Strike Beyond the Surface!

Recently in my Wing Chun group as the students were training with hitting pads, the lesson I emphasized was to hit beyond the pad; don’t just hit the surface!  I repeated over and over and then I had to demonstrate it for them to hit at the point that is beyond the surface.  When I showed them, they saw and felt the level of power that was generated, which had nothing to do with an increase in my musculature or pounding the surface harder.  It had to do with where I was focusing.  I recognized a target that I couldn’t necessarily see but perceived was there.  The tendency of the students was to simply strike the surface of the pad, which meant they were just hitting the lining.

I think we often tackle issues in life in the same way.  We are allured to hitting the surface issues of life, character and problems only because, frankly, that’s what we see in front of us.  We tend to focus on what are in front, but these are often not the critical matters.  When we target only the surface, we fail to realize that the main issues lie beneath.  And most likely, the deeply embedded issues fuel the problems and challenges we experience on the surface.  In other words, they are the roots of our difficulties.  How often do we struggle with the same marital problems, self-esteem issues, financial troubles, emotional ailments, etc. because we only hit the surface.  In the end, we run the hamster wheel of repeatedly and tiresomely attacking the surface matters and never really making a substantial dent in the root issues that allows us to triumph and move forward.

It reminds me of the lesson Jesus taught when he healed a paralytic (Mark 2:1-12).  When this physically paralyzed man was brought before him, he did something unexpected – he forgave the man’s sins.  A person looking on might think Jesus missed the point.  Obviously, this man’s problem was that he was physically incapacitated, so what he really needs are his legs healed.  Right?  Did Jesus not see that?  Or, perhaps Jesus saw something beyond the man’s problems on the surface; he saw the condition of the man’s soul and nature; he saw the man needed the healing grace of God for the restoration of his human condition, and the physical ailment was just a surface matter.  It was suspected back then in the Judaic religion that physical handicaps could’ve been judgments from God for sins in his life.  So by forgiving this man’s sins, Jesus met the spiritual needs of his soul and in turn restored also his broken body.

God is insightful and precise in targeting the real problems of our lives.  We think it’s financial.  We think it’s relational.  We think it’s circumstantial.  But really our issues are spiritual, and the spiritual affects all other areas.  God wants us to ask the spiritual questions of who He is, what He says and what He wants.  He wants us to address the conditions of our souls, our secret sins, and our relationships with Him (or lack thereof).  While we fret over troubles on the surface, God is like a fighting coach in our corner screaming at us to strike beyond the surface!  Don’t just hit what’s in front you!  Because unless you hit the real target, you’ll never knock out the challenge you’re facing.

Hugo: There Are No Extra Parts

I was pleasantly surprised by the deep philosophy of the Academy Award winning film “Hugo,” which directly applied to life!  It’s a kid’s story after all.  The story addresses the question of how does one deal with the harsh reality of loss and suffering, particularly for a young orphan.  What is a young boy living secretly in a clock tower of a train station with no family or loved ones supposed to do?  When a loved one dies at a premature age, what are you to do?

Hugo’s background as the son of a watchmaker (a trade of his father who apprenticed him) formed his worldview.  His worldview helped him to make sense of a tragic world.  Hugo’s father taught him that the world was like a large machine, perhaps like a watch, where all its parts had a purpose and no parts were extra or useless.  Hugo’s understanding of the world and life reflected the Watchmaker Theory of the 18th century philosopher William Paley.  The Watchmaker Theory explained the world was like a watch or an organism with various purposeful parts, interlocked and inter-worked together as a system to make up the greater whole – all the parts contributed to a greater function.  This conglomeration of purposeful parts reflects design.  The presence of design in the universe means there is a Designer.  That is, according to Paley, if you saw a watch and how all its parts were intelligently arranged to serve an overall function, you assume there was a watchmaker who made the watch.  You would not assume the watch happened by chance.  If the world is as Hugo viewed it, a world of design with purposeful parts, then there must be a Grand Designer.

