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Friday, August 18, 2017

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Week of August 14, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017
Blog for Week of August 14th We have all heard numerous humorous stories of the importance of fundamentals to any particular endeavor, but the point is well taken. The fundamentals are not usually complicated, but are actually rather simple. I?m not sure why it is such a difficult thing for us to remember and practice the fundamentals in any worthwhile endeavor, but it is. Maybe it is because the fundamentals are not very creative or ego-stroking; they are repetitive and humbling. Yet, when someone has embraced the fundamentals to something to the point that they become ?second-nature,? then the potential is expanded exponentially. Fundamentals require great patience and diligence. Maybe that is why there is often such a gap whether one is talking about the spiritual life, playing a musical instrument, or playing a sport. A commitment to the fundamentals is what separates people. I suppose that often fundamentals require certain character qualities. If roots of our lives do not go deep in the soil of character, we are easily tossed about with boredom and displeasure. I wonder if it isn?t true that fundamentals are a necessary part of fulfillment. Fulfillment is one of those words that is often used, but the depth of it remains a mystery to us. What is truly fulfilling? I think true fulfillment has a spirit of solidarity in it and the solid cannot hold court without sufficient fundamentals. So, give it some thought this week. Think about the fundamentals that characterize your living well.

Week of August 7, 2017

Tuesday, August 08, 2017
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 Whether one reads the gospels or the epistles the kingdom of heaven constantly stands directly the kingdom of man.  Therefore, as true disciples of Jesus we stand in the atmosphere that is meant to reverse gravity and pull us up into another sphere.  The path before us is the movement toward the City of God.  In that we are always on the move – upward.        I’ve been moved lately as we rehearse once again the prayer that we have been given that is meant to connect heaven and earth.  It is familiar to our ears and because of that familiarity, it can go in one ear and out the other, not ever finding itself rooted in our souls.      Dallas Willard offers a very meaningful rendition that may help us enter into the Spirit of the prayer more meaningfully, “Our Father, always near us, always present to us.  May Your name be cherished and loved, may your rule be completed in us.  May Your will be done all around us, just like it is done in heaven.  Give us today the things we need for today, and forgive our impositions on You, just as we are forgiving anyone who imposes on us.  Please don’t lead us into troubles, but deliver us from everything bad.  For You’re the one in charge, and the power is all Yours, and the glory too, forever.”
 

Week of July 31, 2017

Tuesday, August 01, 2017
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 In many of the conversations I experience these days a common issue I find is that we are often disappointed with ourselves in that we are frustrated that we don’t do the things we think we should do or sometimes actually want to do.  For you golfers out there you will understand why that concern brings me to golf.  Golf is a game of recovery.  Those that most consistently succeed are the ones who do the best job of recovery.  No one wants to hit the ball into the rough or into the water or out of bounds, but the ones who are best at keeping their focus and recovering well are the ones that tend to win most often.            No one hits the ball straight down the fairway all the time.  And no one avoids the bunkers strewn along the fairways or guarding the greens.  We all disappoint ourselves with what is done or what is left undone.  But our willingness at regathering ourselves, keeping our eyes on the Great Restorer, and accept that tomorrow is another day is the path that leads home by another way.   In the spiritual life, it is not a matter of trying harder, but ironically “seeking the face of the Holy One.”  Usually in the road before us is different than we think it is.  Our power does not come from simply trying harder; it comes from the indirect process of focusing the concerns we have at the feet of Jesus.  He is the one who able to do in us what we have been unable to do for ourselves.  I must confess that I have wasted a lot of time and effort in my life simply berating myself for what I haven’t done.  Cracking the whip so to speak rarely accomplishes anything valuable!
 

Week of July 24, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017
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 Back in freshman psychology there was a popular book we all had to read, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.  Not that I remember everything the author told us, but the title itself is a world today for serious discipleship.  In casual conversation with any observer of culture it becomes clear that at least most young people and maybe most people expect life to be their Rose Garden.    I dare say most of us didn’t realize what we signed on for when we signed up with Jesus.  I do think many of us that the life in Christ would indeed be a Rose Garden, but we discovered it was more a cross than a garden.  Adam and Eve we the only ones who got the Garden, and look what they did with it.             The suffering of Christ that we join in is the path that leads to the deep joy of God’s glory.  Jesus seemed to know that joy that was “set before him.”  I wonder how it might help us if our vision included that “joy that was set before him.”?        
 

Week of July 17, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
 
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 Sabbath as a practice seems like it has gone “out of style” for the most part.  I guess my thoughts regarding this gift from God are from a different time.  In some ways, Sabbath was my favorite day of the week, though I don’t think we were giving it much thought except that there was a Sabbath history in our Bible Belt culture in those days.         Most stores were closed, except restaurants, one quick stop gas station, and Dairy Queen.  It seemed like everyone went to a church, unless you were fishing or boating at an area lake.  Most of the time, we had Sunday dinner at home with friends or relatives, a short rest, a rousing game of volleyball, another short rest, an evening shower, then evening church and finally, a trip to Dairy Queen after church in the seasons that were not winter.  What a spectacular day!      Only recently have I been reintroduced to a life-giving Sabbath that has a great intentionality.  I owe much to Dan Allander’s book simply entitled: Sabbath.  The “four pillars” of Sabbath continue to speak clearly, sensual glory or expressions of beauty, communal feast, holy time, and playing with God.  As we keep those practices in mind Sabbath begins to be the glorious weekly gift God took great delight in giving to us.  May I encourage you to make space each week to celebrate Sabbath.  

