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.

"Melancholy Moments"

“Turning the page” 

I've been trapped in a chapter, and my heart is in chains.

And this page I keep reading again and again

Though I've tried to read further in the story I'm on

The words keep repeating in a déjà vu song.

Reality speaks in resounding clear voice,

And I now know it's time to embrace a hard choice.

It's time to be empty of all that I've known.

Gotta burn certain bridges and leave them alone.

Some won't understand. Some won't agree.

I don't answer to them, it's my heart they don't see.

Wasting much time, caring how I'm perceived.

Not free to love when opinions matter to me.

So I'm starting again, finally turning the page.

The wisdom and freedom grow sweeter with age.

So I'll follow my true north, And though I journey with few

The beat of my drummer keeps my heart beating true

And when my reason for breathing is revealed in the dawn

I'll finally read clearly this page I've been on.

“Forever It Seems” 

You delight, you desire, you dream, you wait, forever it seems,

You question, you cry, you shake your head, you're still, all is silent, you wait, forever it seems.

You try to give up, but you just can't let go, you try to walk away, but you just can't forget, you keep hoping, waiting, forever it seems.

You watch others live your dream, You watch through tear filled-eyes, You've searched for just one answer, hoping to discover it, waiting, forever it seems.

So in despair and exhausted hopelessness, you offer up what delights you most, what brings your heart to flame, and you trust it to the One who gave it, who's been waiting, forever it seems.

And there at your loneliest, most empty, frustrated place of forgotten barrenness, the dream comes alive and captures you at your weakest--independent of your strength--and carries you to the place that's been waiting for you, waiting, forever it seems.

"I Hope" 

I hope......when I get to where I'm going, I'll remember those who are where I am now. 

I hope......when opportunity knocks, I won't be stepping on someone else in order to reach and open the door.

I hope......when someone calls me a friend, they won't have to retract that statement. Trust me, that's a painful thing to face. 

I memory of the mundane or miserable doesn't escape me when my circumstance improves. I want to remember it all, because it all had a part in making me who I have become AND who I am becoming. 

I hope....for the rest of my days, I allow love's lessons to gently remind me of the journey I'm on, and I reflect not with regret, but with fondness and sincere appreciation for the reality that Love Himself has invited me to journey with Him--even in seemingly hopeless, forgotten, frustrating times--on an incredible adventure of relationship, living, and learning to trust in the hope of Love Himself. For THIS is really where ALL HOPE resides.

"Spent But Safe"

I'm finding out what it means to feel completely helpless, and quite frankly, IT SUCKS! For whatever reason, at THIS time in my life, a force much greater than I could conjure up, seems to be imposing the will of stillness and utter helplessness on me. Sadly, the realization that my chief motivation has been people's perspective and an addiction to their approval has put me in an "emotional fetal position". I can do nothing! In this helpless space, where I'm completely defenseless, I find my difficulty compounded by severe feelings of anger, resentment, and bitterness--toward my past, toward others, and at times, toward God Himself. I feel like a wounded animal on the Serengeti at feeding time--completely vulnerable, and desperately dependent on something outside of me to rescue me. The one thing that seems to give hope to my heart is the truth that the "something outside me" is actually very much inside me as well! That truth is a constant, even though circumstances, feelings, emotions, and people may try to convince me otherwise! I am held by LOVE HIMSELF!!!! I am safe in HIM, safe enough to scream, be angry, be bitter, question vehemently, get pissed off to the point of using extreme language, (Pharisees can stop reading here) and throw my hands up in disgust! I AM SAFE WITH LOVE HIMSELF!!! I trust LOVE HIMSELF! He holds me a little tighter each day, through the pain, the frustration, the silence....HE NEVER LEAVES! Through my tears of perceived rejection, my desire to FIGHT, my selfish whine of entitlement, my lack of ANY motivation.....HE HOLDS ME CLOSER STILL! And that LOVE causes me to surrender yet again to the Lover of my Soul!

