Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Recently I have been reengaged with the discipline of study. I am doing this primarily through listening to audio books and lectures while I drive. I am finding it to be powerful. This practice is giving me much to think about and discern. That is why I haven't written in awhile.

One thing I have been thinking about is our use of money. I heard someone say that bank fees (ATM, overdraft, online bill pay) amount to nearly a billion dollars a year. Wow! All of those fees are avoidable with a little work and focused effort. Some of the people spending that money much be Christians.

Contrast that to the cost of a gifts through Lutheran World Relief. Here is a little excerpt from their fruit tree seedlings.

Cost $40.00
Fruit trees don’t just flower. They provide income, shade, and bio-diversity. For a farmer struggling to make ends meet, a grove of fruit trees can mean better food for the family and more income. Help a farmer bloom this year.

Imagine if we redirected our bank fees toward someone who needs help..

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


One of the disciplines I have been cultivating lately is gratitude. I have realized that gratitude helps keep me centered in what is real and to not get wound up in the trivial or mundane. That isn't to say that I don't give those things my time, I do but they do not occupy the same place of importance as the more foundational things in life.

Gratitude also helps me not get too wrapped up in the pain I am facing daily. It is easy for me to focus on what I perceive is "not right" with me and forget all that is good and whole in my life.

I am continually feeling called to not let things slip by or to not wait until some time in the future. There is a sense that we must learn to live life now and in the fullness of what we have now. I am also learning to express my thankfulness for blessings in my life.

If you are reading this I am thankful for you...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have been pondering the Desert Fathers understanding about anger being a barrier to prayer. Anger is such a natural response to suffering and if it is a barrier to prayer then how can I be prayerful in the midst of chronic pain?

I got a great insight from one of the guys in my men's group last week. He reminded me of strong biblical tradition of lament. Many of the Psalms are Psalms of lament. This is where the Psalmist brings his pain and sorrow to God through lament. Lament is about mourning and grief and it is not a barrier to prayer.

Lament describes my inner life much better than anger. Yes at times I feel anger and even get angry but it is not the dominant pattern in my life. Lament however is a regular part of my life. It is my constant companion. To have no lament about my pain and loss would be untrue and I would be avoiding what is really going on. Lament however does not exclude joy.

Joy and thankfulness also describe my inner life to the same degree as the lament. I carry within me lament, sorrow, joy and gratitude. I hold these opposites as one and therefore I am not a disintegrated person, I am human.

Perhaps this is the wisdom of the sages, the ability to hold opposites together and to live prayerfully. Lord willing I will be able to hold this tension and from it witness to a deeper reality of God's presence as compassion and hope.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


As I observe the various church fights, either locally or nationally I notice that few people claim to be part of the problem and admit their need to be transformed.

The simple fact is that we are all part of the problem and need to be transformed. It is so easy to project on others the rightness we think that they need to have. The may need to hear the truth but we should hear the truth about ourselves before we starting throwing out accusations.

On most issues both sides are filled with fear, anger, bitterness and self-righteousness. Neither side admits they could be wrong. They might be right but energy brought from anger and fear is still not the right energy.

When we finally admit we might be wrong and that we are in need of transformation then we are not driven by the ego, at this point and only at this point do we begin to get a voice of critique because we realize that we are part of the problem and part of the solution and that only the power of God will transform us and this world.

Having enough votes never transformed anybody.

I could be wrong. I need to be transformed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

His verses Mine

One of the most profound questions to ask is am I mine own or am I His?

If I am simply mine then it is up to me to make it in the world. I need to use my strength, power, smarts and endurance to weave my way through this life and the next. It makes for a competitive rat race type existence where there is never enough and I am always in need.

If on the other hand I am His then he has certain responsibility for me and my life. It is His power at work and not my own. If I am His then I also have access to his power and resourcing in the life and the next.

God has made us his through Christ (see Ephesians 1). It is through our baptism that he joins us to himself through Christ (see Romans 6). We are His and not our own.

This is a wonderful and fearful statement. Wonderful because of all the benefits that come with grace; being an heir in the kingdom of God, a beloved child of God in and through Christ. Eternity itself is ours. Wow...

Fearful too. If I am His then I am not my own and I should live not to my glory but to his. We are to be about the business of giving ourselves and gifts away. This is to be our lifestyle. We do this because our life has been bought with a price and we have a new master.

We pray "thy will be done". Notice that we never pray "my will". Jesus tells us to "seek first the kingdom" (Matthew 6:33). The kingdom is his, not ours.

We forget this at the congregational level all the time. We think that things in the church are "ours". Nothing at the church is "ours" it is all his! If we have given something and still want to exercise control over our gift then we really haven't given a gift to the Lord, we have "loaned" it with strings attached. It would be better not to give the gift than to deceive ourselves into thinking we have given a gift.

Giving ourselves completely is the gateway to life. Jesus says that "whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but however gives his life for his sake will find it". There is no other path to true life than learning that everything is his and learning to live accordingly.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I am becoming more convinced that discipleship can't be programmed on a large scale basis. I think that it happens on a more informal basis. What I mean by this is that individual disciples must become intentional about whom they will invest their time with for the sake of the gospel.

For example while I was in seminary I met each week with another man for coffee. We used various books to help deepen our relationship with Christ. This weekly meeting was discipleship. It was not a congregational program, it was one Christ follower intentionally investing in another person for the sake of spiritual growth.

I think the challenge is to look to see whom God is bringing into our lives.

Jesus called 12 men to follow him. His primary path for discipleship was living life with them, teaching along the way and modeling the kingdom life. I don't think we can improve on this basic model.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


There is a joy in the heart of God that is both deep and profound. This joy springs forth from God’s being. Something in the nature of God’s being includes a deep and wide joy that can open itself to all things and all people. God’s being is not reduced to joy but joy certainly flows from his being.

Living from the heart is the experience of realizing and awakening to the fact that in Christ our being flows from his being. We are who we are because He is who He is. As we awaken to this reality joy begins to flow from us as a result of our very being experiencing transformation.
Sometimes grace comes in unexpected ways. It is no secret that I have been struggling big time as late. For most of my adult life I have been deeply fed and nourished by being outside. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to rock climb. I have been searching for some other outdoor adventure that would allow me to use a lot of effort when I have it and less effort when my body is not working as well.

Last week I went on my first deer hunting adventure and the Master brought me a nice legal buck early in the morning. The whole thing was deeply providential and my response was one of thankfulness. Grace came to me in the form of a deer. Hard to understand I know but true for me none the less. It was a gift and one I am so thankful for.

So often grace comes in unexpected ways into our lives. I am finding grace at work in more ordinary ways these days and it is helping me become more thankful. My wife was asked to work Thursday instead of Tuesday this week. Monday night our son gets the stomach flu and she would have missed work and we would have lost the income. Grace in the ordinary stuff of life.

As we look more closely we will see a pattern of the Master's hand at work in our lives as a gift of grace. Realizing this grace will help deepen our sense of gratitude and certitude. Gratitude in the fact that we are blessed in so many ways. Certitude in the fact that His hand is always at work in our lives.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


One of the difficulties of my disease is the unpredictability of it. I woke up last week and knew that things in my body had shifted. There is no real answer or reason as to why, it just did. The shift was into fatigue, general feeling lousy and irritability. This is one of the more difficult phases for me. I am not sure how long it will last; it could be days, weeks or months.

