Impoverished Abundance

I remember Thanksgiving growing up in a broken home. Learning to shareThxgiving what I was thankful for around the table was a cornucopia of tears and pain for the enormous ache in my soul and the deep splinter in my mind.

Yet I was able to also reach beyond the pain and learn how to conquer and reign because of a mom who tenaciously led us in finding hope and true gratitude in God’s love, truth and promises.

Mom and sonThanksgiving was a day we harvested our entire way of life. We spoke of the abundance of who we were as a family even though we knew we were not whole. We recounted with deep contentment all the everyday things (a roof, clothes, food, etc) like we were safe and secure even though we were unsettled and poor.

Thanksgiving was a threshing floor that in some strange way helped me to face my deep insecurities and covertly taught me the secret of conquering by great contentment.

To this day I live a life of impoverished abundance.

Threshing floor

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Soul Serenade

Monkeys swingingYou may be distracted numerous times. And perhaps your entire practice will be full of sensations clamoring for attention (like monkeys in a banana tree). These distractions are YOU in the Flesh. Be abhorred, you are being judged, Cross examined, and being given full disclosure of your own “moral” inventory.

It is the cry of seeing your “self” which is soul shattering. When we do we Selfie worstare reminded of others (Peter, Isaiah, Paul, Joshua, Moses) who cried out, I am undone. I am unclean, I am blind, I am a sinful man, etc.

Contemplation is truly an exercise in humility! But each interruption is yet another opportunity to return to Presence.

His presence is what saves me from my “self”… the worst possible version of my self. The self that we hide from others and stay distracted from by our own busy and noisy lives.

Soul SerenadeHis presence is what lures me away from my self and continually washes me, heals me, creates in me a clean heart and renews a right spirit.

His presence makes me aware of grace that is greater than my sin, mercy that mends and repairs me thoroughly and when I exhale and return to life I am immeasurably more authentic about my real self and more compassionate towards your “self”.


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The Agony of Faith (Mental and Emotional Pain)

Mental anguishTo those who are suffering mentally and can’t grasp a hold of things emotionally.  1 Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of faith.  The idea of a fight is a grueling contest, a struggle in the soul.  In the original language it is the word that we define as an AGONY.

From my diary of depression

The elasticity of the mind is stretched out of shape.  The cavity of the soul echoes a hollow reply.  The emotional receptors of the control panel of the will are fried.  The body exercises getting through a day by going through the motions of a thin membrane of muscle memory.  The net worth of life is what you are not.  The once deep, dense material of the mind is fragmented.

They have moved the desert you wandered in to an underground cavern where your movements are restricted to a lonesome isolated shuffle.  The years of contemplationbeing invisible and mute have suffocated your spirit.  You clean broken glass but the window has become a wall.  Nothing works like it use to.  The opportunities that have never been given outnumber my days.  Sleep comes easier now that it’s day.

You can’t rise until you’re dead. May the twitch be extracted like a thorn or sliver. No sense in pretending to die alive when you can seize a chance to rise again, as the living dead.

Poetry from Pain

Hope never lives to fulfillment. The pain keeps pressing inside my head, against the hollow, empty walls of an abandoned shed.

My soul is an unwashed, opened, crushed can. My thoughts keep fleeing away. I can’t keep one sustained for any length of a day.

Jesus once felt this way, but not today. He has left the building and left no forwarding address.

despair on tracksI’m broke. Nothing in me works like it use to. The life I built is unnoticed and on mute. I used to be resilient and brave, but now I’m arrested by what I crave.

I’ve lost count of all the opportunities that have never been given.  I want to sleep because I just woke up.

I try to explain to my most trusted sources, but not one of them knows what to say. I’ve stumped the panel, even though their sermons tell me there’s a breakthrough coming, it’s been 13 years.

I reached out to a beloved counselor in time of need and explained my plight and two months later not a word in sight.

Depression tries to pick a fight, but compared to hopelessness it’s so trite. happy

My every effort beyond a lifeless going through the motion is extremely oppressive.

I don’t want to do more than I’ve already done. I need a reward of faith, a show of divine favor to put my life back in place.

