Insomnia has driven me to be up…so I thought I might take the opportunity to do some writing. The loss of my Mother is proving to be hard. Wow that’s an understatement. So very many thoughts. So many memories. And it’s rather ironic that the very last post I wrote was on loss.

I think my sleeplessness is in response to just so many hard things in my life. The death of my mother is just one of many things. Why are there so many hard things occurring? Why so many trials? I could choose to bemoan them I suppose. And don’t get me wrong, I do and am letting God know how much all this is hurting and asking for His help. But, I guess I’ve learned the lesson of how to respond to hardship. When my heart is faint within me, lead to the Rock that is higher than I the Psalmist says.

Rather than focus on loss this time I think I’ll focus on gain. Rather than focus on darkness I think I’ll choose to focus on light. Or more specifically on hope. I was reading Romans 5 and 8 last night and the message of hope really stood out to me. Romans 5 speaks of hope being the ultimate result of perseverance in response to hardship. And the 8th chapter talks about hope being specifically not the product of seeing something that is hoped for. Sounds a great deal like faith really. Well, both passages are instructive. Back to the 5th chapter, we are told “now hope doesn’t disappoint”. Wow, there’s an understatement! Hope is vital! One of the passages from Proverbs further comments that hope deferred (or absent would be my translation) “makes the heart sick”. In other words, when you have no hope it only brings a downward spiral.

Hope is bright, warm and essential. And in light of the faithfulness of God…there is ALWAYS hope. My wife, Amy, likes Christian teacher Charles Stanley. I remember a message given by Mr. Stanley several years ago in which he said that God is worthy of our praise no matter what we are going through. Even if we aren’t seeing good things happening in our lives, God is praise worthy because of who He is and not just because of what He does. And I’ve remembered that. I think it’s true. God is good no matter what is occurring. And He is faithful whether we can see Him acting of not. His faithfulness can bring hope through the vehicle of faith if we let it. It can be the lift us out of the pit as Psalm 40 declares.

Blessed be Your name, Most High for who you are in my life. Thank you for the Godly example of my Mother in my life. Thank you that make all things new and that you walk with us through all our trials. I will cling to your promises which are precious to me. Thank you for listening to my prayers. I know that they don’t fall on deaf ears. You are good and faithful, Almighty God. You are faithful and true. Please hold my hand at this time. Sometimes it’s very hard and I am still a man in need of a rescuer. Thank you, Holy Spirit that you are a comforter. I will receive your comfort at this time.

Well, if there is someone actually reading this, may God grant you peace and grace, fellow sojourner.

I’ll spare the long time in coming…blah, blah, blah…

So, lately I’ve been losing things. I lost my gym bag, a pair of gym shorts (which I suspect was in said bag) and of course, the ever present parade of missing socks. Today it looks like the 24 Hour Fitness won’t refund my $60 which they promised to. And of course, there’s the ongoing crud with my house. It’s been remarkably disheartening. It almost makes you think “well damn, what’s next!?”.

But I refuse to let the sense of loss own me. Is that my hope is in? Things? It’s a good soul check.

Dear, Lord, please be near to me. Please help me realize that “things” are never satisfying but only you are. Blessed be Your name Most High. You have always been faithful to me. And for that I am grateful.

So, after another long lapse I am posting again. This time my inspiration was a screw up on my part.

Over the weekend I accidentally locked my keys in my car. And long story made short, I ended up having to pay a locksmith $175 to get back into my car. Ouch. That’s money that is hard earned and could have been better utilized elsewhere. In other words, a very costly mistake.

And because of that, I’ve actually been beating myself up over it quite a lot. But I have to just stop and ask myself, is God angry about that? No, probably not. He is tremendously full of grace and mercy. It was an honest mistake. And we are told that mistakes can actually be helpful as a lesson.

What is my lesson learned besides the obvious “make sure you keep your keys with you before you lock the car door”? For me it’s how marvelous God’s mercy is! He forgives us. And we should likewise be forgiving, even ourselves.

And I’m mindful that forgiving oneself is not easy. With forgiveness there is a releasing of wrong doing. So, there is an element of trust here in God that He is able to sustain me in the midst of my own short comings. He loves me with an everlasting love and calls me Son. The Creator of all that exists, including unbelievably vast galaxies, loves me. That’s astounding! I’m going to ruminate on that for awhile.

Peace to you today, fellow traveler.

I love the following quote from Sarah Bessey:

“My faith is now a dance between the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures and my community, it’s alive. I’m being changed from the inside out, and I want to prophetically live the ways of Jesus into every corner of my small existence. I know where I belong and I know my true identity at last.”