The irritability works like what the Desert Fathers would call a “demon”. I find that my spiritual practice becomes more obscure and difficult. Rather than the times of spiritual consolation it moves me into a form of spiritual desolation. I don’t feel spiritual, holy or like a good guy. I feel crappy. I find that these times are times of great challenge and growth, no matter how difficult they are.

These times of spiritual desolation help to deepen my understanding of God’s providence and presence in my life despite my lack of “feeling it”. I begin to realize that God’s activity in my life is not dependant on me or my ability, rather it is according to the very richness of God.

The other thing it helps me learn is that I need to continue with my spiritual practices despite the fact that they don’t seem to “work so well”. Being grounded in my spiritual practices helps to keep me going in the same direction. It is my continued “yes” to God’s overwhelming “yes” to me. I find that they help me to work with my irritability.

This season also helps me to realize my limits and need to slow down and rest. My body needs it and I need to learn the humility and obedience to realize my limitations. I also need to be aware that I need to spend more time on self-care and relying on others to help me. This too deepens my sense of humility and forces me to realize that I am not a “self-made man” or that I “can do it all by myself”. Also it reminds me of the need for healthy choices.

Since I have gone through several of these seasons I find that the spiritual desolation is not so overwhelming and full of fear like in times past. I don’t identify with these like I used to. I am gaining a new perspective and am growing in freedom. Therefore, while I don’t look forward to these I have found that these times deepen my spirituality. If you have had times of spiritual desolation, know that God is present and is holding you in presence.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


One danger on the spiritual journey is to try to force a spiritual practice.

Sometimes we can read a book or hear about someone who has a certain practice and we jump into a practice that isn't right for use. In our enthusiasm we force a practice that while good for some isn't good for us.

I know that for awhile I always tried to do every practice I read about somehow thinking it made me more spiritual. What I have learned is that each person is unique and that God uses that uniqueness to develop a person spiritually.

For example John Wesley (great evangelist and founder of the Methodist movement) fasted twice a week. A great practice and one that really developed him. Personally with my health issues fasting isn't a good choice for me. For me trying to force fasting wouldn't work. Instead it is better for me to find another practice that the Spirit is using to shape my life.

A good spiritual guide can help a person discern what practices are fruitful for you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some thoughts on humility

A humble person:

listens before he speaks.

recognizes she might be wrong.

does not force his own way.

is not driven by her ego.

does not need to be in control.

is free.

is open to new ideas.

finds joy in other people's success.

does not need to be the center of attention.

shares his ideas and opinions without his self being or self wrapped up with those ideas and opinions.

is teachable and always learning.

is willing to serve without recognition or thanks.

is down to earth.

does not put on false pretense or manage their image.

is grounded and centered.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sacredness of the Ordinary

God is present.

God's presence transforms all things and all places.

God is present in all times and all places.

Our awareness of God's presence transforms our understanding of life and reality.

Our awareness of God's presence usually begins with glimpses, little fractions of awareness. Bible camps, retreats, hikes are examples of times when people get a sense of presence. They call these "mountain top experiences", and rightly so for they are times when they felt the presence of God.

As our mindfulness grows then we begin to be aware of God in the more daily rhythms of life, perhaps in corporate worship or during times with good friends. Over time and through grace our awareness grows so that we realize that the ordinary is sacred because of the presence of God in all places and in all times.

It is for this reason that the liturgy says "it is indeed right and salutary that we should in all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord."

We give thanks for Christ's presence in all, the ordinary becomes sacred.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


One of my favorite things to do is look for beauty. Beauty is everywhere. Beauty that is seen with the eyes of the heart enlightens the soul.

I sat with a lot of people today and each one of them was created in the image of God and therefore beautiful.

I went out for a run and there was air for each needed breath, that was beauty.

Then sun is setting outside my office window and that is beautiful even though I can only see a glimpse of the sunset.

Even though my body doesn't do what I want it to do these days it too is beauty because it was a gift from the Lord and his Spirit dwells within.

Beauty is a gift of the present and seeing beauty is a cause for thankfulness.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I think one of the great temptations is the temptation to stray from our calling. So often when we think of temptations we think of our moral failures or things like "the seven deadly sins". Granted these are powerful temptations and areas in our lives we would not like to dwell.

However, deeper than that is the temptation to ignore or not fully live into our primary calling. This temptation is much more subtle and not generally filled with wrong actions. It is a temptation to ignore the deep calling of our hearts. It is the temptation to get so busy that we miss what God is doing in the now. It is the temptation to go days, if not weeks without seeking the "still small voice of God". It is the temptation to live from the periphery of life rather than at the center of life.

Our primary calling is to live with the awareness of who we are in Christ. Jesus says that we are "seek first the kingdom". This calling is about putting first things first and trusting God with the rest.

What does this look like? It is slightly different for every person since each of us is different. It is not a law to follow. It is a state of consciousness, awareness and intentionality. From this centered place life is to flow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some thoughts on grace

10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them — though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10

Our relationship with God is just the opposite of the way our world works; it is based on grace. Intellectually many of us know this but this truth is not to be experienced simply in the mind. We are called to experience the grace of Christ in the depths of our heart. To experience this is to receive grace and realize that grace is a state of being.

What I mean by that is that at the very core of our being is grace. Our very being is a gift. We don’t chose or earn our existence; it is given to us. Our being is an unearned gift from God; there is no quid pro quo. God simply is, therefore we simply are. Without God we would simply cease to exist.

To put it a little more concretely the sun rose this morning and it will set tonight regardless of me or anyone else. Our planet is uniquely set up to sustain life; no human designed the world we live in. The best that our science does is to discover the wonders of the world and see how we collectively are damaging the gift known as Earth.

God sent Jesus into the world without asking. Even though we rejected Christ by crucifying him God still pronounces forgiveness and mercy through Christ. Christ is a gift of grace. Since so much of our world is set up in a performance mode we struggle to realize grace at work in our lives. We live under an illusion that somehow we are the masters of our world and are the ones making things happen. The truth is that control is an illusion; just ask anyone with a chronic illness, job loss or death in the family.

When this illusion is broken we can begin to reopen to the wonder of the world since we are no longer trying to control it. There is a great peace that flows from realizing that God is at work in the world and that he is working in and through us by grace. No longer does the fate of the world rest on our shoulders. We are free to listen and to act with God, rather than in place of God. As we begin to experience the providential flow of God in the world we open more open to grace and to thankfulness.

With open eyes we can see the sun rising and setting as a grace. We see the times with our loved ones as a grace, not something to control or dominate. We regain a sense of rhythm and balance in life. Without a sense of grace we are always the actor, the driver in the drama of our lives and this is exhausting and leads to all kinds of problems. Grace allows us to recover the ability to see beauty and wonder in the world. To live from grace is to live from the heart since it is grace that opened the eyes of our hearts to seeing through the illusion.