Week of July 10, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
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 I’ve been provoked lately by the question, “Have we accepted Jesus as Savior” and not “as Teacher?”  In our tradition, we have been champions of salvation, but didn’t Jesus spend most of his life teaching us how to live out the kingdom of God?  We have made the gospel of Christ something other than his gospel.  In the four gospels, telling his story among us, he always stated over and over, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt. 4:17).        Aren’t most of Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13)?  Didn’t he tell us that the essence of our prayer is to be to pray to earth the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 6:9-13)?  I think most of us would have agreed that Jesus is the greatest Teacher that ever lived, but I also don’t think we take what he said seriously, thinking that it is impractical in our day.  Yet, I don’t think he ever said that circumstances are the main modifier in how we live.        A wiser man than I said, “A spiritual formed person is one who actively arranges the affairs of one’s life in light of the teachings of Jesus.”  It would be hard to state the reality any clearer than that.  Maybe that is the fresh challenge for us in this season of life – may you and I rearrange the affairs of our lives in a genuine manner to reflect the way of the true believer and not just as an admirer of Jesus.
 

Week of July 3, 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017
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 For all the conversation this week about freedom and independence, one would think nationalism is equivalent to Christianity as in, we are a Christian country.  Personally, it seems to me that we have accepted such a tepid definition of The Faith that it is almost an insult to Jesus, though he has dealt with our kind for a very long time.  Someone said it back in the late 60s, we have exchanged any sense of discipleship for simple admiration.  Have we simply become “Jesus admirers” rather than genuine disciples?            In many ways, I think we have become soft in our apprenticeship with Jesus.  We no longer are willing to “pay the price” that our forefathers in the faith were faced with.  At the beginning our brothers and sisters in the faith never expected the society to embrace them and, in fact, they were clear about being the salt and light in a dark and perverse world.     This is a perfect week to stretch your spiritual muscles and step up your commitment.  Recently, I saw the 2016 Oscar nominated film, “Hacksaw Ridge”.  It was a character study of a man of a particular Christian conviction.  It was inspiring and convicting at the same time.  We have been given a vocational holiness in our being called out from the world by God and then sent into the world with a new reality to bring about in the culture called, the kingdom of God.  So, in the midst of fireworks and celebration, let’s remember who we really are.        
 

Week of June 26, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
                                                                                     Blog for Week of June 26th 
 
 The pursuit of identity is one of the strongest forces in the universe.  It is one of the deep movements within the human person, that is rarely addressed directly, but is an unmistakable force.  It belies behavior and the individual movements in humankind.  “Who am I” is the pervasive presence that dictates the satisfaction of the human experience.         The question reminds me of the poem that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote while in Tegal Prison.  One would think that he would have resolved the question years before.  But, just maybe though we can know the roots of our being ensconced in the pages of the Scriptures, that identity evolves in meaning.  Identity without meaning is no identity at all.         One dimension of our identity is encased in significance or value.  What then is my value among creation?  Do I have an eternal individuality, or am I just one among many?  It would seem that if we are made in God’s image and that is both individual and relational, then the glory of God is shown in both: who I am and who I am among others.          Peter offered a blessed word when he said, “You are chosen by God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”  We have been identified, selected, given an eternal role, and made a part of those who are set apart for reigning with Him.”  Any pedestrian sense of identity has just flown out the window.  God’s great grace toward us who believe is deeply humbling. 
 

Week of June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017
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 Holiness has gotten bad press for the last few generations.  However, rather than a reflection on holiness I think rather it is a reflection on contemporary culture.  The core idea of holiness is “separateness” and in the biblical context, “being separated unto God.”      Separateness is offensive in our world.  For all the tolerance that has been hyped, separateness unto God offends the common cultural milieu of political correctness.  When our sensibilities are not swayed by any visible influence, we become a threat to the culture around us.     Living in a “separated unto God” way becomes convicting presence.  The image of God conscience within each person can sense holiness and holiness is naturally convicting to sinfulness.  The spirit of holiness encased in love is what light looks and feels like.  It can be both attractive and intimidating at the same time.  Old Testament or New Testament, the appeal is the same, “Be holy as I am holy.”  So, the dilemma is set and we need to live freely within it.
 

Week of June 12, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017
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“Knowledge of” provides the substance for living life with integrity.  Jesus spoke of the wise man and the foolish man as to what the foundation is made of upon which the structure of life is built.  The question that we face is, what “knowledge of” do I lay my foundation upon.  What is the rock versus what is the sand?  “Knowledge of” is the truth, the certainty that I carry within myself.The writers of the New Testament were all people who had “knowledge of” what they were saying.  Peter makes an opening statement to his readers in his first letter that exposes what he knows to be true about them and about himself.  With that substance in hand, followers of Jesus can move forward with a solid core that allows them to encounter all kinds of circumstances with an inner solidarity that allows them to penetrate a difficult world.It is easy to lose sight of things that we have a “knowledge about” in the midst of the dailyness of life, but when we truly know something we have a reality to draw upon.  Summertime is a great time to refresh your “knowledge of” the core of your being.  Making space for God alone is a great secret that really isn’t a secret at all.  Think about it!  If ever there was a time for that practice, this is the time.
 

Week of June 5, 2017

Tuesday, June 06, 2017
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 Like every aspect of life and the things that we do, everything is built on the strength and importance of fundamentals.  I have been working on the notion of rhythm as an important aspect of my life and even in that, to establish and maintain a rhythm of life there are fundamentals that are true and essential that remain.           Consider the role of fundamentals in all that you are and all that you do.  What is truly essential?  Rhythm is built on the essential of quiet reflection and thinking before doing.  In a sense, rhythm is a reflection on our way of being.          Every area of life thrives on the foundation of fundamentals.  Consider your relationships for a moment.  What are the basics for living in your relationships?  Whatever those basics are and whatever else you do in that relationship; those fundamentals are necessary – the relationship cannot survive the complexities of life without the assurance of those fundamentals.      Life is dynamic and its fundamentals are dynamic, therefore they continually need cultivation.  So, for example, in my relationship with my wife the aspects of our relationship that are based on solid fundamentals require my consistent cultivation of them because they are vital to life and living.  The only way for the relationship to thrive is when those “fundamentals” become the way I am – my very being.  It is impossible to sustain the foundation if it is merely a behavior that has to be practiced.  I can’t always remember to listen, but if I become a listener, then I don’t have to remember to listen.
 

