10 09 2010

Moving domains to jasonmthomas.com

Be sure to update your blog links to that site as this one will stay up, but cease to be updated as frequently.

Thanks, Jason


Randomized words from my blog

8 09 2010

Randomized words weighted by use from jasonmthomas.wordpress.com rss feed. So fun! Go try it yourself at http://www.wordle.net/

Craving Community

8 09 2010

When I was in fourth grade, I remember lining up during recess to pick teams for a game of soccer. Even in fourth grade we had popular students, and Tim was one of those! He was always the team captain, and I wanted to be on his team. Names were called, some people excited about the team they were on, others just excited they weren’t picked last. This one time, and I think only this once, I was picked second to last. I remember the feeling as I stood there wondering if anyone even wanted me on their team. I can’t even imagine how (leaving his name out) felt because he was shorter and extremely scrawny. It was not an enjoyable experience.

There is something about our human nature that creates within us a desire to be liked. At least for most of us! Most of us have a desire to love and be loved. To have others like us. To belong to some type of group, circle of friends, organization. Even most of my single friends aren’t that way because of lack of desire for relationship. We crave a place, a setting where others will invite us into a real relationship/friendship where we don’t have to try and be fake to fit in. I like to relate it to vitamins. Something good for me and for my future, but so hard to remember to take. It’s always a good idea, and we remember at the store to buy them, intending to take them, but they sit in a cupboard oftentimes for weeks without any other thought. The only way to take those vitamins is to somehow work it into your routine. Eat a bowl of cereal, drink some coffee, take vitamins, brush teeth.

This fall, Open Life (the church community we are apart of) will be helping to facilitate an answer to this felt need through ‘Groups’. It is not our intent to create another program, nor do we feel like this structure is the only way in which to facilitate meaningful relationships. However, as noted before, it’s too easy to go through life knowing we need/want something and never take the time to see it come to fruition. Groups will, hopefully, create a time, place and space in our busy calendars and lives to draw us closer to seeing this relational desire met in ours, and maybe more importantly, in those we grow in relationship with.

Nobody is expecting to openly share every single little detail, good and bad about ourselves with people we barely know. But we will be real. We will be full of life. Open to   the fact that none of us are perfect, but we are interested in knowing a perfect God. Open to the fact that we may differ in how we discipline children, but offer grace as we have been offered grace from God. Open to the reality that sometimes life happens and we can’t make it to ‘church’ or to our group, but practicing an affirming reality that second to our relationship with Jesus is our family.

Sheena and I will be opening our home to anyone who would like to join us, Friday evenings @ 7pm. Whenever you have to leave is fine, but let’s keep it closer to Friday than Saturday morning if possible! 🙂 For our time we’ll connect about our weeks, what the kids have been getting into trouble with, how the Hawks are finally winning, eat food, drink drinks, dialogue about our thoughts regarding the week’s reading. As a group we’ll also be walking through the book ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan. Such an easy read and very inspiring to live out our lives the way Jesus did and would. Love. Rabbit trails are allowed!

We’ll meet October 10 – December 10.

Send me an email for more information!

Click here to email.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

8 09 2010

When I was a kid, I used to dream of being many important things in life. I would sit in my room role-playing myself as the “best quarterback since Joe Montana.” Quietly, so my parents wouldn’t hear me, I’d call out a play – usually pretty basic being around 10 yrs old the play usually consisted of ‘go long and I’ll throw it to you’. I threw countless awe inspiring touchdown in my bedroom, all while shouting with the crowd under my breath. I also remember wanting to be a policeman. Something about being the one with authority and positional respect made my young mind dream. Cops and Robbers- such a fun game. Playing guns with friends, this wasn’t just a game, it was training. I’d sit in the back of my parents car, and marvel as I watched police cars fly by with lights on and sirens going. What kind of boy doesn’t want to do that?

In high school we were required to take the ASVAB test, basically a military test to help us see where we were best gifted for future vocations. I scored highest in Accounting, which I thought was kinda nerdy. I went to the Accounting demonstration during a job fair, and found out that they make a lot of money! Money is nice. So, my first classes in college included Accounting classes. After-all, isn’t that why we go to college, get degress and then jobs? To make money!

Recently I was talking with some friends of mine. Here we are, almost 30 yrs old, in mixed occupations and vocations. Some happy with their jobs, others ready for clarification and change. But each of us unsure of what the future looks like in our lives and vocations. Change is always an option.

