Russell and Duenes

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Mother’s Day, 2017

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I’ve paid tribute to my own mother on numerous occasions, and of course, I still marvel at all the diapers changed, baths given, meals cooked, laundry washed, items sewn, beds made, floors vacuumed, kitchens cleaned, carpools driven, homework assisted with, financial assistance rendered and ten thousand other things my mother has done for me throughout the course of my life. I simply cannot imagine a greater mother than my own, and I don’t know how, humanly speaking, she has done it.

I also recognize that her becoming a great mother was no accident, for her mother, who is still with us at almost 101 years old, is similarly the kind of mother who needs too many superlative adjectives to describe.

And my mother’s grandmother, who I had the privilege of knowing until I was 17 years old, was also a woman of virtue and excellence in every way. So it runs in the family, and not by accident.

My mother will never have fame. She never ran a corporation or served in political office. She has not thrown herself into some “cause” for which she will be recognized. She has no PhD or advanced educational degrees of any sort. She never tried to “have it all.” She is simply a highly intelligent, diligent, patient, glad-hearted, constant, compassionate, giving woman who knows what it means to be a woman and whose legacy will be children well-loved in every sense of the term. I will also remember the many mornings she got up looking rather bushed as she prepared to go to school as a long-term kindergarden substitute teacher.

My mother has also loved my wife as a daughter from before we even got married. My wife is truly a third daughter in our family and my mother could not love her more had she given birth to her.

At 48 years of age, I find that I speak to my mother now more than ever. It’s not so much that I need advice with my 4 kids, though I do need it. Rather, I simply realize how valuable and special my mom is, and I want to enjoy her life as much as possible in the time she has left on this earth.

Our lives are all short, a “vapor,” God says. And in her short life, my mother has given herself to that which is most important: Trusting God, loving her husband, and raising her children faithfully with love, grace, care and truth. For this, may she receive “the fruit of her hands” and may “her works praise her in the gates.” (Prov. 31:31).

Happy Mothers Day, Madre!

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 14, 2017 at 5:07 am

From Big City California to Topeka . . . and Loving It

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My family and I moved to Topeka about five years ago, but it’s where we came from and the fact that we’d rather be in Topeka, that throws people off. To the bewilderment of some, we willfully migrated here from the sunny climes and stunning scenery of the San Francisco Bay Area. From our apartment in Northern California, we could walk out on almost any day of the year and enjoy browsing around the local open-air marketplace or taking a stroll along a bayside boulevard with a view of the San Francisco skyline. Besides the great weather, California offers many culinary and entertainment options. So isn’t the move supposed to happen the other way? Leaving the Midwest for the “cool” of California? A move to Kansas City might have been understandable to our friends, but Topeka?

The fact is, when we considered moving, Topeka wasn’t anywhere on our radar either. I was leaving teaching after ten years to pursue a law degree, and we were hoping to live closer to some of my wife’s family in the Kansas City area. Somehow we stumbled across Washburn Law School, which I had never heard of, and I remember looking at Topeka on the map and thinking to myself “Oh, it’s not that far from Kansas City.” Things started to fall into place and the draw of being in a capital city seemed right. However, my wife also recalls a neighbor remarking to us, “You’ll probably move once you’re done.”

Cancel that move. We truly enjoy living in Topeka, even more than California. Here are a few reasons why.

 We actually see our friends. Life in the Bay Area always seemed so harried and overbooked. Although we had, and still have, many friends there, it was hard to actually get together with them. Some of this had to do with the fact that it often took a half hour or more just to get to a friend’s house two suburbs away, and we could not always summon the motivation for the trip through traffic. But also, our friends were often just as busy and scheduled as we were. Yet in Topeka, we have had many people warmly befriend us. Not only that, they’re often home and available. It’s not a major planning event to get together with them, and it regularly happens on the spur of the moment. This has been a great blessing to us.

We haven’t sat in traffic in five years. In urban California, one takes sitting in traffic as a badge of honor, but it’s a badge whose luster had worn off. Some folks may think Wanamaker has “bad traffic,” but it’s a dream compared to getting past the Bay Bridge on a weekday afternoon. Traffic in Topeka means you’re sitting 4th or 5th at a red light. So it sure takes the stress out of driving when one knows that getting most any place in the city will take no more than 20 minutes or so. Not only that, but we never drive around searching for parking because Topeka’s shopping areas have parking in spades. A quick run to the store? No problem.

