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I feel myself drawn by an awakening hunger for deeper spiritual connection to God.  I feel drawn to spiritual discipline.  I resonate with the need to declutter my life, get more balanced, more centered on Christ.  I like the idea of a spiritual rule in that it puts activity to belief, a sense of belonging with other Christians all over the world and belonging to God most of all.

This is my, 4th day of keeping at least two “offices” a day.  My goal is to eventually keep three.  I’ve been using Shane Clairbornes app that utilizes part of the Book of Common Prayer that and the Northumbria Prayer Book.  It is mystical and supernatural.  Prayer is connection to God and scripture is the set apart Word of God written to human-kind.  It is the place where heaven meets earth.

Which leads me to point of contemplation.  The course I’m going through calls Lindisfarne the “Holy Island”.  I will answer the point that Lindisfarne is just a place and it’s not magic.  And that is true in the sheer, literal sense.  But, Lindisfarne IS significant if alone for it’s historic value.  And, to me, it represents a place which was a bright moment in the history of my faith.  Further, that ancientness is informing my faith today.  Not to recreate that old practice.  But to take the philosophic heart of much of it and let it change me.  I believe that this reflects the heart of God.  It is a way to develop the mind of Christ and strengthening of faith and resisting evil etc.  So, perhaps, Lindisfarne is significant more as a symbolic place.  A pathway that winds through space and time to my present reality.  And I hunger for this path.  I hunger for simplicity, and deeper meaning, and mission, and intimacy with God and peace with all human-kind, and care for creation, and creativity, and more.  It is w/holistic, and wild like the Spirit Himself.

I may never visit literal Lindisfarne.  But, I do think seeking refuge and retreat for the hectic day to day pace of normal life is important.  To seek those “thin places” where heaven is close to the earth.  Small moments of this can be experienced any time, any where. I am experiencing them quite a lot lately.  They are like streams of water flowing through the dry dusty desert of my life.  And that is a glorious thing.

So, fellow sojourner, stay tuned if you will.  I’m sure I will have more to say as time progresses.  Peace to you.

 

 

I am returning to my blog after what seems like forever. It’s actually only been since January. I recently joined a class that is connected to the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne community. This class is more of an introspective journey. It comes at just the right time. As part of the process I will be assigned a mentor and I will choose a friend to journey with and whom I am accountable to. I think I really need that. To be honest, since my Mom died two years ago, I’ve been experiencing a lot of depression and a crisis of faith. I’ve been praying for a sense of direction and purpose. This could be just what I’ve been needing. I sure hope so. Any how, I just renewed the yearly fee on this blog, so I hope to use it to share bits and pieces of insights. I don’t know whom be reaching, but I might reach out to select people here and there. I’m not the same person I was when I first started blogging over 10 years ago. But, that’s ok. Someone in my class said “God continually reinvents us over time”. Time to delve into that.

What does the Bible have to say vs. fear?  Let’s see, “Do not be afraid.  I am with you even till the ends of the Earth”. – Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 1:8, Matthew 28:20
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deut 31:6
“Perfect love casts out fear” – 1 John 4:18
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and power, and a sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

These are wonderful promises.  But how do I actualize them in my life?  The woundings of the past and the loss of my mother seem to run down to my core being.  But, if God is God, and all powerful and if He really made me and loves me like he says he does, then he can make good on these promises (and will). That is where faith comes in.  Ok, back to practicality.  Good old fashioned answers are the answers:  prayer, scripture reading, fellowship, SERVING.  The last one is actually the hardest.  Serving takes the mind off of issues and problems.  It gives a sense of purpose.  Fellowship does as well.  And interestingly prayer can be serving (intercession) and scripture can be serving (teaching).  Good stuff.

The only entity I want to have sway over me is God Himself.  Which leads me to a thought, a reminder really, that there is a war going on.  There really is.  Not to get all freaky, but there is a dark tyrant enemy who would like nothing more than to destroy me and those whom I love.  Having said that, I won’t be afraid.  Or more to the point, I won’t allow fear to rule me.  That’s the issue.  I think there probably is an element of warfare going on here.  So, the Bible also says “Draw near to God”…stop, this part is the most important!  Pray, seek His face, listen for him, confess sin and be humble, SERVE others, ok…now go on…”…and He will draw near to you.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you”.  I am really starting to see this resisting as being sanctification and resisting temptation.  Because really, we can’t fight the devil mano e (sp?)…angelo diabolique, no we need God to do that.  And He will!  Jesus told Peter that the devil wanted to “sift him like wheat” (modern translation:  kick the shit out of him” but Jesus also said “but I have prayed for you”.  So, prayer is POWERFUL and God is POWERFUL. As Kemper Crabb entones (reciting Biblical verse) “The Lord is the warrior!  The Lord is mighty in battle!…The Lord is mighty to save.  He gives strength unto his people.  He guards his own with his right hand.  The Lord is a deliverer to those who put their trust in Him.
So, kind of back to an old cliche’ (that is actually true):  It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship (with God).  It’s the gospel!  John 3:16.   God became a man so that we could no him and he sacrificed himself for that purpose.  So, our response is trusting.  Which I’m not saying is easy.  Far from it.  When the menure of life hits whirling blade it flies all over.  But there are ways to get to faith and trust.  Ways to build it up.  And God IS real (though invisible) and does give us the ability to trust and have faith.  The deep truth is that God is the very reason we have life, energy in our cells, breath in our lungs etc.