Week of May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017
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 The notion of a sacrifice of praise seems from another world to our modern minds, but not only the poets the writers of scripture understood what most of us don’t.  The sacrifice of praises often takes real sacrifice; something has to be lain on the altar in the midst of hardship of one kind or another.  Sometimes praise requires that we look beyond ourselves to see the good that remains.  We can be very quick with platitudes, but they are empty.  Real sacrifice requires us to walk through and not around or over.  Brining the sacrifice of praise to God is not some little ditty, but is often something that we fight through to come to.
 The sacrifice of praise means that a price has been paid to come to the place of praise.  This a praise that comes from the heart.  The Lord is familiar with words without heart, but when they come from our hearts they strike a different chord.  From one perspective, God has always been looking for genuine praise and thanksgiving.  Sometimes thanksgiving is comfortable, while at other times the nakedness of vulnerability make thanksgiving the catharsis that sets creatures apart from one another.  That vulnerability can shape and form us in humility as nothing else can do.  May our sacrifice of praise be a path of transformation in our deepest selves.
 

Week of May 15, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017
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 Some truth is easy for us to quote, but quite another thing to live.  I’ve been thinking about something John wrote in his first epistle, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment… (1 John 4:18).”  Consider the fear that we carry within ourselves.  It seems that our world is saturated with fear.  Obviously, we are in desperate need of God’s love.  This is not that sticky sentimentality that is pasted over harshness of today’s human experience, but the love that is rooted and grounded in a Person.  Jesus is the one who came to show us the way of perfect love.             The challenge before us is to enter into that Perfect Love.  The path is an unsuspecting way.  We enter the richness of God’s love by simply surrendering to it; giving up our willfulness to embrace willingness.  Jesus said it best, “…not my will, but thine be done.”  There is a great vulnerability in the road to Perfect Love.  In some ways, it is a matter of space.  Love and fear cannot fill the same space; we either embrace the love or the fear.         It makes sense, then, that opening ourselves to God’s perfect love is an important stream that waters the ground of our being.  In His grace and mercy, He has given us his story to read and meditate on so as to be filled and formed by its eternal truth regarding his great love for us.  I would encourage you to absorb all that you can, so that fear can be expulsed from the pores of your heart.  That way we reclaim our identity in Him and Him alone.
 

Week of May 8, 2017

Monday, May 08, 2017
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Like most things with God there are almost infinite dimensions to everything he teaches us.  I’ve been reflecting on trust lately.  We often respond to the question, “What is God teaching you” with the answer: trust, but there is trust and then there is what Brennan Manning called, Ruthless Trust None of us likes ruthless trust.  We want the journey to trust to be comfortable and convenient.  We can tolerate a little discomfort or inconvenience, but life shouldn’t ask too much from us.  Obviously, trust is a response to life, but sometimes we can trust because our feet are firmly planted on the ground of easy experience.  However, there are times when our feet do not “touch bottom.”It’s not unlike swimming; as long as we are wading simply walking along the bottom of the pool our trust is more like “sight.”  But, when we can no longer touch bottom, that is another thing.  In our inexperience, we often initially face that experience with fear.  When we move out of the pool and enter the ocean with it “bottomless” nature and know that there are all kinds of predators swimming in the “deep,” it is a whole other story so to speak.  Now the question of trust sharpens and deepens.In a way, the answer remains the same, but the circumstance adds meaning to the term.  Remember though that the answer is the answer.  Truth is truth, no matter what it feels like.  Our growth is a matter of living into the truth that starts outside ourselves, but is intended to become part of our DNA.  This kind of growth is never ending, but progressively meaningful.  Much as Pilgrim had to face in his Progress, stay on the path and don’t quit. 
 
 

Week of April 24, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017
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The Jesus’ Way is not what most people think.  What most people think is a caricature of the real thing.  We tend to take one experience in Jesus’ life and blow it up into a poster and make it into an icon for life.  The reality is quite different.  Like most of us, to get a real feel of who we are you would have to take snap shots of all our experiences and statements and make them into a video.The Jesus Way comes from everything Jesus said and did.  As we sort through that we can find what it is to be at home with him.  Not only the Sermon on the Mount, but all the parables must be taken into consideration.  Sometimes his way is a little too narrow for our post-modern ears.  Sometimes his way is too deeply convicting to our personal lifestyle.  Usually his way puts us in the margins of life at best. At the core our bent is to shape the gospel of Jesus to fit our self-directed sensibilities.  We don’t like to live under the authority of Someone outside ourselves.  But, the risks are too high to do otherwise than surrender to the Way, the Truth, the Life.  May you walk this week in the light as He is in the Light!
 

Week of April 17, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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It is too easy for us to live “out of sight, out of mind”.  However, the truth of God and His kingdom continues as vividly in the invisible realms as it is when we acknowledge and celebrate it.  We have just celebrated the great “Passover” day of Easter and it is easy to move on from, yet it remains as stalwart as it did on Sunday.  The point of the “Day” was that final victory and Freedom were achieved and now we walk in the shadow of that great truth.How then are we going to live in “on-going freedom?”  What limits our freedom?  Does not our false narratives and our self-referenced lives grab the headlines in our daily lives.  Easter remains the true truth and we are now invited to live into it day by day.The gift of Easter was to set our lives on a completely different track.  This is the time now to live out what you “know” to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Jesus is on his way, so don’t waste a day.
 