We visit the Parks. I don’t know about other cities in Kansas, but the parks and open spaces in Topeka are wonderful. The Ted Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee in April is like nothing we ever enjoyed in our California suburbs. Gage Park is a wonder for our kids, and they are happy walking along the Shunga Trail or the Governors Lake, not to mention the many smaller parks that dot Topeka’s landscape. Our boys also like a stroll around the capitol building grounds, a visit to the Topeka Zoo or Discovery Center, running around Washburn’s campus, or riding bikes at Kingsrow Park. There are so many great places to choose from, and it always feels so unhurried.

We have a backyard. Short of earning your first million dollars, home ownership is actually possible in Topeka. Not only that, but one can have a substantial backyard along with it. If we picked up our current house and yard and plunked it down where we used to live in California, it would not cost double what it does in Topeka, but closer to ten times as much. In our California neighborhood, a fixer-upper is still likely to be north of half-a-million dollars. It boggles our minds, particularly when we consider the beauty and style of so many homes here in Topeka at a fraction of the cost.

We enjoy the people. Isn’t this the most important thing about any place? Whether we reflect on our neighbors, the staff at Washburn Law School, our realtor, folks at the bank, co-workers in state government, ladies working in the general store at Cracker Barrel, people we meet at a park, or our friends from church; we have felt welcomed into people’s lives in a genuine way. The kindness and initiative people show us is wonderful, and more than anything, endears us to Topeka.

When we arrived in Topeka, my only acquaintance in town, who had himself moved here five years earlier, said he was finally starting to feel at home in this city. We now know the feeling, and are grateful that Topeka is our home.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 30, 2016 at 1:14 pm

These Go To Eleven

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One year ago I graduated from law school, which really only meant two more months of bar exam prep, the most grueling study I have ever had to do. So while I enjoyed law school in many ways, and am grateful for the new friends I made, I have never had a day of sentimental feeling about my legal studies since. I sometimes drive by my law school, and I feel absolutely no desire to be back there. I find being a lawyer stimulating and challenging, but I’m overwhelmingly glad to have law school behind me.

I recently turned 46 years old, and I was briefly thinking back on the last eleven years of my life. Why eleven, you say? In May of 2004 I was a 35 year-old single schoolteacher. I met Jennifer Howard for the first time in-person. She was in the middle of teaching students in Central Asia, and I was teaching high school Bible in the Bay Area. Through a mutual friend we had been emailing each other for several months, but had never met. On Memorial Day, she was coming through Los Angeles on a furlough and I was coming through on my way back to the Bay Area from Mexico. So we met up for the day. Looking back over the eleven years: Jenni and I became a “couple,” Jenni finished her teaching overseas and moved to the Bay Area in October of 2005, we got engaged in April of 2006 (while watching Anne of Green Gables, a most fantastic show which we recently watched again), we married in August of 2006, moved from Berkeley, CA to Oakland, CA in June of 2007, Jenni gave birth to Eli in September of 2007, she gave birth to Dylan in September of 2009, we moved to Alameda, CA in December of 2009, Jenni gave birth to Nathanael in March of 2011, and I accepted Washburn Law School’s offer of admission.

I left my teaching job, we packed up all our stuff and moved to Topeka, KS in June of 2011, started law school that fall, and finished a year ago. Two months later, Jenni gave birth to our only daughter, Georgia, I started working as a lawyer, and we bought a home. It’s all so amazing, unimaginable and redemptive to me. When I consider that I was a single, struggling, and largely unencumbered high school teacher in 2004, and am now a husband, father of four, homeowner, living in a rather smallish Kansas city, working as a public utilities attorney, well, let’s just say that is not how I had it drawn up, and I feel profoundly that I do not deserve any of it. But I’m grateful beyond anything I can express. There have been many joys, as well as much fear and pain, along the way, but God has been constant in His grace and faithfulness, even when I have been unfaithful. He is a sovereign and wise God indeed. Worthy of all glory and honor and praise!

