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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

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Week of March 30, 2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

                We are entering the fifth week of Lent and it is a transition week.  Jesus is closing in on Jerusalem and the week of solemnity leading up to the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday.  In this week of contemporary time there is a reason for sobriety and sobriety is not panic.  Just as Jesus knew what was ahead of him and yet stayed focused on giving his life away in all its dimensions, so we learn how to live from him.

            The O.T. theme this week is taken from Ezekiel 37 and his vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.  The point was that that which was dead was going to be made alive.  You might want to reread that portion of scripture this week.  The spirit of the vision was seeing the redemption, regeneration, and restoration that lies in the hand of God.

            During this time of fear or suffering, I encourage you to look to God and the power of redemption that lies in him.  Redemption is simply the capacity to “buy back” that which was lost.  To the extent that you have given up peace to fear, or love to self-centeredness, or trust to doubt, this might become your own Valley of Dry Bones.

Week of March 23, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

                The season of Lent is always a challenge for us.  Usually because of the distraction of ordinary life, but in God’s sovereignty this year Lent and ordinary life fit like a glove in our experience.  I connected the Lenten practices last week with what is needed in our present circumstance with the coronavirus.

            We are being asked to fast from the busyness of life and hunker down at home.  I think the richness of this circumstance is to move through the day in a more hurried way, in our conversations and any other domestic experiences.  Making space for quiet, reflection, and listening has always meant to be the path to true wholeness and holiness (Psa. 46:10, read the whole verse).  Prayer has been given to us as the richest expression of our Divine/human connection.  This is a season for helping others carry the weight of life through our devotion to others.

            Our culture continues to value the ethic of alms-giving or sharing resources with those in need.  I pray that this week will find you, setting aside fear through prayer and opening yourself for availability to living out the “kingdom of heaven on earth” for those around you.

Week of March 16, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

I find it ironic that during our Lenten season we would be faced with a circumstance that sets us up for the spirit and activities that fit with the practices characteristic of this season of the church year: fasting, prayer, and alms-giving. We are being asked to fast from social settings; probably a fast that no one planned on. Clearly, this is a time to come before the Father in prayer for ones’ self, for our “neighbor”, and for national repentance of sin and the seeking of the Righteous One. This is the perfect situation that encourages followers of Jesus to stand in the “gap” for others.

It seems to me that this is the time in which we separate ourselves from the panic, fear, hopelessness, and greed that is presently rampant. These are the times when the “cream rises to the top.” The world should be able to look to the church for the faith, hope, and love that it is so desperate for in these days. In light of Lent we ought to see the implications of the cross quite clearly. Obviously, there are imprints from the cross that shape our lives; take time to give unhurried thought to them.

I’ve been a devotee of Henri Nouwen’s little book, The Way of the Heart. Maybe this is an ideal time to reflect on the three activities that he summarized: solitude, silence, and prayer. Believe it or not, this is a strengthening pilgrimage. 

Week of March 9, 2020

Monday, March 09, 2020
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

When we join Jesus and during this season have the cross in view, the notion of fasting makes a lot of sense. In the past when life was more about subsistence food was an absolute necessity for survival and the discipline of fasting was a great sacrifice. Felt sacrifice puts us in touch with the heart of Jesus as he headed toward the cross.

Since most of us in the Western world could benefit a great deal of setting aside a few meals, it hardly captures the sense of fasting that carried a great meaning in former times. On the other hand, we can struggle to set aside the conveniences that often govern our lives. There are parts of life that distract us from our attention on God’s coming kingdom.

It is in those conveniences that a path to sacrifice is set. The cross of Christ is meant to draw us forward in the ways of the kingdom of God. It behooves us to attend to the movements of the Spirit and let God show us what it is that would benefit us to set aside during this season.

Week of March 2, 2020

Tuesday, March 03, 2020
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

This season in which we turn our focus on the Cross of Christ is a true blessing to our souls. The blessing lies in knowing that there is a Reality that is invisible to the naked eye as well as the background noise we call, “the media.” Aren’t you grateful that what you hear every day from the various pundits is entirely secondary to what truly matters?

Lent captures kingdom of God practices that are often out of sight to the naked eye. As we re-emphasize fasting from that which distracts our hearts from the One who loves us most, prayer that engages our heart of hearts, and alms giving that opens our hearts to the needs that present themselves every day; we are blessed with the Life that gives us life to the fullest.

The truth is we have to fast and pray and give openly just to not lose the joy and freedom that the cross of Christ secured for us. So, in a way we have to be willing to fight the good fight of faith, or we will suffer in our souls needlessly. These days have been given to us as a weapon to push against all that would suck the very Life out of us.

Week of February 24, 2020

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

Winter is a season in nature as well as in our spiritual journey. It makes sense that Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season would begin in creation’s winter season. We are about to embark on the season of prayer, fasting, and giving. I think those practices were chosen because they put us in close proximity to Jesus and his turning toward the Cross.

Naturally we don’t like this kind of journey puts on our contemporary desire for beauty and goodness, but there is the truth still of Jesus walk to the Cross because of his great love for us. Sad and sorrowful on the one hand, but the path to eternal hope and joy for all of us who would believe and follow.

Personally, I am always in need to reflect on what needs to be set aside even for a season to help me set a sharper edge for the plowing the soil of my life. The practices of preparation during this season leads to a greater fruitfulness in the ultimate “resurrection life.”

Week of December 23, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

                As often as our song writers write about it, it is probably one of the least practiced characteristics in our world today – love.  Love is one of the main messages of the Incarnation of Jesus.  It was because of love that we celebrate this event some 2000+ years later.  I suspect that what is missing in our world is that we hardly understand the story.

            Generosity, family connecting, and joyfulness are all resident in the love of God.  The truth is we live such unconnected lives that we think that these attitudes and activities are separate phenomenon.  I wonderful if that is why those things don’t carry on beyond the Season of Christmas.

