Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"The Great Needless Lack"

Much religion-including some of Christianity-has been complicit in a great lie of the enemy. It has tried to “normalize” or justify the experiences of sickness, tragedy, lack, curses, and other darkness in the lives of Christ followers. These are the fruit of living according to the brokenness of and the way of the world. Christ paid the price for the curse of sin, and in exchange He gave us His Life, health, prosperity, and blessing. Sadly though, there is an epidemic of spiritual “starvation” in the lives of many Christians. Why is it easier to empathize with tragedy and sorrow than it is to believe that something better is ours as Christ followers? And that "something better" is NOT only reserved for the hereafter, but for right now--heaven on earth. I guess people feel more "spiritual" when they "glorify" tragedy, or suffering, and reason it away as "God's sovereignty", or the often quoted, yet contextually distorted passage--”it rains on the just and the unjust”, instead of seeking out, resting in, and standing on the promises of God for His people RIGHT NOW. His Kingdom come, IN EARTH, as IN HEAVEN! So many Christ followers exhibit the truth of scripture stated in Hosea, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge". We may live in the world, but we as Christ followers are not "of it", and not subject to the spirit of it, or the curses that come through it. The Cross, and the blood of Jesus has saved us and freed us.

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”—1 Corinthians 2:12 (ESV)

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”—Romans 8:12-25 (ESV)

“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?"—Galatians 4:1-9 (ESV)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Nothing Left"

Most folks on my social media lists probably don't take the time to read my "lengthier" posts, and I debated on whether or not to share something so raw and present in my life. Probably because I see some people who post EVERYTHING on Facebook without wisdom, discernment, or self-respect, and I certainly won't go down that path. Although a few close friends and family do, most do not know the "up close & personal" about the journey I've been on for a long time, and the prolonged challenges I've faced--some of them seemingly stuck on "repeat". But maybe someone in a "bewildering", never-seems-to-end season of life can relate to the delay and hurt of hopes deferred, setback, rejection, and frustration, and gain encouragement from my process. And if a burned out, wearied soul or two, exhausted from waiting and feeling forgotten can somehow find a lifeline of hope, help, validation, and a renewed trust in God’s timing, His love, and His promises, then I'll gladly take the risk of posting from a vulnerable state, here in the waiting room of the labor & delivery suite where my faith is exhausted, but His Faith is inexhaustible, as I hold on to His faithfulness, reflect on His words, remember & repeat His promises, and try to somehow rest in His unrelenting grip of Grace. Blessings, DaRon

"Nothing Left"

Every tear has fallen.
Every fist has been shaken and slammed in frustration.
Every self-analysis has been exhausted.
Every question has been asked.
Every self-loathing regret has been leveled.
Every “What did I do or NOT do?” has been tortuously replayed in my memory.
Every misplaced blame has been identified.
Every “answer” has been repeated and held onto, even without evidence seen.
Every confession has been made.
Every forgiveness has been asked for and given, to me and from me to others.
Every responsibility for every choice and consequence has been accepted.
Every declaration of faith has been passionately stated.
Every possible cause or effect has been subjected to analysis to the point of mental fatigue and emotional flat line.
Every admission of guilt behind these cyclical circumstances has been confessed.
Every accusation toward God has been hurled.
Every sincere apology has been echoed from my heart.
Every anger-spewing rant, followed by salty tears of resignation and a “new” temporary emotional “jump start” has been displayed to death from me in a repetitious, mind-numbingly NEVERENDING, stuck-on-repeat cyclical song of despair.
Every deferred hope has been a stab to my heart and a rug pulled out from under my trust.
Every “just keep patiently waiting” has beaten the life out of every dream I’ve been hanging onto for years.
Every bit of strength is gone.
Every back up plan has been abandoned to YOUR plan alone.
And every bit of me has been emptied out at your feet.
I’ve got nothing left.
Nothing…………only trust in YOU.
And though it doesn’t “feel” like it, THAT is the strongest, most sure foundation I could ever stand on. Of course, at this point, I don’t feel like I’m standing, but rather, YOU are faithfully holding me up!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

“The Caveman Who Forgot Who He Was”