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 16, 2015 at 9:07 am

Dallas Willard: 1935 – 2013

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Dallas-WillardI was first exposed to Dallas Willard as part of a Bible study I attended in the mid-90’s. My good friend Duke Dillard, who was leading the study, gave us portions of Dallas’ book, Spirit of the Disciplines, to ponder over. The “spiritual disciplines” were not entirely new to me, having read bits of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline in college. Yet Dallas seemed to have a way of writing about the spiritual life that at once appealed to both my intellect and my heart. I wish I could say that these readings immediately “hooked” me, but Dallas’ influence was instead something that grew on me over the years.

Another of my friends, Greg Edlund, was also quite taken with Willard’s thinking. I don’t remember many of our conversations about Dallas specifically, but I do remember Greg’s remarking about a particular phrase that Dallas had used in describing the plight of humanity apart from God’s redeeming grace, namely, that we were in a “spiraling disaster.” This idea was found in chapter 11 of Spirit of the Disciplines, entitled “The Disciplines and the Power Structures of This World.” It is still one of the most powerful expositions of our daily reality that I have ever read. Indeed, before I even owned a copy of Spirit of the Disciplines myself, I had photocopied this chapter so that I might mark it up with comments. It is rare, even now, that I watch a movie, read a story or reflect on some life event without being able to relate it to something Dallas said in that chapter.

Some highlights: “More often than not, faith has failed, sadly enough, to transform the human character of the masses, because it is usually unaccompanied by discipleship and by an overall discipline of life such as Christ himself practiced.” (p.221). By this Dallas meant more, of course, than having “quiet times.” It was the failure of practical discipleship in both individual and communal terms, that hobbles us. Such a failing is certainly central to the weakness of my own spiritual life, such as it is.

When it comes to “the evil that men do,” Dallas asked: “Why ask why?” He further questioned: “What is it about our lives that always leaves us astonished and wondering at the evils people do? Indeed, at the evils we do? What makes us expect any better, given a track record like the one just cited (i.e., various examples of murder, war, abuse, financial scheming and the like)? There is something very deep here to be explored, for it is closely tied to our cowlike confidence in banal decency and to our corresponding failure to take appropriately strong measures against evil as it rests in our own personalities and in our world.” (p.224). Indeed, G.K. Chesterton wondered openly at the western world’s profound denial of the doctrine of original sin when it was the one doctrine that could be empirically verified. Yet Dallas was able to lay bare our sinful lives with a plain clarity that could not help but arrest one’s attention. I have found nothing better on the subject, other than Jesus and the other biblical writers, than Dallas’ conclusion that “the persistence of evil rests upon the general drift of human life in which we all share. It rides upon a motion so vast, so pervasive and ponderous that, like the motion of the planet earth, it is almost impossible to detect. We delude ourselves about the sustaining conditions of people’s evil deeds because we wish to continue living as we now live and continue being the kinds of people we are. We do not want to change. We do not want our world to be really different. We just want to escape the consequences of its being what it truly is and of our being who we truly are.” (pgs.224-25).

The key word here was “want.” We do not want to change. So Dallas used to say that we need to ask God to “fix our ‘wanter.'” That’s a great way of putting it. Our “wanters” are broken, and we need to have God change our deepest desires. Of course, in saying this, Dallas was simply adding his own stylistic flourish on a truth long preached by Christian men and women. Dallas went on to say that there was a “readiness to do evil” in each human being, the “sin in our members” waiting for the right circumstances, which always came along. “It is no mere abstract possibility but a genuine tendency, constantly at work. It does not take much to get most people to lie, for example, or to take what does not belong to them, and shamefully little to get them to think of how nice it would be if certain others were dead. Thus, if in our lives we are not protected by a hearty confidence in God’s never failing and effective care for us, these ‘readinesses’ for various kinds of wrongdoing will be constantly provoked into action by threatening circumstances. And when we act, others around us will, of course, react. And then we will react to them, and so forth, until we and others are stunned into quiescence by the spiraling disasters.” (pgs. 226-227). But Willard went further, proclaiming that “the impersonal power structures in the world are, though independent of any one person’s will and experience, nevertheless dependent for their force upon the general readiness of normal people to do evil.” (p.231). We tend to downplay the way in which our common wickedness and sin leads to greater disasters such as war or famine or economic futility or slavery or genocide or . . . Yet Dallas saw it clearly, and it was no mere theory in his mind.

