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Here Lies a Ragamuffin

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“Shalom, be at peace. I understand your fears, your failures, your brokenness. I don’t expect you to be perfect. I have been there. All is well. You have my love. You don’t have to pay for it and you can’t deserve it. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself. You only have to open and receive it. You only have to say yes to my love – a love beyond anything you can intellectualize or imagine.”

It was three years ago, and I was on a time of personal spiritual retreat. On my drive to the retreat location I had stopped at a bookstore and picked up a book called Souvenirs of Solitude by one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning. He words above are from the first chapter. They were words he felt like God spoke to his soul during a similar time.

Brennan Manning died last Friday. Far from perfect, he was a man who struggled with grace. He was a Korean war vet, a Franciscan priest who left the priesthood to get married and then eventually divorced, and an alcoholic. Far from being remembered as a Saint, I think Brennan would want to be remembered by the moniker he proclaimed in one of his books: A Ragamuffin. In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan described himself this way:

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

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Blessings,

The Burden of Complexity

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Buying light bulbs used to be simple.

I would go to the store, find the portion of the isle that held light bulbs, find the ones I needed, and buy them. It took all of 30 seconds of my entire shopping trip.

Today it is an entirely different procedure. Light bulbs now take up most of an entire aisle. Gone are the days of hurrying into an aisle and grabbing a package. Now you have choices, and a LOT of them.

Your first choice is what kind of bulb. There are the old incandescents (for now), then there are the Compact Fluorescents, halogens, and LED’s. Buying lightbulbs has become not only an economic decision, but now a moral element has crept in. One bulb is suppost to be better for the planet than another. Of course, I will then weigh environmental impact vs. my ability to also buy food that week. I know LED’s will save me money 5 years from now, but spending $25 on a light bulb makes me want cry.
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Blessings,

Christmas Grace

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I hope this finds you well, and enjoying the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus! The following is a short story I wrote for this Christmas. This will be my last post for this year as I will be taking some time with family as we celebrate together. Merry Christmas!


The young boy moved through the city in godlike fashion, his eyes swimming in every scene at once. Soft lights in front of him reflected in his eyes as pinpoints of magic mixed with wonder. Snow crunched softly below black boots. A distant bell softly called for donations, carolers sang of Noel.

People moved quietly about their lives. A young couple laughed at a joke only they would share as they carried bags laden with gifts. A car with a Christmas tree strapped to the roof navigated the street, passing a park where a group of teens threw snowy missiles at each other, their younger siblings creating snowmen nearby.

The boy longed to join in the fun, but knew it was impossible. Continue reading →

Blessings,

Reckless, Foolish or Just Plain Dumb?

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I was dumb.

There really isn’t any other way around it. I was dumb and it landed me in the emergency room over the weekend. I’ll tell the whole story in a minute.

Here we define Reckless as living without care for the consequences. The idea being that there are times when we are called to accept negative consequences. Too often our decisions to do or not to do something starts with the question: “How will this affect me?” This places us and our own good at the center of the universe, rather than the people around us and how God might want to use us.

Reckless is different from being Foolish, which we talk about as acting without thought of the consequences. Foolish people get into trouble, not for noble purposes, but because they didn’t think things through.

Then there was me this past weekend. Our family started a tradition last year of going to a local Christmas Tree Farm and cutting down our own tree. I think my wife and I may enjoy it more than the kids at this point, but it’s an adventure. We walk through rows of pines looking for the right one. We weigh width vs. height vs. what will fit in our Living Room. And eventually we settle on one and I take a saw to it.

There is something manly about cutting down a tree. Even if it’s trunk is only three inches in diameter and it can’t fight back. I let out my best Tim Allen grunt when the tree fell to the ground.

Eventually we got the tree home and set up. The lights are on, the ornaments are in place and we are ready for Christmas morning.

Except for one thing.

The star isn’t on the tree.

It was an oversight my five-year-old-son reminded me of daily in the week since we got the tree up. When we packed up Christmas last year, the star got put into a separate box from the rest of the tree decorations. We had yet to pull out that box. So Saturday morning I decided to rectify the problem. I went digging through boxes of decorations and found the star and proceeded to try to put it on the tree, only to find that the tree was slightly too tall.

Easy to solve right? And I knew that I should have gone to the garage and gotten our gardening shears. But I didn’t, because much closer was one of my backpacking knives. I grabbed it and went to town on the top of the tree. Only a few seconds went by when my brain said “You should really move your other hand because if you slip…”

Just then the knife slipped from where I was cutting and ran across the top of two of my fingers, cutting both badly. Blood gushed, kids ran, and my wife almost threw up. It was quite the scene.

We got the bleeding under control and headed for the ER. Four stitches and some super glue later and I am good as new.

I was processing later where I had gone wrong. I use knives all of the time, and I know how to be safe with them. But this time I ignored that voice just a little too long. I’m not so sure if I was foolish so much as I was just plain dumb.

But at least I should get a cool scar to show for it.

Unfortunately the star still isn’t on the tree.