For much of the past 20 years or so, I have lived in a cave. Well, let me clarify.... not a literal cave...not yet anyway. I'm thinking that once we hit a “certain” age or place on our journey of grace and recovery, IF we are willing, there's an invitation we receive--an opportunity to a pilgrimage into solitude and silence away from the call of the clamoring culture or the watchful eyes of peers, fans, critics, or rivals. Maybe I was a freakin' idiot, but yeah...I accepted that invitation into the cave. Of course, at the time, I had NO clue what that would entail. I was thinkin' more of an occasional visit into the cave, nothing too long or too intense, but just an optional, casual jaunt into that setting--really more of a sightseeing excursion from which I could return to "normalcy" and the demands of reputation and image, at will. Yeah right! Did I get an industrial sized dose of reality!!! The door of this cave, once you're inside, can only be opened from the outside. You don't have to enter, but if you do, you're there! Life seems to leave THAT little tidbit out of the "Caveland Brochure". So anyway, for around fifteen years, I've been here. Oh sure, I've had contact with the outside world; I’ve interacted with my family, and have had occasional opportunities for "flashes" of community and relationship. But at night, when I sleep, or in the serenity of the morning drinking coffee, I'm reminded.... in my "situation", the cave is only intended for two...Love Himself and me. While a citizen of "Caveland", you see faces, hear voices, watch people pass, and observe life happening around you, only it seems like you're watching it all unfold from behind a glass wall. You can't "really" take part in what's going on. You attempt to engage, awkwardly try to communicate, and try talking to people who are looking at you with confused, blank stares. No one seems to understand what you're saying, where you are, or what YOUR life is about. Many times, it's truly as frustrating as heck! The cave experience affords you plenty of time to think, to evaluate, to reveal, and to learn. The choice is yours. You can do your time there in pity, pouting, and anger, or, you can surrender to the seasonal surroundings, sort of like Tom Hanks in the classic movie, "Castaway". Should you choose to accept this mission, an incredible process awaits you! It is futile to "logically" anticipate or speculate about the series of often enigmatic and confusing events that might happen while "hangin" in the cave. Doing so only sets you up for frustration and fear. It's best to go with the flow of the cave, embracing each moment in trust and rest. The cave can offer a time of repose and stillness EVEN in the absence of any foreseeable answers or direction. You will never feel more helpless than when you are in the cave, but you will never be more safe, more loved, and more significant in the heart of Love Himself. As I sit alone in my own corner of this cave, I have fewer answers than I had when I entered. I had more plans, goals, and strategy when I entered than I do now. I was more self-assured, manipulative, and intelligent when I entered than I am now. But somehow, as my process in this cave has progressed, I find a strange peace in the unknown, an inward strength that is not my own. I am beginning to see a recovery of my true identity form out of the pain of my frustration, out of the bitterness of perceived rejection. It's almost like a cleansing--a stripping away-- is taking place, and a childlike wonder and untainted trust is beginning to awaken inside a new heart where skepticism and cynicism no longer have a home. And my mind is no longer obsessed with knowing every answer, or being able to arrive at a logical conclusion for every when, where, why, and how, but simply resting in THE Answer--my identity in Christ--and finding the grace and faith to believe in the security of that identity, regardless of present circumstances or emotions. I'm learning to see EVERYTHING through the lens of who I am in Christ, and what that looks like in everyday existence. You see, in this cave where I'm still hangin' out I've been made aware of how distracted I've been through the years, and how my perspective on so many things has been grossly distorted. I have been searching for significance from the outside in, and holding other people unfairly to standards and expectations that I, even in my wildest dreams and fantasies, could never reach. What the cave has been revealing, though painful and sometimes paralyzing has started to bring healing. And the simplicity of it all is beginning to shine through, how Love Himself is my purpose, my identity, my "calling" in life. Circumstances change, and emotions waiver. They are as fickle as shifting sands and fading shadows, certainly not foundations that life can be built on. I don't know how much longer I'll be in this cave, or if "achievement" and "opportunity" will knock on my door anytime soon. I guess I'm okay with that, because "those" don't define me anymore. I'm significant in the watchful eyes of my son and daughter, and I'm a success in the smile of my beautiful bride! It is a most baffling paradox that I'm learning in this cave-- I'm growing stronger in the power of Love Himself--Christ alone-- by becoming weaker, and not fighting for myself. What a freedom I've discovered in surrendering to the cave. I am finding who I am by losing who I thought I was suppose to be. So the journey continues, and I breathe in each new day with no allegiance to worry anymore. My relationship with Love Himself is leading me ever closer to His heart, even here in this cave.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"From The Depths"

In the throes of raw, emotion-fueled, uncensored frustration, from depths I've never known.

Intense fear, toxic anger, condemning, accusing thoughts that shame me to the bone.

Accusations born from circumstances that I just can't understand.

I have aimed them all at you, my Father, yet you won't release my hand.

I feel so useless, so abandoned, so exhausted without a clue.

How can there still be more of me left to heal, to purge, to undo.

There is nothing left to say, no more ideas, I'm all out of "tries".

It's simply for YOU that I cry, it's only the light of Your love that will expose all these lies.

You knew me, chose me, and destined me before I'd lived a single hour.

Please come now and take this fear, this guilt, this anger from my heart, and replace it with Your power.

You've given me identity through the blood of Your Son. And by Your grace, through faith alone, I have overcome.

"Who's Your 'Daddy'"?