Dallas was one of those rare people who combined a sustained level of intellectual achievement with the lived experience of walking with Jesus, such that he could say things that went far beyond Christian boilerplate. Though he was brilliant, Dallas’ words were never in the obscurantist ether. Rather, he had so imbibed the life of Jesus that he could talk about spiritual reality in clear and concise terms.

Dallas’ most popular work was likely The Divine Conspiracy. He once again laid bare our fallacious notions of “discipleship,” saying that we accepted a kind of “bar code” faith. He called this the “gospel of sin management,” and said that “the theology of Christian trinkets says there is something about the Christian that works like a bar code. Some ritual, some belief, or some association with a group affects God the way the bar code affects the scanner. Perhaps there has occurred a moment of mental assent to a creed, or an association entered into with a church. God ‘scans’ it, and forgiveness floods forth . . . We are, accordingly, ‘saved.’ Out guilt is erased. How could we not be Christians?” (p.37). And of course, all too often, this is indeed how I conceive of my “faith” in Jesus.

Yet the best part of Dallas’ thought, in this book or any other, was his exposition of the truth that Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived. Dallas writes: “The ‘real’ world has little room for a God of sparrows and children. To it, Jesus can only seem ‘otherworldly’ – a good-hearted person out of touch with reality. Yes, it must be admitted that he is influential, but only because he affirms what weak-minded and fainthearted individuals fantasize in the face of a brutal world. He is like a cheerleader who continues to shout, ‘We are going to win,’ though the score is 98 to 3 against us in the last minute of the game.” (p.91). Moreover, “in our culture, among Christians and non-Christians alike, Jesus Christ is automatically disassociated from brilliance or intellectual capacity. Not one in a thousand will spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as well-informed, brilliant, or smart. Far too often he is regarded as hardly conscious. He is looked at as a mere icon, a wraithlike semblance of a man, fit for the role of sacrificial lamb or alienated social critic, perhaps, but little more.” (p.134). I remember well how mercilessly President George W. Bush was mocked for saying that Jesus was his favorite philosopher. What a rube, eh?

But Willard would have none of it. He said that “to become a disciple of Jesus is to accept now that inversion of human distinctions that will sooner or later be forced upon everyone by the irresistible reality of his kingdom. . . . We must, simply, accept that he is the best and smartest man who ever lived in this world, that he is even now ‘the prince of the kings of the earth,’ (Rev.1:5).” (p.90). He went on to say that “the powerful though vague and unsubstantiated presumption is that something has been found out that renders a spiritual understanding of reality in the manner of Jesus simply foolish to those who are ‘in the know.’ But when it comes time to say exactly what it is that has been found out, nothing of substance is forthcoming. . .  You can be very sure that nothing fundamental has changed in our knowledge of ultimate reality and the human self since the time of Jesus.” (p. 92-93) Therefore, Dallas concludes: “Can we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if he were not smart? If he were divine, would he be dumb? Or uninformed? Once you stop to think about it, how could he be what we take him to be in all other respects and not be the best-informed and most intelligent person of all, the smartest person who ever lived?” (p.94).

Willard’s other books besides The Divine Conspiracy and The Spirit of the Disciplines also deserve a wider readership. Anyone would profit from having Hearing God, Renovation of the Heart, and The Great Omission in his or her library, to be pulled off the shelves and mined for wisdom. His exposition of “the cost of non-discipleship” (see The Great Omission) is worth the price alone. Dallas’s stuff is water for parched souls.

Willard, of course, was not only a theologian with a pastor’s heart, but a philosopher of the first order. Yet here again, he was able to break epistemological reality down into something clear and concise. His main formulation of life was summed up in four questions, which he repeated again and again: 1) What is ultimately reality? 2) What is ‘the good life’? 3) Who is a ‘good person?’ 4) How does one become a ‘good person?’ These four questions became a major part of the curriculum for my freshman Bible class when I taught at Redwood Christian. We spent weeks trying to mine the depths of these questions. You could profitably spend an entire semester on the first question alone, for if God Himself and His kingdom is ultimate reality, then there is no spiritual neutrality anywhere in the universe. As Willard says, “Our commitment to Jesus can stand on no other foundation than a recognition that he is the one who knows the truth about our lives and our universe. It is not possible to trust Jesus, or anyone else, in matters where we do not believe him to be competent. We cannot pray for his help and rely on his collaboration in dealing with real-life matters we suspect might defeat his knowledge or abilities.” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 94). The practical applications of Willard’s statement are legion. The reality that Willard conveyed was that God’s kingdom was everywhere present and everywhere and always available to those who would look for it. This should serve as a constant reminder to me to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all [things needful] shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33).

