Friday, December 5, 2008

Sabbath Elevator

While we were staying in Jerusalem the hotel we stayed at had what is called a "Sabbath Elevator". This is very common, they are all over the country. What you might ask is a Sabbath elevator. On the sabbath the elevator goes to all the even floors and the other one goes to all the odd floors. This allows a person to go up the elevator without pushing any buttons which is considered work. The other elevators work normally. It is a pain to have to wait...

On the Sabbath my Dad got in a non sabbath elevator but some Jews got in thinking that it was a Sabbath Elevator. When Dad went to push the button they told him not to and then they realized they were in the wrong elevator. Instead of pushing the button they asked Dad to do it. Interesting that he could violate the sabbath but not them. It seems selfish to let someone else sin for you..They didn't want to make themselves impure so the let Dad make himself impure. Since we don't follow the sabbath laws it was fine to love your neighbor and help them.

Their reaction is fairly human, we want someone else to sin for us. As Christians we don't follow the Sabbath the same way but we also want someone to sin for us. That is we want Christ to take all our sins and atone for them on the cross. Since Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us we are free from sin, death and the power of the devil. This gives us the freedom to no longer have to worry about Sabbath Elevators and to love our neighbors and get our hands dirty in the process. Thanks be to God for our freedom.

Sermon Resources for Dec 7th

Here is a link to Luther Seminary's advent devotionals.

It is a good resource and it is free.

Reflections from the Holy Land

I met some amazing men while I was there. These men are Palestinians doing ministry in some very difficult circumstances. I was touched by their passion, vision and energy. None of them can do the ministry they do without an international network of prayer and financial support. It is awesome to see what God can do when the Body of Christ works together for a common goal.

I was very touched and challenged by being in their presence. I was touched seeing what God can do with seemingly nothing and challenged by their clarity of vision. It makes me rethink my vision. Do I have the kind of clarity they have? Am I part of something bigger than myself? Am I doing what God called and I am being who God created me to be?

One thing that I came away knowing for sure is that we don't cooperate very well as Lutheran congregations. We all work in our own little kingdom and rarely do we really work together as the larger Body of Christ. One of the only examples I know of is the shared bell choir MLC has with FOG. There is so much more to be done together.

I think one of the barriers is competition and ego among the clergy. So often we disagree and want to feel like we are better or more right theologically. We have not been captured by a common vision fueled by the Spirit and about bringing the kingdom. We get caught up in "doing church" and forget about "being the church" and sharing the Gospel in a very real and power. I think that the devil likes to divide us so that we are less effective. What we need is someone or something to work like a catalyst for change and to help us rally around kingdom work.

Reflections from the Holy Land

We went to Mount Tabor, which is where Jesus is to believed to be transfigured. The church there is very pretty and when we went in we couldn't go into the lower part because a Roman Catholic group was having Mass. We joined our hearts with them as they worshiped and when there were parts that we know we joined in prayer and song.
When they went to commune the priest invited us (a protestant group) to commune in one kind with them. What a profound moment of ecumenical life. After we communed we sang the the song they had chosen which was "They will know we are Christians by our love". It was a beautiful moment as we came together as Christians first and RC/Protestants fourth. I believe this pleased our Lord and that he smiled down on us.

When we are in Christ we are a new creation. This is what the scriptures teach. We have a common father Abba, a common Lord Jesus, and a common Spirit dwelling within us. How often we forget that what we have in common is so much greater than what we disagree about. I think this unity is a witness to a lost and hurting world. I am thankful for this experience, it will stay with me my whole life.

Reflections from the Holy Land

There are churches everywhere in the Holy Land. If a person wants to take the ultimate church building tour head to Israel. There is literally a church over almost every holy site. Sometimes these churches are owned by one denomination sometimes they are owned by more that one denomination. Needless to say there is regular arguments about whose site is more holy, more authentic etc... This is one of the tragedies of the Holy Land. Many of these arguments are amongst Chrsitians..

Some places however do not have churches on them such as the Sea of Galilee. We sailed the sea (which is really a large lake) and it was awesome to know that we were on the same body of water that Jesus walked, stilled the storm and called his disciples. There is something prfoundly real about seeing the places that I had read about my entire life. It brings a certain authenticity to the stories. They are more like accounts than stories. Stories may or may not be true but an account is the telling of fact. It brought these accounts to life and it brings a certain wholeness to my life that I didn't expect. The emotional impact of the trip really surprised me. I know it would be cool but I didn't expect it to be as profound as it was.

One of the sites that is a must see is the pool of Bethesda. We read in John 5 of how Jesus healed an invalid who had been there for 38 years. The awesome things about this site is that the church is next to it and you can see the actual pool just as it is described in the Bible. Totally awesome. We saw the place where Jesus healed a man and we talked about healing in our own lives while we were there. It was really cool to pray there and to be in a place where our Lord was. As I reread the scripture now it brings it to life and increases my faith in Jesus. It brings me a greater sense of love, wonder and awe for this man who is the Son of Man and Son of God. It makes the scriptures come alive like they never have before. Praise be to Christ!!

Reflections from the Holy Land

One of the things that I noticed while in Jerusalem is that people are practicing their religion. The city is full of religion: Franciscan monks, orthodox monks, Hasidic Jews, Muslims, pilgrims and observant Jews. These are just a few of the religions that people practice. The whole city is religious which is just the opposite of my experience in every major US city that I have either lived in or visited.

It is such a contrast to Seattle where we are not even allowed to have a Christmas tree, it has to be a holiday tree. I think that we have lost a lot as a people by moving to a religionless society. Some would argue that wars are caused by religion and they would be right but because a few have misused God for their own goals. This sad fact doesn't mean we should move away from religion. Rather it should move us toward Christ. For in Christ there is a new creation and the possibilty for change in society isn't through new laws or regulations. The possibility for change is through the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of believers. This is where the power for change and hope resides.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Israel day 2

We did so much today but what I want to write about is Peter. We were on the lake he worked. We went to his house, to the place he was called by Jesus and to where he professed that is the Messiah.
I was mindful of our son Gavin Peter for much of the day. When he is older I want to show him the pictures of where his namesake lived. Even more than that he needs to know the same Christ that Simon Peter followed and proclaimed.
It is a great honor and challenge to share our faith with our children. They must come to know and profess as Peter did that Jesus is the Messiah.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Israel Day One

Today it rained really hard. We all got soaking wet and got rained out of our first visit. Which meant we got to go to Mt. Carmel. This is where Eliajh took on the prohpets of Baal and won through Divine Providence.
This has always been one of my favorite accounts in the bible. It was awesome, even in the rain. It is hard to grasp that this was the place. It brings so much to the story.
Tomorrow we go to the Sea of Galilee where Jesus called his first disciples and stilled the storm. It makes me think about my own call to follow Christ. The first disciples left their boats to follow Jesus. What am I being called to drop? Certianly my pride, ego and self interest. Rather I should follow the footsteps of my Lord and not count the cost.
We will see what God reveals tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

God's People

There is a beauty in God's people that at times seems indescribable. The beauty is in is watching people being moved by the Spirit and living lives that are truly holy. I am never ceased to be amazed at what God can do through a human life.

