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.