"Giving Up"

I’ve had it! Enough is enough! I now understand that you can’t live like Jesus by following “christian” principles. You can’t work hard enough, you can’t employ enough discipline. You can’t “serve” enough, and you can’t even “take up your cross” to the degree that it will MAGICALLY MAKE YOU become a better Christ follower. Give up! It ain’t happenin’. I can no longer be a “christian”. I’ve seen behind the curtain of religion’s “OZ”, and what I discovered is that it is full of principles, full of fear of failing to follow those principles, full of manipulation and control to heap condemnation on you for NOT following those principles! You can’t memorize enough scripture. You can’t “separate” yourself from the world enough. Don’t even think about trying to deny yourself enough. That’s impossible to do in your own strength. You can’t build your faith up enough. You can’t give yourself to the poor and needy enough. You can’t fight for social justice enough! You can’t sacrifice enough. FUGGEDABOUTIT!!! Lights out, party’s over!!! All of your feeble attempts and selfless efforts will all ultimately arrive in the land of futility! You, in your humanity, will NEVER become like Jesus. Sound pretty hopeless? THAT is! But IS there hope? ABSOLUTELY!!! It takes HIS life, HIS faith, HIS strength, HIS peace, HIS joy! Seriously, only HE can live like Himself! But……HE came that WE might have HIS life, and experience HIS life in ABUNDANCE!!! When did we miss that? When did we start to think that we, in all our faux goodness and legalistic filthy rag-like righteousness, could EVER fabricate HIS life??? Even the “CHAMPION OF ALL THOSE WHO WERE LEGAL AND RIGHTEOUS”, Paul, finally gave up! He realized that the ONLY way He could live the abundance of the Jesus life was to, well….let the actual Spirit of Jesus live HIS life through Paul! He lamented about doing the things he did NOT want to do, and NOT doing the stuff he knew he should AND wanted to do. He was THE MOST “righteous” dude around, and even HE failed at living like Jesus by using his own “goodness” and “law perfect” principles with amazing zeal. If HE couldn’t do it, what makes us think we can? He even realized what all his “christian” knowledge and achievement amounted to…..just a pile of SHI….oops, I mean DUNG! Same thing, actually!  Well, ol’ Paul finally figured it out at the close of his lament, when he said, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
It’s HIS LIFE IN US!!! We can choose to live by our life or surrender to HIS life in and through us! Abundance only comes through ONE of those. I’ll let you figure out which one.
All these years of trying to follow the right principles, trying to DO enough, trying to live “rightly”! How much time I have wasted!!! Somehow, we “got” the fact that only Jesus could save us, and NOT our works, BUT, we failed to understand that HIS same life that saved us, was also given to us TO LIVE BY! In the everyday mundane, in our issues, in our lack, in our health, and in our relationships! Like the Galatians, we seem to have started out right, but through the eons of time, we have gotten way off track! Religious systems of performance have replaced a relational connection with Jesus! “Substitutionary” leadership figures have taken the place of the Holy Spirit! Rules & regulations have replaced Love’s laws written on our hearts! No wonder, so many live an anemic, defeated, and frustrated life. You can’t live the abundant life vicariously by “rote”. You can’t live “your version” of His life! There is only ONE life…..HIS! The life HE came to give us!
I’m in my forties, and I feel like my journey is just now really starting! But it’s different now. I’m journeying by another’s life, and not a “sanitized” version of my own! The greatest LIFE is HIS! Journey on!