It has always been heartening to me as a Christian to remind myself that a man as smart as Dallas Willard had almost boundless confidence in Jesus and His words to us. One dictum born of Dallas’ mental acuity was the exhortation to sometimes “doubt your beliefs and believe your doubts,” but equally to “doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.” I simply cannot emphasize the wisdom and comfort these words convey. All too often we are willing to assume that our doubts are valid, and that our beliefs should always be open to question. But what about questioning our doubts? This has brought me to the realization that there is no worldview – religious, agnostic, or atheistic – that does not have “problems” that must be wrestled with. And once I began to doubt my doubts, I realized that the promised intellectual “liberation” that so many say comes from jettisoning God, is largely a fiction. People like to jettison God without owning up to all the other things that must be also jettisoned along with Him, namely, meaning in life, morality, truth, falsehood, love, justice, compassion, and eternal life. I am simply no longer willing to believe that the abandonment of these things is “liberation” (and I suspect most atheists agree with me, for they are largely not consistent enough in their atheism to abandon them either. They want “no God” while retaining virtually all the blessings that come from inhabiting a God-suffused world).

There are too many things to admire about Dallas Willard to recount, but one last thing that has always stood out to me was his generosity of spirit, particularly with those who disagreed with him. I remember attending a Veritas Forum event at Stanford University where he was presenting his views in opposition to those of the famed post-modernist, Richard Rorty. There was no snarkiness or sarcasm to anything Dallas was saying, and in fact, he recommended a particular chapter in one of Rorty’s books as a “must read.” On his recommendation, I remember going to my local bookstore and reading Rorty’s chapter right there. Willard was always so confident in Christ that he never needed to emphasize his points with a particular tone of voice. A gentle and calm manner pervaded all that he said and did, and I cannot help but believe that this was born of his own practiced experience in the spiritual disciplines.

Dallas Willard was truly a great man. He was humble, yet courageous. He melded heart and mind in devotion to Jesus. He did not abandon the academy to the forces of secularism. He profoundly influence other great men, J.P. Moreland and Scott Rae of BIOLA University being among them, and turned them loose upon the culture as well. I count it a great blessing to have heard him speak in person on a couple of occasions, and to have been led to his writings. My prayer at this point is that his writings will have an even greater impact on me in whatever years I have left in this life, that my life in the next world will be the richer. Thank you, Lord God, for your servant Dallas. Thank you for the time we had with him.

-D

Redwood Christian High School 2012 Graduation Speech: You’re Ordinary People

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Here’s the text – though not the word-for-word delivery – of the graduation speech I gave this year for Redwood Christian High School’s commencement. It was an immense joy and privilege to be back with old colleagues, students, and close friends. God is good!

Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hearne, Members of the Board, and the Class of 2012. . .I want to thank you very much for having me here to speak. It is an honor and a joy beyond words to see your glorious faces and to be with you again. And to you, Class of 2012, what a wonderful privilege to be able to address you, one last time.

You know, two nights ago, I had a speech all ready to go for you. It was all typed out, and biblical and all, and I thought it was pretty good. It WAS good; I’m sorry you won’t get to hear it. And then I decided to run it by my wife. She liked it well enough, but she said to me, “You know, you’ve listened to 10 years of graduation speeches at Redwood, and now it’s your one chance to say something. I mean, they’ve flown you out here. Is that really what you want to say?” And I said, “Well, what I really want to say is. . .” and so you’ll get the speech that I really wanted to give, which is probably better any way.

We graduation speakers like to talk about how great you are and about all the great things you’re going to do and all the unique opportunities you have to change the world and be the generation that does what no one has ever done before. We like to pump you up about how successful you’re all going to be. But I think we ought to speak frankly about greatness and success. Please understand, I’m not trying to downplay greatness or success, it’s just that I think God has a very different idea about these things than most of us have, and I hope you’ll think about what greatness and success mean for you as you go.