Tragedy and pain can make life feel random.  It’s these troubling times that often cause us to ask “WHY?”  Because we are by nature purposeful beings, we look for purpose.  Why?  Because purpose communicates order.  We strive for order in our daily lives from how we dress ourselves to how we structure our day’s activities to how we plan our lives.  We are people who are wired for design.  But when sudden tragedy hits and deep, unexpected pain strikes, we feel as though life is not in order because pain feels destructive.  We feel chaos.  So we search for purpose in order to find order.  Hugo’s view reinforces the perspective that God does exist if we do assume the world is made by design.  And we may not be able to answer the question of why certain tragedies happen to us.  But like Hugo, we can find a measure of healing through discovering our purpose as a meaningful part in the grand design of this world.  Hugo found his purpose in being a redemptive agent to an elderly man who lived in a state of tragedy from lost dreams.

There is a difference between merely accepting tragedy, which would be the only thing you could do if you believed the world exists in randomness (and in an absurd reality), and seeking redemption in the midst of tragedy because you believe the world and its parts purposefully exist (and a Designer exists).  Hugo’s robust worldview of intelligent design not only formed the basis of his beliefs about the world but also was the framework for him to find healing and redemption as a part in a purposeful world.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Finding the Story that Makes Sense of Our Losses

“What’s your story?”  That was the only question a boy who lost his father in the 911 attack could ask in order to make sense of his father’s tragic death.

What is the sense of flying an airplane into a building to kill thousands of innocent lives?  What is the sense of such brutal hatred?  How would a young boy deal with the death of his beloved father who did nothing wrong to anyone?  Difficult times of loss force us to ask the sometimes dreaded question of why, because if we knew why it would offer us some measure of healing.  People are good at doing life, living out the Monday through Friday, making the money, buying the toys, and drudging through the mundane until something far from mundane happens that shocks our world.  Sudden, tragic losses always shake the orderliness and sensibility of our worlds.  In those times, we stop just doing and ask the crucial question of why.  And honestly, the direct, expository answer that explains reasonably why we went through something isn’t available to us (at least not now).  But we can find meaning to experiences, events and even regrettable choices within our overall story.

I think we look for stories in our lives and in the lives of others not just because they are nice sentiments, but because we find purpose through them.  Stories have a beginning, middle and end.  Stories go somewhere.  They string together the pieces of events in our lives and make sense of what may otherwise strike us as randomness.  The stories provide the overall arch to the happenings we experience.  The sense that there is a story helps us to understand that our successes and tragedies are not meaningless.  A story even gives us a sense that perhaps maybe someone is in control, that in the back of our minds and in the recesses of our souls, whether we subscribe to certain doctrines or not, we want to believe there is an Author.  Something inside of us tells us there must be one.

For this young boy in the film, he craved to hear other people’s stories because he was searching for his own.  What I appreciated about this film was the value it brought to sharing and hearing one another’s stories to be enriched by them and to help us learn our own story.  I think we do need to take more time to hear each other’s stories, to learn from the distinctions and fellowship in the commonalities.  We need more moments of sitting with each other over a cup of hot English tea to listen to the recent chapters we lived.  We need to call up the old friend to catch up on the last few years.  And sometimes we need to have parties where we can go over our table of contents and revisit our entire stories again from childhood because it’s likely we see something now we hadn’t seen before.  And what I loved most from the film was how there is often times a special person who intimately helps us realize our story but we may not notice that person having been there.  We all need that person.

As we celebrate and cry through others’ stories, it helps us to realize our own and to appreciate that every life is a unique story lived.  So don’t just do.  Live out your story.

Iron Man 2: How Does Knowing You’re Dying Lead to Self-Destructive Behaviors?

“What would you do if you knew this was going to be your last birthday?”  That was the profound question Tony Stark asked, which was the riddle that explained his self-destructive behavior in Iron Man 2.

Yes, this movie was criticized for being slower than the first installment, having less action and feeling slightly more boring with an anti-climactic final fight scene.  But as I recently watched this again for the second time and focused more on the character with less expectations for the action, I appreciated the question the story posed: what would you do if you knew you were dying?  For a millionaire playboy with a military grade super suit, he had a lot of options.  But the oxymoronic irony for Stark was that knowing he was dying led to self-destructive behaviors – drunkenness, lack of control, loss of judgment, brawls… and he was potentially harming others around him in the process.  The baffling contradiction is when people desperately attempt to feel more alive when faced with inevitable death through self-destructive activities.  It logically doesn’t make sense.  But when one is trying to grasp for life to escape the inevitability of death, logic is not usually at the forefront of a one’s mind.  It was like what Jack Bauer illustrated in 24, a dying man is a desperate man.

