Why I Write These:
This is an initiative I started in 2018 to begin documenting my life better. It’s meant to be a snapshot of a day both for public disclosure of what is going on, both good and hard things in my life. It also serves as a record that I hope to be able to look back on in future years. This concept was inspired by my grandfather, Leon Milton Buttermore, who has a memory that I am envious of, and I hope that by doing this I am able to be the kind of man who starts to treasure the things given him.
Today I woke up and Scott was sick with a sore throat, which is a bummer. Sore throats are one of the most annoying things in the world, and tend to be one of those things that if you power through them then you get even more sick. So I went to the gym and worked out by myself. My arms got a bit of a reprieve as I focused on legs and lower back today! Those kettlebells and plyo boxes will get you!
After leaving the gym, I came home and readied myself to go meet up with Yan. Obviously, there’s a lot of intimate details I’m not going to share about his situation in this format, but he’s in a really tough place. We talked about what it looks like to deal with people who are angry at you and placing lots of blame (some of it deserved, some of it unfair) on your shoulders. We talked about James 1:19 and how we should emulate our Lord in being slow to anger and Proverbs 15:1 in that a kind word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
We also talked about Psalms 63 and used it as an opportunity to discuss a great way to use Scripture to pray your guts out. He’s in a really, really tough place. The Psalter is a great source of encouragement for us as it is David and others seeking solace, often from the malice of cruel words and disparaging and ruthless enemies who slander them. For many things we can find some level of justice in human courts, but hurtful speech is often only able to be rightly adjudicated by the court of God himself. So we looked at a basic format for prayer that is based off of some consistent ways many of the Psalms are structured:
- Start off acknowledging God – His glory, His righteousness, His justice, His worthiness to be worshipped.
- Move to just crying your guts out. Whether it is anger, desire for vengeance, sadness, deep depression, etc. you can pray these things. God wants to hear them. The crucial distinction that we talked about was that these prayers should not be about feeding or stoking those feelings into an even greater frenzy. We should pray those raw emotions in an attempt to give them to the Lord. He’s not a pocket-sized God. He’s bigger than us. So He’s big enough to take and bear the emotional burdens that, if we’re honest, we cannot bear ourselves.
- Move towards praying what your actions before the Lord will be. Will it be endurance in the face of affliction? Will it be mercy in the face of great slander? Pray to the Lord and commit to Him what your line of action to glorify Him will be.
- End with acknowledging the expectant victory that God will have at the end of all things. It’s this last part that makes the previous step doable. We pray to Him our actionable items that we will strive for because we have such great hope that He will be the final victor when the dust has settled once and for all. This is how we can relinquish things like our desire for vengeance and justice. We can be certain He will dole out vengeance and justice on those who have not sought forgiveness and the renewal of their hearts and minds from those sinful actions.
Anyways, I hope this all helps Yan. I hope it helps myself. I think praying Scripture is an underutilized prayer format that can allow us to pray more fiercely, powerfully, and regularly. The Bible is not meant to just be read, but to be meditated, absorbed, and treasured. If you’re only reading it, you’re not interacting with the Bible as the Bible itself would hope you’d interact with it.
By the way, this meeting confirmed how I felt about last morning’s time in the Word. I ended up scrapping most of my plan that I had put together for Yan. I used bits and pieces of it, but the Holy Spirit quickly brought my mind to other Scriptures more useful and applicable to the situation as I listened to Yan. So I am convinced that my times in the morning ought to be spent listening to the Lord instead of searching for support to an answer I already think is true and am just looking for supporting Scripture. Again, this is not to say it is inappropriate to prepare for things like this, but I think all things have their time and place and my time in the Word in the morning should have a better focus and purpose than what I used it for yesterday.
After meeting with Yan, I did some work from Puritan Coffee, where we had met. I saw Donovan Golden there. He’s preaching this Sunday at The Hill Church. They’re focusing on the spiritual discipline of prayer (this is one of those disciplines that never gets enough practice, it seems) for the year and so he was reading through a book called A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller. I may check it out, although there’s a few other books on prayer I also hope to move through at some point this year.
After leaving Puritan, I ran a few errands. Sent in my monthly Samaritan Ministries check and also dropped off a book that was almost overdue at the library (I’m the worst at getting small fines because I forget to return these – so this was nice to remember for once!) Oh, and the parking lot at UBC was totally packed from Second Mile activity, which thank the Lord that ministry is doing so much, but I totally nailed my departure with an efficiency that belied my Nebraskan frame! I didn’t want to be that person who backs up and pulls forward a bunch of times, so I made it one go. I only hit 3 cars doing it!
That last part is a joke… maybe.
I went from there to lunch at Slim’s with Ian Whitlow. He and I haven’t caught up in a while. We both have a lot going on at our work, but both agreed that, oddly enough, these times of pressure actually make us more confident in our jobs and make us assured that we are doing things we ought to be doing. I think there’s probably a sermon in there, but haven’t extracted it and am not going to do so on the fly!
