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.