The ravine of my mind can finally be seen, it stretches for endless miles empty and insane.

We struggle for everything we have or get and so many other things are not even legit. Without either favor or fortune we live under a curse. The gross injustice in our lives make us hurt, cry, hate and scream.

God must be non-violent and passive because we never see him getting involved to fight on our behalf. He always seems content to just watch us get beat up so we never get ahead.

Where is God?  Is he dead?

Faith that is not tested is not trusted.


While going through a similar time back a couple of years ago, my 14 year old daughter wrote me this note…

I know it’s hard right now! Cause your the man and that’s your job! But on the other hand your showing us integrity, perseverance, and constant love! You and mom aren’t giving up on this faith fight and that is being a great role model for Sydney, Josh, David, Whitney, and I. We may not be rich in the bank or working in an office, but you’ve made us wealthy in character and you’ve been working in our hearts! And I love you for that! I hope you feel better soon.

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the Baseball Gods

The Baseball GodsRoyals 4

A year ago the Kansas City Royals would have won the World Series had they not run into that “Bum” from San Francisco.  One of the men that I umpire baseball with here in Colorado always refers to the baseball gods.  Well this year the Baseball Gods have “Crowned” their champion, the Royals are the kings of baseball.

Royals 6I lived in and near KC for 13 “unlucky years”. I attended games at “the K” at least once a year. To be honest it was not to really watch the Royals. I bought tickets to watch Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Bonds, the NY Yankees and my beloved Cardinals. I was hoping for a 30 year reunion of the I-70 series that I would gladly have conceded to the Royals…they have been playing the game of baseball that we knew as America’s favorite pastime and for that I thank you…as do hot dogs and apple pie.

So many of my friends in KC are having the days of their lives celebrating their Royals 9championship with a social- “media day” of their very own. But as we all know it hasn’t been that way for 30 years…it has been a very long season for fans, which is true for every home town team (especially the Cubbies).

Royals 10During those long lean years people can grumble and complain. The stadium can look like a ghost town with only the faithful showing up. Even season ticket holders may only come out for games on “Christmas and Easter”. The media and fair weather fans can be highly critical of players and certainly the on and off field management. But once the winning starts everything changes and if you win it all, like Royals just did then the whole city shows up for the “ticker tape” parade.

My point is to identify that your local home town church may be very much like any ball club. There are many things wrong with it, but one day the parade is coming and the King will be crowned. Be a fan of the Church!, buy the ticket, paint your face, show up, identify with the team and purchase a jersey, wear the colors, tail-gate (come early-stay late) be a loyal follower, be a season ticket holder and pass the seats on to future generations.

Royals 8Be as passionate about the church as you are the Royals! …or your team.

Crown the King! …His PARADE IS COMING!

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Recovering from Addiction is an Addiction

Addiction is anything that I am using in a sense to try to cope in a way that ends up defacing or disfiguring the image of God inside of me.

Lie 2Man’s primary addiction is to The Lie that believes…”I am god.”…or at least I think (by the way I talk and feel about myself and others) that I should be god.  There is no hope overcoming any leech addictions (sex, control, money, power, drugs, alcohol) until I abdicate the throne and surrender to the Truth…Jesus is Lord.

We say, Jesus died for our sins. It’s true, but sounds so sterile. It might be better understood through the language of died for our addictions.  Not in the idea of dying for the things we know we shouldn’t love (the inhibitions of being intoxicated, the euphoric ecstasy of sex, the other worldly buzz off a high) but…in the things we hate after we’ve loved our hates.

Sin is not the deed we’ve done, but what’s been done by the deed…

The gangrene that attaches to my soul from gambling away my paycheck. The cancer that lie 11ravages my relationship with my wife because I’m bitter and demanding. The alienation that barks at me from my children cause I was a workaholic. The sting of acid in my open wounds because I cheated on myself by treating myself to another man. The Grand Canyon that I can’t cross because I’m trapped in choices that suffocate me because I’m too proud. The disorders of detachments that I use to make excuses for my selfishness. The bombastic noises that sit in my soul like dead silence because I exchanged the truth for my lifestyle preferences.