Week of April 10, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017
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 This is the “high” season in the Church’s year.  For our purpose “high” describes what is most important.  Our culture embraces Christmas because the Incarnate One lying in a manger is no threat, but Maundy Thursday (humility), Good Friday (sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins), and Easter (resurrection from the dead) are harder to embrace.  They require moving from the self-referenced life to a Christ-referenced life if even for a week, it is not business as usual.  Slowing down in order to hold the days in the hands of our hearts one by one this week is our great privilege.  Easter is minimized by furry bunnies, baby chicks, and little girls’ dresses because we find facing the realities of sin in the face of a holy God almost too much to take in.  In a world in which we want to think the best about ourselves, we are unprepared for the truth.  Yet, in Jesus’ own words his is the Way, the Truth, the Life.  Following Jesus through the week ahead illumines the Way to Life.  This is a time to step up to the reality of the Cross and the revolution it began.  If we are willing to step up, we step up to the calling to become men and women of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
 

Week of April 3, 2017

Monday, April 03, 2017
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 Trevor Hudson shared an insightful perspective in his book, The Holy Spirit, Here and Now.  I don’t remember the page, so you will have to look it up.  The point was profoundly simple.  In God’s ways with us, we prepare ourselves “off point” to be ready to act “on point.”  Over the last few months I have been working with the word “rhythm” and I have found that preparation is the key to keeping rhythm.  As we enter into Holy Week next weekend, it behooves us to prepare “off point” in order to maximize our participation with Jesus’ walk to the cross.                In the first few centuries of the Christian church when within it there was a genuine shared culture that was recognized as not the prevailing culture surrounding them, the seasons of the church including Lent and then Holy Week, they were distinguishing movements reserved for those who were true believers.  The cost of discipleship was sufficient to keep the practices from mediocrity.            May I encourage you to take these two seasons seriously and prepare yourself to walk through the biblical history of these next two weeks.  In John’s Gospel, the last six days of Jesus’ pre-resurrection earthly life is encapsulated in John’s gospel, chapters 12-20.  You would do well to immerse yourself in the familiar story.  Maybe God has something unexpected in it for you, or maybe you can just prepare yourself to enter Holy Week to be “on point.”
 

Week of March 27, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017
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 Part of the rhythm of Lent is a devotion to prayer, but the Lenten prayer is a little different that we usually think of when we come to prayer.  The prayer of Lent is simple and sometimes simple is most powerful.  It is to ask God to show us what he wants us to see in ourselves.  No wonder there is the spirit of solemnity in this season.  It is serious work to see ourselves the way we are.  This prayer is not only a prayer of “seeing,” but also an invitation to Jesus to bring about the changes in us that bring him glory.      The cross’ basic message is the forgiveness of sins, so when we enter the season of the cross, we are inviting God to bring us out of the exile that sin creates in us.  As sins are forgiven there is a deeper sense of life that is now available to us.  We have often confused the abundance that Jesus spoke of (Jn. 10:10) with a trial-less life, but as we join Jesus, it is anything but that.  How else would God transform our character except through trial?    As you enter into this week, I invite you to take the risk of asking the Spirit to show you, yourself.  As he/she does that make this a week that you surrender to God’s Perfect Love, so you can find the abundance of soul that Jesus has come to give us. 
 

Week of March 20, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
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 Another expression of the Lenten journey is the practice of “alms-giving.”  This is not a common practice in our common culture, but is a part of religious life in many of the world’s other religions.  Why should it be a natural part of following Jesus too?  In the Way that Jesus set before us is the way of sacrifice, which is a giving of ourselves.  What “self” do we hold onto most forcefully?  It is the “self” of time and treasure.        For the sake of honest discipleship this time would be a time when we pay attention to the needs of the immediate world around us.  Alms-giving is simply getting past the grip we have on ourselves.  “Looking out for the interest of others above our own” seems to be primary in our path.  Every day of our lives we have the opportunity to bless another with the means we have been given.            This Lenten practice should ignite a way of life that will bring us the abundance that Jesus spoke of in John’s Gospel, 10:10.  How we have gotten to the place where giving produces absence instead of abundance is a spiritual mystery.  Maybe it is another reality distortion of the Great Deceiver. 
 

Week of March 13, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017
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The Spirit of Christ that led to the cross was motivated by blessing.  In former generations blessing was seen as that which sets a person apart for the continual expressed goodness of God.  There is both a vision and a destiny in blessing.In some mysterious way blessing carries the power of life in its words, whether casual or formal.  We have been called out by God from among humanity to be the bearers of blessing.  We are given the vocational covenant to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  We are meant to walk into this world every day as the bearers of blessing.The focus of blessing is on who God is.  The world around us does not know who he is.  To the extent that we choose not to carry the blessing us, God remains hidden and unknown.  God has done the work in creation to reveal his existence, but his nature in the human story comes through our mouths, hand and feet.Therefore, if we pay attention to the encounters we have with our fellow men, wh have every opportunity to lift the heart of the other. 
 

Week of February 27, 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017
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Forgiveness is the rebar of the concrete pillars of our spiritual life.  For some reason known to God, forgiveness is the essential practice if we are to walk in the freedom that Jesus came to give us (Gal. 5:1).  Without the atmosphere of forgiveness, we will choke on our own “air.”  Repeatedly, forgiveness is essential in the equation of life in the Spirit.In his Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus makes the point that to not show mercy and to not forgive the offense of the “other” is pure wickedness.  That may not fit in our box of mature spirituality, so Jesus is saying to us the problem is with our “boxes.”  When you reflect on your definition or description of wickedness, rarely do we see life as Jesus does, and that is what continues to make his Way so radical.When we pray as he taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…,” we are invoking the Way that is designed to be a lasting Way.  The kingdom is characterized with mercy and forgiveness.  The challenge we have before us is to practice the kingdom every day in showing mercy and forgiveness.  It is relevant activity for every day. 
 