You will never change the heart of one person by condemning them for that which you disapprove of or disagree with--even when it is blatantly wrong. And yet, the "activist", crusader-like mentality is so prevalent in our culture, often operating under the "guise" of change and justice, even at the risk of destroying people--people, who although on the opposing side of an issue and perhaps guilty of injustice--whom Jesus loves passionately! The hearts of those considered on the "wrong" side of an issue are hardly acknowledged. It's the issue and our desire to be on the side of right that usually matters most. So, you have to it really genuine change, justice, and reformation in the hearts and lives of broken people that you seek, or simply compliance to what you (or the popular opinion of the day) consider right? If it is the latter, then there HAS TO BE--in our sense of "rightness"--a bad guy or villain. What we fail to understand is that there is but one enemy. And although many of his plans are carried out by unsuspecting pawns, there remains but one enemy. The people, the people still matter to God. He paid the price for every wrong they would ever do. Condemnation of wrong happened once & for all at the Cross. From then until now, the mission remains a "salvation" one, including toward those that may continue to perpetuate the sin which was condemned in the body of Jesus himself through His finished work at the cross.
Jesus DID pay the full price for our righteousness and redemption, and He DID suffer the full condemnation of sin in His own body at the Cross, but as far as humanity is concerned, He didn't come on a mission of condemnation but of salvation. Perhaps those that claim to speak on His behalf should realign with His heart!

"What Do You 'Call' Me"?

For years, I resisted the "call" to ministry. I always defined myself, not by who I was in Christ, but by my talents and people's acceptance and validation of those. My heart has always been passionate for intimacy with God, living in Christ and sharing His life with others, and the Kingdom of God. But from the environments that I was a part of, and mindsets I'd been exposed to, "ministry" was so limited, and seemed to be so contrived and subject to the control and abilities of man. I didn't fit into any of the "expressions" of ministry that I saw. I never quite understood why the desires and gifts that God had placed in my heart never seemed to find an effective place in what "ministry" looked like in the religious world around me. I always felt weird, out of place, and too unconventional to function the way so many other "ministers" seemed to function in those environments. For the past 16 years, God has unfolded in me an understanding of the depth of what it means to be "called". The simple yet powerful message of Identity in Christ has consumed me, and I've experienced a love for the gospel that I hadn't known in 35 years of being "raised" in church. I'm so grateful and thankful for the faithfulness and patience of God, and for a dad and mom who, beyond everything they were a part of and the influences they experienced through the years on their journey of Grace, always emphasized intimacy with God, a prayer life, and the reality of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Today, I am humbled and honored to say I am a minister of the Gospel. It's not a career, it's a life calling, and a creative one at that. I don't know where or how God may invite me to engage others with the good news and the amazing abundant Life reality of Jesus for the sake of His Kingdom, but I'm excited beyond words to watch it unfold.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"The Missing 'Mojo' In Modern Christianity--Childhood"

Where are the children? O sure, there are plenty of logic driven mature "grown ups", theologians, intellectually pious pontificators of "balanced" reasoning, and even self professed "seasoned fathers" of faith, positively parched by lifeless letters that kill, void of life giving Spirit! But where are the children? You know the ones...those beautiful, "captured" by Grace beings! Those truth embracing, trusting, treasured creations who are consumed with the Gospel--Love Himself--void of religious rhetoric, ritualistic emptiness, and a performance focused existence! Where are the children? Children know how to receive without earning. Children know how to believe for the impossible. Children know how to forgive. Children know how to trust in the words of a loving father. Children know how to depend on and rest in the love, work, and strength of another. Children have an imagination that isn't limited to what their senses can perceive. The Kingdom is only experienced by those who become as children! Could this be why so many in this american culture of modern christianity are not seeing the Kingdom of God come, or His will being done IN EARTH--in their lives--as it is IN HEAVEN? Has the body of Christ in this culture lost it's "Kingdom Mojo"? Have we lost our childhood? Journey on....back into childhood! Enjoy!

Matthew 18:1-4 (AMP)--"At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is [really] the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 19:13-14 (AMP)--"Then little children were brought to Jesus, that He might put His hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But He said, Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed.", 

 Mark 10:13-16 (AMP)--"And they kept bringing young children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples were reproving them [for it]. But when Jesus saw [it], He was indignant and [a]pained and said to them, Allow the children to come to Me—do not forbid or prevent or hinder them—for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive and accept and welcome the kingdom of God like a little child [does] positively shall not enter it at all. And He took them [the children up [b]one by one] in His arms and [c]fervently invoked a] blessing, placing His hands upon them." 