Grace brings freedom to truly be. No longer is our being based on someone else’s approval. God in Christ has already said yes to each of us in all aspects of lives. This is so radical that we want to qualify grace with some sort of behavioral check or promise. Grace refuses any sort of conditions because it wouldn’t be grace. Grace allows us to receive love in every area that we have either refused to love ourselves or that others have refused to love us. There is great power in grace and love. That is why there is no need to try to condition it with expectations or certain behaviors; they simply flow from a life marked by grace.

Those who have experienced the depth of grace and love are changed and we can trust the one who gives grace and is grace, Jesus of Nazareth.

Reflection Questions
1. Do you find yourself moving back into performance spirituality?
2. Have you made time to look at all the gifts in the world and give thanks for them?
3. How has grace dropped into your heart?
4. As a recipient of grace how are you learning to be gracious to others?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Psalm 4:8

Psalm 4:8 "I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety"

How many of us sleep peacefully?

How many are able to lie down at the end of the day with all that occurred and sense a deep peace about ourselves, our lives and the world around us?

The psalmist lies down and sleeps peacefully. He attributes this peace to only one source: the Lord. It is the gift of the Lord alone to grant the "peace that passes understanding".

I am reminded of the preciousness of this gift in a world filled with so much upheaval. We so often seek peace in our finances, friends, spouses, children etc.. when all along it is the Lord alone who grants peace.

One of the wonderful things about growing in our relationship with Jesus is the ever deepening sense of peace in the midst of life because of the presence of God in all things. So often I have met with people who are struggling and time and time again I hear about how the Lord is granting them peace. This peace that is beyond reason, it moves deep in the soul. It is a "peace that passes all understanding".

I am so thankful that the Lord does not without peace from his people, but just the opposite, he grants it willingly and abundantly.

May you seek Christ and know his peace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Scar stained hands

During my internship I often visited a woman who had a non-alcohol related liver disease. She would go into a coma for 4-10 days and then spend 4 days in rehab for every day she was in the ICU. Her life would be 4-15 days in the ICU followed by 16-60 days in rehab so she could go home. She would go home for a few weeks and then start the whole ordeal over again.

This ordeal was crushing her so she finally asked the Lord to take her home through the gate of death. She had reached a point where she could no longer handle her life. A few days after her prayer a man came to visit her in the middle of the night. It wasn't a doctor, nurse or orderly. It was a man with scars on his hands and a tear in his eye. This scar stained man said to her "daughter, you do not have to have the strength to go through this by yourself. I am with you and have been with you. I will give you the strength you need for everyday. I love you."

The man with the scars on his hands and a tear in his eye deeply understands human pain and misery because he lived it. The tear in his eye is a tear of compassion and love for all people. When someone suffers he suffers with them. His scar stained hands embrace all who struggle and he provides the strength and love they need. He works through the people in our lives so that they become his hands and face in our lives.

The scars are on his resurrected body which point to the promise of a new day. Therefore he brings hope. Grace, strength, love, peace, joy and hope are his gifts to all.

My sister in Christ received a liver transplant. Her new son-in-law gave some of his liver so she may have life. My wife's boss allowed her to chose the best surgical team for the operation. My wife was then free to minister to her family throughout the surgery. She made a full recovery. The man with the scars on his hands and a tear in his eye was good to his word.

I am sure you have figured out that this man's name is Jesus. May his scar stained hands embrace you and hold you in love. May you know the joy of Jesus' love in your life. Amen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I once heard about a man who, upon hearing the name of Jesus would weep. I remember thinking that this was a bit weird. However, I am beginning to understand how he could be moved by something so simple as a name.

The name of Jesus while simple is powerful because it helps convey who he is. Let me try to illustrate with a story from my own life.

I have MS and it is not fun, in fact my life has changed and I have changed. I am one of those people who lives with daily pain and fatigue along with other symptoms. Even though I have medication to help with the symptoms I have had very few days without pain.

Recently I have received a grace from Christ that touches me so deeply. I have peace in the depth of my soul and have greater trust in His providence in my life. I am experiencing his divine sustenance as I have been able to climb this summer despite the fact that I am not getting better. People think that I am getting better, I am not. I am doing better though than I have in years. This is a grace and the One who brought it is my Master, Jesus.

I was reflecting on this great grace the other day in the car and I broke down in tears and simply cried. I am overwhelmed with my Master's mercy, love and providence in my life. I am so humbled that he would love me enough to stoop down and meet me in my pain and loneliness. He comes to where I am most scared and vulnerable bringing hope and joy. Amazing grace. Even though I still hurt physically I have joy in my soul, I am even beginning to recover my long lost laugh.

Knowing Jesus like I do now, that is in my pain, weakness, and brokenness has transformed his name for me. He is the One who brings to me in profound and life shattering ways graces like: love, forgiveness, strength, mercy, joy, hope and peace.

My Master is my Beloved. I thought I loved him before I was sick, and I did but it is not to the depth or with passion I now have. I can now weep at his name. This perhaps is the best thing that has come out of my sickness, the experience of the love and joy of Christ Jesus in all places.

My only response is to adore, love worship and serve my beloved Master: Jesus..

Grace Part One

Yesterday while teaching I said "there is always enough grace for the truth."

The grace of Christ allows us to see more clearly what we are really like. It breaks through our illusions and shines light in the darkness. It is grace because with Christ's truth always comes love and strength. When we realize that we are not as good as we thought we also realize that Christ is better than we thought. This gives us consolation and hope.

We can't really grow unless we build our lives on the truth. The love of God in Christ breaks into our lives revealing that we need Jesus and that he is present right where we are. I find so much hope in the truth of God's love for us and his ability to meet us wherever we are. Instead of condemnation Christ reveals the truth in love which brings freedom, peace and hope.

The discipline of honest confession allows us to build our life on the truth that there are areas where we fall short and need grace. Confession allows us to build our lives on the truth of Christ's forgiveness and strength. Confession is healthy for the soul because we receive again the grace of unearned love, forgiveness and new life.

When is the last time your reviewed your life; practiced confession and heard God's love for you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


When I played college tennis one of the members of the team would use a word to help inspire us to play better. He used to say that we needed "ganas", the word means desire. He would say "ganas, you must want it more than the other person."

Desire is universal, we all have desires. He was using to desire as a tool to help us want to win more than our opponent, and it worked for many of us. What about other things that we desire. What are our desires?

Jesus says that we must "seek first the kingdom." This is an issue of desire. Do we desire the kingdom of heaven? Probably, but we also desire other things as well. How do we deal with our desires and not let them get out of control?

I think that Jesus helps when he tells us to "seek first the kingdom." The order and magnitude of our desires matters. If we desire money first and more than anything else than we will seek money first. The same could be true about our sexuality, ego, status, cars, work etc...

It is fine to have other desires as long as they are not in the number one place in our lives or contrary to Jesus' teaching. The kingdom of God is to be in the first place. When Christ and his kingdom are first in our life then the rest of our life will begin to be ordered around Christ, his Word and his kingdom. Then the other desires (which will be present) will take their proper place. Any time that those other desire become first in our lives then they become idols or false gods. The first commandment is to have no other Gods beside me.

When we put Christ first then we experience that he truly is the way, the truth and the life and everything is added unto us. Another way to say that is that when Christ is first then the things that used to be so important aren't nearly as important as they once were and we are more content than ever.