Week of February 20, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017
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Persistent is a missing virtue in our modern world, especially in the realm of spirituality.  Jesus made it a priority for all who would call themselves disciples of his.  In his parable to the company of the committed he tells the story of a widow and an unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) he tells the story to teach his apprentices that they “ought not lose heart.”A familiar statement by C. S. Lewis describes modern disciples all too well when he says, “The think the Lord finds our desires are not too great, but far too weak.”  Are we hungry enough to storm the Lord of Glory with persistence?  Doesn’t it seem to you that we have settled for a rather anemic spirit a heart too easily satisfied?  Jesus seems to think so.In the end it is an issue of faith, laying oneself “out on the line.”  That persistence is what Jesus called faith and in this story whether when he returns will he find faith on earth.  As we approach the season of Lent, would you be willing to lay a kingdom of heaven need before Him for the next 50 or so days? 
 
 

Week of February 13, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017
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 Our journey is a constant process of values clarification, moving from the values we may have been trained in to “get along in life” to the values that are rooted in the kingdom of heaven which are given through the transaction of Jesus’ Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).  Jesus’ call on our lives involves living out the values of the kingdom (light) in the context of the values of our world (darkness).  Maturity, among many things spiritually, is the matter of values.   Jesus portrays the values through his parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.  When we truly understand the value of living in and possessing the kingdom of heaven, we will do anything to enter into it.  All other value is set aside for that which has an eternal weight to it.            This is a perfect time in culture (in a unique time of social and ethical chaos) to “march to a different Drummer’, to “walk in the Light as He is in the Light” and to bring peace in the midst of anger, resentment and division.  May Jesus shine among us!
 

Week of February 6, 2017

Monday, February 06, 2017
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 One of the down sides of our culture is that we are blind to the dark side of success as we term success in our culture.  The dark side is that we are unaware of the horrible ethic that causes us to use whatever we are faced with to satisfy the emptiness that drives the human ego.  Jesus offers us an alternative when he tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed.  The smallest of seeds (known to his audience) when planted in the soil of God’s kingdom grows up to become a large beautiful garden tree.  The movement from small to large is the spirit of the kingdom.  The mustard seed has within it all the characteristics that provide the garden tree.           It’s the content of the seed that contains its true beauty.  That is the way it is in God’s kingdom.  We each have the ability to “plant seeds” every day and thus fill the garden of God’s kingdom with his glory.  So, be a mustard seed planter with every one that God puts before you!
 

week of January 30, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017
                                                                                Blog for Week of January 30th 
 
Most of the negative history of the church lies in our rejection of Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.  When the leadership of the church (the popes) decided that they needed to “pull out the weeds” before the harvest, they often pulled up wheat along with the weeds.  Sometimes it is a matter of misplaced authority.  Doing God a favor by doing his work for him usually leads to horrible outcomes.  We usually error when we take on the role of judgment.Can we trust God to do his work in his time?  That may be our problem, if we think God doesn’t act fast enough our actions are off-target.  The further we go with God, the more we have to get in step with him and understand chronosis not Kairos.  The clock is not how we tell time in the kingdom of heaven.It is a sobering reality that when the fullness of time comes and harvest is upon us, there will be no turning back.  It would appear that giving ourselves to being wheat and growing as fruitfully as we can is enough.  We don’t have the role of harvesting anyway.  Keeping the weeds down is God’s realm anyway. 
 

Week of January 23, 2016

Monday, January 23, 2017
                                                                             Blog for Week of January 23rd 
 
Someone said that “politics are downstream from society.”  Whatever condition we are in is a reflection of us, the people.  It seems to me that if ever the circumstance makes clear to us that we are strangers and aliens in a foreign land.  Our mandate is to be ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven.  Some think that government is the key into the ways of the kingdom, but the truth is the kingdom of heaven has to take root in our souls so that whatever the direction the government takes, God is still the only source for transformation. 
Whichever “side of the aisle” you find yourself on, the Voice is not necessarily resident on either side.  That is what it means to be strangers and aliens in a foreign land.  It seems that when we take our definition of things from any other source than the Word of the Eternal One, we are likely operating in a shadow world.  Our first task is to grow in the way of the Holy One.  Everything else is secondary to that vocation. 
Gordon Smith, practical theologian, describes this as “vocational holiness.”  If we live any differently, we succumb to the temporal pursuit of power and are divested of our identity.  We certainly can participate in social interests, but our way is to be set apart from the common clutching for power.  Jesus Way was a continual  emptying rather than a continual grasping.
 

Week of January 16, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017
                                                                                Blog for Week of January 16th 
 
All change in the world around us begins with change within us.  The world we live in is chafing as it struggles with the need for change and yet experiences great frustration with its inability to bring about change in the soul of humanity which is the reason that people do what they do to one another.  The world’s best attempt is to create a “political correctness” which is thought to create enough social pressure to control the actions of people.  However, an “outside/in” dynamic seems only to suppress the reality. 
Jesus gave us a parable that describes the reality and the need for internal transformation in the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13 beginning with verse 1.  The issue is the condition of the human heart in relationship to the message of the kingdom of heaven found in the Bible.  Until we come to grips with the authority of the gospel and the transformation of the human heart being the work of God, the dynamic of our human experience will only be disappointing.  Without the work of God in our hearts, no real change will be forthcoming.  The altruism of human effort will eventually fail because the soul has not been changed. 
Come and join the movements of God for the sake of true change. 
 

Week of January 9, 2017

Monday, January 09, 2017
                                                                           Blog for Week of January 9th 
 
As the New Year opens up before us we can approach the season in a variety of ways.  The common culture tells us this is a time to make changes in the form of resolutions, which we have all attempted but rarely with raving success.  I think it makes more sense to turn to the uncommon culture of the scriptures, for these words carry the weight of eternity.No matter the conditions in which we live there is great wisdom for those who apprentice with Jesus.  The words utter to the Church gathered in Ephesus is particularly poignant in the season in which we live, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  All days since the Garden have not been what they were to be, but we have a role to play as those who apprentice with Jesus.The message is clear: Redeem the time; Invest in the good; Be a contributor rather than a consumer!  
 