"It IS a Small, Small World, After All"

I LOVE DISNEY!!! There is so much "magic", warm fuzzys, childhood memories, innocence, and creative, boundless imagination that is evoked by that one person's name.........Walt Disney! He had the incredible ability to "shrink" the big ol' world down to a few special thoughts, emotions, moments, and characters-- down to a place where we could ALL feel connected to a comforting sense of belonging and mattering in life.
But I digress....the theme, "It's a Small, Small World After All" began rattling around in my cranium today while I was working out. Maybe it was the heat, or the persistent bumblebee that relentlessly chased me around the track, but that theme opened up the inner recesses of my mind and heart and began to reveal the source of maybe why frustration and disappointment have seemingly escalated their "attacks" on me recently, and why I seem to have encountered--for the first (or second) time in my 40 years--the smothering tentacles of depression and despair closing in on me.
My biggest issue seems to be this...I have a nasty habit of evaluating life and meaning through the lens of my personal circumstance and feelings. How freakin stupid is that?!?!?!?! I mean, is it possible that I have been duped into trading Love's truth for my limited and fickle circumstantial perspective? Or have I been so blind as to confuse narrow-minded selfish emotion with reality?
Wow! That nailed me in the head, or was that the bumblebee catchin' up to me?
How many times have I been so guilty and so self-centered by judging this life, other people, and the world by my small perspective and selfish, ever-changing emotions!
When was the last time we opened the windows of our world to the life of another? It's incredible how beautiful and diverse our world will become, when we make the efforts to find value and meaning in worlds outside our own!
Personally, my circumstances (in certain areas of my life) are kinda bleak and barren at present. I've parsed through alot of regret, "what ifs", and the many coulda, shoulda and wouldas recently, but I'm starting see how I've spent so much time wallowing in the "misery and the mundane" of what I thought my world looked like, that I've become desensitized and aloof to the world around me. It's a sobering and even embarrassing reality when you see that you've become so self absorbed that you look at the WHOLE WIDE WORLD and everything and everybody in it, ONLY as it relates to your little corner, your little box of toys, and your individual moods and emotions.

"Friend or Faux"

The gears in my head and the pistons in my heart have been gettin' a tune-up, whether I wanted it or not. It never ceases to amaze me how when I am concerned by traits and tendencies in others, if I am honest and transparent, I often find residue of those traits and tendencies tucked neatly away--even masquerading in a "perfectly justifiable" disguise--in the caverns of my own spaces.
The 21st century idea of what a friend is seems to have "de-volved" from the example heard and modeled in the life of Jesus.
"A friend loves at ALL times...", and "The wounds of a friend are faithful"....are two passages of scripture that describe what seem to be missing ingredients from today's culture of a "friendship recipe".
Personally, I had the greatest earthly examples of "friendship" lived out in my life by my dad and mom. Many times through the years, I've watched them give to people--people who had no clue of the depth of love and relationship they were being offered. This was overwhelmingly evident in the responses of these needy, yet unappreciative, dishonorable people. But the call to be a friend spoke louder to my parents than the pain of betrayal, or the feeling of wasted time that no doubt tugged at their hearts. They loved and gave without expectations or sense of entitlement. How rare THAT is in today's culture....yeah, even in the so-called "christian culture".
Two prevailing motives I've noticed sadly as the accepted "norm" for relationship building are these. 1. We oftentimes are willing to enter into "relationship" with people IF we see the potential of it somehow "massaging" our need to feel like we're being productive, purposeful, or achieving some "psuedo" sense of accomplishment. This motive is oftentimes accompanied by the desire to be noticed by the fact that we're doing a "good deed" for someone or we're doing our part to be a "good human". We love to be affirmed in this.
The second motive can be just as self-seeking.......2. We will also be willing and even eager to make a "relational connection" if the "relationship" will help us achieve or accomplish a goal or realize our "life purpose". I've termed this behavior as "relational opportunism". Living in "music city" has certainly opened my eyes to how rampant this mindset can be. It's sad to watch "friendships" be reduced to "connections" or stepping stones that people use to get where they're wanting to be. When you are no longer beneficial or meaningful to advancing one's objectives or goals, you seem to become expendable.
It's a slippery slope that can sabotage even the most well meaning people, if we fail to keep our hearts open and honest, and aware of the real purpose of relationship--To love, to live in community, to share, to give, to expect nothing in return.
Maybe this is why genuine relationship seems to be so rare any more. So many seem to have an angle, an underlying plot, where "relationships" are simply currency to buy our way into our selfishly conceived purposes.
I feel like I've been in the "hall of self interrogation", facing these possibilities, and it's painful to realize how these motives have reared their selfish heads at times in my own life.
Where is that place of purity, where we simply open our eyes to the people in our lives, connect on some common ground or "uniquely magnetic" difference, and are drawn into relationship simply to enjoy, share, give and experience life together?
I know it's not reasonable or even possible to expect to have meaningful, deep friendship with the masses, and I'm not suggesting that we do that--true friends are a rarity. But what I am saying here is that our motives for entering relationship --whatever level they may be-- need to grow from a place of purity, selflessness, and a desire to share life.
And on a closing note..."Commonality" seems to be a "stonger" foundation for building friendship than "personality", but oftentimes, we try to keep it on the superficial level of personality and never take the time or effort to work through surface differences or conflict in order to discover the potential commonality. So, when we tire of people and their personality, or we have a misunderstanding or disagreement, we cut them loose--many times prematurely--and throw them back. And we continue the search for "friends" by treating this beautiful process like we're simply fishing in a sort of "catch and release pond" for that one "friendship fish" that meets all our standards and satisfies our needs. Maybe we should be a little more deliberate in our quest for relationships as we allow our hearts to be exposed to the real motivation for building relationships in the first place?