            Everything about the Incarnation event is meant to set apart life as a way of life itself.  I suspect everything that is good is resident in the love of God on that manger Night.  All that gives life to us is there.  We need to meditate on it this week to enhance the meaning of Christmas for each of us.

Week of December 9, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

In the harsh reality of our world it seems like Isaiah was simply being an irrational poet when he wrote, Prince of Peace as he described the One who was to come. I wonder how the Israelites thought about the prophecy? I would imagine that if this was to describe the Messiah who was to come, it most likely was understood as a way out of Roman occupation.

Too much of the time we shape and form our worldview around the external world, when Jesus himself was the one who said, “the kingdom of God is within you.” The resistance has always been there that “the circumstances of life is what needs changing” rather than “I” am the one who needs changing.

As we engage peace in this second week of Advent, the challenge before us is that Jesus offers his peace as our personal antidote to our lack of peace. Peace and being a person of peace takes root in our souls and then is able to be worked out into everyday life. The hard part of the Jesus Way is that every problem in the “outside” world always begins within me.

Week of December 2, 2019

Monday, December 02, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

The Season of Light that we call Advent/Christmas begins with Hope. Hope is confidence in the unseen and the future. Frankly, there is an absence of hope in our world because we have placed our hope in the goodness of people. Hope now is about the thing I am hoping for i.e. a new job, a life-partner, better circumstances, to win the lottery. There is no Living Substance to hope for most.

For those who have made space to organize the affairs of their life around that which is lasting have a Great Hope. This season we begin with the Hope that will one day return to gather up those who belong to Him. In this Hope there is certainty in the future, sooner or later.

I am reminded of a song from the past, “I Wished We’d All Been Ready.” I don’t really know exactly how Hope arrives, but that is also why this Season is known as Advent or “arrival.” We look for the Arrival every day, but we also participate in the arrival as we become “servants of the Arrival” paving the way for many more to see the Light.

Week of November 18, 2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

What experience have you had with the voice of Jesus in your daily life? I must admit that I use to think that discernment was simply for making decisions. However, I’ve come to see that discernment is meant to be a daily part of kingdom of God living. John’s quote of Jesus in John 17:4 has become a beacon to me, “… Father, glorify me, because I have done what you showed me to do….”

As disciples of Jesus shouldn’t we be aware that there is always an agenda that is invisible to use except as God reveals it to us? I always have a plan for every day, but I want to always hold it with an “open hand” so that I can be responsive to the direction that God gives to me. The fact is there is much that we can be involved in that simply does not matter. That is not how I want to live!

Choosing the path of responsiveness is not normal for us. It seems that in our flesh we have taken to trying to control or dictate life to fit our perception of comfort and convenience. I don’t know about you, but I want to live as meaningfully as I can, so I don’t want to waste life on that which does not matter. Fruitfulness is God’s destiny for us, not productivity! I know that is a hard one for us in a world that is dictated by power, sex, and money

Week of October 28, 2019

Tuesday, November 05, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

“Hunger is an essential for true spiritual growth.” Have we gotten so over-stimulated that we no longer have a sense of our soul’s hunger? I wonder if we have lost our sense of soul so that we cannot recognize anything that does not simply “slap us in the face?” I wonder if we have become so spiritually lethargic that we can no longer hear the “still small voice?”

We are quick to lament both the circumstances in our lives as well as the general direction of “things.” But, in fact, we are still here, and we are the players in our own “play.” It is easy to think the problems and the solutions are all “out there.” We, however, are participants in life, so that we are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Someone much wiser than I said, “Remember, politics is downstream from society.” I don’t think that relationship is restricted to politics. Society as a whole is downstream from each of us. It seems that if we were to live out our mandate (2Cor. 5:17-20), we might complain less and influence more.  

Week of October 14, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

              It is almost impossible for us to take our hands off “making something happen.”  I find it stirring to my soul when I consider the formation and practices of the newborn church in Acts 2.  When we consider that there was no evidence of a manmade strategy for the formation of the church, it informs us beyond our normal ability to think.                               

              It seems that we cannot get away from needing to project our own thinking into our circumstances.  I wonder if we have difficulty with discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit and rest instead on our “best thinking?”  From where I sit, it seems like the Holy Spirit knew exactly how to organize this new thing.  Humanly speaking, what people needed was the openness that comes through conviction of heart, restoration of soul, openness of mind, and willingness to act.

              Given our forefathers in the faith, is it time for us to detach from much of what we are holding onto for our comfort and convenience, and then attach to the “holy wild” of the One who brought us to the Saviour?

Week of September 30,2019

Tuesday, October 01, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

Biblical history tells us that those who are prepared for God to act are the ones that God did not have to act in spite of. They became assets or useful in the execution of God’s plan. The question before us is always is: are you prepared to be an asset or are you and obstacle. The only way we become an asset is when our hearts, souls, minds, and strength is directed toward God continually.

It is easy to approach each day on our own terms, since we can justify the legitimacy of our concerns. However, in Jesus’ own words he directs us back to the reality of living out of relationship rather than principle when he said, “Glorify me Father for I did everything that you showed me to do. The dynamic of the relationship to the point of being shown the will of God is the key.

Yes, there is much that our eyes can see that “ought to be done.” But, when Jesus also said to those who came to him in the end, “Lord, Lord, look what we did in your name, depart from me for I do not know you” it seems harsh to us unless we know that there are “first things” and “second things.” The first thing is always learning to know Him and then doing what he “shows” us to do. 

Week of September 16, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

The interesting thing about devotion is that it has always been something that God has desired and responded to in us. The main issue in devotion is in what we are devoted to. As people made in God’s image, I suspect that is part of that image – devotion. I think devotion is a precious thing and is not meant to be squandered on anything that is less than what it can be.