Week of December 11, 2016

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
                                                                                Blog for Week of December 11 
 
Someone described Joy as peace dancing.  I’m not sure joy is as much a part of common life as happiness is.  In some ways most who pursue happiness will ultimately be disappointed because happiness seems to be more circumstantial.  It is usually rather easy to engage ordinary people regarding happiness, but joy – that’s another story.Gratitude is the root of joy and those who regularly focus on being grateful are usually filled with joy and joy transcends changeable circumstances, therefore, happiness pales in light of joy.  You have probably heard someone theologically make the point that happiness does not grammatically appear in the Scriptures.  I suspect for good reason.For God’s children the way before us is not transitory, but established.  The calling we are presented with is one of eternal substance and when we step into everyday life we can see the desperation all around us; this season is no exception and maybe even more dramatic.  People in our culture always bring a “story” with them to the Christmas holiday; some positive and some negative, but usually with extreme expectations.  Joy, however, is rooted in the One who does not change.  Consider joy for all its worth!  
 

Week of December 4, 2016

Thursday, December 08, 2016
                                                                                               Blog for Week of December 4 
 
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.”  Once again in this season there is a growing need for the Prince of Peace.  If there is one thing missing in the stream of life most everywhere it is peace.  The peace of Christ is no weak thing.  In some of our liturgies in the church we regularly “pass the peace” and as ritual as that may be it is profound in its absence among humankind. We would do God well if we took his Word seriously and became true peacemakers.  Frankly, those in our world who truly take responsibility to bring peace into each circumstance of life are usually escorted to the margins.  After all who takes them seriously?  In a world of “getting things done” peacemaking seems to be antithetical to the atmosphere of this world. Peacemaking requires that we are present to understand the other.  We live in such a clouded world that we rarely slow down enough to truly listen, so that we might genuinely understand.  The “peace of the world” is satisfied with the cessation of open conflict, but Jesus offers us so much more, a true shalom that is first of all rooted in Him and then receptive to the “other” who is made in God’s image.  

Week of November 27, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016
                                                                                     Blog for Week of November 27 
 
As Common as the word “hope” is in our vocabulary, its biblical reality is rare.  Most are still embedded with “wishful thinking” when they use the term.  Jesus offers us so much more in “hope.”  The scriptures refer to him as our living hope.  When hope is incarnated in Jesus it elevates our souls.The transactions justification and reconciliation set the stage for living breathing hope.  Hope is something we live out in the midst of encroaching darkness.  Hope keeps its eyes fixed on the Light, therefore, the world remains desperate for the hope that transforms.With Advent we enter a hopeful season as we “wait for Christ once again,” but the prerequisite for hope is making fresh space to receive it.  The challenge is always to resist the distraction of the holiday current and paddle for calmer waters.  Hope can be found afresh, but only in the reservoir of Christ.
 

Week of November 20

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
                                                                                    Blog for Week of November 20 
 
In the wisdom of those who have gone before us a national Day of Thanksgiving is before us.  In the midst of the Civil War in the year of 1863, President Lincoln declared a National Day of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.  If there was a great need to set aside a day for thanksgiving, given those circumstances, how much more so today.Having lost sight of who we are, all creatures of our God and King, we are in dire need of pausing to reflect on the goodness of God.  As was the case in 1863 we, the people, are the agents of conflict.  It behooves us to work for a better way to love, hope, and treat one another with mercy and kindness.  When God chose you, he chose you to be a means of restoration.  “Blessed are the peacemakers.”It is easy to get confused as to what is real and what is temporal.  We have been placed in a temporal world to shine the Light of the Real.  Rather than letting our distracted by the ebbs and flows of the temporal world, many we find a Solid Center from which we can be the solution to the rampant anger and gloating world that surrounds us.  May we make space this week for genuine reflection on the grace and goodness of God.
 

Week of November 13, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016
Blog for Week of November 13 We have had a particularly tumultuous week just past. The unanticipated became real. We see people around us full of fear which makes this a fruitful time to listen, come alongside, and love as Jesus taught us to love. Often it is only in times of desperation that the natural defenses no longer protect our lives. These are the times when the worst in us comes out or the best of us surfaces. This is a pressurized time and as an old friend used to say, ?When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice.? In times like these who we really are is what is revealed. As we look around we see lots of ugliness, but again, that is who we are?as a people we are ugly. I think de Tocqueville said it best, ?America is great because America is good, but if she is no longer good, she will no longer be great.? I suspect that we have not been good for quite some time. We certainly have not been a true Christian nation for generations at best. The next time you hear someone say we are good as a nation, understand that is far short of what God would say. This is a time of great opportunity! The opportunity is to walk in Jesus? Way as apprentices of his with no higher authority and no different measure. We do not need laws or leaders or legislatures to show us the Way. We have been and always will be people of a different kingdom and a different way of life. We have all we need in the Godhead of the Trinity and the Revelation of the scriptures to show us ?how we shall then live.? Let me leave you with a summary scripture from Micah?s prophecy, ?He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But, to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.?

Week of November 6, 2016

Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Blog for Week of November 1 Humility is the lost virtue not only in the common culture, but regretfully in the church as well and I truly lament that reality. A number of years ago I asked a friend who was a competent theologian what Jesus? prominent characteristic was, to which he responded rather directly, humility. The concordance in your Bible is full of humility and its adjacent terms. The proverb makes clear the priority, ?with humility comes wisdom.? Our world seems to dominate the church in terms of prevalent virtues. It would seem that pride and arrogance is revered above the Way of Jesus. We are so given to being honored, noticed, and perceived to be successful that we have lost our Way. I see this more often in the way of young leaders in the church than the congregations as a whole, but when we accept it in leadership, it must trickle down into the whole. Some years ago I remember a wise conference leader making the statement that, ?We will not successfully deal with consumerism in the church until we deal with pastoral ambition.? It would seem that we lose our identity when we choose any other Way than Jesus (Phil. 2:5ff), ?In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, ?.? We have the responsibility as apprentices of Jesus to call our leaders back to the scriptures to discern the Jesus Way, Truth, and Life.