He and I watched Star Wars with very different expectations. Honestly, he’s probably the wiser man. He actually enjoyed it. Oh, that I could have enjoyed it. But I think we both understood the other person’s perspective and see how they got to where they did. He and I have always approached things from very different perspectives and tend to be good at disagreeing well, which is nice to be able to do healthily with someone sometimes. We’re often like two sides of the same coin. It’s not really looking at something different, but more like observing yourself from a different perspective. Similar to how ice might feel if it could observe water, I suppose?
Jonathan Carlsmith (?) was in town visiting family. He’s an old Acumen co-worker. We didn’t know each other super well, but he recognized me and I him. He worked with Ian as a barista as well! So it was a small world. He said he’d try to find me on LinkedIn. I think he was intrigued by me running my own business, and mentioned he’d like to move back here. We’ll see if anything ever comes of that. But it was good to see someone doing well. He lives in California now and works for Apple, so seems like he’s got some exciting prospects ahead of him!
After lunch, I just returned home and went about cleaning up my accounts as much as possible for the day. I got done and took a brief nap to take a delightful ending to the day and recover some rest. I’ve been trying to figure out this new schedule with getting up and going to the gym regularly. So my sleep has suffered a bit. Getting a rhythm down will be crucial there.
Woke up and had no prospects for the evening so turned to a hodgepodge of action items. I turned on Star Trek Beyond, which was a fairly entertaining movie, and also watched the 2nd half of the Warriors vs. Bucks — which basketball is just boring without Steph Curry playing — while I started working towards some tax return things. If I can chip away at that, hopefully when all my 1099 forms show up, I’ll be ready to plug and play on taxes. I also read 2 chapters of the Jerle Shannara trilogy.
I don’t like evenings like this. Friday nights by myself. I want to call, text, or do anything. I almost panic at the thought of them. I hope desperately to be invited somewhere, anywhere! But sometimes, it is good to be still and enjoy a night at home. I pray the Lord will still my heart. I also thank him for the rest it provided that a night out likely would have given less of.
Well, as I was doing taxes, a church member who lives in my apartment complex came by a bit unexpectedly! He found my apartment building and knocked on the door. I figured it was probably him. Either that or I was going to get murdered. So I’m not sure that, given those options, opening the door was really wise. But I did it anyway!
I invited him in and we talked for about half an hour. Trying to get a kind of spiritual and emotional topography of his life to see what the lay of the land is. I have no idea how best to serve him and love him right now. He’s not stupid by any means. He does think very differently than me, but I can’t tell exactly what the difference is. Whether it is an actual, diagnosable thing or just being shaped in a much different way because of the experiences that he has gone through, I cannot tell yet.
There’s many conversations to delve further into in the future. He has an ex-wife, which I think still plagues him. He’s seen a few grandparents and an uncle pass away as well in the past few years. He’s got a girlfriend, Lisa, who he broke up with and now is apparently back with all over the past year. He works at Wal-Mart but is getting burned out by the repetition of the job. He doesn’t serve at UBC in any official capacity, which leaves him a bit untethered and leads into a separate conversation where he likes to visit random churches just to see something new. So there’s a lot to unpack there!
He did like going on the St. Louis mission trip last year to the Church at Afton. He didn’t list many of the actual ministries they did, but mentioned some good experiences with people like Guy Wilcox, Mike and Amy Driver, and more. He really likes Dairy Queen ice cream, and he says he has a bike like mine. So maybe we’ll have to take a bike ride sometime.
He’s a very different person than me. I can’t stress enough that I would not choose to spend time with him if left to my own selfish desires. It’s only because we share membership in Christ’s body that I spend time with him. And that’s precisely why loving him is so important. If the love of the Gospel only promotes love for people who look like you, sound like you, and think like you, then I’d doubt that Gospel came from Heaven.
Maybe it is offensive to say I want to hang out with him, even though I don’t want to spend time with him. I’ve known people who don’t like that thought, but I also trust that if I truly open my heart to loving someone who has a messy life and different formation in Christ than myself, I might just over time find myself not being someone who only serves him but is served by that relationship and seeing the beauty of Christ and having my own heart transformed in new ways. Christ so often calls us do things we don’t understand only to later unfurl a majestic plan we’d never have written. I trust there’s something here worth carving out some periodic times to invest in.
And, in some ways, as much as it might not have been the way I’d have solved my problem, my fellow church member stopping by was the answer to a night in by myself not being so, well, by myself.
Well, it’s off to bed for me! Today felt like a good day before the Lord. I wasn’t perfect (spoiler alert: I never will be) but James 4:7 was strong in my mind today. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.”
I hear the back half of this verse quoted so often. But I make an emphasis to quote the first half of it. Submit to God. We don’t resist the Devil and then turn to worship God. We worship God by resisting the Devil. That’s a subtle but huge difference! It preserved me from being lured away to a much less wholesome evening. The fact that I never really felt that close to being drawn that way is proof that God can and has liberated me to say “No!” to my sin! May I remember that in all the days the Lord allows me to live.
On the reading list tonight is more Jerle Shannara and Mere Christianity as well as Genesis 31 & 32.
Signing off. Sleep well, world. Sleep under the watchful care of our majestic maker.