Matthew 11:25-30—“At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

"Do Nothing, Just Come"

Matt. 11:28 is a familiar passage of scripture. The invitation from Jesus is simply, “come to me”. How difficult that is for “sophisticated” human beings! Admitting that we are helpless to change our situation, or that we don’t have answers for our own lives is something that we just don’t do. We will exhaust every ounce of self-professed ingenuity and creativity that we can muster-- even to the point of complete despair & utter depression. And all the while, Jesus stands, ready to welcome our emptiness. He is attracted to our helplessness and inability to “handle it”! And He continues to wait for us to “run out” of self and run to Him. This is such a simple declaration, and yet so difficult for us to do at times. I love the way the Message translation expresses this passage…”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Remember this, you can more quickly and freely come to Jesus the emptier you are! Come unto me…His invitation can’t be distorted or distracted by externals, even “fact”, human counsel, and opinions. We have to hear HIS voice, and remain restfully fixed on that. We can’t interpret His “come” by anything going on around us, no matter how factual, “actual”, or loud it is. His invitation is greater than any outside voice. Any human “interpretation” must be void of personal opinion, perspective, or preference. Scriptural interpretation will only provide confirmation and agreement with HIS interpretation and invitation.

Matthew 14:28-33"And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

"Cloud Anxiety"

It's official! I'm a little freaked out by flying!!! It's really quite ridiculous! I mean, I'm not "scared" of anything, but evidently being "fearful" is not the same as being "scared". Tina & I flew to Philly, PA, some time ago, and I didn't do too well at all on the flying part! The people, the city, the cuisine, were all incredible! But the flying, not so much! I really don't know exactly what it was. I've heard all the "one in kazillion" chance of crashing talk and all, AND, how it's sooooo much safer than car travel, but least, in many auto accidents, you have a chance of walking away with minor injuries. When you fly into a mountain, or the ground, at 500 + miles an hour, there's not much of a chance of ANYTHING walking away, or being recognizable for that matter.
And the weird thing about it, is that the actual "flight" experience is pretty cool. So, WHAT is it that freaked me out??? Was it the fact that I hadn't flown in several years, and forgot what it was like? Was it the possibility that I might have to sit by a human being of gargantuan proportions that smelled like sour pickle relish?
Or, was it that the obnoxious and insincere "sweetness" of some of those female flight attendants just really felt so shallow and patronizing?
I don't think it was any of those! I think my "high anxiety" was fueled by the reality that I WAS NOT IN CONTROL OF MY ENVIRONMENT, SAFETY, OR THE POTENTIAL OUTCOME OF THE JOURNEY! As soon as we began "taxi-ing" down the runway and picking up speed, and then lifting into the sky, I felt this sense of, "OH !!##&$#, now I have to completely trust those dudes in the cockpit with my life!!!" Even my precious wife holding my hand gently, like a sympathetic pre-school teacher holding the hand of an unsettled child was not quite enough to "quell" my high anxiety! So once we were airborne at a cruising altitude of over 30,000 feet, I began to ponder my plight, and my "flight fright". I reflected (albeit, still in a nervous state of mind) on how my journey over the last 10 years had, at many times, felt alot like what I was experiencing now. Looking out the window, I saw nothing but clouds, CLOUDS EVERYWHERE!!! No clarity whatsoever! I had to trust that someone much more skilled than I knew exactly what was happenin' beyond those clouds, and in that cockpit! I had to trust in something outside of myself! Scary! I even commented to Tina that I might feel somewhat eased IF I could be riding in the cockpit, and at least SEE what was goin on in there. But seeing nothing but clouds, and having to "rest" and trust in someone other than ME?! NO FREAKIN' WAY!!!!
But, that is the place that I have learned to live. Wait, I meant to say......the place I'm LEARNING to live! People who trust only in their intellect, their knowledge and skills, or their power of logic--their ability to "mentally ascend" to a place of answers or "certainty"--must be some of the most frustrated, cynical people on the planet. It must wear them out to feel the constant need to play "god", and orchestrate their entire existence. Faith is just plain ridiculous to many of them! Or, they may just fall into this sort of "fatalistic" mentality, where everything happens purely by chance or happenstance! They think we are all simply living at the "mercies" of karma and the cosmos. Faith CAN be a "spooky" prospect! But in my experience, the "spooky" part usually subsides as Love Himself takes the hand of whatever faith I can "mustard", I mean muster up. (See what I did there....mustard seed???.....clever, huh?)
Life is one big cloud! Occasionally, you get glimpses of blue sky, but most of our "tomorrows" can live in a "cloud shroud". I'm learning that my faith in Love Himself is strengthened in the clouds. Through a frustrating, and painful process, I am watching my fear of the clouds be replaced with a simple faith in the Love that walks with me and holds me. Ironically, I'm experiencing more freedom now in the clouds. It's a freedom that allows me to live life in each cloudy moment with an expectancy, a vibrant awareness, and a quiet trust that the "ultimate, crash proof" pilot is in total control, and my destination is guaranteed.
My logic, my knowledge, my "intellectual enlightenment" fall dreadfully short when it comes to helping me find peace in the clouds. Only my ongoing, growing relationship with Love Himself is providing a peace that absolutely transcends my understanding.
You know, the older I get, many of the answers I've thought I had--the ones I've been so proud to tout and boast about--have been replaced with more questions. My experiences with people have led me to think that those who are rigid, even adamant in their "beliefs" and opinions, are usually the ones who are no longer on a journey. Their fear and pride have caused them to close their hearts, and believe by "rote" or tainted perspective, outside the amazing experiences of a living, growing relationship with Love Himself! That's sad to me!
Love Himself is not insecure. My questions are completely safe with Him, not a threat to Him. And as I continue my journey through the clouds, answers seem to unfold, not out of my ability to comprehend logic, firm answers, and earthly knowledge, but rather, out of my connection with THE ANSWER, Love Himself. And you know what? Now I'm starting to see my line of questions trending away from the fearful promptings of my emotions, and desire to control my existence. Now, my questions seem to arise from a heart that just wants to know more about this Love, His heart, and His ways, and, how I can share this incredible relational journey with others who may be feeling "freaked out" in the clouds! Now, recline your seat, enjoy a complimentary beverage or some trail mix, look out the window, breathe deeply, and relax! Love Himself is in the cockpit. He knows the way....even when it's cloudy. Enjoy the journey!