Monday, August 17, 2009

98% Selfish

I recently cut my hair and donated the 12" away to a good cause. Someone asked me if that was my plan all along. I said that in the back of my mind I was hoping to be able to do something good. The fact remains, I liked having long hair and I like having short hair. My desire to have long hair was 98% selfish and about 2% selfless.

I think it is good when the things we like to do can be used for the good of others. For example there is a group called Sportsmen Against Hunger and they give some of their wild game to agencies that provide free meals. The hunters like to hunt and they can give some of their game to help feed people. This is good.

There are other ways we can take the things we like and use them to help others. I would encourage you to think about some ways in your own life that the things you like to do may be able to help others.

Not all of our service has to be 100% selfless, sometimes 2% selfless is helpful to another human being.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


We can be committed to Christ as an idea. When we do this we are only using the eye of the mind and we can become like the Pharisees, committed but with a hard heart.

The other way to be committed to Christ is as a person. I would like to describe one way this can happen in a human life.

At some point in our life we look at our life and realize that we have made mistakes, we have hurt people, made poor choices and are trapped in ways of living that aren't healthy. When we do this we are filled with regret, guilt, shame and perhaps despair. It is so hard to come to God in this place because of God's perfection and holiness. Most of us shy away from God and live our life with God as thought but not as a present Reality.

This is where an encounter with Jesus is so important. It goes something like this. We stand before Christ aware of all the areas of our life where we have fallen short and all we can do is stand there and weep because of the utter failure we have made in an attempt to live our lives in ways that are good, pure and beautiful.

We are there with our head held low and our eyes filled with tears, we are so ashamed we can't even look him in the eye. At that moment he takes reaches out with his scare stained hands and gently takes our face and lifts it up so that we can see his eyes.

In his eyes there is absolutely no condemnation, only tenderness and love like we have never see before. It is like he is looking right through us into the depths of our souls, seeing us in our entirety and his only response is love.

Then he says to us "I love you, I have always loved you and I will always love you. You are my beloved and these scars on my hands, side and feet are a sign of my never ending love for you."

We say "How can this be, I am not worthy. I have made so many mistakes."

To which he says "I know, but nothing you can do can keep me from loving you. My love is grace, you can never earn it. I give it to you because God is love."

Our response is simply to fall down and worship our Beloved Lord. The he picks us up by the hand and says "come follow me."

When our soul encounters the radical love of God in Christ as described by the above story then the eye of our heart is opened and we love Christ because he has first loved us and we have experienced him not as an idea, but as a person who knows us, loves and gave his life for us. (Gal 2:20)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It has been said that God comes to us as our life.

One of the things I think this helps us think about is how we learn from our life. Yesterday I wasn't feeling well and had to miss one of the highlights of my week. It was a lesson in obedience and humility. Not one I wanted to learn but better to learn from life than not to learn at all.

There are other opportunities as well. Difficult people help us learn to love our enemies. Financial issues help us trust providence and deepen our intercessory prayer life. Our spouses can teach us vulnerability and traffic can teach us patience and help us see where our anger level is.

There are constant opportunities in our lives to help us grow into more Christ like character. We need to open our eyes and see these opportunities.

How are you learning from life?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Prayer changes things because prayer changes us. As we come to God with prayerful attention the repeated encounter changes us from the inside out. As changed people we respond differently to our surroundings and to the people in our life. We gain different values and seek different goals.

I remember a wise woman once telling me that as we pray God gives us the desires of our heart because our hearts begin to desire what God wants. He takes our selfishness and uses it to his advantage.

Prayerful people are softer, they have a tenderness about them because they have received tenderness from God. Don't confuse this for timidity or passiveness. Rather it is a deep strength that comes from not needing to prove oneself.

Loving attention on Christ is a good prayer practice, one that asks for no rewards save from the joy of giving our attention to Christ.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wisdom and Age

What I have discovered in my almost six years in ministry is that most of the men that I have worked with are somewhere between the ages of 50-70. These guys have seen some amazing life change. I think it is because at this age men become open to wisdom. They have lived enough life to see through the distractions and they want to spend the rest of their life in ways that are meaningful.

I wish that younger men would seek wisdom. I remember I heard where a preacher once said that there a lot of smart and capable people in the world but very few good and wise people. Therefore, we should seek to be good and wise.

We, as men spend our younger and working years trying to prove the world how smart and capable we are. Meanwhile what the world really needs is good and wise men to use their talents in ways that honor Christ.

I remember praying for wisdom as a result of that sermon.

My first taste of wisdom came when I was struggling so much in my first church. My ego took a beating (which it needed)and I was finally open to learning what discipleship meant. I had been spiritual but had no real practice to shape my inner life. Wisdom begins when we are humbled and our pride is taken from us.

Letting go is a prerequisite to wisdom.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I read a little while ago that men should be about the work of blessing other men. Sometimes this comes as a formal blessing such as a coming of age ceremony but more often than not it is an encouragement.

I received two blessings this Sunday. The first was from a friend who told another man in my presence how proud he was of me for a recent accomplishment. I felt blessed.

Shortly after another man told me he appreciate some writing I had done.

These comments weren't praise; they were blessings. They were blessing because I know that I am loved by each man and he was pointing out the goodness of what God is doing in my life and helping me to see it and rejoice in my blessedness as His child.

Thanks guys, I left feeling blessed and loved.


I have been thinking about how disconnected we are from nature.

I remember hearing or reading about people growing up on farms. The spoke of knowing the rhythms of life because their livelihood followed the seasons. They worked so hard during harvest and then rested in the winter. Nowadays we get two weeks vacation and work hard all the time, we never make time for rest.

They experienced life and death as animals were born and then slaughtered for dinner. Today we sanitize death, we rarely have bodies at funerals. All of the death we now see is on the TV or via video game. It is fictional rather than reality. We are out of touch with our connectedness to nature.

Jesus, God incarnate is the connection between our spiritual life and creation. He who created all things became a created being in order to help connect us again.

I remember the first time I spent the night in the mountains. Seeing the sunset was amazing. Listening to nothing but Mother Nature was overwhelming. Waking up in an alpine basin is indescribable.

Human, the word in Hebrew means Eathling. We need to help our young people disconnect from the computer and connect to nature. Creation desperately needs us to live out our original mission which is to care for all God created in cooperation with him.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The three Bs


People want to belong to a group. We are programmed as humans to belong. People sort themselves into various groups: climbers, hikers, bikers, hunters, etc..

Even though we naturally sort ourselves into groups it doesn't mean that we feel like we belong. Mother Teresa said years ago in an interview that the world's greatest problem was loneliness. People are lonely, despite the fact that we have more ways to communicate than ever before.

As Christians we should first welcome people into our fellowship before we force them to believe or behave in ways that we think they need to. Jesus went to the people on the fringes, he met them where they were and after their encounter with him they began to change.

We need to trust that if Christ is in our midst that people will encounter Him and by encountering him begin to believe in Him and in his message.

The second "B" is believing. It is the context of belonging that people begin to ask questions, seek answers and begin to believe. This is why the Alpha course stresses hospitality first and foremost. As Christians we should model radical hospitality that recognizes the inherent value of each person based on their being created in the image of God.