That’s a statement worthy of being an anthem. I love the imagery of this quote of working with God being like a dance. My GF Amy and I have enjoyed some dancing together. She’s a marvelous dancer and has taught me a step or two. And though rough and novice as I am as a dancer, I see the power in this kind of methaphor. The steps, the swing, the motion…all speak of holy momentum (applied to as a spiritual metaphor). A purpose and plan to it…and a joy in it as well. We must be in step with out Savior. He is leading…we follow. We do dancing as well. And it is work…vigorous at times in step with the music. And if we are new to a dance it may take concerted thought as well. Step, 1, 2, 3…swing.

The inside out part is one that is huge in my church community. We hear that a lot at Catalyst. And it’s an important one. So much of the Kingdom life (especially from an NT perspective) is heart focused. For example, it’s no longer the law of Moses but the law of the Spirit. It’s the circumcision of our hearts now. God sees the heart and is not so concerned with the exterior. Whole books could be written on this. But suffice it to say that the exterior is where far too many believers seem to be fixated. Talk this way, dress this way, do this, don’t do that. And though those things have a place at times in the larger scheme of things….it’s really missing the point. It’s not what you do that’s important to God as much as who you are.

Next, living out one’s life prophetically into every corner of our small existance. Very well said! Love the humility and the responsibility of that. It is somehow acknowledging that we can’t do everything…but we can do something. And that we are stewards over what God has given us. Blooming where we are planted as it were. It reminds me of how Jesus said that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. We are expected by God to produce fruit. But we are just one tree in a vast Vineyard.

Finally, the last line is very poignant in deed. Knowing who we are in Christ is so very critical. This is a point I come to time and time and time again. It has so many applications in life! Just one for me is not worrying about what people think or say about me so much as what God thinks and says about me. It’s the process of pleasing God far above what others think. My goal is to know purpose and identity in Christ so deeply that all other human beings are colored by that realization. So that if harsh or cruel things are said, it just falls under the subjection of Christ.

And that’s a nice summation to the whole quote perhaps. That if Christ is all in all, and if we can live in that truth…we will dance and sing and live in that reality. We will not need to have prolonged anger, or jealousy, bitterness or resentment….or any other darkness in our lives. We can truly live as sons and daughters of the light and feel no shame or fear in that.

I’ll end this with yet one more quote from one of my favorite singer/song writers, Kemper Crabb:

“We must dance, dance, dance, dance in God’s honor. We must yield all of our steps unto the King. We must dance, dance, dance, dance in God’s honor. Let His praises ring through out the Earth!”

Ok, here’s a decidedly much more transparent post (and perhaps quite raw, random, and chaotic). But I’m keeping it real! Not that it matters as I’m not sure anyone is actually reading this. Ha!

Read some today on the weaknesses of ENFPs and it startled me. Much of my behavior is in there! For example, it is VERY common for ENFPs to be angry -> bitter hatred if someone judges them. This stems from the ENFPs deep seated desire to listen to everyone and our trusting nature. And when we are betrayed we HATE it. It helps to know that it’s not just my problem but my personality type. I share this characteristic with millions of others. But that doesn’t make it the end. It’s not a “just the way it is” type situation. It’s still a substantial weakness. What do I do now? It makes me think of the Spirit controlled temperments book. It deals with different archetypes, but the message is still relevant that it’s the Holy Spirit that can make the difference. I can change. I can feel the challenge of this change. It’s been a LONG time in coming.

Having said that, the true challenge is not truly in accomplish a bunch of tasks. No! The challenge is maintain the balance grasshopper. Regardless of how pragmatically efficient I may ever become it will not mean that I will be a capitalist pundit, a mindless worker bee, a worshipper at the altar of freneticism, or any such thing. The challenge will be to not lose my soul. Not to lose my sense of wonder at life and my center of peace.

Work is necessary and extremely important! Again, the Benedictine motto is inspirational: Ora et Labora. Prayer and Work. We need a balance of both. Work, yes. But also reflective worship and spiritual life. And I dare say that the many of the church fathers and mothers were so good at this that they could do both at the same time harmoniously.

Well, ok, that’s the bar…and it’s set high. That’s what being the man of steel will mean for me. To change my life to be more structured, proactive, organized…and shunning procrastination. All the while, not losing my sense of balance and heart of peace.

But maybe that’s the deeper message here, is that heart of peace. Or heart of Shalom…God life. Yeah…I’ve lost that for a while.

Dear God, help me to continue on this path of active life, active giving. But help me not to lose sight of you. Give me discernment.
Seek first the Kingdom…remember? That’s where the heart of peace comes.

What’s the word say that is the precursor of the “then the peace of God will protect your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. Is that Philippians? My mind is so fuzzy. It is Philippians! 4:7 to be exact. It is the passage that says “Be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING, with PRAYER and supplication make your needs be known to God…”. That’s when the peace comes. Awesome.

Perhaps one final thought, maybe there is too much angst. Too much striving. Rick, my former mentor once told me that even if you mess up God will find you. Don’t worry about that. Very cool guy.