When I was a child, I always thought that after college I would have life figured out. I’d be married, in my job that I would love for the rest of my life, have a house, kids and pets. It seemed so simple! Now I look at my 29th birthday coming up, and I wonder…”What will I do when I grow up?” Life is full of changes even in my life. Just when I think I have a plan in place for the future, something changes. In one sense, exciting. In another, frustrating.

Would life be easier if we had all “grown up” and had life go as we planned when we were kids? Maybe. But it’d probably be boring. Most things that we plan to a T are. It’s the surprises, disappointments, struggles and risks that help life become rewarding! If you read my “About me” you can see all the different ‘occupations’ I’ve held. Some I loved, some were just to make some mullah. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s helped create who I am today!

May we always be open to change. Dream of the future, but allow the Spirit of God to direct and lead. He is the creator and sustainer of life. In my opinion, he’s worth trusting.

Coming up: Sheena and I will be hosting a Group for Open Life, meeting weekly for friendship/prayer/laughter and conversations stemming from the book ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan. Be watching for some good posts where I will share thoughts and considerations brought forth through those times!

Life is like oatmeal.

1 09 2010

In my ever pursuing attempts to live a healthier lifestyle, sometimes I break away from my routine of Cocoa Puffs in the morning and bust out a bowl of oatmeal. This was one of those mornings.

I don’t usually think much about my oatmeal, but my shot of espresso may have helped me get some type of revelation. Life is like Oatmeal.

1. Sticky. Often times life doesn’t stay within the boundaries we try to set up. When we dream and plan, we put into place an ideal world of which we wish to see take place. But the clumpy events, and messy relationships all around us tend to grab ahold of our spoon fed life, creating a sticky situation when our plans fall apart. It’d be so much easier if our spoon only picked up the pieces that we told it too. Instead those sticky oats grab on beneath and beside, clinging on for dear life, until the spoon is just over your lap or keyboard, and splat. You got a sticky mess. Life can be going along just perfect, but then we introduce other people into the picture, and it ruins our ‘ideal’ plans. Unless we can get to the underlying fact that Life is Sticky. It’s supposed to be. Our lives are sticky messes that others deal with too. And all of us fall incredibly short of the perfection of God.

2. Bland or Sweet. Oatmeal in itself is quite blah. It’s only when you stir in some honey, brown sugar, or other natural sugary substance that it becomes a joy to eat. My life, I’ve found, if left to wander, is quite bland. It’s only when I add interesting people, events, thoughts, obstacles, celebrations, etc.. that my life begins to have a sweet flavor to it. I have to add the natural sugary ingredients. Like: Peace- Patience- Kindness- Hope- Laughter- Love. All of a sudden, my overly blah life becomes interesting.

3. Substance. Oatmeal is great for filling a person up and holding them over until the next meal. It’s crazy amount of fiber also helps clean out the system! But, one bite doesn’t do it. And only addressing the areas of my life that need substance every now and then won’t produce a healthy life. Just as you have to put one spoonful in your mouth, you have to force yourself to lower it to the bowl and take another bite. Success in life doesn’t just happen. But when I take the daily routine of growing myself through reading, thinking, exercise, planning and loving, I find that my life continues to have substance. When I stop, hunger sets in earlier than it should, and hunger only breeds discontent.

My thoughts on Life being like Oatmeal.

Threadbare couches

27 08 2010

Yesterday our team (from Open Life) had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst One Day conference, held at The City Church in Kirkland. I’m still processing a lot of what was covered, attempting to analyze what I agree with, what I question, what I need to change, and where my perspective is healthy. As I’m processing through this, I wanted to take a moment to share a thought that Andy Stanley presented the conference with.

Andy began his last session by bringing an old couch out onto the stage. As he sat on it, he asked us if our parents/grandparents (or perhaps us personally) ever had an old couch that they seemed to move with them every time they moved. It was super comfortable from years of use, slightly discolored from beverages being spilt, and a few rips from careless wrestling on the cushions. Every time a move was initiated to a new home, this couch was brought along. It had too many memories to be left behind. Everything else could be discarded and repurchased, but even if a new couch was purchased- this old one would only be transferred to another room, never removed from their (your) possessions.