The third "B" is behaving. After people have encountered Christ through radical hospitality and love, been able to work though their intellectual issues then they will begin to behave in ways that are consistent with gospel living.

So often we start with believing, then move to behaving and finally based on right belief and behavior allow people to belong. This is totally the wrong order. We need to recover a more Christlike way of welcoming people.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I was driving through some farm country yesterday and it reminded me of how farming or gardening is like spiritual growth.

Crops bear fruit in due season, so it is with our lives. We need to be patient with the fruit of the spiritual journey just as the gardener is patient with the fruit from the garden.

So often we want to rush our spiritual growth and have the results now. It just doesn't work that way. We need to trust that God is working in our lives and will bear the fruit he wants when he wants.

Just as the gardener waters, fertilizers and tends to his or her plants so God is tending to our souls. Trust and be patient, fruit will be born in our lives.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Little Book

I am writing a little book on how to be a disciple of Jesus. Much of my writing time is directed there and when the draft is done I will make it available.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I was reading some devotions that Kim's grandfather wrote towards the end of his life. He was reflecting on Ephesians 3:19 which speaks about being filled with the fullness of God. Amazing that Paul prays that we would be filled with the fullness of God, this God whom the universe can't contain somehow by love can be filled in us.

Kim's grandfather wrote on that theme and then wrote that after he goes to bed he thinks about this verse and what is means for Jesus to all in all. For no self to remain and only for Christ to dwell in us. Then he wrote that he thirsts for that. Here is a man who sought and served the Lord his whole life and in his early eighties lays in bed thirsting to be filled with Christ more fully. Wow. I am moved to tears as I reflect on this. I long to have the same thirst in my life for Christ to all in all.

I am inspired by this man of faith and I am thankful for his witness in my life.

Prayers for Worship Sunday June 28th

These are inspired by Mark 5:21-43

Jesus, we don’t want to be of one of the crowd who sees you but doesn’t touch you. Help us to step out of comfort zone and touch you. Let our touch be a life giving touch like the suffering woman in the gospel. We desperately need the change only you can bring.

Leader: Gracious Lord Jesus,

Men: You are the hope for our lost and broken world. We look to you for healing and hope. We know that life is found in you and so we trust you with our lives.

Women: You said that we, Messiah Lutheran Church, are your body in the world. You said that we are light in the darkness. Heal any divisions within our congregation. Bring any bickering or petty fighting to an end so that we can better live out our calling to be a light to the Auburn communities.

Men: Your world is torn and broken. People are starving. Murder is too common. Exploitation of the weak and powerless runs unchecked. Change us so that we are not part of the problem. Make us part of the solution. Let it be known that in Christ there is freedom, love and justice.

Women: Thank you for your blessings. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for joy. Thank you for this congregation. Thank you for love. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Leader: We ask from you for your grace, care and love for those we name out loud or in the silence of our hearts……

Leader: Into you we entrust these prayers because we love you and trust you. Amen.

As we give you this financial offering let it be a symbol of our whole lives given to you. Multiply these gifts for you glory. Use this money and our lives to bring the good news of Jesus to our community.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


For your love we praise you.

For the way you look on us with greater love than we will ever know we adore you.

For not leaving us where we are but uniting us with Christ we worship you.

For the forgiveness as present as the air we breath we give you glory.

Lord, you are so worthy of all praise, glory and honor yet our words seem so little and inadequate. We know that you delight in our praise and worship and so today we worship you.

We worship you with all that we are and all that we wish we were not.

We worship you with our spiritual insights and our spiritual blindness.

We worship you with our moral victories and moral failures.

We worship you in all our humanity because it is our humanity that you created, and it was into our humanity that you were incarnate and it was into our humanity that you were raised and promised to raise us with you.

It is our joy to love you and it is our greater joy to be loved by you.

Abba, we love you.

Jesus, we love you.

Spirit, we love you.


Sometimes I think we forget how connected we are to each other. It is easy to isolate ourselves. The reality of the matter is that we are deeply connected with each other. We need each other. Paul describes us as different members of the same body. This body is the body of Christ, we are united to each other and more importantly we are united to Christ.

Part of the call of Christian community is to help us understand who we are in Christ and who we are in the community, they are separate yet related realities. To do this we need to spend time with Christ and with each other on a more intimate level. We have to get by the superficial prayers and the superficial conversations with each other. We need to get to the place of honesty with God and with each other.

The key is to build our lives on the truth of God in Christ and the truth of God in community and God in the world. Then we can relate to each other in a more authentic life giving way. Isolation breeds sin and hatred. Community builds love...

Have you been honest with God about who you are? Doing this will help develop your integration of forgiveness and humility..

Do you have another person you can be honest with about who you are? Someone who loves you and will speak the truth in love and walk with you?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I am becoming more convinced that much of the work of Christian communities is to help people discover their belovedness and to begin to heal the wounds that life has created.

A gift of the spiritual life is the ability to see with the eye of heart. Paul speaks about the eyes of the heart being enlightened in Ephesians. So often the eyes of the heart are closed and we fail to see who we really are and who our neighbor really is. So many people today suffer from a poor sense of self or they base their sense of self on their performance, achievements, job, family or health. These things can be taken away and when they are one can lose who they "are" and sink into despair or depression.

When the eyes of heart are closed we judge ourselves and others based on the values of the world and not on who we are in Christ. Paul prays for the Ephesians in chapter three that they may comprehend the love of Christ. He wants them to really "see" who they are and how the world really works.

When we begin to "see" who we are in Christ then we will begin to understand how precious, beautiful, and unique we are. We will begin to be liberated from the bondage to our false judgments of ourselves and others. We will begin to understand how tender and gentle God is with us in our frailties and weakness.

Opening the eyes of the heart is not something we can achieve, we can only receive this gift. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our spiritual practices are to help us be in a place to receive that which has been prepared for us all along. One of the best things we can do is simply to slow down and create spaces in our lives for stillness, powerlessness and trust.

Entering the spiritual life is about trusting God and trusting that God knows what we need, when we need it. Our goal is not ourselves but to simply come and give our attention and consent to the One who created all, redeemed all and is sustaining all.

Jean Vanier

Last night we read from Jean Vanier's book "Encountering the Other". I thought I would put a link to his website.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I was talking with a friend today about an MS fund raising ride they are doing in the fall. Knowing that I like to cycle they asked me if I was going to try to ride in the event. I said I would like to do but didn't know how my body would be in the fall. I have learned a new appreciation for the now. I feel less guaranteed about the future and so I am learning more deeply to enjoy now.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. You don't have to have a chronic illness to begin to appreciate the now. So often we feel like life will be better someday, when something happens to make it that way. While we are thinking about the future, we are missing the now.

Jesus says the kingdom of God is available now, that eternity breaks into the now. He also says that God will care for us in the future. Live now.

One of the great ways to cultivate living in the now is by being looking around at things in your life you can be thankful for and give thanks. Cultivating gratefulness is a powerful spiritual practice.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills —
from where will my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

I have been nourished by this prayer for years. As I prayed it today with a handful of other people it struck me in a new way given the fact that I continue to live with an unpredictable and incurable neurological disease. I have been reading other people's blogs who suffer from the same type of disease, although they have lost more than I have.