 

Blessings,

One Year Giveaway

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UPDATE: The drawing has been held and the winners notified. Thank you everyone who shared or subscribed during this giveaway! Look for more as we approach the launch of Resonant Frequency!

It’s been a whole year since Reckless Living kicked off! What began as promotion for my book Completely Reckless has been a year long oddessy of sharing stories of Reckless people and of exploring the concept of intentionally living without care of the consequences. Thank you to all of you who head over here on a regular basis and humor me. :) To thank you I am going to give away some free stuff!

We will get to that info in a minute, but I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to my next book project, Resonant Frequency.   This past spring I helped coordinate a Writers Retreat for several aspiring writers (myself included) to write and challenge each other. I went expecting to work on a book from the life of Jonah. Instead this is what poured out. They were thoughts that had been percolating for a while.

How do we discover the things we like?

We try new things.

But how do we challenge ourselves to try new when our equilibrium brings us back to the familiar? Life tends to settle into routines and trends and interacting with new things requires intentionality. Resonant Frequency uses the life of Moses to challenge us to seek new, and listen for the direction of God.  It is a journey of discovery that will have lasting consequences.

If you would like a sneak peak: Click here to download the Introduction. (It’s still going through some editing…)

Resonant Frequency will be coming out at the beginning of 2013.

Now for the free stuff…

To celebrate one year of Reckless Living, I am going to give away:

Prize #1: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Prize # 2: Eden and Completely Reckless (both books) mailed to your door.

Prize #3: One copy of Eden or Completely Reckless (your choice) mailed to your door. 

To enter you can do one of three things, or you can do all three. For each thing you do, you get another entry.

1. Subscribe to Reckless Living
Did you know you can get Reckless Living in your e-mail inbox? Towards the top and on the left hand side of this page is a box called Subscribe. Enter your e-mail address. You will be asked to confirm (I don’t want to spam anyone). If you are already subscribed you have already completed this and are entered into the drawing!

Special bonus, everyone on the e-mail list at the end of this giveaway will be sent a link to receive a free .pdf of Completely Reckless!

2. Comment
Enter a comment below using Facebook. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Simply post “I’m in” if you want to.

3. Share on Facebook 
Click on the share button below to share this giveaway with your Facebook friends.

I will draw winners this Friday, so be sure to share with your friends in the meantime! Thanks again for your support. I am excited about what the coming year holds!

Blessings,

$500 Tip for Pizza?

There is a video that is currently going viral that I had to share. A 30 year old man named Aaron died on July 7th, just 3 weeks after his 30th birthday. In his will he asked that if there was enough money left when his bills were paid, that the family go out for pizza and leave a $500 tip.

There wasn’t enough money in his assets to make that happen so his brother, Seth created a website: aaroncollins.org. He asked if people would contribute so that they could make his brother’s wish happen.

They soon had enough donated and they video taped their experience of giving a waitress at a local pizza place $500. The video has now gone viral, they have been interviewed on CNN and have raised over $28,000. That’s enough to give a $500 tip once a week for over a year.

It’s a great example of how we each influence the people around us. There is a story on the website of Aaron leaving a $50 tip after receiving terrible service at a diner. How are we using our lives to influnce and express love to the people around us, regardless of the consequences?

Blessings,

BLOG Interview

Sarah Cunningham

One of my favorite all around people in the world is Sarah Cunningham. She is a Rivertreer, author, BLOGing queen, and all around genuine person. She is doing a series of BLOG posts about self-publishing and I was one of the people she interviewed.

If you have ever thought about self-publishing you need to check it out!

Catch the series at her BLOG:

sarahcunningham.org

Blessings,

Sample Chapter

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My first hardcopy of Completely Reckless arrived today!

This is a project a year in the making.

What does it really mean to live in the knowledge of the love of God?

How should our lives be different because God loves us?

I am excited about what God wants to do through this book and holding a physical copy means it’s one step closer to reality!

There is still a good deal of work to do. I am hoping to have it finished to be able to release the book by the end of February. In the meantime I thought you might enjoy a sneak peak  Click on the link below to read the first chapter.

Completely Reckless – Chapter 1

Blessings,

Normal is Boring

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So much of life is aimed at maintaing status quo. We have to have certain jobs to make certain amounts of money. We go to great lengths to maintain equilibrium in our relationships and lives.

What happens if we begin living life differently? What if we begin living life Recklessly? This BLOG will be for stories of the Reckless, both those who are living Reckless lives and my thoughts on how to live Recklessly. Full disclosure, this is in advance of my next book, Completely Reckless that will be released in February of 2012. But this is a conversation I want to start, and a challenge that needs to be leveled. We as American Christians are living too safely. Mark Batterson, one of my favorite authors said this: “Quit living as if the purpose of life was to arrive safely at death.”

You may have followed my previous attempt at blogging at jacksonopolis.com. I have sold that domain name but am still involved with it. I can’t tell you much yet other than to say there is sweet stuff a comin’.

I would love to hear from you. Do you know people who are living Reckless lives for Christ? Send me their stories! Wonder what I mean by Reckless? Stay tuned….

Blessings,