I wish that I could describe this beauty in greater detail but it would be like trying to describe a sunset. All you can do is watch with the eyes of your heart and be amazed at the glory of Christ as he moves through his people.

I stand in awe...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Support for Fearless Living

This entry is in support of my message from the Fearless Living Series: Fearless Living With Your Family. At the outset I want to state that this message is not aimed at abusive relationships or mental illness. While some of the material may help it is important to seek professional help if you are in one of these situations.

The basis of a healthy relationship is unconditional love. This is the basis of our relationship with God. God loves us unconditionally in and through Christ. This experience is made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit burning within our hearts. This is bedrock for all human relationships because we cannot give what we have not received. If we are not grounded in radical grace then we will look to all our relationships to meet our needs. We will seek to manipulate, coerce and try to force love and response from others because we have not deeply received it in from God in Christ.

Secondly we must learn to forgive. God in Christ forgave us and empowers us to forgive. We will get wounded and hurt in our relationships. First we must learn to receive God’s forgiveness in Christ. Again, radical grace transforms us and allows us to forgive others.

Third we must learn to serve and not be selfish. Christ served humanity at all times, he came not seeking his own will but his Father’s will. Christ humbled himself, taking the form of a slave. For us it means learning to say “I’m sorry”. It means to truly listen to another human being without judgment, simply to hold them in love. It means to compromise and seek a win-win solution.

Lastly we need mature followers of Christ to speak into our lives. If we fail to review and reflect on our lives then we will be doomed to make the same mistakes. If we lack the courage to open our life before another trusted Christian then we will not see what others see and our relationships will again fail.

Here are some key books to read to support these points.

The Ragamuffin Gospel (Paperback)
by Brennan Manning (Author)

Embracing the Love of God: Path and Promise of Christian Life, The (Paperback)
by James B. Smith (Author)

The Wisdom of Tenderness: What Happens When God's Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives by Brennan Manning

The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life (Hardcover)
by Henri J. M. Nouwen (Author), Vincent Van Gogh (Illustrator)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


There is grace enough for each day. No matter what the day brings there is grace enough for the moment and for the day. The reason why there is grace enough for each day is that Christ is present in each moment of every day. No matter what we lose or gain Christ is there. It is His presence that brings joy, patience, fullness and even beauty in all of life.

The Eucharist is a perfect example. The words of institution start with "on the night in which he was betrayed"...This awful night for Christ was the night in which he gave us his body and blood so that we might know life. We gather around his broken body and shed blood and yet proclaim life, love and forgiveness.

That is because for Christ nothing is foreign. Our pain, anger loneliness, pride, folly, hate, greed are not obstacles to his presence. In fact he is present there offering forgiveness and new life. Remember he came to call sinners, not the righteous.

What this means is that whatever I discover today, whatever road I may be lead down, my Beloved Lord is there. The Bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8). What a great reason for joy and hope, the ever present Christ walking with each one of us down whatever road we are led. Oh that my eyes would be open to see his prescence in all things and in all people!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


My illness has drawn me closer to Christ. The Christ that I am drawn closer to is the one who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, and whom God raised on the third day. My suffering is meaningless and vain if not for the crucified one who came and lived in a particular time and in a particular place. I am drawn to love him more because it is his scared hands that hold me in my pain and tiredness. It is his pierced side that my head lays against when I am tired and feel depressed about how my body feels. It is his resurrected body that promises resurrection to my pain filled body. It is this One who deeply understands and gives me the grace that I need each day.

The past several weeks have been very laborious for me and difficult. Yet the place I consistently find joy is where I see the hand of Christ at work. As I look I see the Crucified One more and more. I saw him yesterday in the smile of my son and the beauty of my daughter. I saw him in the long suffering of my wife and in the honesty of my men's group. I saw him today in the women who were making quilts and packing school kits. I saw him in our volunteers showing mercy by giving out food to the needy.

This morning I saw him in the sun and in my dogs and in the beauty of nature. This is what sustains me each day and gives me reason to smile and for hope. It is the historic Christ that allows us to enter into the paschal mystery. What grace and love flow from his hands into our hearts!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


True spirituality can only be unassuming and ordinary for the spiritual life is about the holiness of the ordinary. Jesus was fully God and fully Human. It is tempting to think that the saints are somehow not human, that they are superhuman or super divine. No, they are human and filled with the Divine. They are perhaps a little more transparent than the rest of us. This transparency doesn’t make them otherworldly; the opposite is true. They become more human and more mundane. They are no longer caught up with the grand illusion of bigger, better, faster. They are grounded in the gift of the now, the present. Saints live their lives in the moment by moment awareness of Presence. It is to see life as it really is.

To the uninitiated they may appear too ordinary, too bland. This is because the uninitiated is looking with the wrong set of eyes. To say it better they are looking with good eyes through a distorted lens. The holiest man is the humblest man (Phil 2). I use the word man because I am describing the Son of Man who chose not to accentuate his divinity by calling himself the Son of God. Rather he emphasizes his humanity.

The problem with this spirituality for some is that is does nothing. It doesn’t solve cancer or cure my neurological problems. There is no heroism or dynamism. There simply is a still point where all makes sense and all is fused. This point fades and the memory of it dies more slowly. What lingers is a sense of the divine in all, even in the pain, failures, ego trips and anger. Being a human is not a barrier to the Divine, it is a sacred vessel to the Mystery that we glimpse from time to time. Saints simply glimpse longer, deeper and it pervades more of their sight. Therefore, they of all people are more human, no more and no less.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I played tennis today with my old boss. What a joy to be on the court again and to hit a tennis ball. I felt such joy despite the fatigue my body felt. The joy came from Christ who gave me the ability and history to be in that place, in that time with that person.

How can I be anything but joyful when such a gift is given. The gift was simply an opportunity to have fun, get a workout and use a talent.

I think for the first time my tennis truly became prayerful experience. I have prayed while playing before but never has tennis been prayer. The simple awareness of the body which I have been so graciously given to be able to flex and move. The time actually helped with the pain I have been feeling.

Thank you Lord.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I went to the fair yesterday with my family. It reminded me of when I worked at the fair during college. To help raise money for our tennis program all possible team members needed to work at the fair helping out on the various rides. I remember how people looked at us who were working the fair.

The feeling is that we were losers for working at the fair and something must have gone wrong in our lives to have us working there.

This year as I looked at the fair workers I was mindful of the Little Sisters of Jesus who intentionally work at the fair as a way to show Christ' love to the people who work at the fair for a living. What a choice, or rather, what a calling to renounce all other possibilities and find oneself always at the fair.

The Little Sisters must be humble because their mission is not know by those who look down on them for being mere "fair workers". Their audience is Christ alone and it is for him that they work and strive.