Being here in Hollywood at night-time, I see people lining up the clubs, coming out of limos, and screaming down the streets as they cheer and party.  Then, I also see young men in blazers urinating in open parking lots, young adults puking on the sidewalks, grown men fighting in the streets, and young girls in tight dresses urinating in our church driveway.  And that’s just what I see from the outside.

Stark reminded me of a young man who walked into our church service one morning after partying all night, was fully intoxicated and was ditched by his supposed-friends.  After the service, I spoke with him and he said with bloodshot eyes, “It had been years since I walked into a church.  I told myself I never would.”  I asked him, “What brought you in here today.”  He said, “Brokenness.”  There was a silence between us.  Then he said, “Brokenness brought me in today.  All this stuff that I do – clubbing, partying, drinking – it’s just stuff, you know, to cover up the brokenness.”

I believe the character of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 posed a profound philosophical question of humanity that is relevant to so many today: How do you live when you are dying?  It is an age-old question.  I think there are thousands of people in the world trying desperately to live it up – wanting to feel alive – because they sense the inevitable death within them everyday and they honestly don’t know what to do about it.  Unless we can resolve death, we are desperate people grasping for ways to feel alive but the measures we undertake are self-destructive ones.  These measures are self-destructive because they are not solutions to dying but are exaggerations of living, that is, extreme lifestyles to help us not feel like we’re dying.  When in reality, we know that with each passing birthday, we get one birthday closer to the last one.  The solution?  Stop trying to live it up and discover what it really means to have life.  Find the solution to death so that you never have a last birthday.

Every religion offers an answer for death but not all of the answers are the same, which is one of the reasons why it is superficial and folly to say all religions are the same. Assuming that there is an answer out there, it is crucial to do due diligence in investigating the religions for what they are.  Feeling alive won’t stop death.  Actually finding life stops death.  John 14:6.

Fighting Well in Relationships

Sometimes when I counsel a person about relationships, two things tend to come out from the person: he doesn’t want to lose her but, darn, this is hard.  My general response is if it’s that important to you, you have to expect to fight for it.  The wonderful and beautiful things of life don’t come easily.  Superficial relationships are easy because you never have to fight for them.  They can come and go and wouldn’t phase you.  But it’s the truly significant, meaningful relationships that we put ourselves through the pains and aches of fighting for.  And I believe we do so, because we genuinely believe that we would rather spend a lifetime fighting for this person than to spend a life without that person.  I know it feels bad fighting with someone but it’s not so bad to have found someone you feel is worth fighting for.

A common counsel I give to couples is to learn to fight well.  Fights are guaranteed.  If you don’t fight, you’re not in the norm – not that it’s necessarily bad, but it’s not the norm.  If it is a significant, deep, and meaningful relationship, fights are likely because you put more of yourself into it, you invest more into it, you expect more out of it, you depend more on it, you hope more from it and you make yourself more vulnerable to it.

So fights are assumed.  I think the goal is to fight well.  One of the keys to fighting well, that I counsel couples on, is to redefine what it means to fight with each other.  Don’t fight with each other as in you’re fighting against each other (e.g. blaming, accusing, judging, demeaning, attacking); this kind of fighting uses the pronoun, “you” a lot – you did this, you don’t do that, I hate it when you say that, why didn’t you do that?

The redefinition of fighting with each other is where “with” means alongside.  Fight alongside each other.  There’s an issue between us – how can we tackle this?  We are all messed up to some extent.  We have our past, our insecurities, our quirks, and our brokenness that we bring into a relationship.  To be lifetime partners means: how can we fight with each other against the issues that we face and stand in our way?   Fighting alongside each other as partners uses the pronoun, “we” a lot.  It’s a shift in mentality where you don’t see the other person as the enemy or object of blame.  The other person is your soulmate, your partner… your batman.  Instead of fighting each other, fight the problem and don’t make each other per se to be the problem.  Fight the insecurities in the other person, fight the inability in the other person to trust, fight the past burdens you both have carried, fight the poor communication…but fight against these together.

Fights can feel pretty bad at times.  But victories are always sweeter!  Expect to fight for the relationships, marriages, and significant others that are important to you.  I think this is one of the practical applications to the biblical virtue of love being patience (1 Corinthians 13:4).

When you got the fighting down, the other f-word is forgive.  Fight well, forgive generously.  In so doing, I think we begin to mirror and understand how God has been loving us.

Well, that’s my relationship hodge-podge for today.  Hope it blesses you.