"Mind Your Mind"

Ever notice how when you’re sitting alone, and you are semi-relaxed, your mind can offer pretty stimulating conversation and thought. There are no worries, because in this environment, you can actually talk to yourself, answer yourself, & no one thinks you’re an absolute “loon”. The danger of this is whatever you allow inside your mind & heart during the “busy” times always comes back to converse with you when no one is around. Thus the importance of being transformed by the “renewal of your mind.” Also, I think Philippians 4:8-9 is applicable here. Imagination is an incredible gift from God! Especially when it is nurtured in the cradle of healthy thought. The misappropriation of the imagination comes when an unhealthy, un-renewed mind is the controller of the thought processes. The old adage is absolutely true…”an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Actually, I think that could be taken another way as well…(pardon my play on words, if you will) An IDOL mind is the devil’s workshop. Let me explain. When idols are conceived (usually from self-centered passion, and selfish motivations), your mind “narrows”. Does the term “narrow-minded” ring a bell? There is only room for thoughts birthed out of whatever or whoever motivates your mind. Impure motivation breeds impure thoughts, and eventually an impure act. The opposite is also true. God created us to be free moral agents. What an incredible responsibility we have!!! We have the choice as to the source of our thoughts. To be a determiner of culture, the first step is a complete change of mind—true repentance. The mind can only change as a result of changing the source from which thought is motivated. Anything less is simply surface behavioral modification, which will eventually revert back to its old pattern. When a person is under hypnosis, there is usually “something” that can “snap” the person back into their pre-hypnotic state. In TV or the movies, that is usually a phrase spoken, or a specific sound. So there is really no genuine change, simply a temporary manipulative modification. Sadly, that’s the way many Christians live their life –from hypnosis to hypnosis. Allowing personal prejudices, circumstances, sense-driven emotion, or even other opinions to motivate your thought processes & world view will cause your state of mind to continually change. Why? It’s because these factors are likely to change from time to time. This creates a person who is prone to being “double-minded”. What is the incubator for your school of thought? Is it something solid, steady, consistent, or is it something more closely akin to “shifting sand” or fading shadows? The second aspect of this “order of life” is your speech. “From the intents of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Some people are good about “disciplining” their speech from a negative “bent”, at least for a time. However, if the mind is programmed one way, yet your speech has been “disciplined” to say something opposite, it’s only a matter of time, setting, or circumstance until your mouth will emerge from its façade & masquerade of supposed positive “pontifications” and reveal the true nature of its motivation unleashed from its cell of suppressed honesty & reality. James is so candid in his “expose” on the tongue. Ultimately, your tongue is tied to your mind. It may take some time to discover this about some people. I guess some people have a little more “slack” in the line that connects the two--the mind and the tongue.