthology of Dr. King's work instead.

Monday comes around and as is my custom my son and I were at our Tae Kwan Do class and the day seemed as any other. Upon leaving I was still thinking of those Kung-Fu books, considering buying them again.

As I was about to leave the dojo floor another class was beginning and I waited for the class to bow in before leaving the floor (a traditional sign of respect). As I watched the class I saw the students of various ranks interact with their instructor and it hit me. No book on the martial arts will give you what you get by interacting with a teacher. No book can substitute for the fun of studying in community. You can read about the forms and movements of a martial art, even mimic the movements you see in the book, but it is not the same. It is artificial in some ways.

All of this lead me to think about this from the standpoint of my faith. You see, I read alot, I always have. I do not however, want to substitute my reading for what I do for Christ. This is a danger that we all face. Reading about the latest fad or trend can be interesting. Learning about the things and methods that other people use to plant or grow churches can be helpful, it just doesn't complete us. Far too often what we read (besides the Bible) gets treated as Gospel, when in fact they are just ideas that men have written.

There will never be a substitute for simply going out and living a Christ centered life. There will never be a substitute for living out that life in community with others who can help us do that better each day. Our faith is not a faith of theory, it is a faith of action. It is not a faith that is learned about by reading about someone's experiences. It must be lived by us, by me, by you.

So go live it, go live your story rather then just reading the story of someone else.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Merton Files Part 2

Welcome back for another LIFE Nugget. I am blogging from our meeting hall where I am currently watching over a prayer weekend. So far things have been great. It is cool to watch people come in and out of the building and spend time in prayer for themselves as well as for their neighbors. Seeing people engage in personal time with God is a beautiful sight to behold.

Now I find myself in a quite period where I am the only person here. There is a kind of sanctity in being alone in this building. It is quiet, a fortress against the business that waits outside. An oasis. Honestly I have needed this. It also brings to mind something that Thomas Merton said: "Solitude is not separation." The chance to be alone with God is great. It is calming and peaceful. However, we cannot forget the change to enjoy solitude should never separate us from a world that is lost an din darkness. We must go back into the world that we have left and share Jesus with others. Share our lives, our love and our faith with those that need it.

In silence and prayer we can again be filled with the Spirit of Christ so that it will overflow to others. Solitude leads to sharing.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Merton Files

In my last post I had mentioned that I was reading a book called "New seeds of Contemplation" by Thomas Merton. What a great read! In fact I have been reading it with a highlighter in hand as there is so much thought provoking material in this book. I thought that it would be fun to take some quotes and comment on them.

Here is the first one: "No man who ignores the rights and needs of others can hope to walk in the light of contemplation, because his way has turned aside from truth, from compassion and therefore from God."

We live in world that is choked off by need, drowning in suffering. Tragically we see those who follow Christ doing far too little to be the answer to someone's need. We are very good about debating what to do with need. We love to discuss what we would do about the need in front of us, but we never take the next step. I am not talking about global problems either. I am talking about the need and suffering that we see in front of us each day.

What are we doing to meet those challenges head on? How are we combating injustice and suffering right in front of us? Merton makes the point here that if we turn aside from being compassionate that we are turning aside from God. A very harsh charge to be sure, but one that I think we would do well to review.

How can you incorporate compassion back into our faith? Who can you bless that has nothing to give back? Showing compassion is showing the character of Jesus to a world that needs to see it.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Welcome to another LIFE Nugget. I cannot believe that it has been so long since I posted one. Man time flies! I guess it is all to easy to allow the craziness of life to become a distraction. In any event, I have been reading a book by Thomas Merton called "New Seeds of Contemplation." I have to admit that there is alot to digest in the pages that I have read, but it has me thinking.

Merton stresses that contemplation must be experienced, it cannot be analyzed. He does stress that the source for contemplation is connection with God. It is not just about looking inside yourself, it is about connecting with God. It is about finding Him in all situations both good and bad.