Ok, not the final thought. Don’t fear people …FEAR GOD! That means putting Him first. Woship Him and seek Him first and all the other stuff falls into place. Yeah, I like that…

I join the Psalmist in saying, when my heart is overwhelmed within me, lead me to the rock of Jesus, that is higher than I. All of my ways are insufficient without you, God. All of my strivings will fail, if not for your breath upon me, without your unseen hand to guide, and your whisperings in my ear. I need you, every moment, of every day. Help me to exist in each moment with you, planning for the future and living here and now. I am grateful for my life, and all that you have given me. You have been good to me. I no complaints God for yo have dealt fairly and righteously with me. Your love has never failed me. Turn my attention back to you, Dear Father, Dear Son, Dear Spirit. Be my constant companion. That is all that I ask or could ever hope for. For you have gifted me with your self, your Son, my friend, my guide, my love. Blessed be His name forever. Let faithfulness and peace be my footholds. My hope ever lift my head. Let joy ever fill my heart. For that is my cry this night. May your Spirit overfill me, overwhelm me, carry me….strengthening my hands to do the work that you have set before me. Enable and empower me, Sweet Savior, sweet friend. You alone are worthy of my praise. You alone God. And forgive my idle, and vicious tongue. Wring out the selfishness from my vain heart and replace it with your own blood. Refill it with grace and mercy that is, if just a sampling of your own great love. I am greatly in need of you. Help me to rest in living and moving and having my being in you. Moment by moment.

Selah.

I am in Costa Rica, and a more beautiful place there could not be. Read stories of Moses’ shining face and of the transfiguration of Jesus. And it reminded me of the Celts’ concept of thin places. Places where God’s reality invades our reality. How I crave God’s reality.

Every howler monkey, every brightly colored bird, every flower on every bush is a testimony to this divine reality. To God’s hand present in the here and now. Of God breathing on and shaping our reality. I will conform to it and flow with it. I will submit to His ways and His truths. I will attempt to be His hands and feet and words today. Glory to God who loves us and brings us new life.

God is moving through my life like a storm…and whispering to me all the while. Whispering of new birth and hope. Meanwhile, all around me are flashes of lightning and deafening peals of thunder. But God is here. He is here. So close. I can feel His presence. His peace protects me. His grace envelops me. He, the Mighty One of legends, is here.

So, I was going back through my archives and found an interesting prayer that I hope may be useful to some of you my artful friends (written by the very artful Ben Avery):

Creator,

Whose canvas is the universe.

Whose tale is history.

Who molded me in my mother’s womb.

Who made me in your image.

Draw me closer to you as I walk in your footsteps as a creator.

Guide my hand.

Open my mind.

Inhabit my heart.

Grant me clarity.

Honesty.

Humility.

And courage.

Clear my mind of my clutter.

Focus my heart on your Truth.

Free my hand to express your mystery.

Motivate me.

Energize me.

Inspire me.

Occupy my craft so that when others experience it, they might see your face.

Feel your hand.

Know you better.

And that when I experience it, I might do the same.

Amen

It is election day and once again there is more polarization in US and lots of messages that one man or another is going to solve all our problems. I’ve been frustrated with this message. I was recalling to myself this morning that this frustration is not new for me. In fact, this same thing happened four years ago. I went back and dug up my post from back then. And rather than rehash the same concern I’m going to allow my words from then to speak to now. So here it is in it’s entirety:

Ok…first of all…you are about to see something rare….I’m about to discuss politics (something I am usually loathe to do). Yeah, we all know that Obama won. And for the record, I didn’t vote for him. And I am still concerned about various things that have been revealed about his past and his general lack of experience. But regardless of who the president is…he’s just a guy. The Bible is clear, we don’t owe allegiance to any president above God. Iow, neither Obama or McCain can possibly have all the answers (despite political promises and public expectations to the contrary). Only God can rescue us from ourselves. That’s Jesus where comes in. :)

God is the true leader. He is King above all leaders….not any man. God raises up leaders and he also deposes them according to His sovereign will.

It was never in God’s plan that people should have kings (or presidents) in the first place. And it was not a coincidence that after Israel got the kings that they wanted that they started straying from God and doing evil. Biblical history went from people walking directly, face-to-face with God in the garden, to having judges, to having kings (yes I know there were stuff in the middle of that). So, no matter who is president, I don’t believe that it’s God’s best plan. BUT I do think he blesses it as part of his grander plan to get us back to his original one.

And regardless of what anyone thinks Obama is now our president. And he has one whopper of a job ahead of him. And I am praying that his heart will be yielded to the Most High and His directing. I pray that He will use the office of the presidency for good and not evil.

As aside (and since some of you who read this are potentially outside the US), I have been amazed at how involved other Countries in the world have been in this election. All around the world, people were rooting for one candidate or the other. And I understand this as the US has a major impact on the rest of the world. But it is still surprising to me to hear, say people in Europe celebrating that Obama won as though he were their president. I guess we really are a global society. We Americans can be so self centered.

End of political commentary. :) Well, peace to you today fellow travelers!

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