Their crown and riches are the lives that are changed as the Holy Spirit works through them to minister to those who society looks down on.

I am inspired by their hiddenness, humility and love for the poor. They are obedient to Christ's calling to preach good news to the poor.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


1 John 3:18
"Little children, let us love, not in word or speech,but in truth and action."

To love someone truly is to see them as Christ sees them. To love in truth is to see our neighbor in Christ, as Christ and for Christ. For they are handiworks of His and no matter how ugly, mean, poor, different, rude and just plain annoying they may seem on the surface, at their core is the person who was created in the image of God. At their core is the person for whom Christ suffered, died and was raised to forgive and redeem.

It is hard to see people in this light since we are so used to seeing ourselves and each other only on the surface. We lose touch with what is going on deeper. Our time in silence and solitude helps us to cut through the fog and to see ourselves and each other with clarity.

This clarity is a clarity of love and when we see people as Christ coming to us and recognize they are His beloved, then our love cannot remain idle, we must move out in love.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Saying From the Desert

One of the monks, called Serapion, sold his book of the Gospels and gave the money to those who were hungry, saying: I have sold the book which told me to sell all that I had and give to the poor.

Living the Gospel is the gospel...We are called to living and not simply reading.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mirrors of Your Interior Life

Noted author and dog behaviourist Cesar Millan states in his book "Be The Pack Leader" that a dog mirrors our interior life. With the limited experience I have with my dogs I tend to believe him.

As humans we use a lot of masks and deception to manage our image and to hide how we feel. In many ways it is a survival tact we learn early on in life to be able to withstand peer pressure. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately dogs sees right through all of that.

I know the other day when I took the dogs for a walk I was angry and while I stopped and talked with some neighbors my dogs did not behave well, they sensed my anger even though I was hiding it from my neighbors. What a gift to have a mirror!

If a person is deeply peaceful and calm then the animals around them will sense it. The less we have to hide and the more grounded we are in divine love the more relaxed our animals should be. I think of Francis of Assisi and the way he was able to "talk" to birds and wolves. This makes so much sense to me now because the animals would have been able to sense at an intuitive level the shift in his being through his contemplation and prayer.

I like having two mirrors in my house, they will help me grow. What a gift of divine grace.

Prayer Spaces

In my first congregation I used an old classroom for my prayer space and I went there regularly. It was not a great looking space but it fit the bill. One of our members found out about my using the old classroom and he made it look a lot nicer and much more user friendly. I found that I could drop into a prayerful space more quickly there then any other space indoors.

We have a new prayer chapel in my current congregation and it is very nice. I have only been in there a handful of times and while it is nice it it harder for me to drop into a prayerful space there.

I think that the more we use a space for prayer the easier it is to drop into a prayerful presence. I also believe that it is not only us praying in the space but others too. I think that a place that is prayed in a lot becomes what some call a "thin space". A "thin space" is a place where the difference between heaven and earth is very thin. Another way to understand a thin space would be a place where the kingdom of heaven is more obvious.

My hope is that the new prayer chapel will become a thin space.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Desert Fathers

"Abbot Macarius said: If, wishing to correct another, you are moved to anger, you gratify your own passion. Do on lose yourself in order to save another."

I find this a wonderful challenge and very life giving as a parent.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


It has been awhile since I have written and I have missed it. Lately I have been mulling over a lot of stuff and it is hard at times to put into writing.

I came across this quote and it is powerful

" To be able to preserve a very contemplative life, while making myself available to all in everything, so as to be able to offer Jesus to all"
--Charles de Foucald

This seems to sum up for me so much of what is stirring in the background in my soul. To be be contemplative yet also available for the sake of Christ is a beautiful vision. I am deeply captured by the vision and spirituality of de Foucald.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reflections on Fire of Love

The fire of love for Christ burned so hot in Francis that he longed to give all that he was to Christ through martyrdom. I am struck by the phrase "set on fire therefore by that perfect charity which drives out fear". There is something underneath the words that speaks of a passion beyond words. It echos of an encounter with Christ at the depth of being, which, like a summons propelled Francis to abandon all for the sake of his Beloved.
This encounter with the Divine demanded all of Francis and he longed to live that out and to help other souls by his example. He lived beyond ego, beyond selfishness and beyond desire. All he desired was his Beloved and he saw his beloved in all things, especially in the souls for whom his most precious and holy Beloved Lord Christ Jesus gave his life to save. Francis did all he could to serve the Gospel message.

Fire of Love

In the fervent fire
of his charity
he strove to emulate
the glorious triumph of the holy martyrs
in whom
the flame of love could not be extinguished
nor courage be weakened.
Set on fire, therefore,
by that perfect charity which drives our fear (1 John 4:18),
he longed to offer the Lord
his own life as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1)
in the flames of martyrdom
so that he might repay Christ,
who died for us,
and inspire others to divine love.
---St. Bonaventure

Francis and Creatures

Last night as I was reading about how Francis was able to communicate with animals it impressed upon me the depth of his connection with the Divine. Since all things are made in and through Christ it makes sense that as we deepen our relationship with Christ it would open up new ways of relating to all of creation. I believe that after the resurrection we will all have the ability to communicate with animals in the way that Francis did.

I think that his ability was not myth but rather a sign of the resurrection so that those around him could see what kingdom life looks like. I also think that we get glimpses of this with people who are horse or dog whisperers. While these people may or may not be Christians they have a piece of the cosmic covenant and manifest a more authentic way of being with animals than many other humans are.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Reading St. Bonaventure describe Francis' understanding of preaching is wonderful and challenging all in one. Preaching should be born out of a zeal for the salvation for souls. It is the task of the preacher to desire the rebirth of souls through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the duty of preachers not to lose the truth of their preaching by a bad example.

I liken this to the classic definition of preaching "listening to the heart of God and telling God's people what you heard". Surely the heart of God is love and intimacy.

I feel deeply inadequate to such a task. It is profoundly humbling to think of the potential power of preaching. I am so thankful the real power in preaching belongs to the Holy Spirit and it is simply my responsibility to obey and to trust Christ in my vocation.

Thanks be to God for his mercy that I a sinner should speak for Him and be empowered by Him. I know so little of the Absolute yet the call is mine for this season in my life. May I have the same passion, tenderness and love for souls as that of Francis. May my life not be hindrance to souls but an example.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sadhus and Grace

Recently I was reading Abhishiktananda and it was so interesting to read about his encounter with wandering Sadhus (Indian Monks) and European pilgrims. Many would go from Ashram to Ashram and from guru to guru only to miss the point. It was quite revealing as I read about some of the pride and ego issues of the monks and how little they actually knew. I would have guessed that by renouncing everything and wandering the countryside that they would have been free of the chains of pride and ego.

I also thought the European pilgrims who would come would also be freed and awake. What Abhishiktananda helped me understand is that being a monk or pilgrim doesn't necessarily mean that one is awake and has come to a place of divine union. Rather divine union is a gift, nothing more and nothing less. One cannot attain, conquer or master awareness of Presence. It simply is, the ego cannot grab God. One can only receive breath, light and life.