“Can You Moonwalk On Water?”

Do you remember the time that Michael Jackson rocked the music world via television on the show “Motown 25” at the Apollo Theater, when he introduced the "moonwalk" to the world of dance? That was an epic moment, and "history altering" for the music entertainment industry! He didn't miss his invitation to "walk on water"...well, moonwalk I guess.
Last week I was thinking about the often-recounted story of Peter's feat of temporary "aqua domination"! I've often wondered why none of the other dudes in the boat were brave enough to solicit an invitation to stroll on the water to where Jesus was. Maybe Peter was a pioneer of extreme sports--a "thrill seeker". You can't get much more extreme than doing a "water dance" ON TOP OF ACTUAL WATER! I mean surely ESPN-Jerusalem would have provided plenty of coverage for THAT spectacle! X-Games, Water Edition perhaps?
Or could it be that Peter was so passionate about Jesus, that he didn't want to miss ANY encounter with Him, especially one as miraculous as walking on water. You notice in the story that Peter didn't just dive right in. He actually "tested the waters" and requested that Jesus INVITE him into (actually ONTO) the water. He said, okay IF that is you Jesus, and not some poltergeist-like sea creature hovering over the waves, then invite me to come to you. And so Jesus did!
Do you ever experience invitations from Jesus like that? Maybe not something as "David Copperfield-like" as walking on water, but powerful, potentially life or world changing invitations, nonetheless? Everyday, I get ideas. My imagination can quite easily hit the "high on crack" level. My sense of humor can be pretty unbridled at times. What can I say, I am a creative person who is still filled with childlike wonder on a constant quest for love, laughter, and unique expression. But you know, so many of my ideas have amounted to absolutely ZILCH!!!!! I mean, it can be incredibly frustrating to a creative dude that battles insecurities-a-plenty, for many of his ideas and efforts to fail to even get off the ground, much less become a tangible reality. (although, I should mention here that I'm growing and maturing beyond some of those insecurities, hopefully :-)
I had always heard as a kid on those UNCF commercials, "A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste", so I usually tried to keep mine geared up as much as possible ready for any creative moments of inspiration that might POSSIBLY be "earthshaking". THAT can be a two-edged sword though, that causes your emotions AND fragile self-confidence to be on a constant roller coaster ride.
In recent times, through maturity and learning to live loved, I've tried to listen and watch for the times when Love Himself inspires ideas and opportunities. There is a difference between my "cosmic and erratic hair brained ideas and schemes" and a genuine idea that leads to opportunity that opens the way for incredible happenings. Two main differences I've noticed are these...1. A "God-pportunity" is usually way beyond what I can manipulate or try to conjure up by my own efforts. 2. Unlike many of my emotionally conceived, "hair brained" ideas and fickle inspirations that come and go, and change like the wind, "God-portunities" usually stay with you, and grow in your soul, oftentimes consuming your thoughts, and passionately stirring your imagination with the fire of hope and a vision that brings a sense of reality and confidence.
These are the things that I am watching for these days--those "invitations" from Love Himself, to join Him in a walk on the water. Those opportunities are born only out of a growing relationship with Love Himself. These ideas and inspirations find us and overtake us--apart from our pursuing them--while our focus remains on the lasting, fulfilling relationship with Love Himself.
Ol' Peter's tale was one of euphoric triumph and embarrassing failure, all wrapped up in one scene. His water walk began dramatically and successfully enough, as long as his focus was still locked on the One who sent the invitation. The new opportunity before him WAS impossible. It WAS unprecedented for dudes like him. It was way bigger than what HE could ever achieve. But as long as he was embracing the opportunity while focusing on the One who gave the opportunity AND the ability and strength to realize the opportunity, it was incredible! It was when he began to notice that which he was familiar with, and shift his focus toward the direction of the things he was use to working around and manipulating for his benefit, that he began to take the "Nestea plunge".
It was actually his focus on the familiar things that caused him to experience failure. Peter was a commercial fisherman. He knew about wind, waves, storms, tides, currents, and such. It was part of his business to know about these things.
But when he was willing to walk in the unfamiliar, in the circumstance he had NO control or manipulative ability over, he experienced the miraculous, the opportunity of a lifetime! History doesn't tell us, but I wonder if, perhaps, he even did a little "moon walking" on the water that night? And so I continue watching, waiting, living loved, growing in my relationship with Love Himself, and expecting those moments, those invitations, those opportunities to step out beyond what I'm familiar with, what I can control, and yes, even passed those "hair brained", dime a dozen, schemed up, half-assed "mydeas" that usually amount to little or nothing, into the wild, beautiful, adventures reserved only for those who are walking on a journey with Love Himself. Journey on, fellow moon walkers and water dancers! Peace!