Wins & Losses in Our Foster Adopting

My wife and I are in the waiting process to be finally certified as foster parents, and THEN we begin the wait to be matched with a child.  2 months passed between the last two appointments we had with our social worker and now it’s been another week and a half since our last meeting with her, which is supposed to be our last.  Now we wait for her finish up the report on us and see if we are certified.  Our social worker is great but this process feels like forever!  On top of us getting fidgety from waiting, we’re also nervous about losing the baby.

But that’s the risk with adopting through the foster system.  We want to meet a real domestic need in our country where children are removed from their parents for the child’s well-being and these children need parents.  But the court offers the birth parents a period to get their act together, whether it’s ditching the drugs or the abusive boyfriend.  If the birth parent does all she is supposed to do according to court order, then she can get her baby back.  It would be heart-breaking for us I’m sure if that happened after having loved and parented a child for anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

But during our present waiting period, it has given my wife and I the time to refine the focus of our hearts in this foster adoption.  Our focus is one of grace.  It’s grace to the child if the child loses her birth parents and we are able to adopt her and offer her a family.  It’s grace to the birth parents if they earn the right to get their child back and we were able to care for their child and encourage them along in the meantime.  How can we not celebrate if we get the chance to permanently welcome a child into our lives for a lifetime?  But at the same time, how can we not celebrate if the birth mother overcomes some major demons in her life and achieves a healthy place to parent her own child again?  We have to see that the outcome either way will be a win.  The strange dilemma is while the outcomes are a wins, there is also pain in either outcome because it means someone has lost something whether it is us or the birth mother.  I think even if we were able to adopt the child permanently, my heart will still grieve for the birth mother who lost her child.  Is it possible to celebrate a victory and feel the hurt of loss at the same time?  Is it possible to feel like we won but there was a loss at the same time?  I think so.  It seems like a conundrum.  Mostly we think to put ourselves in a win situation and avoid the loss.  But I think when we strive to genuinely love and offer grace in the midst of brokenness, experiencing both win and loss is not uncommon.  The danger is in striving to live only in the win, we dismiss ourselves from exercising and experiencing real and profound grace.

Thank you for keeping up with us as we go through this foster adoption process. I will try to write more on it as we go through it.

Why Do We Keep Doing What We’re Doing Even When It Hurts

My wife and I have been going through a foster adoption application process (so we haven’t been certified yet but hope to be).  We’re part of a group of applicants going through the process, which involves taking classes.  In one of the classes, they brought in a guest speaker who was a veteran foster mom.  And by veteran, I mean she has fostered 43 children and adopted 4 of them.  Needless to say, all of us were astounded at the staggering number of kids she fostered, where she would’ve spent 6 to 18 months with a child.  In this class session, we were discussing the emotional difficulties of “letting go” of the child, which can be the case depending on court orders.  The tension is that to be “good” foster parents you’re expected to love and care for the child like the child is your own, but until the adoptions are finalized you may “lose” the child back to the birth parent at any time in the process.  For this particular veteran mom, it was not her intention to adopt all 43 children.  She fostered the other 39 kids because it was her intention to provide the foster care.

In the room of about 50 people, I raised my hand to ask the obvious question I believed was on everyone else’s minds as well.  “Since you’ve fostered a total of 43 children, how have you emotionally and personally dealt with letting go of the ones you didn’t adopt?”  She said, “We cry each time.  It’s very difficult.  My husband said, ‘The day we stop crying over letting go of the child is the day we have to stop being foster parents.’”  She explained more about the emotional joys of having a child for a period and the difficulties of letting that child go, especially after you have welcomed that child in as a part of your family and loved him/her if even for a brief period.  She believed strongly that the time she has with the children leaves a mark on them that will stay with them all their lives.  But I thought the next question I believed others thought too but no one asked, how could you keep doing this?  How could you keep putting yourself through that kind of pain each and every time?  As my wife and I go through this process, we dread the possibility of “losing” the first child we foster – we hope to adopt.  Though, we know the probability of us not being able to “keep” the first child we take in.  The veteran mom, however, answered the question that was on my mind and she said something simply that stuck to me.  She said, “We do this because we believe it’s our calling.”