Well, a hearty “selah” is well served at this point. And if you have actually read this, blessings on you fellow sojourner.

I find myself now in a new season of life. It is a season of change. It is exciting and yet quite exhausting. One major change has been that I have accepted a new job. There are so many good things that come with this new position. It’s like a clean slate, a new beginning, a chance to learn and experience new things etc. But it’s so easy to see this from a selfish point of view. But God has reminded me today of the true reason why this job has come. It’s actually really easy to figure out. It is a job that helps bring food to needy people. That’s right, feeding the poor. Literally bringing food to feed people. That is true kingdom work. The Bible speaks tons about this. For some reason, I’m finding myself drawn to the passage where Jesus is asking Peter three times “do you love me”. And, you know the passage, Peter is frustrated when he rounds to answer Jesus the third time. I totally get his frustration, for I hate having my word questioned especially when it deals with my character. But, in this case, Jesus has every right to be a little hard on Peter for it’s right after Peter betrayed him. So, I can imagine Peter, full of his own pride, and probably tons of shame, and being faced with Jesus confronting him. Finally, I see Peter breaking down and saying from a gut wrenching level, “Yes! Yes! Lord, you know I love you!”. Then, once Peter is essence is repenting, Jesus finally says “Feed my sheep”. I can relate to that, for I hear Jesus saying that, “feed my sheep”. Not that I’ve betrayed him, but let’s face it, we all actually have any time that we sin…which is often. Any time I find myself thinking “what’s in it for me?” that’s pride. So, here Jesus is again saying “feed my sheep”. And here I am, humbled again, saying, “Yes, Lord”.

I’m in San Diego with Amy.  Great vacation.  It has been a much needed respite.  So, very many good things.  It’s such a beautiful city.  I always loved San Diego growing up.  But it’s like experiencing it anew with Amy.  So, wonderful to share it with her.

The ocean was incredible yesterday.  The tide, in and out, were like a reminder of the rhythms of life. I did my best to just exist in the moment and soak it all in.  My goal is to take a bit of the ocean away away in my heart.  Or perhaps, it will take me away with it.

I’m still experiencing some mild anxiety about the possibility of a new job.  Weird, b/c I’ve wanted a new job so badly.  But it does come with some degree of a learning curve.  It will be a challenge.  And there is fear in it.  Could it be that real faith is not the absence of fear, anxiety and other negative feelings?  Perhaps faith is more about walking out into the unknown and trusting God.  I do think that that trust is well founded though.  Jesus has always been there for me in the past.  He will continue to be there.

Recently, someone very close to me endorsed a video that spoke of Christmas as evil. So, I watched the video. It was from some ministry I’ve never heard of that went on to report that Christmas has it’s roots in paganism, that Jesus was not born on December 25th, that Christmas trees are pagan in origin, that Santa Claus is evil etc, etc. As I sat there I got increasingly uncomfortable and irritated. Not because many of the points are untrue, because many of them are (e.g. such as the point about Christ’s birth, the tree etc. but definitely not true about Santa…but I digress). No, I was growing uncomfortable because of the heart or the intention of what was being discussed. It’s cold, hard legalism. And legalism will get you no where. It won’t earn you anything. Being legal doesn’t please God. Having faith in Christ pleases God.

I could spend ALOT of time speaking about why legalism is deadly (and it is). But I don’t think I will. Let me just post a reminder here that the Pharisees and teachers of the law excelled at what they did not do. They had over 600 different laws that they kept religiously to keep themselves holy and pure. And yet, Jesus called them white washed tombs with dead mens’ bones inside. He called them pits of vipers etc. He also said that unless someone’s faith exceed that of the pharisees they will never enter the kingdom of heaven and that the harlots and the tax collectors will get into the kingdom before the pharisees ever do. These are cutting words and should provide a sober warning against legalism.

