10 Ways to Simplify Life

Life usually doesn’t fit into nice neat little lists, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. Welcome to my Tuesday 10, where I try to fit the messiness of life into a list of ten.

If your life is anything like mine it is probably hectic and messy. And it runs the risk only of getting messier. Here are ten ways to simplify life.

1. Don’t buy everything you want.

2. Realize that if you take on a new hobby, interest, or commitment you’ll probably have to drop a different one.

3. Tell the truth, even when it sucks.

4. Love people to a fault.

5. Trust your gut.

6. Pay off and cancel your credit cards.

7. If you don’t use it, or need it, give it away, or throw it away.

8. Say no often, and mean it.

9. Don’t procrastinate.

10. Realize that some things we see as choices are really not choices at all. They are just humanity’s way of trying to rationalize our own selfishness.

Expectations

We have too many expectations. I believe that for some, it almost cripples their faith. We are taught to expect such and such from God based on a variety of factors. We are taught that if we apply X amount of faith to Y we will receive Z. This is a recipe for both disappointment, and some terrible misconceptions about God.

Let me be incredibly clear here. God doesn’t need you, or I, or anyone else. He doesn’t need our prayers, He doesn’t need our worship, and He most definitely doesn’t need our help; but that does not mean that He does not desire them, or that doing those things does not help us. Worship, prayer, and spiritual discipline help us tremendously, but only because they soften our heart enough for God to mold it without affecting our free will, not because it positions us closer to “a blessing.”

Sometimes I feel like that we evangelical Christians have turned Jesus into a slot machine savior. We offer a token prayer, insert our coin, and pull the lever; waiting for the holy signs in our life to line up just right to read JACKPOT. Sometimes something incredible happens, and like a gambling addict we go back to serving up our approximation of praise so that we might somehow profit. This leads to a perplexing emotional roller coaster that is mentally, physically, and spiritually unhealthy. Because inevitably, when the results aren’t what we were expecting we are met with colossal disappointment.

Again, let me be clear. When God chooses to do something in our life, whatever way it may come to be, it is because He, and only He is good. If you have come into a financial blessing, it’s not because you were a good little tither and wrote your check for your ten percent. It is because God’s resources are unlimited, and He will bless, who He will bless. If you were sick and He made you better, it’s because it somehow fit into His sovereign plan, resulting in His glorification.

My son is now at the age, where he undoubtedly knows mommy and daddy. He giggles more, smiles more, and jabbers more, with us than he does with anyone else. Why? Because at this stage, all he knows is unbridled affection for those that he loves. He has basic needs, but no contemplative concern for how those may be met. He has wants, but no assuming nature. All he has for mom and dad is an unfettered innocent love. He expects us to take care of him, in as much as his developing mind can comprehend such a thing, but he has no cognitive capacity for the details, nor does he yet have the mental faculty to formulate a cockamamie plan for producing those details.

Why aren’t we like that? Why can’t we simply be satisfied with letting God be, and expecting that He has it all well in hand. The simple fact of the matter is that whatever your issue, desire, or need may be–God is already there, Has already been there, and in fact is still there. Time has no affect on the immutable Creator. The day of the week does not alter His proximity to your life, anymore than your haircut, or the decibel level of your singing does.

Some of us really need to bring our expectations back into check. I know I do. We need to do good for the sake of honoring our Heavenly Dad and loving the people around us. That’s what He expects from us. Stop sweating the details, stop assuming we can help, and especially stop expecting Him to fulfill our expansive spiritual (or literal) wish list.

God is. That’s what He told Moses on the mountain. That alone should be enough. Anything else is the gift of a good Father to His beloved children.

GO12: The Most Important

In this final trailer for the GO12: Santo Domingo documentary, Daniel Andrews captures an entire week of outreach in just under five minutes–helping us all to realize how the most important thing really is giving your time, energy, and heart to helping others realize the beautiful love of Christ.

 

GO12: Trailer – Leaving

Daniel and I have been working on a short film documenting our recent trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for over a month, and it is almost finished.  We recently screened the nearly completed version with a few people who went on the trip and it was met with a warm reception.  We are excited about getting it out there for more people to see.