That an a million other untold stories of carnage from our soiled souls is what we mean when we say, sin.

What do we need to recover from? Not necessarily the things that we are addicted to. We need to recover the image of God that has been cracked and broken.

Trying to outlast or overcome the addiction gives all the higher ground to the addiction. But to set my sights on recovering the image of God in me through Jesus gives me the grace to be MORE than a conqueror. We discover the grace to not only be “free from”, but to be “free to.”

Recovery is a slow, transformative process that begins to bring the ways that we feel and experience the illusion that we are separated from God and the reality that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. (Romans 8:14-38)

“We’ve been lied to and somehow we are okay with it. Have you looked around, really seen what is happening? The pain is real. We got used to it.

Why are you here? Why do you keep coming back? Look in the mirror…do you still see brokenness, addiction, shame, a state of bitterness and indifference?

Do you think someday freedom will just come? What if, one night at the end of your life lie 4you wake up and look around and discover freedom never came. That it never happened. Today is the day, freedom is real. You can have it, you can be free, but you must attack the system that sustains the injustice. The system is you. It’s all of us.

Freedom…do you want it? Then receive it and if you receive it then don’t you dare hold on to it for just yourself. Be concerned for the broken. Don’t look the other way and don’t wait for others to lead. Its up to you. This is what we are here for. Let’s see this through. We cannot allow people to be demoralized. Change the course. Stop the demand. Get in the way. We’re all in this together. Like you, these people want to dream, have a life, have a name, an identity…to be set free!”  –the Freedom Project, Rock Church

lie 10We can’t continue to live in Denial. Every Sunday you need to make a recovery step. Jesus is humanity’s Sponsor.  Listen to the living Word, make a sincere Confession, Worship with all your heart, and then come to the Table and be accepted in your imperfection by the Human One who was rejected in his perfection.

lie 5

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500 Years…a Prophetic Perspective

500Remember every 500 years there has been a monumental shift in the face of the Church.
In the first 500 years we saw the establishment of the Creeds, Councils, Canons. During the next 500 years we witnessed in 1054 the split between the church of the East and the church of the West. Then in 1517 we heard the cry for a Reformation that ended in a Protest. Now we are at the end of days of the last 500 year period 1517-2000…we have been crossing over and in fact are now more than ever facing ideals, philosophies, theologies, moralities that are being forged, formed and foaming.
ship stormWe are to close and at times so personally caught up into all that is happening in the church and in the world as the tectonic plates under us and around us are shifting. We need to realize that these are critical times and we are in desperate need for a global council of truth that is well beyond a denomination, or the latest advertised conference or the voice of any one man. To stand alone in these days may sweep many off the shore of spiritual safety and into a rouge wave for which there may not be any hope of survival.

The sea is churning an undercurrent of sands that are making the waters murky. Yet Pixelswashing up on the shore are some new sands and washing out some old sands. A new day is dawning. No one knows exactly what is happening at this crossroads of our life and times. There are no words to properly provide a caption; there are no images that provide enough pixels to see clearly at this time. We are as uncertain at this time as was Martin Luther and the Roman Catholics 500 years ago. But rest assured that Jesus is Lord, in the center of the universe there is established a Throne and the One who sits on it is Faithful and True, Holy and Incarnate, Just and Merciful.

History tells us to not sit on either the right or the left, the north or the south. The winds are still swirling about and it will take decades to work through and work out all of the particulars and by the time we do another 500 years will be starring us in the face.
Yet, do not become paralyzed or placid. Let us hasten the day…we have a resurrection to attend! I am not talking about the resurrection of the dead (end of the world stuff), but the resurrection and life…of Christ and his kingdom still coming to the world all around us. This is our day, this is our time, this is what we have been waiting, living, breathing and preparing for…thank God we have been born out of due time.

pendulumAs Thomas Oden wrote in “After Modernity What?” (1990) “The image of a moving pendulum may help grasp the way in which the Christian community is constantly seeking an equilibrium of tradition and renewal. Since it swings through lengthy historical epochs, where a single stroke might take half a century, its motion is imperceptible. A pendulum is only useful when it is in motion, working with tension filled polarities. The best trained for modernity are least prepared for the consequences of modernity. The reversal of the pendulum’s direction today is best understood both as a gift to be received and a task to be accomplished.”