What does it mean to have the protection of God in the midst of suffering? At some place in my soul there must be a reconciliation of the goodness of God and the pain that I experience along with the pain others live with. Without this reconciliation I will suffer without hope; for if God is not good then who is? Pain without the mystery of Christ is meaningless and futile. Pain with Christ can be transformed or in my case being transformed daily. There is much work left to do in my soul, however I know that the work is being done. God is at work in the deep recesses of my being transforming, healing, forgiving and reconciling all things through his Son.

This is the reason for hope and joy in my life. My pain is not my own, it is my Lord's and he is working in, through and despite me. He never sleeps, never leaves and therefore I can grow in praying alongside the Psalmist that God will keep me from all evil.

Some Prayers

Here are some prayers I wrote for Sunday

Abba,We come to praise you simply because you are worthy to be praised. We stand in wonder and awe at the beauty of your creation. We thank you for your boundless love, limitless compassion and endless mercy. Help us to see your sustaining presence in all aspects of our world.

Lord Jesus,
We come to praise you for your humble entry into our world to bring forgiveness and new life. We look to you for wisdom, guidance, and hope. Without you life would have no meaning or purpose. Help us to respond daily to your call to follow you.

Beautiful Spirit,
We come to praise you for you too are God. Without your gentle presence in our lives we would be lost. We would neither have faith in Christ nor the grace needed for daily living. Help us to become more aware and open to your presence in our lives and your movement in the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Someone asked me recently if our sinfulness makes God sad. This is a common question and one that if we are not careful can obscure the love of God and the freedom from condemnation. For example if we say yes then the conclusion is that God is sad about me when I sin. Since I sin often God is often sad. This is dangerous because of the view of God's nature it can easily lead to.

God is forgiving, we see this most poignantly when Christ is on the cross and he seeks forgiveness for those who crucified him. God is mercy, love and forgiveness. God also suffers when we suffer, God is compassion. God enters into the suffering of all humanity and much of that suffering is a result of our choices which are blinded by sin.

In terms of our relationship with God our sins are not a barrier to union and intimacy with God, Christ made this so. Therefore I think it is more helpful to ask the question not about what makes God sad, but what makes us sad, what moves our hearts.

For example I say a picture recently of an infant in Africa who is starving to death because his mother doesn't have the nutrition needed to produce breast milk. (here is the link) It is more helpful to check my own heart because it can move me to action, to enter the suffering and work for a just world.

If my heart has been touched by the Love of God then it impossible not to respond in love and action. Compassion demands action. The source of compassion is the wellspring of God's love in Christ. If I am still seeing God as being unhappy with my limitedness then I am not touching the transforming reality of unlimited compassion for all and a heart for justice.

We can trust the transforming love of God in Christ, we do not need to try to make it a law, the freedom of Christ will result in a fruitful life.

Notes from wG for May 19

1. Scriptural reading with less quantity and more contemplation is better. Dwell on the meaning; how does it apply to me and my circumstances
2. No one person can give another person wisdom, they can only help us discover it.
3. Approach spiritual growth as mystery; multi-faceted mysticism.
4. Without mystery there is no tension in life; no pull-pull or push-push
5. Spiritual growth is a life-long journey never reaching fulfillment in this life.
6. Attention is a form of love. When we worship, pray, or work on scriptural study we have our attention on God. God always has His loving, tender, kind, (fruits of the Spirit of God) attention on us with no shame, guilt, or reproach attached.
7. When we confess - we wake up to our sins - we have self awareness of our sinfulness.
8. When we are awake, we become more aware of Christ and his Love. We see Christ in others because He is fully in us
9. Praying without ceasing means we live in a way that continuously gives our attention to God. When we love our neighbor, we give them attention.
10. Spiritual growth is demonstrated through our becoming more loving and compassionate.
11. When our ego is out of control, it is always looking to be fed or gratified; self gratification. No one person can meet our deepest need to be fully and unconditionally loved. Only God can do that. As our realization of God's presence grows, so does our understanding of His love for us.
12. We need to learn to trust God's grace; His remodeling of our hearts toward the fruits of the Spirit. This makes us free to love; love without compulsion.
13. We need to make time to pay attention to God.This is done in silence and solitude through prayer, worship, contemplation, and spiritual reading or study with wise teachers who have gained much wisdom through the Scriptures.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Source of Love

The heartbeat of the universe is love. It is the energy that flows through all and unifies all. Much of the spiritual life is the process of deepening our realization of love. Some of the best places to start seeing love is by looking at nature. There is such beauty and wonder. Listening to birds sing is to listen to the song of love.

As the eye of our heart is opened we see love in more obscure places, in people who are different than us, in the pain of life and in the isolation we so often feel. Seeing love and knowing we are loved gives us grace to live open, free lives that trust rather than fear.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Song of the Heart

A few days ago I had a painful medical test. During the times it hurt most I sang in my mind and heart a song I have sung for years "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom". I sing this to my daughter when we snuggle for bedtime and I sang it to her when she was an infant and I rocked her asleep. Since this song/prayer has dropped into my heart it is a source of strength in all times.

One of my professors at seminary suggested each congregation had a handful of songs that would help shape their spirituality. This way the people would have a common spiritual source and if they dropped into the heart then it they would be a resource at any time and in any need.

Do you have a prayer/song of your heart?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review of Life

One of the essential tasks of the spiritual life is a review of life. It is an important practice to develop. Writing in a journal is a good way to think through our life, our calling and to help listen to what God is saying in our lives. It is so hard to grow spiritually without this process of review. Another way to think of this is the process of repentance. Repentance is simply to look at our life strategy in light of the good news that the kingdom of God is present.

God's presence and promise are available now, in fact they are only available in the now. For God is always in the present and we are always in the present, to think God is only in the future is to miss God entirely. To try to recover God from the past is to miss the presence of God now. Our spiritual practices help us to experience the nowness of God.

To review our life is to look at how we are present to God, to look at our intention, to look at our availability and vulnerability.

This review is a gift of grace. God is so tender with us that there is always enough grace to sustain us as we look at our lives. God's love enables us to review our lives, to rethink who we are and where we are going. While there may be challenge involved in the change it is always laden with mercy and love. The Spirit works to shape us and forgiveness surrounds us when we fail.

How often do you journal?

Who do you review your life with? Who is part of your spiritual community?

How do you experience the review of life as a grace filled, love powered activity?


Another key word on our spiritual journey: vulnerability. To be vulnerable means to let our guard down and to open up the walls we have made between ourselves and God and ourselves and others. It takes great courage to be vulnerable with God because we have to begin to lean into grace and lower our pride. So often the patterns we have in our lives are about performance and earning our way in the world. We bring these patterns into our spiritual life. However they are not life giving patterns. With God there is no shame, condemnation or guilt. God is pure radical love that can accept all, forgive all and integrate all.