Written by Grant Jones one late night in Santo Domingo, this trailer captures the heart of what the film is about, leaving.  I hope you enjoy the trailer.

10 Reasons Why I’m Voting for Romney

I’ve known Skot Covert for several years. In all the time I’ve known him, he has been politically active. In fact, his interest in politics extends well beyond the day he first came to Arkansas Tech University. I’ve seen him grow into an incredibly bright young man, full of faith, and integrity; and although I’m not a Republican, I am a conservative. Skot is the kind of young man that gives me hope for the future of conservative America. When I asked him to write this guest blog this week, he graciously accepted, in spite of a rigorous travel schedule as the newly elected Vice Chairman for the College Republican National Committee. Skot is also the current Chairman of the Arkansas Federation of College Republicans. These are ten reasons why he is voting for Mitt Romney, and thinks you should too.

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1. Youth Unemployment – In 2008 Barack Obama earned the support of Generation Y, with 66% of young Americans (ages 18-25) supporting then Senator Obama. Coming out in massive waves, America’s youth were mesmerized and strongly committed with the idea of electing Barack Obama. Now, this same generation faces the highest youth unemployment rate since the great depression at a staggering 16%, which is double that of the national average. Furthermore, 1 in 2 recent college graduates are unable to find meaningful employment. Four years later Generation Y is asking “why?” Why did Barack Obama not deliver on his promise of hope and change? Why did Barack Obama let us down? Why should we give President Obama another chance? Why?

2. Supreme Court Appointments – In the coming four years there will likely be multiple vacancies on the country’s highest court. A position on this bench is a lifelong appointment, which guarantees that whoever is chosen to serve will likely rule on very importance cases. Even this year alone the US Supreme Court made some very historic decisions, that from my conservative viewpoint, didn’t happen as I would of hoped. For example, Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was ruled constitutional on a 5-4 vote.

It’s my belief that when these vacancies are to be filled, Governor Romney will appoint true conservatives and strict constitutionalist to the high court. If President Obama is allowed to make more appointments, we are assured decades more of a SCOTUS with a strong left leaning.

3. National Debt – When campaigning in 2008, President Obama promised to cut the national debt. It has since then doubled and is currently at 15 trillion dollars, correct, TRILLION with a “t”. The cost of President Obama’s out of control and irresponsible spending practices will be placed on my generations tab.

Governor Romney has a proven record of cutting spending and not spending more than what is taken in. Our country is desperately in need of a President with experience in balancing a budget. Governor Romney’s experiences as Massachusetts governor coupled with his record as a successful businessman more than qualifies him.

We have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in. Governor Romney has a record of embracing this fundamental building block that thus far, has made our country a great one.

4. Experience Matters – Being president is no easy task. There is absolutely no room for on the job training, which is what Barack Obama demanded. Formerly serving as a US Senator, he had only been exposed to one branch of government. The pace in the US Senate is, frankly, slow. Not acting on much legislation and only having to make an up or down vote.

Being President requires one to make decisions, often times hard decisions. Mitt Romney’s experience as a governor has prepared him to lead and to make the tough decisions that confront the issues our country is facing.

5. Because Barack Obama Said So – On February 2, 2009, referring to the economy and the stagnant job market, President Obama said in an interview with the Today Show “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Mr. President, it’s been three years. 23 million Americans are still unemployed. Time’s up.

6. High Expectations – John F. Kennedy sought to send an American to the moon. Ronald Reagan wanted to tear down the Berlin Wall. What’s the goal of our nation today? What direction are we working towards? I’m afraid there isn’t an answer to this. Our President has disappointed Americans, much less inspire us.

Governor Romney has a vision for America. A vision that embraces freedom and prosperity that will allow for innovation, job creation, medical breakthroughs, and restoring faith that the American dream is still alive and well today.

7. Timing – Every few decades, turns in the business cycle, changes in culture and policy mistakes conspire to make us question ourselves. Is the “American dream” still alive? After 200 years, is our country finally in decline?

In 2008 our country was facing some very serious problems. We looked to the untested, brand new freshman Senator from Chicago to show us the way. Four years later, we are much wiser. We now know the “Chicago way”, and it’s not the “hope and change” that it was hyped up to be.