Q: Does the future have a church? If so, what does it look like?

There are times of change and there are times of transition. Transition is much harder and Transitionis the result of a multitude of changes that must be brought forth. It will be messy. My example is from the time when a woman with child goes into transition, it is the time of delivery that brings about the most excruciating pain, the greatest sense of being out of control and the most sensitive time mentally and emotionally. The birthing canal is being expanded to bring forth the expected life…it is a time of stretching, tearing, bleeding, yelling, crying…it is an upheaval at every level beyond what is tolerable or bearable of all physical, psychological, emotional, and volitional capacities. But it is all necessary to bring about the unsurpassed joy of new life.

We are passing into the beginning of the transition…just like my wife has me as a coach, so you also will need a coach…an encourager to help you keep “pushing” past the pain…otherwise it is possible as the prophet said to have all the pain but give birth to nothing. Isaiah 26:17-18

Jesus-and-his-ApostlesTransition is such an emotional time. Everything is so volatile and the emotions are moving to two opposite directions (ecstasy of bearing life and excruciating pain to give life). That is how it feels…death works in me so that life can work in others (2 Cor 4).

When I shared this with my wife, Diana, she said, that the place that helps turn the pain of transition towards the joy of delivery is when the doctor tells you that the “head is crowning.”

Giving birth does not a have a due date, but we are in labor until Christ is formed in us…may you and I and the Church of the 21st century hear the words…the HEAD is Crowning!

Common Prayer
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light:
Look favorably on your whole Church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery;
by the effectual working of your providence,
carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation;
let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer Woman Warrior

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the Wizard of Oz in the Heartland

Tin ManPeople who are stuck in life or love many times act like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, searching or reaching for an Oil Can to help stop the squeak and retard the rust.

Offering relief to the immediate need is certainly a welcomed gesture to help them move forward. However, continuing to treat the obvious need(s) may not be meeting the need that is the most obvious.

People in counsel want the oil can treatment of “How To”.  They want to be given answers, the process, the steps, tools, tricks of the trade to work on and through their impasse, trouble, and need.

However, gaining all of the so called solutions to fix it without personally becoming the solution, instrument, and vehicle of change yourself, is like offering the Tin Man an Oil Can without a Heart.Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger Film Set Wizard Of Oz, The (1939) 0032138

At the heart of counsel is to reclaim the heart of every man and woman. If you do not have a change of heart then all of the steps to so called success become a burdensome technique to follow. They may easily become rules that rust or reduce you into a robot.  Many times the Tin Man continually seeks out the latest or newest external techniques…like a new or improved synthetic oil, rather than a new heart.

The Tin Man without a heart moves mechanically through the motions without any of it becoming realized in him or as him. The only purpose of the oil can is to keep you lubricated so you can continue down the yellow brick road toward gaining a new heart.  It is a means not the end.

I know you WANT answers, but what you NEED is mystery. The mystery of finding and living from your heart is the perpetual “Oil Can” that comes with the Manufacturer’s (God) warranty to never rust out. You must become the solution not just get a solution.

Words in 3D coloured lightsThe lullaby life of…Somewhere Over The Rainbow comes from loving God with all your heart (Tin Man) all your soul (Lion), all your mind (Scarecrow) and all your strength (Dorothy) and loving your neighbor (Toto…a picture of man’s best friend) as yourself.

There’s no place like home…because that’s where all your dreams really do come true. The promise is a wholehearted life. Anything else is just a bag of wizardry and tricks. You have to go on the journey of a lifetime to find and become your truest self. If you’ll do that then the Oil Can becomes a gift not a gimmick to a new heart, new home, new life and a love that is new, unconditional and eternal.

When you get back home to Kansas you’ll recognize it as the Heartland!


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