You know that couch. “Remember when Johnny spilled his chili all over Bob…?” “That’s where I was sitting when my wife told me that we were pregnant with our first child.” “If I remember right, that’s where we made our first child…” “I remember sitting on this couch opening gifts for every christmas…”

Memories. Tied into an inanimate object.

Why was the couch purchased in the first place? Someone said, “We need a place to sit, let’s buy a couch.” It met a need. It was probably in style and new when purchased. It made sense. But now, it’s ugly. Everyone knows it. Nobody ‘really’ wants to sit on it for fear of what may crawl out or perhaps it has a slight odor.  It really should be destroyed. After all, those memories aren’t contained in the couch. And a new couch would be a better choice for serving the need of a place to invite others to sit.

Andy related this idea to programs in our churches. Programs that addressed a need at one point, but now we keep them going because of the memories of those needs being met. It’s okay to buy a new “couch” (start a new program) and get rid of this one. He elaborated quite a bit more, but I’d like to keep this a blog post rather than the start of a book that I’m sure Andy wrote already.

I started thinking about this in my life though. What are the couches in my life? What are areas (sin, desires, possessions, emotions, opinions) that I carry around that I should get rid of? What are the couches of ideas that perhaps met a need at one point, but now just act as an inhibition to my growth in character? Is it possible that I have held on to my own ways of doing things because it worked in the past, but maybe I should let it go and look for something new? Everyone else knows it’s ugly, and deep down I know it too. It’s time to put on a new self.

Jesus the rock star!

6 08 2010

I can see it now! Imagining that the New Testament had not been about the son of God becoming personified, but instead Jesus displaying himself in the 21st century for the first time. Sitting here at Starbucks, I daydream about this moment and I envision what it would possibly look like.

Would I possibly see a poster on the current local events board, with a portrait of Jesus and a caption proclaiming “The son of God, see him live on the ‘heal your situation’ tour!” And Jesus, being the man of the hour wouldn’t just travel by himself. I’m pretty sure he would have a sweet tour bus, all decked out with comfy seats, beds, lights, granite counters, flat panel tv’s and of course, the latest christian music playing overhead.
His groupies would be following him around in smaller vans, all ready to serve him by setting up the stages, getting the lights just perfect and a killer sound system so that everyone could hear the life changing truths that are being spoken by the God-man. To start off his shows, I mean, evangelistic campaigns
, he would invite only the best ‘worship’ bands around. Because they are one of my favorites, we’ll say Hillsong (because I really like their new album.) To keep with the idea of wanting to reach as many as possible, this event would no doubt be free. But let’s be honest…who would want to keep a bunch of Christians from the blessings that will pour out in their life through their generosity? So, Jesus would probably take a love offering for himself. After-all, eating out at Applebees and gas for the bus isn’t free.
And Jesus would be all about ‘reaching today’s culture’, so undoubtedly he would be wearing the current fashionable trendy clothing of today. He’d probably have a hair/makeup team traveling with him even. We all know that in order to reach people, you have to look amazing! His water-to-wine trick would be performed on the bus after events, and the feeding of 5 thousand would be done for the largest conferences. Mostly because it’d make him look cool, again, important.

I’ll stop now. I hope you realize that I don’t honestly think this is how Jesus would act if he were physically present and living as human in today’s world. I don’t think he’d be all flashy and full of himself. In fact, I remember moments in scripture where he told people not to tell others who he was. So why is it that we have such an infatuation with the “celebrity” status within the Christian sub-culture? Maybe you don’t struggle with it, but I have. I’ve been the guy who put people on a pedestal who were “doing amazing things for God” or “such a powerful speaker”, and while on the outside I try to paint a picture of someone doing “God’s work”, in reality, I’ve been guilty of admiring the kingdom that someone has either built for themselves, or others have built up around them. Not every ‘celebrity’ of the Christian faith is wrong in their attitude or lifestyle, in fact, it’s more likely that they are really trying their hardest to not let it be about them. But we, as brothers and sisters in this ancient/current faith, must remember to be Jesus centered. It isn’t about growing our personal kingdoms, or acting like 12 yr old girls at a jonas’ brothers concert when we attend Hillsong. It isn’t about their kingdom either. It’s about Jesus.

It’s about a real God. Set apart. Infinite. All powerful. King.

It’s about His kingdom. It’s about us learning to live out his characteristics.

There is a fine balance between, “Follow me as I follow Christ” and “Follow me as I’m a good leader.”

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