It is only when we are vulnerable with God, when we are really being ourselves that we can experience this love. If we try to prove to God that we are good, or feel guilty about asking too much or not praying enough then we miss the grace. Simply sit before God in silence, bring to mind all that you are ashamed of and listen to forgiveness, love, acceptance, mercy, tenderness, compassion and joy over you. This is all there really is in God and this is foundation of all interior work. We can never really move forward without a clear, accurate understanding of God as love in each and every moment of our existence. Receive your title as beloved, for this is your true self.

It is a challenge because we must let our ego go and be vulnerable to loss of those things that are hindrances in the way. Pride also wants to earn God's love and to be vulnerable is to risk losing our pride and coming to God with nothing, only receiving blessing. This is not the way of the world but it is the way of the kingdom.

What would it take for you to simply sit and listen to God?

What are the barriers for your vulnerability?

Who can help you grow in the grace of understanding God's love for you?

Are you willing to be transformed and come to God in humility?


Very few are called to the eremitcal life; that is the life of a hermit. Most of us all called to live in community and to grow in grace together. Sadly many Christians live alone while in the company of others. The standard pattern looks something like this: attend worship on Sunday, receiving the blessing of worship but rarely making any more than surface conversation with anyone else. Attend a class which gives information with little relation. Read or pray alone regularly and then go to work and tend to fmaily issues without really getting a sense of deeper community. We can find ourselves living a solitary spiritual life which for most is not their calling. Living this kind of spiritual life oftens means people get "stuck", the don't grow and get content to sit in the patterns they have been in for years.

Authentic spiritual community is one of the tools God uses to shape our hearts and minds. These places of grace are a gift from the Lord and a necessity for growth. Monks were only allowed to be hermits after years in community and then it was with the blessing of their abbot. I would encourage all people to seek a place where they can be in authentic spiritual community and recieve the blessings God has ordained for those moments.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More thoughts on availability

Availability does not mean inserting ourselves into places we are not called. It means to open our lives to the unique calling God has for us. The key is not trying to be someone other than God called and created us to be.

Availability therefore is a process of removing the barriers that would keep us from growing into who we are meant to be. Many of those barriers are connected to our ego and the false self. Pride and fear are perhaps the two greatest barriers.

A person ruled by pride is not receptive or open to change, they do not have a "beginners mind" and therefore they learn little. Life has a way of stripping our pride and at these times we become more aware of the Divine in our lives. Pride is the opposite of humility and is not a Christlike attitude (see Phil 2).

Fear keeps us from trusting that the gentle rule and reign of God is present in our lives. If we are ruled by fear then it is hard to trust that God is the shepherd of our souls. We fear the unknown because we do not trust Christ has already gone ahead of us. Christ's perfect love casts this fear out and opens us to losing our lives for his sake. We can trust the one who gave his life on the cross and whom God raised from the dead.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This is a central word on our spiritual journey. Availability is our openness to God and to our neighbor. Being available to God means that we open our heart to the Living God. We hold loosely all that we have and are in our being, our heart or core. Those things which we have defined ourselves by we make available to the Spirit of God to blow away or to say. To be available is to abandon ourselves to God for their is nothing greater in life than total abandonment to God.

This is my personal quest, that is why my teachers are people who have done this and are doing this.

A sage once said that a saint is available to be used by God or left in the corner by God, they are content either way. An available person opens their whole being to God and this takes great trust in the mercy and goodness of God. To be available means to spend time with God, how can once hear the voice of the Divine if they never listen? Listen in silence and stillness. This is what my friends at Sky Farm teach and model for me.

Being available also implies a willingness to let go and to change to become even more in tune with the will of God. Jesus was always available to the will of the Father, he did nothing of his own, only what he was called to do. Wow.

Availability to God also means that we are available to all that God loves, which means we are available to all. We don't need to seek people out per se, rather we should welcome all that God sends our way and give them what they need at the time. This is a radical call to hospitality, and one I find challenging. Sometimes we make our material goods available, other times we make our wisdom available, sometimes it is compassionate listening.

A person who is available is truly present to whomever they are with, they are not planning or thinking about the next thing to say, or the next task or the plans for later in the night. They simply are present to Christ as he comes in the disguise of our neighbor. I long to live this way.

Reflection Questions

1. How available to God are you? What do you desire in terms of your availability to God and others?

2. What are the ways you make yourself available? For example do you attend worship, small group, pray regularly etc...

3. Who can help you grow in your understanding? For example Thomas Merton helps me understand the contemplative life.

4. What holds you back from being more available, what are the thing you hold tightly onto that may not be worth holding?

Journal about these issues....


Our intention is a powerful force. When it comes to the development of our inner life we need to ask ourselves what is our intention? Do we really want to be transformed? Do we want to grow? Are we willing to count the cost and enter into a new way of living?

Many of us are afraid of growth, we say we want to change but yet never enter into the habits or practices to facilitate the growth. This is a matter of intention. What do we really want?

One of the key areas is to reflect on is our use of time. We hear so much these days about being too busy. Well if we are too busy then we will likely not see the transformation we say we seek. Yet if our intention is to change then our intention/desire will shape how we organize our day. To enter into the contemplative life one needs to spend time with the Lord, there is no shortcut to spending time in prayer, meditation, reflection, study and community.

If our desire is to seek God then we must trust God that the things that need to get done will get done and those things that don't get done are not worth doing. Jesus tells us to lose our lives for his sake. The great masters of the spiritual life ordered their life around the quest for God, not hoping God would fit into their schedule. This is a deep challenge to average American Christian.

Of all the things, which go on into eternity? Are our lives ordered around what is really important?

Notes from May 5 from wG

1. read daily Mark 8 vs. 34-38 so that it becomes who we are in Christ
2. think about who/what we want to become---what is our intention for our life---it must align with Christ's intention for our life
3. availability; who/what are we available to---we must be available to God and to our neighbors. We must live out our availability and trust Christ that all that we think needs to be done, he will help/guide us to do. This comes from the heart.
4. we need to read scripture daily.....less is more and contemplate the reading so we can hear God's voice.
5. we need to work in the Gospels first and the Psalms second. This will help us to understand Christ's life and how we can incorporate his life and teaching into our life.
6. start in Mathew 5 vs. 1 and place our names in the versus until be believe we are children of God and blessed.
7. how do we live the Gospel? what practices and habits do we incorporate into our lives to live the Gospel
8. we need regular periods of reflection time so we can review our life to see if we are living the Gospel. must journal to use as basis for path corrections.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Simple Baptism Analogy

While at the beach today I asked my daughter if she wanted a quick theology lesson. She said sure. So I wrote the word "sin" in the sand and as the waves came in and then went back out I asked her to look for the word again. She said she couldn't find it. I told her that is what happens to our sins during baptism, they are washed away, never to be seen again. What good news that our sins are washed away and that we live in the waves forgiveness.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


While watching the amazing shows at Seaworld today I was reminded of the coming Kingdom. When the Kingdom comes our relationship with the animal world will be changed and we will cooperate with animals in a new way. I was excited to see a hint of this reality now and look forward to its coming in fullness.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Tonight we stood on the bluff above the Pacific Ocean and watched an amazing sunset. In addition we saw dolphins playing in the ocean and jumping out of the water. Watching the sunset is a devotional experience to say the least.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Space in the Heart

As our interior life grows we are more able to be gracious and open with more people. Our natural inclination is to segregate and judge. The Spirit enables us to open our heart to more experiences and more people. This makes us more open to others and more loving to all people. This means dropping our judgement and meeting others in love and grace. We may still speak a word of correction into their life but it will be based from love and not judgement. The words won't be based on our needs but for the sake of others.