I have been reading the life of St. Francis written by St. Bonaventure. It is very humbling reading about the life of the man of God. I am repeatedly touched by the man of God's love for poverty and his renunciation of all things for the sake of Gospel living. I am so moved by Francis's understanding of theft. If he saw someone who had no tunic and he had two then he would give one to the other person since it was "his". Sometimes Francis would give what little he had so that those around him would be in less need. He always trusted Providence and was willing to suffer hardship of body for the sake of embracing Lady Poverty and loving his neighbor.

What a high example to set and what a calling to attempt to be in the tradition that bears his name! It exposes my inability to love my neighbor as myself and my inability to embrace Lady Poverty. Reading the life of Francis reveals my sin. I am truly a sinner. Thanks be to Christ for love, mercy and forgiveness.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Charles de Foucald quote

But the most stirring motive for giving, one that, while any of the others quite suffices, exhorts us above all, is that everything we do for our neighbor we do for Jesus himself. That is enough to change our entire life, guide all our actions, our words, and our thoughts. Everything we do for our neighbor is done for Jesus. What an apostolic spirit that gives us! What a spirit of charity! And hence what a thrust to our prayers, our works, our lives! What a life of poverty, charity, and self-denial! What a thirst for spiritual grace, relief for the soul and body! Now we can understand why we must be “men of courage” (cf. Dan. 10:19)

What horizons open up! It places our entire life, both inner and outer, our prayers as well as our rules for living and relations with people, at the service of our neighbors, primarily at the service of their spiritual good, and secondarily their material good, strictly—absolutely strictly—purely, purely for the sake of Jesus. Because according to his Word we must believe with divine faith that everything we do to our neighbor, we do to Jesus. It therefore follows that if we want to spend our entire life doing the most good to Jesus, we must use our life to do the most good to our neighbor. O my Lord and my God, help me thoroughly understand this truth!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Egoless Tennis

I have started to play tennis again and it feels good, like coming home. I have spent a lot of hours on the court in my lifetime.

When I used to play competitively it was all about ego. I struggled so much with defeat because it wounded my ego and sense of performance.

Now that I enter back into competition I wonder what it will be like to try to play not from ego but from gratefulness. Coach Benson was a master of being thankful when it comes to tennis and I tried to learn from him at the time. It has now taken a dozen or so years and a year and a half of illness to make me realize that being able to play is a gift and a wonder that my body works.

Also what a gift to have the skill set to make a "come back". I am hope that I enjoy my time and let my soul be filled with joy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ashrams, Cults of Personality and Community

In India spiritual teachers set up Ashrams. An ashram is simply a small community of people who are gathered around a teacher for the sake of growing in their interior life. It is different than a monastery where people gather around a common rule of life, in an ashram people gather around a teacher.

Some of the guests at the ashram will stay for a week, while other will stay for months or years. As a former D3 tennis player there is something in me that rings true about finding a teacher. To become good at tennis, one needs a good coach. In fact a good coach plays a significant role in the development of a player. The same is true for martial arts, the teacher makes a huge difference in the life of the student.

Really, it is no different in the spiritual life, the right teacher makes all the difference. There is a saying in the East "when the student is ready the teacher appears". There are very few Christian ashrams. Noted Christian E. Stanley Jones began a movement which is still in existence today called United Christian Ashrams. Here is their tag line:

"Ashrams are unique religious retreats that are Christ-centered and give individuals an opportunity to discover Christian answers for victorious daily living in the 21st century
while proclaiming... Jesus is Lord!"

Their ashrams really are retreats which are fashioned like old style tent meetings, nothing wrong with it, just not an Indian style ashram.

What I realized the other day is that in the US, Christians really seek spiritual teachers who preach well and that they like. There is little understanding of what it means to be a community. Monks are members of a community, regardless of who the Abbot is. Christians on the other hand ebb and flow with the pastors. When a long time and well loved pastor leaves, people leave with him or her. Some, not all of the ones that stay are really still rooted in their previous pastor. During my first year at MLC I heard this a lot about the pastors who had left, which is very normal for US churches.

There is subtle danger of a cult of personality developing in US Churches. A sign of this is when people say Congregation X is "Such and such's church". No, it is the Lord's church where "such and such" serves. I think in the US that we need more profound Christian teachers of the spiritual life who are accessible. I think that these folks ought to serve outside of congregational ministry and have their ministry supported by benefactors. Much like the work of the Contemplative Society:

I think that congregations should function more like monasteries and be built on a communal rule which gives freedom and yet continuity to the community. It needs good leadership, but the common rule should draw people more than a good preacher. I think that this approach to ministry would draw more people who are dechurched and unchurched since the gathering of the community would not be about a pastor or other influencers, rather it would be about common life seeking what is means to be a disciple of Christ in a particular place and particular time, guided by a common rule.

'The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this'
-----Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his brother

Here are some examples:

One and the G8

After my discussion today with my men's group it seems that loving my neighbor means lobbying the G8 to keep their promise of investing to help the poor...

Subject: Help make poverty history!Hi, I just signed a petition asking the G8 take urgent action against extreme poverty, and I'm hoping that you'll join me.Sign the petition now at: has been a lot of progress against extreme poverty in recent years, but, as recent headlines about the global food crisis will tell you, there is still much to be done.When we unite with one voice and call upon our leaders to take action, we can and will solve these problems.Thanks

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ministering to suffering people

Some have asked me what it is like to minister to suffering people. First it is an honor and privledge to minister to people who are hurting. It is a gift of grace because in those situations words are not enough, there is never the right thing to say because people are not a problem to be solved. Instead a minister comes along side and tries to enter into the place of suffering as best as one can.

In these instances the only effective ministry is a compassionate presence, it is to hold the person in love and seek to be a tangible sign of the love of God in Christ Jesus. This is why it is about grace, a person cannot simply be a compassionate presence without grace operating in and through the minister.

Also it is a place of pain to be helpless and to grieve the relative powerlessness one has and it is hard to watch someone suffer. It is also a place of joy because suffering is the home of God. God is present in all places an all times. So the minister must hold all this together in one place: suffering, powerless, joy and hope.

It sounds a lot like the Eucharist. "On the night he was betrayed"...Pain "My body broken"...Suffering "My blood shed for you"...Death "Peace by with you" says the Resurrected One.. Joy and Hope.


I noticed a few weeks ago something about fire. While it was cold I was making fires in our fireplace for warmth and beauty. It is interesting to watch a piece of wood burn that is put on hot coals. The wood sits there for a little while and then it hisses, smokes and then it catches fire.

It made me realize that this is a lot like the Christian life. A person who burns with the love of God is like a hot coal. They have the ability to help ignite those around them simply by being. It is not a program, it is simply the nature of the love of God.

These people have the ability to transform the world around them. Fr. Bede Griffiths was such a person. I have been told by those who knew him that simply being in his presence doing ordinary life was life changing. You went away changed.

This is what the church should be, a place of heat, light and life transformation.

Friday, May 30, 2008


What brings you the most joy?

What breaks your heart?

What do you yearn for?

Car Washing

Today I came home early from the synod assembly (I am not fond of banquets) and decided it would be nice to wash my car. Kim and the kids were still up at her folks so it was just me out there. Before I got started the neighbor girl (the one who I am not fond of) asked if Sophie could play and I explained that she was with her grandparents. She asked what I was doing and I said washing the car. She asked if she could help.

Granted most of the day we have been talking about church, mission and loving our neighbor and now I was given the opportunity to actually do something about. Instead of feeling dislike for the little girl, I felt compassion and love. She was out in the front yard by herself, where the rest of her family was inside (this is a common occurrence). The Spirit revealed to me that she was precious to Jesus and that she just needed to be treated like his daughter so I really enjoyed having her help me.

I was reminded of what we have been talking about in our men's groups and I encouraged her and lifted her up. I also felt sad, here was this beautiful little girl with a dirty face and lonely. I wondered why on a Friday night she was out all alone. I was reminded that her folks don't know Christ and don't have the power of the transforming that comes with following Christ.

We need to share our faith, not for more money or bigger budgets. We need to share our faith for the sake of little girls like my neighbor who need to know love. The greatest love anyone can ever know is God's love in Christ. It is for the sake of love that we share our faith and it is for Christ that we do small deeds with great love. Jesus reminds us that whatever we do to the least of these we do unto him.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Meditating on death can be helpful as I have written earlier. If you were to attend your own funeral would you rather be remembered for what you accomplished (your doing) or who you were (your being/character). Maybe a combination of the two?

Describe how you would like to be remembered.....That will be our lead off discussion Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homefork for May 13th

Through which verse(s) of scripture is God speaking to you during this season of your life?

Monday, May 12, 2008


On Sunday after worship I was not in my best form. I was tired and trying to fight not being grumpy. We were out working in our backyard and one of our neighborhood kids was trying to squirt me with water and thankfully I kept calm.

Shortly after that Sophie went out front to ride her bike and the neighborhood kids asked if they could come over and play in her backyard since we have a new big toy. I found it very ironic that after preaching about evangelism I had 4-5 of the neighborhood kids (whose family's aren't Christians) in my backyard when I would have been happy enough to be by myself.

It was very funny and I am thankful for God's humor and grace.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I had a conversation with a friend who has been in a very dry season in her life for a long time. It is hard to be in the desert. We long to want resolution,for things to be good again, for God to act. The desert is a place of inaction or so it seems to us. While trips into the desert may be good for us in the long run they are often painful and confusing. I the desert our world is turned upside down and we can begin to doubt the goodness of God. We can begin to call into question Divine Providence and wrestle with God's action in a new way.

As a friend I can't solve the desert place for her. I can't give her any pithy quotes or cliches. Those just don't hold up. It is useless for me to try to defend God. If I try to defend God then I will inevitably have to turn the problem back on her (just read Job). The only way for me to be with her is to be comfortable in the desert. To be comfortable in the desert means that I have spent my own time in the desert and am solid in my own life with God.

She said one of the most profound things I have heard in a long time. In the midst of so much barrenness in so many areas of her life these are her favorite verses:

Habakkuk 3:17-18
17Though the fig tree does not blossom,and no fruit is on the vines;though the produce of the olive fails,and the fields yield no food;though the flock is cut off from the fold,and there is no herd in the stalls,18yet I will rejoice in the LORD;I will exult in the God of my salvation.

My friends this is an example of great faith in the midst of doubt, anguish and uncertainty. Nothing but life can teach this faith. To have this kind of faith is such a gift of grace.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


This is lifted from my personal rule which I wrote for the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans.

You ask where I am most broken. I am broken everywhere, there is nowhere I am in control (I can’t even control my own body) and the more I move into the spiritual life the more brokenness I am aware of. Yet I am also more aware of God’s grace and love in all things and my brokenness is a place that I am learning to be held in love and forgiveness. I am learning that I don’t need to be filled with shame since my Beloved holds me with nailed scarred hands.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


St. Benedict says that we should meditate, or be mindful of our death. Psalm 90:12 says "12So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.". While we often shy away from death it is important that we meditate on our own mortality.

The reason is not to be morbid but it is very humbling to be aware of how limited and finite we are. It is one step towards being more humble. For example if I died today Messiah Lutheran Church would still exists and my men's groups would still be passionate about Christ. This is because God sustains the congregation and my men's groups are encountering Christ, not me.

Another aspect is it helps us to understand what matters. I am one of many pastors for the congregation yet I am the only father to my children. When I die they lose their father and my wife her husband. What impact will my life have had on them? Will I have modeled Christian living and helped them grow in understanding of grace? Or will I have left them hurting because I was never available in this life and now I am gone?

Meditating on death also helps us in the process of letting go. One of the fundamental movements in the spiritual life is letting go and giving all of ourselves to God. The desire being to fully live out the second petition of the Lord's prayer "thy will be done, thy kingdom come". As we live and let go then we are prepared for the ultimate letting go: death. If however we have not fully surrendered ourselves to God and have not placed all our trust in his Son our Lord Christ then death is the most terrifying experience.

Death should be the final act of a life lived in surrender to Christ Jesus. We should not fear death for it is into the nail scarred hands we fall into. In death there is only love and life through Christ Jesus who was crucified but whom God raised from the dead.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Homework Two

Hi Men,

What an honor to be with you all, truly holy ground. Thanks for the privilege of your time, passion and honesty; I am made better by being in your presence.

I encourage you to journal if you don't already. I have written in my journal off and on for years and it has always been good.

Here is the question to ponder: where to you see beauty? Some places are obvious, others are more subtle. I want you to learn to see beauty in the expected places and in the unexpected places. Learning to see beauty will help you learn to see Christ and help in opening the eyes of your heart.

Your servant in Christ,



As I walk through life I notice that there are times I am quite content with my interior life. I get the feeling that I am doing the right things and then subtly I being to feel a little superior to those who have not experienced what I have and perhaps do not have the same degree of spirituality.

What I notice shortly after this is that I fall into some sort of sin. It happens almost like clockwork. It is ironic. My spiritual life then turns quickly into confession and I once again realize that I am a sinner and that I exist in a state of grace. It is only by grace that I have my being. Therefore pride is simply incompatible with the spiritual life. Competition and performance are a myth and a manifestation of my false self.

Grace is the only real truth in my life. It is by grace that Christ holds me in life and enfolds my life into his. It is by grace that my sins are forgiven. It is by grace that I receive any spiritual experiences. It is by grace that I am able to teach and be a companion for others in their spiritual life. All is gift, nothing is earned. Therefore praise, thanks and humility are the only response to grace. A life of praise and thanks should lead to service and use of the gift. That is why Paul tells us to live lives worthy of the Gospel.

Let us use our gifts fully, yet humbly since we are all sinners saved out of the mercy and compassion of a gracious God.


There comes a point in life where all one needs is the love of God. In this world there are so many things we think that we need to be content and or happy. Yet the only thing we truly need for contentment is to know the love of God in Christ Jesus.

It is hard for us to come to place of knowing that all we need is to be in relationship with the Lord Jesus. I am not saying that having things, even nice things is wrong. We should however have a certain detachment from them so that we can truly enjoy them and not be a slave to them. After all, it is simply by grace that we possess so much. I am also not saying that we should not work for the poor and marginalized.

I am saying that the love of God in Christ should be enough and like Paul we should be able to be content in any and all circumstances because of Christ. Or like the liturgy says "it is right and salutary that we should at all times and in places give thanks and praise to you O Lord". The only way we can authentically pray that is if we know the all sufficient love of God in Christ. It is the only thing that cannot be taken from us..

Knowing Love, then enables us to enter back into our life from a centered and life giving place. We do not need to seek for meaning in a relationship, in money, power, status or position. For those things no longer define us, Christ and his love define us. We are freed from the tyranny of meaninglessness and freed for service.

I think of Francis of Assisi, one of the most joyful people to have lived. He was poor by choice, his embrace of Lady Poverty freed him for a life of proclamation of the Gospel. He knew the all sufficient love of God. Jean Vanier also comes to mind. To the best of my knowledge he has no wife, children, money or house to call his own. He does however have Christ and serves Christ as he minsters to people with disabilities. Every description I have read of him describes his shabby clothes yet his powerful presence. People speak of what it was like to be in his presence long after they have heard him lecture. They forget his words, but not his presence. He knows the all sufficient love of God. Mother Theresa was poor as well, she had so little, yet she had so much. Reading her writings one cannot help but experience her deep passion for Christ and her deep desire to serve her beloved.

Knowing Christ and serving Christ is what gives all of life meaning and purpose. Once we have that then all the rest of the things we have are put in their proper place. For those of us who have so much we should be humbly grateful for all that we have and marvel at the lavishness of God. Also we should use what we have to serve Christ and the Gospel.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Assignments One and Two


Here are some devotinal assigments for the week. It was a joy to be with this week. I am humbled to be in your company.

1. On a piece of paper write why you follow Christ.

He calls you and deep within you said yes.


2. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor. Do we who bear his name bear his mission?

I look forward to our conversation next week on this topic and session six in bridges.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ad Sense

I must say that I hate ads...
Consumerism has invaded so much of life it seems rediculous.

I did however agree to run ads on my blog in exchange for money.

Say what?

Yes, you read it correctly.

I am giving it a go and I can get out at any time.

The money I receive will go directly into our congregation's community assistance fund.

Since this site is a test run I thought I would test this idea....

If it works well we will know, if it sucks, we will know.


This morning I didn't make the sun rise, it rose while I slept.

The clouds parted leaving a rainless sunny day, of which I had no control.

My heart beats and my lungs take in air, all without my control.

The grass grows and flowers bloom, not by my word by the Lord's Word.

2000 years before I was spoken into existence, Christ suffered, died and was raised from the dead.

After Christ spoke me into existence, I was born into a Christian family, of which I had no say.

I was baptized as an infant by a Navy Chaplain without my consent.

The Holy Spirit prays within me, calling me home without my power.

All of my life is grace, the entirety of my being is gift.
It is an ever flowing gift from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise, humility, joy, wonder, awe, gratefulness, love.
These are but a few of the words which are the response to the ceaseless love and grace which flows from God to me.

Meditating on grace brings me to deep joy and gratefulness for all that I am and all that I have.

This state of grace (my existence and being are grace) fills my heart with love than longs to overflow.

To where should it overflow?

Suffering is the place that love flows to. Christian love flows into the places where sin, death and the devil dwell. The only true way that one can enter into suffering is with a full heart of gratefulness and the ability to see beauty.

Beauty is the natural state of the world, for all that Christ creates is beautiful. Just look at the birds of the air, the grass and the creatures of the land and sea.

With a heart full of love and eyes full of beauty we are able to go to those people and situations that have been scarred the ever present reality of sin, death, decay and evil.

What we are to carry is not ultimately solutions but presence, a presence full of love and beauty. We are to see the beauty in those whose lives have been scarred by life and to whom society has left outside. This is what Jesus did when he spent time with prostitutes. Imagine those places where prostitutes live in our society, that is where Jesus would be....

Jesus went to tax collectors who were thieves, he ate in their homes. Where are the thieves of this world, that is where Jesus would be. What did Jesus bring? He brought the good news of the availability of the kingdom of God. This kingdom of love, forgiveness and new life was available to tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, religious leaders, lepers, epileptics, the demon possessed, gentiles and Samaritans.

Jesus' heart contiunally flows with mercy, love and the ability to see beauty in all. Jesus is able to see the beauty in everything and everyone because all of creation came into being through him and each person is spoken into being by his word. He loves what is his own, loves them enough to suffer and die to redeem his children....

This is the mission of all who bear His name...To see the beauty of Christ in all of creation. One of the greatest gifts we can offer is the ability to bring love to where there was only hate, joy to where there was only suffering and mercy to where there was only punishment.

Humanity is crying out for reconciliation and for a loving presence in their pain. As we realize that our existence is only grace it unites us to all of creation and calls us forth into solidarity with all of God's world. For our prayer is not simply our prayer. When we truly pray we are united to the world who is longing for their return to God and to a restoration to the garden of Eden.

Let us push aside the things that keep us from hearing the prayer of Christ in our lives. Let us see grace in all that we are and all that we do. Let move into the world with hearts full of gratefulness and eyes filled with beauty. Let us not be afraid of suffering. Let us enter into suffering for that is where we will find Christ calling to be ministered to...

Amen, Alleluia

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I wear a white wristband that says "one" on it. The One Campaign is movement of over 90 groups both religious and secular to help end extreme poverty. We would like our government to spend 1% of the national budget toward ending extreme poverty.

Personally I have a tendency to forget about the poor. I get caught up in my own issues and forget that how I live affects others, especially the poor. I wear the wristband to help remind myself daily about God's love for the poor. Let's face it; Jesus loves everyone but especially the poor. They hold a tender place in his heart. In fact as I read the gospels it seems that one of the primary ways people will be judged is how they responded to the poor in their midst.

I can't honestly say that I love God and not love His creation. Mother Theresa reminds me in her writings that I must have a passion for Christ so I can see him in the poor and serve him in the poor.

For this reason I have the One Campaign feed on my blog. It is the only movement I know of that Jews, Christians, Muslims and Secular groups are working together in harmony. I believe that this is God inspired and that each of us is called to help the poor in whatever way we can.


Being judgemental is one of the major problems in the Church. Judging another person is forming an opinion on who they are based on appearance, color, other outward issues. Judging looks something like this: two people are at the mall and they see a woman in her late 20's with tattoos, dark clothing and a different hairstyle. She also has a three year old son walking with her. One of the shoppers looks at the other and says "I feel sorry for that kid, he hasn't got a chance. Just look at his mother".

How do you think Christ would look at that young mother? Would he love her? Would he suffer for her? Would he die for her? Would God raise him from the dead so that young woman could participate in the Divine Life for all eternity?

We judge because it makes us feel morally superior. We judge so we can manage people by putting them into boxes and categories. Jesus destroys all categories on the cross. The old saying is that at the foot of the cross the ground is level. That is another way of saying that "all have fallen short of the glory of God". The person being judged never feels loved, only condemned and excluded.

There is a wonderful story of Jesus being confronted with a woman caught in adultery. The men want to stone her and Jesus simply says "let he with no sin throw the first stone". All the men leave and he tells the woman "Is no one here left to condemn you, then neither do I". Jesus is the only one who is given authority to judge and yet here he restores and loves.

When you look at the average church it is rare to see a significant mix of peoples and races. It is interesting to me to walk downtown Seattle or Tacoma and to look at the way the people are dressed, wearing their hair and then to look at our congregations in those same cities. There is a difference.

I am judged by church people since I wear my hair longer. Someone forgot to tell me that is not the right image for a pastor; so people make sure I know that. What I find terribly ironic is that these same people have pictures of a white Jesus with long flowing hair and a beard in their homes. I guess if Jesus were to come again to serve as their pastor he better get a haircut.

If I, as a leader in the church are being judged based on my hairstyle how do you think that people outside the church feel? Do they feel loved, supported and cared for? Do we reflect the unconditional love of God in Christ? People will know whether they are wanted or not and we need to grow in maturity so we can see all people as Christ would.


The band The Bo Deans has a song called "Naked". The song is about being raw and honest in a relationship with another human. One line says "You stand naked, I stand naked before you".

Standing naked before another human is one thing, standing naked before God is another. We have a tendancy to hide before God. In the garden of eden Adam and Eve were afraid before God because of their sin and they hid. After that God gave them clothes to hide their nakedness and they left the garden.

Standing naked before God is freightening because we wonder about what that encounter will be like. Perhaps we hide because we wonder if we will be loved and accepted. Perhaps we hide because in all our human interactions we hold something of our true selves back and so we enter into our relationship with God holding some of ourselves back.

God calls us into ever deepening levels of self disclosure and surrendering all of ourselves. We must risk nakedness and rawness if we are to grow in our intimacy with God.

The desert seasons in our lives have a way of stripping those things we use to hide before God.

What do you use as "clothing" to hide before God? What preconcieved notions about God keep you from the intimacy you long for? What do you need to let go of?

I have found each stripping of these to be very hard and yet they are essential to an ever deepening encounter with God.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I remember one of my Old Testament professors saying in class one day that God cares where we buy things. I wasn't totally sure what he meant by that saying. During my time in seminary a lot of small farmers were going out of business while large corporations bought out their land. The small farmer couldn't compete with the corporation.

My professor said that God cares about where we buy things and that a society would be judeged on how it treated the least among them. He was a scholar primarily in the Psalms and Prophets. The prophets often brought words of judgement against Israel becuase of their disregard for God and their neighbor.

Buying from a corporation at the expense of a small business owner is not loving our neighbor. The way most large corporations work is the top few become rediculously wealthy while the most remain less than wealthy, often their growth is at the expense of small business.

Lately as I have been making purchases I have been thinking about who I am buying from. It has cost me more money to buy from smaller companies and knowing who I am buying from. The American way is to get the cheapest price regardless of the social cost.

A great man, John Wolman considered the source of where he bought things from and vowed not to buy from goods produced by slave labor (he lived before the civil war). He felt it was not loving his neighbor.

I think we are challenged in our buying to think about the impact of how we spend our money. Is it consistent with loving God and loving our neighbor? Is it good stewardship of the Earth and the resources given to us?

I have come to agree with my professor some eight years later, God cares about how we spend our money..

Monday, April 7, 2008


Today I went to see my new primary care physician as a follow up to an ER visit three days prior where I was diagnosed with pneumonia. While we talked about my pneumonia he also listened to me talk about my peripheral neuropathy, a disease that has changed my life and those that I live with.

On the way home I was telling my wife how magnificent it felt to be listened to. When I told my doctor that it changed our lives he understood, no additional comments. When I told him it messes with everything else in my body, he agreed. When I told him that we still don't know what it is from, he told me that the Pacific Northwest is the mecca for strange neurological diseases.

As I laid down for my late evening rest I reflected on how rare listening is. People are heard yet rarely listened to. The tendency is to want to fix, solve or give advice, it seems as though it is never okay simply to hurt or suffer. The other tendency is to avoid the pain, that is, not enter into the suffering of another. Granted we can never truly enter into another's pain but the word "compassion" means literally "to suffer with".

Compassionate listening is to allow the other person simply to be themselves and to have the courage to love them as they are. It is to see Christ in the one who is suffering and to minister to Christ in, as Mother Theresa says, "his most distressing disguise". To be a compassionate listener is to be Christ to another and to be compassionate. Christ is compassionate; for selfless love is compassionate. Does it have a cost on the listener? Yes, but our lives have been bought with a price, ransomed by the blood of Christ and it is our privilege to pay the cost. We have all been called as Jesus says "to take up your cross and follow me".

Is their someone in your life who is suffering and simply needs be listened to? Are you at a place where you can be a compassionate listener? If so take a risk, trust the Holy Spirit and listen with a loving heart, remembering it is Christ you are ministering to and Christ ministering through you.

For those of you looking at the time stamp I took one of my meds a little late and so I am up later than I want to be. Don't worry I can sleep all day if I need to.

BTW: I love you all...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Gift

The other day in a "teaching moment" I was trying to teach our daughter about being thankful for all she has, especially stuffed animals. The girl has 87 (we counted) in one basket plus the ones in the garage. I would love to say that most of them were gifts from outside our family or even from my wife but the fact is the majority are gifts are from me. As a wannabe Franciscan this is certainly not the way to embrace Lady Poverty or simplicity.

However I love to buy her stuffed animals, I give them to her becuase she likes them and it gives me pleasure to be able to give to her. I am not trying to justify my actions, only to make the point that as an earthly father I love to give to my daughter lavishly and beyond what seems good or right. It is my good pleasure to do it.

Jesus says "11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"" (luke 11:12-13 NRSV).

It is our Heavenly Father's good pleasure to give us the Holy Spirit. In other words: divine union.. God loves to give us Himself....This is more generous and lavish than anything we can imagine. God offers us Himself while we are still sinners, it is something my mind cannot comprehend. Praise is the only good and right response to a love this lavish and reckless.

The love of God is reckless in that it is available for all and any. God is willing to be ignored, spit on, made fun off and eventually crucified for this reckless love... Gratitude seems to little...

"Where the whole realm of nature mine, that were a tribute far to small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!" (Isaac Watts LBW 482)

I think such reckless, passionate and generous love of God's own Self given to us in the Holy Spirit is what we should meditate on and let it be a source of tears, joy and praise.

This is why the spiritual life is not a performance event, we already have everything through the Holy Spirit...We just need to grow in our awareness and knowledge of what we already have.

Christ Jesus made this Divine Gift possible......Come, let us adore him....

It is the Father's great and joyus delight to give the Holy Spirit to you....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fully Devoted or Held in Love?

While I was on internship I was taught that a mature Christian would be described as a "fully devoted follower of Christ". In my dreams last night I was taught a deeper truth.

I was asked in my dream how I would describe my relationship with Christ and I said that I was a "fully devoted follower". After saying that my heart was pierced becuase I knew that was not essentially true. For me to be fully devoted it would mean that there was no area in my heart that was not yieled to God and that my will has already melted into Divine Will. Perhaps that might be said of one of my spiritual fathers, St. Francis but not of me.....

If I am not "fully devoted" then what? It was revealed to me that "I am my beloved's and He is mine. And His banner over me is love". I am held in divine love by the Most High. That is the deepest part of my being, love from the Most High which in turn leads to desire for my Beloved. God speaks deep within our soul that we are loved and it is that word which creates life and returns back to God as love, adoration and praise.

Rather than trying to achieve some status of "fully devoted" it is more than enough simply to be loved and to love. I love my Beloved and He loves me....I live because of Divine Love.....

Nothing can separate me from Love. St. Paul say that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.. Elsewhere the scriptures teach that God hsa loved us with a never ending love and so God maintains his steadfast love for us.

Dear friends, you are loved and held in Divine Love, it is God's great pleasure to love you....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spectacularly Ordinary Part 1

The spiritual life is spectacularly ordinary. What I mean is that the spiritual life is life. There is no real difference between our spiritual life and the rest of our life. The ordinary things of daily living are the makings of the spiritual life. Some might ask how changing a diaper can be spiritual or how paying bills can be spiritual. They are spiritual because God is present.

Changing diapers is a chance to learn love and care for the least among us. Paying bills is a change to think on stewardship and to realize that God is in the ordinary. God is not "out there somewhere" or confined to Sundays and the occasional church meeting. The incarnation of Christ shows us that God is in the daily stuff of the world.

The fact that God is in the ordinary does not necessarily mean that we are aware of God in the ordinary, in fact it seems that the opposite is true: we look for God in the extraordinary and long for great signs and wonders. In doing this we miss what is right in front our eyes: Presence in all things.

Our first step is to realize that God is in the everyday stuff of life and those things are the materials for the spiritual life. They are a gift and each moment is an opportunity to receive grace...

If God is in the regular stuff of life then the tools of the spiritual life are the tools of life. They are not luxuries but necessities. They are gifts from God, pure grace....

Things like divine reading, prayer, silence, solitude are necessary to life. They are the places of refreshment, formation and grace that helps us be formed for life...The ordinary is quite beautiful simply because of God's Presence.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Tonight I washed the feet of God's people here at MLC. It is a humbling experience. It reminds me that as a pastor I am called to serve Christ and His people. So often pastors are in the spotlight and it is good to be reminded of our true calling.

However the Bible tells us we are a "priesthood of believers" (see 1 Peter). Therefore we are called to serve all of Christ's people, those who know Christ and those who do not. Again the question: to whom are you called to serve? Who is God putting in your life for the sake of communicating their beauty, worth and choseness by God through Christ? Pray for them, love them and serve them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jean Vanier Meditation 1

Whenever I read Jean Vanier (founder of L'Arche) I am moved by his ability to love the unlovely. It is so Christlike. It reminds me of Romans "while they we still sinners God sent his son to die". Jesus loves us when we are unlovely, therefore making us lovely. Vanier and L'Arche radiate this love and I think they live deep truth: all are loved by Christ and all contain beauty given to them by their creator.

Who are you repulsed by? As Vanier says "to whom are you called?" I guess it is there we will discover our life, love and passion. Someday I hope to be mature enough to walk amongst the poor, not as their savior but their servant and friend.

Friday, March 14, 2008


As people we are all tempted by the evil one. If we think that we are not tempted then we are decieved and being lead by forces that we are not aware of and frankly are under their power.

The desert fathers were tempted and we have records of their battles with demons and the evil one. Benedict doesn't recommend moving into seclusion as a monk until one has been seasoned in community. It is not surprising that the desert fathers were tempted in the desert, Christ was lead into the desert and was tempted. Again if Christ was tempted what makes us think that we won't be tempted???

The first movement is to acknowledge that fact that we will be tempted to live and act in ways that are contrary to God's ways and are not life giving. Then we need to become self aware as to how we are tempted; to discover what are the areas that we are weak in. For some it will be areas of pride, others it will be greed and others lust and still others addictions; you get the idea.

Once we are aware of our temptations then we can enter into them. One of the things that often happens is that we fight them head on and fail, sometimes repeatedly. This leads to another way that the enemy gets us, we despair. We begin a pattern of performance spirituality and begin to live to fix or overcome our problem. This cycle can be devastating to our interior life because we begin to understand God's love in terms of our ability to overcome and master our tempations.

The fact is that we will always have some temptations and times when we fail...We need to simply recieve God's love and mercy in our failings and in our temptations. Recieving forgiveness, mercy and love makes us stand naked before God, powerless and yet utterly loved in who we are....

Christ's forgiveness is the power to live with the contradictions that are our life. Luther says that we are both saint and sinner. Humility is the ability to see ourselves truthfully which is to know that we are mass of contradictions. I like to say that there are always weeds in our garden.. There are vegetables there too....

What I've found is that the mercy of God has the power to help overcome temptations, to fall into them less often and to not let them destroy us when we do. We can come to confession, recieve forgiveness and the power to begin again. It is always grace and it is grace that has the power to heal and open up new life...

Seems paradoxical and it is....

As we spend more time with God and grow deeper in our sense of being loved and understand who we really are in Christ it will shape our heart, give us a new sense of self and more power to fight temptation.

Other things we can do are to work on disciplines of abstince in areas we can have a greater success and this too will give a better ability to say no...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Holding it all together

It seems like suffering is foreign to God, or at least we were brought up to think that. Looking at the cross it shows that suffering is not foreign to God, in fact Christ enters deeply into human suffering. Rather than being foreign to God, Christ makes suffering a place for God.

Often I think that our suffering opens us up to God, it works like a big wake up call. It shows that we are not in control, life is bigger than us and that we have to yield to something or better yet someone else.

Why do we resist so hard, what scares us and keeps us from God? Why does it take wake up calls like losing a relationship, job, or money to force us into the God question? What could be done to help prepare us for the time when suffering comes so that we know it is a God place, a sacred space and not a foreign place. God is in the desert.......