Calling.  There’s that word again.  What does it exactly mean?  I think most people desire to live for a calling.  It means you’re living for something greater than the satisfaction of your own desires even at the risk of pain and at the expense of peace.  Normally, we would avoid pain.  The simple humanistic rule is to pursue pleasure and avoid pain.  But when would we choose pain?  When would we willingly, consciously and intentionally choose to put ourselves in a place where pain is a likely result?  For this veteran mom, she bore her pain every time she let go of a child she fell in love with as her own son or daughter.  But she willingly bore that pain by choice because that pain had purpose.  The purpose was found in the calling.  The satisfaction she found in life was not pleasure per se (though there is reward in knowing the difference you made in the child’s life) but in the fulfillment of that calling.  In the foster classes, they keep reminding us: this is about the children not about the parents.  That’s our focus.  I think one of the powerful aspects of having a calling in life is you learn the virtuous, noble meaning of being a servant.  You learn to serve.  The foster parents I saw in the room with me were servants.  In living for what pleases us, we only know how to live for ourselves.  In living for a calling, we learn to serve that calling.  That’s when pain has purpose and pleasure has a new definition in light of the calling.  We begin to understand the meaning of something bigger than us.  I think it’s only when we discover living for something bigger than us is life worth living.

The Virtue of Self-Control in Wing Chun

In all martial arts, the virtue of self-control is (ought to be) taught.  In Wing Chun, it is a vital attribute to develop not only for the sake of not hurting someone but for the sake of becoming a better Wing Chun practitioner.  Since Wing Chun utilizes the sensitivity of touch as a way of reacting and sensing the opponent, self-control ought to be a naturally developed trait.  Being able to move at full speed but also being able to stop a punch right at the opponent’s skin is being in control.

As I’ve been teaching Wing Chun in my studio in Hollywood, I’ve increasingly recognized the important need for methodically training self-control.  The person who strikes without the ability to intentionally and determinatively hit exactly where he purposes to hit and as hard as he purposed to is like an undisciplined animal, wild and unskilled.  On the contrary, the person who shows self-control is an artist.  I suppose it’s not too different for me from painting – I apply the right amount of pressure on the canvas with the brush, move the brush exactly at the speed I want to move it and stop the stroke at where I mean to stop it.  It’s not overdone and the motions which results in the amount of paint that goes on the canvas is not unintentionally superfluous.  In art, the inability to have self-control will create mud.  The ability to take a punch only as far as I intend to while under challenging circumstances indicates a personal strength.  The person who cannot control himself cannot establish control in adverse or trying situations of life. To train the body to have self-control requires training the mind.  Self-control is a strength not only in the physicality of martial arts but also as a virtue in ones character.

This principle highlighted for me the Biblical emphasis of self-control as a godly attribute (Gal.5:22).  The ability to resist temptation, turn away from distraction, restrain urges that lead to regrettable consequences, and refrain from over indulgence is a form of inner power.  It demonstrates a mastery over oneself.  Living life without self-control can and will result in mud.  The absence of self-control means being out of control; being out of control means being powerless.  Sometimes we feel like we have control when we give ourselves the license to do what we want and as much as we want without restraint.  But in actuality, we’re mere powerless beings when we lack control over the most primary object we should have control over – self.  In the end, we may feel immediate gratifications for our urges.  But we’re not making art our of life.

Selfishness Destroys Beauty

Yesterday morning I discovered four flower heads were ripped off of my Callo Lilies in front of my house, which I had carefully and diligently planted, watered and nurtured for the past few weeks.  I thought the Callo Lilies, often referred to as “resurrection flowers,” would add beauty to the urban neighborhood I live in and bless the many people who walk by my home.  When I saw the freshly ripped stems with their missing flowers, I was perturbed.  I thought about it and realized someone took (stole) them because he/she also found them beautiful as well.  That person was obviously blessed by them as well to want them.   The problem was that the person wanted them for him/herself, and in order to have them, he/she had to destroy them.  This reminded me of a common but destructive treatment of beauty.