The word “devotion” in the scriptures are usually connected to prayer and love (Acts 1:14; Rom 12:10). The prayer is a synonym for seeking God, and love is directed toward one’s “brother” or sister. Both destinations are transformative for the one who is devoting himself. What then is the measure of my devotion? Am I engaged substantially or am I simply satisfied with mediocracy?

It is not primarily a matter of effort, though devotion is active. It is a matter of desire! Do I desire the “face of God” more than the blessings of God? Truly, that is a hard one, because we are quite aware of what we feel that we lack. However, it seems to me in David’s psalm that his encounter with the “face of God” was sufficient to remove his sense of lack. In some ways this is the story of our faith. Can we come to the place that the “face of God” is enough? 

Week of September 8, 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

Those of us who are living in the “grandparent generation” can often analyze the following generations as lacking devotion, but that is not the case. When we think of devotion, we usually think of hard work, family, country and faith. However, I’ve come to see that devotion is not missing, it is just redirected.

There is a huge devotion now in our country to personal happiness, entertainment, and play. I think that is because with the speed of life, most who are younger than I, have a sense of immediacy, that life could end at any time. That is mostly because life is dangerous. With the knowledge that “stuff happens” all the time, you are never totally safe.

It is of great value for us in our day that we would come to the realization that “Eternity is Now in Session” as John Ortberg entitled his 2018 book. We can connect now and then by how we choose to live. Eternity isn’t just a sense of time, chronos, but the purposes of God chairos. The perspective that comes “heavenly thinking” gives eternal purpose to everything we do.

Week of September 1, 2019

Tuesday, September 03, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

The qualities of God’s kingdom reach laboratory status in the life of the community. Most of us had biology or chemistry or some kind of science in our educational background. It is comfortable by and large sitting at our desk, looking at the pictures or graphs in the textbook, but somehow that was not enough, and they had to create labs for each class to make the concepts real. Our knowledge with the textbook was inferential knowledge, but our knowledge in the lab was real knowledge – experiential knowledge.

The community of faith is the laboratory for the knowledge of the kingdom of God. It is the place for us to test out what the scriptures instruct us in. We find out what it is to “love one another” when we love one another. We learn what it is to confess our sins, when we confess our sins to one another. We learn what it is to “devote yourselves to one another” when you pray for one another with one another.

Maybe the gospel would make more sense to the outsider if they could see the actions of the insiders to each other. The formation of our character takes place in community with the Trinity and with one another. I would say after following Jesus for over 60 years that the gospel is rarely seen in the laboratory; but studied intensely and continually with the Textbook. One is by inference and the other is real. 

Week of August 26, 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

In some circles of the Church, the Second Coming of Christ is a continual topic for speculation. When we look around and see things as they are it is our instinct to pray, “Get me out of here!” In certain pockets of the Faith that has often been the prayer. I’m going to venture a guess that in the places of greatest suffering, that sentiment is shaped by hope.

Ironically, waiting for that Great Day can actually be our most fruitful work. If we grasp the kingdom of God in any reasonable dimension, we can see that there is so much “good” for us to do. It seems to me that the deeper the kingdom of God has moved into our hearts, souls, and minds, the more opportunities we see to fill.

I think we have fallen asleep to think that this world has “gone to pot.” It has always been a domain of the evil one. There has always been the charge from on High to be servants of reconciliation, redemption, and restoration. Don’t be deceived to think this world is home, so we are disappointed that it isn’t heaven. It is our vocation to live out holiness in the darkness. We are the “light-bringers.” It may be time to re-examine our thinking and the falseness in it.

Week of August 19, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

Money seems to always be an issue in our lives. When asked how much money is enough, John D. Rockefeller is quoted as saying, “just a little bit more.” It is a subject that comes up rather frequently in the “God-with-us” story – the Bible. Often the “rich” are accused of being a problem among the people of God (James 5:1-6 for example), yet, most who are rich do not see themselves as rich. I wonder why that is? Is it because they, like Rockefeller think that they need just a little more to be truly rich? Maybe “richness” is another word for security and since security is a relational reality, depending on wealth is a never-ending search.

Whatever the case, most in the Western world are viewed as rich by the 2nd or 3rd worlds. I think that if we could just see that what we have as given to us by God, that is the central issue. The way that we think is critical to how we act. One thing leads to another. The struggle with riches is in the sense of possession. When we possess what we have been provided for whether our efforts are involved in the obtaining it or not, we have the spirit of the “rich.”

If we can possess what we have for the glory of God, then our possession is open to God’s discretion. In that, possession is not burdensome and “life-taking”, but freeing and life-giving for the sake of others. Our thinking about money is the fulcrum issue in dealing with money. Our spiritual transformation is the most important part of economics. 

Week of August 12, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

I find it interesting the things we consider “our rights!” It is evidence once again that we are more conscious of our national identity than we are our spiritual identity, “You are not your own, you have been bought with a price.” It is not a matter of either/or, but a matter of priority – which comes first. Do I claim more of what Jesus said or more of what the Constitution says?

I had a conversation recently with a stranger who made an astute observation. He said, the problem we face is that too many people look to the law to determine what is right and wrong, instead of their own hearts. I don’t know anything about his religious faith, but I think he saw what the Scriptures reveal to us.

Apart from the Word of God and a redeemed soul we are going to be “tossed about” by every wind of legislation. We are in a world that is suffering from moral and ethical “milk” that is always changing. The “milk” curdles and is thrown out and more “milk” comes to replace it, but it remains milk. Jesus said something about that when he talked about the wiseman and the foolish man and rock and sand.

Week of August 5, 2019

Wednesday, August 07, 2019
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

Life is hard these days. Some think it is too hard, but I wonder is it that life is any more difficult than it has been or are we less able to face its hardness. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with an educated Indian man several decades ago. I asked him to give me a thumbnail comparison of India and America. He told me that the US was a technological giant and India was a technological pigmy. He then said, India is an emotional giant and the US is an emotional pigmy. I wonder if that is still the same. It seems every more obvious that we do not know how to handle suffering. We are taught that whatever is wrong must be quickly fixed. Enduring the suffering and the “unfixed” is almost beyond us.

I think the emotional issue is that we do not know how to engage and stay engaged with the dissonance of the “unfixed.” I think this is a gap that apprentices of Jesus can fill in the national psyche. We carry the source of healing within us, maybe it is time to step up and into the depths of suffering that is all around us.

Week of July 29, 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

              Just as soon as we acknowledged summer, we are aware that autumn is just around the corner.  Early in our lives the year was scheduled around the school year, but that keeps arriving earlier and earlier.  Maybe it is because the older we get the more rapidly the days pass.  I don’t know for sure, but all I know is that tomorrow seems like it is already here.

              So, I am stimulated by Alan Fadling’s book, An Unhurried Life.  He tracks Jesus down in his “breakneck speed” of 2 MPH.  There is much for us to learn from Jesus that sits juxtaposed to our common culture driven by tyranny.  I think the wisdom of Jesus who had a task that it only took three years to accomplish and yet he never hurried once exceeds the wisdom of our world.

              Do you find yourself looking for the affirmation of this world?  I think if we do, we will at best receive resounding gong or a tinkling cymbal – disappearing into oblivion rather quickly.  Why not simply live for the love of God!?  Each season of our lives we are faced once again with detaching from that which is no longer important and attaching to that which has an eternal quality of meaning.

Week of July 22, 2019

Thursday, July 25, 2019
 Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

Here we are in mid-summer and knowing that the school year is just around the corner. The seasons of the year seem to march on without any hesitation and so it is in our “in Christ” life. No matter what nature’s season is upon us there is wisdom that transcends time. The wisdom of C.S. Lewis speaks clearly to us no matter the season of our lives, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

That is to say, our daily point of reference is everything. We often find ourselves praying, “… Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The problem lies for us when we just treat those words as words and not as a spiritual reality. It would seem that Jesus’ instructions for his disciples is that we are actively about the process of bring the Way, Truth, and Life of Jesus into our everyday living.

Summer is a natural time for rest and growth. It is a time to rest and refresh our bodies and engage for growth in our hearts, our souls, and our minds. A resting body can still take in the presence of God through awareness and attentiveness of mind, body and soul. This is one time we can join our common culture in its pursuit of relaxation for the purpose of rest. However, we need to remember that relaxation is not exhaustion.

Week of May 13, 2019

Monday, May 13, 2019
 Blog for Week of May 13th

 

For all the criticism that Hallmark gets for creating events for celebration to boost sales, we must be grateful for the prompts. Left to ourselves we will tend to become so self-absorbed that we can easily become the persons that God did not create us to be. Honoring our mothers is just a taste of the life Jesus called us to live. Consider Jesus’ words to John from the cross, see my mother; take care of her.

The message of these kind of Hallmark days is to call us to live as intentional followers of Jesus full of honoring and gratitude. I have yet to find a human being who does not want to be honored or thanked. They may have a difficult time receiving love, but that’s their story. Frankly, most of the instructions that we receive from the scriptures raise the importance of the many ways of expressing love for one another, i.e. honoring one another, building up one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, I could go on and on.

So, I encourage you to be teachable wherever God’s truth and ethic shows up. I hope and pray that we can become the solution to the brokenness in our world. If we purport to carry the gospel of Christ within us, may we become genuine in our faith and life.

Week of June 3, 2019

Friday, June 07, 2019
 

Blog for the Week of June 3rd

              We are faced with an important time in the era of the Church.  Since the 4th century Christianity has dominated a good portion of planet earth, maybe not true discipleship with Jesus, but we have been able to become “Jesus admirers” rather easily.  The Judeo-Christian ethic dominated European based societies.  In a way we have been deceived by the social dominance of the Bible as the source for most of our ethics (i.e. “thou shalt not steal), but that is little by little, no longer the case.

              We have entered a most important day where true believers must be willing to stand up for the ways of the kingdom of God and the priority of the gospel of heaven (Matt. 4:17).  More and more discipleship will be delineated from “Christian faith.”  In the days ahead, we will be weighed in the balances of “the way, the truth, and the life.”  Our “conversion” to Christ will be tested as to whether it is real in any genuine way.

              The cultural “political correctness” will denigrate biblical life styles as narrow and “hate-filled.”  Conviction will be threatened as anti-American and as a “disease” from which to be cured.  Laws based on righteousness will be challenged as “hate-filled” and unjust.  The dominance of Christian morality with be only a thing of history and seen as irrelevant.  Jesus and the Epistles of Paul, John, and Peter should become mastered to the glory of God.

Week of May 27, 2019

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
 Blog for the Week of May 27th

With the celebration of Memorial Day, we are introduced to “serious” spring/summer. It brings to mind that in our journey with God, He brings the season of growth and rest to us. Those may seem like contradictions, but I think they are meant to be two sides of the one coin. In a way the more we grow, the more we need rest to gather up our resources so that we have the spiritual energy to press on.

The summer is a great time to practice the rhythms that Mark Buchanan included in his book, Spiritual Rhythms. As in creation, summer is a time of growth and blooming. It is a beautiful time, when the best of what is has the opportunity to show itself in sensual glory. At least in this Rocky Mountain region, we know that summer is not a long season, but one that is the fruit of the sacrifice of the other three seasons.

The challenge with summer, however, is to not hurry just because it is short. The growth in character needs to be celebrated, enjoyed and embraced. All of that takes a disciplined intentionality. In this season, make space to reflect on what God has been shaping and developing over the past months of deep internal work. Our greatest beauty is our character. The more you are like Jesus in your interior, the more there is for God to boast about

Week of May 20, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
 Blog for the Week of May 20th

Spring time is a season replete with subtilties. In our scurrying world we look at a tree or even a series of trees and all we can say is green. But I challenge you to drive down any street bordered by a line of trees – but drive slowly – and see that the varieties of green seem almost endless. I want to suggest that life in Christ is no less subtle.

Yes, we can gain so general sense of the Way, but if we will tune into the subtilties of the varieties of the way Jesus lived among us, it will reveal that there is so much more for us to understand. I know the fact is that without even thinking we will naturally approach each day from a self-referenced lens. Yet, as apprentices of Jesus we are being called to alter our point of reference, so that we can “walk with Him in spirit and truth.”

In the words of our treasured contemporary mentor, Dallas Willard, “the challenge is to live your life the way Jesus would live your life.” I guarantee that we will pick up the beauty, goodness, and truth in our living that we would not have noticed any other way.

Week of April 29, 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 29th

 

In the rhythm of the church year, these next six weeks compose the remainder of the Easter Season. As one thing leads to another, Easter leads to Pentecost in our spiritual lives. Resurrection set us up for the immersion and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so that we would walk on a completely different path as apprentices of Jesus.

John describes us in his Patmos Revelation as a kingdom of priests for God. Now we are called to a vocation of holiness in which we are shaped and formed by the love and intention of the Trinity, in order to learn to know and serve the Author of Life. Can we acknowledge that life goes better if we can lean this in our hearts, souls, and minds?

At each season of life, we are challenged with the experience of re-formation so that we might become the person we were created to be in the first place and thereby learn to listen to His Voice and not waste time on that which does not give life and what truly doesn’t matter. Engaging in our calling is that which gives us the greatest meaning to our lives.  

Week of April 22, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 22nd

 

Easter isn’t just a day, it is a season; it is a way of life. These weeks are a bridge between Jesus in the flesh and Jesus in the Spirit. Once again, the disciples of Jesus lived in the mystery of the not yet. They had no idea what they were waiting for, all they knew was that Jesus told them to wait. The Counselor who would be with them would be coming soon. How are you with waiting? It seems like in the realm of the Almighty, waiting is always a part of the process. Isn’t our frustration about the fact that our focus is on the destination and God’s focus is on the journey? It seems like waiting has always been a part of the divine method. It seems like the absence of activity is a normal part of how God facilitates trust in us. It reminds me of an old song from my childhood, “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” What does it take for us to learn trust? I don’t think trust can be built without the absence of activity. It seems to me that one of the ways of God that Moses learned (Ps. 103:7) was that there would be periods for simple obedience today with what had already been shown. Nothing new, no new instructions, just sheer dailiness. As we wait in this Easter Season, how about we join the disciples in waiting expectantly. 

Week of April 15, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 15th

 

In writing this blog this week I am especially conscious of the fact that we live in two kingdoms as apprentices of Jesus. The visible one this week is blind to what is going on in the invisible kingdom this week. But, in the End that which is invisible to earth’s eyes will dramatically reveal itself in power, pure holiness and righteousness. In the historical events of this week that are out of sight of most, there is a story being retold. As followers of the King of Kings, we remember the King’s journey to the Day the Revolution began. The Friday we call Good was the day the power of sin was broken for those who would believe and follow the Crucified One. It is on that Day that we were invited into the redemptive plan of Almighty God, that through our obedience we might become the servants of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The final victory occurred in the resurrection of the Holy One from death. He then gave us the privilege and assignment to be the hands and feet of the Resurrected Christ, that the world might know the Truth and in now knowing the Truth be set Free. Therefore, I urge you to walk closely and deliberately through each day from John 12-20. Read it over and over and read it slowly. Allow yourself to enter the story as a participant.

Week of April 8, 2019

Tuesday, April 09, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 8th

 

In so much of scripture we are faced with what appear as exhortations or expectations that simply seem impossible (i.e. “be thankful in all circumstances”). There is two realities that I think we often miss, one quite visible and one quite invisible. The visible is to pay careful attention to the grammar of scripture (i.e. “in” is not “for”). The invisible is the fact that as disciples of Jesus our vocation is to live a Christ-referenced life, not a self-referenced life.

The power of obedience is the “in Christ” life, lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Life in the Spirit requires a surrender to the love and will of God. Much of life includes living both in the body (our human being) and in the Spirit, which elevates our lives into eternity’s realm. We experience both the potential and the limitations of living in our humanity, but we also house life in the Spirit, which calls us beyond defining life in earth’s terms.

We often pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – now. That is a call to all of us who follow Him. I pray that we each embrace the Spirit’s call to live by his power and grace so that we can live in such a way that the Christ-referenced life becomes our source of identity.

Week of Apill 1, 2019

Tuesday, April 02, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 1st

 

What we do with familiar truth is a case of mistaken identity. When Jesus tells the truth by painting a picture through parables, we err when we settle for the gist of the story. There is a protective coating that is cast across his stories, but his stories reveal so much more than simple print on a page. The protective coating is so that we can learn without the direct sense of command.

We tend to take Jesus’ statements as “suggestions” rather than law like the Old Testament people took the Law of Moses. In that law there were some 620 statements that the children of Abraham were accountable to keep. The breaking of anyone of those statements required a sacrifice and repentance that could not be casually entered into.

All of that to say, the parable of the lost son in Luke 15 speaks and speaks and speaks even more deeply as to our intrinsic interior obstacles that keep us far from God. Like the sons in the story we can “live under the same roof” with God, our Father and know so little of Him and His ways with us. In the descriptive term of Dallas Willard, I appeal to us to develop and “faith of sufficiency” in who our Father is. The sufficiency that the sons had missed

Week of March 25, 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 25th

 

Tragic events often confuse and confound us, because we have the instinct that, that isn’t the ways that “things ought to be.” We constantly look for a linear cause and effect, but we are usually wrong because our thinking is faulty. Yes, in daily life there are a lot of cause and effect circumstances, but when it comes to our understanding of good and evil, life doesn’t move in quite as predictable way.

We tend to forget the real and active presence of the evil one and his minions simply because we know that God is the Supreme Authority in the universe. In fact, there will be a time when evil will be done away with forever… but we are not there yet. The judgment of God is stayed until the very end because of his mercy in wanting “all to come to faith and trust in Jesus.”

Jesus tends to respond to our dismay over “tragedies”, by either challenging us to repent of our own unrighteous ways and then step into the “gaps” with mercy, compassion, and care. I’m convinced that “stuff” happens to get us engaged as the “hands and feet of Jesus.” This week, what is the Spirit asking you to do for the sake of others?

Week of March 18, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 18th

 

One of the side stories of the Lenten Season is not as dramatic as the major events of The Upper Room, Good Friday and Easter morning is the fact that the kingdom of heaven cannot be thwarted. In the conversation of Jesus in Luke 13, Jesus makes the point that he is going to continue to do what he does and Herod Antipas nor any other “authority” can keep him from it.

We often shrink back from what God has put in our hands to do for fear of the response of those around us or in authority over us. Jesus called Herod a fox. What then are the foxes in your life that want to steal the joy and blessing and life that comes from fulfilling your kingdom of God destiny?

We can see the dark clouds forming around us, but this is not the time to seek shelter. The truth of God is our hope, our strength and our assignment. I perceive that we have lost our power. We have given it up to fear. One of the great Lenten themes for us is servanthood born out of love. The Apostle John made a strong statement about that for us when he said, “Perfect love casts out all fear!” It is the season for us to claim our identity of love.

Week of March 11, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 11th

 

The cross was always a part if not the major part of Jesus’ story, so it is important that we begin the season with Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness to set the tone for Jesus’ life and ministry among us. Following the “mountaintop” of his baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is led into the desert where the battle begins. Henri Nouwen called Abba Antony’s desert, “the furnace of transformation.”

Jesus’ victory over temptation is our path to victory over temptation. The fullness of the Spirit and the power and authority of the Word were Jesus’ tools to resist. We battle with the narratives of our lives and we need the same tools; the fullness of the Spirit and the Word of God. It is in this Lenten Season that our own battle is brought into stark relief.

If you are intent with the Jesus Way, it is easy to recognize that the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth as the work that is placed before us. The difference between our work and Jesus’ work is that because of the resurrection the bonds of sin have been broken. Now our challenge is to walk with Him with the power that He provided for us to do the work He has called us to, servants of the restoration of the brokenness of the world.

Week of March 4, 2019

Monday, March 04, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 4th

 

Life’s rhythms are energizing in the variety and the dynamic that they create. The Church has rhythms that do the same thing. In order to tell the Gospel story in any experiential sense, the rhythms and season that have been created over time have become almost a necessity. We would be bounded by society and its commercialism at Christmas if we didn’t have the Advent Season to draw our attention away from Wall Street.

This week we begin another season and maybe the most important in the Church’s year – Lent. In preparation for Resurrection Sunday, we enter this season that is meant to cause us to reflect, to fast, and to open ourselves to the needs around us. In a way, this is the common life of the serious apprentice of Jesus. So, if nothing else, it behooves us to walk through the 40 days slowly, paying attention to the message of gratitude that can lead us deeply toward the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of the Holy One.

Beginning on Wednesday this week, we are being beckoned to join other pilgrims on the journey that brought about our transformation. As noted theologian, N.T. Wright entitled his book on the crucifixion, The Day the Revolution Began this is a season to refresh our sense of the revolution that brought the invisible world into the visible. 

Week of February 25, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
 

Blog for Week of February 25th

 

By definition, self-control is showing restraint in regard to impulses, emotions, and desires. If ever there was a time that this way of the Holy Spirit would set people apart from one another, this would be that kind of time. We certainly live in an impulse, emotion, and desire driven time. The incidences of tragedy are a simple reflection that there is no certainty of self-control.

It is a distinctive among genuine apprentices of Jesus that we would live the way of the Holy Spirit as the Apostle taught the Galatian Church two millennia ago. I wonder if this revelation took place directly from God when Paul was ensconced in the Arabian desert for those three years, Gal. 1:17. Whatever the case, self-control that is the fruit of the Spirit’s work in us makes a great deal of difference in how we then live.

The wisdom of the Scriptures is replete with the urge to slow down and even stop before you speak. What if during this Lenten Season we are about to enter into, we were to make self-control the action we were to give ourselves to in respect for Christ. It is natural for personal reflection and prayer to be a part of the Season. How about if we were to pay special attention to our tongues

Week of February 18, 2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
 Blog for Week of February 18th

 

The character of the kingdom of God is rather tasteless in our loud, compulsive, self-centered world. But it makes up the precious stones that adorn the “city set on a hill.” If we give ourselves to our apprenticeship in Jesus’ way, truth and life, we will find a realm that has the power of a glacier to change and transform. Faithfulness is one of those characteristics.

Faithfulness is always tied at the hip with love in the scriptures, making faithfulness connected to the Person of God. Faithfulness is not simply human determination, but rather is a response to the love of God. We cannot see the substance of faithfulness apart from spiritual responsiveness. Faithfulness is always relational just as all other fruits of the Spirit.

As we learn faithfulness to God, it will always lead us to be faithful to others. Our vocational holiness raises faithfulness out of the storage room to shine the floors of grace and mercy. Our world is want of true faithfulness that connects the parts of God’s redemptive, restorative, reconciling purposes. The truth is we need some empty space to consider God’s call to faithfulness in the ordinary life of kingdom of heaven living

Week of February 11, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
 Blog for Week of February 11th

 

Philosopher, Dallas Willard was consistently famous for asking the question, “What makes a person a good person?” Actually, that is the core purpose of philosophy, to discern what makes a person good. The way around that discipline in our contemporary society is to skirt the issue by declaring “everyone is good” and capable of doing good things. Therefore, the substance of the discussion is made moot.

However, goodness that is a moral, ethical, holy reality demands a more serious consideration. Not only did Jesus die to make men free (Gal. 5:1), but he died to make men holy, that is, godly or like God in character. No wonder that goodness is fruit that is produced by the “vine” in us. It is God who is at work in us to accomplish his good.

I wonder if the good that humanity commonly does is because we were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26)? But, the goodness that comes directly from God is a goodness that is redemptive, restorative, and reconciling. That goodness always has as its purpose to bring creation back into relationship with the Creator, Redeemer and Friend. There is a goodness that is higher than simple good. 

Week of February 4, 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019
 Blog for Week of February 4th

 

Everyone likes kindness offered to them, but few want to do the work to become kind people in themselves. Mother Teresa lays it on the line when she said, “Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” The subtle message in her statement is that kindness is a matter of our “being.”

What is it that you need to let go of that keeps you locked into a self-referenced way of looking at life. If everything must run through our self-centered lens, then we are miserable of all people. It is only when we are free from our self-addiction that we have a chance to become the person God created us to be.

Kindness operates from what Paul preceded his exhortation to become people who love, are full of joy (not happiness for that is always temporary), rooted in peace – the peace only Christ can bring, and patience or forbearance with people and circumstances. With that foundation, kindness has a chance.

Week of January 28, 2019

Monday, January 28, 2019
 Blog for Week of January 28th

 

Is it obvious to everyone that we live in a particularly impatient world!? If we are willing to choose the methods of God’s kingdom in heaven on earth as we often pray, the contrast in our world is stark. It reminds me of Robert Mulholland’s discussion in Deeper Journey of the “self-referenced life vs. the Christ-referenced life.” We will hardly ever develop the characteristic of patience without a different point of reference in living life.

The patience of job was patience built on his deep awareness of who God is. His circumstance did not change his view. If we live with a view of life that runs through the view that we are indeed the center of the universe, we will always struggle with patience. So much of life hinges on our knowledge of God.

Patience is the brother of peace. It is when we have resolved our significance and security in the environment of God’s love that patience makes perfect sense. It is out of a peaceful heart that we are able to wait on God. Patience with one another and patience with things find their strength in the work of the Holy Spirit in us, not just the presence, but the transformational work.

Week of January 21, 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
 Blog for Week of January 21st

 

Peace is an illusive thing for most because it is viewed from an event-oriented perspective. Peace as the scriptures refer to it is a characteristic of life versus a commentary on the circumstances in which we live. Yes, we would like to live in a “peaceful society” that eschews violence of any kind, but if sin exists in the heart of humans that will hardly be the case.

Peace in one’s heart is a priority of God. The birth, life, and death of Jesus was to accomplish peace between we humans and our Creator, Sustainer, and Lord. There is a spiritual peace that was provided for all who would believe through the events of Holy Week. So, we can be at peace with God, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of peace.

One of the values of God’s kingdom is that we can become peacemakers. In fact, Jesus said that is how we become the sons and daughters of God…,” blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Becoming people of peace is an inside/out transaction. Peace requires that we keep our focus on the Prince of Peace and learn to walk in his ways. It requires that we let go of much of our ego-driven ways and learn to lean on His presence.

Week of January 14, 2019

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
 Blog for Week of January 14th

 

Sometimes the scriptures call us to things that make no sense! “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds….” How is that possible?! Maybe it is because we misunderstand joy. Maybe we make it an equivalent to happiness or pleasure. But, I reckon that joy is different that joy. Oswald Chambers gives us a clue to our misunderstanding when he says, “Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not.”

Joy comes through the activity of the Holy Spirit in us that keeps us aware that what happens is never the end of the story. To become a joy-filled person is not a matter of personality, but of awareness of the “whole story,” both present and future. Joy comes as we learn to know God for who he is and that whatever our circumstances, they cannot change God. God lives not in gloom, but in delight.

Joy does not mean that we are rescued from hardship, but we have a soul-peace that see Reality from God’s perspective. Joy removes the scaffolds that we use to prop ourselves up and lasers life on the good, loving, certain heart of God. Joy is meant to become the shape of our souls; a peace that smiles with assurance rooted and grounded in the love of God.

Week of December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

 Blog for Week of December 24th

 

              What we most miss about Advent is the rhythm identified by the four themes for the four weeks.  I suppose it is because of the colorless way that we tend to think about spiritual truth.  But, I have been particularly conscious of the way God reveals himself through his creation this week.  Our theologians have a term for that called, general revelation.  This means that God reveals himself in ways other than the scriptures and Jesus.

              This week the sunrises and sunsets here in Colorado have stopped me in my tracks.  The beauty and glory of God through that which he has made has bowed my heart before him.  As real as the lessons of nature are the themes of Advent: hope, peace, joy and love.  This week raises our sensibilities of God’s immense love that showed itself in the humility of the manger.

              Lest we scrub the manger with a spiritual disinfectant, may we be shocked once and for all that the God of the universe, creator of heaven and earth allow himself to take on the fragility of a baby – who no doubt cried!  If you choose to embrace the day and resist distraction, let the love of God bend your knees to the ground

Weekof December 17, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Blog for Week of December 17th

 

              “I will bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  It is an easily recognizable sentence in this Advent Season and we have a Christmas carol to match the impetus to celebrate with joy.  There is joy that is attached to celebration and I suspect there was a sense of that for the shepherds on that cold hillside in Judea.

              We don’t know what it is like to live in anticipation of the Messiah like these characters in the Nativity story knew, so what is our joy in the story?  I suppose for most of us we look forward to the re-enactment of the Nativity for the sake of the children that are around us and their performances of their “part in the play” or the “cantata.”

              But, just maybe we can enter in again in the “joy” of the angels when we step back into the mystery of salvation.  I tend to think that gratitude is a major part of joy.  I suspect that given the life the shepherds led that the announcement of the coming of the Messiah was filled with the hope of change – that would be an experience of joy.  I wonder if our joy is like theirs in that the anticipation of change is the reason for joy.

Week of December 10, 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018
 Blog for Week of December 10th

 

Peace, the shalom of God! It is a hard message to comprehend in a world full of chaos and conflict. Yet, that is one of the beauties of the Advent Season. It is a time to stop and re-engage the message that Jesus was to bring to us as the Prince of Peace. Peace begins with “peace with God.” No matter what the circumstances, peace with God is the foundation of all other peace. As humankind attempts to accomplish peace in the world apart from God, the disastrous outcome seems to only increase the conflict rather than resolve it. I’m reminded of a statement Dallas Willard made when he said, “Human problems cannot be solved by human means.” This week our scripture of peace is the prophecy of John the Baptist when it was said of him, “He went about preaching the baptism of repentance that you might be forgiven from your sins.” Isaiah went on to say that his message was, “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” In the Spirit of the Prince of Peace then, what do you need to do to, “Prepare the Way of the Lord?”

Week of December 3, 2018

Tuesday, December 04, 2018
 Blog for Week of December 3rd

 

“Hope springs eternal” or so we know the expression to be, but what is that beyond wanting a certain outcome to take place. It is okay for spring training and a baseball team; but is this something we can actually live on. Is there anything historical or philosophical or any other substance such wishful thinking? Hope in this fashion -the most common fashion – is about one’s comfort and convenience.

As the Season of Advent begins, we speak of hope, but quite different than simply the human heart’s hope that things will “get better.” As followers of Jesus our hope is a living hope and is rooted in a real Person, Jesus the Christ. Our hope is in you, Lord! Hope that finds its meaning in the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

The way, truth, and life of Jesus has all the substance that we could ever desire. The is a solidarity with multitudes in history who have given themselves to walk with Him and pass down to us a living faith that is rooted in Christ who is our hope. The point of our earthly life is Jesus. Paul said it best, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”

Week of November 19, 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
 

Blog for Week of November 19th

 

One wonders what was in Abraham Lincoln’s thinking when he set aside the fourth Thursday of November of each year as a national day of Thanksgiving. Given the day in which he lived I’m certain that he assumed that the Judeo/Christian image of God was in each American’s mind. My how things have changed. It is not unlike prayer today.

In the painful or fearful experiences of life most people are keen on the idea of prayer, but like the giving of thanks, who do we offer prayer to? I think in the extremes of life goodness and hardship are the moments when we just might have a sense that life is bigger than us. Wisdom is when we can live with a constant awareness of our own smallness and God’s largeness.

The other reality that can help us is when we realize that all of the universe that God created is personal, so when we made space to slow down and reflect Thanksgiving is a very personal holiday to enhance gratitude in our lives. I trust you will make space to reflect on gratitude, but not just for a national holiday.

Week of November 12, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
 Blog for Week of November 12th

 

As early winter sets in and the season of harvest covers the earth it is time as it always is to pause from the pace of life to give thanks to God for his goodness to each of us. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in and as reluctant to be thankful as is too common, there is always goodness if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. I often wonder when we do give thanks or even if we pray, to whom are we giving thanks and to whom are we praying. Is there any genuine notion of God when I hear the ordinary person in my world thanking or praying? Just this week I had two people ask me to pray for them. Now I wonder why; what were they thinking?

In this season in our culture, I think there is enough cultural support for some sense of God and God’s existence. I think this is a good time to follow up the terser references to God. There is a spirit in our day in which I find people anxious. Maybe that anxiety is grounds to consider alternative approaches to life. Just maybe God has something to offer. In this case ancient truths are not irrelevant.

Week of November 5, 2018

Thursday, November 08, 2018
 Blog for Week of November 5th

 

Part of the Church has set aside a day to remember those who make up the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12. None of us have gotten where we are in our spiritual journeys without the examples or help of others. Some are known to us and some are unknown. Many of us have been “prayed into faith” by someone who carried that mantle unbeknownst to us.

Remembering those, that is taking time to reflect on those who modeled, taught, or served, is always time well-spent. We have personal mentors, and literary mentors, and biblical characters that have all been used by God to move us forward into the Way of Christ (John 14:6).

I would like to encourage you to make space this week to prayerfully make a list of those that you can remember. You might even take time each day to journal about one person and what their contributions have been. I know we are not pen and paper people much anymore, so if you are not, why not type your story on seven pages and then make it the beginning of your own “Jesus Story.” 

Week of October 29, 2018

Thursday, November 08, 2018
 Blog for Week of October 29th

 

The “God-with-us” story that has stretched through the centuries has taken on both seasons and events that we have come to acknowledge if not celebrate. Reformation is one of them which we celebrated yesterday. We know it as a period of reforming the church from directions that had taken place that had added to the story taking away from what had originally given us.

The conflict arose over authority. Was the God-given authority resident in the organization of the Church or was it in the pages of the Scriptures inspired by the very Holy Spirit of God? That is the question! It seems that we might be facing the same struggle today though with different players. Does authority reside in the mind of modern man or does it remain in the revealed Word of God? Put another way do we “shape the Scriptures” or do the Scriptures shape us.

The Reformers did not deny authority as legitimate in our lives. The issue was under what authority are we to live life. The reforming need in the Church remains and in our present day, I suspect the reformation needed today is actually a return to sixteenth century reformation, by returning to the Word of God as the true authority for kingdom of God living.