Finding God in all things is something that needs to happen in our lives. Far too often I think that reduce experiencing God to the well worn paths of what some call "The Christendom" model of church. While those things certainly have some role to play, they are not the sum total. We need to encounter him everywhere, to be aware of him all around us. It builds a depth to our relationship with Christ that we need today.

So why not take the time to look for God everywhere?


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iranians and Freedom

I have spent this evening watching the news. Seeing the video coming out of Iran, reading the tweets. Listening to all of the talking heads spin their points. What struck me in all of this is not the politics. Not criticism or support of our President, but the responses of the Iranian people.

They yearn for freedom. Many of the tweets now speak of how the protests have moved past the election results and this has become about freedom. They are defying their leaders and risking their lives for the chance at something new. Something different. It is amazing to watch. It moves me to pray as hopefully we all are for the Iranian people and their families.

It also reminds us that there are people in our world who are crying for spiritual freedom. There are multitudes who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We see them every day. We interact with them, shop with them, eat with them, work with them. How far do we go to introduce them to the Jesus we know? How bold are we in the proclamation of the freedom he brings?

Perhaps this is the time that we begin our own revolution and bring the freedom Jesus offers to others.

Via Revolution!

Friday, June 05, 2009


Welcome to another LIFE Nugget! I have been thinking and noticing that at times I tend to write nuggets that coincide with the sermon series. I am working to avoid that as it seems a bit tacky to me. So today we are going another rout. I was looking through some of my old books today. Now mind you I have sizable collection of books at my disposal. One set in particular is very special. They are sets of the classics that my paternal grandparents used ot get for me every Christmas while they were still living.

I was looking through them and I found a book of poetry. I am ashamed to admit it, but up until tonight I had never really opened it. Tonight I did and after thumbing through the pages I found the following poem by Emily Dickenson.

"I shall know why, when time is over,
And I have ceased to wonder why;
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky.

He will tell me what Peter promised.
And I, for wonder at his woe,
I shall forget the drop of anguish
That scalds me now, that scalds me now.

I read this and it got me thinking. In these words I see hope. It is human to wonder why things happen. It is even human to allow things that happen to steal our relationship with God. Sadly many have. However, here I see the words of a person who even in the midst of challenge allows hope to stir in the midst of anguish. A hope that trusts that at the end, all our "why" questions will be answered.

I personally like the idea of Christ coming and explaining things in the"fair schoolroom of the sky." Not only is it beautiful imagery, I think that it conveys the patience and love that Christ has for us. That he would be willing to take the time to help us make sense of the the challenges we face in life. Trusting that God will in the end work his purposes for Good gives me hope. It comforts and encourages me.

Which leaves me to ask a question. Do you have hope? Do you trust that in the end God will reveal his purposes? Do you have hope in Christ that one day the "drops of anguish" which scald your life will be forgotten? Allowing that hope to grow inside of you may be a great idea. Why not give it a try.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unleashing Your Inner Monk

Here we go with another LIFE Nugget! This Sunday we begin our new series, "Unleashing Your Inner Monk." The idea may sound strange, I am even going to wear a monk robe to church for a while. It may seem strange of perhaps even silly, but there is a method to my madness.

I have spend a great deal of time researching the roots of Monasticism in Christianity. I have come to some conclusions:

First, while monasticism may some association with ascetic practices, it is not all about torturing yourself.
Second, monasticism is not totally about hiding from the world, it can be about engaging it.
Third, monasticism is about saying that the status quo of life is not acceptable.
Fourth, monasticism is about showing our world that there are better and more important things to live for.

Personally I find these ideas very attractive. I love the idea of rejecting status quo and doing things that are counter intuitive, edgy, and sometimes, anti establishment. I like the idea of saying that where I am in my spiritual life is not good enough. I like that idea of pursuing God radically. I like the idea of living a life devoted to the sermon on the mount. Those ideas are very powerful, dangerous, counter culture, concepts that Jesus gave us to show the world how to live life as a revolutionary.

The journey of unleashing my inner monk has been a long and drawn out process. It is something that I am still working on. I do not have all the answers but am thrilled with the chance to explore, to learn, and to grow. So why not come with us on the journey and unleash your inner monk.