So, back to the celebration of Christmas. This issue goes beyond Christmas trees and Santa Claus and dates. For these things are just symbols. They speak to the heart of what Christmas means and is. At it’s core, Christmas is the celebration of the coming the Messiah! The rescuer! It’s Jesus! The only one who can bring salvation. The only one who can fix the brokeness in the world…including all of humanity. Is that wrong to celebrate?! We know it’s not. The birth of Jesus should be dear to every Christian. He is our dear Savior, King, and friend. He is our hope and our salvation. We love because he first loved us.

The celebration of Christmas itself points directly to Jesus. Dates and the trees and mythical bearded philanthropists with flying reindeer are really just tools. For me (and countless others I suspect) they help provide a richness and a magic to the holiday. It is a time remember and reflect on the importance of “light coming into the world” and “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling with us”.

And frankly, I don’t care one iota about whether Christmas trees were originally pagan (or any of the other elements of Christmas) For me they point to Jesus. Who made the trees anyway? (see Genesis 1 if there’s a question). And Santa being Satan by rearranging the letters. Ugh. It’s this kind of junk that makes it difficult for people who far from Christ to take Christians seriously.

For me, Christmas is deep, and bright, full of wonder and hope. It is a magical and mysterious time. Christ the Savior is born!! Hallelujah!!

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you

– Ancient Celtic blessing

This blessing denotes a kind of peace that is earthly, present in the “here and now” , not off in some ethereal, other worldy place. Christ came into our world, not we into his. He is Emmanuel, God with us. THAT is powerful. And Easter is all about Him dying for us in the here and now. He is our savior here and now. But it also true that he is not a “salesman who will sell us the things we just want to hear” as Keith Green put it or a big Djinn that, when the right incantation is said will give us just what we want. For then, he would not be God, we would.

So much of grief is coming to terms with this hard truth. It is the ultimately splash of cold water to wake us up from that delusion. My Mom is gone. I miss her terribly. And there is no explanation. No answer to the “why” questions. Why me? Why now? Why was she taken in the horrific way that she was? There are no answers so far.

Even so, the faith fact remains that God is faithful, just as the Bible declares. He has proven so time and time and time again in my life. So, I am faced with the decision, will I still follow him even through the hard times? Yes, I will cling to Christ. I will grasp hard upon his strong hand and trust that he knows where we are going. Come what may, I will follow Christ.

Words to focus on today:

Lord grant me the grace
to have freedom of the spirit.
Cleanse my heart and soul
so I may live joyously in Your love.

– From Sacred Space

Note to self, focus only on what today holds. Live in the moment. No worrying about tomorrow. Trust only in God alone. Walk each moment, step by step, with the Spirit. Regardless of the circumstances live in the freedom that only God can give.

Had a dream last night of being in a hospital waiting room. Amy, Harry, and I were there together and so was Jonathan Sprang. Jonathan said to us all “Don’t worry Y’all, it takes time for things to happen. Imagine how hard it was for David to wait to be king while being hunted by Saul. It took 10 years.” I added that it must have been really confusing for David as he was anointed by Samuel who was THE prophet of God at that time. That would be like the Pope coming and telling you that you were going to be President or the CEO of a major company…something exalted. Yay! A prophetic dream!
Interestingly, the OT lectionary reading is the story of Samuel’s calling. The Gospel reading was of the disciples’s calling. And the reading from Psalms (139) was beautiful with the picture of God surrounding (“hemming”) the Psalmist in above and below and all around and that the Psalmist was wonderfully and fearfully made. There emerges a picture of God’s calling being an intimate, loving one. One full of joy and purpose and fulfillment.
Also, from the dream comes a message of patience. Again, our timing and God’s timing can be so different. Our collective, societal/cultural attention span has only gotten worse/shorter over time. We live in a time of instant everything (instant gratification) and our level of entitlement is high. Surely, God will give us exactly what we want exactly when we want it! Holy cats, we are so very spoiled! If God did this, He would not be God. We would. That is the root problem of the evil of our age (or at least one of them) is that we are so very selfish and self serving. We want to be our own gods. We want deities that bow down to us and do we want. And thank fully that’s not how God is.

The loss of my Mom has made me painfully aware of how tenuous/fragile and short life is. What a precious gift it is! And how very little control we really have over it. And my recent discovery of my anger towards God reveals subtle and deeply engrained a sense of entitlement can be. How dare God take my mother too soon! How dare he? He’s God! And again, that’s assuming a lot! To bridge off of C.S. Lewis in “The Problem of Pain” that much of evil is the result of the foolish/selfish/evil decisions of others. And my Mom was killed by the poor decision of a young man. Did God cause that? I don’t think so. Did/does he give the young man free will. Yes. There’s the rub. What’s the Christian response? How would Jesus respond? Love your enemies, He said. Well, at least in this case, pray for him.
So, back to the dream. Be patient. Wait upon the Lord. Be strong my soul within me and trust in the Lord. Selah.

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