"Decisionology 101"

Emotions are terrible decision makers. So are the opinions of others. Yet these two factors appear to be the most pronounced motivations for WHY we make the decisions we make.
In a society controlled by media, social networking, and opinion polls, it is crucial that we listen closely to our heart--that is, IF we guard our heart from ever-changing "externals".
Only in stillness, focus, and oftentimes solitude, away from the clamoring of external influences and fickle perspective, will we discover a clarity and wisdom to guide us in making decisions.
And in THOSE spaces, Love Himself resides, inviting us to hear Him, know Him, follow Him, and express Him through our lives, and the choices that reflect those lives.
We ride this ride of life but once, and every decision is an opportunity to experience the very heart of Love Himself, and to be a "counter-cultural" expression of that heart in this desperately seeking culture that we're a part of.

"Question Me An Answer"

I would rather spend time on this journey with people who have fewer answers, and more questions than I would with people who have fewer questions but more answers! In my experiences, the people who are the most "stringent" in their answers usually seem to be the ones who are farther away from truth. And much of what THEY consider "truth" is more "informational" or theoretical, and was oftentimes passed on to them without much investigation or relational experience with "said truth". They seem much more insecure and combative when questioned about these "truths", and they are quick to dismiss and even "vilify" those that would dare have the "balls" to have a differing perspective, or a desire to engage in healthy dialogue. Now, I'm not talking about those who allow their ever changing, ever fickle emotions and selfish tendencies to keep them in a constant state of questioning EVERYTHING, in hopes of parlaying and leveraging "newfound answers" into purely self indulgent behavior. But those whose hearts are on a quest for the truth which calls to them from the heart of Love Himself, THOSE are the people I enjoy journeying with. There has been so much "hubbub" and contention surrounding the Rob Bell book, "Love Wins"--which I just started reading a few days ago. Rob has been labeled, judged, criticized, and marginalized by every "doctrinal nazi" from "Dan to Beersheba". The ironic thing to me (again, I just started the book, so I have no educated synopsis of its content) is that the underlying subject matter, LOVE, is that which is greater than all the "doctrines" of men or distortions of truth perpetuated down through the "ages". Love--"the greatest of these"! What so many people fail to recognize, including the fundamentalists, the calvinists, the evangelical purists, is that the pursuit of the very nature of God, which is Love, has a way of bringing truth and correcting error in such an unforced, natural way. Love works from the inside out, NOT vice versa! And yet it seems to be human nature to try to employ "symptomatic corrections" externally to coerce the heart to discover and relate to truth. This will not be achieved through these "strong handed", performance laden, manipulative means. As a relationship develops with Love Himself, He leads us, guides us, and opens up to us a truly amazing journey! As I've said before, Love is NOT intimidated or threatened by our questions. They are safe, and WE are safe on this journey! So, let your questions fly! Wrestle with the "what if's" and the "why's"! Journeying with Love Himself is the safest place in the universe to live and to question! Love WILL WIN, and lead you--through a process--to Truth! I love how my children have so many questions. All kinds! And I'm not threatened by them. It draws me to their heart, and gives me opportunity for our relationship to grow and deepen. Through that relationship, it's incredible to watch truth unfold. And the truths that they see evidenced in my life and my relationship with them seem to do so much more for them than just giving them "sterile" informational "hand me downs" that I have not even investigated or experienced. It is frustrating and pathetic to watch people use fear and manipulation to try and force others or perform themselves into "truth" or into a place of agreement and conformity. I guess, for some, that must be easier than actually working out a relationship, and being real with those questions buried in their own hearts! They will justify this in the name of the very God whose nature their methods completely contradict! Fear has become the culprit, and the motivation of so much of what we do and why we do it. I speak that from personal experience and as a recovering fear-aholic! Until fear begins to be displaced in our lives though our growing trust and faith in Love Himself, we will rarely experience the freedom of questioning, the euphoric rush of Love's discovery, and the revolutionary awakenings to truth through a growing relationship! Personally, I love this journey I've been on for nearly 25 years. It's been painful at times! I've experienced the wrecking ball as it crashed through all my answers that I thought I was sure of! But with the rubble of hollow philosophy and religious rot laying at my feet, it was then that I was invited on this journey--questions and frustrations included--with THE ANSWER, Love Himself! And so I journey on.