Our country is in a desperate need for a turnaround. There is no better-qualified politician in America to execute a turnaround than Governor Romney. It’s what he has done his whole career.

8. His Faith – Yeah, that caught you off guard didn’t it. You thought I was embracing Governor Romney’s Mormonism as a reason to support him. Well, frankly, kind of. Governor Romney has been faithful to his wife, a great father to his many sons, and never once has be been accused of any scandal. He is a man of integrity because of his faith, not in spite of it, and if he makes it into the Oval Office, we’ll know that his values are grounded in something far more profound than political expediency, opinion polls, or purely personal philosophies.

9. Fundamental Differences – The two candidates for president have very fundamentally different opinions on the role, size, and scope of government. I personally believe that government should be small because the people know best how to live their lives, spend their money, and make decisions about their family. The government only complicates this. Whether it be choosing health insurance or not, choosing which school to send one’s children to, or what kind of vehicle to purchase, the government should never be the middle man standing in the way of the people, ultimately hampering potential prosperity.

Governor Romney believes in a small government. One not of regulation, but one that rewards success. He supports a smaller, simpler, and smarter government.

10. 58 States – In May of 2008, Barack Obama famously stated in a campaign stump speech that there were “58 states” in our union. If a sitting US Senator can make such a gaff and still be elected for his poor math skills, then I can submit this blog post with only 9 points. There are 10 points, that’s a joke.

Check out these links to keep up with Skot, as well as the College Republicans.
Website: www.CRNC.org | www.ArkCR.com
Twitter: @SkotCovert, @ArkCR

Protection

I am allergic to wasps. Not deathly so, not without a large number of stings, but I am allergic and tend to get quite sick when stung. Even so, when a wasp landed on my infant son today I swatted it away with my bare hand. Crushed it with my bare hand. Never once thinking about the potential consequences to myself. Why? My innate fatherly instinct to protect.

God instantly used this moment to show me a bit about Himself. He has that same instinct to protect those that belong to Him. This is where (good) parents get that instinct, having been made in the image and likeness of God.

God does not derive His sense of protection from an outside source. The desire to protect is not so much a thing He experiences so much as it is a part of His nature. In other words, just as mercy, love, justice, and goodness are part of His being…so is protection. Being in Him, belonging to Him, comes with it the requisite existence of supernatural protection. This is not to say that harm will not come to believers, anyone can realize that. This protection extends beyond the natural to the spiritual realm, although it does from time-to-time have natural repercussions in this life.

God’s ultimate protection is one where He keeps His kids close, in His presence throughout all of eternity. To cohabitate that great age of timelessness that our minds can’t quite comprehend. To be free from both the wages of sin, and the allure of sin.

The most incredible thing about God’s great protection is that He always knew the price for it. Where I reacted without regard for consequence in order to protect my son, God always knew the price that would be paid to reconcile our iniquity. Jesus is spoken of in Revelation as the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” Before “let there be light” or even “let there be” God was prepared to pay the price to protect His people. He created the system, the Law, that would need to be fulfilled, all the while knowing that it would demand death. Knowing only His death would undo that which we have, and continue, to do.

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises, or does it? As a movie, it is entertaining. As a Batman story, it borrows from so many different plot lines that it borders on convoluted.

The acting is great. The dialogue and direction are as good as you should expect from a Nolan film. The special affects are awesome with plenty of neat set-pieces and spectacular happenings. If you want to see a lot of violence, it’s there. If you want to see things blow up, you can rest assured that there are plenty of grandiose pyrotechnics. If you want to see a lot of Batman, expect to be disappointed. Ultimately, this is not a movie about the Caped Crusader. It’s a movie about a lot of different things, and Batman.

I am not going to offer any spoilers so this may read as a little vague, but I don’t want to ruin it for those yet to see it. There is just too much going on. There are so many players and so many story threads that by the time they all come together at the climax of the film, it feels more like a knitting experiment gone awry than a grand tapestry. I realize I am just one opinion, but when the final credits rolled it just felt lacking. It felt unfulfilled and flat.

I have been a Bat-kid as long as I can remember. I love the character, but ultimately this movie just didn’t do it for me.