Friday, April 17, 2009


One of the key skills to develop is the ability to contemplate God in nature. This is one of the key ways God reveals God's self. Many people naturally are able to do this and it is important to deepen this grace. The reason why is that there are so many places to "see" and experience the depth of awareness if we simply can look. Today I was at LegoLand which is a busy theme park. It has so many beautiful plants all around. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of a theme park the beauty of God was so apparent. There were so many opportunities to deepen my contemplative living simply by being aware of the beauty that was right in front of me. Then there is a natural extension of seeing the beauty of the people which God created which were also all around me.
This ability can transform what could be considered a totally secular exercise into a day of prayer. This also makes the whole day much more enjoyable.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I was at the ocean today and it occurred to me as I watched kelp be carried by the ocean that it was another good analogy to help understand the spiritual life. We are to be as available to God as the kelp is to the ocean, it simply picks it up and moves it where ever it wishes. One of the spiritual axioms of the Northumbria Community is availability.
Availability means that we are ready to go and do what God wills when God wills it. Often this comes in the form of ministering to our neighbor and leaving our own expectations behind. The calling of God also comes through others, they challenge us to new endeavors, challenge our ideas of the Divine and help us move out of our comfort zone.
This is a difficult thing to do because it means we have to live not for ourselves but for God. This means dropping our ego and trusting that where God leads, God will provide.
We should consider making availability one of our words that defines our life and shapes how we live.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grace to grow

As we move forward in the spiritual life we will find ourselves challenged. We will look at our own slowness, hardness of heart, complicity in sin and a myriad of other shortfalls. Sometimes we will get frustrated out our downright stupidity.

We must not let this discourage us though. The whole journey is a gift of grace. We are able to deal with each of those issues because the love of God sustains us in all things. The deep reality present in all things is the energy, passion and presence of God. This is love and it holds us in all things. This presence frees us to pursue the spiritual life and grow.

Stop, look at the beauty of a budding flower. There is awesome life and energy in this simpe act of a flower budding. Let the beauty of it take you beyond the flower to the reality behind the flower. There is the hand of the creator at work, constantly, silently yelling the beauty of the moment. Let yourself be in the moment, listen to the beating if your heart, feel the movement of your chest as you breath and realize with each breath that you are completely immersed in Presence, it is a gift. Laugh, rejoice, smile and praise.

Then pick up your practice and continue the journey of inward transformation for you are called to go deeper, to a greater sense of awareness. This is the life is worth living for. Everything flows from this wellspring.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Much of the spiritual life is about being freed to see the ways things really are. Our bondage can be blinding. We can miss the beauty in a sunset, the smile of a child or the many other blessings in life. We can get so caught in our hurried, fractured lives that we miss what is right before us. Freedom creates an openness in our hearts to perceive things at an intuitive level and to begin to see the hand of God in all things. Much of our spiritual practice should be about slowing, looking and listening to the ways God is present now.

So often we try to search for, or earn access to God through some act or form. Rather the act or form should help us to see what is already in front of us. This brings a light to soul, joy to the heart and contentment to life. All this is a gift which is being given all the time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Bible speaks about the Spirit praying within us (Romans 8:26-27). I find this very comforting since that means that prayer is happening in me whether I am aware of it or not. These weeks when I have not been feeling well are challenging to my prayer life. Yet I don't have to worry, God is still working in me and sustaining my prayers when I don't have the strength of will to stay focused or be aware for prolonged times. Also the prayers of the community on my behalf nourish my soul and shape my heart. What a gift prayer is!

I am so thankful for this action of God in my life. I can relax and trust the shepherd of my soul to work on my behalf when I am not able. What a gracious God!

On a side note much of prayer is simply sitting and "listening" to the prayer of the Spirit within us. Therefore we should "be still" (Psalm 46:10).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

World Water Sunday

This Sunday, the 22nd of March is world water Sunday. It is an important issue becuase 5,000 children die every day from water related illness. The solutions are there and are doable.

Here is a linke to Lutheran World Relief's info on water.

World Water Sunday

The gift of letting go

So many of the things we hold onto keep us from experiencing a deeper spiritual life. Sometimes these things are material possessions (much like the rich young ruler) but more often they are things that flow from our ego.

What we fail to realize is that in letting we go we actually gain what we really want. Jesus says that "whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for his sake will gain it". Jesus gave his life completely and calls us to do the same. We are scared by what this looks like and we are unsure, so we hold onto our security and therefore never gain the depth in our soul.

Whatever helps us to let go is a gift, even if it means pain, struggle and suffering. These can be a gift if they are part of the paschal mystery where nothing is foreign to God.

Letting go is not fatalism, it is a deep and abiding trust. It is praying and living into "not my will , but thy will be done".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Growth in Love

To grow in Christ is to grow in love. Christ's heart is filled with love for all people and for all of creation. Spiritual disciplines are not to be done for themselves, they are places of transforming grace where Christ shapes our hearts for love. We especially begin to grow in love to the least in society. There are so many people society casts aside as poor, ugly, stupid and a whole host of other terms. Remember, these are people that we created in the image of God and for whom Christ died on the cross. The Christian sees through the world's stereotypes into the reality of a Christ like view of people as beloved. Part of our calling as Christians is to help people discover their belovedness.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


As people we are infinitely different and there are endless combinations of DNA. While we are different our life all flows from the same source, the voice of God. We are at the same time different and the same.

The same Spirit flows and gives life to all people whether they recognize it or not. Realizing the same Spirit gives life for all people enables us to pray for people and relate to them based on our unity in the mystical body of Christ. This will allow us to begin to love our neighbor as ourself since we will realize that while we are different we are connected at a level that is deeper than any of our differences.

This deeper spiritual reality will enable us to live more peacefully and in harmony with one another. It gives us the ability to "forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". The commonality of our common forgiveness is the source of our divine connection with Christ and the Trinity.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


One of the fruits of spiritual growth is a distaste for sin. I say distaste because it is like staying away from foods we don't like. Rarely do we feel great moral failure when we eat something that we don't like. The taste lingers and the desire to eat it diminishes. The same is true for sin, it tastes bad and we no longer want to do it. Underneath all of this we know that we are loved because Christ has died for us and there is no condemnation for those in Christ.

The will of God.

The will of God is to love God and love your neighbor. A transforming heart grows more able to love God and love their neighbor. As the heart is continually transformed then a person's actions come more into line with the will of God in every opportunity to be love and charity for our neighbor.


Sometimes we are so busy doing church that we forget to be the church. We lose sight of taking the time for silence and solitude. We are so busy at church we don't know our neighbor. Our volunteerism can become an addiction or a distraction from doing the real work of the interior life. We should look to the development of our interior life so that we bring the fruit of this work into all the other things we do.


The Trinity is an experience first and an explanation second. In the church we have tried to explain it first and seldom talk about the experience of the Trinity. I think that the early Christians tried to give words to what they were experiencing, not so much create a doctrine about God.