"The Quiet Call"

It's never so easy to accept the realization that you've been wrong about a lot of things for a long time! But it's ever so easy to conform to the point of not being able to understand the difference between what's real and what's popular. The stage of public opinion is one on which every performance is judged by an audience, most of whom have never had a meaningful encounter with your heart. To live an existence where substance is "king" takes a boldness and a willingness to spend alot of time in solitude. Rest assured though, the lonely times are more than worth it, when you experience the freedom of living in the truth that Love Himself reveals. Facing and owning up to the error you've lived in and even at times perpetuated, leads you to a place of genuine revelation and awakening. It's astounding, the feeling of peace and contentment, that adorns the life of one who has opened up their heart--even at the risk of pain or rejection--and allowed Love to work, uncontrolled, to heal every part, every damaged part, and unlock the expressions and the unique voice of an inimitable being. The handprint of Love Himself is stamped unmistakably deep beneath the surface of where much of life is lived, and the created yearns continually for it's Creator! But the frequency of Love is difficult to hear amidst the clamor and chaos of a culture of conformity! It speaks in an "original tongue" to the very core of the created. And it calls, sometimes silently, but always passionately and with unwavering devotion. And the created makes the choice, either to be drawn away to an out-of-the-way space seldom frequented by the masses, where Love Himself continues the process of making whole, giving life, and bringing peace, OR, to continue to flow with the status quo, going wherever the fickle winds of the audience blow. The former, offers a voice; the latter, nothing but noise. Will you hear? Will you journey.....with Love Himself?

“Socially Connected But Relationally Unplugged”

Tweet this! Follow me! Retweet that! Update my status! Post in this thread! Comment on her comment! Click "like"! It's interesting how we live in a culture that "seems" more "connected" than at any time in history, and yet is obviously more disconnected with reality and life than ever. Texts, Tweets, Posts, Follows, Re-tweets, epic threads, and more! There is no distance in the world anymore it seems. You do something incriminating, embarrassing, or just plain stupid one minute, and it shows up on YouTube the next. Ours is a world that has grown accustomed to instant access, endless information, quick downloads, immediate response, and instant gratification! It really is an amazing, and sometimes dizzy-ing phenomenon to take in! Do you remember the days of phones with chords? Digital pagers? Rotary phones? How about the days before call waiting and voice mail? Today, those things almost seem like folklore from the "dark ages". There was a certain freedom in being able to leave your house WITHOUT a phone. There was an eager anticipation in getting an actual "snail mail" letter. It was an enjoyable experience to be able to sit down and have a substantive conversation with someone WITHOUT competing with text tones, notifications, and phone calls about nothing from people who were simply bored, and just wanted to call you to tell you about the latest app they had just downloaded. We communicate in bite size morels. We listen in "tweet" sized spans of time. And our "relationships" have become "on-the-go-status update"-meals that temporarily satiate a craving or a need, but once the need is filled, we trash the "expendable" relationship like a half eaten McFriend sandwich with cheese. Life is lived through the lenses of gadgets, gizmos, and digital timelines. But where is the heart? Where are the relationships of substance? Where are the worthwhile investments of time, personal growth...AND patience? As I write, I'm a bit disheartened by people who I've attempted to have relationships with who have a hard time even keeping in contact with a 2 minute phone call, cup of coffee, or at the very least, a quick email. Communication with them is in sporadic nugget form, at best. They have no margin in their lives. Their schedules, their cultural philosophy of achievement and "keeping up" determine their time and their priorities. Many of their "relational" connections are opportunity-motivated instead of being developed and motivated from a meaningful "heart" connection. So many people desire that sense of community and connection, but are unwilling to be an active, involved, and committed part of helping to facilitate that. THAT would mean gettin' off "the treadmill", not settling for a text or a tweet. That might involve you seeing someone face to face, having a genuine heart to heart conversation, and perhaps even putting your phone on "silent" while your full attention is outside the frantic pace of your mad mad world, and instead, on the life of another. I've taken a long, hard introspective look at how I've defined relationships through the years, and it's been interesting to watch my relational "philosophy" morph and evolve during that time. I'm at a place in my life where the people that matter most to me are those who are "lifers". People pass in and out of your life, and for a dude like me, it's kind of tough to "let go" of any relationship. But the reality is, some people are seasonal--there for a moment or two, then they're gone. I think as I've gotten older and hopefully wiser, I can recognize certain "indicators" early on that kind of "foretell" what type of relationship it's most likely to be with some people. The key with me has been learning to accept the fact that some people are only capable of being "seasonal" type relationships. And I can no longer take it personal when they "move on" from me to their next "ever changing" season. They may even "cycle" back around in a few months--even years from now. You can engage them on a certain level while they're there, but don't expect much depth, longevity, or substance. And after years of struggling in identity crisis and personal insecurity, I'm finally at peace with that! After all, I'm defined by only ONE, and He is perfectly pleased with me, and nothing I do or don't do can change that! What security! What love! What a relationship! And in the meantime, I look for those people who are on a journey, who enjoy adventure, who are looking to share their stories, and who have a passion to grow in the wonder of Love Himself and the amazing community that is born from finding others who are traveling the same "trail"! I am learning to live life within the "unforced rhythms of grace", and simply observe what Love is doing in and around me. So many naturally occurring relationships are all around us, waiting for us to engage them! Don't waste your time trying to force people into your expectations, live up to theirs, impose a relationship into existence, or chase after people who hardly understand the concept of what it means to be a friend. Just open your eyes and heart and watch Love Himself organically and creatively connect lives and hearts on this journey. I have found that being patient in discovering those life relationships is well worth the seasons of solitude, "alone-ness", and stillness you may experience along the way. I'd much rather embrace those "still" times, where I can have room to grow, listen, learn, and connect deeper with Love Himself, than to waste those times cluttering my life with the noise of superficial relationships, or trying to gain some pseudo validation or acceptance from those people. There is certainly a freedom in re-connecting with the God-given original passions of Life, and the people created to be a part of your "life mosaic". These connections will grow naturally, authentically, un-contrived, and deeply! Keep your soul aimed in THAT direction! All other stuff, and people.....simply distractions! Journey on! 