The reality is, you’re ordinary people, I’m an ordinary person, we’re ordinary people and we’re going to be living ordinary lives. What do I mean by that? I mean, you’ll be doing the same things that most people are doing. In the next few years you’ll have to do what most people your age do: You’ll have to get yourself out of bed in the mornings and make yourself presentable. Most of you will head off to some classes and you’ll take some kind of a job if you don’t have one already. You’ll study some and you might head down to the local Starbucks and hang out with some friends. You might watch some TV and do other social things, and if you’re away at college you’ll lob your parents a phone call every now and then and this will be your life.

And then when you’re done you’ll take your place in society like other Americans and you’ll do many of the same things that they’re doing: going off to work, making meals, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, trying to please your boss, cleaning your daughter’s spit up off the floor, folding the laundry, having that conversation with your husband or wife about who’s going to pick up what child, where and when, and how they’re going to get to their 15 activities this week, and hopefully you’ll be involved in Christian fellowship at your local church, along with 10,000 other things that make up daily life. IT’S ALL HORRIBLY UNROMANTIC AND UNSENTIMENTAL. But you know, Jesus is quite unromantic and unsentimental about life, because He knows the reality of how it’s lived.

Now don’t get me wrong, some of you may do things that are out-of –the ordinary. I have a number of friends who work overseas for Christ, and I support and encourage their work and would be thrilled if that’s what you did. And maybe one of you will be the next Bill Gates or Albert Einstein or Condaleeza Rice. But even if you ARE, Jesus will not measure your greatness and success mainly by your public achievements. Rather, He will measure your success by  your ordinary and daily in’s and out’s of relating to your parents and children and spouses and co-workers and neighbors. These are the measures of true greatness, and as I said, Jesus measures these things in a very unromantic and unsentimental way.

That’s why He says crazy things like, “Take up your cross daily” and “Whoever would be greatest among you must be least of all and servant of all.” He says, “Whoever would try to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the kingdom, will save it for eternal life.” Or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” which is a truly radical command when you stop and consider what it means.

And, of course, Jesus actually DID these things. In His earthly life He wasn’t a statesman or a political leader – though I suppose He could have been had He wanted to. He never ran a multi-billion dollar corporation. He composed no great musical works nor created any great paintings. That we know of, He never wrote anything of significance. Aside from the miracles, there wasn’t a lot that the world would consider “extraordinary,” which may explain why the world disregards him so widely these days. But Jesus understands life better than we do.

No one who has ever lived or ever will live was greater than Jesus, because only Jesus fully and completely trusted God and “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” Only Jesus fully “loved his neighbor as himself.” Only Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” And what was the upshot of all this? The Bible tells us that “God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Submission to God in the love and service of others is true greatness, and what the world desperately needs more than anything else is men and women with that sort of greatness.

Now of course, you cannot hope to do this in your own power. This kind of greatness comes with humility and dependence upon God. And because Jesus died on that cross and because He gives you His Holy Spirit by faith, you CAN live that kind of greatness and success in your every day, rubber meets the road, ordinary lives.

Perhaps you think I’ve given you a mundane or boring description of life. Perhaps you think life should be a bit more exciting or compelling than what I’ve described. But I assure you, these ordinary daily things we must attend to are the VERY STUFF OF LIFE. They are NOT the necessary evils we HAVE to do to keep things going. I think I’m only beginning to learn this myself. Chasing my son around the yard for the 10th time when I’m tired is the stuff of life. Helping a co-worker solve a difficult problem is the stuff of life. Putting your children through a Christian education is the stuff of life – and believe me, your parents and others have put you through your Christian education at great sacrifice and ordinary labor. Doing dishes, mopping the floor, making the beds, reading to your children, going to parent-teacher meetings, carpooling your kids, taking care of a sick relative, or sitting by your parent’s bedside as they slip into eternity…this is the stuff of life. We avoid it at our peril. And Jesus assures us that serving others in His name and in His power is the best life of all. “I have come,” He says, “that you might have life and have it to the full.” His life of serving others is our model for having that fullness of life.

So, Class of 2012, go out into the world, but as you do, in Christ’s name, lay down your lives for others. Give yourselves to the ultimate good of others. Serve them for the sake of Christ, in the ordinary daily life that you lead, and in so doing, live true greatness.

Thank you.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

June 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm