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.