Colossians 3:1-2 (The Message) "[ He Is Your Life ] So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective."


Do you enjoy times of solitude, times of "alone-ness"? Do you thrill at the idea of being in a place where the only thing you hear is the sound of the heart beating in your chest or the rhythmic monotony of your own breathing? To remain in that state for long periods of time would appear, at least on the surface, to be some sort of tortuous punishment for the human soul. After all, we weren't created to live life in isolation! Even God Himself realized the longing for relationship and companionship so He created Adam, and then later, He created Eve, for Adam. I wonder how long Adam was a "solo act" before Eve joined "the band". I imagine Adam was alone for awhile--without human companionship, that is. But after a bit, God noticed, "it's not good that man be alone....."And with that, He introduced Adam to the first totally nude, femme fatale "hottie" with a weakness for reptiles and fruit in recorded history! It seems to me that there is a place and time for solitude, but I tend to believe that it's meant to be a seasonal occurrence, not a permanent existence. Timing and seasons are such crucial parts of life, and yet often times we are completely unaware of their significance. Instead, we "ignorantly" disregard them and the lessons they teach, and choose instead to be led by emotionally driven questions, while reacting in frustration with incessant circumstantial complaining as we blame everyone or everything in sight! I am guilty of this type of behavior, so I have a sort of "first hand" view of how this mindset functions. Only recently have I started to understand the value and significance of seasonal solitude. For most of my life up until now, I have treated these "cave-like" periods in my life simply as "why-solations"--times of moaning, groaning, whining, complaining, and questioning. During these self thrown pity parties and "whoa is me fests" I tried to manipulate circumstances and people as a desperate attempt to try and fill up the "emptiness", self described "boredom" and solitude with SOMETHING or SOMEBODY, even sympathy from others to gain relief from this "solo hell". In the process of becoming "empty", I am discovering the beauty and healing power in being "set aside in silence". The beauty isn't seen in the circumstance, status symbolism, or from the perspective of others, but it's experienced as Love Himself calls me away from the clamor, clutter, and confusion of the masses into the noiseless whisper of intimacy with Him. Only in isolation can we learn to recognize the gentle "nudgings" and unmistakable "whims" from the Lover of our soul. I've been married for almost 28 years to an absolute "goddess". Her voice and her laugh are immediately recognized by that one special frequency of my heart reserved only for her. Even in a multitude, I can pick her voice out and recognize the words of my soul mate. The recognition of her voice comes so easy now, because of the times we have spent alone--talking, laughing, whispering, singing, and yes, even an occasional "fuss or two". I learned her voice in intimacy, in solitude away from the noise and expressions of meaningless ramblings that life is full of. Intimacy and time spent alone has created such a depth of relationship that many times, we don't even have to say anything to know what our hearts are communicating. This kind of "oneness" and simpatico-like connection wasn't built in the busyness of crowds, frantic activity, or in the limelight of an audience. It was developed in isolation. I was reminded of the beautiful expression from scripture where Jesus said that His "sheep" KNOW His voice and follow Him. What a confident certainty it is to KNOW, not guess, not speculate, but to KNOW His voice! That's where I want to live! To learn the voice of Love Himself requires these sometimes painful, "lonely" seasons of solitude where our focus is simply listening alone and relaxing into living loved. The times of community, crowds, fun, social engagement, and living life out loud are wonderful! We cherish them, and value them. But the meaning and the substance that makes THOSE times worthwhile are developed in the quiet embrace of Love Himself, in intimacy and surrender, held closely by the perfect timing and seasonal wisdom of Love Himself.