Week of October 24, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Blog for Week of 24 October
 
 Someone once said, “God is writing his story in our lives to tell the world what he is like.”  So, what is the story that is forming in you that the world needs to hear?  Usually it is most common to modern man to think that the point to life is one’s own happiness and then we die.  Oh, but there is so much more to life than that.  In fact, that has so little to do with the gift of life that we have been given.  One of my favorite scriptures is found in the latter part of Isaiah’s prophecy, 43:7 which reads, “… you have been created for my glory.”  We bring this glory by the kind of person we become and the way that we live the life we have been given.  Does my life become an avenue or an obstacle to God?  Would anyone want the life that I live if they are looking for love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, self-control?            Is there much clarity that others could gain by observing me?  Am I living in such a way that others could get a clear picture of what God is like.  Maybe at issue is our own narrative of what God is like.  Do we carry the story in all its dimensions and color?  Sometimes our accountability to our calling needs to be refreshed.
 

Week of October 17, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Blog for Week of 17 October 
 
Eternal encouragement!  Eternal encouragement is that which gives us life in our souls; the level at which meaningful life is generated.  God provides this encouragement directly or through his servants.  We can provide that for one another when our sensibilities focus on the eternal.Eternal encouragement can secure us in the midst of troubling circumstances.  Eternal encouragement provides the substance of perspective.  Perspective, the, transcends temporal distractions.  Remembering what we know to be true can elevate us to a strengthening of our souls.Without eternal encouragement we are likely to lose our focus and become subject to the distractions of the immediate.  When Paul speaks of that help to the Thessalonian Church in his second letter to them, he knows the experience of eternal encouragement and how it had gotten him through great difficulties and had strengthened him in his soul (2 Thess. 3:1-5).
 
 

Week of October 4, 2016

Saturday, October 01, 2016
Blog for Week of 4 October 
 
One of the New Testament’s common themes is “stand or stand firm.”  The days in which Jesus and his first century followers lived were difficult days.  The gospel of the kingdom that Jesus brought was radical for both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.  Given the hostile world these fledgling followers apprenticed their new found faith, “standing firm” was the encouragement that would gave them the strength they would need.For many of us, we have been lulled into thinking that our world is so different.  I wonder if the difference is found in the lack of radicalness in our apprentice, so much so that we have become Jesus admirers rather than genuine disciples.  The issues and circumstances in our dominant society are such that “standing firm” is the encouragement we need to remind us of our calling.Standing firm is knowing who we are and who we are not.  It is the matter of knowing what we are called to and what we are not.  Standing firm separates the sheep from the goats.  Just like the first century of the church, this is a time to stand. 
 

Week of September 25, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016
Blog for Week of 25 September 
 
The experiences and events of life tend to grab our attention.  It is a common narrative for most of us to think that what happens naturally controls our responses to them, but is that really true.  Isn’t that what separates one person from another?  What is it that takes our focus and how do we interpret those experiences?Recently, during the recovery from surgery the natural part of recovery is pain, but what do I make of my experience.  Do I let my pain control my full attention or is there a perspective that helps me transcend what I feel?  It seems that the first step was to accept the pain and not fight against it, but understand its role and not give it more of a place than it deserves.Open ourselves to what is around us is a second step.  The world around us is just as alive whether we feel pain or we don’t.  The opportunities for grace is just is as vital as any other day no matter what one is feeling.  We learn so much from Jesus in his perspective.  Perspective allows us to be grateful as we take in what is beyond ourselves.  And if we choose that, it improves our experience immeasurably. 
 
 

Week of September 4, 2016

Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Blog for Week of 4 September 
 
The seasons in each year are often prototypes for the seasons in our lives and nature of those natural seasons speak volumes to us in the spiritual journey.  The winters of life can be those of particular austerity of spirit.  It is in those times of “emptiness” that the deepening of the seasons of growth take place.  The deepening is often out of sight because of the sacrifice or loss observed on the “surface.”  When the scaffolding of life is removed through pain, disease, or loss what is in the interior of life is ignited.Autumn is a great season to store up the resources that are needed for winter.  Naturally it is a season of harvesting from the dynamics of spring and summer and ironically it is a time to sow “seed” for the growth of spring and summer.  Autumn is a great season to take in the Word of God into the deep recesses of our lives.  The life of the scriptures serves us well in both winter and spring, both when life is deepening and when it is budding.For many autumn is a favorite season because of its colorful beauty and the moderation of climate.  These are ideal conditions for the work of autumn.  In nature it is a busy season of gathering, but in the life of the Spirit the gathering is full length glory.  What a glory in reflecting on the faithfulness of God!  What glory is gathering the life of the Spirit residual in the scriptures!  What glory in serving others in the name of Christ!  May your season be full and overflowing of the goodness of God. 
 
 

week of August 28, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
                                                                                   Blog for Week of 28 August
 
 The ways of God and the ways of the spiritual journey are often see and experienced as paradoxes.  On the one hand we have the Apostle Paul saying, “I press on toward the mark of the high calling of Jesus….”  On the other hand, we are faced with God’s Word to us, “… Be still and know that I am God…”  How is it that we press on by being still?        The great spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen wrote, “it is not possible to have a fruitful spiritual life without silence and solitude.”  It is particularly difficult in our common culture because we tend to measure a person’s worth by activities and accomplishments.  The busier we are, the more important or valuable we think a person is.  Once again in the scriptures we find the human argument, “Lord, Lord, look what we did in your name.”  And Jesus’ response is particularly poignant, “Depart from me for I never knew you!”  How very confusing to our modern minds!       The pursuit of God is a matter of “empty space.”  How much empty space do I create for Him to fill and Him only?  The difficult way is the way of laying aside our personal agendas for the “emptiness” of God’s agenda.  It requires great trust, not just for what God’s agenda is, but also to simply trust that He is there in any meaningful way.  May we learn the way of transformation that comes out of unadulterated solitude.
 

Week of August 21, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016
 
 

Blog for Week of 21 August 

 

I was at an event recently in which the theme of “being oneself” seemed to be the underlying mantra.  It is in fact, a very common mantra in our day.  In a sense it is a rather pedestrian expression except that of late it has taken on a rather militant odor.  The common quest has moved from a genuine, beautiful sense of our humanity to the attitude that it is a “fight” to be oneself, as though everything around us mitigates against it. 

A number of years ago it was dynamically brought to my attention that one of the main tasks in my human journey was to “be myself in truth.”  The battle, if there was one, was with myself, with the narratives that I had adopted through the years that were not based on the truth Jesus live, nor the truth of God’s word.  If you will, the battle was not with the outside world and others, but within myself and my own distortions. 

Making the normal spiritual task that is involved in being an apprentice of Jesus an outside affair instead of an inside job is part of what makes our world as hostile as it has become.  No real change takes place until we own the responsibility to face ourselves in truth and seek real change within ourselves..

 

 

Week of July 25, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Pinebrooke Postings 
 
A number of years ago a group of 95+ year olds were interviewed and asked, “If you had life to live over, what would you do differently?”  The responses were gathered and summarized and the following is the summation of this wise and experienced group:  1) I would reflect more; 2) I would risk more; 3) I would invest more in that which lasts beyond my lifetime.  I believe that is as contemporary as when it was originally gathered.  Perspective is everything!As you consider how you are choosing to live life is that a word for you; reflect, risk, and invest.  I think this is what it looks like to live with no regrets.  If you have today, you have the time to reorient your life toward that which truly matters.  The wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes is for today.  There is a “time for everything” what we do between each “time” is what makes the difference.  Life is like the “dot-to-dot” drawings.  The lines between the dots is what unveils the substance.  The substance of our lives lies in the accumulation of the “dailyness” of ordinary life.Jesus was the example of one who carried a clear vision in his soul.  Made the commitment to follow His Father and then lived out the promptings of every day. 
 

Week of July 18, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Play this file. Play

 

Week of July 3, 2016

Tuesday, July 05, 2016
Pinebrooke Postings 
 
A number of years ago a group of 95+ year olds were interviewed and asked, “If you had life to live over, what would you do differently?”  The responses were gathered and summarized and the following is the summation of this wise and experienced group:  1) I would reflect more; 2) I would risk more; 3) I would invest more in that which lasts beyond my lifetime.  I believe that is as contemporary as when it was originally gathered.  Perspective is everything!As you consider how you are choosing to live life is that a word for you; reflect, risk, and invest.  I think this is what it looks like to live with no regrets.  If you have today, you have the time to reorient your life toward that which truly matters.  The wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes is for today.  There is a “time for everything” what we do between each “time” is what makes the difference.  Life is like the “dot-to-dot” drawings.  The lines between the dots is what unveils the substance.  The substance of our lives lies in the accumulation of the “dailyness” of ordinary life.Jesus was the example of one who carried a clear vision in his soul.  Made the commitment to follow His Father and then lived out the promptings of every day. 
 

Week of June 26, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Pinebrooke Postings 
 
Soul-strength is one of the great missing dimensions of life in the 21st century.  The inside/out realities that surround us show the anemia and fragility of the soul of our culture.  We seem to be unprepared for harsh realities, while civilizations in the past centuries seem to have a strong capacity to deal with whatever came.I’m not much of a prophet, but it would seem that if we are to embrace our calling to be “salt and light” in the darkness of our world, we are going to need to discover a strength of soul that has become uncommon.  In the words of Tony Dungy speaking of life lived to the glory of God, we are offered the Uncommon opportunity.Normal life provides continual opportunities if we have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.”  What will we do?  Dallas Willard often made the point that what we actually believe is what we do.  If we “believe” something, but we don’t live it out, then we don’t really believe it.  Are we going to step into the brokenness of our world with soul strength, or are we simply going to be a passenger? 
 

Week of June 19, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Pinebrooke Postings 
 
“We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”  (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel).  In the midst of a chaotic world our “in Christ life” is perfectly situated to be a contrasting force of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Christ’s work in us is not only redemptive, but passionate.  We are gifted to raise the standard from social tolerance to agape love.The gospel of Christ was one of faith, hope, and love given to lift the life of humankind to a place beyond our human ability to create.  This passion is totally other that rises out of the transformed inner man.  The concrete expression of this transformation is found in our engagement as “restorers of the Kingdom of heavenon earth.Though we set aside the beginning of the year to take stock, this is a perfect time to consider our place in God’s kingdom.  Based on some recent reading let me challenge you to: reflectmore, riskmore, and invest more in that which continue on after you die.  Rather than criticize and complain may we be those who live meaningfully with passion.
 

Week of May 23, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016
Pinebrooke Post Blog 
 
As much as we talk of and try to define the love of God we are simply silly when we think we have a handle on it.  It had to come to the Apostle in a vision to even relay any sense of it.  He used the word comprehend when he pleaded with his fellow travelers (Eph. 3:18-21).  All he could offer them was dimensions and the rest was left up to mystery.  The extent of God’s love reminds me of the story of the younger fish asking the older fish how to describe the sea.The great deception that is rampant in our human experience is that we think we can escape the love of God or that we can find a space where the love of God cannot reach us.  Consider the moments of darkness in your life and yet the love of God can find you there (Isa. 45:3).  Basking in the lap of God’s love is a disarming reality; a place that invites us to lay down our “props” and live life in all its realities.  May you drink deeply this week of God’s pervasive love.