Dr. William A. Dyrness from Fuller Seminary wrote in Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue, “Beauty gives rise to desire, which demands possession.  Possession then can destroy the beauty of the object” (82).  He references the desire of Amnon for David’s beautiful daughter in 2 Samuel 13 as a biblical example of this principle.  After Amnon took the daughter by force and used her for sex, he no longer found her desirable in his sight and she withered away as a woman of shame.  I think when we objectify the things of beauty to serve our personal gratification, we exploit its worth and in the course of satisfying our desires, we destroy what is beautiful.  We destroy it by demeaning its dignity, worth and integrity.  We destroy by using it.  We destroy by consuming it for ourselves.  Beauty is meant to be seen, shown and enjoyed by an audience, whether that audience is a passerby of a garden on a city street, a viewer of an artwork in a gallery, or a husband of a wife.  But beauty that is not respected, honored and treated with nurture will be used and destroyed by those who so selfishly claim it for themselves.  The beauty destroyed could be a flower, an artwork, a talent, a celebrity, a girlfriend or spouse, a human being…  We destroy beauty with our lust and lack of respect.  We destroy beauty all the time internally with our envy, lustful eyes or prideful entitlement.  It’s the consumerist mentality that often destroys beauty.

Our society however is paradoxically confusing, because in our consumer-driven culture, people fabricate the appearance of beauty with the intent of selling it.  Our culture markets beauty, or at least a form of it, in order to arouse desire.  Whether it is sexualizing people or creating a facade of the beautiful, people want to sell beauty.  But it is a consumerist form of beauty.  In marketing themselves, true, genuine beauty that is defined by goodness, truth and grace is on a path to destruction.  So, the selfish taking of beauty has a flip side, which is the selfish selling of it.  Both aspects exploit beauty and lack respect for it.

But our society is often like a child.  We see something beautiful, we like it, we take it and in doing so we break it.  I think we have to be careful of how we treat beauty in this world.  Just because we like it, doesn’t mean we should “have” it.

Is the Grass Always Greener on the Otherside?

Ellen and I met a guy visiting from Scotland while we were eating at the Village Pizzeria in Hollywood.  We asked him about places to visit Scotland, and he talked about how much he liked Los Angeles and wanted to live here.  He liked the weather a lot more than Scotland’s where it was unpredictable even during the summer.  He liked the culture, the atmosphere and the economic savings of being in Los Angeles.  One of the interesting things I noticed was how his love for Los Angeles contrasted the many people I heard from who lived in L.A. and were dying to get out of it.  I recalled one lady in our community group last week who voiced her desire to live in Scotland.  She stated positive reasons for living there, which could’ve been paralleled to the reasons for why the Scottish guy wanted to live in L.A.  Is the grass always greener on the otherside?  I think we all wrestle with this mentality.  I have and still do to some extent.   Most would intellectually recognize that living under this view is not good.  But there is an unhealthy and ungodly form of this view and yet a godly and healthy form.

To live under the notion that the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-otherside, which most do so unconsciously, renders a life that is constantly dissatisfied.  It wouldn’t matter what one has or the circumstances one was under.  This view causes the person to think that whatever I have is not good enough and whatever someone else has or whatever something else can be offered is better.  The problem is once that something else is attained, the feeling of discontent still remains.  The grass-is-greener-on-the-otherside perspective often becomes a distraction from not only real contentment but also from purposeful living.  We can miss the purpose or the calling for why we are where we are when we are caught up in longing for the grass on the otherside and feeling disgruntled about our present “grass.”  The Bible teaches us to be content in all situations and circumstances, where joy is not bound up in what we have or where we are but is a quality sewn in our souls as a working of the Holy Spirit (Phi. 4:10-11, Gal. 5:25).

However, to be godly people we also need to maintain a view of the-grass-is-greener-on-the-otherside where we do look forward to something else and refuse to settle for what is.  It is a godly virtue and an aspect of faith to strive for what life can become, because we realize that God not only has in store something far better for our lives in heaven but also that God desires to redeem and transform our present world.  To settle merely for this grass on this side doesn’t render change.  Looking for that otherside causes a forward movement in an otherwise broken world, and where there is forward movement, change has to occur.  This means that a certain divine discontent has to remain in the believer of Christ (2 Corinthians 5).  It is that divine discontent that reflects the heart of God.  Because God envisions life to be much more than what it is, so should we.

So a harmonious tension exists in the Christian life.  On the one hand, the Christian knows true joy and satisfaction that is unshakeable by circumstances, where contentment is known in any situation.  But on the other hand, the Christian remains dissatisfied, realizing that life, the world and self need to be transformed into a greater vision.  The difference is twofold: one, the discontentment is rooted in true joy and, two, the discontentment follows the heart of God versus insecure feelings over life.  It’s easy to swing to either extreme, but doing so results in dysfunctional living.  Finding harmony in this tension is the godly art of living.

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